Against the Grain: Phil de Lange’s Outlaw ’79 Lancer
With its prevalence in Philippine car culture, the Mitsubishi Lancer is a car that we see modified in a number of ways locally. Some take inspiration from its rallying heritage, slapping on a cluster of foglights and covering the car in sponsorship stickers. A few of the Evos driving around Metro Manila have had a catalog of parts thrown at them, looking like something from a Hot Version DVD or the pages of Option magazine. For a more home-grown feel, we can look at older Boxtypes, Bartypes and L-types that we’d see at a Greenhills tambay in the ‘80s, fitted with overfenders and chrome-lipped 13” wheels, and of course an aggressive front rake (otherwise known as the tukod stance, ask your dads).
You might be thinking that Phil turned his Lancer into an old school Greenhills-style car, but it’s not quite like that. It’s a car that takes stylistic influence from a number of different sources, as well as being shaped by Phil’s own needs and preferences, which over many years of ownership have come together to form a fine, coherent package.
Phil’s family owns a wood furniture factory, which served as a convenient place to work on the car. Work began in 2007, with the Lancer being stripped down to bare metal and given a fresh coat of paint, color-matched to the original Parchment hue as it arrived at the dealership. Initially, the plan was to restore the car to as-new condition. But with the car’s body newly refurbished, Phil found himself with a good starting point to create his ideal Lancer.
Wanting to diverge a bit from what most old school builds in the Philippines were like at the time, Phil took cues from not only the old Lancers campaigned by Mitsubishi in the Safari Rally, but also from Japanese street drift cars of the 1980s and 1990s, as well as ‘outlaw’ Porsche 911’s built by the likes of the R Gruppe and Rob Dickinson (before he founded Singer Automotive).
“Cars like this were slow and handled like trucks when they were new,” Phil says, adding that he “wanted something as fast as the old generation thought their cars were,” with newer cars as a reference point. Phil’s vision was to create a sort of ‘what-if’ build – the demo car for an old shop that continued building old Lancers, having missed the memo as everyone moved onto the newer Lancer Evolution, or to Honda Civics, Subaru STI’s, and S-Chassis Nissans.
Phil’s car has been through a number of different sets of wheels, but we quite like the current mismatched setup: SSR Star Formula mesh wheels up front, Hayashi Streets at the rear. Both sets are 14x6, with thick 65-profile tires. The satin black hood and trunklid are a recent change, and when combined with the mismatched wheels, they lend themselves well to the retro-outlaw aesthetic.
There aren’t too many changes to the interior, though the bolt-in half cage immediately catches the eye with its flashy green color. Other notable changes include a Momo Montecarlo steering wheel, pull straps for the doors, and a big Autometer tach mounted on the steering column.
Phil also installed a carbon kevlar bucket seat for the driver, with the back covered in stickers, gathered over the years from people he met and befriended through the car scene.
Phil has done much of the work on the car himself, including a rebuild of the original engine after it blew in 2011. At the time, he contemplated swapping in a 1.8-liter 4G93 DOHC engine from a newer Lancer, going so far as to purchase a motor. Phil ultimately decided against the swap, because it would not only make the car heavier, but also because the swap itself would be a complicated process. As the 4G93 was bigger and meant for newer front-wheel drive Lancers, major modification and cutting would be needed to the car’s chassis for it to fit neatly in the engine bay.
Instead of the complicated swap, Phil stuck with the original carbureted 4G33, with changes to improve both performance and usability in modern driving conditions. The original block was bored out to accept larger ART pistons, bringing the displacement up to 1.6 liters. The stock camshaft has been ditched in favor of the #4 Mitsubishi C2 rally cam, known to local Lancer enthusiasts as “Cam 4.” The engine is fed by a single Weber 40 DCOE sidedraft carb on a Lynx manifold, with ignition handled by an MSD Digital 6 Plus controller.
Though Phil’s Lancer lacks newer tech like servo-assisted brakes and power steering, it’s still fairly usable in today’s traffic. The built engine is responsive, and paired with a 4.2 final drive, the car gets up to present-day highway speeds without much effort. The Lancer served as Phil’s daily driver for a few years, and the car still gets driven often. Frequent use not only lets the car stretch its legs, but also gives Phil an idea of what sort of maintenance the car needs, and what he could change to improve modern-day usability.
