I had the pleasure of meeting Phil this summer, who is the owner and caretaker of a special Eagle Talon. While DSMs have become known for drag racing over the years. It’s often unknown or forgotten that DSM cars where a force in SCCA competition during the ‘90s.
Top model DSMs were powered by Mitsubishi’s’ now legendary 4G63 iron block, aluminum head, turbocharged engine and optional AWD mated to an available 5 speed manual. The 4G63 has a direct linage to Mitsubishi’s’ other performance cars serving power plant duty in the ‘88-’92 Galant VR4 and Lancer Evolution I-IX. Those where sedans however and what made the DSM triplets unique and desirable was the three door sloped hatchback body. Pop up headlights on early models and two and three tone paint jobs defined ‘90s performance styling. Technically under the Eagle brand and built in Illinois, these were American cars. Eagle decided to promote their new performance coupe by doing what car companies used to always do and should continue to do, “Race on Sunday, sell on Monday”.
After the 1989 season ended for showroom stock SCCA racing, a new series was formed following rules similar to European group A racing. When the newly minted Escort World Challenge series began in 1990, it featured only two classes, world challenge and super production. Archer racing competed in super production and Bobby Archer won 4 out of 8 races to clinch the driver’s championship, team championship and manufacturer’s title for Eagle, while driving #32. This car is not only historic as a championship winning MOPAR, but also shows Mitsubishi’s racing heritage in its DNA.
The #32 is actually a FWD turbo car, the Archers chose a front driver because it was lighter than the AWD model they had raced in 1989. The Talon remains largely as it was raced in the early ‘90s. Engine wise its 4g63 turbo is essentially stock and actually once of the most original DSMs I’ve ever seen. There’s not even a mechanical boost controller present. The battery has been relocated to the trunk and the coolant overflow tank was moved to where the battery lived. The cruise control unit that would have been found on the car as it rolled off the assembly line has also been removed and a non-cruise control throttle cable swapped in. Another interesting modification was the slotting of the upper strut bolt holes to gain some camber and caster, because other wise they are stock upper mounts.
The interior also remained mostly intact from the seats forward, door panels, full dashboard, steering wheel and carpet; all original. The car has a minimal by todays standards full roll cage, certainly far from the cage you’d see in a modern Continental challenge car, but that’s to be expected. This is still a 26 year old vintage race car. Other neat touches include an single HKS mechanical boost gauge. OEM instrumentation is used for everything else. The Talon’s ECU has been relocated from under the center dash, to the passenger foot well for better access. ECU tuning was in its infancy at the time and required the replacement of preprogramed EPROM chips. A fuel cell lives where the back seat rest would be on a street car.
While this car looks handsome in it’s original red and white color scheme and sponsor decals, it started life as a pewter mist metallic car. The color is something between silver and beige and often referred to as champagne. Traces of the original color are evident in the stripped rear half of the interior and on the underside of the car. However the time was taken by the Archers to paint the door jams and engine compartment in the factory rallye red. Not a detail I would have expected on a race car.
Phil has made some minor changes to make the car safe and reliable for modern track days, but otherwise opted to preserve the car as is. Those modifications included stronger more modern front Willwood brakes, exhaust that would pass today’s sound regulations and updated safety equipment. The 17" Kosei K1s are also a modern upgrade for performance and safety.
Phil’s enthusiasm, care and dedication to preserving the Archer Racing Talon really struck a chord with me. Up until the end of the 2015 season Phil was actively competing in time trials with the car. It was refreshing to see such a unique car with a great history not languishing in a garage somewhere.