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Thread: Donor car suggestions.

  1. #1

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    Donor car suggestions.

    Hey guys so I have a '90 MM, it's a decent clean little truck. Body is straight, needs new seats. Electrical all works, very minimal rust. I picked it up 5 years ago for 300$ to save it from going to the salvage yard. I've been wanting to project this thing for a while now, and finally have the time to do it. It's got a weird ghost problem, like many of these trucks do, I have yet to get it fixed. This unfortunate problem means the trust isn't reliable enough for me to use it for more than occasional home depot runs. When it runs, it runs great. Better than great. But sometimes, mostly at stop lights (But randomly, definitely not every stop light) it will either die, or start running really bad. Sputtering, zero power. If it dies, sometimes it will restart, sometimes not for a few days. When it loses power and starts running badly, if I can nurse it home, it diesels for a few seconds after shut off. What I have done it it, off the top of my head (It's been a few years now), Basic service, oil change plugs wires coil packs. Pulled intake and throttle body, cleaned them all out. New coolant temp sensor. Redid timing and water pump. New o2 sensor, and an entire new exhaust (when I got the truck it had a big flex pipe clamped to the exhaust manifold, and a muffler clamped to the end). New throttle position sensor. Electronics have been for the most part gone through. My gut feeling leaves me with ECU or MAF problems being the remaining options.

    Fast forward to today. I am retired, and have a nice new vehicle under warranty, and rental car coverage. I can afford to put this into the shop it rip it apart. Since I want to do a turbo project anyway, I feel like it would be a waste of money for my to send the ECU off for repair.

    My question is this. Would it make more sense for me to try and locate a donor vehicle to pull the engine, turbo, and all accessories (And maybe a transmission), rather than piecing the parts together on the internet? And if so, what would your donor car choice be? And what reasons. Be it availability, ease of transferring the parts, or more power potential and a bigger parts after market. I am very familiar with power train swaps. I have limited specialty tools in my shop (Mig welder, air compressor with grinders, wiz wheels etc), very intimate knowledge of cars, and how they work inside and out. This will be my first big project since finishing my Chevy 350/Mustang swap. What I do NOT have, is intimate knowledge on foreign cars. This is my first one, and my first project mitsu. I can pick it up quickly, and I greatly value any and all input on the subject. Please point me in the right direction.

  2. #2



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    You can try car-part.com, rockauto.com, google, ebay, among several other locations for parts. Locating a donor truck may be difficult because these trucks are getting crushed faster and faster for recycling, then they are sent to China so they can send us crappy garbage parts in return.
    Also sometimes locating a donor truck may turn out to be in better condition then the truck you own and possibly make you change your mind again on what your going to do. Depending on your choice of ideas and how dedicated you are about this project depends on what will happen.
    Also, depending on smog laws and such can also make a decision on the final outcome of your build. You kind of want to think what is best for money spent. Will it cost 3K to get truck to where you want it or would a V6 or V8 be much more affordable as well as deliver nice horsepower for the buck. This also will make replacement part locating under the hood much easier.
    We all go in different directions and knowingly what the cost can be, as like myself. It really depends on whats in your heart for the truck and what you want to achieve on your build. We all can tell you what we would like, but I am pretty sure you know already what your going to do.
    If your looking for parts, try those links to get a ballpark budget on them. The car-part.com site is a great wrecking yard database which most wrecking yards will not think twice about wrapping and shipping items to you.

  3. #3

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    Hey, thanks for the input. I understand where to go about finding parts for the truck its self, but I actually am not looking for a donor truck here. Perhaps I worded my post weird, but I'm looking for a donor car. One that either came factory turbo, or one that would have an engine that will be cheaper and easier to find parts and support for making it turbo. I am not familiar with the Mitsubishi vehicles, and so I am asking opinions for the best donor vehicle for a power plant.

  4. #4

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    I will also state, smog laws are a non issue. My state doesn't do smog or vehicle inspections.

  5. #5

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    turbocharghing the 2.4 maybe an ez path to a fast truck. No swap or donor vehicle needed
    I'd get a loaded megasquirt, triggered of your oem distributor = gets rid of your old quirky sensors, ecu and the MAF
    great value standalone management and proven
    Fab a schedule 40 exhaust manifold and downpipe, when you're ready.... then sort the piping and intercooler
    With a 60-1 or so, run low boost, excellent response/torque.... and have a blast

  6. #6

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    Thanks for the response, I'll have to research this megasquirt, I'm not sure what it is.

