By on February 8, 2016

1990 Eagle Talon TSi

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.

I wonder if the DSM triplets — as the Mitsubishi Eclipse, Plymouth Laser, and Eagle Talon are often referred to by enthusiasts — might have made a bigger impact had they been sold only under one nameplate. I suppose the benefit of multiple dealerships selling the same car could be useful, but I’d imagine it created more competition and lowered selling prices.

Take today’s 1990 Eagle Talon TSi, sold at Jeep/Eagle dealers. If I recall, most Jeep/Eagle stores around here were quite close to their Chrysler/Plymouth counterparts, with some even sharing a roof.

Yeah, I know that $12,000 is insane for this car, especially considering the recently-replaced engine. I just can’t seem to find any of the high spec, all-wheel-drive turbo DSM cars anymore that aren’t modified to oblivion, so when I spotted this one I knew it deserved mention. Assuming the engine replacement isn’t due to poor maintenance, and the sheetmetal is straight and original, I could see $6,500 for this Eagle.

Speaking of modifications, these tended to be bought cheaply second-hand and tuned for drag racing, so the drivetrain will need thorough inspection.

Of course, there is always the danger to manifold that inexplicably causes floor pan detachment. Mitsubishi has much to answer for.

1999 Mitsubishi Eclipse

Chris Tonn is a broke classic car enthusiast that writes about old cars, since he can’t afford to buy them. Commiserate with him on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

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50 Comments on “Digestible Collectible: 1990 Eagle Talon TSi...”


  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Now that you’ve done one of these, your next car can be the other Japanese two-tone stylish 90s coupe – the SVX!

    • 0 avatar
      SWA737

      How about an XT Coupe? Now we’re talking

      • 0 avatar
        zamoti

        I had a 87 GL koo-pay and after reading the pamphlets that came in the glovebox, I lusted after an XT. Went to try one to buy, but of course I was 16 and it was on Mom’s money. It didn’t have the digital dash, but it did have the movable “pods” attached to the wheel, the weirdo pistol-grip shifter and I think that one had the pneumatic suspension with the dual range transmission. Oh I wish I could have grabbed that thing! I would have wrecked it spectacularly! (which is exactly what I did to my koo-pay).

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    Not familiar with the “fiberglassed over” interior like that tribute car.
    Must be a huge amount of hand labor to accomplish.
    Not sure why…but each to their own.

  • avatar
    IHateCars

    My first brand new car was a ’98 Talon TSi AWD, last model year red with black roof same as what’s pictured….got a killer deal on it from the local Jeep/Eagle dealer at the time. And it was a great little car, I had kept it pristine and got decent money for it when I sold it 7 years later….saw it on the road regularly for many years after but rust had gotten the better of it.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    The Talon and Laser were consistent “Bang for the Buck” nominees back when Car and Driver cared about such things.

    As a teenager when these suckers were new I didn’t understand just how awesome they were.

  • avatar
    TrailerTrash

    I feel opposite on the Focus.
    The last generation, although old and outdated compared to the european, was really a nice car.
    Lotta room, drove well and had a really decent engine.
    Only issue I ever had was the trunk lid that couldn’t take a hit…which was replaced twice due to small rear end nudges.
    I think this car was underrated.

    It’s no saver car…but a decent American small car.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      He’s talking about the early 2000s Focus. Which was a great car at the time, but had some reliability issues.

    • 0 avatar
      whynot

      When first released the Focus had a lot of recalls and quality problems. Those eventually went away but by then it was outdated (although fun to drive!) compared to the competition, which made them easy to get cheap which isn’t the best for reputation. Had a 2007 model (last year of 1st generation before Ford hit it with the ugly stick) as my first car and loved it other than the incredibly cheap and basic interior (and by the end of its life with me its very squeaky rear passenger side spring).

      I thought the pre-facelift first gen looked like garbage, especially that interior, and time has not changed that though.

