What makes a vehicle stand out? For some, it’s absolute power. For others, it’s maximum style. But there’s a sweet spot somewhere in the middle, where attention to detail brings all the pieces of a dream together. You know it when you see it. Methinks Bennett’s Mirage is just such a machine.
Back in 2011, I interviewed Bennett Carrión-Sánchez. We talked about his 1993 Mitsubishi Mirage. It had a full JDM conversion and serious all-motor chops. That’s just how they roll in Puerto Rico. Sadly, as clean as the car was, Bennett finally got tired of transmission problems and parted the whole damn thing out. Shame, as I was really interested in his hybrid plans for the car. (For power, not economy.)
I see his pictures and posts on Facebook from time to time, and lately I’ve noticed a lot of pictures of an equally sharp, white Mirage. Generally, I try to avoid judging books by their covers, but knowing how Bennett rolls, I figured it was high time for an update. Turns out, this is one Mirage you can reach out and touch… assuming you can run 11s in the quarter-mile all motor.
THE UNDERDOG: CLEAN, JDM CONVERTED MIRAGE
(With not your usual engine swap…)
“The car started life as a old woman’s go-to-church car,” Bennett told me. “It was a single-owner car and had spent 5 years in a garage before I found it.” As is Bennett’s style, he began sourcing top quality, OEM JDM parts from all over the world. It took over 9 months to fully complete the restomod. It’s also his daily driver, surprising more than a few “more powerful” machines on the street. “It’s pretty fun to drive,” he says, “I’ve raced against Evos, STIs, BOSS 302 Mustangs, turbo Civics, etc.. They almost always mistake my car for a normal, 1.8L Mirage.”
Once I knew this was a completely new car, I was curious what makes it special. Aside from an intimidating list of JDM conversion bits each meticulously prepared to match the car, Bennett’s opted for an engine swap. Now, most people I know who do change things up under the hood of these Mirages opt for the venerable 4G63T, a la the Evolution, as the Mirage was actually the platform for the Evo through it’s first six generations. Bennett went a different route.
Taking a fresh approach, Bennett’s gone with a 3.8L MIVEC V6. Mated to a 5-speed manual gearbox from a 2004 Eclipse, this lump makes 300WHP right out of the box, it’s almost completely stock save a handful of select components to wake it up – an Infiniti throttle body, custom 4” intake, OBX headers, and 4-puck clutch. All in all, Bennett reports the car makes 310WHP & 285FTQ on 91 octane, and consistently runs 12.5 seconds at 115MPH (185KPH) in the quarter-mile with 60ft issues – and a full interior, with spare tire and jack in the trunk.
A little weight reduction and some more practice, and he estimates the current setup is good for 11.7-11.9 second ETs at 116-119MPH (187-192KPH). “I’ve always loved the feel of an all-motor car,” he tells me. “You can feel the power from very low RPMs – without turbo lag or nitrous – and it’s practically a stock engine, so it can be pushed really hard without breaking. I can go wherever I want in this car without any issues.”
Who says you can’t have your cake and eat it too? Bennett’s got a good thing going. Not only is his Mirage absolutely gorgeous, it performs very well, is reliable, and even sports something fresh and relatively different under the hood. To me, that makes his car particularly special.
We often get caught up in numbers as if they are the end-all measure of a machine (or a person). Some people spend tens of thousands to make ridiculous power, or take great pride in their gutted interiors and neglected bodywork “because race car” – and they’re still no faster than Bennett’s super clean, bulletproof daily driver. We need more projects like this one.
JDM Mitsubishi Mirage Cyborg RS (96-97) front bumper
JDM Mitsubishi Mirage Cyborg/Asti (98-00) front headlamps
JDM Mitsubishi Mirage Asti rear bumper with pods
JDM Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution (IV,V&VI) trunk lid
JDM Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution (IV&VI) rear taillights
JDM Mitsubishi Lancer & Mirage flat amber fender lights
JDM Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart rear brake disc conversion
Custom Made carbon fiber antenna delete
JDM Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IV MOMO steering wheel
Autometer Sportcomp gauges oil press & water temp
2001 Mitsubishi Mirage black interior conversion
2001 Mitsubishi Mirage white dials cluster
2006 Mitsubishi Outlander radio
Carbon fiber ashtray delete
15×7 Enkei RPF1 (silver)
205/50/15 Dunlop SP Sport
Muteki SR48 lug nuts
2008 Mitsubishi Eclipse 3.8 Mivec V6 engine
2004 Mitsubishi Eclipse 5-speed transmission
AEM fuel pressure regulator
Custom 4′ aluminum intake
90mm Infiniti Q45 throttle body
3′ exhaust with QTP electric cutout
OEM 2008 Mitsubishi Eclipse muffler
Walbro 255 fuel pump
Competition Clutch 4 puck disc
Mild shaved engine bay and wire tuck
2 Line aluminum Honda radiator
2006 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX MR front Bilstein shocks
Tein S-Techs springs
Tokico rear shocks
ZerOne aluminum LCAs
Prothane urethane link bushing kit