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Where to START?

My 2003 Mitsubishi OZ Rally Lancer is COMPLETELY stock. Her body has a few dings, and she’s bright yellow. Sticks out like a sore thumb.
I bought her used, and she definitely was neglected in every way by the previous owner. I want to start gaining more Ponies out of her, but I have no idea where to start. My boyfriend is an amateur mechanic, but I don’t trust he’ll help me make the first right steps into getting her a little faster without damaging something.

Can I get some opinions? I could do an engine swap, but I don’t know what engine to swap to. I’m more familiar with Honda engines than Mitsubishi.

You can’t be serious. This could cost a fortune and not be worth it.

The place to start is to figure out the condition of the car. How does it run? Does it burn oil? Start with one system, like the engine, and determine what is wrong, then move to another system.

The cheapest way if you’re absolutely in love with the car is to sell it and get a 2003 Lancer Evolution. They look very similar, but under the hood they’re entirely different cars. You’re driving an economy sedan with some sporty-looking bits bolted on for visual effect. The EVO is essentially a street legal rally car. This is still going to cost you a lot of money, but not nearly as much as making your car fast would cost.

Making your car fast is going to involve a whole lot of modification. Start with the brakes - Porterfield R4S pads all around and high temp brake fluid. Then the suspension for better handling. Larger wheels with lower-profile tires to match.

Now you need to put in a better clutch so that it can take the power of the engine. So far you’re into this for somewhere around 4 or 5 grand (parts only) and you haven’t added one horsepower. Let’s change that:

Garrett T25 turbo kits can be had for your engine. Everything you need will clock in at about $2,700. At 6 pounds of boost (don’t go higher or you risk wrecking your engine unless you build up the internals) you can expect around 50% more horsepower.

But now you’ve spent almost 8 thousand dollars and you’re not even done – you’re still going to need to do some fuel system modifications, probably need a bigger radiator, and eventually you’re going to realize that 6 pounds of boost, well, sucks and then you’re going to want to harden your engine so it can take more at which point you could probably afford a decent used Porsche Boxster.

You could sell your car for between 2 and 5 thousand, depending on condition. Let’s be pessimistic and assume 2.

Ten thousand dollars will buy a lot of cars that are a lot faster than what you’re driving now. Gimme 10 grand and I’d be able to come home with a V6-swapped MR2 that would wipe the floor with a turbo OZ Rally, and I’d have lots left over.

If I wanted something bigger I could get a 2005-2006 Acura TL with 100 more hp than the turbo-swapped OZ Rally. And, yes, if you look hard enough you can probably find an EVO for 10 grand, although I wouldn’t place too many bets on how ragged out it would be.

What I’m driving at here is that your car looks neat, but it’s just not economical to try and make it something it’s not. You’d be much better off selling it and buying something else.

If the car was neglected, the 1st place you should start is to get an estimate on how much it would cost to make the car close to good condition without any modifications now and then see if it is worth it to put money on this thing.

I just built an engine for a Mitsubishi EVO9 4G63 able to handle up to 30Lbs of Boost but running now between 25-28.

There is not much you can do to your current engine aside from swapping in an EVO…or even Older Mitsu Eclipse/Talon engine (4G63) with a Turbo already installed… THEN its only a matter of a few bolt on’s and ECU tuning… Then you will see results…Nice results. But with what you have now? Getting “performance” out of your current engine is kind of a Fools Errand.

Either way you need to know what you are doing or this will turn into a Proper Nightmare for the Uninitiated. You do NOT want a “Sorta Mechanic” for this type of project.

Leave well enough alone…or buy the vehicle that will accept easy HP mods… Subaru WRX, Eagle Talon, Mitsu Eclipse, EVO if you can afford it or anything that came stock with a Turbo Charged engine… None of what you are talking about comes cheap, so… Just be aware. Maybe you should just enjoy driving your car the way it is…what you are aiming for is E-X-P-E-N-S-I-V-E…Supremely So if you have someone else turning the wrenches. Not too bad if you do it yourself.


"she definitely was neglected in every way by the previous owner"
If you can do an engine swap, as you said, than you must be able to do things like a compression test and using an engine analyzer. Start with those steps and see what it would take to get it back in shape. If you’re unable to do these basics yourself, than forget about an engine swap.

Your first steps should be to evaluate the condition of the engine. If it’s feeling the effects of neglect, there’s no more ponies to give.

TSM… I think she is just looking to get more power from an otherwise normal engine. No need for any tests or checks when her vehicle is running as is. She wants to Get a little Fast n Furious Methinks…but needs a better platform to build upon.


