by Shiv S. Pathak
In the world of high-performance machines, Scot Gray's 1994 Mitsubishi
Eclipse GSX didn't get off to a prodigious start. Formerly owned by a
nice, elderly couple from Oregon who purchased the all-wheel-drive car for its
snow and ice capabilities, the Mitsubishi lived the life of a sports
car-turned-SUV. Years later, in an anthropomorphized display of
automotive hari-kari, the little coupe blew its turbocharger. Crippled
by a bleeding turbo bearing, and incapable of hauling groceries and potted
plants through the treacherous Northwestern trails, the Eclipse was put up for
sale, eventually falling into more appropriate hands.
Three years later an abridged performance history
of Gray’s Eclipse would have you believing that it has made up for
lost time. "I upgraded the turbo twice,” Gray confessed.
“The factory turbo performed very well, enabling me to run 13.3 E.Ts in the quarter-mile. Later, I upgraded
to a ported and clipped (10 degrees) Mitsubishi 16G turbocharger. This upgrade significantly improved top-end
power with only a minimal increase in lag.”
Capable of running mid 12s at the drag strip, all was well
until our protagonist ventured to
Buttonwillow Raceway, overheated the car and warped the cylinder head. Now
bitten by the road racing bug, Gray wasted no time in procuring a new factory
head. With the assistance of Road Race Engineering (Huntington Beach,
Calif.), the unblemished head was thoroughly ported and polished. The bottom
end, receiving its fair share of attention, was rebuilt with the inclusion of
stock 1995 model year 8.5:1 pistons.
On the road, the performance improvements were obvious. Perhaps a little too obvious, as the
combination of higher compression pistons and better-flowing heads resulted in a nasty
case of boost creep. To remedy the situation, a generously sized external wastegate from TIAL was ordered.
But somewhere between the order and the delivery process, Gray decided to up the ante even further.
decided to upgrade the turbo [again] to make full use of the new wastegate.” After a quick
long-distance call to Texas Turbo, a “Frankenstein Level 2” turbocharger
was on the way. Of course, swapping turbos and wastegates isn’t as easy as it sounds. with different flanges and
wastegate configurations, Road Race Engineering had to craft a custom 3-inch down-pipe and exhaust manifold.
While all this fabrication sounds like a lot of work, there is no doubting its merits.
Empirically, the new
turbo should be capable of generating more airflow, with less heat and with reduced exhaust back-pressure
levels—all of which translate to more horsepower. However, airflow is useless without sufficient fuel delivery
and properly timed spark advance.
In an effort to meet both requirements, Gray installed a TechnoMotive ECU
upgrade. Featuring a number of welcome EPROM tweaks, this cost-effective upgrade removed
the boost and fuel cut in addition to raising the rev limiter. As an added bonus, the stock low-resolution,
dashboard-mounted analog boost gauge can easily be configured to monitor air/fuel mixture, ignition timing,
battery voltage or knock sensor output. Coupled with TechnoMotive’s optional data logging
Gray is able to tune the car for maximum power with minimal drivability
In fact, despite driving a car capable of whipping off mid-11-second passes,
Gray claims to record better-than-stock fuel economy (25/20 hwy/city to be
Like the engine, the rest of the car has been set up with both street and track use in mind. For a clutch, Gray
chose a sturdy Advanced Clutch Technology 2,600 ft./lbs. pressure plate with a streetable organic
friction disk. To strengthen the Eclipse’s notoriously
fragile drivetrain, a Cusco clutch-pack center limited slip differential was
installed. Supporting all four corners are GAB Super HP shock absorbers with
2.5-inch race springs and adjustable threaded spring perches from Ground
Control. To ameliorate some of the Eclipse’s nose-heavy handling
balance, Gray installed a 1.25-inch rear anti-roll bar from Suspension
And of course, a good road racing suspension wouldn’t be complete without a
sticky set of R compound tires.
So how does it drive? Ridiculously well, that’s how. With a 0-to-60 mph sprint taking a mere (and official) 3.8 seconds, Gray’s Eclipse is one of the
quickest cars SCC has ever tested. Quite remarkable ending for a formerly
(Reprinted from Sport Compact Car Magazine, September 2000)