By on March 24, 2014

ec6

Otherwise known as the Mitsubishi Eclipse.

No car has better embodied the sad decline of a once competitive automaker.

Awkward styling. Poor interior space and wonky ergonomics. Plus, you got a double whammy if you decided to keep them in the arid parts of the country.

Thin flaky paint… and a weird flaw with the glues and vinyls used on the dashboard. The net effect of which is…

ec2

This.

Now don’t get me wrong. There are plenty of other vehicles that suffer a similar fate — especially here in the heat enriched world that is Hotlanta.

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The Ford Taurus dashes are legendary for their ability to serve as cubbyholders for your paperwork. If it’s late-90′s model that doesn’t get garaged, this storage space comes standard.

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Kia products were even worse during the early 2000′s. Part of this was abated by the long warranties that Kia offered to compensate for the second-rate glues, foam paddings and adhesives. Even today though, the headliners and dash materials for their older used cars don’t seem to be holding up to Kia’s  aspirations for value and quality.

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But the worst of them, the crème de la crème of substandard materials with nary a fix in sight, goes to Mitsubishi.

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The good news is you can buy a 2006 Eclipse that has been well kept for all of $4000 these days at a wholesale auction and if you fix them up, they can be retailed for around $5000 to $6000. Not a bad price for a sporty vehicle that came from a manufacturer that offers surprising reliability on their four-cylinder models.

The hard part is fixing those peeling bananas on the dash. There seems to be no enduring fix for this cosmetic ailment because the foam rots from within..

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So to make it an enduring fix, you have to replace it all.  Then you have the paint issues which were thankfully rectified in later model years. As for the earlier ones? Consider a basecoat/clearcoat paint job and a healthy level of waxing to keep it looking good.

It’s a shame because, at least in mind, no car has been more important to the successes of Mitsubishi than the first generation Eclipse. The image of that model as a class leader could have set the stage for a long, long list of Mitsubishis that were both sporty and practical.

Instead we ended up with this…

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this…

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and this…

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What’s your take? Is it worth it for Mitsubishi to invest in a recall for the last of these rolling dodos? Or does the sordid memory of a defunct model deserve to be buried and forgotten?

 

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64 Comments on “Hammer Time: The Mitsubishi Banana...”


  • avatar
    Mural

    My 2006 Eclipse just started tom peel. How much are they to replace?

  • avatar
    PumpeDuse

    I have a 2008 Eclipse. No banana peels, knock on wood.

  • avatar

    It seems Mitsubishi is destined to be one of a long line of automakers who are successful everywhere except in America. See Daihatsu and Suzuki as examples. Without a full line of up-to-date vehicles, I just can’t see how the company will survive on these shores for much longer.

    As for the Eclipse, it’s a sad case of a sports car hitting automotive middle age.

    • 0 avatar
      vbofw

      Agree, Mitsu is such a weird, weird brand.

      Girlfriend asked me to help her willingly buy a 2013 Outlander new. I begrudgingly agreed (nobody likes a know-it-all, right?).

      I am pleasantly surprised by the car – it feels solid after 15,000 miles. Surprisingly functional, and at $18k new and $13k today it’s had positive equity from day 1. CVT is not really noticeable.

      Seems like a decent whip, if you only need a driving appliance.

      Suggests the “lack of brand identity” from my POV is more an issue of no big time marketing support. You’re not paying for $2,000 of Jon Hamm or Mike Rowe voice on NFL Sundays reinforcing the brand. Unique model to say the least.

    • 0 avatar
      IndianaDriver

      I actually think Mitsubishi Motors will survive here. I root for them too, because they employ a lot of Americans at their Illinois factory. Their quality has improved a lot in the past 5 years or so with the influence of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries weighing on them to “clean up their act” after they bailed them out. If you read Consumer Reports, you can see this evidenced with the high reliability ratings. They need to improve the driving dynamics, but at least the reliability is now there.

      As far as the paint issue, I drive a lot of miles and have seen this on a lot of vehicles – all makes and models. Those in the know have told me that with the low VOC paints, this flaking is the years later result from high humidity conditions in the paint area or paint pH levels that are out of whack at the time of production. It took a while for the automakers to figure it out and now they run the paint processes in very controlled environments and shut down production if the humidity and pH levels go out of bounds.

