By on December 12, 2017

Image: 1992 PLYMOUTH LASER RS TURBO AWDOur 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?

Image: 1992 PLYMOUTH LASER RS TURBO AWDMuch 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.

Image: 1992 PLYMOUTH LASER RS TURBO AWDResiding 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.

Image: 1992 PLYMOUTH LASER RS TURBO AWDThe 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.

Image: 1992 PLYMOUTH LASER RS TURBO AWDOur 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.

Image: 1992 PLYMOUTH LASER RS TURBO AWDAll 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).

Image: 1992 PLYMOUTH LASER RS TURBO AWDHappily, 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.

Image: 1992 PLYMOUTH LASER RS TURBO AWDIn 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!

Image: 1992 PLYMOUTH LASER RS TURBO AWDLocated 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.

Image: 1992 PLYMOUTH LASER RS TURBO AWDIs this DSM for you, or is a Laser burning holes through the pricing logic?

[Images via seller]

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48 Comments on “Rare Rides: The 1992 Plymouth Laser – a Manual, Turbo, All-Wheel Drive Beauty From DSM...”

  • avatar

    Very fast car for that time period. Torque steer was also an issue. Great find.

    • 0 avatar

      Torque steer +1,000…… High School, senior year, 1992. My buddy’s older brother bought a new 1991 Laser w/o AWD and he let me take it for a spin. Mind you, I was 16 and only had a leaner’s permit. He tells me to floor it, on a city street with parked cars on both side), and I’ll never forget two things:

      1. The feeling of, “Well, nothing’s happening to, ‘holy shit’ in a matter of milliseconds as the car took off.
      2. The feeling that I stained my pants after nearly taking out a row of parked cars.

      Luckily, I wrangled the steering wheel in time and kept going, with my friends laughing like idiots.

      Oh, and somehow, three people (myself included at 6’2”), managed to fit in those two “rear seats” for a nearly three-hour drive from northern NJ to Wildwood for the Memorial Day weekend. It helped that the driver and passenger were no taller than 5’7,” but I can’t believe I made it down there in one piece, as my face was practically smushed up against the hatch…ahh, good times.

    • 0 avatar
      White Shadow

      Not with AWD (I owned one in Eagle Talon guise)

    • 0 avatar

      Bought my Plymouth Laser new in July 91, still have it and still love it.

  • avatar

    These were terrors – back in the day. And most seemed to have been destroyed once owners decided to “turn up the boost” to race with the Mustang and Camaros of the era. But still, all of that power – back then – out of 2.0Ls was considered amazing.

    • 0 avatar
      cimarron typeR

      A guy in my HS had a FWD Laser RS 5mt which repeatedly beat Mustang LXs 5.0 5mt on stock boost. He rolled it at some point while , and walked away. The Mustang was on stock 2.73 gears though,I imagine it would have been closer on the 3.27s, of course a boost pill for Laser would have made the difference again. Oh the early 90s.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    $14K? No! If I’m going for a rare mint 5-speed turbo liftback for that price, it’s going to be this:

    Nice find on the Laser, though. Very 90s. I haven’t seen this or an equivalent eclipse in quite some time. That tilted center stack gives me vertigo.

  • avatar

    I had the 1990 Eagle Talon version of this car. I loved it, and it was ahead of its time in the feeling of quality versus the other US competition. It was extremely impractical though, so I only had it a few years. Miss it still.

  • avatar

    Still more appealing to me than almost any 2-door on the market today.

  • avatar

    My buddy drove his sister’s Eclipse (of this bodystyle) for a while in High School. We used to ride around in it at lunch time, it was a fun little car. Probably the “coolest” ride I was seen in if you asked my classmates.

    I much preferred the 197? Chevy K20 he got later (we had a lot of fun slinging mud off road in that truck) and I really liked his dad’s 1963 C10 with the 4 speed he also drove sometimes. It was my first experience with a “granny low” equipped truck. He never drove it to school, but his mom had a Scout with a diesel that I enjoyed driving when she let me. My best friend had a 4×4 1992 Ranger ex-cab that I loved, too. Another friend had a lifted K10 that was all sorts of cool, but really too nice to do any serious off-roading (which I found preposterous). This all makes me sound like strictly a truck guy, which I’m not, I just liked them more than the low-slung FWD sporty coupe.

  • avatar

    Two doors, four-wheel drive, five gears, and a 4G63 doesn’t roll off the tongue quite “three deuces, a four-speed, and a three-eighty-nine.”

  • avatar

    DSM! DSM! DSM!

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    I didn’t know that the Plymouth version was offered in AWD form. I thought it was reserved for the Mitsubishi and Eagle models.
    The Plymouth being a entry level brand.
    The more you know…,

    • 0 avatar

      I thought the same. I think it was even the guy on my hockey team with a FWD turbo Laser who told me that.

      That is one ugly dash. Beauty car otherwise.

