The Mitsubishi Eclipse: it is hard to find an automobile on the market equally as sporty in such an affordable price range. It is fun to drive, easy on the eyes, and has been a cornerstone of the import entry-level sports car market since 1989.
Unfortunately, it is so affordable BECAUSE it is entry level. As the aftermarket for automobiles continues to expand, there are ways to get around the unimpressive performance of this ‘sports car.’ I will not explain what modifications could make this car feel like a Porsche or a Corvette, but I will be describing to the basic driving enthusiast how to make the car have a sportier feel – and without voiding the warranty.
After investing thousands into the aftermarket to have more fun with my car, i have narrowed down the three most cost effective modifications i have installed. The first problem i had owning a third generation Mitsubishi Eclipse was the sloppy handling. With the over 8″ ground clearance, the center of gravity on this car is rather high to be “sporty.” For the hardcore enthusiast, I would recommend lowering springs and high compression shocks, or a full coilover suspension. If you do not know what either of those are, then i would recommend a rear strut tower bar. A strut tower bar essentially isolates the two rear struts, adding improved stability. With the design of a hatchback car, the trunk is an open space and is very prone to flexing, and this isolation bar helps eliminate that problem, while eliminating understeer. This modification can be purchased through Road Race Engineering (http://www.roadraceengineering.com/3gsuspension.htm) for about $70. As far as installation goes, you just take a 14mm socket and a rachet, unbolt the 2 strut bolts towards the back of the car, install the strut tower bar, and re-install the bolts. This will take about 20 minutes if this is your first time working on a car.
So what car enthusiast wouldn’t like a little extra horsepower? There are a few ways to make some serious power in this car, but they will all void your warranty, and all require an investment of at least a couple thousand dollars. But a great way to make a little extra power and make a throatier sound is to buy an intake system. An intake system eliminates the very restrictive intake snorkel fromt the factory and replaces it with a high air flow con and steel piping to replace the plastic. Kind of like the difference between breathing from a coffee stirrer or breathing through a McDonald’s straw. There are two different types of intake systems: a cold air intake and a short ram (warm air) intake. The only difference is the cold air extends the intake down to the level of the bumper, allowing colder air to enter the intake as opposed to the air that is the ambient temperature around the engine block. In my personal opinion, the cold air intake is not worth the extra $80 or so, as the only engines that truly benefit from colder air in the engine are turbo and supercharged applications. I would only reccomend Injen or AEM as far as brands are concerned, and a short ram can be acquired for around $130, while a cold air intake costs around $210, and both can be found at almost an online automotive performance store. Also, extremely detailed instructions for installation from these two companies, and it does not take more then 30 minutes to install.
Finally, now that you have that little extra power, wouldn’t you like to stop a little faster? One of the modifications i take for granted the most are my brakes. more deer and airbags have been saved because of that little extra investment i put to my stopping power. Changing out for more aggressive brake pads is always a good idea, but thats is more of a maintenance issue since not everyone has worn out brakes. But if you want to have your car fully braking by a slight tap of the pedal, then you want stainless steel braided brake lines. These lines replace the factory rubber lines, which flex with more use and make braking a little more sloppy. With stainless steel braided lines, you have no more flex and can brake fully with very little effort, improving your reaction time and braking ability. They are used for braking systems on aircrafts, so they are proven and work very well. These cost $90 for the set, but will require a more skilled hand to install, as bleeding brake lines, if done wrong, could be very dangerous. These can be purchased through Road Race Engineering (http://www.roadraceengineering.com/3gbrakes.htm) also, but a few other sites also sell them.
Now, the car should take off a little quicker, take a turn a little faster, and brake with confidence. And best of all, you still have your warranty!