The Eagle Talon and Plymouth Laser: Mitsubishi cars with pentastars
The Eagle Talon and Plymouth Laser were engineered by Mitsubishi, styled by Chrysler, and built in the United States in the “Diamond Star” plant jointly owned by Chrysler and Mitsubishi. Some Chrysler engineering was involved, but far and away these were Mitsubishis with Eagle and Plymouth logos and names. Introduced with 2,700 pounds and a choice of standard and turbocharged two-liter engines, they pushed 190 horsepower in 1990 and could run 14.4 seconds at 96 mph, about the same as a 1974 360 Valiant four-speed. The iron-block, aluminum-head engine used dual overhead cams and four valves per cylinder; the turbocharger was intercooled with a maximum boost of 11 psi. Power maxed at around 6,000 rpm though the engine could run up to 7,000. The engine had a 60 degree angle with a large intake manifold; dual coil ignition was used with electronic fuel injection. The transmission was fully synchronized and had five speed (for the stick; the automatic made do with four).
The suspension had independent struts up front and three-link trailing arms in rear, with rack and pinion steering, four wheel disc brakes, and, on turbo cars, P205/55VR16 tires. The turbo cars had heavy duty sway bars, 3/4 inches up front and one inch in rear. All wheel drive was available in the Talon but not the Plymouth.
The controls were cockpit-style, with a wraparound style dashboard that put controls within easy reach; early models had a passive restraint system with a motorized seat belt, as well as a manually attached lap belt. Gauges were placed at eye level, with water and oil temparature, a tachometer, and a turbo boost gauge for those models.
The second generation Eagle Talon
In the second generation (starting in 1995), the Plymouth Laser no longer available, as the Plymouth Neon took its place; the relatively slow-selling Laser had not been as popular as the Talon, and for good reason. The Laser was not a traditional Plymouth; the budget/value brand was selling mainly the extended K-car family at the time, along with the clearly imported Colt.
The new Talon had a 50% stiffer body, with torsional rigidity improved by 60%; the track was wider and the wheelbase longer to improve handling. Three levels were available, ESi, TSi, and TSi AWD. The TSi had a standard turbocharged engine, now producing 210 horsepower with a five -speed stick or 205 horsepower with a four-speed Chrysler automatic. The standard 2.0 liter engine, totally unrelated now to the turbo, was a new Chrysler unit also used on the 1995 and newer Mitsubishi Eclipse; it was a version of the new Neon DOHC engine, and pumped out 140 horsepower through a Chrysler five-speed stick or a four-speed Mitsu automatic. The use of this engine starting in 1995 was the first time an American engine and transmission were supplied in volume to a Japanese automaker. Dave VanRaaphorst (project executive) said, “It speaks volumes that Mitsubishi now considers Chrysler engineered powertrains and electronics - in terms of power, reliability, and efficiency - for use in their own vehicles... The engineers at Chrysler are extremely proud of this reverse flow of technology with Japan.”
The suspension was changed to a fully independent, double wishbone design; as before, turbo models got a specially tuned suspension. Four wheel disc brakes remained standard across the line, wth optional ABS. The interior was totally redesigned, with a new panel that "flows uninterrupted into the doors." The driving position was made more ergonomic while a driver and passenger airbag were made standard. Full instrumentation continued. Standard features included a spoiler, intermittent wipers, and rear wiper/washer; TSi had fog lights, heated power mirrors, body color door handles, dual exhaust, and painted aluminum wheels. Interior TSi features included adjustable headrests, six-speaker cassette stereo, leather wheel and shift knob (manual), and power seats with memory.
|Length||172||Horsepower (stick/auto)||210/205 @ 6,000||140 @ 6,000|
|Width||68||Torque (lb-ft)||214/220 @ 3,000||130 @ 4,800|
|Wheelbase||99||EPA mileage, city||23||22|
|Track (max)||60||EPA mileage, highway||31||32|
Racing the Eagle Talon: Archer Brothers
The successful Archer Brothers racing team won five consecutive SCCA World Challenge titles using Eagle Talons. In 1992, they captured first place in every SCCA event, finishing 1-2 in seven straight races and starting from the pole in all eight outings.
