Hammer Time: The Mitsubishi Banana

Steven Lang
by Steven Lang
hammer time the mitsubishi banana

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…

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.

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.

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.

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

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..

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…

this…

and this…

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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  • DrivenToMadness DrivenToMadness on Mar 26, 2014

    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.

  • Gearhead77 Gearhead77 on Apr 27, 2014

    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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