Five and a half years ago, I took a rented Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder on an impromptu tour of Los Angeles with one of the coolest girls I ever dated. But not even my extreme sentimentality regarding the lady in question and the nights we spent together could make me overlook the nontrivial flaws that utterly spoiled the final-generation descendant of the original Disposable Speed Machine.
It was not a good car, to put it mildly.
Yet if I’d known that the Eclipse name would one day be attached to YAFC (Yet Another Fucking Crossover) I imagine that I would have cherished that poky little droptop just a bit more than I did. This is particularly true considering the fact that the original Eclipse was a genuinely thrilling and important automobile. It was a turbocharged all-wheel-drive sports coupe with big power, wicked handling, a sleek shape, and a sensible price tag — and it hit the dealerships back when most family sedans had 130 horses and beam rear axles. I’d like to respect that, for just a moment. I’d like to remind everybody that the Eclipse was once something special.
Which leads us to today’s question(s):
For me, certain car brands evoke strong emotions. Nissan is certainly one that will always get the benefit of great memories, even if some of their current products are less than memorable. Conversely, I have reservations with Ford. As much as I enjoyed the Fusion I drove last month, the Focus I owned at the turn of the century had so many failures and recalls that I struggle to consider the Blue Oval without shivers.
Mitsubishi, on the other hand, doesn’t really register with me. There were at least two of them in the household as I was growing up — a 3000GT and an Eclipse Spyder — but I never drove them, and never bonded with them like the other sports cars to grace our garage. Perhaps the cheap prices and seemingly-disposable nature of the cars effectively blocked them from my memories.
You try finding an intact gen1 Eclipse; it took me months. And forget about it being a Turbo; they’ve all been riced, diced, sliced and mashed into oblivion. Was there ever more of a young guy car than this? I’ll go out on a limb and say that the turbo AWD version of this and its Plymouth Laser and Eagle Talon DSM clones were the closest thing there was to a four-wheeler crotch rocket in their day. It may be a bit on the young side for Curbside Classics, but I figured I’d better grab this Eclipse now, because it may well be the last in town, and its driver is a young guy. High testosterone levels lead to drives of several types, but not generally the one that pertains to preservation. The Eclipse is the victim of its intended demographic. (Read More…)