If you're wondering why this Mitsubishi Eclipse isn't wearing a trio of diamonds, that's because it's an Eagle Talon. Now, if you're wondering what an Eagle is and why people call it a DSM, you're not the only one. Alex Ruiz, owner of this '95 Talon, gets those questions a lot. The older guys who've been around the scene usually tell him, "I used to have one of those in high school," or "I always wanted one of those," while the new-schoolers ask, "What's a DSM?"
DSM stands for Diamond-Star Motors, which was a joint venture between Chrysler and Mitsubishi founded in 1985. The venture was responsible for manufacturing three cars collectively: the Mitsubishi Eclipse, Eagle Talon, and Plymouth Laser. All three featured slightly different cosmetics but for the most part shared the same DNA—DNA that made the cars popular in the '90s for their turbocharged 4G63 inline-four and optional all-wheel-drive system. DSM cars arrived at a time when the Honda scene was picking up steam; however, the Eclipse, Talon, and Laser gave many enthusiasts their first taste of affordable boost. They also served as a bridge between Japanese and domestic sports car fans with the Chrysler-Mitsubishi partnership.
As for Alex's Talon, this is actually his first car, and it's the product of a challenge between him and his friend to see who could build the fastest version of the same car. Alex's buddy picked up an Eclipse, but it was a front-wheel drive base model without a turbo. Alex (purely by accident) ended with a turbocharged, all-wheel-drive Talon TSi. "My car was always faster," he tells us with a laugh.
Alex set out to make his Talon as potent as possible under a limited budget. From junkyard visits to hand-me-down fuel pumps, nothing was off the table. The goal was to break into the 10s in the quarter-mile for less than three grand, which he did while getting the car down to 10.7 seconds at 127 mph.
As Alex grew older, his tastes changed, and he looked toward reinventing the Talon; this time, he envisioned something that would last longer and look more refined—minus all the eBay and knockoff parts. He picked up a Lancer Evo III long-block and five-speed tranny, which he mated to the original all-wheel-drive system. Alex tells us the JDM powertrain features a different compression, cam lobes, intake manifold, throttle body, and gearing, but for the most part it swaps right in and has endured a much easier life than domestic a 4G63. He added ARP hardware for good measure then turned up the boost using a large 60mm turbo to make 642 hp and 578 lb-ft of torque at 38 psi on E85. The E85 setup is pretty simple: bigger injectors, high-flow fuel pump, and some tuning from D Tuned Performance. However, for the majority of the Talon's use, boost is dialed down to for a modest 400 hp on 91 octane. Alex explains many of the components remain stock, specifically the axles, driveshafts, rear end, and transfer case. These things tend to break after 450 hp, so low boost and more conservative driving habits are in order.
We asked about "crank walk," which is supposedly a common weakness in certain 4G63 engines. Alex has a different take, "It's not the engines, it's the owners." Back when DSMs became popular in the '90s and early '00s, there weren't as many aftermarket parts, specifically clutches, to keep up with the kind of power the inline-four was able to produce. The heavy-duty single-plate clutches of the day put extra strain on the thrust bearings, leading to failures. Today, double- and triple-plate clutches are available, letting guys put down more power without tearing up the drivetrain. Alex's remedy was a South Bend single Kevlar disc and Exedy Stage 3 pressure plate.
Besides reliable power, Alex knew he'd have to do something serious with the exterior if he was going to make the Talon respectable. He enlisted the help of Sergio Amezcua, founder of Carbonetics, to take his Talon to the next level. First, the front and rear fascias were swapped with '97-to-'99 Eclipse parts, then loads of carbon-fiber was added. A few of the most visible items were crafted by Carbonetics, including the front lip, hood, sunroof delete, side skirts, and airbag delete panel. The exclamation point is a one-off fender kit, also built by Carbonetics.
What's next for Alex? He's looking into new pistons and rods then bringing power closer to 500 hp on pump gas. He also wants to redo the electronics and get an AEM Infinity wired in with a fuel cell and surge tank. Until then, he'll be enjoying the Talon as is and continuing to field all your questions about the long-gone but never forgotten DSM.