By on December 13, 2017

Image: 1998 Eagle TalonEarlier this week in TTAC’s always entertaining Slack chat, Adam Tonge suggested (without sarcasm) how the B&B might enjoy discussing the market entrants of the Diamond-Star Motors company and picking favorites. Shortly after this discussion, the very DSM Plymouth Laser we saw in yesterday’s Rare Rides fell right in my lap, and this all seemed like destiny.

Of the varied selection, which Diamond-Star Motors vehicle is your favorite?

Image: 1990 Mitsubishi EclipseHow about some history? It all started back in 1970, when Chrysler first invested in a 15-percent stake in Mitsubishi. At the time, Mitsubishi was looking to expand its offerings worldwide through cooperative alliances, primarily via captive imports (like the Dodge Colt).

Cut to the early ’80s, and Chrysler is shifting all sorts of Mitsubishis through its dealerships — 110,000 in circa 1982. Mitsubishi sees an opportunity, and begins opening more Mitsubishi-branded stores to move product themselves.

However, at this time (voluntary) importation quotas were in place that restricted the number of Japanese cars each manufacturer could import. For every Mitsubishi sold, a vehicle was deducted from the importation allowance of Chrysler. This wouldn’t do.

In 1985, the two companies formed Diamond-Star Motors. After the state of Illinois threw some benefits their way, the alliance decided to install a new manufacturing facility in Normal, Illinois. Annual capacity was 240,000 vehicles, and the plant was up and running in 1989.

Other milestones in the history of the cooperation are worth mentioning. Mitsubishi purchased Chrysler’s interest in 1991, and Chrysler sold its remaining equity to Mitsubishi in 1992. In 1995, the enterprise was renamed Mitsubishi Motors Manufacturing America (MMMA).

After Chrysler no longer had any jointly-produced models in the factory, Mitsubishi’s independent offerings gradually faded away. In 2012 the plant would start production of the Outlander Sport — its final model. In 2014, the plant produced just 69,000 vehicles from its 240,000-unit capacity, and 2015 saw the announcement that Mitsubishi would end all remaining vehicle production in North America. The final 300 workers who’d stayed behind to shut down the plant had their last day in May of 2016.

The Illinois plant produced many models over all those years, and we’re counting anything produced there as a DSM even if it was made after 1995. Here’s your list:

Mitsubishi Galant (1994-1996)

Mitsubishi Galant (1996-2003)

Mitsubishi Mirage sedan (1990-1993)

Eagle Summit sedan (1990-1993)

Mitsubishi Mirage (1994-1996)

Mitsubishi Mirage (1997-2002)

Chrysler BD

Mitsubishi Eclipse (1990-1994)

Eagle Talon (1990-1994)

Plymouth Laser (1990-1994)

Chrysler PJ

Mitsubish Eclipse (1995-1999)

Eagle Talon (1995-1998)

Chrysler FJ

Chrysler Sebring (1995-2000)

Dodge Avenger (1995-2000)

Chrysler ST-22

Chrysler Sebring (2001-2005)

Dodge Stratus (2001-2005)

Mitsubishi Eclipse (2000-2005)

Mitsubishi PS

Mitsubishi Eclipse (2005-2011)

Mitsubishi Galant (2004-2012)

Mitsubishi Endeavor (2004-2011)

Mitsubishi GS

Mitsubishi Outlander Sport (2012-2015)


There it is — over two decades of American-made Japanese goodness. What’s your favorite?

[Images: Chrysler, Mitsubishi]

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67 Comments on “QOTD: What’s Your Favorite Diamond-Star Motors Crapwagon?...”

  • avatar

    Those 2nd gen Eclipses must be pretty darn durable, because there still seems to be a ton of those cockroaches shuffling around here (Indiana). Pretty much all looking like a full tank of gas increases their net value by 50%.

  • avatar

    Dodge Stealth, although not made in Normal.

  • avatar

    2nd generation Eclipse GS-T with a 5-speed manual.

    A great shape, and a fast, cheap car.

  • avatar

    1st-gen Mitsubishi Eclipse GSX (the AWD one). This specific model of the Chrysler BD platform always seemed the most rare and desirable. I saw 10 Talon TSi cars, and 50 Plymouth Lasers, for every Eclipse GS or GSX that I saw back in the day.

