Working the engine
With the motor yanked out it's easier to see the magnitude of the work that needs to be done. Mechanically-speaking the engine's internals are still fine but nearly everything else around the engine bay needs work. A lot of it.
If you really want to be show worthy you'll need a mechanic that's as obsessive/compulsive as they come. It's all in the details and the guys at K's Racing really set out to work on restoring the engine, but first comes the list of parts needed.
The list is long and daunting: radiator, radiator fans, exhaust manifold, reservoir tank, wiper tank, hydrovac, clutch master, clutch, pressure plate, sparkplugs, oil, coolant, an overhaul kit and all the necessary gaskets, o-rings and seals. I even needed a proper and original aircon compressor and bracket because of the botched jobs of before.
For this to be a show worthy car, we'll really have to look for a lot of parts at surplus shops, auto supplies and specialty auto stores and fabricators. The best tip I can give if you're going to restore a car is that you should really befriend a few auto supply shops; this will go a long way in helping you find the parts and components you need.
The most important lesson, however, is that whatever the maximum budget you have in your head for a project car, multiply that by a factor of 1.5x at least. Tiny problems or parts that need replacing tend to pop out constantly during any car build, particularly when your funds are almost exhausted.
So do yourself a favor if you want to restore a car: set your budget to 1.5 times of your initial comprehensive estimate or you'll spend quite a while explaining the extra costs to the missus.
Upgrade, upgrade, upgrade
While the engine is yanked out and the car is practically disassembled is really the best time to actually upgrade some of the key mechanical or performance parts.
What you should decide on immediately is your overall concept for performance modifications. Will you be using it to do circuit racing? Will you be tuning for speed and top end acceleration? Will you be tuning for drag or do you just want a bit more power? Do you feel the need for boost?
Whatever you decide for your personal performance concept will dictate what kind of modifications or how far you want to take the power upgrade. For my car I just decided for a simple, clean, naturally-aspirated street tuned machine. No fancy decals, lights or other parts. Just straight up good paint with a period-correct and OEM approach to modification.
With that in mind, I organized my upgrade list, focusing on the intake, exhaust, ignition, brakes and suspension (though I'll probably keep it as is for now), all while keeping the installation and upgrade as clean as possible.
Upgrading the intake, cooling and ignition
The 2.0L 4G63 is already a potent powerplant that can be easily turbocharged and intercooled to incredible digits of horsepower, but I opted to keep it in its current high compression, naturally aspirated configuration. The basics needed to be covered: a high flow intake, improved ignition and a much better exhaust.
The intake system of this particular engine model is tricky because this came off of a 1992 Galant GTI, meaning it still uses the large Mass Air Sensor (MAS) that is difficult to adapt to better performance (cone type) filters given that the whole MAS has to fit inside for this to be a clean install. I've seen ways to adapt the newer 2nd generation Mitsubishi Mass Air Flow (MAF) sensors to the older wiring harness (which would solve many problems, actually) but I'm still apprehensive about doing that. Based on what I've read so far, it appears the second generation MAF is far better and far friendlier to tuning than the original one. I'll have to decide soon enough on how to go about this upgrade.
The next part is the ignition. The stock 4G63 ignition system is quite receptive to ignition upgrades so I went on to look for a proper MSD or similar multi-spark ignition system for the engine. Like the MAS, the ignition system of the engine is also tricky given that the engine is distributorless by design, meaning I needed a rarer and more expensive DIS models from either MSD, CraneCams or Jacobs.
Luckily Ferman Lao of SpeedLab was able to find an old multi-spark CraneCams HI-6 DI2 ignition system from their old Mitsubishi Eclipse that ran a 4G63T. It's an old and battered unit and repainted blue, but after repeated DIY sanding and painting, I was able to bring it back to black and looking (relatively) new.
The thing is whether this new ignition system will actually work. Only until we start the actual re-installation and rewiring of the engine will we know if this unit will work properly.
I was contemplating whether to get a cheap surplus radiator from Japan to replace my old one, but really when it comes to keeping your engine in tip top shape, the radiator isn't one place to save a few bucks on. Luckily JC Racing (www.jcracingsuspension.com) had a large aluminum radiator in stock for the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution III; a perfect fit for my engine bay. When we fit it the radiator looked incredible in the engine bay and, given its intended purpose of cooling down a turbocharged 4G63, the naturally aspirated version shouldn't be a problem.
The Stivo special exhaust
The exhaust system was one that definitely needed spiffying up. This goes double for the 63 because the headers very visible up front as opposed to most new cars that have them towards the back and out of sight.
Coming highly recommended was Stivo Concepts in Parañaque. Owned and operated by Steve Rojas, Stivo would be building a full custom exhaust system from scratch based on the existing stock unit I had dropped off at their shop to be patterned and jigged.
One thing that I didn't realize was that mandrel bent headers had gone a bit out of style in favor of weld-tastic, 304 stainless prototype-style headers. Simply put, it's an exhaust system that makes use of various elbows welded together to form the manifold instead of long pipes bent with sand in them; essentially it's like a jigsaw puzzle for welders with no instructions.
