If you want to do something different, you have to be prepared to blaze a trail on your own. Being different requires a deep understanding of how things work – and do not work – together. If you’re willing to face obstacles on your own and persevere, the results can be amazing.
When it comes to old school Mitsubishi Colts and Lancers, some people stick a big, honkin’ V8 under the hood. Some, however, stick with Mitsubishi 4-cylinder power, as these Chrysler-branded machines were all made by Mitsubishi. Anthony Apuzzo Jr. took a slightly different route. He chose big turbo, 4-banger power, but he opted for the Chrysler A853 from the spunky Neon SRT4.
[bd] Introductions. Tell me a little bit about yourself. (The cars are awesome, but we want to showcase the people who OWN them and DO things with them in this magazine.) Who are you, where are you, what do you do for a living?
[aa] Anthony Apuzzo. Born and raised in Connecticut. Married with 2 children ages 11 & 8 – both girls and a hand full to say the least. 44 years old and have been into cars since my teenage years. Owned all kind of makes and models. Actually still have my 1969 Dodge Charger sitting in garage, but that’s another story.
I’m a transmission rebuilder. Started building 99% daily driver units, but that quickly turned the other way, with race units taking the lead. Most of my weekends are spent either at the race track with my own car or helping customers with theirs, but I try to set aside time for the family (got to keep them happy too).
[bd] My buddy Tim Reed, an old school Colt fanatic, told me about you. Your car is pretty unique. Tell us a little bit about it. How is it different from most other racing Colts?
[aa] My Colt build started out as me just wanting to run mid 10’s in the 1/4 [mile], but that didn’t last too long. The thrill and need for speed escalated that to what it is today. My Colt differs from others because I thought outside of the box with engine choice.
[bd] Why did you decide to base your project on a Colt? Why this one in particular? And how did it all begin?
[aa] My love for the 71-73 Colt started at Englishtown when I saw the Sox & Martin Hemi Colt. I just loved the look of it and decided I had to have one. My first choice was to install a smallblock Mopar 360, but after finding a good, buildable body, my engine choice changed. Just to be different, I decided to install an SRT4 engine.
[bd] I like how you decided to run the Chrysler engine in the Colt “to be different.” Why did you want to be different? Was there something about the status quo that you didn’t like? Furthermore, for gearheads who might not be familiar with the older Colt platform, tell us a little bit about how different your car really is.
[aa] Where I’m from, the majority of the RWD imports are rotary-powered or Toyota-based powerplants. I chose the Neon engine mainly because I already had it and figured may as well put it to use. Making it automatic was a no-brainer in my eyes. It took a little R&D to get the converter to work, but I’m happy with the results.Being that it’s an early Colt, it’s a real eye catcher. They are few and far between. Most of them around here rotted into the ground.
[bd] Doing something different like this often means you’re on your own when things don’t work out. Tell us about a particularly challenging problem you had because of you desire to be different with this setup. Why was it challenging? How did you come to the solution? And what did you learn from the experience?
[aa] Fitting the engine in the car was a bit tough. Not much room when you figure in the intercooler, and making a custom oil pan was needed because the Neon runs a breadbox style pan where I needed a front sump. This is just a hobby, not a full time job, so when I had a challenge, I just sat back and really thought about how to tackle it. Making the adapter to mate the 2.4 to the Dodge 904 took a whole day with a friend that runs a CNC mainly because I had to explain how I wanted it and him not being a car guy.
[bd] We’re not big on running mod lists in this magazine, because anyone with enough cash or credit can buy expensive parts. We’re interested in why this or that was chosen for specific, measurable goals. Tell us some more about the car. What kind of power are you making and what’s the biggest contributor to that power? How is it transferred to the rear wheels? You build the transmission yourself?
[aa] Being turbo is the biggest factor in making power. I have put down 647 to the tires with 35psi of boost. Yes, I built the trans myself. It’s a TorqueFlite 904 with OEM input and output shafts. I did some machine work to replace the thrust washers with Torrington bearings. It does have a trans brake valve body which really aids in the building of boost. The only real trick part is the aluminum direct drum along with racing frictions and steels.
[bd] What’s your current best with the car? Would you consider that your greatest accomplishment so far? If so, why? If not, what was your greatest accomplishment and why does it mean so much to you?
[aa] Best 1/4 et to date 8.82 @ 152mph (245kph) with a 1.28 60′. Greatest accomplishment is being the second fastest SRT-powered car in the world. Also, anytime we go racing and can improve something and come home in one piece is a good day.
[bd] What’s next for this machine? Where do you go from here?
[aa] Not going to do much more to it, maybe an intercooler upgrade, and if I can find a source for the weather stripping, I may paint it, although I like the fact that 95% of the paint is factory.
[bd] Anyone you’d like to give a shout out? Who has helped make this machine possible?
[aa] First, my wife and kids for putting up with my late nights in the shop. My good friend Ralph from Auto Authority for the reliable tune and the guys at the AA for the track support. Darrell Cox racing for a killer engine combo, intake and header, and Mike at MPH Fab for all the chassis work.
[bd] Finally, where can people find you online to learn more?
[aa] I don’t really post on too many forums, but there is old info on turbododge.com. I may start a FB page. I’ll let you know if I do.