Secrets of the Mirage

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Loren Williams
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Secrets of the Mirage

Postby Loren » Wed Aug 16, 2017 1:48 am

You might have heard that some bozo is trying to autocross a 3-cylinder Mitsubishi Mirage in FAST S5 class. That would be me! It is neither the least powerful nor the lightest car that I've autocrossed. That title goes to the FASTiva. By the numbers, this car should be somewhat quicker than the FASTiva.

So, what are we talking about here?

2015 Mitsubishi Mirage
30,000 miles
Purchased for $6800
5-speed manual
1.2 liter 3-cylinder engine
78 hp, 73 ft/lbs (those are 2017+ numbers) 74 hp, 74 ft/lbs
~2000 pounds

So, as I did with the FASTiva, this thread will be a sort of progress log. I'll update the first post with the latest info, and discuss things in the thread as we go. It's really more for me than for you. I forget stuff if I don't document it.

The Big Picture:
A Mirage is a silly car to try to autocross. I knew this going in. But, eventually, I learned that with stock suspension (even with good shocks and a rear swaybar) and sticky tires... the car is dangerously unstable. It wants to roll over. If you're going to seriously autocross a Mirage (or anything like it), you need to go modified with it. Lowering springs at a minimum. But, for this car, even that wasn't enough. I had to modify the front suspension to fix the roll center after lowering it. That required some custom fabrication, because nobody makes those parts for a Mirage. But, after doing that, it's great!

Stuff do do soon:
  • Figure out what broke from being over-revved. Fix it.
  • Look into lightening the flywheel, or fitting a lightweight replacement.
Stuff to do a little less soon:
  • Make custom brackets to lower the driver's seat. (putting this off while Dan is co-driving because it will likely limit seat adjustment)
  • Design battery tray for smaller battery, mounted lower in the car.
  • Improve/seal cold air intake duct.
  • Remove back seat.
Stuff to do eventually: (somewhat prioritized)
  1. Research AMR500 supercharger for possible use in 2020 or later. (leaning heavily toward not doing this)
Autox Log:
8/11/2017 - Purchased with new OE tires, 165/65/14 Dunlop Enasave
8/12/2017 - 7 runs, 1 Driver (Loren), Duel format, one win (what?)
9/1/2017 - Installed 195/50-15 Bridgestone RE-71 on 15x7 Kosei K1's
9/30/2017 - 7 runs, 2 drivers, Loren - 3/9 in S5, Steve 5/9 in S5 (in the rain)
10/8/2017 - 6 runs, 1 Driver (Loren), 2/6 in S5. 16/40 overall.
10/21/2017 - 4 runs, 1 driver (Loren), 1/7 in S5, 37/100 overall.
11/4/2017 - Didn't drive the Mirage
11/18/2017 - 4 runs, 1 driver (Loren), 1/4 in S5, 21/103 overall.
12/2/2017 - 2 runs, 1 driver (Loren), 20/27 overall.
12/2/2017 - 2 runs on skidpad, 1 driver(Loren)
12/10/2017 - 10 runs, 2 drivers (Loren, Philip), 1/2 in STS, 30/93 overall.
12/17/2017 - 10 runs, 2 drivers (Loren, Ben), 1/4 in M4, 17/99 overall.
12/30/2017 - 7 runs, 1 driver (Loren), 2/5 in M4, 24/44 overall.
1/13/2018 - 4 runs, 1 driver (Loren), 2/6 in M4, 43/98 overall.
1/27/2018 - 8 runs, 1 driver (Loren), 1/4 in M4, 12/32 overall.
2/10/2018 - 4 runs, 1 driver (Loren), 2/5 in M4, 39/107 overall.
2/24/2018 - 20 runs, 2 drivers (Loren/Steve, 1 & 3 in M4, 15/48 overall.
3/11/2018 - 5 runs, 1 driver (Loren), 1/4 in M4, 19/87 overall.
3/24/2018 - 9 runs, 1 driver (Loren), 1/3 in M4, 24/50 overall.
4/7/2018 - 7 runs, 1 driver (Loren), 1/4 in M4, 18/87 overall.
4/11/2018 - Installed 195/50-15 Dunlop ZIII on 15x7 Storm S1's.
4/22/2018 - 8 runs, 3 drivers (Loren, Philip, Ron), 1/3 in M4, 16/37 overall.
5/5/2018 - 5 runs, 1 driver (Loren), 1/7 in M4, 20/78 overall.
5/19/2018 - 6 runs, 1 driver (Loren), 1/3 in M4, 27/49 overall.
6/3/2018 - 5 runs, 1 driver (Loren), 3/4 in M4 (had the raw time for 1st, coned it), 27/92 overall. (would have been 18th)
6/10/2018 - 4 runs, 1 driver (Loren), practice

