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A high revving NA monster is what Cameron McElroy was always after, but the1 Type R logo never appealed to him as there are examples around every corner. To buck the trend he opted to modify a very unassuming looking and underrated 1996 Mitsubishi Mirage.

Cameron has been into cars most his life, and is very fond of Mitsubishi. He currently owns three, and works in the parts department of a Mitsubishi dealership. He bought this Mivec Mirage eight years ago, and was instantly In love with it. The car was one of the first 1996 shape Mirages to arrive in the country. Although it was automatic and quite granny spec Cam could see its potential.

Influences from Japan also got Cameron's mind into overdrive about how he wanted his car to end up. "When I purchased the Mirage, I found out a lot about the Ralliart Mirage Cup series in Japan."

After seeing the footage from that series he really wanted to start modifying his Mirage. So the first few mods were done almost as soon as he got his hands on the car.

Cameron first converted it to manual, took out as much weight as he could, and drove it around for a few years. When the engine started to get a little smoky he put some thought into doing the motor, then made the plunge and decided it was finally time for the big build.

When setting out the plan Cameron aimed to build the most immaculate and fastest normally aspirated Mirage in New Zealand. Although the plan was on paper it would be a six-year test of patience and hard work before he would see the end result.

V The engine bay has had some extensive BH de looming To further enhanrc 'tiis ifwik ¿n noms have been tilled and all panels smoothed over then re-sprayed inPaimared

V To cut down weight the car no longer runs aircon or central locking, the heater is manually operated, as are the windows and mirrors, and every tiny bit of soundproofing has long since been

1800CC parts, and the 1600cc heavily modified

•PERFORMANCE: 149kW @ wheels 207Nm (STM Dyno)

• The car has aluminium front lower control arms and these have been modified to bolt up to the factory Mirage knuckles

• The car now uses a CDSA Drive shaft with a two-piece modified bracket which is bolted to the back of the block. This is to reduce torque steer, the bane of a powerful front wheel drive vehicle

OCCUPATION: Assistant parts manager (Mitsubishi dealership) •Build time: 8 years Length of ownership: 8 years Thanks: My lovely girlfriend Chantelle, Doug, Ben, Andre and the rest of the team at Speedtech Motorsport, Ben and the team at Custom Autoworx, Dominique at Autolign, Garry and Logan Morrell, Dave and Warren Tunley, Barry and Cherie, Craig and Allan Fowler, Jono Fletcher, Nathan Thomas, Hayden Skinner, the Chapman family, Scott Beaumont and the whole team at Armstrong Mitsubishi, Russell, Derek and the team at Mitsubishi Used, Bart, Chelles and the people on the Mivec Forum, Mum, Dad and Sarah, Lots of people I have probably missed, you know who you are... thanks for all your help

• The Mirage received a full re-spray in factory Mitsubishi Palma Red at Custoi Autoworx. It now sports a full 1998 Mirage facelift front and also a re; model. The aerial has been removed, as have the rear wiper and door the car a clean appearance

It s the parts that you can t see, or don't notice, that make this car quick. From the ultra aggressive mechanical LSD. the Evo III brake conversion, all the weight that has been removed and even the smallest changes like the front fender braces, all come together to make the Mirage the track day weapon it is today.

After hundreds - maybe even thousands - of hours on the project it was the final few that were the most rewarding as the car came together. When Cameron got the car back from the panelbeaters (Custom Autoworx) and saw it all mint in one piece, it made all the hard work worth it. And seeing the car run the numbers that he had hoped for on the Speedtech Dyno was the cherry on top.

Cameron developed the car primarily for track use and has attended more and more track days. His love for them has grown to the extent that he's almost become addicted to being on the track.

"It's so satisfying to get on a circuit and drive to my limits and improve my racing skills." He also likes the camraderie amongst fellow track racers when they get together at a meet and share the same passion and interests.

The car is now an almost fully-fledged track vehicle, and a handful to drive around on the street "with almost solid suspension, no soundproofing, no aircon... but the hardest part is dealing with the mechanical LSD, it doesn't like slow turns and skips the inside wheel and makes crazy clunking noises and upsets a few people".

At a recent NZHondas trackday the Mirage had a catastrophic engine failure, and is back in the garage. Cameron has the next evolution of the motor planned and underway. This time he wants to up the cubes to 1800cc, and reverse the head so he can have the quad throttle bodies facing out the front combined with some higher compression pistons and a forged bottom end.

The better part of a decade after his decision to build the car, Cameron's relationship with his Mirage Is still strong. He's proven you don't have to have a Honda to have a high revving track car that has an awesome power to weight ratio, and is competitive on the track. Mechanical tuning is a path less trodden in New Zealand and it's a shame as this car shows that with the right combination or mods and parts you don't need a turbocharged car or a red R to be fast. ■»

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