      • 0 avatar
        Chris Tonn

        I may have covered it last year when I Crapwagoned the SVT Focus, but mine was a first-year car..an automatic-transmissioned ZTS sedan. Bought with only 6k on the odo. I lost count of recalls at 12.

        • 0 avatar
          cdotson

          A former coworker bought a first-year Focus ZX3 manual new as a commuter. He loved the car, but joked about the 13 or 14 recalls he received in the first 12 months of ownership. Total number went up from there, but recall frequency tapered way off after the first year.

  • avatar
    TrailerTrash

    The older Plymouth 1960 Valiant wagon was always a strange, outa space design and always wanted one.

  • avatar
    JMII

    I had a ’96 Eclipse GS-T, man that car was a rocketship! Mine was green with a tan leather interior, sunroof and the 210HP turbo! WHOOOSH. I loved this 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. Able to run with Mustangs which had twice the cylinders. Problems with the were many however: it 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 leak oil constantly… its the only car I’ve owned that required keeping a quart of oil with you at all time since you were assured the low oil level light at some point during a month. The keather was 2nd grade stuff and thus not worth the money at all, interior was a tight squeeze as it wrapped around you a little too well. Backseats were nothing more then padded lunch box storage but the sizeable real hatch made up for it. Just the sound and power of the turbo made this car worth owning! In the end I was happy to get rid of this car once the lease was over because I feared the engine might blow up – something was wrong in there.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    So you’re gonna ask $12k for something worth <$6, and include four pics? Enthusiasts (which is all you're gonna get at the loony price) like loads of pics fool!

    That's 3000GT money, which is MOAR COOLER, and I'd have one of those probably if I'm doing Mitsu.

    But as mentioned above, I'd go SVX for super cool AWD coupe. The half-down inconvenient windows alone make the SVX a conversation piece.

    • 0 avatar
      NoGoYo

      Can’t remember the last time I saw a 3000GT.

      One of my work buddies has a Stealth R/T though, probably non-turbo because it doesn’t say turbo anywhere.

      • 0 avatar
        Fred

        There is a red one in my small town, I see it all the time. Mitsubishi had some nice cars and I liked the little Might Max truck I had. Makes me a little sad to see them suffer here in the USA.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          Their suffering is entirely their fault.

          -Dated product, making it far past expiry date
          -Poor quality
          -Not keeping with market trends
          -Lack of investment in improvement
          -Making themselves the beacon for poor credit customers

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Mitsubishi-3000GT-VR-4-Coupe-2-Door-/401064738710

    And for less money too! It’s minty.

  • avatar
    cdotson

    I remember a guy in my college car club 15 years ago had one of these, early model turbo AWD Talon in red. His was high-ish mileage and the back of the car was routinely fouled with evidence of the car’s oil-burning habit. He still flogged that car on the mountain backroads.

  • avatar
    squidge

    Always neat to see DSMs getting coverage, but this seller is obviously a bit nuts. The “new” engine looks like a junkyard special (note the gross exhaust manifold heat shield and valve cover), the car’s from a northeastern climate, and ’90s are the least desirable of the first gen due to electrical differences (and minor mechanical differences like the shifter) compared to the ’91-’94.

    DSMs feel a little less special these days with the glut of options, but during the ’90s it was hard to find anything else with the cheap power potential. Direct competitors like the Celica All-Trac didn’t have the aftermarket support, and other RWD/FWD cars didn’t have the traction advantage at low levels of modding.

    These days, a $12k DSM would have less mileage, be rust-free, be either a super-clean ’91 as the best looking version, or a ’92 with the 6-bolt engine and 4-bolt rear LSD as the best mechanical version, and have tons of photos in the ad besides.

    Source: Owned a ’92 AWD Laser with under 100k miles, second owner, super minty during the late 2000s. Sold it in 2009 for around $4k. I could see rarity doubling the price of that exact car now.

    http://i.imgur.com/YPY4GrG.jpg

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    DSM! DSM! DSM!

