Que the Inspector Gadget theme song, it’s Timothy Finn of Wichita, Kansas, this week with another super clean Starion. Also known as UlrichWolf, Tim is an inside sales rep for an industrial parts supplier and his Starion is the only US-spec widebody Starion with the Technica digital dash. Pretty sharp stuff! Take a look!
What Mitsubishi(s) do you drive? How long have you had it/them?
The only Mitsubishi I have is the Starion. I have had a couple before this one, but I bought this one in January of 2004, notably because of the rare color, Palermo Gray, and the fact that it was a factory sunroof car.
What’s your build philosophy/goals for your Mitsubishi? How do you use it?
Build philosophy, hmmm. I guess it would be to improve on the car in every way, while not sacrificing driveability, or luxury. These were grand touring cars from the factory, and I can’t see removing that heritage from the car. I’ve gone to great lengths to upgrade the car with some of the rarer items that were available on Starions, as well as using aftermarket items and services where I could to improve the car’s performance, however at the same time, keeping the car quiet, and refined. I guess I’m one of those guys that want it all. Improved power and handling, but I refuse to give up my cruise control, or my air conditioning. It’s mostly driven on the highway, and they way it’s built makes it a very pleasant car to spend time in. It doesn’t beat you up, it doesn’t tire you out, but if you want to go, you just have to push down a little… it’ll do that too. Plus it cuts a great donut.
What originally attracted you to the Mitsubishi? What keeps you going today?
This will sound pretty funny, but I guess I can admit it. If you’re a child of the 80’s, which I am, think back to the old Inspector Gadget cartoons. When the Gadget Bus morphed into the Gadget Car, I’d swear it was the Gadget Starion. Of course, after that, there was an occasion that my mom was looking at a new car at a local Mitsubishi dealer back in Texas where we were from, and they had a black, 1987 Mitsubishi Starion sitting on the showroom floor. You know, as a kid, you’ll jump in one of those cars, and just wish you could take it home? I made myself a promise that I would have one one day, and I finally got it. I think I keep going in this, pretty much because I have been in it so long now, and I know so much about this car now, it really doesn’t make much sense to sell it off, and go get something else to start all over on. I know a lot of guys will do that as soon as a project is “done”, but I don’t think I can do that. I’m going to enjoy the fruits of the labor for a while yet to come.
Got a favorite story about your Mitsubishi?
Actually, I do. My car, I purchased from a high school friend of mine, who had purchased it from a SQC member, IntercooledFlatty, HMonsta back in those days, or Harry, as I know him. Now, I had never known this, and I just found out last year at our National Meet in Branson, MO, that this car was Harry’s first Starion that he purchased. I think it’s really cool that Harry’s been able to watch and follow along the progress of his first Starion. He even drove it at last year’s meet, which I loved. I was so glad to see him drive that car again.
What are your goals for your Mitsubishi and how close are you to achieving them?
Goals for cars like this are an ever-changing thought. As far as my original goal of making the Starion that Mitsubishi would not build for me, I’m there now. It’s a fast car, it’s a quiet car, it’s a smooth car, it’s a luxurious car, it’s a decent handling car, it’s extremely driveable, and it even gets reasonable mileage.
What was your favorite modification and why?
Without a doubt, my digital dash. For years, I was told that there was just NO way to install a digital dash in an analog dash car, and I always pondered why. Most of the sensors would interchange, the engine computer controlled nothing of it, there was no such thing as an SCP data bus, or CANBUS communications, nothing. It took about three months to make an adaptor harness by hand, and it is done in such a manner that should the digital IP ever fails, it can simply be unplugged, a speedometer cable reinstalled, and it’s back to analog IP. It’s my favorite mod because myself and Maxzillain, another board member, attacked the problem, solved the issues, and came up with a solution that works exactly like it would if Mitsubishi installed it, and what’s more, we did something that was said that couldn’t be done.
