Our most popular feature of all time.
Remember the last conversation you had about twin turbocharging? What about body kits? Odds are, there were plenty of people against both ideas. But while some of those people went on to do exactly what everyone else did, and some went on to do absolutely nothing, at least one person decided to do something different, and do it exceptionally.
What’s your real name? (What’s your screen name?)
My name is Paul Volk and my online alias is 99gst_racer.
What do you do for a living and where do you live?
I live in Hartford, Michigan. I’m a salesman and sport compact specialist for Motorstate Distributing, a large performance parts warehouse.
What Mitsubishi(s) do you drive? How long have you had it/them?
I drive a 1999 Mitsubishi Eclipse GST. I’m the second owner and I’ve owned it since the fall of 2002.
You’re doing something fairly unheard of with your Mitsubishi. What is it?
Yes, I designed and fabricated a compound turbocharger system my Eclipse about two years ago. It was the first of its kind on this particular platform, so there was quite a bit of skepticism prior to completing and testing it out. The typical rule of thumb has always been that a single turbo would perform better than two turbos for a small displacement 4-cylinder engine, and this is probably the only exception. It’s a turbo system that utilizes two turbochargers; a larger one and a smaller one. The larger compressor feeds the smaller compressor to increase air density, which also increases overall mass flow to the cylinders. The end result is a very quick-spooling, high-boost set-up that offers more power sooner in the RPM range and a wider overall powerband. It starts to build boost around 2900 RPMs and is at 40 PSI by 4500 RPMs. The torque curve makes for an amazing ride on the street, which was my #1 goal with the whole endeavor, so I’ve been extremely happy with how the project transpired.
What’s your build philosophy/goals for your Mitsubishi? How do you use it?
Over the years, I’ve come to realize that almost everything has room for improvement. So, when I’m upgrading a particular part of my car, I always take my time, evaluate it from all angles, and decide the most optimal solution for improvement. This is almost always equates to being more expensive and more time consuming, but it’s always worth it in the end. Research and patience are key.
What originally attracted you to the Mitsubishi? What keeps you going today?
The exterior look of the second generation Mitsubishi Eclipse is what originally attracted me to them. I’ve always thought they were very provocative and aggressive looking. This lead me to purchase a non-turbo 95 Eclipse GS right out of high school. After 9 months, I realized that I wanted something that was a bit quicker, but I didn’t want to deviate from that chassis. So I sourced out a pristine Saronno red turbocharged 99 GS-T in Illinois and the rest is history. I’ve since become quite the speed junky. To me, nothing compares to the acceleration of a boosted vehicle, and the 4G63 engine is probably the best production 4-cylinder engine ever made. Pushing mine to make it quicker every year is what keeps me going today with it. I just love the hobby in general. And of course, it helps greatly to be involved with the performance parts industry. I have the privilege of discussing performance parts, horsepower, and racing with my customers and co-workers on a daily basis. It’s almost impossible to do this for a living and not want to build or race something in my free time.
Got a favorite story about your Mitsubishi?
I’m not sure if I have a favorite story, but here’s one that comes to mind. My buddy Dale and I were double checking a few things under the hood before we left to go to a WMDSM meet. I dropped the hood, ran inside to grab a few things, and we hit the road. We made it about ½ mile down the road, and as we picked up speed, we started to hear a strange little whistle. It got louder as we got faster, and when we hit 45 mph, I looked over at Dale and asked, “I wonder what that noise is coming from”. No more than one second later, my carbon fiber hood came flying up. The wind caught it like a kite and smashed it into my windshield and wrapped it around my roof line. So, Dale’s got glass in his eyes, and I’ve got glass in my mouth, and all the while, I’m trying to safely navigate my car to the shoulder by hanging my head out the side window. Talk about embarrassing. As it turns out, we were leaving in such a hurry, I didn’t completely latch the hood down and I also forgot to latch my hood pins. Needless to say, we never made it to the meet that day. My insurance company replaced the hood and picked up the bill for the body work. I’ve never forgotten to use my hood pins ever since.
What are your goals for your Mitsubishi and how close are you to achieving them?
My goals are ever-changing. It seems that I have a new goal every year. This past year (2010), my goal was to hit 600 WHP on the dyno and pop off a 10-second 1/4 mile pass. I never made it to the track, but I did make it to the dyno in September. She ended up putting down 609 WHP and 541 ft/lbs torque. Not too shabby for a 2.0L engine. My goal for next season is to completely redesign a new compound turbo system. I’d like to make another 100 WHP and run at least a 9.99 ¼ mile time. Wish me luck!
What was your favorite modification and why?
