First things first.
While DSMs are—absolutely—known for their turbocharged, all-wheel-drive reputation, that does NOT mean any Mitsubishi-made car from the 90s available turbocharged with all-wheel-drive is a DSM.
It’s easier to remember what IS a DSM.
The 1989-1999 Mitsubishi Eclipse IS a DSM.
The 1989-1994 Plymouth Laser IS a DSM.
The 1989-1998 Eagle Talon IS a DSM.
The 2000-up Mitsubishi Eclipse is NOT a DSM.
The Galant VR4 is NOT a DSM.
The 3000GT VR4 is NOT a DSM.
And—FFS—the Evo is NOT a DSM.
DSM stands for Diamond-Star Motors, a joint venture between Mitsubishi and Chrysler.
Briefly, Mitsubishi and Chrysler have collaborated since 1970. Remember the Dodge Colt? It was actually a Mitsubishi Colt. The Dodge Raider? A Pajero, aka Montero.
DSM was founded in 1985. They broke ground on a plant in Normal, Illinois, in 1986. And the first generation of DSMs, the Mitsubishi Eclipse, Eagle Talon, and Plymouth Laser—we call them “1Gs”—rolled off the assembly line in 1989.
Learn more about Diamond Star Motors (DSM) on Wikipedia: DSM
1G DSM (1Ga & 1Gb)
The 1Gs all featured Mitsubishi’s 4G63 Sirius 4-cylinder powerplant, mated to either front- or all-wheel drive systems. All model trim levels used the same engine.
The 1G DSM got a facelift midway through production. 1989-1991 “1Ga” models are easily differentiated by their pop-up headlights, while the facelifted, 1992-1994 “1Gb” models featured composite headlights.
2G DSM (2Ga & 2Gb)
2G DSMs were a bit different. The angular, “cheese wedge” profile was replaced with more generously contoured sheetmetal. The “power bulge” on the hood, no longer necessary to clearance the cam gears and timing belt, stayed on because, well, because even the engineers knew that shit was cool.
The Laser was retired because Plymouth was redundant and fading out.
This left only the Eclipse and Talon. Turbocharged models—Eclipse GST & GSX, Talon TSi & TSi AWD—retained updated versions of the venerable 4G63, available in either front- or all-wheel-drive configurations. (Blah, blah, blah. Crankwalk. Grow up, already. It’s been resolved for 20 years now.)
Like the 1G before it, the 2G DSM got a facelift midway through production. 1995-1996 “2Ga” models shared identical, composite headlights and a simpler, “smiley” front fascia, but featured unique tail lights and rear deck lid spoilers; a low-wing on the Eclipse and a “thumbnail” at the base of the Talon’s rear glass. 1997-1999 “2Gb” models were better differentiated.
The 2Gb Talons retained the 2Ga headlights but gained a very aggressive (for the time) front fascia, with a single, raised strake running down the sides to the rear fascia, as well as a much larger rear spoiler wrapping around the rear glass.
2Gb Eclipses gained a subtle clip at the inner edge of their headlights, which were otherwise identical to those on the Talons, surrounded by a trapezoidal grille hinting Mitsubishi’s new design language in the works. Out back, a new hoop-style spoiler (“high wing” in the community) crowned the decklid.
2GNT stands for 2nd Generation, Non-Turbocharged.
When the second generation (2G) was introduced in 1995, the non-turbocharged models got a Chrysler 420A—most notably found in the Dodge Neon, but also Dodge Avenger and Chrysler Sebring. These were all front-wheel-drive and mated to either a tough-as-nails, New Venture T-350 manual or some kind of shitty, power-sucking, Chrysler slushbox automatic nobody ever liked.
Interestingly, the 2GNT Eclipse Spyder (convertible) came with a naturally aspirated, 2.4L version of the Mitsubishi Sirius engine, the 4G64 instead of the 420A.
DSM effectively ended in 1995.
Chrysler bailed out, selling its stake to Mitsubishi in 1993. In 1995, all cars made in Normal were officially Mitsubishis, but we will always consider the 2Gs DSMs like their first generation forebears.
Sadly, the Talon—the best looking of all DSMs, if you ask a Talon owner like me—was retired along with the rest of the Eagle brand in 1998 as a result of the DaimlerChrysler merger, leaving the Eclipse as the last remaining DSM sold in 1999.
And that was the end of the DSM line.