    As for boosting my engine, I'm all for it honestly. It was my original plan, but I couldn't source the parts to do it, and have been struggling to find the answers to questions about it. Seems it's an uncommon thing to do unless you swap the head out.

    I don't really have a direction I want to go here. How can I, I don't know enough about the vehicles. That's why I'm asking here, so that somebody can point me in the right direction, and I can then get down to digging into the research on this.

  7. #7

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    Alright so I'll give an update here. After doing a lot of research in a lot of areas, it seems the easiest route for me to go here, both in terms of price and parts availability is to use my 2.4 and throw a 4g63 head on it. From what I understand, the 1G is the most sought after head for this swap, and I apparently have a 6 bolt engine. I feel stupid asking some of the questions I have asked here now, as I have found the answers to most of them.

    So from what I can see, if I can source a cheap donor car to do the swap, it would be best to look for a 92 or earlier eclipse to pull the 6 bolt head and accessories from, am I correct here?

    One more question, everybody seems to have contradicting answers to. If I get a 6 bolt 4g63 head, and mount it to the 4g64 6 bolt block, do I need new pistons? There seems to be an argument on compression ratios here. I want to do this once and do it right.

  8. #8

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    Don't forget there are other sources like the Hyundai and Kia variants that used the same generation of twin cam engine. Using the Korean heads it will ramp compression ratios considerably. AFAIK the head from a Hyundai G4CP 2 litre is slightly better than the Mitsubishi 1G 4G63 twin cam. There are a heap of guys doing this on various tuner sites and the Korean heads seem to be cheaper and easier to get.

  9. #9

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    Right, I saw Merrill used a Hyundai head on his swap. I wasn't going down these avenues, as I don't know enough about the differences in the vehicles, which cars and years to look for on each manufacturer, if there are different parts I would end up having to source, rather than just pulling them off of the donor car. Does the compression ramp up so high that I will need to get some dished pistons, or is it something that can be rectified using thicker head gaskets?

    I love the fact that we can use the Korean models to make it easier to source some of these parts, but that also leaves me with more questions.

    This isn't a project that I want to be buying up more parts every week for a year. I feel there have been enough of these swaps done that I can group together almost everything I'll need to make this a one shot deal.

  10. #10

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    the 4G64 DOHC won't be the "easiest" route..... not by a long shot. Costs add up too.
    Do your homework thoroughly, before you commit
    using the eclipse motor bolted to the early 'narrow' pattern mighty max 5spd is slightly "less fussy",
    and you won't need pricey internals as the 64 route. A donor eclipse/talon/laser is best
    All the details you'd want, plus a few builds on here; http://projectzerog.com/

  11. #11

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    I've looked over that site a few times, theres some ok information there, but I couldn't find answers to a lot of my questions. I was originally going to throw a 6g63 engine from an eclipse in there, but that means I would need a donor eclipse + a donor mighty max, I don't have the transmission or the motor mounts for it. I feel like the info I have gathered is telling me putting the 63 head on my 64 would be the easiest route. I've read about modifying the fire wall, and changing a few things around to get it to line up. As long as it isn't heavy fab work I should be able to pull it off.

  12. #12

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    Sorry I meant 4g63, not 6g63. I don't think you can edit posts here.

  13. #13

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    Sure u can pull it off. I wouldn't want you to think you'll simply "use my 2.4 and throw a 4g63 head on it".
    Not that simple or cheap. A good bit of money spent on parts(probably way more than a donor DSM)..... just to make a dohc 64 work
    If you intend to make use of the 2.4s tq potential(& get your money's worth), kiss that gearbox goodbye
    http://projectzerog.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=1526

    Good thing about a donor eclipse is u also get all the electronics and accessories (in most likely a running car)
    All the basics there, for a fast street truck, even on bone stock internals. Buy the narrow pattern bell gearbox ?
    Quite a few truck swaps went that route..... all detailed in their build threads

  14. #14

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    I will read through that in a bit, I also looked up the weisco/eagle piston and rod setup, it's not terrible, about 800$. I'm trying not to spend more than 3 grand on this swap, but I'm not sure I can keep it under that and run the upgraded pistons and megasquirt setup. I still have to look up the megasquirt in more detail, it looks fantastic but very confusing to me. All of my projects to date have all been carb V8's, and I don't really do any wiring on them at all other than getting rid of the factory ECU and most of the wiring in the cars.

    If I can find an eclipse donor car, with a running 63 in it, and find somewhere to source the motor mounts + the bellhousing that would be cool too. My end game power goals aren't too crazy, if I can hit 300-350 I would be perfectly happy with that. I know I can hit it easily if I just run a 63, that's not an issue. It just seemed like it would be easier to keep my engine and transmission, and find a head and electronics to throw on, and also looking into the new pistons and rods.

