The September 1987 issue featured the improved 1987 Mitsubishi Starion ESI-R on the cover. The Starion is the Buick Grand National of the import scene. While it has not retained the staying power of the Buick, it was a beacon that foretold of things to come. Intercooled versions came with a front-mounted chiller that provided an extra 31 hp. The car was factory turbo'd, EFI-equipped, priced well under $20,000, was a rear-drive proposition and had buffed out styling that still looks good today. The'87 model featured an improved engine management system, improved metering and more power. The bottom line stats show the Starion pumping out 176 hp at 5,000 rpm with boost at the factory set 7.5 psi in intercooled trim. The previous ECU had a boost cut program that suspended fuel at 9.5 psi, which made boosting up the Mitsubishi a tricky proposition. For '87, this feature was dropped and a simple bleed-off valve could be used to increase boost pressure. A new air flow sensor helped increase output, response and fuel economy. The Turbo article took an '87 and turned up the boost with dyno figures and 0-60 times to chart progress. In stock trim (7.5 psi), the Starion laid down137 hp. Bumping boost to 13.5 psi netted 160 hp. Next, an HKS exhaust was bolted on and the car was re-tested. With the exhaust and 7.5 psi 155 hp was realized. Turning up the wick to 13.5 resulted in 175 hp at the wheels. A K&N filter pushed output to 185 hp. As the technology emerged to push performance even further, the Starion revealed some shortcomings-most notably a cylinder head that was prone to cracking as power was dramatically increased.
In their day, the Starion was a dominant force in the SSA class of the SCCA Escort Endurance Championship series. Today, the car holds a cult status among owners and the advantages it had in 1987-a factory turbo, front-mount intercooler and rear drive-are still advantages today.
This issue also had one of the first ECU tuning articles ever published in it. Other highlights include an Olds Quad 4 making 800 hp on Methanol, a synthetic lubricant story, injector cleaning tech, racing coverage of Indy Car at Long Beach and a behind-the-sheetmetal look at Nissan's IMSA GTP car.
Beyond the articles, the ads vividly illustrate how far technology has come. This was a time of turbocharging engines via "sealed carburetors." And tuning electronics were physically bigger than the boxes that today's equivalent are shipped in. We've come a long way.