    • 0 avatar

      I remember seeing several Talons around when these were new, and really only one or two Eclipses. In school, we were not aware that these were the same car, and the Talon was more desirable.

      • 0 avatar

        I actually saw a freaking Eagle Vision yesterday. And it was moving under its own power! Judging by my LH experience, that’s simply ahhh-mazing.

        I would say its too bad that the success of the Talon didn’t save the marque. I would say that, if it were something worth saving.

        I mourn Plymouth. I mourn Mercury. I mourn Oldsmobile and even Pontiac. I do not mourn Eagle.

        • 0 avatar

          IMHO, the Eagle Vision was the best looking of all the LH cars, with the LHS coming in second. It’s too bad that mechanically they were such turkeys. They had longitudinally-mounted engines, to accommodate AWD; too bad they weren’t RWD. The other problem was that being so “cab forward” caused the front fenderwells to intrude into the front floor, making it impossible to offer anything with a third pedal, even if they’d wanted to.

          • 0 avatar

            Concur. Vision was the best looking LH. 2nd place to me goes to the New Yorker and LHS with their weird straightback rear window.

        • 0 avatar
          MRF 95 T-Bird

          I saw one yesterday as well. It was a red ESi which had its share of wear on its 23 year old body. The difference between the ESi and the upscale TSi was the handling package and the 3.3 vs 3.5 V6 which had autostick.
          It’s a shame they never built a AWD version since it had a North South engine configuration.

          • 0 avatar

            I had a 1996 Concorde LXi. I actually really liked it, except that it ate me alive in repairs.

            And, if there is a MOPAR apologist waiting to write it off as an ill-maintained high-mileage beater, nothing could be further from the truth. One owner, a female doctor who had it maintained religiously at a Chrysler dealer.

            I know how people with 3.8L Ford products felt (especially the FWDs that also ate through transaxle much quicker than other engines), not because I went through it with them (my Tauruses and my one Windstar were all of the 3.0L or, in one case, the 2.5L I-4, variety, the only 3.8L cars I’ve had were parts cars, and you better believe that was intentional), but because I know how it feels to fight a lost cause, to repair a car over and over when it shouldn’t be having any of the issues it is having, dumping loads of money and getting nothing in return. Literally nothing.

            Where I lived at the time, scrap metal pays very little. When I gave up on the car because it was going to need a new engine *and* transmission at the same time, I was offered $50 by a Chrysler-specific junkyard, if I towed it in. The guy said he had several more that were just as nice as mine and just as dead. I _gave_ the car away to a scrap hauler. I’ve put more miles on my 1995 Taurus in a month than I got out of that Chrysler the whole time I had it. Worst. Experience. Ever.

            My Intrepid was better, but only because I bought it with an issue (transmission acting up and an inop speedometer), fixed it with a sensor, and sold it a month later. I didn’t buy the Concorde to flip like I did the Intrepid, I bought it (for significantly more money) because I wanted a nice comfortable car, and it burned me bad.

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    Is there ever going to be a post on this site worth reading anymore? I’m about to delete it from my bookmarks.

  • avatar

    Does my 1978 Plymouth Arrow GT count? Probably not! But my favorite JV between Chrysler and Mitsu…:) (at least that I owned…my best friend had a 1979 Fire Arrow, I really wanted that 2.6!).

  • avatar

    I was always very fond of the Eagle Talons and Chrysler Conquest. Never drove either, so maybe they were crapwagons but they looked cool to a teenage boy.

  • avatar

    Well, you’re built like a car
    you got a hubcap Diamond Star halo
    you’re built like a car, oh yeah!

    I choose…


    Wait, does the Mercury Cougar count? I mean, its not on the list and is totally unrelated to the question, but why should any of that stop me?
    Yes, I’m being quite sarcastic.

  • avatar

    PS-platform Galant Ralliart.

  • avatar

    It’s odd, but the only one I’ve driven is the Dodge Stratus (2001-2005). It was as meh a car as you can get. It did get my down the highway in relative comfort, though.

    • 0 avatar

      I see your meh Stratus and raise you meh Century 1998-2004.

