Mitsubishi Owners Day: The 100th Anniversary Celebration of Mitsubishi

Mitsubishi Motors recently invited every Mitsubishi enthusiast to their Cypress, Calif. headquarters to take part in their annual Mitsubishi Owners Day (MOD) car meet. Mitsubishi owners and fans from across the nation gathered to enjoy the numerous exhibits, food, and activities while sharing their passion for all things Mitsubishi. Dozens of the company’s cars of every model and generation could be found, from Diamond Star Motors Starions, Eclipses and 3000GTs, to nearly every generation of Evolution and everything in between.

Over the past few years, Mitsubishi has been going through a radical change on how they focus and manufacture cars within the US market. With consumer demands and growing trends for more economical cars, Mitsubishi was relegated to cease production of many—if not all—sports cars from their lineup. The 2015 Lancer Evolution X Final Edition is the last remaining sport compact car to be manufactured from Mitsubishi. As a farewell tribute to the iconic sedan, only 1,600 units were built in Japan and sold in the US.

While many hardcore enthusiasts cringe at the thought of their beloved auto manufacture moving away from performance, and focusing on SUV and other economy-based vehicle production. The good news is that Mitsubishi has continued to rebound in sales and profit following years of rather disastrous revenue. The MOD show has become a corporate tradition for the past 11 years, as thousands of vehicles gathered at their headquarters for this one-day event of automotive heritage. It takes us back to a time when the Mitsubishi brand developed cars that both looked good, and performed magnificently on and off the racetrack.

Janus P’s Evolution X was hands down the most extravagant and over the top vehicles at this year’s event. His obsession for all things carbon fiber runs deep as every part was either overlaid or replaced with CF. The exterior consists of a Varis rear wide body fenders and hood, Victory Function USA front over fenders and CF splitters and canards.

A set of Volk TE37SL sits sunken under the fenders thanks to the Air Lift Performance suspension. The interior was upgraded using a Bride Low Max bucket seat with Takata 4-point harnesses. A Cusco roll bar with optional carbon fiber bolt on cross bar plays into the theme as the door panels were also replaced with carbon fiber units.

It was no surprise that under the hood also consisted of a number of carbon fiber dress-up parts. An AMS front mount intercooler and hard pipe kit were secured using Blitz piping stoppers. While aluminum brake and coolant reservoirs were added into the mix for a custom show car appearance.

Long before all the Subaru Imprezas and Mitsubishi Evolution 8/9/10s became a household name within the tuner market, the ’90-’94 first-generation (1G) Eclipse GSX was the car to own. Thanks in part to their 2.0-liter turbocharged engine and all-wheel-drive configuration. This 1G Eclipse GSX outfitted with a fiberglass-widened body is a good indicator that drag racing is still alive on the West Coast.

A built 4G63-engine sits comfortably nestled within the engine bay, which was resprayed in a distinct purple hue—a telltale sign that this drag machine has been ongoing project since the early 2000s. Additional modifications include an atmospheric exhaust dump exiting out the hood, half core radiator, and a custom equal length manifold that was designed to allow the front-facing turbocharger to ingest healthy amounts of air. A custom water-to-air intercooler is force-fed the boosted air, followed by 70mm charge pipes and throttle body and finally into a retro BJ’s intake manifold.

Stuffed under a set of fender flares are a set of Katana wheels are wrapped in 26-inch Hoosier slicks on all four corners. First-generation Eclipse owners know the 4G63’s transmissions poses an inherent weakness when running slicks and high boost, but perhaps this owner has figured out a way to keep the transfer case from grenading on the drag strip. A rear-mounted drag parachute sits out back, as mandated by NHRA rules requiring vehicles that exceed a run of 150mph in a quarter-mile, or 125mph in the eighth-mile.

When it comes to building an Evolution, there is such a vast array of quality product lines available for purchase modifiers have tons of choices. Install a wide body kit, install a Voltex rear wing and slap on a set of Volk wheels. While this recipe works well, it also makes differentiating one vehicle from the other difficult, especially when you’re at a show like MOD where hundreds of vehicles unite.