  • avatar
    energetik9

    I liked the 3000 GT, but never really loved it.

    If there was one Mitsubishi I was exceited about for around that era (a few years prior), it was the Starion Turbo.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      Starion, Supra, RX7 & 300ZX were all cars I dreamed of in my college days. When I bought my Eclipse I looked at 3000GT but it had two major problems: 1) it was HUGE, honestly seemed aircraft carrier sized when compared to my Prelude and 2) my checkbook couldn’t handle it.

  • avatar
    jimble

    I loved my ’90 Talon. Even with the non-turbo 2.0 and auto trans it felt pretty fast for its day and it was lots of fun to drive on the twisties. It had its share of problems, though — AC went out, power windows failed, and it suffered a cracked head (apparently not uncommon). I’d go over this car very thoroughly before I’d consider buying it, even at half the price.

  • avatar
    18726543

    This thing seems to have an odd assortment of directional wheels. It looks like some OEM replacements have been thrown in the mix without considering if they were lefts or rights.

  • avatar
    mypoint02

    >”If I recall, most Jeep/Eagle stores around here were quite close to their Chrysler/Plymouth counterparts, with some even sharing a roof.”<

    Indeed. I worked as a lot boy at one when I was in my later high school years (mid 90s). Chrysler, Plymouth, Jeep, Eagle, and Pontiac under one roof. There was a ridiculous amount of platform sharing with Chrysler products at the time. Usually the only differences were literally an exterior badge or two – ie: Dodge/Chrysler Neon, Dodge Caravan/Plymouth Voyager, Chrysler Cirrus/Plymouth Breeze, and these. My high school self always thought these were pretty neat. The TSi was definitely fast for its time. Still, I remember the notchy short throw gear shift and lots of turbo lag more than anything else about driving them around. I don't remember seeing many of these by the late 90s. IIRC, the Plymouth Laser was axed in ’94. They didn’t age very well…

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    Lot drove one of these while trying to find a winter beater so my project car wouldn’t see winter service.

    At least on the small bit of road I accelerated on, there seemed to be some significant turbo lag, or else I was just to used to the torque of a Chevy 350.

  • avatar
    mikeg216

    These things were fun! If they were a woman they’d be named Tiffani amber or Krystal.. Fun and cheap and fast

  • avatar
    Superdessucke

    Scrape it together. Best one you’ve found. Don’t be cheap here.

  • avatar
    Jimal

    I dunno. $12k doesn’t seem too high considering how few of these exist in any form anymore. These were neat cars back in the day.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    “Due to medical reasons, I am finding it difficult to use a stick shift”

    Translation: Due to medical debt, I need to get all the money I can for this oddball.

    Neat car but about two steps from worthless. My dentist paid 3,8 for a clean as hell MY89 Trans Am with the caveat of higher miles (98K) and this woman wants $12K for a DSMer @ 130K which already blew one motor? Really, Jen?

    • 0 avatar
      RideHeight

      Or something’s wrong with her left knee/hip. I absolutely guarantee that arthritis and/or bursitis in that hip could make a stick shift unusable. Probably the knee would be debilitating, too, though I haven’t had that experience (yay).

      But why isn’t she getting surgery? Even with total hip/knee replacement she’d be back driving it in <6 weeks. So I'm afraid it's a no health insurance thing. Sadness.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Could be something along those lines. If she bought it new you figure she was at least twenty at the time, so roughly 46-50 today and already having health issues.

        • 0 avatar
          RideHeight

          Just another Boomer whose body and finances are breaking down. Nice house judging from the little that can be seen, older, probably domestic SUV in the other garage stall. Tends her flowers well, clean & organized garage.. nice people.

          All in all, another lower middle-middle classer of middle age being flushed down the tubes. Husband isn’t doing too well, either, hence the probably early 2000s SUV. I can get all Dickensian about this if I think about it too much.

