Diamonds Are Forever – A Tribute To A Legend


It was a hot summer day, almost triple digits. The legendary Black Cherry 1G Talon made its’ way through the pits, everybody was watching. This particular car was holding the number one position all day, running in the mid nine second range. This pass was no different, and the Talon went on to destroy everything in its’ class that day. This was in 2002, and my life was forever changed since.

Flash forward several years, and that legendary Talon went on to hold numerous accolades, became the first all wheel drive car to run seven second quarter mile times and instilled fear into the competition in ways unimaginable. The truth is, the whole DSM community shed a tear the day John Shepherd announced he would be retiring the legend. This was a car that truly captivated an audience, when John pulled into the pits, everybody dropped everything and immediately paid attention. If your significant other called to announce she just went into active labor, it can wait seven seconds. His car truly was a rock star and always will be.

To be perfectly honest, this Talon is the car that started it all for me. Back in 2002, performance from four cylinder imports was still largely in its’ infancy, and to see a legitimate street car running nine second quarter mile times seemed almost impossible. With that being said, this was just the start for the reign of terror that DSMs would become known for. Whether you love these cars or you’re new to them, this article should hopefully bring a since of pride and cohesion, much like the community has for so many years.

So, What Is A DSM?

Since you asked, I’ll go ahead and cover that now. For the purpose of this article, we will mostly stick to the first generation model. With that out of the way, DSM stands for Diamond Star Motors, which was a joint venture between Chrysler and Mitsubishi. The naming came from the Chrysler star logo and the Mitsubishi diamonds, pretty self explanatory now that you know. Formed in 1985, this joint venture brought us three amazing cars, the Talon, Eclipse and Laser.


The Talon was the model produced by Eagle, the Eclipse was produced under the Mitsubishi Motors title, and the Laser was produced under the Plymouth name. All three cars were basically the same, with minor aesthetic differences. However, here’s the bigger differences:

  • The Laser didn’t offer all wheel drive as an available option until 1992

  • Laser was only produced from 1990-1994

  • Talon was produced until 1998

  • Eclipse produced for much longer than it should have been, second generation production ending in 1999 noting the end of 4G63 and all wheel drive availability


Back to some of those differences. The trio was sold in the USA starting in the 1990 model year, with turbocharged engines available in front wheel drive and all wheel drive trims. The 1.8 motor was known as the 4G37 and output was low, around 110-115 horsepower. These motors were found in base cars such as the Talon DL, Eclipse GS and Laser base. Many of those base cars didn’t feature the iconic hood bump, but some base models did indeed have it.


The 4G63 non turbocharged engine was rated for roughly 130 horsepower, and was found in the higher line Talon ESi, Eclipse GS 16v, and Laser RS. The turbocharged engine came in two flavors, 180 horsepower for the automatic transmission models, and 195 horsepower for the manual equipped models. These were designated Talon TSi, Eclipse GST (front wheel drive) or GSX (all wheel drive) as well as RS Turbo for the Laser. The difference in outputs between transmission choices is attributed to a few things. The automatic models had a smaller 13G turbocharger and smaller 390 cc fuel injectors. The manual models had a larger 14B turbocharger and larger 450 cc fuel injectors.

Acceleration for the day was rather impressive, with all wheel drive models going 0-60 in seven seconds flat. Top speed is something that isn’t really known per se, but I can verify a stock first generation model going well above 130 miles per hour. These cars are tremendously easy to make horsepower with, and even in stock form they are very fun to drive.

What Makes The DSM Special?

The 4G63 engine is the heart of a good DSM, and quite simply, it’s a masterpiece. The most feared four cylinder in the world, and engine with a list of accolades a mile long, if you’re a car enthusiast you’ve no doubt heard about this notorious engine. The 4G63 has been starting pissing matches with V8’s for years, and winning the fights with great regularity.