If you’re looking to stand out from the rest of the crowd, take cues from the owner of this Evolution. Many of the modifications were pulled from the pages of the domestic rat rod scene. This Evolution was customized using copper block off plates riveted onto the front bumper and side exit exhaust. Dimple die brackets were seen throughout the vehicle which included securing the Mishimoto intercooler.

Also featuring a clever oil catch can, which was hand fabricated and lined with foam baffling to keep excess oil from sloshing or escaping. The coolant reservoir was also integrated into the unit to give the engine bay both form and function.

A 6266 Precision turbo is mated to a Boost Junkyz tubular exhaust manifold ­that dispels wastegate boost pressure though a hood-exit dump tube.

This year’s event, we witnessed a strong showing of SUVs and CUVs, which included the Mitsubishi Montero, Montero Sport, Outlander, and Outlander Sport.

We were rather surprised to find this ’89 Pajero sitting among the rows of utility vehicles. The Pajero right-hand-drive SUV utilizes the same chassis as the Montero Sport sold in the US, but was offered with an optional 2.0-liter turbocharged engine, or 2.3/2.5-liter turbo-diesel that the stringent US market never received. (Why do all the other countries get all the good stuff?)

What makes the ’89 model so rare and sought after in the Pajero family is the short wheelbase, which was only offered for one year before Mitsubishi decided to extend the wheelbase on all newer trims.

“I’ve managed to integrate everything I would need for a cross country excursion with plenty of room to spare. You name it, I’ve probably got it; a custom sliding drawer for food, a microwave, and a generator,” claimed the owner.

Every item that was required was well thought out including paper rolls and a toilet paper holder when duty calls. Expect to see more of these right-hand-drive vehicles popping up stateside as it’s been declared legal by NHTSA to import any vehicle 25 years or older, assuming all the proper paper work is filed.

The Pajero Evolution was built into production as a way for Mitsubishi to complete in the Dakar Rally T2 production class. This was a Dakar homologation special model, which is equipped with a 276hp variable-timing 3.5-liter V6, Recaro seats and factory wide body kit. The standard model Pajeros of the same year had independent suspension with torsion bars in the front and a coil-sprung live axle in the back. The Evolution’s suspension consists of a double wishbone with coils in the front, and has multi-link independent suspension with coils in the back.

In ’98 Mitsubishi not only dominated the Dakar’s T2 class with this car, but the entire T2 class rally with a 1-2-3-4 victory.

This 4th gen Delica was another rare sighting among the vehicles attending the show. A 2.8-liter turbo-diesel engine powers this particular model.

Judging by all the luggage shoehorned inside the cabin, this Delica is definitely put to good use!

Over the years, Mitsubishi collaborated with various car manufactures including Chrysler, Plymouth, and Dodge in rebranding their vehicles. This intertwining of vehicle marketing still continues today for Mitsubishi. A number of early-model ‘80s and ’90s cross-marketed cars include the Plymouth Laser or Eagle Talon, known as the Mitsubishi Eclipse. Also, the Dodge Colt, which is the Mitsubishi Mirage, the Dodge Stealth known as the Mitsubishi 3000GT, and Chrysler/Dodge Conquest otherwise known as the Mitsubishi Starion.

The Mitsubishi Forte with Plymouth Arrow badging was another crossover vehicle that was birthed in the late ‘70s to early ‘80s. A Plymouth pickup, as a rebadged Mitsubishi, is a rare sight and is actually sought after with collectors. At the 2014 Mecum Auto Auction, a 1980 Plymouth Arrow truck rose to a $14,000 bid but wasn’t sold due to it not hitting the reserve.

This Arrow was obviously kept in great condition by its owner and remains in near factory condition other than the aftermarket wheels.

