My 1989 Mirage: The History
I remember the first time I saw one of these quirky little "pocket rockets." I was in High School and my friend's dad bought a brand new 89 Dodge Colt GT for the daily commute to work. He described the performance as "peppy." Hmmm.

Since my interest at the time was focused on V8s in all of their gas guzzling glory, I paid no mind to it. Being an avid car magazine subscriber, I noticed some praise here, (Car & Driver referred to it as "one of the best-kept secrets in the auto world.")some accolades there, but the little turbocharged hatchback never really intrigued me.

The Discovery: Summer, 1999
Fast forward to 1999. After purchasing, and lightly modifying my 1991 Eclipse turbo, I was amazed by how simple it was to make the turbo 2.0 liter Mitsu motor perform. When I say "perform" I am not talking about a few tenths of a second here or there. I'm talking about a car that runs low 13 second 1/4 mile times with a very small amount of cash. All this while racking up over 80 miles a day at no less than 27mpg.

Since I was now sold on the power potential and reliability of the Mitsu motor, I started dreaming up different vehicles the Mitsu 2.0 could be used in. Then, while scouring the Club DSM Archives I quickly found an old message that told of how the stock 1.6 Turbo motor in the Colt/Mirages and the 2.0 Turbo are nearly identical, and the swap is fairly straightforward. That's all I needed to hear, and the search was on!

The Find! Summer 2001
Since there were only roughly 1500 of these cars made they are getting nearly impossible to find. After a long and frustrating search I finally found one in North Carolina! The good news was that the body was in great shape! The bad news was that the car needed lots and lots of "TLC" lets call it, since many of the important details were overlooked. (That's putting it mildly, believe me.)

What Next?
My goal from the beginning has been to create the ultimate sleeper. Since this car has the looks of most every other 80s econobox on the road, it will be underestimated by all opponents. I'm hoping that most will pass it off as "A riceburner with a loud muffler." Ahh, but what lurks within is a 425hp beast. (This car has never been on a dyno, so these are just estimates from its performance at the drag strip.) Since it weighs in at less than 2500lbs, that gives it a power to weight ratio of 5.8 lbs per hp. How does that stack up? Take a look at this:

Vehicle lb/hp ratio Base Price
1989 Mirage 2.0 Turbo 5.8 $13,550
2006 Ford GT 6.3 $153,345
2005 Porsche 911 Turbo 7.8 $131,400
2006 Dodge Viper SRT-10 6.6 $85,745
2007 Corvette Z06 6.2 $65,690
2006 Honda S2000 12.0 $34,600
2006 Subaru WRX Sti 11.1 $33,620


Summary
Of course this little car will never share a seat at the dinner table with the likes of any of the cars listed above. This is simply an inexpensive, overpowered, grocery-gettin', giggle machine. Although it may not be in it's stock form, I'm glad I can own a tiny piece of automotive history.