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1995 Mitsubishi 3000GT VR-4
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123 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
This started out as a more succinct blurb in my Garage Vehicle “History” block, but I figured I’d keep writing and turn this into a proper introduction post. I don’t imagine it would get much attention in the garage, and I think a lot of the community might appreciate the story and the pictures. If this is too long to read, then take a scroll through and check out the pictures.

My 1995 3000GT VR-4

(April 2018 picking up the GT in Erie, PA.)


1995 - 1st Owner: Doctor - Sarasota, FL
1998 - 2nd Owner: Tennis Pro - Clearwater, FL
2000 - 3rd Owner: My Father - Erie, PA
2018 - 4th Owner: Me - Jacksonville, FL

This history of this 1995 VR-4 is prefaced by its 1994 clone which was, unfortunately, sacrificed to the gods of stupid adolescent teens by yours truly (I wrecked my Dad’s first GT in 1999 when I was an irresponsible 17 year old):

My father owned a 1970 Ford Mustang Boss 302 for 27 years. He was the third owner (my uncle was the second owner). He kept the car in pristine shape while using it as his daily driver, except for winter. It demanded his attention pretty much every weekend, which he loved, but after almost 30 years he decided he wanted something modern, something that he didn’t have to work on all the time, but could tinker with when he wanted to. He sold the mustang in 1999 to someone in upstate NY I believe, and unfortunately we never really heard much about it since then.

(1985 my Dad and his Mustang)

(1990 Mustang engine rebuild #3)


He bought a pearl yellow ’94 VR-4 in 1999 from a dealer near Columbus, OH (I think it was Columbus). I wasn’t the biggest fan of the car initially. I didn’t know much about forced induction at the time, and was pretty put-off by the idea of trading the Boss 302’s thundering V-8 for puny, sideways-mounted six cylinder. I was rooting for Dad to buy one of the new Pontiac Firebird WS-6s with the quad-nostril ram air hoods! It didn’t take long though for me to come around all the cool technology (and outright wizardry for its time) that made the 3000GT such an awesome car. I went from a doubter to the platform’s biggest fan in less than the time it takes to drive from Columbus, OH back to Erie, PA.

As kids, my brother’s and I rarely got to drive the Mustang –high school prom night was the one exception where Dad allowed it, and believe me, you were being watched. But the 3000GT was a much easier car to manage, and he tended to be more trusting with it. So one Sunday night, after a lot of begging and pleading by me to let me take it out for a spin with my buddy, he reluctantly obliged. We had 40 minutes to be back, and strict instructions to keep it on the highway. He owned the car for a total of three weeks at this point.
 

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1995 Mitsubishi 3000GT VR-4
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123 Posts
Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
I started out listening and kept it on the highway by heading East on I-90. But that only afforded one onramp blast… after a few exits I got antsy and decided to disobey and take the scenic way back. I turned off at the North East exit (Route 89), headed north, and then took US-20 west to begin the return trip home. US-20 (Buffalo Rd.) was technically a highway, but it’s not what Dad meant. It’s a two-lane, non-divided road that meanders along Lake Erie on its pass through North East, PA. I was chugging along about 75 mph, I believe the limit was 50 in the area of Green Meadows Golf Course, which is where the accident happened. Heading westward, the road has a dip past the course as it crosses Twelvemile Creek. The hop out is in conjunction with a right hand bend in the road. Prior to me entering the dip, I could see taillights ahead of a vehicle pulling out from a cross street onto my road and heading west the same as me. I stayed in my left lane as I entered the dip and lost sight of the taillights. I expected him to be in the slow lane when I would reemerge as he was getting up to speed, but that wasn’t the case. As I hopped out of the dip, in the middle of the slight right bend he was right there in my lane, and he might as well have been stopped because it didn’t look like he was anywhere up to speed yet.

I remember not panicking initially. I was surprised, but my immediate assessment was that rather than slam on the brakes, I could do a high-speed lane change to the right, and breeze by. Enter my crash-course in 4WS dynamics. I was off-throttle, already mid turn, and with all four wheels being unloaded as the chassis was hopping out of the dip. This was not the time to be learning how this car steers. I started a slip to the right, countered, over-corrected, slipped it to the left, countered, over-corrected, and brought it back sliding hard right. The result of all my blundering was me swinging that 3700-lb. car like a baseball bat at this guy’s puny S-10 pickup.