The engine bay also looked to be kept in clean factory condition. Interestingly enough, the 2.6-liter G54B power plant was also used in a number of Chrysler cars including the Town and Country, LeBaron, New Yorker, and Dodge Caravan (Plymouth Voyager) to name a few. We couldn’t help but notice all the black tar like substance surrounding the engine. While the vehicle looks to have retained its original paint, the black spray looked to be some sort of underbody coating. We weren’t exactly sure if it was the intention for Mitsubishi and Plymouth to coat the engine bay, or if was it an overzealous owner that was attempting to prevent East Coast body rust, but whatever the reason, this truck was another neat find at the show.

We’ve always had a soft spot for the Galant VR4. The VR4 wasn’t your typical Galant family car but a sleeper 2.0-liter to 2.5-liter turbocharged AWD vehicle on steroids. There’s a reason why some people prefer a sleeper—a car that looks unimpressive, but conceals all of the mechanical goodness of an actual sports car.

What do you do if you can’t buy or legally own an Evolution V/VI stateside? Naturally you build your very own. That’s exactly what Archie Concon did as he transformed his 2000 Mitsubishi Mirage into his very own Japanese replica. Make no mistake; this isn’t your typical Evolution body kit conversion car. Archie went all out when converting his car using a number of original JDM Evolution components from the 4/5/7 chassis.

The Mirage power plant was replaced with a TreTec Motorsports 2.1-liter Evolution VII 4G63 race motor that was built to deliver 743awhp and 603awtq on E85 fuel. An Evolution IV transmission was fortified with a stage three Shepherd Racing upgrade and mated to a stage three Evolution V transfer case also prepped by Shepherd Racing.

Among the laundry list of upgrades and serious modifications performed on this silhouette of a chassis that once resembled a Mirage, Concon reworked the exterior with JDM Evolution V/VI parts shipped directly from Japan prior to having it resprayed with a custom Candy Deep Oak Burgundy by Mad Kustomz.

We could talk about this car for days and point out every modification that was performed but rather than listening to me babble on what was done to the car, we included the mod list for you to see all the hard work and perseverance that went into making this car unique.

The ‘90s was a golden era for the performance industry as automotive manufactures released performance vehicles like the Nissan Skyline GT-R and 300ZX, Toyota Supra, Mazda RX7, Acura NSX to name a few.

Lurking in the shadows of all these performance vehicles stood the Mitsubishi 3000GT VR-4. The 3000GT had the looks and stylings of a supercar but lacked the performance capabilities due to a curb weight of 3,800lbs which outweighed every competitor’s sports car in its class. Add to that, poor weight distribution and mediocre steering input and the 3000GT was nothing more than your average commuter car with stylish looks. Should we mention the lack of horsepower? From ’91 to ’99, all three trim levels (base, SL, and VR-4) were powered by a 222hp 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V6 engine. While that might sound decent, consider the fact that this engine had to move close to 4,000 lbs.

Regardless of its shortcomings, the 3000GT had remained a popular car and continues to have a strong cult following in present time. This Caracas Red example was obviously owned by a true enthusiast who enjoyed every aspect of this car. The paint was flawless as was the engine bay with a number of chrome and polished aluminum parts that screamed ‘90s flavor!

The trunk was reupholstered and custom designed to fit four 12-inch subwoofers, an old school Rockford Fosgate Punch amplifier, and an Accuair air ride system to achieve the perfect ride height.

Road Race Engineering (RRE) once again sponsored this year’s dyno contest, as participants pushed their cars to the ragged edge in an attempt to own bragging rights of delivering the highest horsepower of the day.

Sergio Miranda’s 2006 Evolution IX was drawing in a steady stream of onlookers the entire day on display in front of the CSF Performance Cooling booth. Miranda’s Evolution was customized from the ground up; it’s the stuff dreams are made of.

The 4G63 engine was upgraded with a number of Sheepey Built performance parts including a stainless top mount exhaust manifold, Titanium hood exit exhaust with wastegate hood exit up pipes, oil catch can, and intercooler and charge pipes. The Precision 6266 turbo boost is regulated via a Turbosmart wastegate as Spooling Up coil packs create the spark needed to propel this high-horsepower engine.

