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Mega Magna

A Mitsubishi Magna that only looks near-stock...

Words by Michael Knowling, Pix by Julian Edgar

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At a glance...

  • Sleeper appeal!
  • 2.6 taken to 2.8 litre
  • T04 high-flow turbo
  • External wastegate
  • Simple approach to extra fuelling
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The name Magna has a whole lot of baggage associated with it. And most of it is simply unjustified.

Sure, some of the early Magnas had trouble with block castings and a few other ailments, but since then, Magnas have been on the improve. By the early ‘90s Mitsubishi had a damn good all-rounder on its hands.

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And that’s what Bradley Geeves of Brisbane reckons too - the Magna is a pretty good package. His particular example, however, is far from standard...

Bradley didn’t approach this Magna the way most people get stuck into their cars. Nope; Bradley heard a ‘full house’ Mitsubishi turbo engine was available locally and went out to find a car to suit.

“I found this car – a 1992 TR Magna Executive – in February 2004 with a slipping clutch and an engine that was burning oil. The mechanicals were pretty tired, but the body and trim was all good and I got it at the right price,” says Bradley.

The Magna-needing-repairs and the motor-looking-for-a-car were then united.

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Bradley isn’t 100 percent sure of the engine internals but there was no way he was going to pass up the rare opportunity to buy a performance built Magna donk.; there aren’t too many floating around...

We’re told the initial engine builder pieced together the Mitsubishi 4G54 with a ground stroker crank and oversize forged pistons to achieve a swept capacity of 2.8 litres – 0.2 litres more than stock. Those forged pistons deliver a ‘turbo friendly’ static compression ratio and the camshaft has been upgraded. Adjustable tappets also replace the standard hydraulic lifters that bleed out at high revs.

But who needs to rev when you’ve got a big-cube four-pot hung with a serious turbocharger?

Interestingly, Bradley’s hot Magna employs a turbo exhaust manifold from a factory Sigma Turbo – only small mods were required for fitment. Exhaust pulses spool up a recently overhauled Garrett T04 high-flow turbo teamed with a 32mm external wastegate.

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The wastegate spring is set to deliver a steady 10 psi boost pressure into the Magna motor but once Bradley sorts out the management system, he’ll take it higher. The goal is that it must make comfortably more than 200 horsepower at the wheels.

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At present, Bradley’s Magna relies on the factory engine management system with a Link piggy-back computer firing a set of secondary injectors at high load. The secondary injectors are mounted in fittings on the intake plenum and suckle from a dedicated rail and pressure regulator. A Bosch Motorsport pump lives in the factory fuel tank.

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The factory management system’s Karman vortex airflow meter remains in service drawing through the factory airbox lid, which has been relocated, fitted with a K&N filter element and fed by a cold air duct. Ditching the factory airflow meter is a priority when Bradley moved to a full programmable management system – probably a MicroTech.

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The task of cooling the post-compressor induction air is left to a big KV’s Race and Resto air-to-air intercooler mounted in the nose and equipped with polished mandrel piping. Note that fitment of the big ‘cooler meant waving goodbye to the factory air conditioning. The exhaust system is also a mandrel job – 3 inch diameter and featuring a high-flow cat and straight-through muffler.

The factory clutch (which was stuffed when the vehicle was purchased) has been replaced by a heavy-duty full-face unit. The gearbox is the original Mitsubishi 5 speed manual, complete with synchro wear courtesy of its previous owners.

Interestingly, Bradley has upgraded to the anchors from a ’94 Verada V6. The up-market Mitsi brings bigger discs and caliper (ventilated at the rear) and are an easy conversion.

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The suspension has escaped modification – for now. Bradley intends to get the engine sorted out first, then he’ll know how much needs to be done to improve handling to match.

Visually, Bradley’s Magna is an absolute sleeper. The body remains as-bought including the factory rear spoiler and nondescript tri-spoke alloys. Inside it’s all stock except for a Kenwood CD/tuner, 6 inch front splits, 5 inch rear 3-ways, a 12 inch ported sub and 250W amp. An Autometer air-fuel meter also supplements the live data read-out from the Link ECU.

On the street, Bradley’s turbo Magna rips itself along much quicker than anyone ever expects. Bradley has already wiped a Holden VL Turbo on the street – and we can imagine that would’ve gone down well! With its 2.8 litre capacity and turbo boost, this is a machine that offers massive torque across the rev range – there’s no need to approach the (factory) 6000 rpm limit unless you’re really pressing on.

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With a very down-to-Earth goal of over 200hp at the wheels, Bradley is sure to maintain the Magna’s high level of reliability and to keep within the limits of its non-LSD FWD chassis.

“Once I’ve got the power I want and it’s driving sweetly I might also go for a unique body kit,” says Bradley.

“There’s a carbon fibre Evo 6 style bonnet that I wouldn’t mind from America and SSV in Sydney have the side skirts that I want. With the suspension lowered a bit I think that’ll be about as far as I’ll go.”


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It’s great to meet somebody who, A – is brave enough to modify a Magna and, B – knows when to quit!

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