      I got to drive an AWD Talon TSi a bit. A teal one. It was my girlfriend’s mother’s car and we took it on a canoe trip. I recall listening to Weezer’s blue album and Pinkerton on the highway. No driving impressions as I could barely operate a manual at the time and even executed a 5-2 downshift by accident, though only at about 60 mph. I do recall it ripping through first and second very quickly while driving in anger after I stalled it starting on a hill a couple times in a row. Certainly the fastest car I’d driven until we borrowed her dad’s R/T Turbo Stealth while he was away.

      The memories of the camping and canoeing are much better than those of the driving.

    • 0 avatar
      Rap Thompson

      The Laser wasn’t offered in AWD during the first generation. In 1992, the Laser was finally available with AWD.

  • avatar

    I only ever lot drove an Eagle Talon TSi – at least at those lower speeds the turbo lag was very, very evident…

    I thought – I was driving a 355ci V8 at the time – “no power, no power… woah! There’s the power!”

  • avatar

    The power bulge was NOT unique to the Plymouth. Neither was the lack of a grill. Wheels may be unique. I forget about whether the light bar was.

    I had an Eclipse with the same power bulge, but with the NA 2.0. Fun car.

  • avatar

    That’s a true gem. A car from a different era, designed to be accessible to younger guys (for better or worse). I’d love to see a comparo to modern entry level sports cars – GTI, FRS/BRZ, EB Mustang.

  • avatar

    I remember those goofy tilted a/c vents and controls.

  • avatar

    The “power bulge” is to clear the cam sprockets and cover, right?

    • 0 avatar

      Correct. I had a ’96 Eclipse GS-T and originally thought the buldge was for the turbo… but nope just clearance for the cam cover.

      The really odd thing with these cars was sharing a platform with the Dodge Avenger. I only noticed it after parking my Eclipse next to an Avenger. I swear the doors themselves were a direct swap despite the rest of body appearing so different. Some of the interior bits (switches, etc) were a direct swap as well I think. The Avenger just seemed so much bigger (longer) that I never thought the two shared a platform.

  • avatar
    Matt Posky

    Sorry I didn’t get in to comment sooner. HNNNNNNNNGH!

  • avatar

    I borrowed one from a Mitsubishi dealer one weekend…ran it in what we called The White Lightening Run which was a dirt autocross on a multi acre pasture field just outside of Lexington, KY. Car was awesome…I won the AWD class, plus a photo in Sports Car Magazine as the car exited what we called toilet bowl. The bowl was a 200 foot diameter crater about midway through the course, and if you exited at speed, you could catch about three feet of air with the front wheels. Washed and cleaned it up before returning, not a scratch, or any damage to suspension, tires, or anything else…fun car. A friend in attendance liked it so much, we went to the dealer a couple of days after I returned it, and he bought it. I even got a hundred dollar finder fee…yep…the good old days..

  • avatar

    A colleague had one of these in Eagle trim AWD with winter tires. He had some formal training and experience in rally driving, He drove it over curvy Swan Mountain Road here in Summit County Co at speeds that I would not dare on dry pavement in my front drive Lazer Turbo.
    A 2.0 liter turbo 4 was a rare motor back then. Now it seems 2.0 turbos are dang near ubiquitous.

  • avatar

    This very car was recently featured on Nice Price or Crack Pipe and fell to an 88% CP loss.

    Beautiful car, crazy price

  • avatar

    I had a ’90 Talon TSi AWd turbo, the atomic M&M. Kind of blew away my other car, a 115 hp Audi 4000 quattro. Now if the Eagle had only had the Audi’s shifter and clutch and seats and sunroof mechanism, I’d have sold the Audi but I used it as a winter beater instead, no hardship. Somehow the Talon had very low tire/road noise compared to other small cars I’ve driven before or since. Don’t know how they managed that. Good car, too small inside, reliable for me.

  • avatar

    I used to sell cars at a Nissan and Chrysler/Plymouth dealership, so I often drove the Plymouth Laser as well as the Nissan 240SX and NX2000. The Laser Turbo was fast and had an interesting dashboard, but aside from that, I felt that Nissan’s sports coupes were much more fun to drive.

    The Laser felt like you were sitting in a bathtub, whereas the 240SX had that elegant, mono-piece dashboard and seamless seats. The earlier 240SX had a pretty rough engine that didn’t like to rev, but the updated version with the 16-valve engine was a bit smoother. Steering (being RWD), shifter, and clutch in the 240SX were all superior. Lots of fun to fling around corners.

    The NX2000 had a face that only its mother could love and it had a dashboard pulled straight from the Sentra, but aside from that, it was a blast to drive. Its 2.0L engine was smoother than the 240’s and it pulled like a train. Very revvy. For a FWD car, the NX2000 could carve corner like few other FWD cars. I know that the Sentra SE-R got all the love, but it was nowhere near as fun to drive as the NX2000.

    So yeah, the Laser was fast and nice to look at, but it didn’t hold a candle to the Nissans as far as enjoyment behind the wheel was concerned.

  • avatar

    Great car. But motorized sealbelts, and the seller is a dick. Both dealbreakers for me.

