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February 18, 2007: The old switcheroo!

Recently I whipped up a little video entitled “FWD still sucks” featuring my 1989 Mirage. You can see it here, if you haven’t already.

The day after filming this video, I was driving into work and noticed the set of two long rubber patches that I had laid down the day before. That’s when it started getting to me. Sure, I may have posted a fun video on the Interweb that got thousands of views, but am I really having fun burning 14 inch drag radials off at 115mph in 4th gear? The answer was a resounding “no”. (Don’t be surprised by the self-derived dialogue, I have conversations like this with myself pretty much all day long. Ask my co-workers, they’ll tell ya!)

Each time I drove the Mirage I grew more frustrated with the lack of traction and poor handling dynamics that come from front wheels spinning at the apex of a turn. Even while running a modest 20g turbo, the car had become too powerful for most uses. The thing had no traction to speak of at full throttle until around 100mph, and at part throttle, it would spin its tires in gears 1, 2 and 3.

I spent the next few days reminiscing about a simpler time, before HKS Cams, Super AFCs, front mount intercoolers and dual stage boost controllers. It was 2001, and the mirage had a mod list that was incredibly short compared to today’s standards. We’re talking a 16g turbo, stock DSM intercooler, water injection, K&N filter, boost controller, Walbro 255, and 2.5″ downpipe/3″ cat-back. That was it, nothing else. Those mods were good for mid 12s on pump gas all day long. Back then the car would actually go around turns, instead of trying to send you into a ditch, as it does today.

After a week or so, (and after talking with my buddy Joe) I realized what I should do. Since the Mirage was now hideously overpowered, and the Talon was leaking and burning oil from it’s 220k mile engine I would do a switcheroo. I’ll let the drawing below explain.

If that illustration didn’t explain it, The plan was to pull the awesome built engine out of the Mirage and swap it into the Talon. The stock 220k mile Talon Motor would get rebuilt and slid into the Mirage with a 16g turbo. Within a couple days I had both engines removed, swapping essential parts like flywheels, engine mount brackets and thermostat housings from one engine to the other. Then the stock Talon engine (which will be bolted into the Mirage after a rebuild) was placed on an engine stand and slid into a corner for a few months.

My current focus was to get the fresh, fully-built motor into my Talon which took a fair amount of customization mainly due to the Magnus intake, that required a relocation of the transistor, coil and battery. With the new all wheel drive platform, I thought that this would be a great time to step up to a larger turbo. I decided to try a Forced Performance “Red” which is easy to install and has pushed countless cars into the 10s and low 11s in the quarter mile.

Since this car will be driven a couple days a week, with an occasional trip to the drag strip, I decided to keep all of the creature comforts such as air conditioning and my beloved coffee maker. I didnt take many pictures of this super thrash, but here are a couple random pictures:

My 1989 Turbo Mirage, now engineless and sad sitting in the farthest reaches of my garage.

The Talon with its 220k mile stock engine ready to be plucked. In all honesty, it likely just needed a good cylinder head re-do, but my plans are to freshen up the whole engine for use in the Mirage.

On the engine hoist in this picture is the gently used (but very stout) 4G63 that was originally installed in my 1988 Starion drag car in 2004. After that it was put into service in the Mirage for a couple years. Here it has a Buschur Racing 20g hanging off of the manifold. I ended up selling this turbocharger in favor of the FP Red.

To travel back in time a bit, here is the Buschur Racing stage 3 short block being prepped for the cylinder head install back in 2004.

Speaking of the cylinder head, here's a couple close-ups in all its o-ringed glory.

Here it is on the engine stand back in 2004.

Almost ready to be bolted into the Starion back in the day. You can see the various RWD friendly bits installed at the time, such as the intake manifold, transmission adapter plate, flipped turbo mounting, revised coolant setup and lots more.

Here's what it looked like just before installing it into the Starion. Why yes, that IS a 2 speed powerglide.

And here it is snuggled into the engine bay of the Mitsubishi Starion. This was an incredibly simple setup and it would just scream. I drove it on the street quite a few times and the 1-2 shift at 10,000rpms was just incredible.

Here is the beastly new engine in the Talon and all buttoned up in its proper AWD configuration. I wish I would've taken more photos, but I had little time and lots to do. One thing is for sure, the performance increase over the old stock engine is stunning! As soon as the weather gets better, I'll be headed to the drag strip to see what it can do.

Thanks for reading!