Twelve sea­sons on and Ja­son Horn and his lit­tle GSR Lancer are veter­ans at Mere­mere Drag­way. He took the car from 12s to nines in street trim, be­fore a rear-wheel-drive con­ver­sion worked it into the eights. The next step is sevens, and, to get there, a new four-link rear and very se­ri­ous 4G63 can now be found un­der its bright-yel­low skin.

The 2016 drag sea­son be­gan at Mere­mere last month with the Spring Na­tion­als. Among the im­port cars in at­ten­dance was a lit­tle yel­low Lancer, kick­ing off its 12th sea­son on the fly. Ja­son Horn and his 1988 GSR Lancer have not missed a sea­son since the early 2000s, back when the car was 4WD and dom­i­nat­ing the Night Speed Drag Wars. As for most, those were the events that be­gan it all for Ja­son and his lit­tle yel­low Mitsi, which proved ex­tremely com­pet­i­tive. The fac­tory 4WD con­fig­u­ra­tion was pushed to its ab­so­lute lim­its with a 9.54 at 232kph, which is a New Zealand record for the quick­est fac­to­rygear­box 4WD. Soon, an un­quench­able thirst for quicker times took hold, street driv­ing be­came a thing of the past, and he set a goal of run­ning into the eights.

In 2011, the de­ci­sion was made to swing the en­gine around in the ‘wrong’ di­rec­tion and bolt a much stronger Turbo 350 trans onto the back. A tubu­lar front cross mem­ber was put to­gether, and the fac­tory rear four-link set-up was re­tained with the ad­di­tion of a ‘Ja­panese nine-inch’ — a Toy­ota Hilux diff with a bil­let full-spool; sus­pen­sion-wise, it ran some ba­sic King springs and KYBs from its street-driven days. But the mo­tor pack­age was any­thing but street, feed­ing in ex­cess of 600kW to the 26.5-inch slicks.

Ja­son’s rear-wheel-drive (RWD) ca­reer had a bit of a rocky start when he put it into the wall at the 2012 nats, after only five runs, but the purely cos­metic dam­age was quickly sorted, and Ja­son was soon back on track. that eight-sec­ond goal was soon re­al­ized and worked down to the cur­rent PB of an 8.62 at 262kph, with a best 60-foot of 1.45, achieved over the next few sea­sons.

How­ever, the sus­pen­sion was lim­it­ing not only the per­for­mance of the car but the safety, too. “The more power we would dial in, the more un­safe it [would be­come] … it was ba­si­cally like an out-of-con­trol roller coaster,” Ja­son says. So, dur­ing the off sea­son, the old in­ter­net was fired up and a bunch of parts was or­dered from the US to build a proper ad­justable four-link us­ing dou­ble-ad­justable Strange al­loy shocks. Scott at Be­lair Mitsi Auto Wreck­ers then took charge fit­ting the new rear end. The plan had been to swap the front out to spindle­mount Strange stuff as well, but that will now have to wait un­til the next off sea­son, as time just wasn’t on their side. Scott poured over 200 hours into fab­ri­ca­tion on the rear, in­clud­ing mini-tub­bing the back guards to ac­cept 28x9-inch Mickey Ts, which are mounted on Max bil­let three-piece wheels.

With all the new­found grip, a few ad­di­tional ponies needed to be put through the 4G63. Dick from Hytech En­gines put to­gether a plan. The cur­rent set-up with 45psi was pretty much max­ing out the seal­ing abil­ity of the steel head gas­ket, and, after look­ing around at what some of the world’s fastest were do­ing, the idea to use com­pres­sion rings in the block and a cop­per head gas­ket was de­cided on, as it would al­low boost pres­sures well in ex­cess of 60psi. Dick started with a fresh 4G63 block, which was then ma­chined to ac­cept the rings, be­fore stuff­ing it full of bil­let and forged hard­ware from the likes of Man­ley, Wiseco, and Ea­gle. The head from the old pack­age, which Dick had ported and built a cus­tom driv­e­train for, was re­tained.

The car weighs 1130kg in race-ready trim, which is not bad when you con­sider that it’s still wear­ing a com­plete steel body. The win­dows are all Lexan, and the in­te­rior has been ab­so­lutely gut­ted

SUP­PORT STRUTS: (F) KYB shocks, (R) Strange al­loy dou­blead­justable coilovers BRAKES: Simp­son para­chute, (F) Leg­num calipers and ro­tors, (R) Leg­num calipers and ro­tors EX­TRA: Jegs four-link kit, chro­moly rose joints through­out, McDon­ald Bros sprung wheelie bars SHOES WHEELS: Max Rac­ing three-piece, (F) 15x5-inch Per­for­mance Chal­lenger, (R) 15x9-inch three-piece bil­let drag TYRES: (F) 24x4.5-inch Mickey Thomp­son ET Drag, (R) 28x9-inch Mickey Thomp­son ET Drag DRIVELINE GEAR­BOX: GRP-mod­i­fied TH350, Hurst ratchet shifter, Auto Trans 7200rpm race con­ver­tor, ATI Per­for­mance Prod­ucts trans brake, ice-box trans cooler FLYWHEEL: Cus­tom flex­plate DIFF: Mod­i­fied Toy­ota Hilux hous­ing, 3.9-ra­tio, bil­let full-spool, Mark Wil­liams axles

HEART EN­GINE: Mit­subishi 4G63, 2000cc, four-cylin­der BLOCK: Hytech En­gines–built, Ea­gle bil­let crank, Man­ley forged pis­tons, forged Wiseco pis­tons, cus­tom gir­dle for main bear­ing caps, main bal­ance shaft deleted, hard-filled water gal­leries HEAD: Hytech En­gines ported head, Kelford 280-de­gree high-lift cams, stain­less over­size valves, bee­hive valve springs, head studs, Tomei ad­justable cam gears IN­TAKE: Cus­tom plenum, bil­let throt­tle body, wa­terto-air cooler EX­HAUST: Four-inch stain­less dump pipe TURBO: Bil­let Tur­bo­net­ics 67-67 WASTEGATE: Tur­bosmart Hyper­gate 45 BOV: TiAL FUEL: In­jec­tor Dynamics ID2000 in­jec­tors, dual Bosch 044 pumps IG­NI­TION: Spark Tech Pro Drag ca­pac­i­tor-dis­charge, Spark Tech coil-on-plug ECU: Link G4+ Storm COOL­ING: Al­loy half-size ra­di­a­tor, Davies Craig elec­tric water pump (EWP), Davies Craig EWP con­troller, 305mm (12-inch) elec­tric fan, AN fit­tings PER­FOR­MANCE POWER: Not been on the dyno BOOST: Lots

IN­TE­RIOR SEATS: Kirkey al­loy STEER­ING WHEEL: Momo INSTRUMENTATION: Auto Me­ter tacho, oil-pres­sure, wa­tertemp, In­no­vate air/fuel–ra­tio gauge EX­TRA: Funny car–style roll cage

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