Mitsubishi and Chrysler's relationship dates back to the early 1970s, a time when reasonably sized, fuel-efficient cars just weren't quite on the domestic OEMs' collective radars. But it really came into fruition during the mid-1980s. Mitsubishi wanted to gain a foothold in the U.S.; Chrysler wanted to actually sell cars. The solution was for Chrysler to drop a 15 percent stake in the Japanese auto company. This allowed Mitsubishi to sell more cars in the States without violating import quotas and spawned two profitable offspring for Chrysler-Plymouth and Dodge.
The DSM trio introduced in late 1989 is the most notable progeny of this long-distance courtship. But it wasn't the first. The Dodge/Plymouth Conquest (read: Mitsubishi Starion) made itself available to U.S. dealerships roughly half a decade sooner. Conquests and Starions differ little from one another, save for the company badging, logos and such. The three-door, RWD, sports car is a special kind of car, considered by many to be the originator in terms of the modern-day, high-tech, Japanese turbo car so many others have taken cues from.
Joe Gilk would agree. After all, he spent the better part of two years getting to know one '87 Conquest TSi in particular in intimate ways others can only imagine. Joe and his Conquest's relationship began as so many others have; the vehicle was flat-bedded to his mother's house where he was quickly given that glaring look of disbelief-the one that often accompanies $500 shells sitting on bare rims and filled with empty beer cans. Sadly enough, this is the fate of more than a few Conquests.
DSM blood had been running through Joe's veins a good 13 years before he brought the Conquest home. The learning curve began with a non-turbo, first-generation Eclipse and Talons galore, each turbocharged and each with an AWD architecture: a '92, a '95 and a '97. Twelve-second timeslips came and went but so did the broken differentials. Joe prefers the clutch-dropping, throttle-mashing sensation generally associated with RWD cars-not the clutch-slipping, delicate-natured launching method that's often associated with AWD cars and drag racing. As such, something RWD was sourced; but you better believe it had to be something that could be traced back in terms of the DSM family tree.
Technically, even though Dodge's Conquest was spawned through Chrysler and Mitsubishi's joint venture, it still isn't a DSM. Joe's is close though. Reconditioning the original and perhaps volatile 2.6L 4G54 engine was never considered; instead a 4G63 sourced from a '90 DSM was longitudinally retrofitted into place. But a stock 4G63 put into place it was not. No, the renowned Mitsubishi experts at Buschur Racing sent Joe off packing with one of their Stage 3 engine builds. The infamous longblock assembly is nothing short of impressive, including 9.0:1 JE pistons and Crower rods tailored to Buschur specs and a knife-edged and polished crankshaft. The balance shafts are also gone, which helps eliminate the chance of timing belt/valvetrain woes, ARP hardware holds important parts together, and everything was blueprinted and assembled at Buschur central. The top end is just as impressive; it better be, it's also one of Buschur's Stage 3 packages. Stainless steel valves, bronze valve guides and high-performance springs and retainers make the Stage 3 head what it is. Extensive porting and polishing in the right places paired with Buschur-spec Comp Cams camshafts make the cylinder head the last place this 4G63 might be held back. A sheetmetal intake manifold from, you guessed it, Buschur, along with an Accufab throttle body completes the package.
Despite how impressive this particular 4G63 may be, it's only as useful as its turbo is capable. All is based off of a hybrid of sorts and began life as a Buschur Racing/Precision Turbo BR580 60-trim setup. Somewhere along the line the Precision turbine housing was swapped out for a re-machined Forced Performance piece that apparently outflows its Precision counterpart. All in all, 32 psi of crossbred boost is pumped out. The assembly hangs off the engine by means of a ported, second-generation, DSM exhaust manifold. The 2G manifold has larger ports and is less likely to crack in comparison to 1G pieces. The less restrictive design and 44mm TiAL wastegate lend themselves well to two-plus bar boost regulation. More Buschur Racing parts were added as the two-year buildup prolonged. This includes a 17x19x3.5-inch front-mount intercooler and piping setup that, interestingly enough, was fitted in such a way so as to not look a whole lot different than the OEM core.
