Here begins the long strewn story of a car with potential. The story of my 1991 Mitsubishi Galant VR-4.
It is 12/2012 and I’m working graveyard shifts at a freight company full time, and going to school full time when I decide I want to find a car with more than 2 seats so that I can take friends to hang out...and maybe Skirt around a little bit (Skirt definition coming soon...synonym: to hoon). SO, I have a few thousand dollars burning a hole in my pocket...but what do I want!? You never know until you try, am I right? I see E36 Bimmers, old Japanese sedans but front wheel drive, so no-go for me. Then! I remember my friend from work talking about how his mom used to have a Mitsubishi Galant VR-4 (GVR4 for short)...but what the hell is that??? Research yields promising results. We have a 3,300lb car with a 2.0 liter turbo engine, manual transmission, 4 wheel steering (!), and all wheel drive (AWD). YES. the search begins...I don’t want something modified too much because I would like to be able to pick up a manual and troubleshoot the thing if something goes South *cough* when it goes south. I happen to also be working on a project for my 1996 Toyota Tacoma at the same time...another story for another day. Anyways, I find some parts that I will need for the Taco on the west side of the Washington state That I will need so I make a plan to get there and buy the parts over the phone. I couple days go by and I'm still car searching when up comes a clean-ish looking GVR4. It doesn't have terrible paint. It seems to be mostly unmolested with only exhaust and what I think is an eBay turbo manifold. Carpet is good, but the rear seats are bad (very typical of these cars). It also has stock wheels and tires and some KYB shocks. Looks like we have a decent car here. Not much added still 99% the way she came from the factory. I call the kid who is in high school and set up the appointment. My very generous girlfriend says she will come along for the journey. We set off and We barely make it to the wrecking yard in time to get the Tacoma parts before they close. This means we end up late to meet the owner. We finally get there and the car looks decent and seems to be all there. Looks like he isn't trying to screw me over. I Take it for a test drive and there are some small issues, occasional grind in the 2-3 shift and an off feeling clutch engagement. I Fix the clutch immediately by removing the second, redundant floor mat jammed under the clutch pedal. Peachy! I ask him if I can get on it and he says “Go for it!” I felt boost for the first time. Like the first time you get scared but in a good way. I knew it had to be mine. Cash is exchanged, and the paperwork is signed. Its 9 pm and my day started at 2 am, and now we only have 5 hours left to drive! I convoy with the awesome lady across the state through snowy mountain passes and sketchy conditions just loving the car more because of how well it sticks to the ground considering the fairly bald highway style tires. We finally get home and I am ecstatic with the buy. It feels good but it has some problems I didn't see before, namely multiple leakes. SCORE! I take friends for test drives and they approve! I have a little of a commute to work so I decide to park it most of the time until I can get a space to do some work to it and some better weather. I don’t drive it much, so I just start it every once in awhile.
Summer roles around and I have a new job that is a regular day schedule and no school, so it becomes my daily. I can play it by ear and figure things out as I go. Soooo I basically beat the living hell out of the car for a couple weeks or so and have no major issues. I go to the Oregon Trail Rally and it overheats when stuck in traffic but it's all good! I am so smart for buying this car!!! Here we are about 4 weeks and 1000 miles into driving it regularly and SNAP, CRACKLE, POP. Its June 2013 and I get a bad sound from the front of the car. It turns out I lost a belt. Thinking it was the power steering pump giving up on me from all the leaking I limp it to my brothers to let it sit until I can get it moved to where I am living. I get it there a couple days later and park it. I’m about to head up to Eastern Washington University to pursue my degree in Mechanical Engineering Technology so the car has to wait. I pull some strings and manage to find a place away from my apartment to work on the car while up at school. So I trailer it up there...but what was wrong?? I'm dying of curiosity. My GVR4 aka “Jack Stan” gets put up on his 4 steel thrones as I begin to troubleshoot in unfamiliar territory. Eureka! The culprit? Just a water pump. $50 to freedom! Might as well do an oil change while we are here riiiight!? WRONG. What I find is a crushed oil pan probably from someone inexperienced lifting the car from here. This gives me reason #1 to pull the motor, as it cannot be replaced without doing this. I decide to do a better inspection underneath with a creeper to see what else I am up against. Mainly good except I have at minimum 2 motor oil leaks and the power steering leak is coming from a power steering rack hard-line. There’s reason #2 to pull the motor…FUCK!! Well let's pull the water pump and change the oil for now I guess...drain plug out and the old lube starts flowing. “Wait, why are there shiny bits in the drain pan?” “WAIT, those are kinda big!” (panic ensues). “Are they magnetic (not sure if this is important but I was curious)?” "No...hmmm". After the drain pan was full I poured it mostly out to see what I found in the bottom. What I came across was some pieces of metal varying in size up to about ⅜” by ⅜”. They looked kinda like cheese curling up when it is getting sliced. Where is it coming from? Research, research, research. Bad news bears, we have some bearing material that decided to go off duty. This is my engine telling me it was about to have catastrophic failure.
It is October 2013. Let the rebuild begin...
This is where we will stop now because part 2 will be more technical. I will give more detailed info as to what caused the internal engine issues in combination with a status update as to where I am now and my future goals with the car.