Autopolis: The Forgotten Gem of the Diamond Star Coupes

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Autopolis: The Forgotten Gem of the Diamond Star Coupes
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I’ve always had a soft spot for the original Diamond Star coupes. The trio consisting of the Mitsubishi Eclipse, Eagle Talon, and Plymouth Laser was a game-changer in the automotive world. While the Eclipse took the spotlight as the best-selling model, it is the often-overlooked Plymouth Laser that deserves our attention.

A Design Like No Other

The Laser, introduced in 1989, was hailed as the first Plymouth of the ’90s. Its sleek and elegant teardrop profile set it apart from the boxy styling prevalent at the time. Designed under the joint venture of Mitsubishi and Chrysler, the Laser showcased a unique combination of engineering prowess and Chrysler’s distinct styling.

The Value Leader

As the value-branded version of the Diamond Star Coupes, the Laser offered a more affordable option. Initially, it was only available in front-wheel drive, while its counterparts offered all-wheel drive options. The base Laser came with a 1.8-liter SOHC 4-cylinder engine, generating 92 horsepower. However, the more powerful 135-horsepower 2.0-liter RS model stole the show.

The Best of Both Worlds

The Laser bridged the gap between sophistication and performance. It competed against the Toyota Celica GTS and Ford Probe GT, boasting a luxurious appearance in upper trims. In lower trims, it took on competitors like the Cavalier/Sunfire pair and the Hyundai Scope. The Laser found its place in the market, offering a compelling alternative to its rivals.

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Identical Yet Unique

At first glance, it was difficult to distinguish the Laser from its siblings, the Talon and Eclipse. However, the Laser’s absence of a full ground effects package gave it a distinct appearance. While badges and minor design differences set them apart, the Laser and its counterparts shared interchangeable parts, emphasizing their similarity.

The Performance Edge

One of the Laser’s most appealing qualities was its subtle performance edge over the Talon and Eclipse. The front-wheel-drive turbocharged models were slightly heavier due to ground effects, impacting their power-to-weight ratios. As a result, the lighter Laser RS Turbo became a favorite among automotive enthusiasts, with its nimble handling and quicker acceleration.

The Lasting Legacy

Although the Laser’s production run was relatively short-lived, it left a lasting impact. Its visual improvements in the 1992 model year, including new wheel and color options, made it even more enticing. However, despite the improvements, sales remained modest. In 1994, the Laser bid farewell, leaving behind a legacy of rarity and underappreciation.

FAQs

Q: How does the Plymouth Laser compare to the Mitsubishi Eclipse and Eagle Talon?
A: The Laser shares many similarities with its Diamond Star Coupe siblings in terms of performance and design. However, it had its own unique characteristics and a distinct appearance, making it a compelling choice.

Q: Were there any significant design changes during the Laser’s production run?
A: The Laser underwent two major design changes. The 1G cars featured pop-up headlights, while the 1GB models boasted sleek composite headlights with integrated turn signals. These design updates enhanced the Laser’s overall appeal.

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Conclusion

Although overshadowed by its counterparts, the Plymouth Laser remains a hidden gem among car enthusiasts. Its sophisticated design, performance edge, and distinct identity set it apart from the crowd. As 90s nostalgia continues to grow, the Laser’s rarity and underappreciation will soon be a thing of the past. So, keep an eye out for a well-preserved Plymouth Laser—it might just be the perfect addition to your collection.

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