“I could have gone with a more race-oriented cam and twin carbs,” says Phil, “but I wanted something that wasn’t too finicky and still streetable.” It’s one thing to build a car with an impressive build sheet or to follow a set rulebook on style, but Phil’s Lancer doesn’t conform, and it is very much his own - both visually and mechanically. It’s the product of nearly two decades of ownership, with the various changes he’s made to it distilling together in an admirable mix – just like the old contents of the whisky bottle he uses as an overflow tank for the radiator.
Words and Photos by Alec Mendez
1979 Mitsubishi Colt Lancer (A72D)
Engine and Driveline
• Mitsubishi 4G33 built by owner
• Bored up to 1597cc using ART 4G32GS Pistons
• Cylinder head ported to Mitsubishi C2 competition specs and angle milled
• #4 Mitsubishi C2 rally camshaft (“Cam 4”)
• Ichiban camshaft adapter, modified for cam timing adjustment
• Weber 40 DCOE sidedraft carburetor
• Lynx cross-over single sidedraft intake manifold
• UNI dirtbike air filters modified to fit sidedraft carb
• AEM Wideband UEGO
• MSD Digital 6 Plus Ignition controller
• MSD Blaster SS Coil
• Custom made control module for two-step launch control
• Yapster custommade 9mm high tension wires
• Mitsubishi Electric fuel pump on custom made rear mount bracket
• Custom made mechanical fuel pump delete
• Custom made water bypass delete
• Custom made engine driven fan delete
• (Unknown brand) remote oil filter relocation kit
• Earls Oil cooler with custom made hardlines
• Evercool 3-row radiator
• Nikka Whiskey radiator overflow bottle
• Custom made electric radiator fan with temperature controller
• Mercedes-Benz W124 OEM 1.4BAR Radiator cap
• Brodeth Motorsports sequentially paired 4-2-1 headers
• Brodeth Motorsports custom made 2” exhaust and muffler
• Exedy clutch
• Lightened flywheel
• Mitsubishi C2 close ratio 5-speed manual
• Custom made short throw shifter
• Final drive re-geared to 4.222:1
Wheels, Brakes and Suspension
• Front wheels: SSR Star Formula 14x6 ET20
• Rear wheels: Hayashi Street 14x6 ET15
• Dunlop SPsport LM704 (185/65/r14)
• Custom made brake booster delete
• Custom made 4-wheel disc brake setup using various Mitsubishi OEM parts
• Custom made steel brake hardlines
• Fixed 50/50 front to rear brake bias
• Sportec brake pads
• Cusco Vacanza front camber plates for Lancer EX Turbo modified to fit
• Custom made strut tower bar
• Mitsubishi OEM front springs with O’Sulee inserts
• Kayaba Ultra SR front strut cartridge
• Tiger Super Leaf Springs
• Custom made rear lowering blocks and rear pinion angle kit
• Custom made anti-wheelhop device
• Kayaba Gas-A-Just shock absorbers
• Custom made quick steer kit with extra steering angle
• Modified front lower control arm pickup points
• Custom made antiroll bar links with polyurethane bushings
• Body subject to full restoration by owner
• Anzahl car show finish paint, white base color custom mixed to match original Parchment color
• Satin black hood and trunklid
• Gloss black powdercoated underchassis
• Würth wrinkle finish underbody protection
• Hella E-Code 7” halogen H4 conversion kit with Narva Rally Power 90/100w lights
• Cibie Iode 35 spotlight (rear reverse light)
• Engelmann driver’s side mirror
• Sparco captive hood pins
• Mitsubishi Evo VI OEM shift knob
• Custom made rear set shifter
• HKB sports boss kit with 30mm spacer
• Momo Montercarlo 350mm Steering wheel
• Sushi Factory custom made horn button
• Autometer Phantom 3⅜-inch tachometer on custom column mount
• AEM Wideband Air fuel ratio gauge
• Custom made aluminum dashboard panels
• Hella gooseneck map light
• Custom aircraft-style switch panel with Hella battery master switch, push-button start and missile launcher toggle for ignition
• Seiwa blue glass wide-angle rearview mirror
• Driver’s side carbon kevlar bucket seat
• Sabelt racing harness
• Custom made half rollcage based on Mitsubishi C2 design with extra bars
• Lazada Racing cup holders
• Custom made door pulls
• Momo Corse pedal pads
• Palmer Flame terminator fire extinguisher
• Custom made rear battery relocation kit with Great Leader burnt Thaitanium battery holder
• FLD Spec wiring harness
• Original 1979 license plates