Laser / Talon / Eclipse history (courtesy Jason Swain)
Research based on the Standard Catalog of Chrysler.
Plymouth Laser Year Eagle Talon 42,105 1990 32,708 30,198 1991 33,537 24,090 1992 27,945 14,300 1993 26,740 5,284 (partial year) 1994 24,040 not in production 1995 25,066 not in production 1996 15,100 not in production 1997 9,788 not in production 1998 4,308
- All three were launched, using all Mitsubishi powertrains. The Eagle Talon was available with a 2.0 non turbo engine, a 2.0 turbocharged engine (TSi), or a 2.0 turbocharged engine with all wheel drive (TSi AWD). An automatic transmission was optional on the 2.0 non turbo only, the others had manual transmissions. 32,708 was the Eagle Talon's first year production total.
- The Laser was available with a 1.8 engine, a 2.0 non turbo engine (RS), or a 2.0 turbocharged engine (RS Turbo). An automatic transmission was optional on the 1.8 or 2.0 non turbo engines. The RS designation was a bit fuzzy sometimes.. as it was used on the 2.0 and the 2.0 turbo.. and I've heard some 1.8s as well. The Plymouth Laser was launched in late 1989.. and these production totals don't include that.. but the first year production was 42,105.
- An automatic transmission became an available option on all Eagle Talons and Plymouth Lasers
- Plymouth Laser production total was 30,198. The Eagle Talon's 1991 production total was 33,537.
- The Eagle Talon and Plymouth Laser got updated rear taillights, going from what was a "straight across" style, to now having two distinct, separate lights on each side. The Talon, Laser, and Mitsubishi Eclipse all got somewhat updated front ends as well, the pop-up headlights from 90/91 now gone, replaced by stationary headlights. The front end was updated to accomodate that.. and there were other various minor cosmetic changes.. but the cars were still basically the same.. and were still considered first generation cars until the 1995 model year.
- Eagle Talon production total for 1992 was 27,945.
- The Plymouth Laser received a 2.0, turbocharged, all wheel drive version this year (the TSi AWD version of the Talon), and production totals for all 1992 Plymouth Lasers was 24,090
- A 1.8 base model engine was now offered in the "DL" version of the
Eagle Talon. Total Talon production for 1993 was 26,740; total Plymouth Laser production for 1993 was 14,300
- The Plymouth Laser ended production on June 1994. The production total for 1994 was 5,284.
- Eagle Talon production for 1994 totaled 24,040
- First year of the second generation DSM cars, now limited to the Eagle Talon and Mitsubishi Eclipse since the Plymouth's production was just over half of the Eagle's in 1993 (though nearly the same in 1991 and 1992). The cars were styled with the previous generation in mind.. but were obviously new cars.
- The Eagle Talon was offered in three model levels. The first, ESi, was powered by a 2.0 Chrysler engine.. the same engine found in some Sebring/Avenger and Neon models. The TSi was powered by a 2.0 Mitsubishi turbocharged engine.. and the TSi AWD was powered by that same 2.0 engine with an all wheel drive addition. Eagle Talon production totaled 25,066
- Talon production totaled 15,100
- The Talon was given an updated appearance.. and the 1997/1998 Talon was given a far more aggressive look. Still offered in the same packages.. the Eagle Talon's total 1997 production was 9,788.
- Last year for not only the Eagle Talon, but the Eagle division of Chrysler. With the Vision discontinued after the 1997 model year, the Eagle Talon becomes the only Eagle car to be produced in 1998, and the last Eagle car to be sold. Offered in the same packages as previous years (base, ESi, TSi, and TSi AWD), the Talon's total last year production number was 4,308. The Avenger/Sebring would take over as Chrysler's only coupes, aside from the Dodge Viper (and 1999 Neon); they, too, would be based on the Galant, but would use a Chrysler engine in the base configuration.