Mitsubishi Owners Day (MOD) is a ritual for fans of the Japanese marque, drawing cars and owners from as far away as New Jersey (there was a prize) and as close to the company’s Cypress, California headquarters as Garden Grove, just a hop and skip away.
The event began at the Normal, Illinois plant in 2005 and has definitely grown, this year paying host to at least 1,500 cars, trucks and SUVs that were scattered across the premises and spilling to neighboring business locations. This being California, the weather was absolutely gloriously bright and temperate throughout the morning-long gathering. Many Mitsubishi-centric vendors were also on hand to show their wares to the enthusiast crowd.
The star of the show was definitely the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution that ends its run this year (the final vehicle, No. 1600 was available for photos); the Evo, in all of its guises, was the most popular car on-site and there were so many upgrades and aftermarket treatments that it was difficult to find one that’s stock. There were a few, but they were certainly tough to find.
Vehicles were separated by models, which meant that there were small areas for your Mirage, Starion, VR4, Montero and GT3000; the largest sections belonged to the Evo and Eclipse. There had to be at least 50 examples of every era for both of these Mitsubishi pocket rockets and enough different treatments that no one in our judging group was bored from our first step onto the hot pavement to our last.
Three vehicles caught our eye and impressed us more than any of the others. Two were Lancer Evolution models and the third was a 3000GT. Brien Murphy of Fullerton (by way of Indiana) has owned his red 3000GT coupe for more than 10 years and spent the last four years transforming it from a base model to a show car, including scissor doors from a Lamborghini and audio overload, not to mention engine modifications.
Murphy did all but the aesthetic work on his car, stating the 3000GT won awards when it was stock, but baby look at it now! Fitting the doors was a difficult thing to do and he had them off and on at least eight separate times before getting the duo of openers properly fit. But that wasn’t his biggest challenge: the air ride suspension had to be custom fit for the car as it really wasn’t made for that type of suspension. Several fitments were necessary
.Although we didn’t get to talk with the owner of the “Mad Max” Evo, this pantheon to destructive aesthetics had something for everyone to either laugh about or be appalled to look at. A heck of a lot of thought went into this aberration and it won the Peoples’ Choice award – deservedly so. All that was missing was Mel Gibson – or maybe not? Sure would have been nice to congratulate the owner… and learn more about his project car.
Andres and Liliana Hernandez of Garden Grove have had their 2014 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X since new but didn’t start getting into the customization until earlier this year. Three months ago, the Hernandez family had a painter airbrush Aztec-themed paintings along the sides and hood of their Lancer Evo, lightly carrying the aesthetics into the interior. Next on their agenda is an interior adjustment to all white, so they’ll have a white-on-white car. No doubt it’ll be amazing.
The Hernandez’ Evolution X was the Jurors’ choice award winner over Mad Max and Murphy’s 3000GT. The very excited duo came to the stage to accept their plaque from lead juror Aaron Gold and stand-in Anne Proffit (oh wait, that’s me!). They were very excited to win this award and look forward to bringing their updated Mitsubishi next year when they’ve performed added work to their 19,000-mile car (the only reason it’s got that many miles is they drove it to Alabama and back).
Shortly before 1PM the streets surrounding Mitsubishi’s headquarters was filled with the sights and sounds of Mitsubishi owners taking off to enjoy the balance of their beautiful Saturday. No doubt careful not to scrape their extended front fascias leaving the event, owners blasted away with the serendipitous sounds of their idea of mechanical heaven.
By Anne Proffit