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99 GS-T Spyder- old school as possible

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Project car with 200k on the odometer- probably paid too much for it ($1,900- should have been a $750 car) but I was duped on the condition of the motor and transmission. The car sat in a barn for 7 years, so the rust isn't too bad- shock towers are in good shape, minimal rust under the car for a Ohio car, the most damage is on the radiator support. The top is some replacement the prior owner put on in a shit way. Seats are black leather and have tears, so covers or repair is in order. The motor has knock, but not always. I'm guessing it's a spun bearing or the timing job is ancient. It dumps oil out of the timing accessory side, so maybe it's just a timing job. Boost leaks like crazy, the engine gets hot, so all signs point to some issues with the timing accessories among other things. Either way, I'm picking up a running 4G63T from a 95 talon with 120k on it, tomorrow, which I'm psyched about from a local DSM expert who seems cool AF. I'll swap the CAS and it should be good to go. Replace the master and slave cylinders on the transmission which are shot, replace the clutch while I have easy access to it, and give the used motor a new timing job with new accessories when it's on the stand. The plan is to clean up the engine bay (sand, rust inhibitor plus paint), but not put a ton of work into it as I want it running more than anything so I can enjoy it with my kids when they are little. Rebuilding the old motor and redoing the brake lines, etc, and making it go faster is for when they're old enough to not think I'm cool anymore and I'll have time to put into it.

I'll document the work here and ask questions. And hopefully I learn a lot about the platform so I can share knowledge. A 2G turbo eclipse was my high school dream car (graduated in 02) and my wife's first car was a manual 2G red GST. So this car is pure nostalgia for her. And I wanted a convertible for the kids in the summer so ice cream on sundays can be a memory they have for the rest of their lives. Yeah, spyders are a nightmare, but if a nightmare can make great memories, I'm all about having it.
 
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Things I'm looking for:
-original chrome GST Sypder Wheels
-black leather front seats
-2G driver side mirror

Local preferred but I can drive if it's in a 3 hour range
 
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10-6-2023 Update:

Moved from Michigan to Massachusetts. I had 2 weeks to get the project buttoned up for a move. Things completed:

-pulled 7 bolt split thrust 99 block. Balance shaft belt is shredded and the harmonic balancer (crank pulley) was missing a bolt from previous owner = unbalanced. This probably shook the engine to death.
-99 7 bolt status: valve spring retainers borrowed, power steering bracket borrowed, timing tensioner arm borrowed, one broken oil pan bolt, unknown rod bearing condition (has engine knock)

-pulled old radiator lower support, welded in new radiator lower support
-painted engine bay (needs touch up after installing new engine - rookie mistakes were made)

-refreshed 95 Talon 4g63t. Block had 155-162 PSI compression test (bought this from user PLDSM on here, great dude. It was his daily driver talon's engine assembly)
-installed old school HKS 272 camshafts
-installed evo valve springs and retainers
-installed revised no tick lifters
-replaced valve seals
-ARP standard head studs
-cleaned head and block mating surfaces with razor blades. My timeline was short and this is something that I'm hoping doesn't bite me in the ass. Both surfaces didn't have any signs of the old gasket eating into the mating planes, but I didn't measure it with a height gauge to verify
-felpro composite gasket with copper spray
-gates timing belt + gates pulleys (Made in china) + new OEM timing belt tensioner (made in Japan)
-gates balance shaft pulley (china) + belt
-gates water pump (china)
-mitsubishi "small" 16g turbo (broke oil drain bolt into cartridge, needs to be removed by machine shop when I unpack the car in Massachusetts in the spring)
-ebay/no name exhaust manifold from previous owner installed, broke head stud and egged out - needs helicoil
-installed XTC "stage 4" 6 puck non sprung ebay clutch on F5M33 transmission. New OEM throw out bearing
-STM EGR delete plate

-99 AC compressor is different than 95 7 bolt compressors- need a 1995 AC line to reconnect AC to condenser/charcoal filter

-replaced driver side lower control arm with bolt hardware. Old one had a frozen bushing+bolt

long block / transmission assembly installed into car and wheeled into trailer. I still need to do the fuel mods, repair the turbo and head stud (rushing got me those errors), and plumb the clutch cylinders. The brake booster line needs "redone" with the one way valve (two broken hoses make one sort of thing) as well as vacuum lines sorted out with catch cans.
 
