The 90's were an amazing time in the Japanese automotive industry, it is often referred to as JDM's golden era and with good reason.
In the 90's, it can be argued that cars such as the Honda NSX, the Toyota Supra, the Subaru Impreza WRX STI, the Mitsubishi Galant VR4, the civic and Integra Type-R, the Mazda RX-7, the Nissan Skyline GTR and of course the Mitsubishi Evolution were in their stride. These offered a more hands-on approach to driving than their later iterations.
I got to spend some time with a friend of mine. He owns a project car. He's restoring a Mitsubishi Evolution 3. His name is Mark and although this isn't his first project car it's certainly one of the most interesting. Mark has been around cars a long time he learned all he knew about working on cars from his father and other "old heads" he hung around, after that it was easy to apply what he learned.
His first project was a 1991 Toyota Starlet Soleil it was automatic and had a 4efe engine. He converted it into a GT Turbo Starlet. He replaced all the body panels, interior trims, and lights with those of the GT Turbo model. The build was pretty extensive. Later he got an LSD manual gearbox, converted the car to manual, turbocharged the stock 4efe engine and ran it at 7psi of boost. From there Mark had to make a decision on what his next step was going to be with the car. Originally he was going to swap the engine with a fully built 5efe engine and add some boost but he then decided to do something different and take a 4agze from an ae101 Toyota Levin. This engine was supercharged and that was causing some problems while mounting the engine so the decision was made to turbocharge it with a td05 turbine.Supporting moods were then made so it could actually handle this power. For suspension, he used Buddy club coil overs, for brakes at the front bigger hubs were fitted then 10" slotted StopTech rotors, attached to those were 4 pot Wilwood calipers and at the rear stock GT Turbo calipers were used. I'm sure I missed some stuff but as you can see it was an ambitious build.His next project would be a bit more challenging. Due to his love for 90s cars he ended up restoring a Mitsubishi Evolution 3, one of the few in the island. The build hasn't been going on for very long but it's shaping up nicely.
Mark has given the car the name The Phoenix and in order to raise it from the ashes, he has been using two rolling shells, a 1996 lancer GLX shell, and the EVO 3 shell. The lancer shell is pretty rusty but the EVO 3 shell though not perfect is in good shape. Every weekend he's been transferring parts he can use from the Lancer to the EVO, control arms, brake and fuel lines, drive shaft etc. When I got there he was in the process of removing the fuel tank and drive shaft.
Mark does the majority of the work on his project on his own, he's the type that believes if something needs to be done it's best to do it yourself, although, when he runs into trouble he'll be the first to admit he needs help or that he doesn't know what he's doing. It's all a learning experience after all and project cars tend to teach us a lot.
The goal for the car right now is to get it running but Mark does have big plans for it in the future. He wants to do a full build on the engine, fully forge it, bigger turbo etc. The end goal though is to get the car into the 6-second bracket on the 1/8 mile drag strip (we don't have a 1/4 mile strip here). This goal is very obtainable the stock 4G63T makes about 270bhp stock in a chassis weighing 1260 kgs or so, the same weight as my Subaru GC8 WRX, it'll be mighty quick.
This build really resonates with me as we both own 90s cars, rival cars of the same golden era. Also, the first cars we put a lot of work into were both Toyota Starlets. Watching this build I'm living vicariously through Mark and I hope he meets his goal of finishing the car this year.
Building a car is all about passion, project cars test you in every way imaginable and they may not be for everyone but if you have the drive, there isn't a more rewarding experience.
We will be keeping you up to date with this build, until next time.