      • 0 avatar

        I see a bunch of cars here in Dallas/Fort Worth area that have the peeling clear coat, and these cars aren’t that old, like less than 10 years old. My 20 year old 1995 Explorer is just now starting to have clear coat issues mostly due to me not keeping up with waxing it on a regular basis.

        Just a quarterly wax job goes a long way in keeping the paint looking decent.

  • avatar

    One of my friends, a Korean-American car-audio installer at Circuit City (where I worked as a Computer Specialist at $10 an hour in 2003) had a 2002. I liked it. Everything after that model I thought was ugly.

  • avatar
    jco

    I had a first generation AWD turbo eclipse. aside from that notoriously fragile transfer case, it was a great car. handled well, very fast, usable interior space.

    the second generation wasn’t as good. still awd turbo. then the 3rd gen lost both of those features and should have never existed.

    I still like the EVO, but apparently it’s going away (?). they don’t sell a single competitive model in the US. it’s too bad, they had some success.. 20 years ago

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Eclipse – with the last generation the only thing that ever stood out to me was the high % of female ownership, especially the Spyder models. That fact is kind of odd because the original (turbo 4/AWD) were heavily male owned and driven.

    • 0 avatar
      tankinbeans

      I’ve always thought the Elipse/Talon were predominately owned by women. They’re the only group that I’ve ever seen in great quantities stepping into the driver’s seat of an Eclipse of any generation. This car is almost as predominately female owned as the Cavalier/Sunfire and Grand Am (any generation) in my area at least. In fact, I’ve only ever known two men who had an Eclipse/Talon; one of whom was a wannabe boy racer who thought his fecal material bore no foul odor.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    It doesn’t matter what they do. Replace all warped Eclipse dashboards for free or tell every remaining owner to eff off. Doesn’t matter. No one thinks of Mitsubishi. No one is considering buying a Mitsubishi. The brand has the luxury of making just about any kind of customer service mistake without it affecting their ultimate fate in this market.

    They let their midsize sedan rot and wither. And the newest model we can get is a dinky little B-segment that looks like rolling poverty. They’re done here, warping dashboards are the least of their problems.

  • avatar
    Jerome10

    I won’t lie, this car is quite possibly the worst car I’ve ever driven.

    Had one as a rental several years ago. The engine was weak and uninspiring, the seating position and wheel position awful, car hard to see out of, bad transmission, and simply awful handling. Drove like an old boat.

    I wouldn’t buy one in excellent condition for $4000. I’d rather have a Corolla, and I hate Corollas too.

    • 0 avatar
      bryanska

      I remember landing at St Louis at 11 PM and being handed the keys. There was a row of 8 or 9 Spyders… no hardtops.

      Combined with the snow that night, the awful visibility resulted in a terrifying drive to my hotel 60 minutes away.

      I’ll never forget how dangerously odd those sightlines were.

    • 0 avatar
      cpthaddock

      Sadly, you’ve nailed it. I was excited to try one as a service loaner a few years ago but any excitement evaporated rapidly. In my mind, the term “agricultural” will forever be associated with these last 4 cylinder eclipses.

    • 0 avatar
      05lgt

      I had one for a week in Orange County last year. The only thing I liked about the car was that it started. The engine and Trans were pure hell, the interior was spiteful, and it looked like it felt, rolling poverty. The thing even went so far as to literally stink. An experience like that will keep me from ever considering a Mitsu, used or new.

  • avatar
    mitchw

    Whenever I see a Mitsu go by I can’t help thinking there’s an interesting story on the inside.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Yes, written on their credit report in the passenger foot well.

    • 0 avatar
      Cubista

      I see one on the roads near where I work, in the Atlanta suburbs…a white Evo VIII is driven by a petite young Asian/Latina woman who could pass for 17. Tiny little thing, works (I imagine) as a dental hygienist in a professional plaza just down the street from where we used to take our son for daycare.

      The obvious cliche’ is that it’s her boyfriend’s/husband’s car and they’re a one-car family, she’s driving it to her job after dropping him off at his and will pick him up later on.

      Still, that’s a heck of a car for a one-car family to have.