  • avatar

    Had two fiends with GSX eclipses 1992 I believe (highest HP year) Brutally fast crushed same year mustangs and camaros in almost every measure. As mentioned interiors were tight at 6’3″ I can barley fit in one and drive it but oh what fun they were could go 120 mph with out even trying. The last one I was riding shotgun in when it flipped into a snowy ditch in upstate NY. Waited in the cold for 2 hours for a tow truck then borrowed another firends car to make it the Montreal Bars before closing time.

  • avatar
    mazdaman007

    Yay, passive restraints ! Think you still had to manually buckle the lap belt though ? Odds on it still working ?

  • avatar
    Truckducken

    I only remember these heaps because my wife-to-be pointed out during a test drive that the plastic shifter handle (MT) was clearly cast from the same mold used to make sex toys.

  • avatar
    rpn453

    In high school, there wasn’t really any hockey in summer and I didn’t have much need for motorized transport beyond that with all the cycling I did, so the vast majority of my driving was on winter road conditions. As a result of that, and driving a Jeep Wagoneer, I thought that anything beyond an economy car should be AWD/4WD, especially sports cars. Thus, the Talon TSI and Stealth R/T Turbo were cars I worshipped. No Mitsubishi in Canada, so I didn’t know they were anything other than a Chrysler product.

    Imagine my amazement one summer, as a sophomore university student, when I showed up for my first date with a new girlfriend and there was a teal Talon TSI, dark green Stealth R/T Turbo, and yellow Miata parked in front of her house, all manuals. The Talon was her mother’s, the Stealth her father’s, and the Miata her’s. I drove them all eventually, but the Talon first, since we went for a canoe trip the next week and the Miata wasn’t suitable.

    Unfortunately, the minutes I had spent driving a manual up to that point could be counted on one hand. I understood the concept, but didn’t have the practice. So, my first memory of driving the car is listening to Weezer on the fancy (six?)-disc changer. My second is a fifth to second downshift during a highway pass. I wanted fourth, but was afraid of getting reverse so I pushed to the left a bit instead of just letting it fall into fourth. Oops. Oh well, I was only doing 60 mph so it was nothing more than an embarrassment. The greater embarrassment came on my third memory, when I had to stop on an uphill grade at a red light after getting back into the city. I think I stalled it three or four times before just doing a clutch dump launch and revving out first and second gear through the following residential zone in a rage.

    She was far too good of a girl to hang out with trash like me for too much longer, but I had her fooled for a couple months anyway. Good times.

  • avatar

    I have a 91 Talon TSi (AWD version) that friends and I built into a rally car in 2014. There is definitely not much room inside to start – particularly when you’re 6’3″ – and even less when you cage it and put a helmet and HANS on, but it works. Rust is a killer for these things; well that and attrition from being inexpensive enough for inexperienced drivers to buy them and quick enough to make small mistakes bigger. Mine was horribly rusty to start but for the $700 purchase price we worked through it; in retrospect having a less rusty starting point would have been better, but…

  • avatar
    White Shadow

    I had that exact 1990 red Talon, but in AWD. I purchased it new in 1990 after trading in my 1987 Mustang GT. All of my friends had 5.0 Mustangs and I decided that I wanted to be different. The little turbo 4-banger would scoot off the line hard with a 6000 rpm clutch drop, causing immediate panic from any of my Mustang friends lined up next to me. The result was instant wheelspin and they could never catch up by the time they stopped spinning. It was always a good time watching Mustangs smoking tires in my rear view mirror. And quite honestly, my Talon was a great match for a new Mustang even from a roll. But a neat little trick to add a bunch of power was to pull a small vacuum line that will bleed off the waste gate and increase boost pressure greatly. Free HP is always fun. It wasn’t long before I modded the Talon with a full array of HKS mods, including intake, exhaust, and an EVC (electronic boost controller) to really up the power. Such a fun car and it took an absolute beating without breaking. The car used to launch so hard that the windshield wipers turned on. I have pics of my car launching at the drag strip with the wipers at mid stroke. Funny stuff….

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