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Photo progress. The car now resides in a trailer waiting for the spring.

I ended up finding OEM GST wheels for it (spray painted black) for cheap right before moving. I also found a 3000gt keyfob as well as a CD changer cartridge from a 2001 Jeep Cherokee. I moved the old 7 bolt long block as well in hopes to possibly rebuild a split thrust 7 bolt down the road. I’m balls deep and not pulling out, now.

I’ll be part hunting until I get space to work on it again.

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Some notes on the condition of the car when I received it, based on stripping the 99 split thrust 7 bolt for parts for the 95 7 bolt:

-the balance shaft belt was shredded. So the engines balance shaft was not rotating
-the harmonic balancer had a broken bolt in it. So the engine assembly was further out of balance
-the engine oil had metal shards in it. Non magnetic so it’s likely got a spun bearing
-the oil that was “dumping” out of the timing side was a loose power steering hose
-clutch wasn’t engaging as the master cylinder was leaking fluid
-clutch surfaces were ok for a stock clutch
-coolant was low- only collected about a gallon
-transmission lubricant / oil wasn’t too bad- it was fluid
-rear window was stuck up but it was merely off of its rails
-convertivle top screw drive motor was missing a clip (found behind rear passenger interior panel)

And for fun, I found some Sparco seats to replace the thrashed black leather OEM seats. Yes, they are Sparco Torinos. Yes, they are clone correct for a clone of Brian O’Connor’s Kawasaki Green Eclipse RS. and I somehow have 3 of them in great shape. And no, I am not attempting to turn my SPYDAH into a clone. Just trying to get as many era correct parts into it as possible.

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finally moved the car to its new home in Massachusetts. The sprint to get the car “rolling” in Michigan had some fall out: I trashed a small 16g CHRA by breaking a bolt in the oil drain port (modified 2g drain by drilling out the bolt holes but not big enough so I tightened the bolt down and it had too much friction on the drain). And I broke an exhaust manifold stud and drilled it out in a rush.

So I acquired another small 16g CHRA and rebuilt a turbo for the first time in my life. I also installed a time-sert into the head, so I could save it without pulling it and redoing the valve train. The rebuilt “small 16G” MHI turbo was mounted to a 2g exhaust manifold that I ported myself to match the exhaust side of the turbine- I have read that they are beneficial compared to the “eBay tubular manifold” that was mounted to the car when I bought it.

I also acquired a RMR intake manifold marketed as a Evo 3 manifold. It’s been port matched to a 1G Throttlebody that came with it, which I will be rebuilding.

Next steps:
Fuel (fuel pump, rewire, fpr, injectors, filter)
Transmission (master, slave, shifting cable linkage and bushings/bearings)
Spark (battery, harnesses, design coil pack bracket for new manifold and print it)
Emissions / vac lines
FMIC/bumper/lights

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Turned the OEM coil bracket into something that mounted the coils in an OEM fashion to the RMR intake manifold that I acquired. Prior owners removed the two bolt bosses on the front of the manifold body, so I had to get creative.

At first I was going to 3D print a mounting bracket, but friends more knowledgeable than me informed that the coil likely has a ground through the bracket. Given that the contact surface under the coils to the bracket were very planar and still intact, he was probably right. So instead of one mounting boss to the manifold, I wanted two for redundancy. If one bolt and boss gets corroded the second will provide a ground.

Photos depict what was done. I used the RMR manifold as a welding jig. Then blasted the part being careful not to remove the remaining chromate plating where the bolt heads and coils rest (definitely a ground path to the manifold). And then cut and blasted the PTU bracket to fit the manifold better.

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Some small stuff:

Front and rear engine mount install. PITA even without the intake in the way. Woof. I also got in the OEM bumpers/stops for the passenger and driver side mounts I forgot to install earlier. I don’t care what people say/ but you MUST remove the rear mount in order to put in these prothane inserts.

As I was working on the turbo assembly, I noticed the o2 sensor bracket was rusted to shit. So I removed it, blasted it, and it looked pretty good. But figured it would just rust up again in no time.