      But she drives it like she was born behind the wheel…smooth as silk, rowin’ them gears. It could be her car, of course…I see a lot of women driving S2000′s around here, but that’s a sports car. An older Evo is hardcore machinery in the way that owning a Z06 is different than owning a regular Corvette. A woman who would choose to own that car…that is a story I need to hear.

      • 0 avatar
        qest

        My wife has a ’13 Evo X that replaced her ’06 Evo IX. They’re her cars. I don’t like them as they’re too noisy and raw for my taste. Of course, that’s what she loves about them.

        That IX was the best automotive investment we ever made, and I’m pretty good at picking cars. It depreciated a total of $7,000 over 7 years of ownership. The maintenance wasn’t cheap, especially the way my wife insists on babying her cars, but still, less than $100/mo for an Evo she loved was astonishing. We only sold it because having $24k invested in a 7 year old car seemed insane, so we cashed out and leased the new one.

        Anyway, Mitsubishi made noise like the next Evo would be a hybrid, and after seeing the 918 and it’s ilk, we see that the Evo could be reborn as a sport hybrid like that but with a reasonable price tag and an ugly sedan body…or as my wife thinks of it, “beautiful.”

        • 0 avatar
          Cubista

          That is good to hear…everyone talks about how great those cars are to drive, but you never hear anyone talking about what it’s like to OWN one. I appreciate that, tell your wife she’s got great taste.

        • 0 avatar
          LALoser

          qest: Good stuff! I have a ’13 Ralliart and plan to move to a Evo, STI, or Golf R. This is my second Ralliart, and they have been flawless…and fun, but maybe a little more funner is good…

    • 0 avatar
      brettc

      Whenever I see a Mitsubishi drive by, I wonder what the driver’s credit score/financial situation/general state of mind is. Doubly so for the person that bought the purple Mirage that I saw on the road the other day.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        I saw a final gen Galant this morning going down my street. My instant thought was of this guy at work a couple years ago as we were talking about cars. He made a face and said, “Who buys a Galant?!”

        Ha. Always sticks out in my mind.

        • 0 avatar
          mypoint02

          I had a final gen Galant as a rental two years ago. Up until that point, I hadn’t really considered how far Mitsu had fallen. It didn’t drive that badly, but boy was it dated on the inside. It felt like a flashback to the ’90s. And the exterior styling was horrendous. Ugly headlights and a terrible looking wire mesh grille. I too wondered “Who buys a Galant?”. But then, I wonder that about a lot of cars…

    • 0 avatar
      Carfan94

      I live in the Memphis area, and every time i see a Mitsubishi it always looks like the people driving them are foods stamps. You see plenty of them in the rougher parts of town.

      • 0 avatar

        I thought these cars were, at one time, the darlings of the Buy Here Pay Here lots, as well as brand-new fodder during Mitsubishi’s zero-down phase.

      • 0 avatar
        MK

        I also live in the memphis area and as you well know many people ARE on ebt and various kinds of assistance. Driving there you’ll see the most broke down hoopties running on spares and whatever change the owner could find from Underneath the seats.

        I used to drive from the wolf chase area to the airport area and in the 18 mile distance I started counting how many broken, abandoned or dead cars were on my route home (north loop 240), my record was in July I saw 24 cars broken down in that 18 mile stretch. Most were GM, second were Chrysler products followed by nissans.

        It’s a truly depressing metro area for an auto enthusiast…. And don’t get me started on the road quality.

  • avatar
    AMC_CJ

    I went to our Motor-Trend sponsored auto show this weekend. Mitsubishi was actually there, but was more of a local dealer put on then a factory one like GM, Ford, etc.

    I was looking over the new mirage. Guy walks up to me and asked me what I think. I told him honestly, “It’s crap but it’s cheap”. Really, that car looked like it was just ready to come apart sitting there. Starting at around $13k, but he said they (already) had incentives of over $1k on it. Still seemed like a $9-10K car at the most, and even at that, a barely used Fiat 500 makes a great case for itself.

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      I assume you were talking the Richmond show? Went Saturday afternoon, the three biggest disappointments there were the Mercedes CLA (with a 40k price tag, the 32k RegalT made it look pathetic), that blue Mitsubishi (visualize a car that makes a Versa S look luxurious), and the Subaru Integra 4-door (23k, with an interior stolen out of a ’07 Sebring).

