Japan is known for poaching American celebrities for car commercials, and at first glance this spot for a DSM starring 12-time Grammy winner Tina Turner could easily be mistaken for that. But no, it’s a home-grown all-American ad for the Plymouth Laser, the Mitsubishi-built Eclipse twin that was never sold in Japan. Turner passed away on May 24 at the age of 83.
Tina Turner’s best known automotive connection might be her role as Aunty Entity, the iron-fisted but insightful leader of Bartertown in Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome. However, the Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll also starred in a series of Plymouth commercials in the late 80s and early 90s that were slightly less apocalyptic (or perhaps equally, if you count the presence of the Acclaim).
The Laser was definitely the highlight of Plymouth’s 1990 lineup, which consisted of a mix of ChryCo and Mitsubishi rebadges. The Mitsubishi-built Mirage and Chariot were rebadged as the Colt and Colt Vista, respectively, but by that point Plymouth was so redundant that they didn’t even bother differentiating the models from other Chrysler brands. Over at Dodge, you could get essentially the same cars with the same names, the Dodge Colt and Dodge Colt Vista.
Dodge never got their own version of the Eclipse, though. The Laser was touted as the “First Plymouth of the ’90s.” Marketers apparently sought to inject some excitement into the lineup, which hadn’t had a true performance car since approximately 1974, when the Barracuda and second-gen Roadrunner ruled the roost. Turner’s script in the ad above shows how eager Plymouth was to reinvent itself, but it’s her delivery that really sells it.
Another 1990 ad for the Laser compares the car to Turner herself. She has no actual lines, only a sound. It’s something that would never fly today and is a bit surprising to see considering 1990 wasn’t that long ago.
Of the three DSM triplets the Laser was definitely the most boring of the bunch. It posted worse sales than the Eagle Talon and Mitsubishi Eclipse, had no fancy spoilers, and the AWD option didn’t even arrive until a year after it had debuted on the others. The other two, however, didn’t have Tina Turner endorsing them. She certainly added some verve where it was sorely needed. Turner passed away at her home in in Küsnacht, Switzerland due to age-related illnesses. Her unmatched vitality will be missed.