6/16/2018 - 8 runs, 2 drivers (Loren, Jean), 3/3 in M4 (rain), 21/40 overall.
6/30/2018 - 5 runs, 1 driver (Loren), 2/3 in M4 (rain again), 44/90 overall.
7/14/2018 - 6 runs, 1 driver (Loren), 2/5 in M4 (by .1), 19/47 overall.
7/28/2018 - 7 runs, 2 drivers (Loren, Steve), 1/4 in M4, 28/96 overall.
8/12/2018 - 6 runs, 1 driver (Loren), 2/5 in M4 (coned), 25/46 overall.
9/8/2018 - 16 runs, 2 drivers (Loren, Dan), 1/2 in M4, 16/46 overall.
9/15/2018 - 4 runs, 3 drivers (Loren, Steve, Ken), practice.
9/23/2018 - 10 runs, 2 drivers (Loren, Dan), 1/6 in M4, 27/95 overall.
10/6/2018 - 6 runs, 1 driver (Loren), 6/7 in PAX, 11/48 overall.
10/20/2018 - 2 runs, 1 driver (Dan), car broke.

Total Runs to date: 214
Total Runs on 165/65-14 Dunlop Enasave (8/2017): 7
Total Runs on 195/50-15 Bridgestone RE-71 (8/2017-4/2018): 109
Total Runs on 195/50-15 Dunlop ZIII (4/2018-???): 97

Tire Wear:
8/18/2017 - Installed 195/50-15 Bridgestone RE-71
12/1/2017 - Rotated tires front-to-rear at 21 runs
1/11/2018 - Rotated tires front-to-rear at 52 runs. Will need to be flipped soon. These tires wear fast!
3/2/2018 - Flipped tires and rotated again at 88 runs. I'll be surprised if these make it to 150 runs. Maybe.
4/11/2018 - Installed 195/50-15 Dunlop ZIII
7/28/2018 - I should rotate them, but I think I'm going to leave it and just flip the fronts at some point. Goal: put 205's on the front and keep running the 195's on the rear.
9/11/2018 - Had the front tires flipped. Should be good for close to 150 runs. Noticed center of tread is a little fat a couple weeks ago. Raised front cold pressures to 40 from around 36.

Stuff that's been done: (overview)
  • Wheels & Tires (195/50 on 15x7)
  • Suspension (coilover kit, rear swaybar, custom front suspension bits)
  • Exhaust
  • Kinda sorta tuner (not a real flash tuner, did advance timing and improve throttle curve)
  • Lighweight Crankshaft Pulley
Stuff that's been done: (full details)
  • 195/50-15 Tires
  • 15x7, 35mm offset Storm S1 wheels
  • 450g stainless steel shift knob
  • Accelerator pedal extension
  • Custom 22mm Hollow Rear Swaybar (.122" wall)
  • Godspeed coilover kit (4kg front / 3kg rear, lowered about 2")
  • 4k/3k springs.
  • Front bump stops from a VW (Uro 1H0 412 303B)
  • Custom Caster plates to add +2 degrees
  • Engine torque strut
  • Removed front swaybar
  • Removed rear wiper
  • Modified front control arms, 1/4" longer, fits screw-in Chrysler #772 ball joint
  • QA1 Lower Ball Joint - it's 0.5" extended, but it's 1" taller than the stock Mirage ball joint
  • Custom Bump Steer Correction kit. About 1/2", could use more.
  • SuperCircuit exhaust header
  • Custom full header-back exhaust. 1.75" mandrel-bent with high-flow Cat, standard muffler and resonator.
  • Works Aluminum Crankshaft Pulley - 1.03 lbs (stock was 2.8 lbs)
  • Engine Oil changed 3/9/2018 at ~35k - 0W20 Synth
  • Trans Fluid - Redline MT-85 75W85 at ~38k
  • Brake Fluid flushed with Valvoline synth at ~38k
  • Power Stop (Z23-1731) front brake pads at ~38k
Suspension Reference Info:
  • Current Suspension mockup
  • OE Ride Height: 14-1/8" from center of hub to fender lip. Front and rear.
  • OE Front Strut Length: Installed static length = 18"
  • OE Front Spring Diameter: 2.5" tapered diameter at each end (fatter in the middle)
  • OE Front Spring Length: Installed static length = 8"
  • OE Front Spring Length: Installed fully extended length = 10.5"
  • OE Front Strut Stroke: 5.5"
  • GodSpeed Front Strut Stroke: 4.5"
  • GodSpeed Front Bumpstop: 1-5/8" very stiff, but progressive. 1.5" OD, .75" ID.
  • OE Rear Shock Length: Installed static length = 22.5"
  • OE Rear Shock Stroke: 8"
  • GodSpeed Rear Shock Stroke: 5"
  • Stock Corner Weights 9/2017 - Front: 573/648, Rear: 362/474, Total: 2057
  • Current Ride Height:, 12" front, 12-1/8" rear (center of hub to fender lip)
  • Current Ground Clearance: 5.75"
  • Control Arm Torques - Inner bolts 80 ft/lb, Ball Joint thread into control arm 130 ft/lb
Loren Williams - Loren @ Invisiblesun.org
The "Push Harder, Suck Less" philosophy explained:
Push Harder - Drive as close to the limit of your tires as possible.
Suck Less - Drive something resembling a proper racing line.
Loren Williams
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Secrets of the Mirage