Exterior modifications consist of a Wasp composite chassis mounted carbon fiber splitter, Seibon carbon fiber hood and fenders, front air duct, with fiberglass side skirts and side spats. A Kognition rear wing and Voltex roof vortex generator along with a Varis carbon fiber rear diffuser complete the exterior transformation.

Inside the cockpit, much of the factory interior remained but with a few modifications including a six-point Autopower roll cage, Buddy Club P1 bucket seats, Beatrush rear seat delete, Momo Monte Carlo steering wheel and a Works Bell Rapfix GTC R flip up steering adapter. Miranda also installed an Innovate AFR gauge, Pro Sport boost gauge and APEX’i turbo timer.

Roy Narvaez’s Hulk Evolution VIII made its triumphant return to MOD this year in one piece. Last year, the Evolution was display at MOD following a horrendous crash at Pikes Peak International Hill Climb (PPIHC). The vehicle display was quite disturbing as a slew of body parts retrieved from the wreckage shrouded the vehicle.

“The Evolution is currently being rebuilt. The damage wasn’t as bad as we thought, and the car should be running within the next month. I will be competing again in Pikes Peak, pretty sure in the same Hulk Evolution,” said Navarez at the time.

A true testament to his word, the Evolution was rebuilt and completed the climb to the top at this year’s PPIHC on June 20th finishing twelfth place in the Time Attack class.

Walking along vendor row, we found this tastefully modified Evolution X, owned by Albert Abundis. Abundis’ car has come a long way since 2014 when it was still in its original silver color, outfitted with a carbon fiber trunk and lowered on Work wheels.

“The car has definitely been a work in progress but I’ve managed to build the car to my specifications and think it worked out pretty good,” said Adundis.

The exterior was rewrapped in Avery Battle Ship grey prior to installing a full array of Varis components including front and rear bumpers, diffuser, tail lights, carbon canards, side skirts, and rear diffuser. Albert opted to install a Seibon carbon hood, Password:JDM carbon fiber left headlight cover, JUN Auto Mechanic carbon fiber side mirrors, Cusco rear window vent and Esprit carbon wing to complete the Evolution’s makeover.

Albert opted to upgrade his suspension package with Fortune 500 coilovers with air piston and damping control system all around. An Endless 6 piston front and 4 piston rear big brake kit peek out from under a set of magnesium blue Volk TE37RT sized at 18×10.5-inch +18mm on all four corners, all wrapped in Falken Azenis 275/35-18 tires. Cusco front and rear strut bars and underside bracing, along with a set of Whiteline sway bars, help deliver chassis rigidity which improves vehicle handling.

No stone was left unturned when it came to modifying this Evolution X including what was under the hood. Engine fortifications called for an LA sleeved block stuffed with a set of Aria pistons and Manley rods. A set of Kelford 214-C camshafts orchestrates the GSC drivetrain as E85 fuel is pumped though a set of 2,150cc FIC injectors. Forced induction duties are put to work by a Garrett GTX3071R turbocharger and cooled via an AMS intercooler and hard pipe kit. With the current modifications, the Evolution produces an impressive 511hp and 411 lb-ft of torque at 28psi.

English Racing once again made the long cross country trip from Camas, Wash. to display a number of their world record setting Mitsubishi drag cars. The ER/ETS Drag Evolution VIII made its triumphant return to MOD and gave spectators a glimpse into what a 1,156hp machine looks like.

The 4G63 powerplant is filled with Wiseco 11.0:1-compession pistons, GRP aluminum rods, an ER race ported cylinder head and GSC S3 camshafts. A T4 twin-scroll PTE 7285 turbocharger is mated to a custom ETS tubular manifold and force-fed methanol though a set of 2,150cc FIC injectors.