      • 0 avatar

        Oh I hated those when I worked at a GM dealer during that era. And one hated me back, $#¡ГГ¡ng its engine on me with a ripe old 26 miles on the odometer. Not a misprint, not a joke. Well, it is a joke, but a true one nonetheless.

        My manager made some crack about cars leaving with me behind the wheel and returning on a flatbed. Well, it was a GM dealer, nothing I could do about that. Lol

        Actually, the only other time that happened was when he let me take a low-mileage (and not that old at the time) 1996 Crown Vic home. It blew a lower radiator hose 25 miles from town. I was driving it to see if I would like to buy it. Even before that happened, I had decided I did not like the car at all, which really surprised this unapologetic Blue Oval fan. I liked the way it looked, but not how it drove and not how I sat in it. I decided I would rather keep my 1994 Tempo, slow and noisy as it was in comparison. I simply liked driving it more, and I liked how I sat in it. The Crown Vic was a base model, and the Tempo was a highly optioned GL, so it had power seat/windows/locks, cruise, etc., so there actually wasn’t much difference in equipment, aside from the automatic having a much-appreciated 4th gear on the Crown Vic.

        Okay, tangent over.

        • 0 avatar

          Surprises me to hear of an engine issue in the Century that way. Nothing in that car was new or innovative besides airbags – it had all been around since the 80s.

          • 0 avatar

            The only model of that line that would be of any interest at all to me would be the Regal GS with the Series II supercharged 3800. Bonus points for the Joseph Abboud Edition.

          • 0 avatar

            It was a build quality issue. Had to have been when the engine was assembled. And, the engine wasn’t repaired, it had to be completely replaced.

            Corey, I can remember a brand new Chevy Blazer that literally broke down on the truck hauling it from the factory to the dealership. Not a dead battery nor running out of gas, we had to pull it off the transport truck with a damn tow strap and drag it into the shop to be repaired. The odometer being in the single digits.

            And they wondered why I proudly drove a Ford to work everyday. I’m not saying all Fords are infallible, not in the least, but I never encountered such when I worked at a Lincoln-Mercury dealership, nor in the many that my family and I have owned. I was there (at the L-M dealer) much longer that I was at the GM dealer, and was more involved with the cars having worked (at different times) on the lot (“lot boy”), as a salesman, and as a service writer.

            @Drzhivago138, I did like the Regal with its 3800, nicer interior and better front facia. I believe the Century that crapped its pants had the 3.1L. Maybe the 3400? I forget.

          • 0 avatar

            Joseph Abboud, so tacky and nice with that chocolate leather.

            I guess it’s good these things broke down before a customer had them.

          • 0 avatar
            MRF 95 T-Bird

            An aunt of mine had a 2000 Century with the 3100 and most options. After she passed it went to one relative who drove it for a few years, then another relative who keeps it running at 200k with normal maintenance. If it was the Regal GS with 3800 SC with the nicer interior with the console and sportier front facia with the fog lamps I might have taken it. Though a few years ago I did look at a Grand Prix coupe. These W-bodies are one of the better GM cars of the era.

    • 0 avatar

      Stratus would be coupe only. Can’t recall seeing one in quite awhile. A few sedans still around. I had a 97 sedan, with the 2.0 and a 5 speed manual. It actually wasn’t terrible, and for my young self at the time, it was an upgrade. Great roomy roadtrip car to bring friends along, big trunk, good a/c, and I got 40+ mpg a couple of times.

  • avatar

    Well…if we’re going with “great stuff made by DSM” the obvious answer is the original Eclipse.

    But for “crapwagon,” I’ll go with the 2003 Chrysler Sebring coupe. Not a bad looking car…but it was indeed crappy.

  • avatar

    I’ve driven a few DSMs from that Factory, and others from Japan. From the DSM years I’ve driven: the Mitsubishi Mirage (1994) the Mitsubishi Galant (94-97) That Galant is the closest car to the MKIV Toyota Camry. Just as big, nearly un-killable.

    My Favorite was the Talon. I would’ve loved to have one too back in the early 90’s.

    I almost bought at 1993 Plymouth Laser, but it didn’t come with steering assistance. It was old school.

  • avatar
    Dan R

    The early Galants looked like they were worth the money. Later ones, not.