Featuring a cast iron block, forged crankshaft, forged connecting rods, and a cylinder head that outflows Niagara Falls, the 4G63 was an instant recipe for rally and drag strip domination. There were two distinct flavors of the 4G63, the six bolt and the seven bolt. The six bolt was available from 1990 until roughly a third of 1992. Around April 1992, the cars went to a new seven bolt motor. Here are some of the differences:

  • Six bolt featured the beefiest connecting rods

  • Six bolt and seven bolt head ports varied in size, this is a controversial subject for another day

  • Seven bolt featured lighter weight connecting rods

  • Seven bolt features a main cap girdle

These are just basic differences. All Evolution models featured seven bolt engines. Despite some mass hysteria over “crank walk” the issue was largely blown out of proportion and only affected a fraction of all cars produced. Crank walk refers to an issue in which the crank shaft thrust bearing becomes very worn and allows the crankshaft to quite literally walk inside the block. Again, this is a largely misunderstood topic for another day.


The three models also underwent other changes in 1992, and here are some of those changes:

  • Elimination of pop up headlights in favor of fixed headlights

  • Tail lights and other face lift changes such as bumpers, grille and the obvious headlights

  • All wheel drive models went from the three bolt rear differential to a far stronger and more desirable four bolt design.

  • Some rare 1992 models were available with the six bolt 4G63 and the four bolt rear differential. These are considered to be one of the most desirable models out there.

  • 1G model designation changed from 1GA to 1GB to notate these changes

That brings us to a few discussions. For the most part, the six bolt engine is the most desirable due to the ability to push the stock engine rotating assembly to stratospheric numbers. With that being said, don’t discount the seven bolt engine either. The factory main cap girdle is very desirable and huge power numbers are very achievable from either motor. In 2011, OSTAR Motorsports was able to run 9.83 at 149 miles per hour on a completely OEM rotating assembly. After being met with skepticism, they were quick to post a live disassembly video, which proved the point that their engine was completely unchanged from new. There have been multiple ten second passes on completely stock engines, featuring turbocharger upgrades, fuel system upgrades, and the obvious bolt on upgrades. This simply goes to show just how capable the 4G63 truly is.


How Capable?

Before the R35 Nissan GTR went on sale, DSMs were completely unrivaled in the all wheel drive arena. In terms of four cylinder all wheel drive models, they still hold every record possible.


  • Quickest and fastest H pattern manual transmission in the world – Red Demon 2G Eclipse, 7.49 at 199.9 miles per hour. Still all wheel drive.

  • World’s quickest DSM, quickest and fastest all wheel drive four cylinder car – Jeff Bush 1G Talon, 7.38 at 187.94 miles per hour

  • First all wheel drive seven second pass, previous world’s quickest and fastest – John Shepherd 1G Talon. 7.70 at 191 miles per hour

  • Brent Rau – 2G tube car that ran 6.83 at 193 miles per hour making it the first four cylinder in the sixes until recently.

A Nasty Reputation

Word spread very quickly of the capabilities of these cars, and people were quick to scoop them up and start modifying the crap out of them. The problem was, nobody was really maintaining them. As with any aging turbocharged car, special attention is required, and unfortunately it’s rarely given. Instead, people bought their DSMs, cranked the boost through the roof without supplying proper supporting modifications (fuel system, tuning etc) and problems were quickly arising. As this became a trend, these cars were labeled unreliable.


The truth is, DSMs are always as reliable as their owners, and give equal respect. I’ve personally owned multiple Talon and Laser models with nothing bad to report. The day I picked up my beloved 1990 TSi all wheel drive I had driven 250 miles to pick it up and drove it home the same day. The difference was simple, this Talon had been well maintained and I wasn’t an idiot. What I’m trying to say here is that DSMs are as reliable as any other car, they just require a little more love. Don’t knock a car because you lack restraint and common automotive knowledge. The DSMs I’ve owned have offered me excellent service as daily drivers and weekend toys alike.

Final Thoughts

No matter how hard I try and convey my thoughts on this subject, I can never give these cars the proper justice they deserve. Like a good friend, Talons, Eclipses and Lasers have always been a huge part of my life. I’ll make this very clear ahead of time, you don’t simply buy a DSM and stop there. Just like a desperate stray, you feed it once and it becomes a part of your everyday life. There isn’t a way out, and you’ll find yourself comparing other cars to your DSM. The ability to offer insane levels of performance for such small monetary investment attracts many people, and it holds so many of us enthusiasts hostage. Take me for example, I have well over five thousand dollars invested into my Audi 5000 Turbo Quattro, and if I had invested that amount of money into a 1G Talon I would easily be over 500 horsepower.