I contacted him with my driver’s side, right between my seatback and the rear wheel, and hit him in his passenger’s side rear corner. From the damage it appears as though he rolled over his nose and came to rest back on his wheels, in the oncoming lane. My buddy and I spun back around to the left after hitting him and continued off the highway to the right. The GT caught the berm of the road and flipped, coming to rest on the roof in a field. The moonroof shattered, and we were showered with dirt and debris. It was the eeriest thing when it all came to a halt. The interior lights were still on, the vents were still blowing, and the CD player picked back up as we hung there upside down. There were no airbags deployed as it was all side impacts; thank goodness as I’m sure they would have only added to the pain. We both popped our belts and fell back to the ground. My door was shredded and so I was able to roll out, although very dizzy and obviously disoriented. My buddy’s door was jammed shut by the crumpled trim. I had to hang on to the underside of the car to make my way around to his side without falling over as I was still getting my bearings. I remember burning my hand on the exhaust as I made my way over. I got his door open, and we both walked away in surprisingly good condition, although between the dirt shower and some superficial cuts, we looked like we just got a serious ass whooping.

(The GT and the truck I hit the following day at the salvage yard.)





(A very sorry-looking, 17 year old me seeing the carnage for the first time.)


 

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Premium Member
1995 Mitsubishi 3000GT VR-4
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123 Posts
Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
Traffic was light that time of the night, and I thank God for it because that was the end of the commotion. We met the other driver who was sorting himself out after what was likely one of the biggest surprises of his lifetime. He was okay and out of his truck under his own power. His seatbelt likely saved his life. He was the worst of the three of us however, as he ended up fracturing his clavicle. I had a cell phone back then and was able to get on with 911 immediately. I believe the operator asked me if I wanted her to try and contact my parents, but I said no. I called home, and my first words were “Shit Dad. I wrecked the GT.”

Dad was on point: “How is everyone? Where are you guys?” Then he got to deliver the news to my buddy’s parents that his POS son just endangered both their lives in a car that he gave permission to go joyriding in. They all got in the car and headed out to the scene. Mom left a note for my older brother who would be coming home to an empty house. It said that “Andy totaled the GT” and that they were taking me to the emergency room. To this day, my wife thinks it’s comical that Mom mentioned that the GT was gone, but said nothing about my condition :)



The rest of that night and the days after played out pretty uneventfully. I was fitted with a neck collar as a precaution, which I had to wear at school, I think only for one day, but that was enough for a years-worth of embarrassment. I think it was my eleventh grade homeroom and history teacher who was a ball buster and would often refer to me as “Crash” after that. He was a funny guy.

Dad could be very loud and intimidating when he needed to be. But he never unloaded on me after the accident –which was especially scary in a way. The day after when he got home from work is when he calmly let me know how reckless and irresponsible I had been, and how much I had disappointed him.
 

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Premium Member
1995 Mitsubishi 3000GT VR-4
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123 Posts
Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
My primary punishment was that I was responsible for finding a replacement 3000GT, just the same as the one I totaled. It had to be a ’94 or ’95, it had to be a VR-4, and it had to be yellow. This was not an easy task… the internet wasn’t quite as organized back in 2000 as it is now. There weren’t any listing service aggregators that provided one-stop shopping. AutoTrader was not the powerhouse they are now. Every Tom, Dick, and Harry out there had a classified site, and NO ONE had accurate listings. Couple that with the fact that this was being done over 56K modem, on a land line that was tying up the only phone in the house (I was the only one in my family that had a cell at that point), and that made the daily search ritual a very arduous task. It took about six months to find the next car.