Postby Loren » Wed Aug 16, 2017 1:57 am

Reference Photo #1 courtesy of Philip:
Image

Completely stock with crappy 30,000 mile factory shocks, and a brand new set of OE tires. Tires have no grip. Shocks provide no damping. Engine has no torque below 4k. It's fun in its own way, but pretty awful in the current condition. You have to slow down SO MUCH to take any kind of turn that you're bogging 2nd gear pretty much all the time. Better tires (much wider RE-71), better shocks, and the addition of a rear swaybar should allow it to corner a lot faster, and thus not be at the bottom of 2nd gear everywhere. It still won't be fast, but it should be a lot more fun.
Loren Williams - Loren @ Invisiblesun.org
The "Push Harder, Suck Less" philosophy explained:
Push Harder - Drive as close to the limit of your tires as possible.
Suck Less - Drive something resembling a proper racing line.
Loren Williams
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Secrets of the Mirage

Postby Loren » Wed Aug 16, 2017 2:08 am

So, here's the coilover kit that I've ordered it. It's already shipped FedEx (from China, of course :roll: ) and should be here in a week.

Godspeed Mono SS

Typical Asian cheap coilover kit.
16-position adjustable dampers.
4k front / 3k rear springs (I'm installing it with the STOCK springs until/unless I decide to run M4)
Adjustable shock body length and perch height (I'm setting it to STOCK ride height)
Front Camber plates (setting to 2.0 degrees camber for S5)

Pretty cool kit for $600.

The rear shocks are easy, as they are separate from the shocks. So, I just install the shocks. Done.

The front struts will be a little more complicated because the front factory springs have tapered ends. So, I'll need to fab a set of adapters to fit those springs to the flat spring perches. Since the OE shocks are dead, I'll probably cut the perches off of them and use that somehow. Will take a little bit of creativity, a little bit of scrap metal, and a little bit of Joe Brannon's welding skill.

End result will be a set of adjustable shocks on stock springs at stock ride height with 2 degrees of negative camber... everything you want for FAST Stock!
Loren Williams - Loren @ Invisiblesun.org
The "Push Harder, Suck Less" philosophy explained:
Push Harder - Drive as close to the limit of your tires as possible.
Suck Less - Drive something resembling a proper racing line.
Loren Williams
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Secrets of the Mirage

Postby Loren » Wed Aug 16, 2017 2:22 am

The rear swaybar, like a lot of aftermarket parts for this car, is available... in places like Malaysia and the Phillipines. Getting them here is a bit more difficult. And for the price (would end up being around $230 after shipping), the bar is simple enough that it would be easier to just make one.

A swaybar is a simple device. A "swaybar" for a twist beam axle is even simpler. It's not a "real swaybar" in that it doesn't actually attach to the chassis with end links to the suspension. It merely bolts to the twist beam axle and acts as a reinforcment to it to further resist the twisting force... which gives a net effect that is the same as a swaybar.

Benefit of doing a DIY bar is that it's going to be cheaper (maybe $100-120), and I can make the bar section hollow rather than solid, so it will be 30-40% lighter. Will be a simple bolt-on part that will require minimal cutting and welding to construct. :thumbwink:
Loren Williams - Loren @ Invisiblesun.org
The "Push Harder, Suck Less" philosophy explained:
Push Harder - Drive as close to the limit of your tires as possible.
Suck Less - Drive something resembling a proper racing line.
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Secrets of the Mirage

Postby Amphoteric88 » Wed Aug 16, 2017 12:32 pm

I am so excited to see this build through! Looks like we'll have to step up my game, big time for S5! Ed and his Tercel could probably learn from your twist beam sway bar configuration.
I think having those paper temp plates really shows the "race what you got" attitude :lol:
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Postby CaptainSquirts » Wed Aug 16, 2017 1:27 pm

What are your expectations of the coilovers? I always read that getting anything under a grand for coilovers(even up to under 2k) are usually crap. Now I'm pretty damn sure the struts that come on that Mirage are going to be pretty weak as well, but think those coilovers will be that big of an upgrade of the stock?