Jeffery Bush’s ’93 Eclipse is legendary among the 4G63 DSM community. On Sept 2016, his 1,285whp auto transmission machine reset the DSM world record in the quarter-mile with a time of 7.389-seconds at 187.94mph. As to date, the Eclipse currently holds numerous records including the title for the world’s quickest and fastest AWD, AWD automatic DSM, AWD DSM in quarter-mile, and tenth quickest in world for AWD anything.

We’re not here to toot Jeff’s horn but we should also add that his Eclipse stands alone as the only IRS DSM to cut a 1.18-second 60-foot time and only AWD Mitsubishi to cut 4.8-seconds in 1/8th mile.

“The record setting 7.3-second pass was done at 70psi and 140 shot of nitrous all the way down the strip on my 80mm turbo. There’s a little more left in it to turn up the wick, perhaps 10psi more,” says Jeff.

Engine modifications to help propel this car into the record books consist of a Forced Performance HTZ GT4580R turbocharger, English Racing 9:1 aluminum rods, ETS 6-inch FMIC, custom auto transmission designed by Bush and built by Metro transmission, Jeff Bush ported cylinder head, GSC S3 cams, Kiggly valve springs and retainers, Magnus intake manifold, dry sump and mechanical fuel pump, 2,150cc X12 injectors, AEM EMS series 2, 4-channel wideband, AQ1 data logger and Sparktech coil on plug system.

From the entire rear hatch forward, the original metal body panels were replaced with carbon fiber in order to lighten the payload.

“We’ve previously used CF body parts last year but for this season the car is coming in 100lbs lighter than the previous that should help it get into 7.1 second range. The vehicles new diet plan consisted of using titanium bolts, lighter ceramic bearings, lots of new one-off billet parts, and a few other things that were upgraded to keep them smaller and lighter.”

Streamlining down the quarter mile in seven-second times can become a handful. In order to keep the 2G missile pointed towards the finish line, a set of Weld 15X8.3-inch wheels are mounted with M&H Evolution 8.5-26-15 drag slicks.

“At this point, the car is almost tapped out. I’d like to see a 4.7 in the eighth this season, and a 7.1 at over 190mph. At that point all goals will have been met by a long shot,” said Bush.

This year celebrates the 30th anniversary of the Starion ESI-R’s first production released in the US. The Starion was another bold design move by Mitsubishi engineers in the early ‘80s. There’s something about the box flares and sharp contrasting body design that looks good even to this day.

If you overlook the inherent flaws of the engine design which periodically suffered a blown head gasket or cracked cylinder head, the 2.6-liter G54B engine equipped with a TD05-12A turbocharger was the car to own back in the day.

For those of you who have been following the One Lap of America and the Targa Newfoundland Race, Team Igloo Racing and their chrome metallic blue Evolution X has been regulars at both events over the past few years. Barry Stewart and Team Igloo recently participated in the Targa Newfoundland Race. A 5 day, 1,500-kilometer race that takes place every year along the rugged coastlines and remote communities in Newfoundland.

Igloo Building Supplies president and driver, Barry Stewart, mentioned while the goal of racing was to have fun, it was done ultimately to raise money for the Kids with Cancer Society. To date, Igloo Building Supplies has helped raise $2M in donations to the charity.

Igloo Racing crew and engine tuner, Mike “Pineapple” Angel, gave us a quick tour of the car–starting with exterior modifications. A custom dual element carbon fiber wing and body kit was finished off with a set of STR Racing wheels with Nitto 275/35-18 NT01 tires. Treacherous road race conditions are handled by JRZ coilovers with pillow ball mount, sway bars and Stoptech big brake kit.

The interior was modified with a 6 point roll cage, Sparco Evolution bucket seats with Takata 6-point harnesses, a Terratrip rally computer, and HD Racing video cameras to document every run.

“Believe it or not, we’re currently running this 4B11 engine at 40+PSI and haven’t had any problems yet—knock on wood,” says Mike Angel. The setup makes approx. 600hp with the boost turned down during race day for reliability.

Mitsubishi Owners Day was once again a big success. Having attended a number of MOD events over the years, it’s apparent the car quality continues to improve. We hope to see it bigger and better next year.