Suspension, brakes, wheels and tires err on the uneventful side but; to be fair, suspension brakes, wheels and tires aren't the most important elements in terms of getting down the dragstrip, which, after all, is what Joe built his Conquest for. Nitto NT450-wrapped, 16-inch OEM wheels sit up front and a pair of 26x10.5-inch Mickey Thompson ET Street slicks occupy the rear ...full time ... no wussy street tires on reserve. Both cover up a pair of cross-drilled, slotted rotors and stainless steel braided brake lines from Goodridge. There's not much more to say here other than a KYB damper sits at each corner alongside Eibach springs and a Suspension Techniques anti-roll bar out back.
AWD Conquests/Starions are rare, and that's OK, Joe didn't want one. Such a drivetrain would only net him more broken differentials. Instead, his RWD was outfitted with a TH400 transmission adapted to the 4G63 by means of a Buschur Racing adapter plate. Rossler Transmission of nearby Girard, Ohio, reconditioned the automatic gearbox before Joe and ASE-certified brother-in-law Rick Ciolli bolted it into place along with the engine. For those who aren't in the know, the TH400, also endeared to as the Turbo 400, is not your typical slushbox transmission for those ill-inclined to manually bang through gears. The three-speed Turbo 400, which includes variants that date back to the mid-1960s, is nothing short of stout; it doesn't shy away from gobs of torque and, as such, affords drag racers a bit of longevity. It's strength comes, in part, from cast-iron center supports splined to the case itself that suspend the concentric shafts joining clutch assemblies to gears. Translation: TH400 failures are rare when compared to other competition-type gearboxes.
So just what exactly does 32 pounds of boost, a daily regime of C16 and borderline historic Japanese turbo car status get you? Roughly, 534 hp, 653 lb-ft of torque and an impressive 132mph pass clocking in at 10.32 seconds at the quarter-mile finale. Not too shabby considering the car's roots: a foreign automaker struggling for American footing paired with a U.S. automaker grasping for sales.
1987 Dodge Conquest Tsi
Power: 534 HP 653 LB-FT Torque
2.0l Mitsubishi 4G63
Precision/Forced Performance Hybrid Turbo
Tial 44mm Wastegate
Buschur Racing Front-Mount Intercooler
Buschur Racing Intercooler Piping
Buschur Racing Stage 3 Block
JE 9.0:1 Pistons
Total Seal Rings
ARP Rod Bolts
Buschur Racing-Spec Comp Cams Camshafts
Buschur Racing Stage 3 Cylinder Head
Buschur Racing Stainless Steel Valves
Buschur Racing Valvesprings
Buschur Racing Titanium Retainers
Buschur Racing Sheetmetal Intake Manifold
Accufab Throttle Body
Aeromotive Fuel Pump
Precision 1,000cc/Min Fuel Injectors
Aeromotive Fuel Pressure Regulator
VP Racing C16 Fuel
Nitrous Express Single Fogger Kit
DSM 2g Ported Exhaust Manifold
Joedogracing.Com 3-Inch Exhaust
NGK Spark Plugs
Buschur Racing Coil-On-Plug Conversion
MSD Dis-2 Ignition
Buschur Racing-Tuned Aem Ems
Suspension Techniques Anti-Sway Bar
Cross-Drilled & Slotted (Front & Rear)
Goodridge Steel-Braided Brake Lines
Turbo Hydramatic (Th400) Transmission
Buschur Racing Transbrake
Buschur Racing 4g63 Adapter Plate
Oem Conquest (16x8 Front, 16x9 Rear)
Front: P225/55r/16 Nitto Nt450
Rear: 26x10.5x16 Mickey Thompson Et Street
InteriorKirkey Racing Seat
Joedogracing.Com Instrument ClusterAuto Meter Gauges (Water Temp, Egt, Boost & " Oil Pressure, Tachometer)
R.J.S. Five-Point Harness
Gary Reese Rollcage
Safecraft Fire Suppression System