I don’t know what it is about this day, today, in this heat, that has me feeling particularly caring, particularly optimistic. I am looking for somewhere to be kind, and god help me, today it’s the last Mitsubishi Eclipse.
It is not every day that a last-generation Mitsubishi Eclipse passes you by. If you are seeing one now, though, there’s a good chance it has fallen into a kind of ownership cycle recognizable to diehard Alfa Romeo fans. All the bad ones have been crashed or scrapped, and the only ones left are owned by people who adore them and modify them. That and, there are those that simply refuse to die. We must honor and respect these cars as well.
I mean, certainly, the fourth-gen Eclipse is not the first Eclipse you’d want to eulogize. The best Eclipse would be the second-generation one, the curvy one, particularly the ones that had all-wheel drive and the turbocharged 4G63, even though every single one of these not-Evos has been turned into drag racing cars. I’m sorry, it’s got to be a 100 percent hit rate at this point.
Even more best, a pluperfect, would be the Eagle Talon, which you could also get with that turbo/iron block/AWD setup, but it’s not entirely clear to me if any of these cars ever existed or were just something I dreamed about in middle school.
I spent so much time dreaming about these 1990s Eclipses that I failed to see even the slightest bit of joy or whimsy in the final Eclipse. What got me, I think, was that Mitsubishi was trying to make idiots like me happy. The penultimate third-gen Eclipse didn’t look like anything. The fourth-gen was a New Beetle revision of the Good Eclipse, and I resented it for it. I didn’t want a nouveau 1990s Eclipse. I wanted a 1990s Eclipse! The way that the fourth-gen car swooped and curved looked bloated and weak compared to the jellybean old cars and only served to remind me of the hundreds of pounds the car had actually gained over the years.
The final Eclipse didn’t make horrible power—you could get a V6 with 260-odd horsepower—but it wasn’t something begging to be tuned, and it didn’t have all-wheel-drive. All that with nearly 3,500 pounds to push around. Maybe it wasn’t a bad car, but it wasn’t a sparkling one either. More contemporary reviews of the thing back that up:
But I feel bad now for my real hatred of these final Eclipses. They honestly don’t look terrible. Kind of sweet, and certainly strange. Seeing one on the road today, particularly one in yellow with the big wing that always seems to find its way onto one now, well, it’s a nice sighting! It feels good to see a car, a coupe, something trying to be fun and stylish. It’s sweet to see anyone love a car, and the last people holding on to the last Eclipses seem to have some love in them. I can’t be mad at that. Maybe I’m just older, and dumber, and if I was forced to commute in one every day, its cheap plastic entombing me on American highways, I would think differently. But maybe not.
That and the taillights are still good.