If you’re unfamiliar with James Bond, code name ‘Agent 007’, super spy and ladies man extraordinaire, then you’re either a Missionary living in a mud hut in the middle of the Kalahari Desert or you’ve been in a coma for the last 50 years. If it’s the former, carry on but avoid the fire ant soup the locals love so much – it’ll give you heart burn. If it’s the latter, wake up, have a quick shave, eat some JELL-O and pay attention. While you’ve been napping there’s been all sorts of sinister and complicated plots hatched by insane villains to get rich or take control of the planet – from detonating dirty bombs inside Fort Knox to launching satellite super weapons into orbit to a media mogul attempting to manipulate the news in order to start WWIII. All fiendishly clever ideas and all foiled by a single horny Englishman with a Walther PPK and all sorts of cool modified cars at his disposal including the Aston Martin DB5, Lotus Esprit Turbo, and BMW Z8.
Pretty flashy cars choices, when you think about it. Shouldn’t the world’s greatest spy have enough common sense to pick a car that doesn’t draw unnecessary attention? I guess this would have cramped Bond’s style with the ladies, but clearly Mark Pontarolo appreciates the value of a stealth ride given the understated styling of his 1991 Mitsubishi Galant VR4. But don’t let the four-door ‘Belize Green’ exterior fool you – this VR4, code name ‘Agent 1051’, has more than enough performance to reel in Dr. Evil’s escape pod.
Why ‘Agent 1051’ you ask? Glad to see you’re paying attention. As impossible as it may seem to the Honda Nation, Integra Type Rs aren’t the only limited edition machines to come out of Japan. The 6th generation Mitsubishi Galant VR4 was also built in very limited numbers and equipped with a number plaque attached to the dash to commemorate its rarity. In fact, there were just 3000 of these Galants imported into North America as 1991 and 1992 models, and if you’re not sharp enough to figure out what number plaque lives on the dash of this particular VR4, then it may be time for you to slip back into that coma.
The reason for the VR4’s limited production numbers relates to Mitsubishi’s reason for building it at all. If you’re old enough to remember the words to the Goldfinger theme song (Goldfinger, he’s the man, the man with the Midas touch), then you may also recall that back in the late 80s Mitsubishi was competing in the World Rally Championship – not in the better-known Lancer EVO platform but with the Galant VR4. And here’s the rub – in order to “homologate” or make the VR4 legal for use in WRC it must be sold to the public in sufficient numbers (minimum 5,000 copies a year). To achieve these sales numbers, Mitsubishi released the Galant VR4 in Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and North America, which explains how Mark got his hands on one of these rally-bred collector’s items. Back in 1998 he spotted this particular example at a used car lot some four years after falling in love with the VR4 when working at a car dealership and seeing it for the first time.
As quick as the 6th gen Galant VR4 is in stock form – what with all that 4G63T 240-horsepower AWD four-wheel-steering technowizardry under the tame four-door skin – Mark knew he needed to spice things up a little if he wanted ‘Agent 1051’ to have the punch required to tear Bin Laden a new one. Given how bulletproof the 4G63T block is, Mark wisely left his pretty much stock, though he has fortified things with a MLS headgasket, ARP head studs and Prothane poly motor mounts. He also chucked a pair of HKS 272 cams in the head in preparation for some extra boost, generously provided by the Forced Performance FP3052 ball bearing turbo. Supporting this big ball-bearing bully is a 2G ported exhaust manifold with stainless manifold studs, below which hangs a Certified Muffler 3-inch downpipe, testpipe, and mandrel-bent catback exhaust system. Feeding the turbo plenty of cool dense air is a Spearco front mount intercooler with custom PINAmotorsports endtanks and 2.5” stainless piping, which is in turn fed by a 4-inch intake with K&N filter. Matching all this pressurized air are some serious fuel upgrades including a Walbro 255lph fuel pump, Aeromotive adjustable fuel pressure regulator, 950cc FIC fuel injectors, and a truly hardcore English Racing methanol injection setup that uses an Alkycontrol pump and foam-filled cell in the trunk. Definitely a super-trick collection of Q-approved power adders – and if you’re wondering who the hell ‘Q’ is, he’s the R&D mastermind behind all the cool gizmos 007s cars were equipped with.
Controlling this methanol-injected villain buster is a Keydiver custom EPROM chip along with a A’PEXi turbo timer, TurboXS two-stage manual boost controller, and a Maftpro in speed-density mode. Providing Mark with the critical data required to fine-tune ‘Agent 1051’ for a smooth stealthy idle and seamless fuel delivery is a PLX M300 wideband O2 sensor and DEFI boost and EGT gauges, all of which is easily data logged and analyzed thanks to his trusty Palm IIIxe with Pocketlogger software. It may not be a fountain pen grenade or a ghetto blaster rocket launcher, but it’s still pretty covert and is clever enough to handle the 30psi of boost Mark regularly throws at his 4G63T.
Having some sort of funky running gear is a trademark of any good spy car and this GVR4 is no exception. The four-wheel-steering Mitsubishi equipped this high tech sedan with is definitely cool, but when you’re putting down 450+whp you need a seriously strong clutch and differential, so Mark yanked off the weaker 4WS diff housing and replaced it with the beefier ’92 and up DSM rear LSD and axles and bolted up a Quartermaster twin disc clutch while he was at it. Stock is definitely not what ‘Agent 1051’ is all about, so gone are the original shocks and springs and in their place went a shiny green set of Tein HA coilovers with upper pillowball mounts. Completing 1051’s power-transferring upgrades are a sticky set of Kumho Ecsta MX tires and a lightweight set of 5zigen FN01R-c rims. Oh, and if Goldfinger should happen to brakecheck Agent 1051 during a high speed pursuit, the TCE/Wilwood 13-inch front brakes should prevent any unintended rear ending (and we all know how painful those unintended rear endings can be).
Like all of Bond’s best cars, there’s got to be some cool gadgets decorating the interior. Agent 1051 has this covered with a Lotek A-pillar gauge pod that houses the DEFI gauges, an Alpine CD player, Xtant 3300x amp, Soundstream Reference mids and tweeters, and a Flaming River remote kill switch. Come on, tell me the term “kill switch” doesn’t get you all fired up to go terrorist hunting! Just in case Agent 1051 does end up in an epic chase or is just making another sub 12-second pass down the drag strip, there’s a set of Sparco EVO seats, Sparco 5-point cam-lock harnesses and Threespeed harness bar on board.
Sure, the ultra-stealth exterior that includes a fresh coat of ‘Belize Green’ factory paint, a JDM front bumper and vented RS hood may seem almost too undercover for a world-class spy, but we know better. Mark Pontarolo may seem like a regular guy who enjoys driving his pump gas tuned monster GVR4 on his way to his favorite ski hill or into Seattle to hang with his homies, but what better cover is there for an on-call super agent? So don’t cower in fear or frown in disgust when this ultra clean Mitsu leaves you sucking on fumes as it blows by – Agent 1051 just might be on its way to saving the world.