Add the nostalgic and always iconic appearance of the first generation cars, and you have a recipe for a life long disease. Sure the interior is very cheap in appearance, but it’s truly something you grow to love and embrace. These cars have so much character, and a certain level of panache that is virtually unrivaled from cars of this vintage. For roughly five thousand dollars you can find a very clean first generation all wheel drive Talon, Eclipse or Laser. You’ll be buying into a lifestyle, for better or for worse. With it, you will make friendships, enemies, and memories you won’t ever want to give up. The friendships I cherish today, the friends I’ve had for over a decade, they all spawned from DSM talk and ownership.

We all share the same paralyze, the same sickness, and we typically stick together through thick and thin. As these cars become extinct and rare due to part outs, we hoard parts and buy up all the models we can in hopes of saving them. Someday, I look for my daughter to be sliding the key in her first Talon, and she too will understand the meaning of automotive pride. Nothing makes you quite as proud as a clean DSM, and the fear and respect they demand on the street or at the track. Everybody knows just how fast they can be, and when they see it pull up they tend to assume the worst. Don’t expect to hustle street race money, DSMs won’t fly under anybodies radar, and they certainly aren’t sleepers. Instead, they’re misunderstood, respected, loved, loathed and feared universally.


I hope this helps convince you that buying a DSM is indeed worth it, or maybe helps settle some of the myths. Again, my best advice is simple, buy one knowing that there is no going back, and be prepared to win races that your friends couldn’t.

You Don’t Really Want To Own A Rare Or Quirky Car


My choices in vehicle ownership spawns lots of commentary from my friends and family. They’re always asking me “why on Earth” I choose to drive such odd cars, instead of a “normal” car. If you know me at all, you know that I have owned some pretty random vehicles. I’ve owned a few Maserati Biturbos, multiple Audi 5000 variants, a turbocharged first generation Ford Probe, and that’s just a basic start.

The truth is, I always idolized the quirky cars as a child. Most kids had a Corvette or Porsche 911 poster growing up. I had a Lotus Elise Sport 190 poster. I dreamed of owning a Maserati Biturbo. Instead of a common Porsche 911, I’d fancy a Lotus Esprit instead. While this doesn’t make sense to the general car population, it does for me.

Flashing way back to my very first car which was a 1986 Audi 5000 S, I immediately fell in love with the rarity and mystique of a quirky car. People would often gaze and try to figure out just what in the hell it was. In a small town flooded with Ford Escorts, SUVs and Mustangs, I had a very weird looking sedan in an abysmal color. I became hooked on the idea of not following trends, and not being a part of any certain group. I’d decided at a young age that I would do my own thing and just run with that.

It wasn’t very long after owning my old 5000 that I had moved on, a few vehicles later I had acquired a rather clean 1990 Ford Probe GT. This particular car was pretty cool to me, instead of the common second generation Probe, I’d had the more rare turbocharged model. Not much really happened with this car since it had developed a catastrophic transmission failure, and once again I had moved on. However, that car stuck with me for years in my head. I longed to own something odd like that again someday.

Several years later, I’d purchased another Audi 5000, this time I had found the very rare Turbo Quattro model with a manual transmission. I was sold on the car before I ever even went to look at it. I truly had no idea what I was getting into, and this Audi had changed my way of thinking for a very long time. I had heard all the maintenance horror stories with old Audi cars, yet I’d covered 200 miles just to bring it home through a blizzard. I had covered almost a year of daily driving, and the only problem the car had was a bad battery. Sure, the old CIS fuel system was finicky at best, but reliability was absolutely a strong suit for that old car.