Based on the finished product, the welders at Stivo know their art very, very well. The headers use 1.75-inch 304 stainless steel elbows and pipes, while the still-to-be-completed downpipe all the way to the muffler will be 2.5 inches in diameter. The muffler itself is an HKS N1-type muffler that I was able to find at a surplus yard for PhP 2300 and is now also being restored by Stivo.
Currently their most popular product are exhaust manifolds for the Toyota 86/Subaru BRZ/Scion FRS being exported to the U.S., though they also build manifolds for any car or SUV that needs to a bit more performance.
Brake upgrade with Brembo
Since we're going to be upping the power and response of the engine, it's high time for the most important upgrade of all: brakes.
After scouring the many surplus yards and shops of Banawe in Quezon City and Evangelista in Makati, I was finally able to find a set of larger, more powerful brakes for the Lancer CB. The set consisted of 256mm vented discs in front and 260mm solid discs in the back complete with the trailing arms off of the JDM Mirage Cyborg R.
Already a decent upgrade in stopping power, the 4-wheel discs would be further upgraded by AutoPerformance PH; Brembo's official Philippine distributor. Owned and operated by Francis Aguila, AutoPerformance not only distributes Brembo brakes, but also carries the full line of products from Sabelt (racing seats, suits, harnesses, etc.) and their sister company, ARC Automotive, is also an accredited Bosch Car Service center.
Needless to say the new Brembo discs (ARC carries for most models but can order specific rotors and parts from Brembo in Italy) and OEM Brembo brake pads should go a long way in improving the stopping distances and, more importantly, the heat dissipation of the new brake system. I may not intend to use the car for trackdays, but having better brakes is always a very worthwhile upgrade.
As for the suspension, the units already installed in the car consist of Merwede green springs and relatively new KYB Excel-G gas shocks, so I won't be replacing them just yet. What I did upgrade to match the stronger Brembos and calipers was a larger hydrovac system from the surplus yards. Also, at the recommendation of K's Racing, I also ordered a new set of custom steel braided brake hoses.
Yeah, the brakes should work very, very well and look very, very good once this is complete.
The cabin of my Lancer is what needed quite a bit of work (among many others). Unlike steel panels or other solid components, the fabrics and plastics in any car tend to not age as well as the others. Toss in the fact that half of the car was submerged during Typhoon Ondoy and you can imagine what kind of havoc floodwaters did to the carpets, foam, sidings and seats.
Back to my goal of this restoration and (slight) modification, I set out to acquire an affordable set of front seats to replace the original ones that are well past their prime. There are many options to go about it given that there are many aftermarket seats available from brands like Recaro, OMP, Bride and even their fake versions.
I really wish I could afford the nice pair of seats but truth be told, there are gems in the surplus yards if you're willing to spend some time and effort at it. Thankfully I was a little lucky as I found a pair of relatively fresh OEM Mitsubishi sport seats from an FTO sports coupe for just PhP 3,000. The best part about using surplus FTO seats is that it's period correct, and should blend well with the interior. I also found a fresh carpet panel for the Lancer for just PhP 1,000 as well as a fresh OEM shift boot assembly off of a Lancer Evolution III in black leatherette for just PhP 500. Good things really do come to those who wait.
With the front seats acquired and with the rear seats and door sidings removed, I then went to AutoCamp in Ortigas to check out JASC Auto Interiors. A very good reupholstery shop that specializes in restoring interiors to good as new, JASC would replace all the upholstery in black Recaro-style fabrics and with the seams double stitched in red. This goes for the FTO seats, the rear seats and the door inserts. JASC would also refinish the door sidings to the original dark gray.
When the time comes to reassemble the whole car, the all black interior should pop like it was new.
The initial engine build
After all parts had been cleaned, the engine itself was rebuilt almost from the ground up.
The valves and springs had to be re-set. An overhauling kit was sourced to replace all the gaskets with steel and the rubber seals replaced with new ones. The intake manifold was cleaned up while the valve cover and timing belt cover were sent to MJ Autoshop in Metrowalk to be professionally painted in the same red as the body while the lettering was shaved. Every component now uses Motul lubricants courtesy of FluidForce. Each screw, nut, bolt or any other part was cleaned and matched meticulously by Karlo at K's Racing to original specifications. Basically anything that needed to be done was done right, even if it took quite a bit more time to do so.
Based on the photo of the near complete engine below, wouldn't you agree that it was all worth it?
Liking our build? Let us know in the comments below.
Stivo Concepts is located along Main Avenue just off of the West Service Road past Bicutan if you're headed southbound. For inquiries, contact 0917-550-1193. You can also visit www.stivoconcepts.com
JASC Auto Interiors is located in the AutoCamp compound fronting The Medical City along Ortigas Avenue in Pasig City. For inquiries, contact 02-468-7308 or 0916-640-2133. You can also visit www.apra2k.com/jasc
AutoPerformance PH is the official distributor of Brembo and Sabelt products in the Philippines. They are co-located with ARC Automotive along Chino Roces Avenue in Makati City. You can contact them at 02-478-6283. You can also visit www.autoperformance.com.phwww.arcautomotive.com.ph