That car is the one I possess today: a 1995 VR-4 in pearl yellow. It was located in Clearwater, FL where my Dad purchased it from the car’s second owner, who didn’t have it for more than a few years. He was a tennis pro who said he was selling it because he was moving out of the country. A big asterisk from the cars past: sometime around 67,000 miles the owner had the car serviced at a Mitsubishi dealer in Sarasota. The mechs drained the gearbox and transfer case, refilled the gearbox, but not the transfer case. The drivetrain ended up locking up sometime after that, and the dealership got to do a whole lot of additional work. Needless to say the car received a new clutch, gearbox, transfer case, driveshaft, and rear differential. That’s the story we were told anyway; the dealer didn’t fill the transfer case, and so they replaced everything at their cost. However there’s a signed invoice in the car’s file from Jan 2000 showing the parts and labor for all that was right around $6,200. I don’t know if he was responsible and he just didn’t want to admit doing something foolish, or if his story was true and maybe the dealership had to generate an invoice for documentation and warranty of the parts they added? It sounds a little fishy looking back at it, but regardless of what happened or who paid, the car has continued on for 18 more years without having any issues with those parts. So while the car has over 210,000 mile on it now, the drivetrain from the clutch back is closer to 143,000. Aside from an extra set of driving lights (that I never liked) and some decals, the car is bone stock. The headlights, taillights, and turn signals are covered in vinyl wrap, and there are “Twin Turbo,” “Mitsubishi,” “VR-4,” and front fender stripe decals added. It sounds like a lot, but I think it was all pretty tastefully done. I think the only thing I’d ever like to do aesthetically to the exterior would be to get some gunmetal grey wheels to replace the factory ones, since they’re the only chrome on the entire vehicle.

(The original AutoTrader ad for the car from March 2000.)

(Dad driving GT home from Clearwater, FL to Erie, PA in March 2000.)

(Dad getting heckled by his buddies after a battery failure while on vacation in July 2003.)
 

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Premium Member
1995 Mitsubishi 3000GT VR-4
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123 Posts
Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
Unfortunately I came by the car through inheritance. My father passed away at the age of 68 last December after battling lung cancer for most of the year. I don’t think he was an official member of the community, but he was an avid reader for sure as he would often mention 3Si or discussions with the guys at 3SX when he was looking for solutions. Following Dad’s passing, my mother was hoping the car could stay in the family, but was not interested in paying someone to keep up with it, which would be required since all of us kids have moved to different states following college. I offered to do my best to keep it around for another generation, and the family decided that would be fitting new chapter for the car, so here I am.

(Me arriving with the GT at its new home in Jacksonville, March 2018.)

(Post tint to help combat the sun in its new home in FL.)


(The wife taking it for a spin.)

(Dad kept this thing immaculate!)


I’ve realized over the past few months of research that these cars are still very maintainable, even as parts are becoming rarer. I must apologize to the community as I am responsible for the loss of one of the ’94 VR-4s. Hopefully a lot of those salvage parts made their way to appreciative enthusiasts. I look forward to the challenge of keeping this car running long enough for me to pass it on someday. Top on the repair list so far appears to be weak starting/erratic idle issues. I started off the bat by installing a Chrome ECU, for the time being this is only acting as a factory replacement running the stock ’94-’95 FED flash. I figure I’ll use to tune and build power someday, but first and foremost I wanted to rule out the ECU as I chase gremlins around since I know Dad had some work done on the factory unit sometime in 2005. It wasn’t the cure to the weak starting issue however, which would have been a nice bonus, but I wasn’t holding my breath for that to be fixed. But it ran well enough on the long drive from Erie, PA to Jacksonville, FL without leaving me stranded. So now that I have it at its new home, I can take the time to diagnose and hopefully run the issue to ground.

I look forward to working with the community and will contribute where I can.

-Andy Hein
 

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Just lucky I guess.
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1,529 Posts
Thanks for sharing. Great introduction. Special car.
 

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Nice introduction! It's unfortunate that your dad passed away, but I'm glad that you will carry on the torch. The car seems to be in near perfect shape!

Chrome ECU is great. Take some time and learn how to flash it. Welcome to the community!
 

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3SNY - HondaTurtleFTW
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4,781 Posts
Best introduction I've read on here in a long, long time. Sorry to hear about your father...the loss of a parent is always rough.

As for a weak starting issue, step one is check grounds/power wiring for starter. a bad connection can cause that.

