QOTD: What's Your Favorite Diamond-Star Motors Crapwagon?

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis

Earlier 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?

How 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]

Corey Lewis
Corey Lewis

Interested in lots of cars and their various historical contexts. Started writing articles for TTAC in late 2016, when my first posts were QOTDs. From there I started a few new series like Rare Rides, Buy/Drive/Burn, Abandoned History, and most recently Rare Rides Icons. Operating from a home base in Cincinnati, Ohio, a relative auto journalist dead zone. Many of my articles are prompted by something I'll see on social media that sparks my interest and causes me to research. Finding articles and information from the early days of the internet and beyond that covers the little details lost to time: trim packages, color and wheel choices, interior fabrics. Beyond those, I'm fascinated by automotive industry experiments, both failures and successes. Lately I've taken an interest in AI, and generating "what if" type images for car models long dead. Reincarnating a modern Toyota Paseo, Lincoln Mark IX, or Isuzu Trooper through a text prompt is fun. Fun to post them on Twitter too, and watch people overreact. To that end, the social media I use most is Twitter, @CoreyLewis86. I also contribute pieces for Forbes Wheels and Forbes Home.

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  • Mopar4wd Mopar4wd on Dec 14, 2017

    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)

  • Flipper35 Flipper35 on Dec 14, 2017

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

  • Ronin Let's see the actuals first, then we can decide using science.What has been the effect of auto pollution levels since the 70s when pollution control devices were first introduced? Since the 80s when they were increased?How much has auto pollution specifically been reduced since the introduction of hybrid vehicles? Of e-vehicles?We should well be able to measure the benefits by now, by category of engine. We shouldn't have to continue to just guess the benefits. And if we can't specifically and in detail measure the benefits by now, it should make a rational person wonder if there really are any real world benefits.
  • TheEndlessEnigma Simply put, I like it.
  • TheEndlessEnigma Ah GM, never stop being you. GM is working hard to make FIAT look good.
  • TheEndlessEnigma Top Gear of the 2000's was a fresh concept and very well done. Sadly to say there isn't a TV show concept that doesn't eventually exhaust fresh ideas and, as a result, begins to rehash and wear out once were fresh ideas. The show eventually becomes a pale imitation of itself, then begins to embarrass itself, it will get to a point where it jumps the shark. Top Gear began to get stale, the Clarkson, Hammond and May left and the formula failed - surprise! the presenters were part of the magic. Fast forward many years and Grand Tower is trying hard to be Top Gear but it's all very obviously scripted (it always was by felt spontaneous in its original form), Clarkson, Hammond and May are much older, tired and have become caricatures of themselves. Guys, just stop. You should have stopped 10 years ago. Now you're just screwing with your reputations and legacies.
  • FreedMike Kudos to Toyota for making a legitimately slick looking piece (particularly in metallic cherry red). But PHEVs seem like a very narrow niche to me. Yes, the concept is cool - if you play your cards right you never have to fill up with gas, and the gas engine means you don't have to worry about charging facilities - but the operative words are "if you play your cards right." And PHEVs have all the drawbacks of EVs - spotty charging availability, decreased range in cold conditions, and higher price. Personally, I'd opt for a non plug-in Prius and use the plug-in money to upgrade the trim level. It's slower, but even the base Prius performs roughly on par with a Corolla or Civic, so it's not a dog anymore. But who buys a Prius to go fast in the first place? If I wanted to "go gas free," I'd just buy a BEV. YMMV, of course.