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Well, the bug bit again. I guess you could also call this thread "I lost my marbles and imported another shitty old car from Japan! Ask me (almost) anything!" Originally I wasn't planning on buying another AW11 for a couple of years... if at all. After owning five of them over the course of the last ten years and getting sick of repairing botch jobs on hacked-up local examples I firmly told myself not to bother anymore unless it was a truly tidy one, which meant most likely having to import one from Japan. Then a series of fortunate events including a career change, the sale of my Mazdaspeed Axela to a family member earlier this year (which freed up garage space and capital), and a strong dollar to yen ratio at the time all led me to engage Ewan from Stacked to check out a few nice looking AW11s on my behalf. Yeah, I'll admit that six months after selling my last AW11 the itch inevitably came back, so I'd been keeping a surreptitious eye on the car sites over in Japan for the last year to see what the market was like! After a few hits and misses I settled on a midnight blue hardtop from a yard near Tokyo called Marumi Auto which had low kms, very little rust, one careful owner, and had been quite well looked after. It wasn't cheap, and blue was never my first choice of colour (I was angling for either a Sherwood tone, white/grey, or white/gold example this time), but for the price nothing in NZ came close in terms of quality and condition, and after owning my last one the colour eventually grew on me. By some stroke of luck, this particular one had been specced with the much more aesthetically pleasing black interior instead of the default eye-watering blue that 99% of the midnight blue cars had! It arrived at Stacked's yard in Osaka around mid-May, having made its way across the country from Tokyo on a transporter, and Ewan made arrangements to load it on a RORO carrier departing in late May. Around the end of June the export certificate and some other documentation arrived, followed by a notification from Stacked's NZ based customs brokers in Tauranga that the car would be arriving on 11th July. The AW11 then spent the next week and a half on the wharf while Customs, MPI, MAF, and Land Transport NZ all poked around and carried out their various inspections in the name of bureaucracy. I was heartened by the fact that during the border check the car wasn't flagged for rust issues nor underbody damage! Then, finally, once all the Is were dotted, Ts crossed, and palms greased in the form of invoices paid, the car left the wharf on a transporter headed to North Shore Compliance and spent a few days there before I drove it a short distance up the road to the panelbeater where it now currently sits, and will undergo further inspection to pass a Repair Cert. Compliance revealed that the left rear quarter had been subject to a minor impact in the past (20 years ago or thereabouts), and because you could still buy replacement TGP panels at the time the entire section had simply been replaced. There are no marks to indicate the chassis had to undergo straightening, there isn't any cancer creeping in around the seams, and all the spot welds look good - but there are a couple of areas where surface rust has started bubbling (the join around the left hand tail light, for example) that will need to be cleaned up once the repair certifier completes his check. I've had very limited time to spend foaming over the car because of other commitments, so it was a nice surprise today to discover that it already sports a set of incredibly rare TRD lowering springs. I'd bid on some in Japan as the car was making its way over here and just barely lost the auction, so had been feeling a bit despondent about ever finding another set. So where to from here? I'm not all that interested in making the AW11 stupidly fast, but will eventually perform a few judicious tasks such as sprucing up the suspension further, now that I know it has TRD springs (some good Bilstein struts and a rear swaybar would be nice), adding a LSD, fitting a set of extractors I did manage to win ex-Japan, transplanting a few bolt-on bits I'd hung onto after selling the first '80S KID, and tidying up all of the little interior and exterior blemishes I come across. May even pull my Buddyclub P-1s out of storage, paint them a nice shade of bronze, and fit them to the car, and also hit up Yahoo Japan for any oddball accessories such as driving lights and roofracks that might pop up. Still undecided whether I want to go for a full period-1980s look similar to what I'm planning to do with squid (my Skyline sedan) but overall I'm hoping for a nice "clean-slate" build - not concourse spec but tastefully tidy and done up without a hundred things wrong or fucked with! Stay tuned for more. Discuss: //oldschool.co.nz/index.php?/topic/49412-80s-kid-part-ii-eds-aw11-sc-chit-chat/