    • 0 avatar

      I liked the late 90s models. In researching a proper answer to this question, I was tempted to select an 8th gen (1996-2003 iirc) Galant GTS. Then I couldn’t confirm it was *actually* built there in Illinois, and I discovered the V-6 came with a standard slush box. So I gave up and chose nothing.

      Oh well. I liked the styling and the commercials (well, the music in the commercials anyway), so much that I called the 1-800 number and they mailed me a VHS comparing the Galant to BMWs and the like. I wish I still had the tape somewhere. I bet its on YouTube.

      The mid 00s+ Galant (the North American only model) was terrible. Absolutely terrible. Ugly doesn’t begin to describe it. They took a nice taut little sedan and made it a fat, bloated pig.

  • avatar

    A 1998 Eagle Talon TSi AWD was my first brand new car….I was in my second year of gainful employment at (a now defunct) Canadian high tech firm. Man, I loved that Talon, lowered it slightly with a set of Eibach ProKit springs, a set of 18″ OZ F1 wheels for the Summer…it was a blast and pretty bullet proof for the 7 years that I owned it. Sold it for top dollar to a young guy as it was it great shape even after seven Ottawa Winters. Even though Eagle folded shortly after I got it, it’s a shame that they didn’t stick around especially seeing what Mitsu did with the Eclipse after that.

    • 0 avatar

      Logged in to suggest 2nd-gen Eagle Talon TSi. I always thought the Eagles looked the business more than the Plymitsus did.

      Even the 1st-gens were slick; a distant cousin by marriage had a 1990 Talon TSi in the late 90s that was high-mileage and clapped out but still ran like stink…trailing blue clouds.

      The Talons looked best in red with the black roof.

      • 0 avatar

        I wish the Laser had gotten a second gen. But, it was all a bunch of rebadges anyway. I would have been delighted if it had rekindled Plymouth’s working-man’s hot rod image from the muscle car era, and kept the brand relevant enough to stay its execution long enough to give it an LX platform variant. But, oh well, if it had, most probably would’ve had the horrible 2.7L V-6.

  • avatar

    Those old Vista wagons were a favorite of mine. I think they were ahead of their time.

    • 0 avatar

      I had the vista hatchback – which was perhaps the most reliable car I ever had, up until the day it decided to catch fire – and was a write off. Oddly enough, my mom had a dodge colt sedan, and it spontaneously combusted while sitting in the driveway. I suspect it was a faulty block heater.

  • avatar

    My family had an all-Mitsu fleet through the 90s, so I have some experience in this area. If by ‘favorite’ that means the one I’d pick because it would least likely break and thus get me someplace, I’d say a 2G aspro Eclipse with the Neon motor. Refined? No. Reliable? by a LONG ways.

  • avatar

    I had a ’96 Eclipse GS-T for 2 years. Green with tan leather interior, sunroof, 210HP turbo with 214lbs @ 2,000 RPM, huge factory wing on the back. The engine was a screamer – tons of low-end torque with 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 with twice the cylinders. 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. Plus the torque steer was epic, when you floored it you better have a good grip on the steering wheel. It blew the #3 cylinder TWICE under warranty and it consumed oil. Its the only car I’ve owned that required carrying a spare quart with you at all times because you never knew when the low-level light would come on. Leather was 2nd grade stuff and thus not worth the money at all, interior was tight squeeze as it wrapped around you a little too well. However, just the sound and power of the turbo made this car worth owning! This engine in my Prelude would have been the ultimate combo. 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 and I swear it was not my driving… well maybe.

  • avatar

    I just picked up a very nice black 2000 Chrysler Sebring with 77k miles. It needs a small repair of the head gasket, but for $250 I thought someone in my family could eventually use it. I had one for my son we bought from an outgoing fisherman with idling problems we got for $700 that only needed an EGR. It was four years old. These specific cars look very good to my eyes and are undervalued by the public. Not an outstanding anything, but a competent all-around automobile. No complications anywhere. My friends who hot-rodded the turbo Eclipse seemed to enjoy theirs, too. Diamond Star has been good to me, but I’ve got an air-suspended Lincoln so my tolerance for agony is quite high.

  • avatar

    Since wagon is on the title, the early 90’s (?) Diamante wagons were kinda nice.

