It could have been the 2000GT from You Only Live Twice. Or maybe Vin Diesel's FD RX-7 from the original F&F flick. Or even the outlaw Supra from the YouTube hit Getaway in Stockholm II. Any kind of movie star car. But no, Archie Concon took his inspiration from Jackie Chan and a Mitsubishi Mirage.
The merry martial artist's 1998 movie Who Am I? featured a fifth-generation Mirage coupe . . . driving down a set of stone steps. "It honestly made me want a replica of that car," says Concon. "I already had a Mirage. I fell in love with that body style." Actually, he's had three Mirages over the years, all modified, and he decided to keep one to work on more extensively. He doesn't drive it down stone steps, though. He may be crazy, but he's not a fool.
Concon's Mirage is based on the Lancer platform. Now, we usually associate something more exciting with the word "Lancer". We think Evolution. Gen-five Mirages share underpinnings with the JDM Evolutions from IV through VI (why else would we ever learn Roman numerals except to differentiate between EVO models?). Flood gates open.
Like a lot of builds, this has been something of an ongoing project. At first, Concon, of Las Vegas, NV, got into modifying because his friends were that way inclined. A few fully built show rides later and, "I joined Team Hybrid in 2007, and picked up this Mirage to build as a race and show car," he tells.
The car's original 1.8-liter 4G83 motor had been replaced years before, first with the Lancer's 2.0-liter 4G94. After that it was a turbocharged 4G63 from an EVO IV, still only driving the front wheels. The next step was going to be the biggie, but it had to be done. Those rear axles were coming to the party.
"The AWD conversion had been done when I picked up the car from its previous owner," says Concon, "But I saw some room for improvement. We started by cutting a three-foot square piece out of the Mirage's floor and welding an EVO V floor onto the chassis, giving us all the mounting points for an EVO VII rear sub assembly and gas tank. It actually looks like the whole all-wheel-drive system was meant to be on this car, like it came from the Mitsubishi factory this way."
Not that the situation up front was by any means resolved. Goodbye EVO IV engine, hello EVO VIII 4G63. Then goodbye EVO VIII 4G63, we hardly knew you. "That's when it went Frankenstein," says Concon (as if welding in another car's floor is perfectly normal). Vegas tuners TrevTec Motorsports took a 2.4-liter 4G64 (as found in the 2000 to 2005 Eclipse), de-stroked it to 2.1 liters, and took the compression ratio from 8.8:1 to 10:1. Once TrevTec was done, there wasn't much left of the original engine. Starting from the bottom up, the oil pan and crankshaft come from an EVO VIII 4G63, probably the one that had just been ousted. Manley Performance I-Beam Turbo Tuff rods connect to Wiseco pistons and rings, while Buschur BF 272 camshafts activate a Manley valve/spring/retainer combo within a ported and polished Slowboy Racing stage-five head. TrevTec then fashioned a polished breather (-8AN), added a set of AEM Tru-Time adjustable cam gears, and topped it off with an EVO VIII valve cover.
The turbo system is centered around a Precision 6262 blower, kept in line by a Forge manual boost controller. Concon consulted the Extreme Turbo Systems (ETS) catalog and got involved with a four-inch race intercooler, O2 sensor housing, and stainless steel downpipe. TrevTec created a fuel supply network that includes a custom fuel rail, an Aeromotive Eliminator pump, a Paxton pressure regulator, and PTE (Precision Turbo & Engine) 1,600cc/min injectors.
There was no fooling around with the transmission, either. While the engine was being de-stroked and rebuilt, Concon sent his trans to Ohio-based Shepherd Transmissions. This operation is regarded highly in EVO circles, finessing transmissions that are described as being "like a Swiss watch." Our man went for the full REM/ISF treatment (isotropic superfinish: it treats and evens out metal surfaces at the microscopic level, thereby creating less friction and less heat; see sidebar) on the gearset, rails, and hub/sleeves. He also cherry-picked his ratios: First and Fifth from an EVO IX; Third and Fourth from the EVO VIII; and a 4.11 final drive. There's also an Exedy clutch and flywheel, plus a Quaife limited-slip differential up front. Tuned with an Apex'i Power FC D-Jetro ECU, Concon now has 742 all-wheel hp at 7,400 rpm and 603 lb-ft of torque at 6,900 rpm under his right foot. He's done the quarter-mile in 10.8 seconds, with a terminal speed of 140 mph. On street tires. In full trim. Sweet.
Concon has also sunk around $30,000 into this car, so he was probably happy to get his own wrenches out, like when fitting a Cusco suspension, the front anti-roll bar from an EVO V, the rear anti-roll bar from an EVO VII, and a pair of EVO V strut braces. Except for a TrevTec-made four-point chromoly roll cage, he also did a lot of the interior work, including the electronics-fitting Apex'i Commander gauges, an Alpine CDE 103DT head unit, and a set of Infinity 6.5-inch speakers. Not a stretch for Concon. By day, he is a surveillance technician. Can't be sure what that involves, but it might be a good idea not to dis his car-he might be listening.
