In the late 80s and 90s Mitsubishi and Chrysler had a deal to where the pair would build certain model a cars on a shared platform, these cars would be known as DSM’s. DSM is an acronym for “Diamond-Star Motors” that was used to represent the duo . These cars were released under the Plymouth, Eagle, and Mitsubishi Brands in America. The duo released a series of different models that included the Galant, 3000gt, Mirage, and Colt. However, the most famous of the cars was the 2nd Generation 1999 Mitsubishi Eclipse driven by Paul Walker on “The Fast and the Furious” in 2001. Other renditions of the Eclipse were made under the Plymouth Laser (1989-1994) and the Eagle Talon (1989-1998).
The Eclipse GSX, Laser RS, and Talon TSI all had constant all-wheel drive systems that gave the DSM’s the same drive system as the famous EVO III, this means rally bread. This also gives the DSM tons of grip, which in America is used in drag racing.
The powerplant of this beast is the same one that is found on the EVO (1-3). The 4g63 is a 4-cylinder 2.0L DOHC turbocharged engine that produced 210bhp. Although these figures don’t sound too impressive for a turbocharged car compared to todays standards, you must look past stock levels and see what potential lays ahead. The 4g63 has an almost unlimited amount of aftermarket support that has these engines surpassing the 1000hp mark. The simplicity of it all makes it a great entry-level engine for those looking to learn engine-building and tuning. Crank, rods, pistons, cams, timing belt make it basic but the Hydraulic Lift Adjusters make it so that you don’t have to time the valves; making things much better.
The biggest drawback to this little beast is that what plagues all 2nd generation DSM’s or any 4g63 with a “7-bolt” block. Crankwalk is what engineers and DSM’ers call when the crankshaft begins to develop a considerable amount of movement or “end-play” back and forth relative to the block. This “end-play” cannot exceed the stock levels of 0.05 - 0.18mm (.0020 - .0071in.). If this “end-play” exceeds the 0.18mm mark it can reek havoc for the crank bearings (mains); spinning bearings, releasing big chunks of metal that circulate through the engine journals causing considerable amounts of damage to anything the oil touches, including the turbocharger.
A 7-bolt block refers to the number flywheel bolts the crank holds. For example the 1st generation DSM’s from 1989-1992 had a “6-bolt” block, meaning the crank had 6 flywheel bolts. So what is the difference between 6-bolt and 7-bolt blocks? For the most part, the 6-bolt blocks had much thicker mains. This meant you can run up to 500hp without having to upgrade any of the internals for support. And because of this, the 6-bolt was almost never prone to the crankwalk epidemic that plagued the 7-bolt. There have been many tuners trying to fix the issue of crankwalk by; installing thicker thrust bearings, honing the main journals for a more balanced fit, to even swapping the 7-bolt block with the 6-bolt block. The issue is not so easy to fix in regards to your everyday average tuner.
So what makes DSM’s the poor bloke’s EVO? Well for starters, they are a relatively cheap car to buy. A stock 1997 Mitsubishi Eclipse GSX with all-wheel drive, 4g63 turbo engine, moon roof, leather/electric seats, manual, around 100k on the clock, and will run you about $4000 (3,700 €). This is a bargain for a car designed in the world of rally. What makes DSM’s even more special besides the value is the community.
DSM’ers encompass everything that is right with the car community. They are always willing to lend a hand if you ever run into any problems, they have great knowledge in engineering, and appreciate a clean tune. They don’t care much for exterior modifications (unless its crucial for performance) and they build their engines with the passion and quality that even surpasses Mitsubishi.