6/1/2006:
I AM BACK


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It's been a long time since I've given anyone an update on the Turbo Mirage. The reason for the lack of updates are the two and a half incredibly action packed years I've had in my personal and professional life. As most people know, there are times when the car hobby has to take a bit of a back seat, as priorities make themselves known.

During that time I never completely shelved my car hobby, just dialed it back a bit. In fact, I still found time to pick up a clean 1991 Eagle Talon Tsi AWD, which currently splits the daily driving duties with the Mirage. Read all about it here


Since I'm in a reflective mood at the moment, and we all know that with age comes (at least a trace amount of) wisdom, I'd like to share a couple things that I've learned in the past 6 years of messing around with Mitsubishi powered beasts. Here they are in no certain order:

  • Learn from others, watch to see what works for them and then go do that. Doing otherwise is far too costly, and I ain't just talking about money.


  • Don't bite off more than you can chew. Make realistic plans and budgets, then stick to them religiously.


  • You don't have to be the fastest guy in town. Just be sure to live up to any hype that you produce.



Ok, on to the update. Early last summer, the stock 4G63 junkyard engine that I had swapped into the Mirage 4 years prior was finally starting to show some age. Who could blame it? After 70,000 miles of daily duty in a 1990 Eclipse, I got my hands on it and tossed it into the engine bay of the Mirage.

During its time there, this engine was subjected to 50,000 additional miles of pure, unadulterated abuse. All along the way it never consumed a single quart of oil or let me down in any way. It was a great engine, but it was time to load a fresh bullet into the chamber.

July 4th weekend 2005 was when the swap took place. Out came the battle-tested stock junkyard 4G63 that had served me so well, and in went a Buschur Racing stage 3 4G63 long block. This same configuration has been duty tested to over 700hp and taken rides in many of the fastest 4G63 powered cars on Earth. The engine block is treated to all kinds of good stuff as is the cylinder head. The result is an engine capable of big power, but offers reliability as well.


Here's a shot of the Buschur Racing Stage 3 engine block. It's filled with top of the line forged pistons, connecting rods, and a fully blueprinted and balanced knife-edged crankshaft. The balance shafts are removed and ARP fasteners are used throughout for reliability.

I feel this block will handle my most demanding trips to and from the grocery store.

Here's a shot of the Buschur Racing Stage 3 cylinder head. It's got all the cool stuff like stainless steel valves, bronze valve guides, high performance springs and titanium retainers. The good folks at Buchur Racing also o-ring the chambers for superior head gasket sealing. The intake and exhaust ports completely ported and polished which means they'll make nice with my HKS 272 camshafts.


Here's a picture of the motor on the stand, patiently awaiting to be hoisted into the engine bay. Notice the alternator? I used Buschur Racing's relocation kit to move it to the rear of the engine. This cleans up the front of the engine and frees up tons of room for intercooler piping, strobe lights, a shoe rack, or anything else you might want to install up there.


While I was at it, I threw in a set of giant 880cc injectors and converted the car to accept a 91-up DSM EPROM ECU. This allowed me to run custom chips that can compensate for lots of things like injector size, rev limit and more.



Holy huge turbo! With this new engine, I decided to try a new turbocharger setup also. The Mitsu 20g that was previously on the Mirage was no slouch, but I wanted to try something decidedly bigger, with the flow potential to match my new and improved setup. Actually, the real reason was that I wanted to be the fastest guy in town. Refer to my list above. That was my mistake.



Once the car came together, it started up on the first try with no issues. Right out of the box, with no real tune to speak of, this thing was FAST. I mean, it was holy crap 9500 rpm in 3rd gear with the tires smoking off fast. I got the tune dialed in a little more over the next couple days and promptly returned the Mirage to daily driver status. After the first couple days of driving I realized that I wasn't enjoying being behind the wheel of this car under normal driving situations. What happened? I'd always loved driving this car.

Basically that giant turbo took all of the responsiveness out of it. With my old 20g, I'd have full boost around 3200rpm or so. With this beast, it was 5500 rpm. That might not sound terrible, but I could never get used to driving a car with such a lack of response below 5000 rpm, and I hated it. Of course, once the little sucker hit 5500, you'd better be holding on real tight, cause 10k rpm is coming up fast. After a couple more weeks of frustrated driving I parked it.



Months went by and I was having a tough time deciding what to do with the little beast. Sell it? No way, never! After lots of teeth-gnashing, I realized that I needed to "let go" of trying to be the fastest thing in town. That's when it hit me! I needed to return to the same setup that I had so much fun with. The venerable 20g. With the Mirage and Talon in the garage, side-by-side, I ripped the oversized turbo off the mirage, pulled the 20g out of the Talon and returned it to its rightful home, under the hood of the Turbo Mirage.

Along with the smaller 20g turbo, I downsized from 880cc injectors to 680cc injectors. I also changed the ECU chip to accommodate the injectors.

Here's a current shot of the engine bay. Things haven't changed much here over the years. I would like to add a better intake manifold and some shorter intercooler piping someday.

While I was in there I also made a new intake pipe with a giant K&N filter. It's defintely sucking big time.

I ditched the tiny motorcycle battery that I had in the car for a couple years. Many have used these with success, but in my case, when the car would sit for a couple weeks it would lose its charge, and these batterys aren't much fun to charge since they're very finicky. This got pretty old, so I went back to my prior setup, a boat-anchor Optima mounted in the trunk. No troubles now!



The water injection setup in this car worked well for many years, but I wanted to try one of the newer high pressure pumps. I was using a 60psi pump designed for water only, and the one in the picture is rated at 150psi and is happy to drink a 50/50 mix of water and alcohol.

After years of incredible results running water/alchy injection with pump gas, I would never have a turbo car without it! For more info about building your own kit on a modest budget, check out my water injection site by clicking here



So, on to the million dollar question...Is it fun to drive again?

Hell yes!

It's running like a scared chimp! I'm not sure exactly what that means, but just take my word for it, this thing is cooking.

The Buschur Racing motor revs like a motorcycle and actually spools the 20g sooner than the stock engine did. It runs through the rev range so smooth and fast, even at part throttle. This setup has totally transformed the car. I am also thrilled to report that the gas mileage (with a mix of 50/50 city/highway driving) is checking in at an astounding 28mpg, and I ain't babying this thing! Can't beat that with gas prices at $3.00 per gallon.



I don't have my pump gas tune nailed down just yet, but we're getting there. I had to pedal it a little in 3rd to keep the wheelspin to a minimum, but 4th and 5th are wide open! I'll just let the video do the rest of the talking.

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