This led me to removing the brake reservoir bracket, clutch master reservoir bracket, hood sensor, AC dryer, fuse box (PDU), front engine hoist, and hood bar brackets + hood bar, and blasted them all, primed them with rust stopping primer, and coated them with high temp engine enamel. Is it show grade? No. There’s still pitting in a lot of the metal I couldn’t smooth out, and there’s runs from the spray can. But it looks hella better.

I also installed an almost new looking 98-99 AC condenser with the associated lines while I had the intake out. Added the proper compressor oil with dye so I can chase leaks later.

Also installed a new Exedy master and slave cylinder. I was going to forgo the factory lines for a stm stainless line but read about how those flex and how it “takes out” clutch travel in the system. So I’ll do the pain in the was bleed of the factory lines and reservoir soon. Can’t wait 😉

Next is TB rebuild. Intake manifold assembly and install. And maybe touching up the engine bay before I install it. Fuel is next- waiting for a fitting to attached the fuel lab filter to the OEM fuel line. And that reminds me- I need to install the walbro pump and rewire it.

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RMR intake manifold and 1G 60mm throttle body installed. The coil bracket works and fits wonderfully. After installing the rebuilt MHI s16 turbo / ported 2G exhaust manifold assembly, I mocked up the FMIC.

My goal is to NOT cut the front bumper. So I bought a cheap Amazon oil cooler to replace the power steering hard line (fingers crossed it can handle the pressure). I also had to trim the front edge of the lower cross member so the FMIC could squeeze closer to the lower radiator support.

Success. Now I need to fab up a custom support bracket for the FMIC- the eBay / Chinese brackets sit too far forward.

Other things done:
-blast/paint/install battery tray
-found and installed grey sun visors with the optioned garage door opener - grey were only issued to spyders. And this Spyder had that option.
-installed replacement 3rd brake light
-installed new trunk hydraulic cylinders
-installed brake calipers and axle nuts

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following VFAQ articles from the early 2000’s makes me feel like a kid again. And thank God they are still there!

Installed a walbro 255 and re-wired it. Basic stuff but the car needs to be caught up for the turbo I’ve attached to it.

I also replaced one of the rear seat belts which “DSM Girl” from Ohio’s chihuahua chewed up. Maybe one day I’ll find a black one to match, but sheesh are they hard to find.

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I’ve been printing parts that I can model in Fusion 360 quickly. It’s a free CAD program that is ridiculously powerful for being $0 to use.

So far, I’ve modeled and printed:
Battery hold down bracket (missing in car)
Fuel filter hold down bracket (also missing)
Wheel Center Cap (missing on OEM wheels I picked up for the car)

The battery hold down needs to be reprinted. The one in the photo doesn’t have the notch to hold the battery.

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Engine bay is finally done. Cleaned and tested the RC 1000cc RC injectors, installed OEM fuel rail as the Venom rail doesn’t fit with my coil mounting solution. Huge bummer. Installed HLA and poured oil over the lifters, mounted power steering cooler with zip ties. FMIC bracket fabricated and mounted.

I put a battery into the car in prep for key turn today or tomorrow and decided to see if my CD changer repair work was effective. And it was! 2001 Jeep Cherokee CD changer cartridges work for these cars. This may be my favorite thing about the whole car- being able to go through 11 compact discs from high school at the touch of my fingers.

The engine bay looks great. Taking the time to media blast, prime, and paint all the brackets paid off along with the engine bay paint job.

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When you work on a car, and get lost in it, time stops in your head. So, to me, the gas in the tank I took my kids to get before I pulled the crank walked block was put in there “yesterday.” Well, that was 1.5 years ago. And this initial startup scared the shit out of me. I flashed ceddymods with 1000cc scaled injectors and this is what I was greeted with: misfires, engine knock, and idle that gradually and steadily leaned out to 20 A/F R.
 
fast forward to today.

I spent a few hours pumping gas from the rear seat. Not recommended. Rotten gas stinks. I also got some advice on DSM Nation Facebook group for a 940cc injector scale for the 1000cc RC injectors as well as correct voltage deadtimes.

Found a newer ROM hex file and xml definition with emissions control. Edited it. Flashed it with my trusty 2007 Dell XPS 13.

Turned the key:



Success. PLDSM’s engine runs flawlessly. My timing job and head work was true. Even the belts were tensioned properly (I didn’t adjust them from yesterday’s nightmare).

