itsubishi’s ra00y heritage is never far away from its cars. ere’s 4roo' it’s natura0.
itsubishi has a long history of producing some very interesting cars. We’ve been blessed enough to receive some of them, like the Lancer GSR of the mid-’90s. At the time, it proved to be a fresh offering in a market full of sedans and hatchbacks.
This particular rally-prepped Lancer GSR is a 1996 model, and was acquired in 2003 by Alex Gonzales. While it started life as a sporty yet humble passenger car, fate and friends soon wrote a different story for it.
Alex and his ride were inevitably set on the path of local racing after meeting some of the most hardcore Mitsubishi enthusiasts this side of the planet. As part of Club Mitsu’s Motorsports Division, he found himself competing as a novice in local autocross, hillclimb and rally sprint races, ultimately solidifying his path to the Mitsubishi and Ralliart way of life.
The car was initially raced in autocross races with just a Koni and Sheepdog suspension combo, EBC brakes, and a set of Rota J-SPL wheels. Soon, Alex started joining rally sprints and hillclimbs. After a minor mishap on his first rally sprint, he decided to install a welded roll cage. This set the tone for the rally setup the car would embrace in years to come. At this point, no major modifications were made apart from Sparco seats and a stripped interior, because Alex made it his goal to maximize what he had and learn his car the best he could.
It was between 2011 and 2012 when he felt he could level up. The GSR was sent to Xtreme Auto Center, owned by a fellow Mitsubishi rally enthusiast, and was completely done over with a full strip-down, so that the body could be seam-welded and an integrated roll cage could be installed. After mulling over the pros and cons of an engine rebuild over a swap, he went for the latter in the form of a smaller 4G92 MIVEC mill. The bump in power with a minimal weight penalty was what he needed to raise his game, but given that the goal for the engine was reliability, the new one was kept pretty much stock.
Drivetrain upgrades included a transmission swap from a Lancer MX mated via an Exedy three-puck clutch and an Asti RX-R LSD, and the suspension was changed to a Hot Bits DT2 rally set with custom springs. Custom aluminum guards for the sump and the fuel tank help provide protection, while 15in Rota Cosmo wheels on Federal RSR tires round out the traction department. Other goodies include Ralliart mudflaps and pedals, a Momo rally steering wheel, an additional oil-pressure gauge, and Sparco and Sabelt harnesses to go with the newer Recaro buckets.
Alex says the build goal is for balanced handling, power, drivability and reliability. His constant foray into local races has given him the proper experience to ensure that these goals are met, and that the car remains fun and drivable. Asked if he’s happy with where it is now, he replies that at this point, he and his car are a match, but future plans include installing a hydraulic handbrake system, a rally computer for his navigator, a lamp pod for night stages, and an MT 120 Peltor communication system.
As the Lancer GSR provided a freshness to the market when it was first introduced, this rallyready GSR provides a much-appreciated reprieve from the usual pan-scraper, wide-body, extremecamber, big-power builds. It’s a car modified with a clear goal: to compete in an arena all its own, while proudly bearing the three-diamond star and looking the part perfectly.