My name's TJ from Sydney Aust and I've been somewhat of a lurker here on JNC for a while now but I figured it's time I share with you the car that my girlfriend and I share.
A 1975 Mitsubishi Galant Hardtop.
First off, I should explain that some of this post will be cut and pastes from my more frequent Mitsu haunt http://www.sigma-galant.com
There I have a thread that contains a lot of detail, mostly on my latest bout of spanner throwing but I'll try to condense that into the interesting stuff.
I started telling this car's story in 2009 not long after the car was finished and on the road.
It didn't stay that way for long, but more on that later.
This car's involvement with my family goes back all the way to 1995.
You could say, it goes back even further. My dad back in the late 70's early 80's was quite involved with forest rallying and navigated for a bloke in an early GA galant that was sadly written off in a road accident, so not a glorious way for a rally car to go, and then an LA lancer two-door that ended up in the trees in a rally at very high speed. A little too glorious an end maybe. He, being a mechanic was in charge of building and maintaining both cars.
I have some photos somewhere and I'd love to post em up, just have to find them
Then, wanting to rekindle his fondness for 70's mitsu bought this hardtop back in 1995 off Carlos Casmiri at Sportsclassic in Castlereagh for $700 (I'm sure some of you here know him, and I still have the reciept! ).
It was a complete and originally an automatic with a bit of panel damage in the front. And it ran!, i remember my old man driving on to the truck, and then down the driveway at home. Apparently it's previous owner tried to drive it though a gate that was about 300mm narrower than the car.
The front guards were creased, the bonnet buckled up (and beyond our capabilities of repairing) and the radiator support panel had a nice bend in the middle.
My father, then full of enthusiasm, set about fixing the body work. He (and I to a certain extent, I was only 11 at the time) hand beat the guards back straight, pushed the radiator support panel back out (i remember standing in the engine bay, with my back against the firewall pushing it out with my feet) and replacing the bonnet.
I don't have any photos of it from when we bought it but i did find some after we had finished straightening out the front end. It more or less looked like that from my memory anyway.
Note the GD grille. I'm pretty sure that was one we had lying around and dad had just put in for the photo. I've got a story about how we came across a coupe grille, but that's for later.
the repair work before it was reassembled.
Both photos circa 1996-7ish.
The only rust in the car was in the bottom of the passenger side door which dad had repaired but not before buying another door. Something that I'm sure is near impossible these days.
Around the same time dad sent it to Carlos's daughter to have the trim redone. Back then, you couldn't buy moulded floor carpet so it was done it patches. Not as nice as a moulded job, but still a tidy job. He had the original seats recovered but unfortunately the little diamond shaped button-like things couldn't be reattached. All this is still in the car today, and seeing as the car's been in storage for over 15yrs it's still as fresh as the day it was stitched together.
The vinyl in the seat backs is original and is still immaculate except for maybe one or two scuffs.
The last thing he and I did to the car was convert it over to a manual. We had a 4spd lying about that had come out of my sisters GD sedan (that I later inherited as my first car
) so in it went.
I remember having trouble mounting the cross member as there were no captured nuts in the appropriate bolt holes. My old man, ever the clever bastard, tacked a nut onto a length of steel wire and fed it down the chassis rail. Took a lot of swearing and feeling about but we got it in eventually.
Now remember I said i had an interesting story about how we came across a coupe grille?
At some stage during the years dad and i were driving somewhere and we spotted a later model GD four door sedan on the side of the road. As we got closer, dad realised that it had the coupe grille (the 4 square openings in between the headlights). Knowing it was the wrong one we pulled up and knocked on the door. Turned out the car belonged to an older Asian lady who used it as a runabout. I'm not sure how but the old man managed to convince her to let him swap the grille on her car for a spare GD grille we had at home. However there was a catch, her car wasn't running well and she wanted him to have a look at it. Turned out it had a blown head gasket so he broke the bad news to her and took off with the swapped grille before she changed her mind.
But i'll never forget what happened while he was having a look at her car. Being an ex mechanic, he was going through the motions checking bits and pieces and he popped the oil filler cap off the engine while it was running which, of course, made a hell of a racket and this little old lady jumped about 10ft in the air.
The car sat untouched for the next 10 or so years until my girlfriend was in the market for a car. Dad had been making some noises about wanting to sell it. Naturally I wasn't keen on the idea after forming such a bond with it as a kid. When my girlfriend mentioned to him she was in the market for a new ride, my father jokingly said "I've got one you can buy". To the surprise of both of us she said "Alright".
So the work began again.
I was stumped at the amount of parts that my dad had amassed over the years, and better yet, whenever I told him we were missing something, he'd rummage around the garage for 10-15mins and return with a grin and the missing part (sometimes multiples of them) in his hand.
We set about getting it ready for paint. The only real hurdle my dad and I hadn't gotten up to.
You wouldn't think it but there's nearly 12 years between this photo and the one above. I think the garage changed more than the car did
We settled on a gunmetal grey colour, and were rather fond of a colour called "Evoke" from the new Holden Commodore line up. It's sort of a grey with a hint of copper. However, the little lady's dad, who was painting the car for us, could only use acrylic and Evoke, and every other colour we chose was in two-pack. Dang it!
