Fans of Playboy Magazine have the Playboy mansion, Elvis fans have Graceland, and North American Mitsubishi fans have Cypress, Calif? About 800 modified Mitsubishi vehicles made the pilgrimage to the North American offices in Orange County on a warm and humid day in July.
As expected, the grounds were chock full of Lancer Evolutions. Most were daily drivers and sporting the requisite modifications that have made this car an eternal flavor-of-the-month with the aftermarket. They came to bond with other owners of the rally-bred sedan that is more loved by its drivers than teenage boys loving dumpster-found porn. The owners came to get cool t-shirts that were designed by Mitsubishi Design and to get up close and personal with the Prototype X and speculate about the forthcoming model. And of course, they came for the raffle prizes that ranged from Brembo brake kits to a year's supply of Adio shoes.
As a nod to its racing heritage, Mitsubishi also dug up some of their best known motorsports heroes for display, such as the original Lancer 1600 GSR that won the '74 Safari Rally. More shocking than the fact that this tiny sedan beat Porsche 911s in the unforgiving race is the fact that somebody actually drove 4,000 miles across the desert on plain old bucket seats! The tiny '62 Mitsubishi 500, a Japanese rendering of a Fiat 500, was also on display, harkening back to a time when Hobbits and other three-quarter scale homosapiens could drive legally. This was a time when men were men, and cars had big ashtrays.
This year's M.O.D event featured a dyno challenge to identify the strongest 4G63-powered vehicle in the field. The outgoing Lancer Evolution 9 marks the final appearance for this sturdy, race-bred engine before it is replaced by the lightweight 4B11 turbo in the next generation model. So as a proper send off to the car and engine, it was appropriate then that Chris Pike and his Evo 8 that produced 588 hp won the competition.
In addition to the throngs of Evos, many 3000GT VR-4's, turbocharged Eclipse coupes, Starions, Monteros and Galants also stormed the grounds of Mitsubishi's corporate headquarters. These vehicles were popular with tuners and enthusiasts long before the Lancer Evolution phenomenon (read: Gran Turismo) hit U.S. car culture. The first and second-gen Eclipse coupes equipped with turbocharged 4G63 engines still enjoy strong aftermarket support.