The world's worst kept secret is out: After years of pining, I finally went full retard and bought a Starion. To be honest, it wasn't even supposed to be this way. Only last weekend I'd lined up a nice, modern, comfortable, and fiendishly fast 2008 Mazdaspeed Axela to purchase as my new daily driver, having owned one before and knowing exactly what to expect in terms of ownership, tractability and reliability. Sunday was supposed to be the day of the full and final transaction, and I wasn't looking back in any great hurry. THEN... over dinner with friends on Saturday night, while idly browsing Trademe, one of them came across a fresh listing for this here thing. They showed me the ad, I rolled my eyes and chuckled, and told them in no uncertain terms that I'd already decided on the Axela and I didn't really have space, nor the extra folding, to also buy a Starion, and a NZ new one at that (not even a lush Japanese imported one). "But the price!" they exclaimed. "You'd be stupid not to at least take a look!" As with most pressing matters, I slept on it. The next morning, because I wasn't realistically able to get hold of Phil, I called my other Mitsubishi foamer friend Ant (but not without first posting it on OS Trademe finds... ) as I'd decided that taking a look would be the wisest thing to do after watching the price of Starions climb and climb in Japan over the last 5 years. Secretly I hoped that by tagging along with a person who knew '80s Mitsis somewhat well, he could point out all of the bad stuff wrong with the car, and steer me away from buying it. Trouble is, there wasn't actually all that much bad stuff for Ant to point out. In fact the good stuff outweighed the bad by about 20 to 1... and it didn't even blow any blue smoke! So as you can tell by the mere fact you're reading this post, I let gut instinct take over, and purchased the Starion. It's a 1988 NZ new, Euro spec narrowbody EX model. From what I can tell that means it's got the 175ps intercooled 8-valve G63B and super tall 3.5:1 LSD diff, and has a full black leather interior (more on that below). Speedo is in miles and it's only done 52,000 of them, which was one thing that swayed me towards buying it. The key differences between this and the Jap model 8-valve GSRs are the interior (leather didn't seem to make an appearance except in the very early GSR-X models, and never in black, only in blue/tan/maroon), the large TC06 turbo, and the 3.5:1 rear diff, which is obviously geared - no pun intended - towards top-speed Autobahn cruising. Jap ones have a more usable 3.9:1 diff and smaller TC05 which I can only guess makes them more responsive down low. The previous owners have definitely taken great care of the car, and I hope to continue that tradition as well as they have. The last owner, Mike, replaced the clutch and cambelt, and rebuilt the turbo. What can I say about that interior? It's totally ribbed for her pleasure, smells like the 1980s, and wouldn't look out of place in the cockpit of a starfighter spaceship. It's a shame there's no digital dash to top it all off, though! Full photo album here: https://flic.kr/s/aHskEhDhXk Time will tell whether I eventually flick this Starion on to try and fund the importation of a proper Japanese DASH-powered GSR-V narrowbody, or just hang on to it and continue blocking out of my mind the fact it's NZ new, which wreaks havoc with my OCD something chronic. But to be honest, that's the irrational side of me talking... because in hindsight if I'd ignored this one locally, I don't think I would have another opportunity to buy one at a realistic price ever again. Especially when you consider that genuine GSR-Vs are now fetching upwards of $25k in Japan. The car yard wasn't fazed when I called them to cancel the deal on the Axela - luckily I hadn't decided to pay a deposit on it. On the flip side I'm still annoyed at myself because I said I wouldn't buy any more garbage '80s cars and I'm still left with the glaringly obvious conundrum of not actually owning a suitable daily driver! Guess I'm dailying the Starion then. Discuss: //oldschool.co.nz/index.php?/topic/54171-ted-huangs-starorion-0r10ns-1988-mitsuhishi-starion/