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SP Rides: The Red Dragon

March 21, 2014
 
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BY MICHAEL KITCHENS

Name:  Joseph Szuch
Age: 27
Occupation: U.S. Navy
Hobbies: Cars and dirt biking
Year/Make/Model: 1992 Plymouth Laser RS AWD Turbo
Color: Red
Build Time: 1.5 years
Engine: Rebuilt 6-bolt 4G63T with ARP hardware, GSC cams, Redline lifters, Forced Performance red HTA 76mm ball bearing turbo, Forced Performance manifold, HKS SSQ BOV, TurboSX boost controller, 2.5-inch ETS intercooler piping and intercooler, GM 3-inch MAF, Injector Clinic 650CC injectors, ECM tuning DSMLink V3, Snow Performance water/methanol injection, Fluidamper harmonic dampner, balance shaft eliminator kit, Aeromotive fuel pressure regulator, coil-on plugs, Mishimoto radiator, 3-inch Open Dump downpipe, 3-inch A’PEXi exhaust, Walboro 255 fuel pump
Drivetrain: Sheppard Racing Stage 3 trans, ACT T1R twin disk clutch, limited slip differential
Interior: AEM wideband, Autometer oil pressure and boost gauge, HKS turbo timer, short throw shifter
Suspension/Wheels/Tires/Brakes: Megan Racing coilovers, drilled and slotted rotors, aftermarket wheels, Firestone Firehawk GTs at P235/50R18

Raised in New Hampshire, Joseph Szuch was born to a father who loved drag strip and paved oval racing, and that upbringing made it easy for the youngster to become enthralled by the automotive condition. Since his first car, a 1985 Mustang GT, Joseph has owned a decent selection of vehicles, including more fox body Mustangs, a Celica-Supra and a Honda Integra. Upon relocating to Hawaii, he found that his Civic Si wouldn’t pass the draconian recon laws here, so he settled for a ’63 Mercury Comet.

Eventually, he was introduced to the world of Diamond Star Motors, aka DSM, via his roommate and wrenching buddy, Justin Hurst. Justin has owned several DSMs his lifetime and was fully aware of the automotive potential of the brand. (As an aside, DSM was a joint venture between the Mitsubishi Motors and Chrysler corporations. DSM was responsible for some of the 1990’s heaviest hitters, including the Laser, Eagle Talon, and the ever-infamous Eclipse.)

When Joseph found this 1992 Plymouth Laser RS, it was already pushing close to 300HP of AWD power to the wheels. Initially, Joseph had reservations about picking it up.

“I said it looks like a girl’s car,” he recalled. “Then I drove it and was impressed by the power.” And once Justin suggested the car had potential to push 500 to 600HP, Joseph was sold.

The first step was to replace the clutch, which was absolutely destroyed from hard use. Once that was done, the duo decided to pull big numbers out of the engine. The engine is a fully rebuilt 6-bolt 4G63T with ARP hardware. The modifications are too numerous to list them all, but it features GSC cams, Redline lifters, a Forced Performance manifold and 650CC Injector Clinic injectors. The ride breathes easier with a 2.5-inch ETS Intercooler setup fitted with an HKS SSQ blow-off valve.

The 16g turbo was replaced with a monstrous Forced Performance RED HTA 76mm turbo and includes Snow Performance water/methanol injection. Exhaust is expelled through a 3-inch downpipe to an APEXi exhaust. The car is self-tuned with an ECM Tuning DSMlink and puts the power down through a heavily modified drivetrain. A Sheppard Racing Stage 3 transmission has been added with a limited slip differential to help traction.

Additional modifications include Megan Racing coilovers, and drilled and slotted rotors. The aftermarket wheels feature Firestone Firehawk GTs fitted at P235/50R18. The interior sports enough gauges to monitor the situation including an AEM wideband, autometer oil and boost gauge, HKS turbo timer, as well as a short throw shifter to speed shifting.

With an amazing 238,000 miles on the odometer, this car is well traveled and easily underestimated until Joseph puts his foot down. It’s called the Red Dragon for a reason: With its current modifications and 30PSI of boost, this car puts out a whopping 500-plus HP to the wheels. Let’s say it all together now: “Wow!”