    • 0 avatar
      taxman100

      On the Mirage, Mitsubishi was hoping to sell 7,000 units this model year, and thru the first four months on sale, they have cleared over 4,000 units. Inventory on it is around 18 days, which is about 40 days lower than the average.

      I’ve looked at them, as well as the Fiesta, Versa, etc. I’d seriously consider getting a Mirage as a commuter car to the office – better gas mileage, and a very simple car with few things to require repairs. Call it the modern Geo Metro, but seeing how I’m driving a 14 year old Corolla with nearly 200,000 miles, I’m not that worried about impressing the neighbors.

      Last time I checked, my FICO score was 814, so maybe I’m not the typical car buyer – my wife and I buy a car about every 7 years, so each one is planned to be owned around 15 years. I might pay cash, might now – depends on opportunity costs of the money.

    • 0 avatar
      rudiger

      Yahoo just released a ’10 Worst Cars of All Time’ list – and the 2014 Mirage was on it!

      Holy crap, to be listed with the likes of the Vega, Edsel, Cimarron, Aztek, Olds Diesel, Yugo, and Trabant(!) ‘already’.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Cimmaron and to a lesser extent Aztek shouldn’t be listed alongside Trabant, Yugo, and Vega.

        • 0 avatar
          CJinSD

          Why would the Cimmaron be less deserving of the worst cars list than the Aztek? I’m not saying either of them are as bad as a Trabant, but the early J-cars were pretty terrible in US trim. The Aztek was just standard early-2000s GM with sillier styling. They didn’t burn as many customers, except in resale value.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Aztek and some iterations of Cimmaron actually ran well and were not a total disaster for owners. Yugo certainly was, Vega from all accounts I’ve read was, and Trabant I can’t imagine was a very “good” car.

          • 0 avatar
            rudiger

            The point is, those other cars really were terrible in some way, if not mechanically, at least in style and/or packaging.

            But the 2014 Mirage already included on that list?

            FWIW, the other two cars on the list are the Mustang II and Saturn Ion. I’m not sure either of those two were really bad enough to be in the company of the others, either.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Can’t speak for Mustang II but Ion definitely seems to be hit and miss.

  • avatar
    skor

    Peeling clear coat is very common and not just Mitsubishi, and not just in hot climes. My Cadillac Seville, which has lived its entire life in New Jersey, will require a complete repaint because of failed clear coat.

    The first mass produced car sold in the US with clear coat finish was the 1977 Lincoln Versailles (pronounced Ver-Sails down South) a very poorly disguised American Ford Granada. If you can find an old Versailles inspect the paint. It may not be in good shape, but rarely will you see peeling. Now look at just about any car made from the early 1990s, the clear coat is likely to be gone unless it was garage kept.

    Starting in the early 90s, the gov, in the interest of reducing air pollution, require the auto makers to employ low VOC (volatile organic compounds) paints. Many of the new paint formulas were alcohol based. Well, it’s no secret now that most of those early low VOC paint formulas didn’t work out so well.

    It’s really unfortunate. Everyday I see used cars that are in fine condition except for the paint. Unfortunately, there is no easy fix for failed clear coat. The loose bits must be sanded off, the body sprayed with a primer/sealer and then repainted. All this is labor intensive, which means it’s expensive.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    Ugh that “mustache” Eclipse face-lift, looks like something a Nissan GTR fan boy would put together, I see Scions with splotches of black up front and it never looks right.

    The minute Mitsubishi started to target women was when the Eclipse went downhill, since whenever companies target a certain demographic its not THE demographic but random stats on a board, so you get a car made for random stats on a board.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    This car has an astonishing amount of interior space.

    And by astonishing, I mean “I’m astonished a front-drive car that’s this big outside can barely fit an adult human being in the front seat”.

    I mean, it’s as wide as your average mid-sized SUV and about as long. It’s a transverse engine without all-wheel drive. There’s no excuse for it to be more cramped than a Mustang or Camaro.

    I get not wanting to chase the relaxed-fit Camry Solara/Sebring set (and I liked the Solara; it was the best way to relax and enjoy the sunshine without having to sit still and/or own a boat) but this car is patently ridiculous.

