Need That Car has a new project. Actually, it’s two projects in one. The first part of the project is a 1980 Plymouth Arrow. The truck itself was featured in an earlier post and, well, it just stole my heart. I simply could not let some other undeserving clod have it.
The Arrow has 85,000 original miles on it, and it’s a peach. The body is in amazing shape, the original ’80s striping is faded a bit, but still in tact, and the interior is nearly spotless (except for the standard issue cracked dash). That’s the good news.
As if that weren’t bad enough, I soon found out that parts for the ’79-’81 G54B (2.6l) Mitsubishi engine are just about impossible to find. There are currently no companies making direct replacement heads, head gaskets are mostly N.O.S. items, and most people and forums I spoke with suggested I upgrade the engine, or at least the head, to a newer year. The newer year head will fit, but I would also need the new intake manifold and fuel pump.
Full disclosure: I attempted to do a fly and drive with this vehicle. It was a massive failure due to the head/parts issue and I ended up spending more money than I care to think about renting a U-Haul to get it home.
Now that I had done several weeks worth of studying about the G54B, I had an idea what my approach would be. To be honest, I strongly considered doing a small block Chevrolet swap and forgetting all my parts woes once and for all. But that just didn’t seem right. No, the thing to do was to buy a 84-89 Chrysler Conquest, or its cousin, the Mitsubishi Starion. (Click here for a recently featured Conquest on hatchtopia.com)
The Conquest featured the same wideblock 2.6l and rear wheel drive setup as the Arrow – plus fuel injection and – wait for it – a turbo! Yes, a turbo. What could possibly add more to the NTC Arrow and all its ’80s greatness than a turbo? (The answer is nothing.)
A couple of weeks, a stroke of luck, and lots of classified searching later, I found my donor car:
A Conquest! Not just any Conquest, either. This particular car is a veteran of the 24 Hours of Lemons race. My engine has a bad top end, and the Conquest has a bad bottom end. Together, the two engines will net (hopefully) one strong running 2.6l mill.
This is the first in what will be a weekly series detailing the head swap headaches and turbo tribulations on my Arrow. If things go as planned, I think I can bump the power on the truck from a factory-rated 105 by at least 50 horsepower and perhaps as much as 75. I will add the turbo, the wiring, and the fuel injection. (At least I’ll try.) If it runs correctly, I may even increase MPG.
As for the Conquest, I hope to drop a more mainstream engine in it, get a team together and go Lemons racing. That will be a build thread of its own at a later date.