1987 Mitsubishi Mirage Cyborg (C53A) – Through Thick + Thin – 191

November 15th, 2012 by NZPC

“I’m very aware that building this car probably wasn’t the smartest thing to do” — Patrick O’Carroll is very honest when it comes to his unique 1987 Mitsubishi Mirage Cyborg, and you quickly realise that he’s certainly no idiot. “I should have given up on it a long time ago — probably around the time I put my foot through the fire wall, but I just never did.”

Although he’s now the manager of a busy workshop, seven years ago Patrick was still in school, had just passed his restricted licence, and, despite a serious lack of automotive knowledge, was on the hunt for his first car. After saving his hard-earned Mad Butcher money, Patrick set his sights on his idea of a dream machine — a non-turbo 1987 Mitsubishi Mirage Cyborg in silver. Although his dad knew it was a lemon and tried to tell him to pass it up, Patrick had to have it. He admits: “Yeah … it wasn’t a good car by any stretch of the imagination — but it was mine. For the first year I used to drive around with a four-litre tomato sauce bottle full of water in the boot because the radiator was completely blocked. I literally drove it on hot all day, every day, with the heater going full bore and just kept topping up the water — I even took it to Meremere and raced it like that.” Things only got more hilarious for the Cyborg over the next while, as Pat got stuck right into the Kiwi teenage tradition of modifying your car poorly. “You’ve got to laugh, really. I think back to some of the things I used to do to this car before I started my apprenticeship and shudder. I turbocharged the stock motor one day using factory bits and pieces, but I couldn’t afford silicon hoses or hose clamps, so I just went down to Chesters and bought some Dux plumbing couplings and secured them with twisted chicken wire. We went cruising in town that night and it (somehow) worked mint.”

A little while later, the fate of this Cyborg took a turn for the better when Patrick started his mechanic’s apprenticeship and while most people would have upgraded to something more modern or desirable, Pat just couldn’t let his car go. The next few years saw different motors, gearboxes, turbos and everything in between come and go until it got to a point where Pat should have scrapped the car, but it wasn’t to be. “I was driving it one day and got on the brakes pretty heavily coming into a corner, my foot went right through the fire wall as the master cylinder had been leaking and had corroded it completely.” Although it wasn’t worth saving, Pat couldn’t break the ties with his first car and decided on a complete rebuild instead. After a new fire wall was grafted in, the engine bay was seam-welded and repainted in a bright green metallic as a nod to Pat’s Irish heritage. Due to his vast experience with these cars, Pat also knew how to build a super-strong motor using only factory Mitsi parts from across the 4G motor family, and once all the parts had been amassed, a perfectly detailed, golden 1600cc 4G61T hybrid was installed in the newly painted bay. “The 4G61 is essentially an under-bored VR4 motor, so it’s both stronger and revs better,” Pat explains. With a Kinugawa TD05 20G turbo blowing 18psi into the non-turbo 1.8-litre Galant head, the set-up pushes a very rev-happy 181 kilowatts at the front wheels, which, with help from a Ralliart limited-slip diff, provides a very entertaining street drive.

With the mechanicals of the Cyborg now resurrected from the dead, Pat needed to complete the package with a total fix up of the exterior. After sourcing a set of old-school period-correct SSR Longchamps and a full facelift Cyborg bodykit, Pat took the car down to see Grant at GT Refinishers in Auckland.
After a couple of weeks in the shop, the Cyborg came out with a super-deep coat of Chrysler-derived gunmetal grey, while the SSRs were coated in the same metallic green of the engine bay to tie it all together.

With paint like glass, sitting flush on cool Japanese wheels and with plenty of power to boot, this Cyborg streeter is easily the nicest example in the country — in fact we haven’t really seen anything cleaner and better executed anywhere. Despite it’s dodgy beginnings, this car has come out the other side as a unique, rapid and still very drivable machine — it’s one of those cars that just feels good on the road — there are no squeaks, no rattles and everything just seems tight and well put together. Now a qualified mechanic, auto electrician and workshop manager, Patrick has clearly come a long way since those early days, and his Cyborg has tagged along for the ride. The question is: If you’ve already been through so much with your first car, how could you possibly ever look at getting rid of it? Patrick wrings the leather of his Momo wheel with both hands as we drive down the motorway and responds: “Honestly? I can’t see it happening unless something bad goes down and I really, really have to sell it. I’ve grown up with this car, and I know most people would have given up on it a long time ago, it’s a bit of an oddball and certainly not the most popular choice out there, but it’s not just my car to me, it is me.”

This article is from NZ Performance Car 191. Click here to check it out.

1987 Mitsubishi Mirage Cyborg (C53A) – Specs

1.6-litre in-line FOUR

ENGINE: Mitsubishi 4G61T 1600cc four-cylinder
BLOCK: Reconditioned factory block
HEAD: Ported and polished 4G67 (1.8-litre DOHC) head, VR4 valve springs, VR4 cams
INTAKE: 4G63 NA inlet manifold, 4G63 NA throttle body, custom intake pipe, mushroom filter, Evo III intercooler, custom intercooler piping
TURBO: Kinugawa TD05 20G
 EXHAUST: Three-inch straight through, custom twin tips
FUEL: Walbro 255l in-tank pump, Evo III 510cc injectors
ECU: VR4 single-board ECU chipped by Gizzmo, Gizzmo IBC-R electronic boost controller
COOLING: Alloy Evo III radiator
OTHER: Seam-welded engine bay, custom catch can

GEARBOX: Reconditioned KM210 turbo Cyborg five-speed
CLUTCH: Exedy three-puck single-plate, Mitsubishi Triton truck pressure plate
DIFF: Ralliart LSD
OTHER: Two-piece driveshafts

STRUTS: Munroe shortened
SPRINGS: Custom Cobra
BRAKES: Factory discs and calipers, Bendix Ultimate pads

WHEELS: (F) 15×7-inch +35 SSR Longchamps, (R) 15×7-inch +23 SSR Longchamps
TYRES: (F) 185/55R15 Maxxis MA-P1, (R) 185/55R15 Maxxis MA-P1

PAINT: Custom Chrysler gunmetal respray by GT Refinishers
ENHANCEMENTS: Factory facelift Cyborg bodykit

SEATS: Bride reclinables
 INSTRUMENTATION: GReddy boost gauge, Gizzmo IBC-R controller

POWER: 180kW 241hp at the front wheels
 TORQUE: 625Nm

Patrick O’Carroll – Driver Profile

Location: Auckland
Occupation: Workshop manager
Length of ownership: Seven years
Build time: Ongoing
Thanks: Peter at Waikowhai Auto Services, Peter Kelly, Daniel Wist and the rest of BBS, Raheem Qazi, Taryn Croucher, Phil Connon, Tim at Exposure Signage, Grant at GT Refinishers, Robyn at Torque Performance

Words and photos: Peter Kelly