When the Starions Align(lol cheezy)
When talking in automotive circles, one topic that seems to come up quite often is how we get shafted in the US of A when it comes to vehicle availability. The latest, greatest sporty cars seem to always be across a pond in one direction or the other. This fact of life might soon be changing with the imminent release of the Civic Type-R and a few other modern cars but the fact remains that we typically wind up on the short end of the stick. But what if I told you that there was a time in our not so distant past where we got blessed with models that put the JDM versions to shame? One of them was the Mitsubishi Starion.
Box-flares. Did you know that the iconic flared body on the Starion wasn’t available until later years because of Japanese regulations on vehicle sizing? America didn’t care about none of that. Luckily this example is a later year that came from the factory with one of the most 80’s bodies around. These hips really can’t lie when it comes to what’s under the hood either. The box-flared American cars also came with a 2.6L intercooled turbo inline four that was NEVER available in the Japanese market. How’s that for sticking it to the man?
Enough with the history lesson and let’s focus on the present. This particular Starion is far from the USDM version it was sold as. When asked what all was done to it, a casual ‘everything’ was thrown out. This is really not that far from the truth. Built in a driveway with blood, sweat, and I presume at least a few tears, the engine was swapped with a built to the hilt 2.6L that is truly capable of keeping up with the upgraded turbo and tuning.
Back to the essence of the 80’s that this car exudes, check out the interior on this thing. Those leather seats (pulled from an ’87 Starion) with adjustable leg support look like they would be right at home in any Malaise Era American land-barge, but yet they don’t look out of place for this Japanese grand tourer. This dichotomy of boxy 80’s spunk with over-the-top luxury is what I really love about this period in automotive design. You do have to admit that Mitsubishi did it right with the utilitarian layout of controls the driver is presented with, somehow they manage to blend all these styles into a package that still has just as much substance as the day it rolled off the boat.
The Super 16G turbo might not look like much nestled in the engine bay, but it definitely packs a punch. While the lag is definitely noticeable, it is undeniably 80’s and I wouldn’t change a thing. A few factory items do still make an appearance in this build, such as the limited-slip diff and intercooler, even though neither were anything less than cutting edge for the day.
One major change from the period-correct image that most of this car goes for is the tight fitment. On home-built coilovers, using Tokico struts, and some camber plates and upgraded bracing, this Starion blurs the lines between modern style and classic appearances. Fitting with the 80’s theme, are the gold mesh and polished lip wheels, that have been pulled from a different year Starion’s stock equipment. The rear hatch is also from a different year, bringing together the different styles that Mitsubishi passed through during its production.
This car definitely took me by surprise. I knew I’d like it purely for the styling, but it really manages to capture a generation of cars that are very underrated and add just enough to make it impressive, even by today’s standards. This car is meant to be enjoyed, in fact, I think it may be hard to find anything that can’t be enjoyed about it.
High Compression G54B Motor
Built Valvetrain to match
Pippin Super 16G Turbo
HKS Catback Exhaust
MSD 6A Ignition Box
Stainless Brake/Clutch Lines
Tokico based DIY Coilovers