Diamonds In The Stars With Motors
MOD 2017, held at Mitsubishi Motors R&D of America’s laboratory in Cypress, California on Saturday was 100 years in the making, and fans of the Japanese automaker came out in numbers to celebrate the milestone.
Given it was way back in 2011 that Speedhunters last took a look at MOD (Mitsubishi Owners Day), I decided it would be a good idea to brave the summer heat and check it out. And I’m glad that I did.
Although it was a centennial celebration, the history of Mitsubishi is far greater when you look beyond the automotive side. Mitsubishi Group of Companies was founded in 1870 by Yararo Iwasaki and started out as a shipping firm. The logo and name stands for Three Water Caltrop, but the word hishi (which gets changed to bishi when spoken with mitsu) also means diamond. That’s why you see three diamonds over three water chestnuts.
In 1917, the company built the first ever series-production automobile known as the Model A, which was based on the Fiat Tipo 3. In 1934, after discontinuing the rather expensive car, the shipbuilding and aircraft companies merged to form Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and three years later they built the PX33. It could be called the predecessor to the VR-4, GSX, and Evolution models we see today as it was the first Japanese-built passenger car with full-time four-wheel drive.
For many of us that grew up in the 1980s and early 1990s in the USA, we saw Mitsubishi as part of the Diamond Star Motor group. ‘Diamond’ fans lusted over the Mitsubishi Eclipse, 3000GT, and the Mighty Max (if you were into small pickups); the ‘Star’ part was the Chrysler side, so we wanted the Eagle Talon, the Dodge Stealth, and the Ram 50. The reality was, they were the same vehicles.
However, even though I know that, the Talon TSI AWD is still the one from that group that I want the most. I liked its body shape more so than the Eclipse, but either version of the AWD cars are still very potent vehicles to own.
The Eclipse/Talon were also the second largest gathering of vehicles at MOD 2017. It wasn’t hard to understand, though, as these cars aren’t exactly rare or expensive. Of course, if there is going to be an Eclipse showing, you know that the ‘Paul Walker Tribute’ car is going to be here. Even when the Fast and the Furious first came out, the Eclipse was already an ageing car, but there’s just something about that body that still looks good today as it did when it first debuted.
Those of you that have known me or have read my stuff in the past, you know I’m a, well, I’m a truck and SUV kind of guy. So, when I headed over to the Montero/Pajero section, I was ecstatic to see the Pajero Evolution on display. We’re not familiar with it here in the US, which is a surprise considering we are a truck/SUV nation. This is a Dakar homologation special and it’s a big departure from the standard Pajero. It came out in 1997 as a response to the T3 class requirements of the Paris-Dakar Rally and features a 3.5-liter, 24-valve MIVEC DOHC V6 with a variable intake system (long runner plenum for low RPM, short runner plenum for higher RPM). It also featured a multi-link, independent rear suspension over the solid axle of the normal Pajero/Montero.
Right next to them were some classic Lancers. The first was this Lancer 1800 GSR with a 4G62B engine, a 1.8-liter SOHC four-cylinder with intercooled turbocharger. This particular car sported a set of original Yokohama Advan A3A wheels along with a few other interesting parts.
Right beside it, however, was a very impressive looking Mitsubishi Lancer A70, also known as the Dodge Colt here in the US. Dennis, the owner, also changed the front bumper to Japanese Lancer style, which was shorter than the US bumper. However, that necessitated shortening the plastic portion that goes into the front fenders. In Japan, these cars didn’t come with the low-mounted signal light we see here.
These cars came with the 4G32, a 1.6-liter SOHC engine with a single Solex carburetor, though GSR versions of the engines saw dual Solex two-barrel, downdraft carburetors fitted. While the single Solex is working for now, the plans are to change it out for a set of Weber side-draft carburetors, but that will require the relocation of the brake booster and master cylinder to the trunk. Yes, you read that correctly, the description of the setup is very ingenious. A single master cylinder attaches where the old booster and master cylinder were once at, that then sends pressure to a slave cylinder that’s attached to the relocated brake booster. The downside is that there is a lack of feedback – bad for a race car, but not bad enough for a street car.
There are some neat period touches too, like an original set of SSR Mk3 wheels and a state-of-the-art cassette player.
Vendor, Vendor, Give Me The News
One of the companies who’s been to every single MOD has been Road Race Engineering. They are, quite simply, one of the names you just associate with 4G-engines and the stupid amounts of power they can make. This year was no exception and, once again, they brought out their dyno to see which Mitsubishi had the most on this very hot July day.
On display were Dr. Alex Radu’s Evo VI and its Varis bodykit, and also Roy Narvaez’s Hulk Evo VIII, which had the unfortunate fate last year to be on display in pieces after his barrel roll at Pikes Peak. For 2017 however, Roy reached the top before the weather hit to finish 12th out of 22 in his class.
Over at CSF Radiators was this impressive looking Evo IX owned by Sergio Miranda with a custom made, titanium Sheepey Built turbo and wastegate dump that exits out of the hood. The list of parts on it might make it worthy of a future look.
Other than the Marlboro schemed cars that have started to pop-up recently, there is another auto trend I don’t quite get: the itasha car. The Evo X wasn’t as extreme as I have seen them and it was going for a Good Smile Racing team replica, but I still don’t really get it. Though, we did have the American equivalent here with this yellow Lancer.
With that all said, there is one last thing that must be pointed out about Mitsubishi fans. Despite the challenging times with their favorite brand and the brand getting away from the thing that brought them to it in the first place, they are still a diehard and loyal base.
So much so, that there will be a second MOD on August 19, 2017 that will take place on the east coast at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. If you haven’t been able to attend MOD in the past because you were on the opposite coast, this will be your chance to enjoy Mitsubishi with your fellow owners. Even as a non-Mitsubishi owner, you’ll enjoy it because at the end of the day we all enjoy vehicles.
What’s your favorite Mitsubishi vehicle or memory? Tell us in the comments, or even better – show us.
Cutting Room Floor