There are some stories that just need to be told, and we feel like Joe Huria's path to building his street/strip Galant VR-4 is one of them. For one, the AWD platform is a bit of an oddball choice to modify, but not unheard of, so we admire Joe's willingness to go down the road less taken. Indeed, he considers himself a Mitsubishi freak and has been in love with DSM since he purchased his first 1GB Eagle Talon in 2012 (for a great explainer of what DSM is, check out Austin Lott's in this feature on Alex Ruiz's Talon). Once we heard the entire thread of this build, though, we knew right away the car's legend - and Joe's journey - had to be made known.
You Can Pick 3
Joe confesses to owning many DSM over the years but singles out three as his favorites, the first being a '90 Talon that was definitely put together on the more budget side of things. With an upgraded turbo system, methanol injection, and an aftermarket engine management, among other mods, the car made 512 AWD horsepower at 29 psi of boost pressure. Emboldened perhaps, Joe took that power to the street where he says he could not keep a driveline intact to save his life. "I broke five transmissions in three-month's time, two of them [equipped with] expensive Lancer Evolution 3 gearsets," he remembers. Not helped by two deer strikes in the car around the same time, Joe began to wonder how he could have fun without breaking so many trans, and it occurred to him maybe FWD was the way to go.
Mitsubishi Worth a Second Look
Bravo Super Exceed Kei Van
Done with Cars
A beautiful '91 Eclipse next entered Joe's life, and he put forth much effort into creating a highway monster: another turbo upgrade, suspension and chassis prep, he even built a traction bar and had a local fab shop make a hood-exit exhaust and dump tube. A couple of months later, Joe strapped the Eclipse to the dyno and, in his words, "the car made outstanding power for being on pump gas and a meth mixture." Things were looking good at that point.
But the universe had other ideas. In August 2016, he got into an accident with the Mitsu, and to some degree it pushed Joe over the edge. "At this point, I'm ruined, defeated, just angry at the world because I had countless amounts of money and over a year of building destroyed in seconds. I told myself [then] I was done with cars and I wanted to get out."
Love can be funny that way, though. It can build you up only to bring you down - but if it's real, then there's always hope. After his Eclipse had moved on to greener pastures, Joe woke up one day and told himself, if I'm gonna do another car, it's only gonna be one car: a Galant VR-4. And just like that, he was back in.
After some searching for a VR-4 with no rust (which is a bit of a challenge in areas that salt roads for snow, like the East Coast where Joe is based), he found a specimen in New York and went to check it out. Right away, the owner explained the car's engine had rod knock and barely ran, but since it was going to be ripped apart anyway Joe wasn't terribly concerned with the mill. What he did find was very little oxidization, which was all he really wanted, so he paid the previous owner, loaded up the Galant onto a trailer, and took it home.
Joe's vision for his Galant was to make it the cleanest street racing VR-4 in the country, and by his reckoning every inch of the car was touched. We're talking lowrider levels of customization, like the powder coated subframes, control arms and knuckles, and every removed nut and bolt replaced with stainless hardware throughout the build.
After installing the custom rear tubular control arms, BulFab front crossmembers, and additional chassis bits to the stripped-down rolling shell, it came time to pick a color scheme. Under the hood, Joe went with a vivid Plum Crazy Purple hue for the engine bay, and after going back and forth trying to decide whether to wrap the car or not, he ultimately decided on paint. The VR-4's Evo MR grey color was applied by his friend David at DG Auto Unlimited in Torrington and turned out to be the perfect show-worthy finish.
Hardship & Luck
Browse through the Galant's specs at the bottom of this story and even the most newb DSM enthusiast would realize this thing is made to boogie. Joe knew this, too, and before long he developed an itch to see just how fast his Mitsubishi was, so he went heads up just for fun against a buddy's supercharged Mustang Cobra on race fuel. He won that dig race "by a fender," he says, and after a few more street kills realized it was time to take this thing to the drag strip and measure its performance a little more definitively.
In its very first pass, Joe ran an 11.5-second et in the VR-4 and was suddenly feeling confident, believing the car was capable of getting down to the 10s. He turned on the ECMLink ECU's no-lift shift option to help the Galant hook up better, but then had a clutch switch issue that foiled the bright idea. He wound up making a total of 12 passes that day on 17-inch Hoosier radials but the best he could muster was an 11.1-sec. et.
Joe put the car away for a time but pulled it out again for a street race against a big turbo Camaro with a manual trans. He admits to making a great pass, but in his words he "got greedy with the timing map and it broke a ring land." By that point, though, the engine already had five years of abuse under its belt, and with it letting go, a window of opportunity opened up for Joe to find a new 4G63 for his VR-4.
The replacement power plant regrettably had a bad cylinder 1 that the previous owner refused to make good on, so Joe took it to his buddy Ali Sasani at SasaniFab to have him rebuild it, top to bottom. He then took it to Raif Fejzo at RRT Motorsports in Canton, who tuned the Galant to 560hp on a Mustang dyno with a small 55mm turbo pushing out 40psi of boost. When he got home after that dyno session, he pulled the spark plugs to replace them and discovered the electrodes from the plugs on cylinders 1 and 4 had completely melted off.