Time to fix a questionable repair job to the rear brakes that someone did. And get it off the jackstands for at least until the winter

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Used a “Dudes Custom Parts” shifter bushing kit to revamp the shift linkages. The parts took forever to arrive and needed some harassment on Facebook to actually get him to ship them after 8 weeks of silence.

Of course, it being a DSM, the only linkage rod on the transmission that needs you to disassemble the transmission to remove had its cotter pin rust into it and Become One. Drilled it out, successfully, with a lot of patience. 10% cobalt drill bits and a good hand drill is paramount in this build. I’ve drilled out more bolts than I care to admit.

I also installed a Evo 7 shift knob with a custom cowhide boot. Red stitching for the red car. I 3D printed a boot collar of a slightly narrower diameter so the boot was more seamless with the narrower Evo 7 shifter knob. They are not the same size as the OEM DSM.

Sparco seats were steam cleaned. They are impossible to get back to their original glory- lesson learned. Once one numb nut applies dye, it’s over. Good enough. They beat the blown out leather seats that I’ll probably keep to reupholster.

I also replaced the courtesy lights in the cigarette lighter light ring and the ash tray. My dudes- these are not even options in today’s cars. They are pure opulence. They weren’t even called “smokers package” back when these were built. Todays cars have been costed down so hard that they’d never see stuff like this ever again.

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It finally runs.



I took her to a 80’s / 90’s show in Connecticut last weekend. That’s how good it runs.

The alternator doesn’t keep up with the headlights. So that’s on the short list.

2nd gear synchros need redone. This may be a winter time project to tackle. Maybe I can buy a Walmart OBX LSD and install it, too, as the torque steer on this bad boy is strong.

The top is a mess. And so is the window alignment. That will be tackled shortly.

But for now, it’s a top down summer cruiser with enough boost on tap to be an absolute riot. The sounds, the speed… I gotta get a 1/4 mile time paired to this build.

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Sometime during this cars life, the bracket that holds the license plate lights in the rear was lost as well as the plate in the front. 3D printer to the rescue!

If anyone ever needs the files I make for any parts in my build- reach out. I’ll share them.

The printer head died, finally. So I’m waiting on a new one to finish refining the wheel caps.

Currently looking for a heat solution for my alternator. The one on the car is dying and I have a good replacement that I don’t want to ruin. If anyone has a o2 housing heat shield, or a homebrew method to keep the alternator from heat soaking from the garage - I’m all ears.

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Great job, man! I just read through the entire build. Definitely following along on this one. They don't have to be perfect to enjoy, get em out there!
Totally agree with this mindset.

My friends joke with me about how this car “got lucky to find me” as I had no emotional attachment to it when I got it. But then my life turned upside down and it became much more to me than just My High School Aged Dream Car. I fixed a broken marriage. Got sober. Regained employment. Fixed my life. And this car, to my dumb lizard brain, represents Me: once prime, objectively awesome, fast and desirable- but then neglected until it was broken, and to many, beyond repair. It shows that with time, care, and love, anything can be salvaged in our lives.

This forum has been invaluable to this car’s journey. And to mine.
 
In my readings of this invaluable forum, there are two mindsets when rebuilding an already used (and probably beaten) DSM: 1. Buy new fasteners and coolant lines. 2. Rinse and reuse parts if they aren’t broken (if it ain’t broken don’t fix it).

I chose the latter. And paid for it, but not dearly. Last week I remember hearing a “pop” and “jingle” as parts left the chat when I did a launch. Pulled over and popped the hood and checked the usual suspects: custom fabricated coil bracket, exhaust manifold studs, transmission cable mounts, etc. The answer lied right in front of my face and I didn’t notice it until my DSM did DSM Things today.

So my turbo coolant return line tore at the return stud because it’s old and pissed coolant everywhere (should have used a new line) but in that hunt for Where Is The Coolant Leaking From, I spotted the turbo to manifold bolt head, or lack thereof.

The Reputation Is Witheld. DSM Life.

Both are super easy repairs with used parts I had kicking around. They may hold forever or until I order new. I used proper torque specs and concave washer orientation when I installed the bolts. So I can’t blame my methodology. Bolts that experience high thermal expansion should probably never be reused. Or at least we have hit that timeline where metallurgy dictates it: with enough heat and time, any steel can turn into butter.

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