After at least an hour and a half of annoying the hell out of the bloke behind the counter at the paint shop, he cracked it and went out the back and made his own concoction.
It turned out a little more copper than we'd planned but I love it. It's a very unique colour. in dark light it looks dark grey, in good light it looks a coppery grey, in full glarey sunlight it goes almost dark silver with a pinkish copper undertone. Very hard to describe.
We also liked the idea of the Sport Pack stripe that was a factory option and decided to put a big black one around the windows. We wanted to do something a little different though and tried to fade it out about halfway down the guard. Now that it's done however I don't think it was the best idea.
Once paint was done my GF who's rather handy with a paint brush set about cleaning, polishing and repainting the badges. We were lucky to have a complete set (with a few spares) that were all in pretty good nick. My faves along with the Chrysler badge on the bonnet were the Galant badges on the guards.
The red had faded off completely leaving just chrome which she painted over with a transparent red which over the chrome just pops!. It's more or less the only unoriginal exterior mod we made.
The grille just needed a coat of "plastic and vinyl" paint in a semi gloss black. It looks brand new
Dad and I stumbled across a pristine (almost) dash pad at pick and payless one day many years ago which we promptly snatched and stored. While I had the dash out replacing the original AM radio (which works!) i changed it over and painted the steel cover that goes behind it.
All the interior is factory except for the cd player as you can see in the photo below. The top of which is covered in black leather-look vinyl (which my GF also used to recover the front kick panels and the rear pillar covers which had gone brittle in the sun.)
The part of the stereo install I'm proudest of is the front speakers. They're little tweeters that are hidden in the air vents. I didn't want to cut the door trims.
You cant see them at all and the sound is pretty good.
t also has one of those jaycar headlight reminder alarms that i thought would be a good idea to build over a 6-pack of beer. One of the modern luxuries I've gotten too used to.
We finished it off with a few final original touches like the chrome lips over the wheel arches and the chrome strip along the bottom of the car. All of which were originals off this car that had been stored deep in the garage for god knows how long. On top of that we had the seat belts re-webbed so we could retain the original buckles and other parts. Expensive but worth it as the old ones were well and truly stuffed!. One of them literally fell apart in my hands when I tried to remove it!!. And the last job was a set of mirrors. Tried to track down some period mirrors but had no-end of trouble and so we settled with a set of $20 plastic square chrome jobbies from Supercheap that were about $480 less than the vintage ones we were quoted on. As far as I know fender mirrors are technically illegal here in Australia, but I will look into that because I think they look bitchin'!
Mechanically it was stock as a rock to begin with, except for a set of extractors and sports exhaust off my sisters old GD from eons ago.
I already started making plans for it tho.
It soon received new shocks in the back, sigma front struts with the bigger brakes and lowered springs plus all new bushes and steering components.
The end result!
the second and third photos here are a bit cruddy, but here's one a mate of mine snapped about 12 months later. These three were taken pretty much as soon as it was assembled enough to look like a complete car.
That photo was taken about 12 months ago yet a few months before that the poor old original engine that had been sitting in storage for all those years gave up the ghost blew a head gasket. Not a big issue, the car was only being driven a relatively short distance every day so we dodgily fixed it with Chemiweld. It's this gooey stuff you poor in the cooling system to plug up any leaks temporarily. Temporarily ended up being 6 months! and it was still going strong... well, sort of. It was pretty guttless but it always started and rarely played up with the exception of a vapour lock issue that turned out (much later) to be an ill fitted fuel hose letting the fuel siphon back from the carby to the fuel tank.
This, however was of little concern as I'd already bought a donor car to strip for a engine swap.
A very common engine swap here in Aus is either the 2lt or 2.6lt Astron of which there are in plentiful supplies and have proven performance to be had in either carby, EFI or even turbo form. The swaps are fairly straight forward and because so many people have done it there's lots of info out there.
Problem is - because lots of people have done it - that's precisely why I DIDN'T
want to do it.
I wanted something a little different...
Yup... 4G63 DOHC! Except to again break with the common trend and make it a little cheaper and easier I've gone down the N/A path rather than turbo. I wanted to make a nice cruiser as opposed to an over powered under chassised (is that even a word?) car with a light post with it's name written on it.
So over the last 12 months I've struggled and fiddled, thrown spanners and tantrums (usually at the same time) and it's fought me all the way (you can get all the gory details here at http://www.sigma-galant.com/viewtopic.php?f=46&t=485
. It's too much specific info for here for now anyway... this is no Project Hakosuka or Nakazoto build
And as of now it's sooooo close to being finished
Custom made zorst! very little off the shelf parts exist for this car, let alone this kind of engine swap.
the extractors continue all the way past the gearbox cross member! I can't wait to hear this thing run!
Along the way I've been adding little touches like a hidden vacuum hardline to run to the brake booster, restored and relocated the horns and cleaned and painted anything that looked cruddy like the brake booster and master cylinder. There's no point going to all this effort on this car without bothering to clean it up. All it costs me is my time!
A lot more work has happened since these photos but now all that's left is the wiring (most of which I'm doing myself) and a few little odds and ends.
I'm hoping to have it done in about a month in time for the All Japanese Day that's coming up here in Sydney.
Sorry I don't have more photos, but there will be more to come soon! Hopefully of a running car!