Welcome to My Wheels, Rida. It’s not often that you see these second-generation Mitsubishi Lancer Turbos on the road anymore — how did you find this one?

You are right, there are very few cars left that are in good shape these days.

I found this one in Syria 12 years ago. I was looking for a simple car, economical to run and one that could handle the roads back home. I was searching in the car markets in Damascus and had no idea what I wanted — then my friend told me to check out this one particular showroom which was located in the Mazra’a area right at the end of the street from all of the others. It was 11pm when we entered and asked the owner what he had for my budget. He said to one of his staff to bring that “Saje’eh” here — that means old piece of metal — and out came a blue, rusty Mitsubishi with a manual gearbox!

The interior was in a bad way like the rest of the car — but I just couldn’t take my eyes off that boxy shape. It was love at first sight and so I bought it.

 

Did you know about the following these cars have when you got it?

No I didn’t. It was a couple of months later when I was talking to my friend Kevin who told me that my car had a huge following in the JDM and that it was a valuable car.
I immediately went online and came across pages dedicated to the Mitsubishi Lancer Turbo Ex; I didn’t know that it had won a lot of rallies between 1980 to 1986 and that it was one of the fastest four-door JDM turbo cars of the time!

I started restoring it back in Syria at Rabee Zabadani Garage. We fitted a 4G93 Twin cam DOHC turbo engine with 2.0 bar of boost, a five-speed rally short shift gearbox, customised radiator, hard racing Sumitomo suspension, disk brakes, racing LSD auto block differential, HKS intake system and TEC Racing exhaust.

The car has 280 horsepower and only weighs around 1,000kg. It’s very fast. As a finishing touch we painted it bright red and I think this colour suits its racy nature better than the old blue paint.

 

But you had to leave the car behind when the war started in 2011, right?

Yes, and that was very difficult to do. I tried many times to bring it here over the last six years but with no luck. Thankfully, earlier this year my friend Amer Olyme did an amazing job in preparing the car and drove it through many checkpoints and on very treacherous roads, reached the port and put the car on a ferry and it started the long journey across the ocean and eventually arrived in Dubai.

The journey took almost 30 days and it wasn’t a direct trip either; it had to go from Syria to Cyprus then to Egypt and then finally to Dubai.

 

What an epic journey! Now that it is back with you how happy do you feel and how much fun is it proving to be?

Words cannot describe the way I feel when I drive this car. This old classic JDM machine gives me such an adrenaline rush. It used to be my daily driver back home in Damascus and my buddy Amr Karouni was always with me — but now I only plan to drive it during the cooler months.

I thank God every day the car survived out there in Syria when the war began — but I am more thankful to my wife Dana Khaldi for supporting me in my passion for cars, attending every car show with me and helping to keep our classic alive.

In the very short period of time the car has been back in my possession (since December 2016) it has won six trophies from all sorts of car shows like Emma Arabia, Custom Show Abu Dhabi and JDM Meets.

 

That’s awesome, and well deserved too. What is your dream car?

I’d love an Eighties Cadillac Brougham, they’re just so cool — and boxy like my Lancer. I guess I am a sucker for this shape!