A Detailed Look Back At The Plymouth Laser
By Kenny Norman
Read on to find out more details about the Plymouth Laser's history, features, and complications.
The Plymouth Laser debuted in January as a sporty front-drive coupe. It had several variants, each of which had a different engine proportional to how fancy its corresponding model was. Plymouth, a division of Chrysler, even updated the Laser every year it was around, though it was only manufactured from to It even was known for being able to hit the drag strip.It could be modified, just like other Plymouth models could. The Plymouth Laser was built alongside the Eagle Talon and Mitsubishi Eclipse in Normal, Illinois under Diamond Star Motors.
Read on to find out more details about the Plymouth Laser's history, features, and complications.
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Strong Engine With Annual Updates
The Laser had many notable engine characteristics, and it received many updates annually until its final year. The Plymouth Laser offered anti-lock brakes, all-wheel-drive, and turbo acceleration as options, and its appearance and internal physiology was similar to other model vehicles, such as the Eagle Talon and the Mitsubishi Eclipse. The Laser had a base engine that was liter and a four-cylinder with a five-speed manual transmission.
However, with fancier variants came fancier engines. The Laser RS used a horsepower, liter twin-cam, four-cylinder engine. The Laser RS Turbo took these even further, with a turbocharged liter rated at horsepower.
Plymouth modified the Laser just a little bit for most of its annual updates. saw the addition of anti-lock brakes and optional automatic transmission. In , minor cosmetic changes took the forefront (almost literally), but Plymouth debuted an all-wheel-drive model alongside the other types of Laser. Exposed aerodynamic headlamps became the new feature instead of the old style that was previously hidden.
Sadly, was the last big change for the Laser. All variants had an automatic transmission offered as an option, lowering the horsepower of turbo models to Any Laser that was an upgrade from the base model could have anti-lock brakes installed.
Plymouth knew the Laser would be the last annual generation produced, so updates were not a priority; only minuscule detail changes were made. Still, there tends to be an aftermarket for used Plymouth models, and a lot of them can be quite affordable.
Price & Specs
The Laser has some interesting specs and a wide price range. The Laser was built alongside the Eagle Talon and Mitsubishi Eclipse in the Diamond Star Motors factory, located in Normal, Illinois.
Diamond Star Motors was a joint venture between Mitsubishi and Plymouth, hence both their models being constructed there. The Laser was known for being moderately priced and delivering solid enough performance, as it could even accelerate faster than the initial round of Porsche models.
In regards to speed, the Laser could reach 60 MPH in only seconds, and it could drive a fourth of a mile at 93 MPH in only seconds. The gear shifter was known to move fluidly and could hit a top speed of approximately MPH.
The Laser was mainly front-wheel-drive, at least at first, and it sold for $13,–14, Its fuel economy was 24 MPG, and – lbs was its curb weight. Gauges were deliberately placed at eye level for easier driving, ensuring the driver could get an accurate reading on water temperature, oil pressure, and the tachometer.
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First Product Of Diamond-Star Motors
When Diamond-Star Motors was created as a joint venture, the Laser was one of the first products to be offered. Thanks to Japan's voluntary import quota with the United States, Mitsubishi and Chrysler both producing cars together in America would enable both to sell more vehicles together than they could if they were working separately.
As mentioned before, the Eclipse, Laser, and Talon were the first round of coupes constructed at the Diamond Star Motors factory. These three models shared similar mechanical options, as they were all derived from Chrysler’s D platform. However, the cosmetic and exterior details, such as shape, color, bumpers, taillights, and wheels, would vary among the Laser and the other models.
The Laser was initially built with pop-up headlights and had six bolts in the engine that connected the flywheel to the crankshaft. A notable feature of the Laser is that it combined all-wheel-drive and a turbocharged engine while still remaining affordable.
And So It Ends
Ultimately, thanks to several factors, the production of the Laser was discontinued. First of all, sales of the Laser were dismal compared to those of the Talon and Eclipse. Because the Laser was made via badge engineering, its competition was, naturally, cars made from an identical platform, allowing for a fairer comparison.
Further, Eagle and Plymouth were both owned by Chrysler, putting the Laser and Talon in more direct competition than with the Eclipse. The Laser was marketed as the value-oriented, mainstream brand, whereas the Talon was marketed as the performance brand, necessitating more promotional advertising for the Talon.
On top of all that, the Laser was a complete deviation from anything else Plymouth offered at the time, as the emphasis was on K-car-derived cars and minivans, not coupes like the Laser.
The final nail in the coffin was the arrival of Plymouth's Neon, the successor to the Laser. The Neon sold much better and successfully replaced the Laser, while the Talon and Eclipse benefited from an extensive redesign in The Talon, and the entire Eagle brand, were discontinued in , while the Eclipse did not retire until
Sources: consumerguide.com, caranddriver.com, allpar.com, amazon.com, hagerty.com,
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Read NextAbout The Author
Kenny graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Communication from the University of Indianapolis. He has since gone on to be a reporter for and write for three newspapers following graduation. Kenny also has experience editing websites using WordPress, and he directed a newspaper team to produce two issues during Indianapolis' Super Bowl. Kenny was hired onto Valnet to write list articles in March In his free time, Kenny is often out socializing with friends, practicing karate, reading comics, discussing the Enneagram, or at a game night.
|Manufacturer||Diamond Star Motors|
|Assembly||United States: Normal, Illinois (Diamond-Star Motors)|
|Class||Sports car (S)|
|Layout||Transverse front-engine, front-wheel drive / all-wheel drive|
|Platform||Chrysler D platform|
|Length|| in (4,mm) |
|Width|| in (1,mm) |
The Plymouth Laser is a sports coupe sold by Plymouth from (as a model) to The Laser and its siblings, the Mitsubishi Eclipse and Eagle Talon, were the first vehicles produced under the newly formed Diamond-Star Motors, a joint-venture between the Chrysler Corporation and the Mitsubishi Motors Corporation.
