June 14, 2022 By Francis G. Pallarco Photos By by Randy Silva-Netto

RETRO UPDATE Check out this Lancer that blends old and modern technology to create a modern classic

Did you know that the first-generation Mitsubishi Lancer (A70) won the Safari Rally twice in ’74 and ’76? This was done by Joginder Singh in a factory backed Lancer 1600 GSR. Or that the face-lifted version featured a new grille, larger bumpers and the rectangular taillights that’s locally referred to as the ‘bar-type’. These are all well-known facts about Lancer’s, however here’s a few things about our featured Lancer only a few know about. Like the fact that this was bought new in 1979 by Dr. Teodoro Uy Cofreros and is now powered by a more powerful Mitsubishi engine in place of the original.

The way I see it, there are cars that you look for and there are cars that seem to just fall under your care. This often holds true among families where the father feels it’s customary to pass on his car to the eldest child. Much like a Swiss watch family heirloom. Something Lian Cofreros can fully relate to as he recalls, “This car was my father’s first ever car and he passed it down to me as my daily drive going to school.” From there the 1.4-liter, Astron engine Lancer underwent the usual slew of mods for its time like making the carburettor secondary open sooner or sometimes simultaneously with the primary, custom header, camshaft upgrade, twin carb set up, rear differential swap to alter the final gear ratio and more.

In his quest for more horsepower, Lian knew he couldn’t squeeze much from the Astron engine so he opted for an engine swap. Known among gearheads as the easiest way to make extra engine power, engine swaps can either be straightforward or very difficult depending on the engine. Most modern engines have a lot of sensors and what not including a drive by wire throttle system that makes swapping very difficult. So always consult with experienced tuners before deciding on a particular engine.  In this case Lian opted for a normally aspirated, 2.0-liter, twin cam, Mitsubishi 4G63 engine. But before wedging the engine, the cylinder head was ported and polished by IGPF autoworks for better flow while the stock exhaust manifold was replaced with stainless steel headers and a custom exhaust. To ensure the engine swap was correct, the late Bong Hilario of H3 Autoworks did the install with custom fabricated engine mounts and mating it with a 5-speed manual transmission from a donor ‘box-type’ Lancer GSR. Another important aspect regarding engine swaps is the electrical system and how to integrate the modern wiring harness with the Lancer’s seventies era system. Fortunately, Leonard Lim of JC Electrical Shop specializes in solving the electrical/wiring aspect of engine swaps and even does custom wire tuck services for almost any car. The result is a neat looking engine bay where the battery is relocated and most of the wires are hidden along with the relays and fuses.

Believe it or not, the Anzahl refinished exterior paint done by IGPF autoworks is already several years old and continues to look good with regular detailing. Enough reason to really invest in a good quality paint job that will last for years. Having been with them since new, the Lancer still proudly wears its original bumpers, trim, emblems and those period correct fender mirrors. As for the interior, much of it remains original except for the addition of Recaro N-Joy bucket seats with the ubiquitous mesh headrests and a Nardi steering wheel.

What really defines this Lancer’s old school look would be the classic Enkei Apache, 13-inch wheels shod with 50-series Yokohama tires and a lowered stance. Old school cars are great because they come from an era where everything was simpler and because they’re easy to work on. Perhaps Lian sums it up best as he quips, “I’ve grown to love old cars since they never fade with the times. The best part of owning an old school car is you’re different from the rest and there’s a sense of nostalgia on where everything came from.”


1979 Mitsubishi Lancer EL

Leandro “Lian” Cofreros



Engine type

2.0-Liter, Inline-4, DOHC, 16v,

Engine Mods

Port and polished cylinder head, Stainless steel header and exhaust system,

K&N Air filter, Wire tuck and electrical works by JC auto electrical


5-Speed manual with lightened flywheel,


Recaro N-Joy bucket seats, Nardi steering wheel, aftermarket gauges,

Full upholstery done by Leonard Lim and Seatmate,

Pioneer Head unit and speakers,

Body & Paint

888 anzahl red paint by IGPF Autoworks

Full auto detailing by VCZ Garage car care and performance parts


Enkei Apache (3-pc) Wheels (13×8)

Yokohama A539 tires (175/50R13)

Kudos To

Gemar Florendo of IGPF for keeping it in top condition. Leonard Lim of JC auto electrical, VCZ Garage car care and performance parts for making sure that it always looks shiny and new, My VCZR family as well as my wife and kids for always supporting my goals in this build.

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