Regrettably, I had sold the 5000 due to several electrical issues that seemed intimidating. The power windows did not work and a hot Tennessee summer was coming. The heater did not work, yet I’d made it through one of the coldest winters in Tennessee history. The Audi served me admirably and went on to a great home. I’d go on to miss that car for many years.

Flash forward to a few years ago, I’d owned my second Maserati Biturbo, this time a fuel injected model. My previous Biturbo was carbed and never really gave me much reliable service. I’d found an opportunity and jumped on it right away. I traded my beloved 1989 Jaguar XJ6 (a finicky car in it’s own right) straight up for the 1987 Maserati. The Jaguar was in need of a head gasket, but save for that issue, was an extremely reliable car for me. I was nervous, obviously the Biturbo has a horrible reputation for unreliability. However, that was anything but the case for me.

Now I’ve written a separate article about this particular car I’m referencing, but for the sake of this story, I’ll recap quickly. The Maserati was the single most reliable car I’d owned in a few years. There was never a single occasion in which I needed to get somewhere that the car didn’t oblige. Quite literally, it was without flaw. Everything electronic worked, the heater worked, the windows, I mean everything. On a -50 degree winter day, my Mother’s two year old Chevrolet Impala would not start. The Biturbo jumped it and gave it the chance to run. No, I’m not joking.

Once again, regrettably, life circumstances happened, and the Biturbo said goodbye to me, and went on to a new loving home. With that being said, owning that car gave me the confidence to tackle quirky car ownership. I’d serviced it myself, I’d kept it reliable with minimal fuss, I thought I was the man. So when the opportunity presented itself around six months ago to purchase my 1986 Audi 5000 Turbo Quattro, I did not think twice. It had a manual transmission, it ran and drove. The body was pretty well straight, and the frame was clean. I’d reminisced on my days of owning my other 5000 in Tennessee. What could possibly go wrong? For $1300, I figured not too much could.

This ladies and gentleman, is where things get sketchy. I still own this 5000, and let me tell you something right away. Be smarter than me, and buy a normal car. Want the Audi badge? Buy an A4. Want a turbocharged all wheel drive car to have fun with? Go buy a first generation Talon. Do anything, but don’t do what I did. Now that we’re getting to the point, I’ll break this down into segments for dramatic effect.

Cost Of Ownership

Seems cut and dry, doesn’t it? I paid $1300 for the car. In reality, it hasn’t REALLY broke down, but it hasn’t exactly been safely road worthy since the beginning either. I had purchased a set of RS6 wheels for a very cheap price, and was pretty excited to put them on. Except, 18 inch wheels don’t work on a 5000. So, we grabbed a fender roller and got to work. That is when we discovered the first of many major issues. The rear upper control arm on the passenger side was snapped in half, and the rear strut was also broken off at the mounting point. Seems easy enough to fix, doesn’t it? That is when we get into:

Parts Availability

Not to be immodest, but I’m proudly at a point in my life that I can afford to fix major repairs, mostly because I sold my soul to truck driving. So, being the overly thorough person I am, we inspected the rest of the rear suspension. What we found was what we expected, thirty one years and over a quarter million miles made for a very sloppy suspension. My best friend Nathan works at a major auto parts retailer, and I had him order all new bushings for the lower control arms, since the lower control arms went “no longer available” many years ago. We went ahead and ordered new upper control arms, all four struts, some bushings, and we figured that would be easy enough.

So here is the sad news folks, it’s NEVER that easy with rare vehicles. For instance, I get the call from Nathan, he tells me that two of the bushings we need are discontinued. There is no stock anywhere. A few days later, he calls and tells me the front struts arrived, but unfortunately, the rears did not. They were also discontinued and nobody could source them. Frantically, I started searching high and low. Even the almighty parts giants at ECS Tuning told me in a very polite way, “Sir, you’re shit out of luck” and I began to freak out.

By some miracle, the rears arrived. Turns out, I got the last rear struts in existence for my car. The only others I have found are the OEM Sachs for $200 each, and there are only a few sets available. I said a quick thank you to the Gods above, and figured it would be smooth from here. Another newsflash, it’s NEVER smooth from here. I still did not have bushings for my lower control arms, and the bushings in the ones I have were absent. Reluctantly, I hit the forums and found a set of control arms off of an Audi 200, which is a similar car. They were in good condition, and beat what I had by a long shot.

