“Old School” means different things to different people. It’s all about what generation you’re from and what you’re into. For the domestic-lovin’ big block crowd it means cars like the Hemi Challenger and 454 Chevelle. For vintage JDM lovers it means machines like the Datsun 510 and Mazda RX3. For those of us who grew up on Hondas, it probably means EF hatchbacks and CRX’s. And if you’re a big movie buff and a fan of Jamie Kennedy, the term “old school” will conjure up images of breakdancing and balloon pants. Hammer time!
Michael Rizzotti is all about kickin’ it old school, though his version is about “going fast with class” in his ’91 Eagle Talon TSi. Having owned the car for 14 years now (and with no intentions of selling it any time soon), Mike has carefully and thoughtfully transformed his DSM sleeper into a 10-second beast with the passion of a true grassroots enthusiast. No big sponsors. No big spending. Just a patient and well-researched approach with the costs of upgrading spread out over a decade or so, proving that old school adage that “good things come to those who wait”.
Before discovering the beauty of Mitsubishi’s turbocharged AWD pocket rocket, Mike was a serious Mustang guy. In fact, he owned a total of five 5.0’s before acquiring his 1g DSM back in 1993, when it had just one previous owner and 30,000 miles on the clock. Having never run quicker than a 14.3 in the quarter mile in his Mustangs, Mike decided to try his DSM down the 1320-foot drag strip at New England Dragway. Much to his surprise the car ran a 13.9 on its second pass ever. Suddenly realizing how much potential his turbo Talon possessed, Mike began looking into ways to make it run even quicker. Starting out like a lot of us, by seeking out information about his car on the internet, Mike joined the now legendary DSM e-mail listserve known as ‘The Talon Digest’. Back in the day before web forums emerged, e-mail listserves were how car geeks shared information and with DSM gurus like David Buschur and Todd Day posting on ‘The Talon Digest’ Mike was tapped into the brightest minds in this small but growing community. With the pioneering spirit of DSMers at this time, it’s no wonder Mike learned to do all his own ECU tuning and wrenching and these days even works on some local DSM’s to help pay for his go-fast habit.
At the heart of Mike’s super clean stock-body Talon is the ubiquitous 4G63T powerplant. Having made 585whp on the stock block (other than ARP head studs), this bulletproof mill has survived more than 600 drag runs including a best of 10.60 at 132mph, proving a meticulously maintained and AEM EMS tuned 4G63T is tougher to beat than “The Natural” Randy Couture. But wanting to break the 10-second barrier at the drag strip meant stepping up to a fully built engine, so not too surprisingly Mike turned to David Buschur from Buschur Racing for one of their Stage 3 longblocks including Ross 9:1 pistons, Eagle rods, and a ported and o-ringed cylinder head stuffed with Manley valve springs, Ti retainers and HKS 280 camshafts. Forcing gobs of compressed air into the Buschur-enhanced combustion chambers is a honkin’ GT37R turbocharger, mounted to a Shearer Fabrications tubular manifold. Add to that a set of 1000cc PTE fuel injectors, a Cosmo in-tank fuel pump and an external secondary Aeromotive A1000 fuel pump and Mike‘s got all the juice needed to reach his target of 675whp and sub-10 seconds in the quarter mile.
Even though Mike drove his 3,000 lbs full-interior Talon to the track last season, ripped off five 10-second runs and then drove it home, there have been a few bumps along the road. 1g DSM’s are known to have weak transmissions and Mike has blown up a few of them himself, but thanks to John Shepherd and his Stage 4 transmission and an ACT 2600 clutch kit and Streetlite flywheel this is one Talon that can really bang through the gears pass after tire-shredding pass. Other than that, Mike’s Talon still rocks stock axles, rear end, transfer case, and front axles, all of which have proven to be remarkably reliable. The “going fast with class” part enters the equation when you start to look over the rest of Mike’s spotless and rice-free Talon. No wild body kit. No crazy graphics. Just the original Carrera Red paint looking as good as the day it rolled out of Chrysler’s factory paint booth. In fact, the car is so fresh and clean inside and out that Mike often gets questions about how he’s managed to keep a 14-year old car looking so new. The only thing differentiating Mike’s ride from a bone-stock Talon on the outside is a subtle set of 16-inch Rota Slipstreams, some sticky Nitto 555R street tires or Hoosier Quick Time Pros for the strip along with a slightly reduced ride height thanks to a set of DSS coilovers. Throw in some Buschur Racing strut tower braces and some Porterfield RS4 pads squeezing Powerslot rotors and you’ve got the running gear required for consist 10-second passes at the strip.
In the cockpit things have been kept just as purposeful and clean, where a Dan Page 6-point roll cage now lives in order to keep Mike safe at 137mph. Other than that there’s a Sparco Ultra driver’s seat and RCI harness to hold Mike in place during the violent launch his AWD monster provides, along with a custom laptop tray so that Mike can fine-tune his EMS from the driver’s seat. There’s also a Warner 60psi boost gauge and VDO fuel pressure, coolant temp and oil pressure gauges along with a shift light onboard. No unnecessary bling. No rice in sight. Just the essentials for embarrassing unsuspecting Mustangs owners who think their “muscle” car can out-hustle this super stealthy DSM. Mike Rizzotti has earned his DSM stripes the hard way – by doing his homework, turning his own wrenches, and listening to the early innovators from the glory days on ‘The Talon Digest’. Having paid his dues and learned his lessons over the last 14 years, Mike has undoubtedly earned the respect of his peers by building one of the fastest privately owned and street-driven 1st generation Talons on the planet. If that ain’t kickin’ it old school, we don’t know what is!