    It’s doubly disappointing when you realize how far it fell from (pretty cool) Concept-E. We were promised a hybrid Evo coupe with electric rear drive; we got a cramped Project America Galant coupe.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Is it worth it for them to do a recall? No, certainly not.

    Very few are still left in warranty, and most the ones out of warranty are owned by people who don’t really care. I can’t tell you the last time I saw an Eclipse which had actually been washed or taken care of.

    A recall would just be a waste of money for a company which isn’t making any in the US anyway.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Someone in my building has a final gen burnt red colored Eclipse with “Ralliart” tastefully stickered and a giant spoiler on the trunk. I’ve also seen the same 30ish gentlemen in a final gen Suzuki XL7 oddly enough.

  • avatar
    morbo

    There are a couple of these last gen Eclipses at DCA’s parking lot, specifically the ‘Dukes of hazard General Lee’ orange color (I’m sure some marketting guy has some fancy name for it). The paint is chalking like mad.

    What I don’t get is that DuPont, Akzo Nobel, PPG, and the rest of the large scale industrial paint manufacturer’s figured out how to make a durable clearcoat and color coat decades ago. Why wouldn’t Mitsu spend the extra $20 per car to get the good paint rather than the cheapest, worst performing paint?

    My last car was a 2002 Mitsu Diamante, and the thing was rock solid save for the god awful work of replacing the timing belt and the cheap radiator. Did the eban counters cut that far in the 4 years from the 2002 MY to the 2006 MY?

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      The Eclipse was a DSM (Diamond Star Motors), the Diamante was not a DSM as it was Japan-built. I bet that had something to do with it, since DSM cars tend to be really POS’s.

      • 0 avatar
        morbo

        I love globalization. My ‘Japanese’ Diamante was built in a Chrysler factory in Australia. My current ‘American’ 300C is built in Canada from a Mexican engine and a German transmission. My friends’ ‘German’ M-Klasse is built in Alabama.

        Good ‘Murican cars.

  • avatar

    I <3 my Lancer, but to think that Mitsu's paint was WORSE before 2010…SMH! The '10's paint is about as thin as TP.

  • avatar
    ciscokidinsf

    This. Definitely.

    Even back to Mitsubishi’s ‘Golden Age’ in US (91-98) Where they competed with tolerable competence and the occasional display of good taste and engineering surprises. They had cars in all the segments of the market. The MKII-MKIII eclipses were fun. The 3000GT was a car gadget lover dream. The evo’s were born.

    From those days, I bought an econo Mirage and later, a 1993 3000GT SL fully loaded.

    The problem? The materials self destruct is months. You HAVE to garage the cars forever just to look OK. I loved my 1993 3000GT SL, lived about 50% of its life garaged + had the front seats changed, and it barely kept up, but looked tolerable, minimum peeling. But every time I saw any Newer 3000GTs in CL, all the mitsus were falling apart. Their interiors just seem so disintegrate. They need above the call of duty care just to last. It doesn’t matter WHAT you bought. The $9K Mirage’s interior just falls apart as fast as a $28K Diamante (their high-end luxury offering) or the $32K 3000GT (and yes, sadly includes the cool Spyder’s here, also falling apart)

    After that, their emissions systems tend to fall apart as well.

    Still, I never shop prior to 1998 for Mitsubishi. Post 99 stuff that’s not an Evo is just future crusher fodder.

  • avatar
    brandloyalty

    I was following an Eclipse convertible at about 50mph on a highway the other day. In a cloud of blue smoke, the tread belt of one of the front tires delaminated and rolled off the tire, then went rolling down the road. I avoided it but the car behind me hit it. The people in the Eclipse just kept driving with one corner sitting rather low. Do these things have special tires that both fall apart and allow you to keep driving?