    • 0 avatar

      Not built in IL, though. I know the sedans were all imported from Australia to the US. I believe the wagon was an Australian-designed variation, but for some reason, I’m kinda thinking the wagons were all Japan built. Maybe not. I know they built Diamante sedans in Japan for most of the 90s, but not for US or AUS sales.

      • 0 avatar

        True. I was lazy and didn’t read closely and missed the “DSM” qualifier. By that account, nothing on the list ever floated my boat. That pretty much goes for all Mitsubishi cars. How they’ve staying in business in the US this long is a mystery.

  • avatar

    Eclipse (but not Talon) were very popular back when I was in HS / college because of the look. Some would keep it due to the turbo but most of their owners trade them in the first thing when they graduate and get a job (reliability).

    Haven’t seen one around since about 2004.

  • avatar

    The Mirage/Summit of 1990-1993 were some small little cars that were available with the 4g63T IIRC. The first/second gen eclipses are good but they aren’t exactly crap wagons. And I had enough experience with shoddy chrysler/mitsu components on the 6G73 in my 97 cirrus to know the sebring/avenger are basically crap. It was a pretty nice car when it worked, even nicer than my current 4th gen camry, but the camry just runs better. The sebring and avenger got a similar interior/sound deadening complement to the cirrus so I can assume those were some nice riding cars. However, hearing that turbo spool up in a Mirage sedan would be awesome.

  • avatar

    Chrysler PJ

  • avatar

    PJ Eclipse, specifically the pre-facelift 1995-1996 edition. One of my favorite cars of all time. I wrote to Mitsubishi asking for a sales brochure when it launched, and they sent me one along with a poster that I kept on my bedroom wall.

  • avatar
    White Shadow

    1990 Eagle Talon Tsi AWD, 5-speed manual in white. That’s what I purchased brand new in 1990 and modded the hell out if it. I embarrassed many Mustang owners with that thing. Sidestep the clutch at 6,000 rpm and I was gone in a flash. Most Mustang drivers would panic and just burn up their rear tires, never to recover until I was so far ahead that they couldn’t possibly catch up in time. Those were good times. And to think how many of my Mustang buddies laughed at me for selling my 5.0 Mustang for a “rice burner.” Well, I was at the early stages of the Japanese turbo car era and many of them followed me to the dark side once they saw what those turbo cars could do.

  • avatar

    Mine would by default be my handle’s namesake: my 1996 Galant ES premium. Premium meant odd but wonderful 4 spoke alloys and glass foglights from the JDM Galant VR4, a power moonroof, some blacked out window trim, 2 extra speakers hooked to a head factory head unit with a 9-band slider EQ, built-in AUX port(!) and 2 extra speakers, with pre-wiring for a trunk mounted CD changer.

    Kalapana Black over almost bone-white tan cloth interior. Gosh I loved that car.

    Sure, I wanted a rare-as-hell GS with the uprated 160 hp 2.4 and the LS 5 spoke wheels, but I grew to love mine, with its handful of VR4 parts bin things.

    Fun fact: 1996 was to be the debut year of the optional 2.5l V6 (a Mitsu 6G unit already being installed in Galant-based Sebrings and Avengers), but at the last minute, they ditched the plan. My owner’s manual had full specs, schematics, capacities, service intervals, and drawings of 2.5 V6-optioned Galants, even though they were never produced.

  • avatar

    I owned an 04 Stratus coupe with 6g72 and manual transmission in college and for a few years after. It was a reliable car, but by the time I got rid of it at 140k miles the snowbelt winters had taken their toll and it was beginning to fall apart. It was a solid first car.

    My favorite DSM I have driven was a first gen eagle talon with awd. That was an absolute blast to drive in the snow (and everywhere else).

  • avatar

    Had a Eagle summit sedan. Literally the most reliable car I have ever owned. Not much else good but damn that thing never broke. PLus $100 for a set of tires was nice.

    For pure visual appeal a 2nd gen Talon would be my choice.

    I had two friends with first gen Eclipse GSX. Great cars. Still have part of the one I was riding in when it flipped into a ditch (side trim piece)

  • avatar

    Um, the Avenger pictured is the one based on the JS platform.

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