Mike Little has quite a collection of cars. A collection of cars many enthusiasts would love to own separately, let alone all together. Luckily, we got the chance to interview him, see for ourselves what he and his cars are about, and hear his stories. Today, we start with what Mike reffers to as ‘The Beast’… One with a bit of imagination knows enough now…
Where do you live?
Adelaide, South Australia
What do you do for a living?
Horticulture, Grounds, Garden and Handyman.
What kind of car are you driving?
Really depends on what is drivable and has rego [registration – Ed.]… Or has the most petrol at the time.
Current drivable ones are:
- 91 GTO (3000 GT) as a daily, but don’t use it much.
- Ford Ranger (Mazda BT-50) that work has kindly provided for me.
- 74 GB Galant that is on a Historic Rego Scheme (allows me to use the car 9 0days throughout the year via a log book).
- 73 Dodge Colt A53H
How did you come to own the GK turbo?
I knew about this car even before I owned it. A mate who worked with the guy had shown me some pictures of it. I was at a car show and saw it there with a for sale sign on it. Spoke to my mate about it to see what it was really like or if there was anything I should know about it. Then preceded the whole looking at the car and getting it checked over. Everything checked out ok and made the deal. At the time I bought the car I was only on my learners licence.
What is your end goal for the GK turbo?
No real end goal as a project is never really finished. I will complete this stage of the build (re-bodying it) then find something else I want to do to it down the track, just don’t know what yet, only time will tell.
What have you already done to the car?
Re-done the exhaust with a 3” mandrel-bent system, re-mounted the front seats on runners that actually slide back and forwards, digital gauge cluster form a TP Magna Elite, changed the gearbox to a Starion box with the hydraulic clutch setup (originally a standard Sigma 5spd (jap box) with a cable, with a 40% heavier clutch, the inner cable was cutting through the outer). Had a modified Nissan 720 diff when I got it, now changed to a Scorpion housing with an L300 van centre (4.6:1 ratio), upgraded front and rear brakes to ones off a JA Starion, re-painted the dash and door trims so they are black, changed the rims from the GK GSR Pepperpots (15×6) to a set of Performance Challengers 15x7s all round.
What are you planning on still doing to the GK turbo?
I am currently re-doing the car with a whole body transfer. I have also sourced the IRS (independent rear suspension) out of a JA Starion which I will be installing, making the body “Jap Spec,” with a Commodore LSD centre with a ratio of 3.89:1. A set of modified side skirts from a TP Magna, JA Starion bonnet scoops moulded into the bonnet, GSR front and rear spoilers, new Microtech computer with a 4 coil setup, adjustable fuel pressure regulator, bigger fuel pump, adjustable cam gear, Crow Cam lumpy turbo grind, possible compression change via different pistons, cruise control, electric mirrors, ABS,
What was the biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome, during the project/build?
Nothing has really been a problem as such. I did have a head gasket let go on me, but the car had been sitting around for a bit not being used. I haven’t started to tackle the installation of the IRS yet, but I know it is not going to be an easy task. Apart from that a bit of the wiring that had been hacked into and needed to be rectified too.
What’s powering the GK turbo? Specs?
A standard Astron II motor is powering the GK. The motor has been re-built (needs doing again, rings are gone), O-ringed the block, TP Magna injection manifold (converted for RWD), S4 RX7 injectors, 600x300x76 Intercooler, VG30 exhaust with a RB25 compressor, Microtech MT-8 with LT-10 software, custom exhaust manifold, pod filter, Walbro fuel pump, surge tank.
Power output is 170kw (228hp) on 10psi boost at the rear wheels
How easy/hard is it to get parts of this car?
I must admit when I bought the car the wreckers were littered with them, now though it is getting a lot scarcer. You used to be able to pick up a whole car for about $100, now it’s hard to finds one in decent condition and they want more than that for it. It has taken me over six months just to find a decent set of doors that aren’t rusted for the re-build. I was lucky with scoring the body though, only rust in it was where the rear window and the parcel shelf meet and a 1 inch circle near the drivers scuff panel. The only other thing that needed doing was a radiator support panel as it had been hit in the passenger front corner.
Some other information on this GK turbo you would like to share?
It was not really into turbo cars, and after driving it I really love it, but I don’t think I will have another turbo car. The way the car is setup it is a nice cruiser that I can take on long trips as it’s comfortable to sit and drive, has luxury items being an SE model like air con, power steering, electric windows, but it also has the power there so if I want to take it for a squirt at the drags or circuit I can.
Share one of your favourite moments you’ve had with this car?
I know it says one, but it’s a really hard decision to make between these two.
Took it out to Mallala Raceway for a test and tune/practice day. Going along the back straight with the speedo needle past the last reading coming up to the hairpin turn only to find the brake pedal come up hard but it not slowing down. I was shitting myself the first time anyway as it happened a second time. Needless to say I remained calm, and headed for the kitty litter which pulled me up pretty quickly (years before I had been at a truck meet there and saw the truck go straight through the kitty litter and smash into the wall), kept the power on so as to not have to be pulled out and made it through and re-joined the track. The second time I knew what was going to happen so just went along for the ride so to speak.
The next favourite moment is that I have had it at a few car shows and one in particular was a rather amusing weekend. I had the car in as part of the Street Machine Association of South Australia (SMASA) display at Extreme Horsepower (now Extreme Auto Show) and was just sitting there with my mates having a chat and watching the people walk past.
It was hilarious to see the way people reacted when they saw the Sigma as it’s not the type of car you usually see at car shows. The rest of the pavilion is full of Fords, Holdens, Nissans, hot rods, and so on. As we had a turbo charged v8 XB coupe and a mate’s HX Monaro as part of the display, the Sigma was the one getting majority of the attention. Spectators would spot the TME (Tommi Mäkinen Edition – a special edition Lancer Evolution VI package) seats or the massive front mount intercooler and come have a closer look at the car.
On the Sunday, with a few hours to go we popped the bonnet, about 15cm so you could just see inside the engine bay, sat back and watched people try to see what was powering the beast.
Are you a gearhead? What does that mean to you?
I would have to say that I am a gearhead. I really like my cars and go to a lot of shows/events to do with car-related things. I can appreciate all the time and effort that goes into making a car to what it becomes in the final product.
- Are you catching the old school J-tin itch? Which old Japanese car would you love to build up?
- Some sweet wheels in this piece. What’s your favorite old school wheel style?