I told myself, since we are already in there, better order the parts to replace my brakes at all four corners. By some miracle, the parts were in stock. A couple clicks later, I had the parts coming. What started out as a simple upper control arm replacement quickly snowballed into a repair costing over a thousand dollars to do correctly. Even then, everything wasn’t smooth.

I had ordered my components based off of my VIN number to insure accuracy, since there were parts changes in 6/1986. When do you think my Audi was produced? You guessed it, 6/1986 and my font brake pads were very incorrect. The vendor did not do much to help, and I ended up having to reuse my old pads on expensive brand new rotors. This did not make me happy, obviously since I frown upon this. Also, the control arms I had received had differences we ended up having to address. This theme had followed the car since day one. Everything from spark plug wires, to control arms arrived incorrectly.

It gets even better. My rear axles seals were also leaking, allowing the oil to leak from the rear differential. The rear driver side wheel bearing was toast. I ordered two new wheel bearings and axle seals. Now, before I even open that can of worms, you know what comes next. The parts arrived incorrectly, and the correct ones are no longer available. I by some stroke of blind luck found a rear wheel bearing that was correct, and Nathan cross referenced the axle seals by size, and we finally had what we needed. A simple weekend repair turned into a stressful two week ordeal, simply because of parts scarcity.


Working On An Obscure Vehicle

Admittedly, Nathan has the horrible job of doing the repairs. Honestly, he is far more skilled than me, and I sleep better at night knowing things are done correctly. With that being said, this comes with many challenges of its’ own. For instance, that basic Craftsman tool kit you got as a wedding gift years ago, well, it’s not going to cut it. Ever heard of a triple square fastener? If you haven’t, get familiar before you buy odd ball European cars, and be prepared to spend a lot of money in specialty tools just to do even basic repairs. You may think I’m exaggerating a little here, but I promise you, I’m not.

Also, very little information exists about even basic torque specifications and repair procedures. You’ll find very quickly that Facebook groups and model specific forums are your best friend, without them, you will fail, bank on that!

Insuring An Odd Non-Exotic Car

Let’s see, Geico says if I wreck my car and it becomes “totaled” I would receive $3200 for it. I surpassed the $3200 investment mark a while back. You can see where I’m going with this.

So Why Do You Own Something Like This?

This question never has a good answer, and now you see why I say to stay away from cars like this. I do it because it is my passion. You’d think finding parts for a nearly extinct Maserati was hard, but you’d be wrong. In comparison to my Audi, the Biturbo is a Civic in terms if ease of acquiring parts. If and when I blow out a rear strut, or need another rear wheel bearing, I’m going to be in trouble again, and the stress of finding parts starts all over. This is only the beginning as well. This is a low production car that is now 31 years old, and there isn’t exactly a huge following for them. So when you do finally find parts for them, you’re going to pay exuberant prices for those items.

What I’m trying to tell you is this, buy a car like mine because you truly want to own it. Do not buy it because it is “different” or “cool” because I’m being brutally honest with you, it is not worth it, and it is never going to be worth it. Resale value isn’t terrible, but the resale market is. Need to sell a car like this in a pinch and I assure you, not going to happen. When you own something like a Biturbo, or an old Audi, you own it because you embrace the quirks, you respect the heritage it has, and you love the nostalgia it brings.

For many people, they want to get noticed. Admittedly the Biturbo was good for that, it sparked conversations constantly. However, nobody is going to come up to you and say “dude cool car” or even respect the hell you have been through to own and maintain that car. The positive to this is, when someone does approach you about your odd car, chances are they know it, own or have owned one like it, and you form some pretty cool friendships because of it.

It is very easy to drop $5000 on that cool car you like, but the question you have to ask yourself isn’t whether you can afford the car, it is can you afford to maintain it, are you resourceful enough to spend hours trying to find something as stupid as a wheel bearing, and are you really prepared to be asked constantly why you won’t just buy an A4?