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 Post subject: DSM History
PostPosted: Wed Dec 20, 2006 10:24 am 
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Joined: Mon May 29, 2006 7:00 pm
Posts: 2967
Car: 92 GST
Everything you ever wanted to know about a dsm.

The "base" for the relations between Chrysler and Mitsubishi began in 1970
when Chrysler agreed to import and distribute cars manufactured by
Mitsubishi Motors Corporation under the Plymouth and Dodge brand
names. This was to be the foundation for the Diamond Star Motor division.

The mid eighties proved to be troublesome times for the Chrysler Corporation.
Sales slumped significantly. Consumers were simply not
spending the money on new cars as they had done in the past. One thing
was for certain, Chrysler needed an answer and needed one fast. On the
other hand, Mitsubishi had its own troubles. They were looking to sell more
cars in the U.S. without violating the voluntary import-quota system.
This meant that they would need to construct a plant in the United States.

Mitsubishi came to Chrysler's rescue in 1985, forming Diamond Star Motors. The Diamond Star Motors Division was created out of necessity for each side. Each company believed they would benefit greatly. Chrysler sought to replace its front wheel drive Laser, which was cancelled in 1986, with a sports car. Mitsubishi looked to increase their foreign sales. Since, each company's budget was tight both agreed to pool engineering and design resources to make their new car a reality.

Originally, the Laser coupe, which was test named the X2S, was to carry a 2.6L V6 as its top motor choice. This prototype engine was from the Starion/Conquest. Turbocharging was to be an option as well. As you know, the turbocharged inline four was chosen.

(note: DSM cars produced from 1990-1994 are known as First Generation (1G), DSM cars produced from 1995-1999 are known as Second Generation (2G).

Obviously, the next step was to select the location for the DSM manufacturing facility. Many locations were researched. With the data complied, Bloomington-Normal, Illinois was selected for its "prime location, enviable quality of life, and a community spirit second to none." Construction began immediately. With its completion, the Diamond Star Motors plant could produce up to 240,000 vehicles per year. The plant was to produce the Eagle Talon, Mitsubishi Eclipse, Plymouth Laser, Mitsubishi 3000GT, Dodge Stealth, and the Mitsubishi Galant. At the time of its construction, the plant was was and still is one of the most technologically complex car manufacturing centers in the world. The manufacturing process is so flexible that it is able to produce up to six different models on a single line. 600 industrial robots are used to achieve 90% automation in the welding and 20% automation in the final assembly line. See Production Numbers Here.

Quick Facts about MMMA
Site Area 2.57 million sq. m.
Floor Space 190,000 sq. m.
Capacity 240,000 units per year (2 shifts)

The credit for the design of the cars is still debated today. Both companies claim credit for different design areas. It is a fact that the DSM line is based on a shortened version of the front wheel drive Mitsubishi Galant.

Incorporated into the Diamond Star Motor cars are Galant engines, gearboxes, and suspension pieces. Mitsubishi handled virtually all of the engineering and was also responsible for the cars' interior design. It is hard to say for certain who created the sporty design of the 2+2 seater. Designers from both Chrysler and Mitsubishi were involved in all phases of the styling process, but the two companies disagree about the amount each contributed. It has been pointed out that the original, full-size clay model was produced by Chrysler's West Coast Pacifica design studio. The front bumper and air dam were created from a model submitted by Mitsubishi's California design firm.

Nevertheless, all three cars are mechanically identical. The famous All Wheel Drive Viscous Coupling System was not incorporated until late Spring. The partners agreed that it would be more beneficial to the company not to rush an advanced system of this nature into a new car assembly plant. ABS would also be introduced with the AWD systems. The first AWD cars were to be released under Chrysler's Eagle division

Production began in August of 1989*. There were four models to choose from. There was the base model (SOHC 1.8L, 4G37)*, the 2.0L engine (4G63)*, the turbocharged 2.0L (4G63T), as well as the awesome turbocharged, All Wheel Drive model. Sales rose drastically.

The naturally aspirated 2.0(4G63) and 1.8(4G37) liter engines were built by Mitsubishi. At the time of its production, the Laser, Eclipse, and Talon were some of the fastest four cylinders on the planet. Aftermarket parts for the trio began to make their appearance, which heavily increased the performance of the cars -- giving Mustangs, Camaros, and even Corvettes a run for their money. Manufacturing increased yearly. The demand for the cars was so great production could hardly keep up. Originally, the AWD Talon was to be the only Eagle car produced. Later, a front wheel drive model was added.

In 1991, Chrysler sold its equity of the plant in Normal, IL to Mitsubishi. This may, or may not account for the slight redesign of the cars for the 1992 year. The pop up head lights were removed and replaced with a more ergonomic design. The body of the car received some slight modifications. 1992 also marked the appearance of the AWD Plymouth Laser.

