Monday, March 14, 2011

Car Of The Day: March 14, 2011

Today's car of the day is X-Concepts' 1999 Mitsubishi Eclipse.

The Mitsubishi Eclipse is a coupe that has been in production since 1989 for right hand drive markets. It was named after an 18th century English racehorse which won 26 races, and has also been sold as the Eagle Talon and the Plymouth Laser captive imports through Mitsubishi Motors' close relationship with the Chrysler Corporation. Their partnership was known as Diamond-Star Motors, or DSM, and the vehicle trio through the close of the second-generation line were sometimes referred to by the DSM moniker among enthusiast circles.

As of 2009, the Eclipse is officially available in North America, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE, China, South Korea, the Philippines, and Brazil.

For more information and pictures of the real car please visit: Mitsubishi Eclipse

As the former owner of a first generation (1994) Eagle Talon, it pains me to say that there are no small scale examples of the Eagle available (it pains me even more to admit to having owned that horribly unreliable hunk of junk), and only one first generation Eclipse.  The second generation Eclipse seen here was popular in 1/64, likely on the strength of an appearance in the first "Fast & Furious" movie.  X-Concepts did the example shown here in a line of cars that consisted of popular tuner cars and SUVs at the time.  I am still seeking the Honda del Sol so if there's anyone out there who can help me please let me know.

The second generation car maintained the market focus of the 1G car, but had a major update in styling and had different engines between trim levels. New to the line was a convertible model, the Spyder, introduced in 1996. The convertible was available in two trims: the GS and the GS-T. The first is powered by the non-turbo 4G64 engine, and the latter by the turbo 4G63 (turbo) and GSX (all-wheel-drive) hardtop models. There was no convertible model powered by the Chrysler 420a.

The turbocharged engine option continued as the 4G63, but was modified for more power as compared to the previous generation (210 hp vs 195 hp). The non-turbo engine had two different engines depending on the market they were produced for. The US version engines were producing 140 hp, found only in the hardtop RS and GS trims, was a modified version of the Chrysler Neon engine, manufactured by Chrysler and delivered to and installed at the Diamond Star Motors facility. The Europe version engines were naturally aspirated 4G63 with 141 hp. From 96-99 the GS Spyder's were mated with the 4g64(2.4L) naturally-aspirated engine provided by Mitsubishi.

The Talon was discontinued in 1998 along with the rest of the Eagle line because lack of sales in earlier years, leaving only the Eclipse for sale during the 1999 model year.

A minor style revision was applied for the 1997 model year. The front grille opening was given a more aggressive profile. The headlights were given a sharper slant on the inner edges, and the previous all-chrome fixture interior changed to a black interior with chrome reflector inserts. The driving lights were revised from a reflector type to a smaller projection type. The rear bumper cap was altered and had the reverse lights restyled and moved out into the bumper fascia, away from their original central position by the license plate bracket. The interior color choices also changed from blue, and grey in 1995-1996 model years to black/grey, tan/black, and grey in the 1997-1999 model years. The black leather interior option was only available in 1999; the package included all seats (with the 'mitsubishi' logo embroidered on both of the fronts), door inserts, and center console armrest.

A special version of the Eclipse, called the "GS Tenth Anniversary Edition", was sold at the end of the 1999 model run with unique 16-inch wheels supplied to Mitsubishi by OZ Racing. It also included the leather interior package, accented exhaust exit, and hoop-style spoiler that were normally offered on some turbocharged models. The special edition package was only offered with the 420A engine.

A unique version of the 2G Eclipse sold in some European countries. It used a normally-aspirated Mitsubishi 4G63 motor, similar to what was available in the 1G, unique sideview mirrors, and unique amber rear turn signals.

The Talon was available in four trim levels: Base, ESi, TSi and TSi AWD. The Eagle Talon saw its production end in 1998 when Chrysler shut down the Eagle sub-brand, although the Dodge Avenger and Chrysler Sebring continued to be sold in variations that used the 420A engine and many of the 2G Eclipse/Talon interior components.

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