Eric Plebani is well known in the Diamond Star ranks, and thanks to his latest effort, he'll be famous in the Porsche camp as well. But will they like him? That'll be determined by their "post cringe" reactions upon seeing a Mitsubishi four-banger on the backside of the legendary 911 sport coupe.
Plebani cut his teeth with the 2.0-liter 4G63 engine and his Starion drag car was featured in the November 1999 issue of Turbo magazine, so he's doing something right. The Starion ran a 4G63 and laid down 11.24-second, 124-mph quarter miles when the article was written.
He quit active racing and crewed for Christian Rado for a while. During this time, the Starion body and chassis was sold but Eric kept the race-proven powerplant. He had always wanted a classic Porsche 911 with fat flares, a huge tail and big fog lights. He started hunting and eventually found a 1980 Euro-spec SC and bargained the price down to $5,500.
"I wanted to build a fast, reliable Porsche," says Plebani. "No valves to adjustments every other week, no expensive replacement parts from Germany to worry about, no exotic materials to machine. I kept the Porschubishi engine simple. It has all the tricks from its racing days, but runs stock manifolds. All said, it's lighter, faster, better on gas and easier to tune than in Stuttgart trim."
The transplantation took two years and Plebani says he has about $15,000 in the whole thing. "The most challenging part of the project was the cooling system. It's bad enough cutting up a perfectly good Euro Porsche to fit the Japanese motor, but chopping the front off to fit the radiator was just about too much. I have to give props to boneheadperformance.com for powdercoating all the stuff and helping me with the fittings."
The 4G63 runs JE pistons, Crower rods and a knife-edged crankshaft. All machining was performed by Buschur Racing. The valvetrain consists of HKS 272 bumpsticks, 1mm oversized Ferrea valves and Crower springs and retainers. Dave Locallio of Headgames Motorworks handled the porting and assembly of the head.
Tuning is executed by the stock ECU and an HKS VPC. Boost is generated by a Buschur Racing 20g turbo, which blows through a custom Porsche-style top-mount intercooler featuring Spearco bar-and-fin cores. The engine runs a Mitsu ECU with a harness that has been augmented to work the Porsche gauges. A custom flywheel is employed that allows the use of Porsche-spec clutches and a housing adaptor allows Plebani to run a 930 four-speed manual transmission. An eight-puck, metallic disc ACT clutch with heavy-duty pressure plate puts the power down without complaint.
The car is driven daily and has put down an 11.4 at 118 mph on street tires at Atco Raceway. Plebani is quick to point out that wheelspin severely hindered the run. In fact, he was only in third gear going through the traps.
"I like taking the strong points of one car and combining it with the strong points of another," says Plebani. "The Porschubishi joins the Porsche's bulletproof driveline, rear-engine, rear-drive configuration and bad-ass wide-body German looks with a high-tech, bulletproof, boosted and bitchin' Japanese motor." Cool... can we order one?