    I feel like if I spent a little extra money up front and got the pistons and rods in my engine and went that route, the setup would be more prepared to hold the power I want to eventually make with it. If I am wrong please correct me, as I am still new to the foreign scene, and still learning literally every day about it. What power can I expect the tranny to hold, and is there anybody making upgraded rebuild kits for the transmissions, or would I be better off looking for a bellhousing to mount in a T5? What about the rear ends, how weak are they? And what gears is mine likely running?

  15. #15

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    The mitsubishi starion and dodge conquest came factory 2.6 turbo. Bolts up with no mods except need to hack the wiring harness up a lil bit. Definitely not as much aftermarket support as eclipse/talon.

  16. #16


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    The term "easy" is completely up to the person doing the work - not the person who has read about it,or done it themselves because the skill set is different for everyone.

    Slapping on a DOHC head is technically less work and money than buying a whole new engine and transmission. You can either smash the firewall in like everyone else, or use Montero Sport mounts to move the engine and trans forward to clear the junk on the back of the head. Another option is to modify the head similar to what I did where the outlet comes out of the head and the thermostat is on the side of the block. That also comes from a Montero Sport. There are a couple other ways as well that do not include hammer modding your truck or cutting it to shreds. All of this info and part numbers is in my thread. There is also a head/block interchange thread that goes over much of this in the performance section that I wrote.

    Compression ratios really need to be calculated and verified. The information for all this is very old and may have picked up a few embellishments over the years. It may not have been correct to begin with. The best thing to do is get the parts, take the measurements, make the calculations, and go from there.

    There are a dozen tuning systems and ECU controllers and such that exist (like Megasquirt), but if you are switching to a DOHC head and such, just run the DOHC ECU and harness to match. It's just as tunable as any other one. If you really want to up it even more, run it on an Evo ECU. All of this can be done in a garage in your spare time for very little money. You can run a 4G64 SOHC on those ECU's if you want as well, though it will take a bit of modding to the harness (not too bad if you can do it).

    You get out of these trucks and builds what you put into them. If you build a junk yard project - expect junk yard performance. If you build with brand new or rebuilt parts (as good as new) - expect good as new performance. Setting budgets is great, but don't shoot for the sky with your expectations or else a rod will probably shoot through the block first. Plan a proper build, then execute.

  17. #17

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    Thanks for the information Merrill, helpful as always. Picking up mounts to move the engine forward, and having the driveshaft modified to match isn't an issue. Fabbing up new mounts to move the engine forward, is an issue. I don't have the tools at my disposal to do that. I can cut, and I can "Weld" (Small, non supporting things. I have a cheap Mig and do not having professional balancing tools.

    I don't want a junk yard build, but I also don't want a $30,000 build. I want something I can reliably daily drive, that has some power and handling for the back roads. The truck will never see a track, unless I'm just down there for fun with some buddies or whatever.

    This is the planning stage. I have 24 hours a day, 7 days a week free to do this project. I don't have a lift, but I have most basic tools. Jacks, stands, cherry picker, engine stand, compressor tools, hand tools, cheap welder, spray guns and sand blasters. I have mechanical experience. I've done many swaps in the past, I was a helicopter mechanic for a good while. What I want is something a good small time mechanic (Not a specialist) can do in his garage, with your standard tools. Not a machine shop. Running some wires, getting some diagrams, fillings some extra holes, modifying the body slighty, turning wrenches, this is all awesome and totally doable.

    I've set a $3,000 budget on just the turbo swap. I'm trying to get feelers on the most reliable, most efficient (Money wise) was to do this swap.

    I do plan to do suspension, wheel/tire, body, and interior work as well, which I have a separate budget for. Entire truck finished minus paint I have a goal budget of $10,000.

    In doing my research on this swap, I'm getting the same answers that I'm getting here. Everybody has a different idea on what is cheapest, most reliable, easiest to source parts. I wish that I had done this project before, because currently, I am quite confused on what direction to take with this.

    Slapping a DOHC head on my engine is technically less work that putting in a new engine and transmission. Perfect. But, will it be a less reliable swap than dropping in a 2.3 out of an eclipse or the like?

    If I'm pulling the engine then I'm pulling the engine. I want to do it once, and do it right. Would you recommend getting the piston and rod setup that is advertised for putting a 2.0 head on a 2.4 engine? If I do that, what else should I replace when I do that?