I’d say it’s a tie between the compound turbo set-up and the all-wheel drive swap. Some wouldn’t consider the AWD swap to be a modification, but I certainly do considering my GST was originally only front wheel drive. I surely wouldn’t be able to put all 600 horses to the ground without the AWD drivetrain, so I’d venture to say they’re equally important, and tie for best/favorite modification. The compound turbo system is pretty self explanatory. It’s so pleasant to drive and beastly at the same time. It’s literally the most fun you could have in a car with your clothes on.
Your mod list:
Turbo set-up uses a ported 2G manifold and a fabricated 3″ crosspipe
Turbonetics T4 60-1 (.68 A/R twin scroll turbine housing, P-wheel)
MHI B16G w/7cm housing & 15* turbine clip
(2) TIAL 44mm wastegates
Magnus sheet metal intake manifold
1G throttle body
Fidanza cam gears
(2) GReddy Type-S BOV’s
Modified 1G aluminum radiator
In-tank Denso Supra 280lph feeding a Bosch 044
Lucas 1200cc injectors
Taylor 10.4mm wires
Pre-TB meth injection
7-bolt 2.0L: Wiseco 9:1 pistons, Eagle H-beam rods, O-ringed block, OE composite head gasket, revised lifters
Kelford 272 cams
Kiggly behive springs and ti-retainers
ARP L19 head studs
Ported cylinder head
ECMlink V3 (speed density)
Innovate LC-1 Wideband
Dynatek ARC-2 ignition box
AWD swapped GST
TRE rebuilt tranny (double syncro 1st-3rd, 11% taller first, welded center diff)
ACT 2600 PP
ClutchNet 6-puck disc
Driveshaft Shop level 2 rear axles
B&M short shifter
Street: Racing Hart 18×7.5″ Z5000’s w/ Kumho ECSTA MXs
Race: Motegi 15×6.5″ Traklites w/ Hoosier QTPs
Ingalls Camber Kit
Wilwood Dynapro 4-piston calipers
11.75″ drilled and scalloped rotors
Baer Decela rear rotors w/ Hawk pads
Prothane engine mounts & solid aluminum roll stops
Custom rear toe arms
Tell us about something really exciting you’ve done with other Mitsubishi owners.
Aside from the usual meets, trips to the track, and the Shootout, I really enjoy road trips to buy new cars. I’ve been to Illinois, Delaware, and all over Michigan with my car buddies to buy cars for myself. I’ve also gone to New Jersey with Dale to pick up his 92 Talon TSi, to Ohio with Dan to pick up his 93 Eclipse GSX, and to Iowa with Sewey to pick up his 99 Eclipse GSX. I’m always down for a road trip and there’s no such thing as “too far.”
Tell us about a time something broke and what it took to fix it.
I can honestly admit that I haven’t broken very many parts over the years. I could probably count my parts failures on one hand. It’s likely a combination of being lucky and being careful. The worst failure was right after I finished the AWD swap. I was still running a stock 7-bolt longblock for two reasons; I wanted to see how far I could push it, and I couldn’t afford to build it with forged internals at the time anyway. Well, I must have been half asleep the day I plumbed the wastegate, because it was entirely wrong. The first time I got on the throttle, it boosted well beyond 40 psi (it was intended to run at 20 psi), and before I realized what was going on, the car fell on it’s face, puffed out a big black cloud of smoke, and started producing an audible knock. I limped it home and pulled the oil pan to find that I bent all 4 connecting rods. Oops! I ended up scraping together enough money to buy new pistons, rods, and the needed machine work, and built a nice engine using my factory 7-bolt block and crank. And I’m still running that same shortblock today.
What’s the best part about being a Mitsubishi owner? The most challenging?
I’d have to say that the community is the best part. I’ve met a lot of great people and made many new friends over the past decade. Building these cars wouldn’t be near as fun without the community of fellow enthusiasts. The most challenging thing is financially trying to keep up with my ideas. It seems that there a dozen new things that I want to do or try every month, but only one or two that I can afford.
What excites you about the coming year? (Your Mitsu and your community)
I’m excited to finally (hopefully) take my Eclipse to the drag strip. I haven’t ran it down the 1320 ever since the AWD swap, so I’d really like to see what it can do with it’s new-found power and traction. I’m also very much looking forward to the 2011 DSM/EVO Shootout. It’s the largest gathering of Mitsubishi and DSM owners in the country, so it’s a guaranteed good time every year.
How often do you get together with other Mitsubishi owners in person?
Many years ago, we had monthly DSM meets in west Michigan. Many DSMers have since sold their cars or moved away, so meets shrunk to about twice a year. And there’s the DSM/EVO Shootout every August.
Your thoughts on those who part out otherwise salvageable cars?
