Admittedly, there are a couple of cars that most of us wish we hadn’t sold. Strange as it seems, it’s just a piece of machinery. But somehow, we become attached to it for different reasons. With the possibility of going back in time totally out of the question, we can only take solace in the fact that this sentiment is inherent among all car enthusiasts and even those who aren’t. I reckon the only solution here would be to either buy/build another one just like it. A solution that Jun Abaño did where he restored and modified a 1979 Mitsubishi Lancer 2-door coupe. Similar to the one he owned during the eighties as he recalls, “I was into cars at an early age and during the eighties I had a 2-door Lancer which I modified and even had a sunroof installed. Ever since the nineties I always thought about restoring one, but it wasn’t until 2008 when I finally bought a Lancer to restore. What’s funny is that before I started restoring it, my kids didn’t even want to ride in it. But after all the repairs and the modifications were done, they are now arguing as to who gets to take it out.”
The restoration began with bodywork on rust prone areas like the floorboards, trunk area, rain gutters and more. But even before it started, Jun had collected parts he knew would be needed to make the body as straight and original as possible. These include NOS fenders, hood and even the doors, as he quips, “It’s difficult to find brand new parts, but there are select auto supply stores that have old stocks just hidden away. I’m just lucky enough to know a few of those shops, which explains how I got my rare parts.” The whole process took around three months to complete where it was refinished in bone red using Anzahl urethane paints and buffed to a car-show quality shine.
Apart from the straight and correct body, what caught my attention were the pristine chrome bumpers and how all of the trim pieces fit perfectly and looked so new. As it turns out, Jun was able to source brand new chrome bumpers including the reflectors, bumper extensions, taillights, grille, and almost all of the trim pieces. All of which really made a huge difference and impact on the restoration. Lucky for him as this is something that would be nearly impossible to do now not unless it’s ordered straight from Japan. The level of detail and correctness extends all the way inside where everything is intact and in good condition. Looking at the dashboard and the original steering wheel immediately brings back memories from the eighties when cars were very simple.
Another aspect of this build that makes it stand out are the period correct accessories that would make it look right at home if it were brought back to the eighties. Most of you might have noticed the Pioneer KP-series head unit along with the map light and of course the Recaro N-Joy bucket seats with the mesh headrests. On the outside, there’s no mistaking those Cibie Oscar fog lamps along with the staggered set of Enkei wheels that, according to Jun, he got from a seller who had a ‘Box-type’ Lancer and was known for his extensive wheel collection. As he recalls, “He didn’t sell his wheels to just anyone. He chooses whom to sell it to and what car will it be used for. But when I showed him the Lancer, he didn’t have a hard time letting go of his broken size Enkei’s.” It isn’t a lot, but these simple, period correct details were considered normal accessories back then and could be found on most modded cars, and are what really make this Lancer a real blast from the past.
If you had a Mitsubishi Saturn engine back in the day, there was only one course of action to make it faster: that was to have a C-III engine setup. Taken from their colorful rally effort during the seventies with Joghinder Singh’s Safari Rally winning Lancer, Mitsubishi came up with a Lancer Sports Catalog and a workshop manual containing all the parts and technical info needed. The catalog contained a mild C-I engine setup, a progressive C-II to an all-out C-III engine setup together with rally-spec interior, suspension and drive train components. While the engine kit was originally intended for rally racing, the “works-spec” engine components made the Saturn engine a powerhouse, which when tuned properly could be used for drag or slalom/circuit racing. In this case, Jun personally rebuilt the engine to C-III specifications, fitting 82 mm pistons, prepping the cylinder head with bigger valves, twin Weber 40 side draft carburetors and a rare ‘Cam 5’ camshaft with loads of duration and lift which is responsible for the lumpy idle that’s so addicting to hear. Even the engine bay is period correct with an array of Bosch relays which was common practice back in the day.
Overall, this Lancer is well built and what’s even great is that it’s no garage queen as it is driven almost everywhere. Considering that Jun himself rebuilt the engine, it’s also one his favorite aspects of the whole build as he regularly romps on the throttle as the twin Webers belt out an intoxicating soundtrack taking him back in time.
1979 Mitsubishi Lancer (A72)
Mitsubishi 4G32 1.6-liter, Inline-4, SOHC, 8-valve,
82mm Pistons, C-III Spec Ported & Polished Cylinder Head with big valves, Cam 5 Race Camshaft, Roller Type Rocker Arms, Twin Weber 40 DCOE carburetor, Sanyo Aluminum Intake Manifold, Custom 4-1 header and exhaust system, Header wrap
NGK Spark Plug wires, N.D. Ignition Coil w/ Igniter Aircon Compressor Sanden TRS 090 1341 Mitsubishi Engine Mounts
Solid Differential with 4.0 Final Gear Ratio
KYB Kayaba Front strut and rear Shock absorber
Stock Mitsubishi Front Discs and Rear Drums
Enkei Apache IV Wheels (Front 13×7, Rear 13×8) Front Accelera Tires (185/13R60), Rear Champiro Tires (205/13R60)
Mitsubishi steering wheel OE, Mitsubishi Dashboard