At this point, Joe was faced with a decision. It was September, very late in the racing season, and he could either take the engine back apart and sideline the car or continue to hurt the motor racing it. He chose the latter.
Flying in the face of sound judgement, Joe decided to take the VR-4 to the track later that year, with the car now misfiring in boost all the time. He knew the engine was probably on the way out, so with boost pressure set at 26psi, he ran an 11 at 129mph - and, more importantly, the car stayed together. For its next run, Joe turned up the boost even more and the Mitsu went 10.7 at 133, but the rear end also broke a ring and pinion. With the car hurt (again), it was garaged for months, during which Joe ordered up the carbon-fiber hood and trunk lid, fixed a few bugs, and really just finished up the build properly.
A compression test in the months after its last outing revealed cylinder 1 of the VR-4's 4G63 was bad and Joe was gutted that he had killed another motor. But he was undeterred; within a few months he was back at SasaniFab with a fresh block and head and the goal of refreshing every part of the engine as much as possible. After completing the rebuild, getting it running again, and putting some miles on it, he then tapped his good friend Elvis Castillo to street tune it. Things appeared to be going fine, but after a couple launches, he broke another rear end - disappointing, for sure, but at least the power plant held up.
Joe's Mitsubishi Galant VR-4 has not been back to the track since it laid down its 10.7-sec. pass, but he still drives it from time to time. His plans this winter include switching to a 64mm Garrett turbo and top-mount manifold, as well as installing a carbon roof. He'll then take it back to the track to try and go at least 10.50 in it, explaining, "After I run that, I am completely content with the car." This project has been with Joe through some of the best and worst moments of his life and has helped create countless friendships (as well as a few haters). The story's title, "Quest for Fire," is a reference to the long path this car has taken thus far, but it's also a nod to a similarly named article about his late father's build that was featured in Super Chevy magazine back in the day. We have a feeling dad would be beyond proud at how far Joe has come.
1991 Mitsubishi Galant VR-4
Works on industrial equipment
550hp, 518 lb.-ft. of torque
4G63 built by Ali Sasani at SasaniFab; 85.5mm Wiseco pistons; Eagle extreme duty H-beam rods; ACL bearings, oil pump; HKS head gasket; ARP L19 head studs, various hardware throughout engine; Kelford 280/276 camshafts; GSC no-tick lifters; Kiggly block girdle, HLA (hydraulic lash adjusters) oil pressure regulator; Machined Concepts racing billet aluminum valve cover, spark plug cover; AEM Tru-Time cam gears; Gates racing timing belt; Afco tucked radiator; 2 SPAL 12-inch fans, 1 pusher and 1 puller; SasaniFab custom water pipe; Precision 5557 turbocharger .63 A/R w/journal bearing; Victor Research tubular T3 manifold; Tial 44mm wastegate, blow-off valve; custom 3-in. V-band downpipe, stainless steel to aluminum back half; custom charge plumbing; ETS front mount intercooler; Snow Performance methanol direct port injection kit with Nitrous Express Shower Head fitting; Forced Performance intake; JM Fabrications intake manifold; stock non-turbo ported throttle body; Fuel Injector Clinic 1,650cc injectors; Walbro 520 fuel pump; stock feed -6AN return fitting; Magnus Motorsports fuel rail; Full Race vacuum distribution block; vacuum hard lines; ECM Tuning ECMLink version 3 tuned by Elvis Castillo
ACT twin-disc clutch; Competition Clutch forged steel clutch fork; transmission built by RRT Motorsports; Evo 3 gear set; 4-bolt rear end conversion
|Footwork & Chassis:||D2 drag series coilovers; BulFab front crossmember; custom upper and lower rear tubular control arms; polyurethane bushings in F and R subframes, control arms; Cusco F and R strut tower braces; toe eliminator kit; 5-lug swap; depowered steering rack|
2G DSM front swap; steel braided 2G DSM front brake lines, Galant VR-4 rears
|Wheels & Tires:||16-in. Forgeline RS made for Mitsubishi|
JDM OEM F and R bumpers, gas door; Carbonetics carbon trunk lid; Deft Racing Vader carbon hood; '89 Galant grill; fog light deletes; shaved antenna; complete Evo MR grey color change and body work by David at DG Auto Unlimited
Custom 4-point harness bar; Evo 8 Recaro seats F and R; RJS 5-point harnesses; JNZ Tuning short-throw shifter; GReddy shift knob; AEM gauges for boost, oil pressure, water temperature, fuel pressure; Innovate Motorsports wideband A/F ratio gauge; custom gauge pods for center console vents, steering column cover; '89 Galant under dash
Max Allan; Brian Hagan; Peter Dean; Elvis Castillo; Raif at RRT Motorsports; David at DG Auto Unlimited; Benson Withers; Ali Sasani at SasaniFab; Eric Mensel; Dianna Perez; Dominic Moore; Vinnie Cianci; Max Cianci; Josh Luiza; Deni Santos; Tanner Nascimbeni; Andre Sawyers and Martin for the pictures; Shane Devaney