  • avatar

    Having owned a Dodge Shadow Turbo that I modded, and having some experience with the Diamond-Star cars, I really wanted one of these back in the day. Unexpectedly however, the DSM cars ended up being my gateway to BMW. In the early 90’s I went to a public car auction with the intention of buying a turbo AWD DSM variant (preferably a Talon TSi-AWD or Eclipse GSX). There was not one available at the time, but there WAS a 1989 BMW 325i 5-speed in Cirrusblau with houndstooth cloth interior. I bought it for a song, still intending to flip it for profit and come back to buy a Talon or Eclipse. Instead, I fell in love with the BMW and never looked back. My good friend did buy a Talon TSi-AWD, and proceeded to mod the hell out of it. It was so fragile in modded state that it spent more time in his driveway awaiting repair than it did driving. Years later, I taught him heel-and-toe downshifting in his next car, a 2004 GTO LS1.

    I still have a soft spot for the DSM cars, but that price is crack pipe.

  • avatar

    I believe that my dad had this exact model, but in red. My mom had a ’90 or ’91 in teal, non-turbo. Fun car.

  • avatar

    “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).”

    That’s kind of an odd barb to stick at VW. Isn’t the GTI’s HP (and that of VAG and BMW 2.0T’s in general) understood to be very, very conservatively rated by the manufacturer.

    That said, this Laser’s HP numbers are very impressive for a 1992 2.0T.

    Points to the owner for leaving the factory radio alone.

    • 0 avatar

      Plus, as others have said, the engine that was here in the DSM cars was peaky. The VW four delivers its power all through the rev range, as most modern turbo 4s do. I drove my ‘17 Golf 1.8 to DC last night and didn’t have to downshift at all on the PA turnpike from New Stanton to Breezewood, where the worst of the hills are. Cruise set to 80 at 2500rpm, in the heart of its torque band. My test drive of GTI leads me to expect similar results.

  • avatar

    These things were king of the standing 1/8 mile street race, real pocket rockets, and I think that is exactly what they were designed for. Great power to weight, short gearing in the lower gears, all wheel drive, and decent tires- and they were somewhat affordable.

    The Dodge Stealth/Mitsubishi 3000 was another contemporary turbo AWD, probably a better car, definitely faster top end and more expensive, but these Laser Turbo AWDs could still take them for the first few seconds or so Bragging rights for boy racers before the Fast and Furious was a movie franchise or Gran Turismo was a video game..

    • 0 avatar

      Those were heavy cars. The seats are comfy though, I have a set in the Cobra replica. I wanted headrest/protection and the shoulder belts are self contained in a loop on the seat. Perfect.

  • avatar

    Now THAT’S a unicorn. Wow.

  • avatar


    Ah no. Yet, an invisible coin is $17,000 so maybe, just maybe, this is worth more than the 4-5K I’d estimate it. I don’t see this being a collector’s item though. Viper? Yes. Anything DSM? Eh…

    • 0 avatar

      Agreed…this car was remarkably good for its’ time, and it’s in stunningly good condition, but I don’t see lots of big-dollar nostalgia for anything from this era, and particularly not for a Plymouth. Sad but true. Someone’s going to have a really neat little ride out of this one, but if he has more than three working brain cells, he won’t lay out anything near $14,000.

      I’ll go with $7,000, give or take, given the exceptional condition.

  • avatar

    Gorgeous. You just don’t see these anymore.

  • avatar

    Gads, I wanted this car (or any of it’s siblings) back in the day. I had just come out of my 1978 Plymouth Arrow, so this was as close to a successor as possible. Sweet-talked a dealer into letting me test drive one of these wee beasties. If it wouldn’t have been for the fact that I was a starving college student at the time…lol. Great find! Not sure the price is warranted, regardless of the condition. I’m going along with others here in the $6-$8k category. Still, it’d be a hoot to have.

  • avatar

    I thought all 1st gen DSM’s had pop up headlights, but then I’m no expert on them. Headlights and the front clip remind me of a late 90’s Oldsmobile, the pop up headlight cars were better looking IMO. Still a neat looking car though, I’m always a sucker for BBS style alloys.

    As far as the condition, this thing looks cherry. Finding one in this shape, stock is really a unicorn. I don’t know the market for these cars price wise, but the few left are usually beat to shit.

    Price is hard to pinpoint when you have a unicorn car like this, but $14k isn’t a ton of money, that will buy you a decent but not mint 98-02 Trans Am WS6, and that car has much higher production numbers, much higher survival rate/garage queen status with its owners than the DSM cars.

  • avatar

    Careful there Corey, while we all love to ladel hate on the interference engine of the Neon it was the car that got Dodge through the years when everything else was a dogs lunch.
    And IIRC your boss is still highly competitive with a Neon ACR born of the best performance bargain Dodge offered for decades:
    The SRT-4 a car that not only talked the talk, but walked the walk when it came to big power in a small package.

  • avatar

    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:

  • avatar
    Rap Thompson

    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.

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