The best thing about Mitsubishi—the legendary Japanese automaker—is not what it's doing today, but the cars it built in the past. The fourth-generation Eclipse, for example, isn't often mentioned as one of its greatest hits, but that didn't stop one amateur Canadian engineer from using it as the base to his sizable project. In fact, James from Speed Farm thinks it's a platform worth building something special on. How special? A monster mid-engine Eclipse track car is what he has in mind, and he's already pretty far into the project.
James already has his mid-engine Eclipse project running, in fact, and according to him, swapping the engine into the back of the car was actually pretty straightforward. "No major issues came to light," he told me during a chat. "Just time-consuming things, and a lot of research had to be done."
The entire project actually started with James' first car, a 2009 Mitsubishi Eclipse GS that had a few upgrades like beefed-up internals and a custom turbo setup. He tracked it, enjoyed it, but according to him, "it lacked grip, and the physics just wouldn't play along no matter what." That realization pushed him towards plucking the engine from the front of the car and putting it into a more... let's call it, appropriate
James says he went with a six-cylinder 3.8-liter 6G75 as opposed to the smaller 4G69 for a few reasons. For one, it is canted forward 30 degrees, which made the physics work better once it was closer to the rear axle. The second reason was that it has a bigger water pump than the smaller four-cylinder, and since he was keeping the radiator in the stock position while moving the engine back, it would be important to have a bigger pump in order to manage the larger volume of coolant.
To put the engine in the back of the Eclipse, the car's entire front subframe was effectively recreated in the back of the vehicle. Once that was done—and a dummy steering rack was welded in place to make the rear wheels stay straight—the rest of the suspension just bolted up like normal. Yes, if you've ever wondered what a non-steering steering rack looks like, carefully examine that steel bar pictured above. The motor then received a few light mods such as a new intake, headers, a tune, and it's now producing over 279 horsepower to the wheels.
Now, getting this far would be enough for most people, however, James says he's far from done with this project. Speaking of turbocharging, the had said that "before [the swap] it was a maybe." Now, though, it's seeming like a certainty. Twin K04 turbochargers or a larger single PT6266 are both on the table, as are a slew of other mods, many of them aerodynamic. "A flat floor, wing, and splitter," all of them are being considered for the project, and James is even using aerodynamic simulation software to come up with an optimal solution to make it all play nicely together.
As if this wasn't enough, the Canadian has also been making strides at selecting the right suspension setup for the car. He's compared several different coilovers from a variety of manufacturers—and even some stock sports cars—in order to get the ride just so. Once everything is figured out, he says, the car should be something truly special. And if you are curious about leaving the front engine in for a two-motor, all-wheel-drive Eclipse, know that getting the physics right was paramount to James. Dual motor cars are neat, yes, but that would be more of a frankencar vs. the proper track machine this amateur engineer is interested in.
Needless to say, we're excited to see the final product, though James has already been out testing the car at an event hosted by Falcon Autosport near Kitchener, Ontario. Racing on ice isn't his primary intention—although he was smart enough to maintain the heater. Either way, this thing already looks like an absolute riot. In just a few short months, he tells us, enough progress will be made to test the car out on a proper track. If only Mitsubishi today had as much ambition as our new friend in the frozen north.
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