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1997 Mitsubishi 3000GT VR-4 with Work Meister SP1s

Why, two decades later, Mitsubishi's 3000GT VR-4 is better than you thought

Aaron Bonk
Dec 18, 2015
Photographer: Kevin Choi

Of all of Japan's 1990s wonder-cars, Mitsubishi's 3000GT VR-4 is perhaps the most unappreciated. It's heavy, its engine bay is cramped, and aftermarket support for it is dismal.

All George Melita will tell you, though, is how, as a toddler running buck wild inside of a Mitsubishi dealership with his parents, he came face to face with the twin-turbo, all-wheel-drive machine. And despite being just a boy, he decided right then he'd someday own one. In the meantime, he schlepped out of there with a bona fide sales brochure—one that, years later, he keeps stowed away within his VR-4's glovebox that, to the best of his recollection, resembles that showroom specimen down to the last detail.

1997 mitsubishi 3000gt vr4 custom front bumper Photo 2/9   |   1997 Mitsubishi 3000Gt Vr4 Custom Front Bumper

Melita, who hails from New York and lives in Los Angeles, sourced the car—of which only 512 were made that year—from Pennsylvania. Like all performance-minded Japanese machines of the era, the VR-4 was built in limited runs and not for the masses but instead for those who appreciate things like a pair of Mitsubishi turbos tied to their own bank of the twin-cam, 24-valve V-6, a nearly indestructible Getrag gearbox, all-wheel-drive layout, and active front and rear spoilers that extend and retract depending on speed. All you care about, though, is that in its final iteration, the VR-4 mustered up 320 hp, which was a whole lot of power in its day—and like any '90s Japanese sports car, left a whole lot of room for easy gains.

1997 mitsubishi 3000gt vr4 work meister s1 3p wheel Photo 3/9   |   "Hello, Work Japan? I'd like to order a set of custom SP1s for my VR-4!"

Gains that Melita welcomed with simple additions like a pair of bigger 13G turbos and more fuel by means of 450cc injectors and a higher-flowing pump. A front-mount intercooler replaces the low-flowing factory pair, along with custom piping, and an HKS electronic boost controller dials in the Mitsubishi turbos with enough boost to put the massive six-cylinder near the 500hp mark.

As it turns out, 3000GTs don't need a whole lot of help standing out. As such, Melita was careful with exterior upgrades and limited them to Work Meister S1 three-piece modular wheels that he gloats as being the only such rims to have ever accompanied a 3000GT. He's also added a factory-issued mix of older headlights and a reworked front bumper to make way for the intercooler's respiratory wants.

1997 mitsubishi 3000gt vr4 6g72 engine Photo 7/9   |   Replacement JDM turbos, upgraded fueling, and a few other bolt-ons help this 3.0L V-6 to the near-500hp mark.

The 3000GT—specifically the VR-4—has long gone unappreciated. Those who hold those sentiments, though, have sorely missed out. The VR-4, with its powerful (for its day) engine and drivetrain that'd make any driver feel safe, are traits that should secure its place as one of the '90s most important sports cars, and it shouldn't take a kid running through a dealership swiping sales brochures to tell you that.

1997 mitsubishi 3000gt vr4 94 headlight Photo 8/9   |   1997 Mitsubishi 3000Gt Vr4 94 Headlight

Awesome 3000GT in SS History

Warren hoey mitsubishi 3000gt vr4 Photo 9/9   |   Warren Hoey Mitsubishi 3000Gt Vr4

It's not every day we find a dope 3000GT... In fact, we haven't seen one as clean as George's since Warren Hoey's 510-whp black beauty featured in the December '11 issue of Modified. Revisit this mean VR-4 here

By Aaron Bonk
383 Articles
1997 Mitsubishi 3000GT VR-4 with Work Meister SP1s
Tuning Menu
Owner: George Melita
Hometown: Los Angeles, CA
Occupation: graphic designer, owner of Clean Culture
Engine: JDM 13G turbochargers; custom front-mount intercooler, intake, exhaust; 3SX pre-turbo piping, radiator, engine dress-up kit; GReddy Type-S blow-off valve; Denso 450cc fuel injectors; Walbro 255-lph fuel pump; Stillen downpipe
Drivetrain: SPEC Stage 2 clutch
Engine Management: A'PEXi SAFC 2 Super Airflow Convertor; HKS EVC-S electronic boost controller; Innovate DB wideband controller
Footwork & Chassis: custom coilovers
Wheels & Tires: 19x9.5" front, 19x10.5" rear Work Meister S1 3P wheels; 255/35R19 front, 265/30R19 rear Federal 595 tires
Exterior: custom front bumper; '94 headlights; Skillard custom splitter; Cianci custom duckbill; '99 rear center garnish
Thanks You: Ray and Dave at Pampena Motorsports; Hans at Ground Zero Performance; Chris at Ninja Performance; Adam Bonini

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