The early 90s was the time Mitsubishi decided to have a say in the world of compact sports cars. With the powerful Mitsubishi Eclipse, the company wanted to release a car that competed in the same market of the iconic Ford and Chevrolet muscles. After four generations, a variety of engines, and multiple awards and recognitions, the car’s 22-year existence has earned enough respect to be considered as a classic in its own right.
First and second generation Eclipse: The early years (1989-1999)
The early versions of the Eclipse popped right out of the market as one of the most affordable sports cars to buy with its perfect balance of cost and overall performance. There were various engine, turbo and drivetrain selections that were all able to deliver enough power (up to 210 horsepower) to satisfy any driver’s need for speed. Most people would remember some of old models’ iconic pop-up headlights as part of its stylish exterior. The car was featured on Car and Driver magazine’s
Ten Best cars through 1989 and 1992. In 1999, a special version
10th Anniversary OZ Rally Eclipse was sold, complete with all the interior, exterior, engine, and turbo upgrades.
Diamond Star Motors (DSM) partnership (1990-1998)
The plans of the Mitsubishi Eclipse weren’t solely used by the Japanese manufacturer. Because of its partnership with Chrysler Corporation under Diamond Star Motors, similar models were made to be named under Plymouth and Eagle. This was the first model produced under the collaboration. Plymouth had the Plymouth Laser, while Eagle sold the Eagle Talon. Almost all specifications were the same across the three makes. Only a few exterior features distinguished the three from each other. However, the Talon and Laser weren’t as successful as the Eclipse. Manufacturing for Eagle and Plymouth stopped in 1994 and 1998 respectively.
Third and fourth generation Eclipse: Strong finish (2000-2011)
Now that the DSM partnership is over, Mitsubishi was free to tailor the Eclipse to its own wishes. The Eclipse shared the same platform with the Mitsubishi Galant. All trims received vast improvements. More power upgrades were put on the Mitsubishi Eclipse for these years (the later models reached 260 horsepower). The exterior looked sporty, smooth, and sleek compared to earlier models. All these still came at an affordable price which made it very appealing to most buyers. Almost 1-million units were sold, making the Eclipse the best-selling Japanese sports car during its time.
The end of the road: Special Eclipse (2011)
In honor of the long and successful run of the Mitsubishi Eclipse, the company decided to auction-off the final unit. Using a special color from the Eclipse’s archives—Kalapana Black—18-inch wheels, side graphics, leather interior, a powerful sound system, and many more upgrades, these really made the last unit one-of-a-kind. All proceeds from the auction were donated for the earthquake and tsunami victims in Japan. It’s only fitting to have a noble end to a legendary car’s story.