“Neglect” sounds like problems to me. Maybe @OZRallyXOXO will come back and point us in the right direction.

shadowfax: Excellent advise. It can be very expensive to attempt to make a “silk purse out of a sow’s ear”. If OP is talking about a reasonable 15hp increase that could probably be accomplished for a few $100s. I agree with buying a good condition EVO if OP is looking for a substantial performance gain. Any EVO candidate for purchase would need a very detailed inspection by a mechanic very familiar with the car. I suspect many EVOs have been abused. An early 20s single co-worker landing a 40,000+ per year job did what was expected. He bought his dream car. His used EVO was in rather good condition. He let me drive it once. Hly Sht!!! I drove it conservatively on some of my favorite twisties which were close to work. The EVO owner decided that he should drive it into the mountains during the Winter and test it’s rally car abilities on a narrow snow covered road. It was AWD. What could go wrong? Perhaps the low profile, wide, performance tires designed for smooth dry pavement! He made it to the first left hand curve and wrapped it around a tree. A right hand curve would have killed him the left hand curve would have killed a passenger. He was solo and suffered a few minor bruises. I saw the remains off the car. Another early 20s co-worker was wealthy beyond their dreams. They purchased a new Subaru Impresa WRX. They wanted an STI but could not afford it or the extra insurance

They spent the next year or so adding parts trying to almost make it an STI. The cost exceeded the original extra cost of an STI and probably voided the factory warranty. If the car was totaled in an accident the insurance would have paid the value of a WRX not a WRX STI. Sigh! Youth is definitely wasted on the young!

OZRally, would you be so kind as to provide more details about the current engine and its condition and problems if any? We could be a much bigger help if we knew where we’re beginning.

The only way you’re going to get way more noticeable horsepower is with the addition of nitrous or a turbocharger.

Each carries a bit of a price tag and expertise not just in installing it but setting it up right.
An error in setup can lead to a grenaded engine very quickly.

At 14 years of age and described as way neglected I doubt the car is worth either option. My suggestion is run a compression test and see what you have. If compression is down your first option is a new engine. Ideally, you want 180 PSI give or take a small bit either way; preferably on the high side.

As a matter of basic safety if OP is not experienced driving high performance vehicles…
!!!WARNING!!! The EVO is a beast! It needs to be learned with “baby steps”.

the same mountainbike: Back in the old days engine swaps could be accomplished under the “shade tree”. With todays incompatible ECUs, sensors, and wiring harnesses it can be a nightmare. If OP can sell the Lancer for 2k and find a good EVO for 10k they will be $$ ahead with severe headaches avoided. I now need to slap myself back to reality as I’m thinking of looking for a nice EVO. Hey! my buddy (my age) recently bought a very nice Nissan 350Z (which I drove a couple of weeks ago). I have to keep up. Don’t I?

I do swaps of all sorts… I would have to agree…its not for the faint of heart…nor the “sorta mechanic”

The EVO I just built that engine for is putting down 505 at the wheels…ALL 4 Wheels that is. All from 2.0 liters. You want to talk about a Beast ? Its scary fast… Hope the owner stays in one piece…but hey he asked me what I could do for him in the performance dept.

I did the heavy lifting on the engine…and left the tuning to the pros… Not as tho I am some kind of Magician… The engine and its systems sort of lend itself to these things. People get far far more power out of that 4G63 …Your limit is really just your wallet. I built him a nice piece…wish it was my own to be honest.

There is A LOT going on in this engine bay… I dont like how he rerouted some things buy hey…its his ride not mine.

Dernit…having difficulty attaching photo… “Attach File” button does NADA… Hmmm Whats up Firefox?


Honda, see this thread re attach a file:

Site has several major bugs.

Ah HAH…and here I thought it was me… Thx Bill

If you mouse over the “Attach File” it says Javascript (Void0) … Oh well Im sure it will work soon enough…

Blackbird, I am sorry for the malfunction, and I have alerted the respective support people at vanilla and

No worries… I just didn’t know. Hit up Strawberry n Chocolate for the full Support team…

Suggest to visit the best local inde auto parts store in your area and ask them who’s the best car restorer in town. There are shops who specialize in this kind of service you need, but it may take some time on your part to find out who they are, and who’s the best among them. You might also go to some local car rallies, restored-auto shows, and the like and pick up some vendor names there. Be assured there are experts in your vicinity who’ll be glad to help you, for a fee of course.