Your mod list:
8:1 Wiseco Forged pistons .020 over, balanced rotating assembly, non jet valve head, 2.5 turbo back exhaust, Magnaflow muffler, 355 LPH fuel pump, recurved distributor, MSD coil, 14G Turbocharger, Competition Clutch Stage 4 6 puck clutch, Competition Clutch 15 pound flywheel, HKS SSQV blow off valve, car was an automatic, converted to 5 speed manual, car was leather, first converter to ’88-’89 style checkered cloth seats, then switched to ’86-’87 style velour, car was analog dash, converted to ’86 Technica digital dash, KYB struts at all corners, Premier Bluetooth-capable sound system
Tell us about something really exciting you’ve done with other Mitsubishi owners.
The National Meets I have helped set up certainly qualify for that. There’s nothing quite as exciting as seeing one of those come together, with 20 or 30 Conquests and Starions being parked in the same place, and of course, the people are just incredible. We haven’t had a National Meet yet that has failed to deliver a great time for all.
What’s the best part about being a Mitsubishi owner? The most challenging?
The best part has to be the constant “What kind of car is that?” question. 22 years later, these cars are still turning heads, and it seems like everywhere I go, there’s plenty of people who want to check the car over thoroughly, I was at the local Mitsubishi dealer a while back, and the general manager wanted a picture of it on the showroom floor. The most challenging part is getting parts quick. It’s usually not a big deal, but when you decide to drive it to a big meet, and you’re fixing a bunch of problems, there’s just not a lot about this car that’s over the counter.
What excites you about the coming year? (Your Mitsu and your community)
Without a doubt the meets. My car is set up to be a grand tourer rather than all out racer, so getting out and driving it to meets is definitely something to look forward to.
How often do you get together with other Mitsubishi owners in person?
Usually about once a week, if not once every two weeks. We’ve got a little group here in Wichita, there’s three of us that have cars, and it’s a nice little setup. One guy has parts, one guy is the engineer, and then I’m a wrench-turner. We all work together well, and it’s a good relationship.
Your thoughts on those who part out otherwise salvageable cars?
I think it sucks, but I learned long ago that I am in no position to stop it from happening. My only hope is that those guys who part cars out because they can’t sell them for what they want, and figure they are worth more dead than alive would simply not come back to our community. Those guys need to stick with cars that are cookie cutter and that they made millions of, like Mustangs or Camaros.
How do you feel building a Mitsubishi compares to building a Mitsubishi community?
Well, I would imagine it’s pretty finicky.
How has your Mitsubishi build benefited from your involvement in the community?
Fortunately, I have made some good connections over the years, and since I am knowledgeable on the cars, the fact that I was able to help folks, I’m sure played no small part in me getting help on locating some of the harder to find parts, like the ’86 velour interior.
What’s next for your Mitsubishi?
I have been toying with the idea of going Multi-Port injection on mine, and switching the car back to an automatic. The car was switched to a manual by the guy who owned it before me, and I can’t say that I am crazy about the workmanship, so going back to automatic would make the car “right” again. Besides, I hear that MPI with a well-built automatic, and 3.90 rear axle gearing is a pretty hot setup. Sounds like a very good fit with my car as I have it thought out. Also, I’m getting rid of the motorized seat belts. I like power equipment, but I think in this case, less may be more. Switching over to the factory door-mounted seat belt setup from an earlier car.
Who has helped you the most along the way with the car? Any mentors?
I’d have to say that Jolyrgr and Maxzillian from the website have helped me the most with the car. Jolyrgr helped me decide how and what to do with the powertrain, and Maxzillian helped with the digital dash conversion. These are the two guys close by that I referenced earlier. I don’t know if there has been just one mentor. I’ve received a lot of great advice from people over the years.
How have you paid this forward and mentored others?
Absolutely. I have a small cadre of guys that hit me up for advice, and I am happy to help them, and share with them my insight, and of course, my mistakes. Hopefully, they won’t make the same ones.
Is there a particular shop you’d like to recommend?
No, with these cars, shops pretty much either won’t touch them, or when they do, they screw them all up. Best bet is to get a factory service manual, and do it yourself.
Do you spend time on any Mitsubishi sites? Which ones?
Yeah, I can be found at starquestclub.com, I’ve been on that site for about 8 years now, it’s pretty much the best place to go for these cars.
Are you on Twitter? Facebook? How can people find you online?
Yeah, I’m on Facebook under my name Timothy Finn, I have a Vimeo Channel called The UlrichWolf Channel, and of course, I can be found on Starquest Club.