Side Panels were smoothed out to give the car a more aerodynamic look and feel. The interior received subtle modifications as well. New styling options were available, with new colors for the cloth surfaces. Mechanical changes were subtle as well. In May of 1992, the six bolt motor was replaced with a seven bolt design. The engine rods were a bit smaller than those of the pre May of 92 cars. The three bolt rear end was swapped for a stronger four bolt."Don't fix it if it ain't broke, right?"

If you've made this far keep reading.

By 1993, the public was well aware of the DSM's presence. As C. Van Tune of Car Craft Magazine wrote:**

"As a non-turbocharged front-driver, the Diamond Star is nice. As a turbocharged front-driver, it's fast. As a turbocharged all-wheel-driver, it's spectacular. No two-wheel-drive vehicle on earth can launch as hard as an AWD of comparable power, and the Diamond Star is among the hardest launching AWD vehicles around. Rev it to seven grand, drop the clutch, and all four wheels claw the pavement with a violence usually reserved for Wes Craven movies. In an across-the-intersection face-off, only a superbike, Syclone, or seriously-built street machine stands a chance against an AWD Diamond Star. The Mitsubishi Eclipse GSX tested this time wasn't the quickest in quarter-mile, but it was quicker than any other car - including the Corvette, RX7, and 300ZX - to 30 mph. And it'll achieve a 142mph terminal velocity that will let you hunt down, and pass Mustang Cobras."

If that isn't enough to pump up all of you DSM owners, I don't know what will. It may be interesting to note that the cars listed below were also released nearly the same time as the 1993 DSM's.

Camaro IROC Z 15.7 @ 91
Daytona Shelby Z 16.2 @ 86
Mustang LX 15.1 @ 94
Probe GT 16.2 @ 86
Trans Am GTA 15.9 @ 90
Thunderbird SC 15.3 @ 93
Eagle Talon TSi AWD 14.8 @ 91
-Information Provided by Car Craft 1993

The end of 1994 brought yet another change for the DSM company. The Plymouth Laser was dropped from production due to its lack of appeal that its other siblings offered. For the 1995 lineup, a new, more aggressive, comfortable, and luxurious design was chosen to replace the older Talon and Eclipse models. The design was smoothed out and given an aerodynamic feel. The ride was lowered 2 inches and given a wider, longer stance. As far as the mechanical aspects are concerned, the new design featured slightly altered variation of the 2.0L turbocharged engine with an additional 15hp. The new engine included higher compression, a smaller (T-25) garret turbo, upgraded "non-ticking" lifters, as well as a host of other improvements. The 420a was used as the non-turbo engine. This particular motor was chosen to satisfy Mitsubishi's domestic content clause. The U.S. Government reportedly did not allow the 420A to be used as domestic content due to the fact that the engine is built in Mexico. Chrysler does get to claim it as being domestic.*

Many argue which car is the greatest of the DSM family. In my opinion, the 1G is still top dog due to its cheap upgradeability. Others disagree.

Diamond Star Motors owners have long called for a convertible. The Mitsubishi Spyder was first introduced in 1996 and has been a success ever since. While a bit slower than its hard top predecessor, it is still the great bang for the buck vehicle. The Spyder was a bit heftier than the other front wheel drive vehicles. This is no doubt due to the extra 155 pounds of structural enhancements incorporated into the spyder -- which include hydraulic motor mounts, stiffer side panels, and a reinforced windshield mount among others. With a base engine of a 2.4L SOHC, or the speedy 2.0L turbo, you can rev the engine up to 7000 rpm and dump the clutch and the spyder will burn the tires all the way to redline. While not the fastest of the bunch, the lack of speed is easily made up with the image the car perceives.

In late 1996, reports were issued that Chrysler would not renew its contract with Mitsubishi after it expired in 1999. As you know, this has become a reality. I was disheartened to hear this news, as I am sure every other DSM owner was. Chrysler will continue to retain relations with Mitsubishi, but only a parts-exchange basis. The companies will proceed to exchange research information as well, but will probably never make a complete unit again. 1997 also brought minor changes to the each car's appearance. Including a raised spoiler on each car and improved aerodynamics. Recently, Chrysler purchased back 40% of the Mitsubishi stock. What does this mean? I'm not quite for sure. Some indicate that the DSM may make another apperance. Wouldn't that be nice?

1998 marked the end of the Eagle Talon. The Talon was dropped due to lagging sales.

Chrysler feared it was too late to increase sales with a new model. Some evidence of the Talon being dropped would appear in the form of "advertisements" of the 1997 model year in which no national advertisements were run for the Talon. There were some local ads that appeared from various dealers, but that was it. As a Talon owner, I hope that there is a possibility for the Talon to return. 1999 was the last year for the second generation Eclipse. Although a 2000 Eclipse model was released, I do not consider it to be a member of the DSM family due to the fact that it doesn't contain the 2.0L turbocharged monster that made the Eclipse/Laser/Talon the car that it is. In addition, the low price tag allowed all of us blue-collar citizens to become a sports car owner. It is still heavily debated whether or not to include the new Eclipse as a third generation, but you decide for yourself.

Hope you enjoy!

Being a "Patriot" does not mean prioritizing service to government above all else.
-Edward Snowden

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