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Evolution of the Eclipse

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Topics:  Mitsubishi Eclipse

Evolution of the Eclipse

Ronnie Tanner
May 27, 2009

The Mitsubishi Eclipse made its debut in 1990. The new car was a brainchild of an alliance between Chrysler and Mitsubishi. These companies had joined to form Diamond Star Motors.

The car itself was not a brand new design but rather a new spin on a car that had already appeared under several other names. The twins to the Eclipse are known to the general population as the Eagle Talon and the Plymouth Laser, however due to some slight design changes and heavier advertising, it was the Mitsubishi Eclipse that would prove to be the most popular of the three. The all three versions of the vehicle would be produced at the same plant in Illinois and all were introduced at the same time.

The design of the Mitsubishi Eclipse has been a popular one with younger consumers as it was intended to compete as entry-level sports coupe. The Eclipse itself was originally offered with four different packages. The car is a study in smooth lines, upscale interior and powerful engines all the while retaining the affordability that makes it within reach of up and coming twenty something’s. By remaining true to the original style lines that have made the car so popular, Mitsubishi has been able to retain its hold on this portion of the sports coupe market.

Named after a racehorse from the eighteenth century that won an astounding 26 races in one year, the sports car has eclipsed most other vehicles in its class.

The original two versions of the car were kept very similar to hold down design costs and indeed most parts from these first generations are interchangeable. They are easily identifiable by their pop up headlights, a design that lends sleekness to the cars lines but have a tendency to show problems with the motor responsible for opening the headlights. Although most cars today have converted over to front wheel drive, the Eclipse has not. It has instead retained a rear wheel drive system that has proven to be reliable and needs very little repair. It has been suggested that Japanese auto makers had long been seeking to create their own version of the pony car and indeed many feel that with this Mitsubishi sports coupe that goal has been reached.

There have been several technological changes to the cars and several additions to body styles. 1996 saw the first major body style changes. Popularity of the vehicle slipped somewhat and many felt this was due a key body change. The 1996 version was shorter and thicker leading some to predict that this particular version of the Eclipse would be its last. The chief complaint seemed to be that long lean lines of its predecessor were lost. Although it would take some time, Mitsubishi heeded the call of consumers and by the year 2000, the sports car once again had longer lines that are more curvaceous.

From 2000 through 2005, the car would retain the hatchback style. Although there had been some talk among executives of dropping the manual transmission and offering the car solely as an automatic, this never materialized and all trim models continued to be offered with both five speed manual transmissions as well as a four speed automatic.

Although the sports coupe has received slight body style redesigns with added standard equipment, it remains virtually unchanged since 2006. The car still holds a firm share of sales for its division and the car should continue to be produced for several years into the future

Ronnie Tanner is a contributing writer at Eclipse Car Tuner. He writes about eclipse body kits and other industry specific topics.

Source: Amazines.com

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