Rare Rides: The 1992 Plymouth Laser - a Manual, Turbo, All-Wheel Drive Beauty From DSM

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis

Our last Rare Ride was the little hot hatch Isuzu I-Mark RS, which was just oh-so-80s. Today we move forward in time just four years, to a different sort of sporty hatch.

This one’s Japanese and American. It’s also turbocharged and all-wheel drive. Can you handle some extreme Diamond Star?

Much like the I-Mark, the Plymouth Laser was part of a greater multi-brand offering from the good people at Dodge Chrysler Plymouth Jeep Eagle Renault AMC Nash-Kelvinator. Offered alongside the Mitsubishi Eclipse and Eagle Talon, the trio was manufactured by the good people of Diamond Star Motors, in Normal, Illinois.

TTAC staff have requested Ms. Turner’s presence in this article. She liked to hang with the Laser.

Residing on the D platform along with the Mitsubishi Galant, the Chrysler Sebring and Dodge Avenger, the D would see usage through 2005 on the successor generation of the Eclipse. Both the Talon and Eclipse would see future generations, but the Laser would live for just five years — 1990 to 1994. By then Plymouth had its own successor in mind for the sporty Laser, and it was the… Neon. Right.

The Plymouth received differentiated styling compared to its siblings: a light bar at the rear, grille-free visage, power bulge on the hood, and the lace alloys you see here. Superb.

Our Rare Ride is a top-of-the-line RS version — just like the I-Mark we saw previously. Standard power steering, a blacked-out roof panel, accent striping along the cladding, and dual power mirrors came standard.

All versions were powered by four-cylinder engines of either 1.8 or 2.0 liters. The RS had the 2.0, featuring dual overhead cams and a turbocharger for a power figure of 195 hp. That’s not too far off from modern 2.0 power figures (looking at you, GTI).

Happily, the original owner had no choice other than the five-speed manual. All RS models with all-wheel drive had manual transmissions in 1992. Speaking of which, the all-wheel-drive version was new for 1992. The automatic became optional on all-wheel drive RS models for 1993, and the model soldiered on unchanged in its final year for 1994.

In total for those five years on the market, Plymouth shifted over 115,000 Lasers. Sales declined consistently after introduction until things became bad enough to end production halfway through 1994. It would appear the company stopped fully attaching the door panels by 1992 — check that gap!

Located out in San Francisco, this completely stock Laser RS is a rare bird indeed. The owner has taken exceptional care of it, and everything appears intact, pristine, and functional. You’ll pay for the exclusivity of a nearly-new Laser though, as the current ask is $14,000.

Is this DSM for you, or is a Laser burning holes through the pricing logic?

[Images via seller]

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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  • Squidge Squidge on Dec 13, 2017

    Thanks for posting this. I spent most of my childhood in the 90s riding around in my (much) older brother's brand new, red version of this car ('92 RS AWD Manual). I bought it from him later in life and sold it around 2009. Would love to have another clean one, but yeaaahhh.... not for $14k. Here's mine when I sold it: https://imgur.com/a/6keTR

  • Rap Thompson Rap Thompson on Jun 10, 2018

    I test drove several DSM cars including a 1991 Mitsubishi GSX AWD automatic, a 1992 Eagle Talon TSi FWD 5 speed, a 1992 Eagle Talon TSi AWD 5 speed and a 1992 Eagle Talon with the naturally aspirated 2.0L engine (I don't remember the trim level) and a 5 speed. The GSX was boring and slow. The NA 2.0 Talon was revvy and more fun than the AWD automatic Mitsubishi. The Talon TSis were the most fun. The AWD was much more competent and a far safer car, but the FWD turbo was the most fun. I floored it in 2nd gear and at first it barely accelerated. Then the turbo spooled up and the boost kicked in and BOOM! the torque threw me back in the seat. A FWD car with that sort of power has terrible torque steer, and while the car threw me back, the car pulled to the right. I had to fight to keep it out of the ditch. Awful turbo lag + terrible torque steer = the most fun I've ever had in a car. If it sounds like I'm bashing the car I am not. I absolutely loved driving it and would have bought it had I had the money. The first time I got on it, I started giggling like a little girl. That little engine was so powerful when the boost built up. Tremendous. I still want one.

  • ToolGuy Friendly reminder of two indisputable facts: A) Winners buy new vehicles (only losers buy used), and B) New vehicle buyers are geniuses (their vehicle choices prove it):
  • Groza George Stellantis live off the back of cheap V8 cars with old technology and suffers from lack of new product development. Now that regulations killed this market, they have to ditch the outdated overhead.They are not ready to face the tsunami of cheap Chinese EVs or ready to even go hybrid and will be left in the dust. I expect most of their US offerings to be made in Mexico in the future for good tariff protection and lower costs of labor instead of overpriced and inflexible union labor.
  • MaintenanceCosts This is delaying an oil change for my Highlander by a couple of weeks, as it prevented me from getting an appointment before a business trip out of town. Oh well, much worse things have happened.I also just got a dealership oil change for my BMW (thanks, loss-leader prepaid plans!) and this didn't seem to affect them at all.
  • Kwik_Shift_Pro4X Gonna need more EV fuel.
  • Lou_BC There's a company in BC that has kits for logging trucks and pickups. They have "turn key" logging trucks too. What they market is similar to what Ram wants to sell. The rig runs on batteries and a generator kicks in when depleted. On the West Coast logging in the mountains they found that the trucks run mostly on regen braking. The generator doesn't kick in much. Going up mountain, the truck is empty.
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