We love sleepers, don’t we? Their charm lies in their pretentiously sober looks and their ability to throw a surprise attack when you least expect it. One look at SriRam’s white Lancer and it’s hard to tell it’s not one of those innumerable Lancers in the South. And as expected, there weren’t many cheers when it turned up at the Christmas lights of the Indian National Drag Championship inCoimbatore. And that was till it smoked the opposition and posted a respectable time in the early 16s.
SriRam’s car is in stark contrast to most of those modified cars running Evo body kits and aluminium GT wings. But while most of them stop on that side of the fuel station where they sell the oily stuff, SriRam wants his to be fuelled by the higest octane petrol he can manage to find. Strange, for a car whose only tell tale signs of performance are an SFX skirting and fifteen inch Lenso alloys. It does have a few details like the extra grille on the front bumper and the aero scoop on the bonnet but those don’t even hint at the performance on offer.
The interiors at this point are a total mess and we’re partly to blame for that. Post the paint job, SriRam wanted to do up the seats and install all his audio components back, but before he could do that, we dragged him into a quick photoshoot. To give us some credits, we waited more than six months for this moment but one thing or other kept it away from us. SriRam, a good friend of ours and there is only one thing wrong with him; he’s a perfectionist. The paint job took him seven months to decide on the colour and three more to strip it down and paint it to his satisfaction. Meanwhile there was the engine rebuild going on, and that took around two months. Knowing his no-compromise attitude and doing his best to satisfy him was Mr. Kumar, who painstakingly put back every bit of the car and its engine. Without Kumar, this car wouldn’t be anywhere as good as it now, remarks a very chuffed SriRam.
Do we believe in him? After a day with the car, we’re pleased to report it was more fun than we expected. Comparisons with the Evo are inevitable. That MIVEC V6 under its hood doesn’t have the explosive performance of some of the EVO 4G63 transplants we have driven earlier, but it rides a suitably big tidal wave of torque. We couldn’t time it properly but from behind the wheel, it felt surely felt fast ; picking up pace, nearly twice as fast as you’d expect. Unlike the turbo Evo which delivers its power in big bursts, the MIVEC’s naturally aspirated nature makes it so much more manageable to put down the power in corners. Also improving cornering prowess is the combination of Pedders springs and Koni Sports adjustable dampers. To rein all that power, the front brakes have been upgraded to DBA slotted rotors with Hawk ceramic brake pads.
The 6A12 MIVEC engine and gearbox comes from an FTO. Stock, it’s putting out 200bhp, but with the rebuild, things are now even better. It breathes in through a K&N Apollo filter and to ensure it flows better, there is a custom stainless free flow exhaust. Fueling is taken care of by a Mine’s VX-ROM ECU with a piggyback Unichip tuning chip with options to load up to five different maps, helped of course by a Walbro uprated fuel pump and a Camskills Fuel pressure regulator. The ignition Magnecor ignition leads and Denso spark plugs; normal ones for the front and long life ones for rear banks of the V6. The engine benefits from a high flow Camskills high flow waterpump and an upgraded alternator to support the heavy duty ICE,that was once fitted to the car. The Exedy stage-I clutch was sourced fromAustralia.
A funny incident, SriRam remembers, was when he found an original FTO ECU to replace the aftermarket one that came with the engine. Just as he was about to throw the old one away, he noticed a plaque undersigned by the Representative Director stating this Mine’s ECU is guaranteed for a life time. A quick search revealed that Mine’s Motorsports of Japan, though not re-known as Ralliart or Mugen, is a pretty respectable name in the domestic market. “What a loss, it would have been had I decided to bin it”, says Sriram.
SriRam is thinking of a installing a supercharger or a remote turbo setup in his car, the latter because there is very little room in the engine bay for all the plumbing. “But before that, I need to complete the car”, he says. Complete, is the wrong word, because knowing him, doing up the seats and fitting his audio back are just the beginning.
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