That really depends how you interpret ‘salvageable’. I’ve parted out a few in my day, but those were in rough overall shape. If the car needs more body work than it’s worth, then I won’t usually salvage the car as a whole. Rust is killer here on the salty winter roads in Michigan. But I play Mr. organ donor and strip every single usable part from the car before it’s hauled off. That way, existing DSMs that are in much better shape can benefit from using the good used parts. So, if parting out one can save/benefit five more, then that’s good enough for me.
It seems that many people part out their built Mitsus these days when they’re finished with owning it. It’s the undeniable truth that in many cases, the parts on the car are worth more individually rather than collectively. It is sad to see a well-built car cease to exist from a major part-out, but I understand that it’s sometimes a necessary evil with an expensive hobby like this.
How has your Mitsubishi build benefited from your involvement in the community?
Where to start. My buddy and fellow DSMer, Tyler, was the guy who inspired me to build the compound turbo system. Reading about the all-wheel drive swap online gave me courage to tackle the project on my car. I could go on and on. A great deal of my automotive knowledge and ideas can be attributed to my involvement in the community, and I think that really shows in my car’s build.
What’s next for your Mitsubishi?
Two new turbos, a roll cage, and a diet. I’m in the process of acquiring components to build a new and improved compound turbo set-up using a MHI 20G and a GT4094r. The goal is to make more power with less boost. If I play my cards right, it will hopefully spool close to the same as the original, and I’ll have better control over exhaust backpressure – which equals more power up top.
Basically, I’d like to focus it’s build a little more toward drag racing, while retaining a full interior, power options, heater, stereo, and cushy leather seats. I can’t think of a more enjoyable ride than a comfortable, street-legal, 9-second 4-cylinder, and know I’m not the first or the last guy to want to do this, but I’m determined to make it happen and I’m enjoying it every step of the way.
I’ll also be building a hydro-electric power steering set-up for my Eclipse over this winter. I’ll be doing a complete overhaul of the fuel system, intake tract, and the cooling system, as well as switching to a twin-disc clutch.
Who has helped you the most along the way with the car? Any mentors?
The online DSM communities have always been a great help. It’s one of the best ways to exchange ideas and share information regarding these cars. I’m a sucker for a good tech discussion, so I spend quite a fair amount of my free time online, learning from the pioneers and helping the new guys. I definitely wouldn’t be where I’m at today if it weren’t for these online communities. There’s also a healthy amount of local Mitsubishi owners here that are always willing to lend a helping hand. More notably, my buddies Dan and Tyler. Dan has been helping me turn wrenches on DSMs for many years. My buddy Tyler is always pumping my head full of new ideas on a daily basis and encouraging me to think outside the box. I can’t thank these guys enough for their advice and assistance over the years.
How have you paid this forward and mentored others?
I really enjoy working on these vehicles, so I’m almost always ready to help when needed. I’ve rebuilt three 4G63 engines for a few local friends, and I’ve assisted in a handful of other Eclipse/Talon builds when help was needed. I’d also like to think I’ve helped several fellow online DSMers over the past few years. I frequent several online DSM forums on a weekly basis and I have thousands of tech posts scattered throughout the Internet. Some of those are bound to be useful to someone at one point or another.
Also, ever since I shared my compound turbo build on DSMtuners.com, I’ve received dozens upon dozens of e-mails and messages from other automotive circles. Everything from “help me pair up two turbos,” to “you’ve inspired me to compound my car,” to a simple “thanks for sharing.” I think I’ve stumbled across discussions of my compound turbo build on about 35-40 other forums boards, and I found that several people have already completed builds of their own on their respective platforms. I’m really glad to see others were inspired by my project. There’s an extremely small amount of information to be found on the web regarding compound turbocharging on a gasoline engine, so the more information we all share, the more beneficial it will be for everyone.
Is there a particular shop you’d like to recommend?
I’m a do-it-yourself kind of guy, so I do all of my own work on my cars, and I try to fabricate as many of my own parts as I’m able to. But when there’s a part that I need that I can’t get through where I work, I usually shop at ExtremePSI or MA Performance.
Do you spend time on any Mitsubishi sites? Which ones? Are you on Twitter? Facebook? Where can people find you online?
I’m not an avid user of any of the online social networks. But I do spend way too much time running around on various Mitsu/DSM forums boards; including DSMtuners, DSMlink forums, Team NABR, Mitsu-Media, or West Michigan DSM. Any of these sites would be the best place to find me online.
Paul reminds us of the golden age of the DSM – of any popular platform – when gearheads tried something different just because they could. These are the experiences that gave us the high performance machines we have today. We’d like to thank Paul for taking the time to share his story with us. Go fast with class, sir.