P.S Should've gotten an Evo.
P.S.S Please... don't get an Evo, or any fast car for that matter.
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Postby twistedwankel » Wed Aug 16, 2017 2:14 pm

You know seeing that they actually make performance bolt on's for this lame econobox reminds me of a couple years ago when we went to Kefalonia, Greece and the kids there were pulling wheelies racing on hopped up Mopeds burning 95 octane gas = the only gas they sold there.

Loren, there is a reason they call it Mirage (not the jet fighter). It's imaginary. It's okay I have an imaginary race car or two myself.

As usual it will be fun to watch. :thumbwink:
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Secrets of the Mirage

Postby Loren » Wed Aug 16, 2017 9:54 pm

CaptainSquirts wrote:What are your expectations of the coilovers? I always read that getting anything under a grand for coilovers(even up to under 2k) are usually crap. Now I'm pretty damn sure the struts that come on that Mirage are going to be pretty weak as well, but think those coilovers will be that big of an upgrade of the stock?
My stock shocks have 30k miles on them and have lost any "edge" that they may have originally had. (surely not much) Street ride is okay, but they feel dead and floppy when pressed. So, any new shock would be an improvement. Having some adjustability, and a shock that's spec'd for a higher rate spring, I expect I can run them near the low end of their adjustment, as as they wear, I can go stiffer with them. I don't expect them to be "great" shocks, I just want something that at least somewhat does what it's supposed to do. A little bit of turn-in crispness, and damping of suspension movements. No expectation of "fantastic" performance. But, hopefully adequate for the task at hand.
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The "Push Harder, Suck Less" philosophy explained:
Push Harder - Drive as close to the limit of your tires as possible.
Suck Less - Drive something resembling a proper racing line.
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Secrets of the Mirage

Postby mymomswagon » Thu Aug 17, 2017 10:46 am

oh snap there goes my fantasy of winning s5, down the toilet. :)

not to mention my dream of winning dorkiest looking ax- mobile
Last edited by mymomswagon on Thu Aug 17, 2017 10:46 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby mymomswagon » Thu Aug 17, 2017 10:54 am

will you need to mod the spring perches on the front to deal with stock springs?

that tire diameter change will help with second gear :)
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Postby Loren » Thu Aug 17, 2017 1:34 pm

I'm not so sure this car's going to run away with S5 or anything. I suspect we're all going to get beaten by the open-diff Miatas... or will we???

Here's what the new tires and wheels look like:

Image

Image
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The "Push Harder, Suck Less" philosophy explained:
Push Harder - Drive as close to the limit of your tires as possible.
Suck Less - Drive something resembling a proper racing line.
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Postby mymomswagon » Thu Aug 17, 2017 2:47 pm

well maybe not run away.
but
F=ma, Re-71 and you.
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Postby twistedwankel » Thu Aug 17, 2017 3:09 pm

Never ceases to amaze me how great a visual improvement a decent set of wheels/tires make a car look!! It actually looks sporty now. :cool:
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Postby CaptainSquirts » Thu Aug 17, 2017 3:21 pm

So is this car going to be a DD or just pure autox?
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Postby Native » Thu Aug 17, 2017 6:07 pm

mymomswagon wrote:oh snap there goes my fantasy of winning s5, down the toilet.

not to mention my dream of winning dorkiest looking ax- mobile
No, and yes. :snicker:
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Postby mymomswagon » Thu Aug 17, 2017 7:49 pm

Native wrote:
mymomswagon wrote:oh snap there goes my fantasy of winning s5, down the toilet.

not to mention my dream of winning dorkiest looking ax- mobile
No, and yes. :snicker:
it's even the same color!!!
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Postby Loren » Thu Aug 17, 2017 9:11 pm

CaptainSquirts wrote:So is this car going to be a DD or just pure autox?
I just drove it to dinner, I guess it's a DD in as much as I daily drive. Being a driving instructor, I'm always in the DE car during the week, I don't drive my own car much.

So, it's mostly an autocross car. But, it needs to remain streetable, and reasonably comfortable.
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The "Push Harder, Suck Less" philosophy explained:
Push Harder - Drive as close to the limit of your tires as possible.
Suck Less - Drive something resembling a proper racing line.
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Postby Solar » Thu Aug 17, 2017 10:43 pm

I don't see it.
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Postby Rawkkrawler » Fri Aug 18, 2017 7:22 am

Not gonna lie, I kinda like it. Just needs some fender flares, just because. :)
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Postby Loren » Fri Aug 18, 2017 10:06 am

Solar wrote:I don't see it.
I see what you did there.
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The "Push Harder, Suck Less" philosophy explained:
Push Harder - Drive as close to the limit of your tires as possible.
Suck Less - Drive something resembling a proper racing line.

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