Meet Jason Tanin. He’s attempted the classic gearhead project of small car + big horsepower = shenanigans, and he’s done a damn fine job of it. Maybe that’s because he’s had a little practice? If you’ve ever wanted to do something unconventional, you’ll want to check this one out.
What’s your real name? (What’s your screen name?)
Jason Tanin, LILEVO.
What do you do for a living and where do you live?
Currently a student studying criminal justice. I live in South Eastern Wisconsin.
What Mitsubishi(s) do you drive? How long have you had it/them?
1995 Mitsubishi Mirage sedan with a full, OEM EVO3 body kit. I’ve had this car since early 2009.
1993 Dodge Stealth RT/TT. It has twin 13T turbos (WRX Turbo in the Mitsu housing) and BPUs. I’ve had this car since early 2009.
1990 Mitsubishi Mirage SE sedan, 4G63T, AWD. I’ve had this car since early 2006.
You’ve done something fairly unheard of with your Mitsubishi? Care to share?
I custom installed a 1G AWD drivetrain into a 1990 Mitsubishi Mirage sedan. I also created several tutorial DVDs for 1989-1992 Mirage, Colt, and Summits. One is a walk through DVD of the AWD installation, the second is a wiring swap tutorial of how to integrate the 4G63 wiring harness into the Mirage, the third is how to install properly functioning air conditioning in any 89-92 Mirage with the 4G63.
What’s your build philosophy/goals for your Mitsubishi? How do you use it?
My goal is to strive to use OEM parts and tried and true quality components. I want my cars to be as clean as possible while retaining excellent daily driveability (power steering, AC, full interior). I focus on making sure there are no rattles, thumps, and the cars drive as smooth and straight as possible. It’s hard not to do this now while having a Lexus as a daily driver :)
What originally attracted you to the Mitsubishi? What keeps you going today?
Cheap, available, and fast. My first car ironically was a 1989 Mirage sedan, the original “LIL EVO”. I was working with what I had at the time. I know Mitsubishis so well today that I keep coming back to them. I learn something new almost every day with these cars whether it’s tuning or locating new parts such as JDM body parts for the 89-92 Mirage. I don’t ever see other Mirages or Stealths on the road today so I think it’s great that I have such great and clean examples of these cars.
What are your goals for your Mitsubishi and how close are you to achieving them?
At the end of the 2010 season I ran an 11.3 @ 134mph at 35psi and street tires. I am looking for a good set of slicks for the 2011 season to hopefully run some low to mid 10s. My ultimate goal would be to run high 9s and still have a great daily driver.
What was your favorite modification and why?
The AWD of course! The traction and stability is unbeatable. Although installing the A/C and cruising in the summer with icy 38 degree air coming out of the vents is a close second.
Your mod list:
GT35R, .63 hot side
AMS 28x13x3.8″ FMIC
AMS 2.5″ O2 housing
Treadstone T3 exhaust manifold
Magnus Sheet Metal Intake Manifold
TiAL 40mm wastegate
Custom 3″ downpipe and full exhaust
Walbro 255 in tank
Walbro 255 inline
Fuelab fuel filter
FIC 1150cc injectors
8.3:1 Ross pistons
Turned down balance shaft
Felpro Permatorque head gasket
ACL Race bearings
ARP head studs
ARP main studs
ARP rod bolts
HKS 272/272 cams
Forced Performance Beehive springs
AEM UEGO Wideband
TRE Stage 2 AWD Transmission
TMZ Performance yearly tranmission refresh
ACT 2600 clutch kit
Koni Yellow shocks
Polyurethane bushings (entire car)
Tell us about something really exciting you’ve done with other Mitsubishi owners.
The DSM Shootout in Norwalk, OH is about the most exciting event any Mitsubishi owner can attend. We fill up all of the hotels, drink, tell stories, and fix cars in the hotel parking lots until the sun comes up. Then we go racing!
Tell us about a time something broke and what it took to fix it.
DSM Shootout 2004. I just spent the past two weeks converting the car to AWD. I tried starting the car to leave and it wouldn’t start. Turns out the AEM EMS failed overnight. I drove 30 miles to a friends house and borrowed his AEM EMS for the weekend. The car started right up.
We headed out and the car developed a severe vibration about 80 miles away from home rolling through Chicago. The front seal on the rear diff failed and all of the fluid leaked out. I looked under the car and the rear diff was smoking! We drove on the side of the freeway at about 10mph to the nearest parts store and stocked up on 80/140 transmission fluid and rubber seal magic. No more than 50 miles later, the car started to pull to the left along with a nasty grinding noise. The driver side hub blew up and we were stranded. Here’s a picture of the carnage (Luckily I brought a spare, rare 1989 Mirage turbo axle.)
Three of us hopped in a buddies 97 Talon along with all of our gear and drove the remaining 250 miles to the shootout. The next morning, my friend and I borrowed the Talon and drove to no less than 8 salvage yards in a 100 mile radius of Norwalk, OH. Finally, at the last salvage yard I scored a hub for $30. We drove the Talon 260 miles back to the stranded Mirage, replaced the hub and axle, then drove 250 miles back to Norwalk. Every 50 miles I stopped, drained out the black rear end fluid, and filled it with fresh 80/140. I collapsed in the hotel parking lot with an alcoholic beverage in hand. We bought a spare rear end at the swap meet, installed the new rear end in the hotel parking lot and drove home trouble free.
What’s the best part about being a Mitsubishi owner? The most challenging?
Knowing the 4G63 power plant is an amazing engine. Also, when I see a modified Mitsu on the road, I know that it’s probably one of the fastest cars in the area. The most challenging is continually hearing that DSMs break all the time and are cheap cars.
What excites you about the coming year? (Your Mitsu and your community)
Our usual spring 3SI and DSM meet in Wisconsin Dells, WI. DSM Shootout 2011 in Norwalk, OH.
How often do you get together with other Mitsubishi owners in person?
A couple times a year at the meets or when a local DSMer needs a car towed via flatbed or needs some work done on their car.
Your thoughts on those who part out otherwise salvageable cars?
I think these people do it due to lack of space. Unless you own a house, many times apartments don’t allow non-running vehicles sitting around. Many times people do offer the entire car up for sale first. That I can appreciate.
What’s next for your Mitsubishi?
Slicks, ID 2000cc injectors for E85
Who has helped you the most along the way with the car? Any mentors?
This car has been my stress outlet so I’ve been the only one to work on it.
How have you paid this forward and mentored others?
Through my Mirage tutorial DVDs and offering tips and advice on every Mitsubishi forum that I visit.
Is there a particular shop you’d like to recommend?
Douglas Autoworks in Roselle, IL and Beyond Redline in Green Bay, WI. While I haven’t had any work done at either shop, both shops are excellent shops in the Midwest. Both have AWD dynos available.
Do you spend time on any Mitsubishi sites? Which ones? Are you on Twitter? Facebook? Where can people find you online?
WIdsm.org. I also post all of my latest updates and videos on my website, lilevo.com.
Thanks for sharing your story with us, Jason.
Hearing about the snapped axle and stopping every 50 miles to change the rear diff fluid gets us thinking, anyone else every experience stuff like this? Tell us about it in the comments? We’d love to hear how you pressed on, regardless.