  • avatar
    JMII

    I had a ’97 Eclipse GS-T. The GS-X (AWD) model was heavier so I didn’t want that, plus living in Florida meant I had zero need for AWD. Mine was green with a tan leather interior, plus sunroof and that awesome 210HP turbo! WHOOOSH. I loved that engine – tons of low-end torque (214lbs @ 2,000 RPM) and power to spare. It went from 30MPH to 90MPH in 3rd gear in the blink of an eye, but still got 30 MPG since it was just a boosted 4 banger. However the car had a horrible turning radius for some reason, I think the engine bay was too wide thus the tires couldn’t angle in enough. It blew the #3 cylinder TWICE under warranty and it leaked oil constantly (blue smoke). It is the only car I ever owned where I had to keep an extra quart of oil in the hatch because you never knew when the check oil light was going to come on AGAIN. The leather was 2nd grade stuff and thus not worth the money at all, it peeled and cracked in just over a year in the Florida sun. The interior was tight squeeze as it wrapped around you a little too well. However nothing inside ever broke – all in all it was fun little car. I just loved the sound and rush of power when the car was on boost. I drove it for about 2 years, then the wife drove for one more. Then I got rid of it ASAP fearing another cylinder might go “boom” out of warranty. At time the wife and I had just gotten married so our credit was not really established, however we were in very good financial shape, only a year away from buying our first home.

    I was interested in the Eclipse mainly because I had previously owned three Honda’s so JDM was in my blood but I wanted something more powerful. My previous car was a ’89 Prelude Si which was awesome, but had a trunk while I really preferred the hatchback configuration of the Eclipse.

    The next generation Eclipse was the one with “ribbed” side panels similar to the Gran Prix and they switched to V6 power. Thus the new Eclipse was much, much uglier, slower and as a bonus got worst mileage! A slam dunk… so I said no thanks – and it seems just about everyone else in the US did too.

    These things don’t even show on my radar these days. The few that remain have huge coffee can exhausts and fake carbon fiber bits glued to them including the standard over-sized rear wing to go along with the fading paint which (as mentioned) is so common.

  • avatar
    ttacgreg

    What a pity, the original 1990 Eclipse was so exceptional when it was introduced.
    I have one in Plymouth trim with a little over 100k on it. The only repair was replacing a sheared exhaust manifold bolt on warranty. Timing belt replacements are damn pricey and essentially need to be routine maintenance on the interference motor. I still love the car. BTW no interior or pain problems for me, but it has been in a garage its whole life.

  • avatar
    kobo1d

    I bought a 2003 Eclipse in 2005. Still driving it almost a decade later. It has about 120000 miles on it now. Cosmetically this car has not held up well at all. The paint has peeled everywhere and looks terrible, plastic interior trim pieces break off with regularity, the OEM cd player imploded, the auto shifter fell off, window/sunroof buttons occasionally nonfunctional, the plastic dash has multiple full-length fissures, etc.

    But this car has been rock-solid in everything that actually matters for a car, and I’ve driven the hell out of it for almost a decade. Just regular maintenance.

    It may look old and busted, but it still starts up and gets me where I need to go, each and every day. An ode to the reliable beater car.

  • avatar

    Bragging Rights: The car pictured in my avatar icon is 25 years old with absolutely no dash disarray, no sunbaked seating and no whatever from the elements. Too bad BMW doesn’t make them like that anymore. Oh yeah, it’s worth more than this shitclipse. Hah!

  • avatar
    mkirk

    Guarantee you will find one of these in the “employee” parking section of 9 out of 10 strip clubs in the US.

  • avatar
    chicagoland

    Well, I had a highly raved about Mitsu built 1981 Plymouth Champ hatch, that C&D thought was the ’2nd coming of Car-God’. But, buff books never owned one past 45K miles, when it broke down every 5 k miles. Nearly every component failed, from ALT to carb to water pump. Main engine seal went at 95k, and it was byebye, at 7 years old.

  • avatar
    DrGastro997

    Mitsubishi has the potential (EVO!) but it seems they careless about the US market. The new Mirage, perhaps, is a good example of what they think of our market. The Eclipse was a nice and simple coupe that lasted only a few years. A great idea but a failed execution. Mitsubishi does great in Japan, surrounding Asia and Mideast but not here. Bring the Pajero for a start…

  • avatar
    bomberpete

    I worked with the Mitsubishi Motor Sales of America (MMSA) PR team for a few years. They were really great people. Management, on the other hand, was a complete mess. They were both arrogant and dumb enough to believe they were geniuses. Part of that came from the fake sales numbers they cooked. Part came from the deadbeats they gave credit to. And they really puffed their chests out from the positive press the corporate and agency team got them.

