Follow by Email

Saturday, August 29, 2015

The Chrysler Conquest TSi is a Forgotten 1980s Gem


Copyright © 2015 Bold Ride LLC.

Automotive history is a bit like a glossy coffee table art book. The greats are given full-page spreads and dazzling historical accounts, while everything else gets a footnote mention, or perhaps none at all. And frankly that’s too bad. 
This is a Chrysler Conquest TSi. It earns substantially fewer full-page spreads in metaphorical coffee table books next to its contemporaries—the Toyota Supra, Nissan 300ZX, Mazda RX-7, Porsche 944—but that doesn’t mean it’s any less special. This 1989 Conquest TSi recently graced the pages of eBay, and it’s a welcome reminder of Mitsubishi’s performance car talent. Yes, Mitsubishi.


While it’s certainly no mystery, the Conquest draws its shape and mechanicals from the Mitsubishi Starion coupe, which entered the Japanese market in 1982. The original “narrow body” models produced only 145 horsepower and 185 lb-ft of torque, and were imported to the U.S. as Dodge and Plymouth brand vehicles. You could say they looked fairly modest in styling, however that would change for 1986.
The Starion (now badged as a Chrysler Conquest) received a substantial upgrade in ESI-R/TSi trim, now brandishing rowdy box flares atop its wheel arches, sleek 16-inch alloy wheels, and over two inches of added wheel track. Under the hood, the Conquest TSi and Starion ESI-R now punched out 176 horsepower and 223 lb-ft of torque from the 2.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, thanks to engine tweaking and the addition of an intercooler.


Sure, the Starion and Conquest twins may be omissions from the history books, but contemporary road tests prove their ability to turn smiles. A 1986 MotorWeek test between a Starion ESI-R and its aforementioned rivals (300ZX, RX-7, and 944 Turbo) found that the Mitsubishi ranked just behind the RX-7 in second place for slalom speed, and tied the 944 Turbo in skid pad top speed. Not bad for the cheapest car of the bunch.

Inside, driver and passenger were treated to seats with absolutely enormous side bolsters, a performance-minded center boost gauge, automatic climate control, motorized seat belts, and a cassette stereo system with graphic equalizer. Apart from the rampant ‘80s-ness inside, the overall Conquest and Starion designs still present very well today.


Further, this ‘89 Chrysler Conquest TSi looks remarkably good for its age, and as a post-’88 car, it sports an even taller 188 horsepower and 234 lb-ft of torque.

 Also, who doesn’t love a good box flare? According to the seller, the coupe shows only 58,576 miles on its odometer, though it does pack the four-speed automatic rather than the sought-after five-speed manual.