More than a few people warned us against involving ourselves with a DSM. Don't misunderstand; most of these people have one of their own, or at least used to anyways, they were just perhaps more acutely aware of the mishaps and expensive problems that often go hand in hand with these early '90s joint manufacturer vehicles than we were. We didn't listen, but are beginning to understand the warnings.
We knew Project Laser had a broken timing belt, and we suspected valvetrain damage when we bought it. This is after all why we paid so little for it. What we weren't aware of were a few other problems that have reared their ugly heads since we've taken delivery and torn things apart. The funny thing is that even the previous owner wasn't aware of some of these issues and as such never realized the performance potential he was missing. We're smart though. We might have a DSM with a bunch of problems, but at least we know what we're missing.
We didn't notice our little turbo problem when we first removed it to yank the cylinder head off. A decade and a half of grease layered upon the center section makes for a difficult inspection process. So it sat for a bit. After hosing the turbo off with a case of carb cleaner we found surprise No. 1: a cracked center section. Oh yeah, the wastegate flapper and orifice inside the Oxygen sensor housing was completely wasted and the exhaust manifold was cracked too. Crap. It was off to Road Race Engineering, which is luckily just up the freeway from us, where we got ourselves a Big 16G turbo, a second-generation Oxygen sensor housing, and lots of other important things like their balance shaft removal kit. Along the way we also picked up a second-generation exhaust manifold with an external wastegate port already fabricated into place. More on this stuff once we visit the dyno for baseline testing.
Since we've gotten our head back from Valley Engine and Machine, we've put the car back together and topped everything off with Royal Purple engine oil and trans fluid. Royal Purple's Synchromax even helped alleviate an annoying second-gear grind that we were experiencing. The 4G63 fired up first try. Aside from a few vacuum and boost leaks, the old Mitsu engine cranks over reliably and runs like a champ. We'll be hitting the dyno soon. Unless, we find more problems.
Outside, we've already fitted our DSM with Teflon coated 17x8 TRAKLITE 2.0's from Motegi Racing. The 2.0's are one pound lighter than their predecessor, the 1.0's, even though they have an extra spoke. For the math challenged, that's a total savings of four pounds. The first time we washed these rims we realized just how useful Teflon is. The slippery coating makes cleaning off brake dust and other debris easy. We also fitted a set of Maxxis 225/45/17 Z-rated rubber to our Laser. Since we're still in tuning mode, we've had little opportunity to go thrash the car around on these tires, but we've high hopes for them. Next up we'll be hitting the underside with stiffer dampers, springs, bushings and anti-roll bars. Back under the hood we'll crank up the boost a bit once we give our DSM some more fuel and a front-mount intercooler. Let the thrashing begin.