Concon is director of Team Hybrid's Las Vegas chapter. "Being a part of Team Hybrid means having to trust the Hybrid formula and over 15 years of tradition. We cover all aspects of the build." Thankfully, this doesn't mean swapping in a B18C or doing a crazy taillight conversion. Today, it's about bringing performance back to the streets, in functional Team Hybrid style.
"A lot of people ask me why I would build a Mirage. There are no parts," says Concon. "But that's where the fun is-finding parts that aren't available in the U.S." Seems that Concon likes to scour the world for good stuff, hence the Ferrari-red paint job (it was Ferrari silver before that), and the upscale HRE wheels. Or sometimes modifying parts to make them fit, like cutting EVO V side skirts to match the rest of the build. Too bad the exterior has more black vinyl than an S&M convention.
The Team Hybrid formula seems to have worked big time for Concon. His once-unassuming Mirage has won 18 awards, was used for Manley Racing's 2010 catalog, and has made several appearances at the SEMA show. So where to go from here? "A full widebody kit, colorchange, and more horsepower," says Concon. "Maybe 1,000 hp some day. It's not easy to build a show car and at the same time race it and keep it street-friendly, but my car is still getting love since 2003." Maybe that's because, to paraphrase Jackie Chan, people ask: "What is it?"
Behind The Build
Las Vegas, NV
Cars, Playing Basketball, Team Hybrid's Las Vegas Chapter Director
"I built my car because no one thought it had the potential to be a show-stopper and an 800hp street car. Also, to continue team hybrid's tradition."
Engine Buschur BF 272 camshafts; Manley Performance I-Beam Turbo Tuff connecting rods, stainless steel valves, heavy duty valve springs, titanium retainers; Wiseco pistons, piston rings; Slowboy Racing head; Magnus street intake manifold; AEM Tru-Time cam gears; ETS stainless steel O2 sensor housing, stainless steel downpipe, four-inch race intercooler, equal-length manifold; Tial 50mm blow-off valve, 40mm wastegate; FAL fan; Mizu aluminum radiator; Cusco radiator diversion panels; DEI intercooler sprayer kit; Precision 6262 turbocharger; Forge MBC boost controller; Aeromotive Eliminator fuel pump; Paxton fuel pressure regulator; PTE 1,600cc fuel injectors; NGK spark plugs; Apex'i Power FC D-Jetro ECU; TrevTec coil-on-plug ignition, custom fuel rail, three-inch mandrel-bent exhaust, -8AN breather, intercooler pipes, wire tuck/dress-up; JDM EVO IV throttle body, EVO VI oil cooler, hoses, EVO VIII valve cover, crankshaft, oil pan
Transmission JDM EVO IV (1997) transmission, EVO IX first and fifth gears, EVO VIII third and fourth gears, EVO V axles, shift kit, shift lever, EVO VII rear sub assembly/rear LSD; Exedy twin-disc HD clutch, HD flywheel; Quaife front LSD
Suspension JDM Cusco/EVO VI coilovers (front & rear); JDM EVO V strut brace (front & rear), 21mm anti-roll bar (front), bushings, EVO VII 19mm anti-roll bar (rear)
Wheels/Tires 18x9.5 +34mm offset HRE 645R wheels; 245/35-18 BFGoodrich KDW tires
Brakes WP Pro eight-piston calipers, 325mm two-piece discs (front), six-piston calipers, 335mm two-piece discs (rear), stainless steel braided lines, race brake pads
Exterior APR universal canards; JDM EVO V font bumper, side skirts, rear flare, rear bumper, carbon fiber hood; Just4Show 6000K HID lights
Interior TrevTec four-point chromoly roll cage; Status GT Ring carbon fiber front seats; OMP TME Limited Ralliart steering wheel; OEM SS shift knob; Apex'i Commander gauges, tachometer; Alpine CDE 103DT head unit; Infinity 6.5-inch speakers
Shine And Rise
Isotropic Superfinish. This is a patented process, used not just for car transmissions, but also in aerospace, medical, and military applications; places where ultra-smooth metal surfaces are required. A company called REM Chemicals Inc. is behind it, having developed what it calls its "chemical accelerated vibratory finishing" process in the 1980s.
Looking at an apparently smooth metal surface through a powerful microscope, there are still little peaks. When two such surfaces interact, like gears, friction occurs, which in turn creates heat. ISF makes them smoother than Heidi Montag's Botoxed face, free from any roughness or harshness-and they're completely non-directional (which is what isotropic means). The finish looks almost chrome (the metal parts, not Ms. Montag).
In motor racing, every last fraction of horsepower is sought after, so teams go for ISF because parasitic losses due to friction are lower. The reduced friction also means less heat, cooler operating temperatures, cooler lubrication, less wear, and less noise. According to REM, a treated helicopter gearbox can be up to seven decibels quieter.
Despite the mention of chemical treatments, REM claims that the ISF process is environmentally safe (it's water-based) and reduces energy consumption overall. Getting Shepherd Transmissions to provide something similar to Concon's setup would start at $895, with various options on top of that.