You can get some more power out of the stock setup, provided you have a wideband to tune with.

Sent from my SM-G955U using Tapatalk
 

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Premium Member
1995 Mitsubishi 3000GT VR-4
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123 Posts
Discussion Starter #10
Thanks for the kind words and warm welcome. The wideband will be the first thing I add once I get it running properly and start building power. I need to check all the grounds and get my leak checker fabricated to rule out those items. I replaced the IAC, which was showing OL on the lower coil, but unfortunately that didn't solve the problem.
 

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Resident Street Racer
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5,605 Posts
yeah...I share the same feelings as everyone else. Sorry to hear about the loss of your father, but a great introduction. Looking forward to see what you do with the car, 3si is a great resource.
 

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Premium Member
1995 Mitsubishi 3000GT VR-4
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123 Posts
Discussion Starter #13
Hmmm.... This might cause it to run a little rough. The ones through the mirror are the rear bank, and the ones straight on are the front bank. Exhaust off one tooth.

I was not able to get the crank pulley mark anywhere near TDC. Is that normal? Did I not turn it enough? Is it possible that the crank pulley can be mis-clocked 90 degrees? Or do you HAVE to be looking at the crank sprocket mark to check it's alignment?
 

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My car is a money pit
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2,765 Posts
Good catch on the tooth being off! The crank thing is NOT normal. That's really confusing actually. Is the dowel in the crank pulley there? Did it spin?

It takes two revolutions of the crank to get one revolution on the cams, but that doesn't explain your issue. Very odd. Keep us posted.

I'd go ahead and plan to take off that crank pulley. It's not too hard to do, just take off the accessory belts!
 

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3SNY - HondaTurtleFTW
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4,781 Posts
The outer ring can slip when the rubber dries out on the dampener. best way to check timing is to pull it off and check crank gear marker as well.

Sent from my SM-G955U using Tapatalk
 

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Cow man moo?
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1,966 Posts
great intro. great story. sorry about your father too. I love the car, and the garage.

Way to keep it in the family.

Good call FluffyCow. Thats what I was thinking.
 

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Premium Member
1995 Mitsubishi 3000GT VR-4
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123 Posts
Discussion Starter #17
The outer ring can slip when the rubber dries out on the dampener. best way to check timing is to pull it off and check crank gear marker as well.

Sent from my SM-G955U using Tapatalk

Good to know... I've been scratching my head on how it could possibly be that far off without trashing the valves. I can understand one tooth off leading to rough running, but 90 degrees worth at the crank is a different story.

I'll take a close look at the maintenance records, but I'm assuming this is the original pulley.
 

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1995 Mitsubishi 3000GT VR-4
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123 Posts
Discussion Starter #18
Ding! Ding! Ding! I think FluffyCow is right! The rubber is all cracked and split.



I suspect the timing mark is supposed to be aligned with the dowel at A, or the keyway on the crankshaft B.


This is surprising because my father had replaced this in July 2012... so it's not yet six years old and it already gave up the ghost! The invoice from 3SX shows that it was the NON-OEM. I'll let that be a lesson to never skimp on such a critical part. Dodged a bullet here. This could have been a lot worse!
 

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3SNY - HondaTurtleFTW
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4,781 Posts
Ding! Ding! Ding! I think FluffyCow is right! The rubber is all cracked and split.



I suspect the timing mark is supposed to be aligned with the dowel at A, or the keyway on the crankshaft B.


This is surprising because my father had replaced this in July 2012... so it's not yet six years old and it already gave up the ghost! The invoice from 3SX shows that it was the NON-OEM. I'll let that be a lesson to never skimp on such a critical part. Dodged a bullet here. This could have been a lot worse!
I'm never right. This just made my day.

Sent from my SM-G955U using Tapatalk
 

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1991 VR4
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848 Posts
Good thing you caught it early - mine was so deteoritated that it flew apart while driving and took out the belt with it. As far as a replacement, some people are against using solid ones without the dampening of the OEM style rubber 2-piece as it can be harder on bearings, so you may want to do a little searching on that depending on how much you drive the car and whatnot.
 
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