Congratulations to Archie Concon’s 498 Horsepower AWD 2000 Mitsubishi Mirage for making the COVER and a 5 page feature in Fast Fours Magazine (Australia) January 2009 Issue, pgs 050-054. Fast Fours wrote, “Can’t Buy It, Just Build It!”
“It took Mitsubishi eight versions of their Lancer Evolution before they recognized that Americans were hungry for their turbocharged brand of “special sauce”. The exact raison d’être for their slow realization of market potential is the subject of much debate, most of which centers around the supposed lack of interest in the World Rally Championship. Archie Concon, of Las Vegas, Nevada, suffers from no such issue and, in fact, wanted an “early Evo 2-door” so badly that he’s engineered his own!
In the States the Lancer platform was given the uninspiring name “Mirage” and was essentially shipped as a low-budget FWD Civic-fighter. It never really caught on, understandably so. Archie’s two-door started life as a 2000 model-year 1.8 liter automatic-equipped econobox with a basic black interior. In order to transform this perpetual underdog into the AWD top dog he envisioned Archie had to change, well, everything!
What’s apparent from the specifications is that Archie has quite a bit of “mad scientist blood” running through his veins. First thing was the removal of everything which fell into the “stock Mirage” category except for the dash, interior door panels and carpet, and the steering rack. Engine, transmission, suspension, cross-members, seats, all scrap metal now. In went an Evo VIII rear sub-frame assembly, rear axles, and sway bar. A custom two-piece driveshaft connects to Evo IV five-speed transmission. This was paired with Evo V transfer case, front axles, and front hubs. Got that? An Excedy Twin-Disc HD clutch was sandwiched between the Evo VIII block (built by TrevTec Motorsports). Wiseco 9:1 standard bore pistons, Manley H-beam rods and Clevite bearings ensure the internals will take a beating and keep on ticking, just like those old Timex watch commercials said. Atop the engine rests a Slowboy Racing Stage V ported and polished head with Evo VIII rockers and lifters, Manley stainless steel valves, Crower valve springs, and titanium retainers. Tomei 270 degree intake and exhaust cams make the most of the stock-sized valves. ARP head studs torque it all down on an Evo VIII head gasket.
Archie continued the build under the hood with an AMS custom 37R turbo kit, HKS GT II 60mm waste-gate, a Turbo XS intercooler, 3-ply boost tube couplers with t-bolt clamps, and a Tial 50mm blow-off valve. A ported Evo V intake manifold and throttle body from JM Fabrication routes the boost in the front door while a completely custom-built exhaust sends the spent fuel packing out the rear. An Evo V fuel tank equipped with a Walbro 255 LPH in-tank pump and a Bosch 910 external pump combine to provide adequate supply to the Bosch 1600cc fuel injectors mounted to a Perrin fuel rail. An APEXi Power FC D-Jetro engine management system conducts the fuel and spark orchestra with help from a Power FC Command Controller, an RX7.com 4-bar MAP sensor, an APEXi air temperature sensor, a Greddy Profec S Spec-II boost controller, a Zeitronix Wideband O2 sensor and controller, and individual 300M coil packs. A modified Evo IV engine bay harness and a custom grounding kit manage to pass all of the pertinent electrons to their various sensors and controllers. Given the level of knowledge and skill necessary to assemble this alphabet soup of parts, it’s highly unlikely it’ll ever be duplicated. Most people just aren’t this patient, or dedicated, or just plain crazy! Even more remarkable is that it’s all tuned to run on E85 ethanol-spiked gasoline, with its associated 105 Octane rating!
The suspension and brakes are no less effective for their unorthodox application. Evo VIII Brembo brakes were fitted front and rear, along with an Evo V front brake cooler. Tein’s Super Street coil-over system ties the car to the tarmac without much fuss, and goes about its business as if it were always meant to be on the Mirage. Bringing the sinister in spades is a set of gunmetal gray Volk CE28N 17”x 9” wheels with 35mm offsets and sticky 245/40-17 BF Goodrich KDW-2 tires. Some cars are like grayhounds, fast and sleek. This one’s like an angry bulldog, jealously guarding its turf.
For the exterior, again, only Evo parts would do. From the Evo V front conversion using JDM headlights, front marker lights, JDM VIS carbon fiber hood and boot lid, to the Evo VI tail lamps, Archie went full-out to make his dream car a reality. The VIS Evo VI GT wide-body kit had to be massaged to fit the 2-door Mirage chassis. Front VIS wide-body fenders were installed, along with OEM Evo V rear flares. The body was refinished in Ferrari medium sparkle silver paint which offers good contrast with the carbon fiber pieces and the gunmetal wheels. It’s always amazing how good a silver car with flares on it can look at sunset!
Interior accoutrements were kept to a minimum, relying again on OEM pieces wherever possible. Evo V GSR black and grey Recaro seats replaced the dull, drab US-spec bolsters. A custom short-shifter wears an Evo VIII shift knob while a JDM-only MIVEC gauge cluster fills the dash, and is marked with a 8,200 RPM peak and a 10,000 RPM redline! A wonderful-feeling Sparco steering wheel with a red-accented center cheerfully matches the Recaro logos on the seats and the anodized-red in the engine bay.
Why create something like this from scratch when there are plenty of used Evos floating around the United States? “One of the reasons why I wanted to do this project came from the movie “Who Am I” by Jackie Chan. It honestly motivated me to do a replica to that car. At that time, I already had the Mirage and didn’t even know that the chassis was based on the JDM EVO 4-6 cars. I just fell in love with the EVO 4-6 body style.” Of course, like any good enthusiast, he couldn’t have just one. “I had another Mirage converted to a turbo Evo engine, but it was only front wheel drive, and one more FWD Mirage with a turbo’d 1.5 liter engine. When my wife transferred to Las Vegas in the U.S. Air Force Reserve, she told me I could only keep one of the three cars. That decision was a no-brainer!”
At a recent Mitsubishi-USA sponsored show in southern Californa Archie came away with a highly-coveted ‘Builder’s Award” handed out by Mitsubishi themselves. “They told me they were just discussing whether they should build a 2-door old school Evo the week before the show, and then I showed up!” While the recognition is great, more often he’s met with amazement or confusion. “I hear ‘I didn’t know you could do this on a Mirage!’ all the time. I also get ‘What is this? A Civic?’” Might we suggest painting a really big Triple Diamond logo on the side of the car? “I didn’t have the money for an Evo VIII when they came out but for what I’ve spent building this I’m sure I could have bought at least one new Evo!” If you’ve got this kind of skill though, why buy it? Just build it!”