    The product line was decent at that point — the 1999-2003 Galant was actually competitive with Accord and Camry. I had a 2000 Eclipse that ranked up there with the Integra in some tests. It never put a foot wrong in 4 years and 70K miles. The Montero Sport and big Montero were the real thing in SUVs. We responded to enthusiast demand and brought the EVO in.

    MMSA could really have been better if there had been dedication to great product. The first Project America vehicles, the Endeavor and Galant, were at best undistinguished. In its cost-cutting with that project, it’s almost as if MMSA went to extra lengths to make those two, as well as the 2005 Eclipse, as mediocre as possible. Steve Lang is right on the nose. Mitsubishi cars were never the best Japanese brand, but they were becoming worse than GM and Chrysler.

    The credit crunch of 2002-2003 revealed the skullduggery of MMSA’s U.S. COO and sales chief. The “success story” of ridiculously high sales gains was often faked, and many of the buyers defaulted on their loans.

    Since 2003, a succession of North American and Japanese leaders tried and failed to turn things around. All the good people have left. I doubt the factory in Illinois is operating at anything near 30% capacity at this point. They’d close it if they could.

    It’s sad really, especially when one looks at what Hyundai/Kia and Subaru have been able to do as “second-tier” brands in the same time frame.

    • 0 avatar
      EchoChamberJDM

      And the issues that were created by Pierre Gagnon, former head of Mitsubishi Motors Sales in the US, is precisely why he has never worked for another car company again. Talk about how to run your company into the ground, he did it all. Remember the ads that touted Zero – Zero – Zero to Zero Zero around the year 1999? I do, anyone that could fog a mirror could drive off in a Mitsubishi. No payments, nothing down, 0% interest, and oh yeah no payments until the year 2000 (this was mid 1999). Lots of folks took Mitsu up on the offer, but got so used to driving a car for several months without making payments that when the time came to actually make that first payment, they didn’t have the cash!

      Game over Mitsubishi. I am sure that most of Mitsubishi senior management, after getting blown out of the company, found a home in the subprime mortgage lending industry.

      • 0 avatar
        bomberpete

        Gagnon spent a few months with Malcolm Bricklin as they jerked each other around on importing cars from China. You know where that went. I believe he still works for a pickup truck lining company.

        Zero-Zero-Zero proved that there’s only one way to get something for nothing: masturbate!

  • avatar
    DrivenToMadness

    What a shame. I bought my 1995 Eclipse GS-T (turbo FWD) 5MT brand new, and even with heavy modifications (including intercooler/turbo/injectors/fuelpump/etc. except for the engine internals) the car’s still running strong today, with more than 220k miles on the odometer.

    It’s now a beater in the true sense of the word–but a pretty fast one at that. The paint is faded to hell, the engine leaks oil around the oil pan (I could never fix it), but the engine still has near-perfect compression and the original tranny still shifts fine.

    All it ever needed in its life (which might as well be measured in dog years given how it’s driven) was a new OEM clutch, and I deleted the balance shafts to improve reliability since a torn balance-shaft belt (which tend to fail before the timing belt for some reason) will destroy the timing belt with it. Maybe I just had a fluke but my scrappy DSM defied the reliability statistics of Consumer Reports and those of many other Mitsu owners.

    Now that I am older and have different priorities, I have no interest in any new Mitsubishi but I’m still very fond of the brand and I watch its steady decline with sadness.

  • avatar
    gearhead77

    I have excellent credit and bought a new Mitsubishi once, a 2004 Lancer Sportback. It fit the need at the time for a small cheap wagon. It was quite a buy at 5k off the sticker because it and 6 of its companions sat on the lot over a year. Was a pretty good car mechanically for 77k in two years, but it was cheap. Paint cheap, interior cheap, seats cheap. Nothing ever broke, but it never felt or looked good either. 2.4/ 4 spd OK, but certainly not refined. Car might have been OK with a stick. Was done in by a rear-end collision that bent the car downward in the middle. Was in great shape, but totaled. Which was fine, I was done with it anyway, on many levels.

    My sister had one of these Eclipses when they first came out, in the orange. GT with the V6. Car would move pretty good, but was awful for all other reasons previously stated. She had a hell of a time trying to find one WITHOUT that stupid billet fuel door.


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