LS Fest West 2022: LS-Swapped, Twin-Turbocharged 1980 Mitsubishi Minicab

10 min read

LS Fest West 2022: LS-Swapped, Twin-Turbocharged 1980 Mitsubishi Minicab

10 min read

There are folks who like to build weird stuff, and then there’s Joshua Mazerolle. The host of the Amazon Prime Video show Deathwish has earned a reputation for esoteric (and at times bracingly sketchy) builds over the years, but this one may be his most ambitious project yet.

“It actually started as a bet with a buddy of mine,” he says. “We found an ad selling three of these trucks and the seller claimed that you could probably build one good one out of the three. As it turns out, even that was a stretch.”

Mazerolle Mitsubishi kei

Mazerolle and his friend ultimately decided to build two trucks from the trio, each working on their own project independently and in secret with the intention of competing against each other with the finished products. “The truck that I started with was rolled over and super rotted,” he explains. “We put a new roof on it, along with a new A-pillar, B-pillar, floor, header panel – we basically built an entirely new cab for it.”

The chassis is where things start to get really interesting, though. “It uses two GMT800 front ends – so basically two 2006 Silverado 2500 front ends fused together back-to-back,” Mazerolle says. “And then we dropped a 5.3-liter LS in the middle and slapped a couple of Precision turbos on it.” The LS is said to be good for about 600 horsepower with its conservative tune. Meanwhile a 4L85E four-speed automatic with a manual valve body handles the gear changes while a New Process 205 transfer case manages the power distribution between all four wheels.

Mazerolle Engine

“I built it just sort of for the hell of it; it’s just fun,” he says. “The purpose was to build a mid-engine turbocharged V8 mini-truck, but along the way it also kind of became this test bed for the rear-steer setup and the control module that we developed with Radial Dynamics.”

The setup gives Mazerolle control not only over the steering angle of the rear wheels on the fly, but also whether they’re running in phase with the front wheels or opposite of them, the former offering crab walking capability and potentially more high-speed stability, while the latter effectively reduces the wheelbase of the truck in tight low-speed maneuvers.

Mazerolle minicab rear steer

“I’m pretty stoked on how this came out,” he tells us. “This thing didn’t run when we got to LS Fest today, but now it’s all working exactly how it’s supposed to and it’s scary-fast. The plan going forward it just beat on it, do some road trips, and just have fun with it. This will never be ‘good’ at anything, but I think it’s going to be fun at everything.”


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