Still reeling from the SFX-grade visual shock offered by the near-destroyed, black-sprayed Mitsubishi Eclipse featured a few weeks ago, I went to look at another Eclipse advertised for sale in the same town. I wanted to see a nice DSM for a change, since most of them currently for sale seem to be beaten halfway to death, albeit none seem to be quite as bad as the bedliner black Trashbagoclipse.
An Italian import from a few years ago, this green diamond star seemed to be in a whole lot better shape, with no visible rust. But it’s good to do some fact-checking as always.
Disclaimer: Due to a flat battery, I didn’t drive the DSM. That might affect my judgement, but since it’s dead icy everywhere and the car wore summer tires, that might’ve also kept me alive.
With a front emblem piece delete and the hood bump proudly bulging, the green car looked evil but seemed to be in good health. It was for sale at an enormous caravan yard, and it definitely stood out amongst the white shuttles.
The EU plates on the car are dead giveaways that it’s an import, and they never really fit an older car that well. But since the dealership asked almost 4k EUR for the Eclipse, it had to be good.
And you know, despite having sat on the yard for months, it didn’t look desperate. The paint seemed still shiny, the light clusters weren’t too cracked, I could only spot a spot of rust just under the side mouldings but nowhere else. Someone had painted the peeling window trim with little-to-no preparation, but that wasn’t unreasonable from a few yards back.
And it felt good to look at a clean Eclipse for a while. I like the first-generation shape a lot, it’s the sort of car that deserves to fall in good hands.
There were a few outside modifications, most noticeably a huge fartcan with upwards-angled pipes. In addition to the soundworks, the car wore large aftermarket alloy wheels.
Since I was still peeking under the car, it wasn’t a bad idea to delve deeper;
And the coated underbody did look good. Showing the photo to a Miata-driving friend, he commented on the cheaply-designed rear suspension layout; but I was happy to not see meaningful rust.
Under the hood, things looked just as good. Tidy all around, another sign of an import car that’s also possibly received a bit of powerwashing down there; Finnish cars are usually dirt and salt caked.
Even the heat shield didn’t look too bad, compared to the shape it could be in.
Can we move on to the bad news now? Please? I’m itching here, and it almost looks like a solid deal at this point.
Instead of the good-looking original Mitsu steering wheel, there is a terrible Vin Diesel / Paul Walker style steering wheel. I hate the abomination. I know the Eclipse is supposed to be an affordable hero car, but it’s just unnecessary to bling it up like this.
Otherwise, the interior was quite clean except for some animal hair all around the rear seat. But the alcantara seats on a DSM are hard-wearing, and despite countless jeans scrubs the side bolster hasn’t scuffed through.
There were 190 000 km:s on the clock. And that’s kind of what I wanted to talk about.
A green 1994 Eclipse with a familiar-sounding licence plate and 190k sounded worth sherlocking out to me. I remember having seen one green car pop up around different dealerships’ online ads a couple years ago in the Western Finland region in which I lived, and I made note how it kept constantly changing hands for some time. So, when I got back home, I ran the car’s history search available from the Finnish Transport Agency’s website for a small fee. Yeah, same car.
I got a PDF detailing the car’s ownership change dates. Scrolling down, I noted 17 owners since 2008. 17 in less than four years, and that’s just in Finland. That means it actually changed hands every couple of months, from dealer to owner to dealer to dealer. I have no idea how many tentative buyers or tire-kickers have been through the car, beating it, revving the 4G63, trying to blow the spot welds off the intake while granny-shifting. Do you know what it costs to overnight parts from Japan for a car that wasn’t imported here new?
In addition to that, there was a mention of the car having earlier worn an another Finnish registration – meaning it had been crashed and written off at some point and re-registered; no-one swaps EU plates for an another set just for kicks as neither was a vanity plate. With the front emblem piece missing and the hood bearing signs of a badly-made respray, it was easy to mark the car down as a repaired crash victim that had been through tough times. And since there was no service history present (how could there be at this point), I just couldn’t tell what if any maintenance had been performed – all I got were a couple of underhood stickers in Italian.
So, if you’re reading this, future green Eclipse owner, I’m sorry. Or I might not be, since it’s a clean car that appears tidy; but it’s all about the purchase price. 4k for a flipper with a black hole for history except for a show of hands is just too much. For a grand, even I would’ve been still interested. But: you can’t sell a car for a premium just because the km:s appear reasonable, if there’s nothing to back them up – a basic, nothing-special Eclipse is worth 2000 EUR.
What galls me is that I remembered the travellin’ DSM as I inspected what turned out to be the very same thing, and was told the car had been owned by an older chap for an extended period and that it wasn’t just any beater going through owners. I don’t think March-December counts as an especially lengthy ownership.
What would it take for you to get engaged with an Italian girl that’s been through 17 guys in a few years?