Perhaps it’s unusual for a dedicated sports car to win the coveted Index of Effluency in the 24 Hours of Lemons, especially a turbocharged sports car from Japan’s golden age of automobiles. However, Skip-A-Gear Racing’s Mitsubishi Starion arrived to Lemons South Fall with low expectations in September 2019 with low expectations. Give the struggles of other Starions and Chrysler Conquests, Lemons organizers expected even less from the Starion.
Before we delve too deeply into Skip-A-Gear’s history, we’ll let Jay and Nick explain the Starion’s “legacy” in Episode 22 of #LemonsWorld.
The Skip-A-Gear team had raced at Lemons previously, bringing a Mad Max-style Chevy S10 to race under the name Warboys 2017. The Mad Max outfits really matched the impressively rusty pickup truck for the Virginia team. While it was not exactly quick, the crusty machine beat a couple dozen teams and took home the Judges Choice.
They sold that pickup and set to work on a “quicker” build, an ‘83 Starion Turbo with the earlier narrow body style. Not only did the Starions have the less-aggressive body style of later cars, it also lacked the later optional intercooler for its turbocharged 2.6-liter “Hemi” four-cylinder. Nevertheless, it looked great and the livery was roughly modeled after Jeremy Clarkson’s Starion from a Top Gear episode.
Skip-A-Gear opted not to leave well enough alone. In most first-time Lemons cars, changing things from stock complicates having to sort the car out. Nevertheless, the team added the finest cheap Chinese-built intercooler they could find. In theory, that probably brought power up to at least 170 from the original 145 number.
The team plated the car in Virginia and driven it without issue on it around the rural backroads, so they insisted it would be fine. Lemons staff remained even more skeptical, since that has almost categorically spelled disaster for previous Lemons cars.
Instead, the Starion chugged along all weekend. The theoretical horsepower and weight figures compare witha BMW 3-Series. However, the Starion proved only marginally quicker than their previous S10. As it turns out, the team limped their overly complicated Mitsubishi—a marque not exactly known for Lemons durability—under the sole purpose of keeping it from nuking itself.
The car didn’t run without problems, but it did beat 35 teams with a very unsportscar-like fast lap. That earned them the Index of Effluency honors. They also managed a photo opportunity with the car’s previous owner who had shown up to see the Starion live on. She didn’t think Lemons was too terribly strange, but she also intentionally bought a Mitsubishi Starion. So maybe we just know our audience.
Want more from Lemons South Fall? Here’s the video recap! Make sure to subscribe to Lemons’ YouTube Channel!