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My 1985 Mitsubishi JB Starion


Yet Rad Guerin's turbo-charged 1985 Mitsubishi Starion starts first time, drives sedately in the traffic and doesn't fizz, pop or blow back.

"I take it back to the same mechanic every time," the 73-year-old retired builder says. "I told him I didn't want the power to come on like a light switch and he's done a fantastic job so no one else touches it."

The former rally driver was on the lookout for a Mazda RX-7 in 1992 but couldn't find one at the right price. His son then alerted him to the Starion which he bought for $12,000. Guerin says Shannons Insurance still values it at $12,000.

"I've always been a four-cylinder man; never had a V8," he says. "That's probably because I couldn't afford a V8." The Starion started off with a two-litre engine developing 90kW at the wheels.

When Guerin blew the head at Queensland Raceway he bought another engine and had his mechanic work it over.

The mechanic stroked it to its maximum over-bore (230x230mm) and added lumpy Kelford twin cams, a GT35 turbo with 18psi boost and a custom-built intercooler. It has recently been dynoed at 243kW and at 1260kg Guerin reckons it has a better power-to-weight ratio than a V8 BMW M3.

But Guerin and his mechanic have also been conservative. It has a 7200 rev limit and a cautionary oil pressure light for QR's high-G corners.

"All the engine mods are blue-plated so they are compliant and I can drive it on the streets," says Guerin who is now a part-time advanced driver trainer to fund his motorsport addiction.

"I used to even drive it to and from race events until it broke down one day and left me stranded. I've now got a trailer for it."

The Starion has also received a full suspension revamp with coil-over struts, urethane bushes, heavy adjustable sway bars and Koni shocks. It's shod with Falken 225/45 R17 semi-slick tyres and has Mitsubishi Lancer EVO IV 290mm discs so he can replace the 15-inch wheels, if needed.

After the engine's 583Nm of torque played its part in breaking the gearbox, Guerin fitted a tougher five-speed manual from an RX-7 that "virtually bolted straight in" with some minor tweaks.

Inside, it has race seats and harnesses, plus various gauges, but the passenger seats and carpets remain. It even retains the original radio with power-up antenna on the back.

Outside there are few changes except for a bonnet from a JA and rear spoiler from a JD. "I wouldn't like to say what I've spent on it as the walls have ears at my place," Guerin jokes.

"But I did a bit of building work for my mechanic, so we've bartered a bit on the price." Guerin is happy with his Starion. "It was previously jerky and snatchy, especially in traffic, but now it drives like a factory model." Guerin says only 250 JB Starions were sold in Australia and only about 20 remain.

In their day, Starion was the fastest car over the famous Mt Panorama and Kevin Bartlett and Peter McKay drove one to ninth place in the 1985 Bathurst 1000 behind exotics such as the Jaguar XJ-S, BMW 635CSi, Ford Mustang and Alfa GTV6, and ahead of all the Commodores, including Peter Brock who failed to finish.

Mitsubishi JB Starion
Year: 1985
Price New: $28,028
Price Now: $12,000
Engine: 2323cc, 4-cylinder, turbo, 243kW/583Nm
Body: 2-door hatch
Transmission: 5-speed, 3.9 limited slip diff, RWD Did you know: Mitsubishi built a special Starion for actor Jacky Chan who drove one in the 1984 Hollywood film Cannonball Run 2.

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