    I'm not expecting to pull 20 lbs of boost out of this project. 10-12 would make me happy. 15 would be incredible. But I don't want to put my trucks life at stake in the process. That's why I'm asking questions, doing research, and trying to know as much about this swap as I can before I start throwing money at it. If it takes me another month of 16 hour a day web searches and planning to put together a solid plan before I can finally pull the trigger, then so be it.

    I will read your swap post once again, and search for your head swap guide in this section Merrill.

    If it comes down to having to calculate the compression ratio myself with parts in hand then I guess that's what I'll have to do. I would just hate to get it together, find out the compression ratio is 12:1 and end up having to order new pistons and rods, waiting a month before I can reassemble the engine.

  18. #18

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    junkyard performance might not be such a bad thing either
    The starion swap section has 1UZ, LS, 1/2J on stock electronics. Sizzling reliable performance..... from the junkyard

    DSM motors wear well and last long. Lots of stock long blocks out there still taking punishment, as old as they are
    As with any motor, condition varies. Old motors, old electronics..... none are exempt.
    Yet the majority of them perform fine.
    I wouldn't hesitate chasing 300-350 from any "old" 2.4, 2.6 or DSM motor.... as too many have done. Gearbox better off as well


    To retain your 2.4 and gearbox, nothing seem easier than turbcharghing the sohc. Exhaust manifold
    If not up to buying the bends, cutting, fitting, mig(or stick) welding..... then have it done.
    Importing the aussie stock 2.0L starion manifold anther option (for sub 300hp, 2.6 starion turbos bolt up)
    Plenum moded intake optional. Don't 'need' any aftermarket support either
    No: hacking, motor moving ahead, longer shaft, coolant reroute, $$$$, etc.... or any of that crap (if ya want to keep it simple)


    Pre assemble and loaded megasquirt is a helluva shortcut that works. Solid dollar value for a standalone.
    Boosted miatas, old 2.3 sohc fords, 2.6 starquests, etc...... all run 'em. Gets rid of your old electronics while u at it
    Some megasquirted starquest 2.6s even run the same 2.4 truck distributor
    A clubmember that builds/sell 'em has troubleshooted and can remote tune (from 100s of miles away). Good stuff

  19. #19

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    Is there a manifold that will bolt on to turbo the SOHC 2.4, or will one need to be fabbed?

  20. #20

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    I'm with dash on this one. As long as you don't swap junk with junk you can make gains for little cash outlay. One of the advantages of Mitsubishis are interchangeable parts (and the fact the Koreans outsourced though them as well). Just being able to make out of the box improvements by going up CC's, swapping from single to twin cam, carb to FI and NA to turbo can be done without talking to your bank manager. And for the most part, it's only an afternoon at the local pick-a-part away. It seems the earlier 6 bolt engine stuff was more robust too. My friend bought a Starion that was running an old VR4 galant turbo engine, and even with some very questionable wiring it punched like a train.

  21. #21

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    You're certainly right on the part interchangeability. I found out tonight that 4G63 exhaust manifolds will bolt onto the 4G64 head. This seems like the winner for a cheap turbo setup, unless I am missing something.

    I'm starting to feel like this is less of a "The right way" type swap, and more of a "Pick a way and run with it" type deal.

  22. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lsguy View Post
    You're certainly right on the part interchangeability. I found out tonight that 4G63 exhaust manifolds will bolt onto the 4G64 head. This seems like the winner for a cheap turbo setup, unless I am missing something.

    I'm starting to feel like this is less of a "The right way" type swap, and more of a "Pick a way and run with it" type deal.
    There isn't a 'right way' but there are plenty of wrong ones. The way that works for you, your skill set and your budget is all that matters. And a lot of it is observation. Get to really know your truck and you'll see similarities between things you'll see on other vehicles and how they can be adapted to fill the gaps in your plans. And there is no greater feeling than turning spanners in your yard on a beans and bread budget and building something that'll run against that grimy baseball cap wearing kid and his 'bought' ride.

  23. #23

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    Yes definitely. I'm currently trying to find a paired port turbo manifold. I feel like my head is going to pop.

  24. #24

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    Update: I actually managed to source an exhaust manifold for the paired port 2.0 turbo off of an old starion in Australia. Guys got one left and said he will shit it to me.

  25. #25

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    HP vs $$ is V8 swap. 302 is the way to go. sounds like you have already started understanding how very in depth this is getting keeping a jap turbo setup. To the point, you cant beat the cost, reliability, power and pure enjoyment of a good old fashion v8 swap.

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