Introduced as "the first Plymouth of the '90s" in advertising, the Plymouth Laser debuted in January as a model. The company produced a Chrysler Laser model from to The 2 door hatch-back was based on the Dodge Daytona model prior to the name badge moving, to the Plymouth brand. Commercials for the Laser featured R&B singer Tina Turner who appeared in a series of promotional ads for Plymouth. With three available engines, two transmission offerings, and sporty "aero" styling, the Laser was the most performance-oriented Plymouth since the Barracuda, Duster, and Road Runner muscle cars of the s.
Despite its close resemblance to its Mitsubishi and Eagle siblings, it has several unique styling cues intended to set it apart from the other two. Apart from badging, Lasers sport a race-inspired look, with a plastic panel in the place of a grille, a full rear light-bar, a bulge on the hood for L engine models (not necessarily turbocharged), and available stylish "lace" patterned alloy wheels. Rallye Sport (RS), models are set apart from the base models by their black roof with body color targa band, power steering, lower bodyside accent striping, and dual power mirrors, as well as an array of options not available on base Lasers.
Base Lasers carry a 92hp (69kW) L four-cylinder engine, whereas a hp (kW), L DOHC four-cylinder was optional with the Laser RS. The top-of-the-line RS Turbo uses a turbocharged L rated at hp (kW). A five-speed manual transmission was standard. A four-speed automatic was optional, except with the turbocharged engine, which could only be ordered with the manual transmission until models debuted.
Through the years
Model year changes
: the Plymouth Laser was released in January as a model. Three models were initially offered: base, RS, and RS Turbo. The similar Mitsubishi Eclipse was also released in , and the Eagle Talon soon followed. The RS models, among other options could be equipped with a factory installed CD player, a first such option on any Plymouth.
: the Laser received anti-lock brakes (ABS), and the turbocharged engine could now be ordered with an automatic transmission instead of a manual.
: the Laser received cosmetic changes for , and a new all-wheel-drive (AWD) model joined the lineup. The RS Turbo AWD came only with a manual transmission, while the front-wheel drive version could still be ordered with an automatic. There was also a freshening to the hood and front and rear fascias. The pop-up headlights were removed in favor of multi-form fixed headlights, making the car look more aerodynamic. The rear lightbar was replaced by two separate taillights. The RS model came with alloy wheels and other cosmetic differences. The RS could also be ordered with the Gold Package, which featured gold trimmed wheels, pin stripes and graphics. Only a limited number of RSs with this package were built, making them rare.
: AWD Lasers could now be ordered with an automatic transmission. With the automatic, the power rating of turbocharged models dropped to hp (kW). All Lasers except for the base model could be equipped with ABS.
: Production of the Laser ended on June 3, , due to poor sales. Nothing, including the price, was changed.
|5, (production halted mid-year)|
Trim levels and prices
The original base prices for the Plymouth Laser. Figures are in United States dollars.
|Model year||Base||RS||RS Turbo||RS Turbo AWD|
The Laser Turbo was on Car and Driver magazine's Ten Best list from through 
End of the line
The Plymouth Laser was not a major sales success. It did not sell as well as the Eagle Talon, and certainly not as well as the Mitsubishi Eclipse. Several factors influenced this. First, the Laser was a product of badge engineering, therefore it had to compete with two other cars that were virtually identical. Compounding the problem, it faced in-house competition from the Talon, as the Eagle brand was also owned by Chrysler. Where Plymouth was generally marketed as the value-oriented, mainstream brand, Chrysler was trying to market Eagle as their performance brand. Due to this, a much heavier amount of advertising was devoted to the Talon. The fact that the Laser was far different from any other product Plymouth was selling at the time did not help its popularity. In the early s, Plymouth's bread and butter lineup still consisted of K-car-derived cars and minivans; the Laser simply did not fit into this group.
Due to these factors, the Laser was discontinued after a brief run of models. This failure of badge-engineering was just a preview of what would happen to the whole Plymouth marque in subsequent years. The Laser's discontinuation coincided with the introduction of its successor, the Plymouth Neon. The Neon was available as a two-door coupe and a four-door sedan and was a far better sales success than the Laser. The Mitsubishi Eclipse and Eagle Talon were both redesigned for The Talon became Eagle's last surviving model in ; the car and the Eagle marque were both dropped after that year. The Eclipse continued until the model year.
Compact sports car
(RS Turbo, )
(RS Turbo, )
All-wheel drive ()
The Plymouth Laser, the compact sports car of the lineup, was sold alongside the first-generation Eagle Talon and Mitsubishi Eclipse during the early s.
Three trim levels were offered: base, RS and RS Turbo, each with a different amount of horsepower.
All-wheel drive became an option for the RS Turbo, originally with only 5-speed manual transmission.
4-speed automatic transmission was available for the all-wheel drive RS Turbo.
Not much changes as the Laser ended production on June 3, , before the Talon went on sale.
As of October 17,
- $12, ( Plymouth Laser)
- $13, ( Plymouth Laser RS)
- $15, ( Plymouth Laser RS Turbo)
- $17, ( Plymouth Laser RS Turbo with all-wheel drive)
Plymouth Laser 2-door hatchback
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Laser 1995 plymouth
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