A Globetrotting Galant VR-4

When I first moved from the United Kingdom to Japan, one of the hardest things was leaving my guitar collection behind and selling my SG9 Subaru Forester STi.

In retrospect though, I have no regrets. After all, they’re only material objects and even the rare ones can be replaced by something of equal value. I ended up finding my dream guitar on Yahoo! Auctions – a Fujigen-made Ibanez 7-string – and filling the Forester-shaped hole with a couple of old Imprezas.


The EC5A Mitsubishi Galant VR-4 is probably about as rare as the Forester STi, and both are pretty niche. Which is why I both admire and envy Aaron Stewart – the owner of this globetrotting Galant – for bringing the car with him when he moved to Japan seven years ago.


But this story is much more than I’ll bring my car with me because it will be cheaper than buying a new one, although that is indeed part of the story. This is more a story about following your dreams and staying true to yourself.


It all started around the turn of the millennium, when Aaron spotted a third – and final – generation Galant VR-4 at a local shopping centre in Hamilton, New Zealand. At the time, there weren’t many late-model VR-4s like this one in the country, as being a relatively new car they were still expensive to import from Japan and therefore not high on local used car dealers’ buy lists.

Unfortunately, bright-eyed boys fresh out of high school don’t have money to buy late-model AWD turbo sedans, so Aaron bided his time, pedalling his bike through cold winters and hot summers until the values of third-gen Galant VR-4s had come down and his bank balance had come up.


Meanwhile, Aaron’s future Galant-to-be was being imported into New Zealand where it was sold to its second owner. This was late 2003, and after six months of searching for a black, factory manual car, in 2004 Aaron become the third owner of the 2000 VR-4 thus completing ‘Stage 1′ of his plan.


Over the next 10 years, Aaron daily-drove his VR-4, adding more than 100,000km of travel to the 100,000km on the clock when he purchased it, something evidenced by the imperfect paint it now wears with pride. Along the way, he updated, upgraded and, most importantly, enjoyed the car.


Most of the modifications were made locally, with the expertise of JTune ensuring everything worked. That included the Brembo brake conversion – Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X callipers and Project Mu SCR-Pro discs at the front and an Evo VI/Project Mu setup at the rear, which took some fettling to get right. JTune also fitted the Mine’s VX-ROM ECU, SARD Racing 265lph fuel pump and adjustable pressure regulator, the OS Giken twin-plate clutch and flywheel combination, plus all the other modifications you can read about in the spec list at the bottom of this post.


Visually, the Galant was enhanced too. It now features VR-4 Type S arch flares, an Evo-style carbon fibre bonnet, Ganador mirrors, and modified Nismo-style R34 front lip, side skirt extensions and diffuser. The front bumper was modified by a plastic welding company before being resprayed.

What really gives the sedan presence are the 19×8.5-inch RAYS Volk Racing TE37 wheels – finished in special order Titanium Gunmetal – wrapped in 235/35R19 Yokohama Advan AD08R tyres.


The interior wasn’t overlooked either, with Bride Zeta III seats, a Nardi limited edition steering wheel, Mine’s titanium shift knob, and a combination of A’PEXi and Defi electronics some of the standouts.


In 2014, Aaron made his first trip to the VR-4’s motherland, hitting all the automotive meccas like Daikoku PA and Umihotaru PA. On the return flight to New Zealand, ‘Stage 2′ of Aaron’s plan was about to hatch.

Maybe it was the jet lag, high altitude or a combination of the two fuelled by one too many complimentary beverages, but suddenly Aaron had an epiphany. What if he could drive his own car on all the roads and expressways he had just experienced firsthand, plus all those he’d only seen in magazines and on YouTube? It was a crazy notion, but by no means impossible.


Would it be financial suicide to ship a car almost 10,000km back to where it came from? As it turns out, it was going to be cheaper than buying the same car in Japan. And that’s if Aaron could have even found one, because by this time most third-gen Galant VR-4s – just like my Forester STi – had already been exported to places like New Zealand or the United Kingdom.

Aaron wasted no time, securing a job in Japan and beginning the process of shipping his Galant back to its homeland.


Aaron found Online Logistics in New Zealand, who ultimately took care of the shipping and export/import logistics at both ends, with door-to-door delivery from Hamilton, New Zealand to Fukuoka, Japan.


Because the VR-4 had previously been registered in Japan, the process of re-registering was going to be much easier than a brand new registration of an imported car. It’s like welcoming home a new member of the family rather than adopting a new teenage child. Well, it would have been, if someone hadn’t left out a single digit from the car’s chassis number on all the registration paperwork. Even the best laid plans have their hurdles, and this was definitely one of them. Aaron had no choice but to start all over again, but eventually the Galant was re-registered for use on Japanese roads.


When the day came, a cruise to the local conbini for an ice latte was first on the list. That initial drive was less than a kilometre, but for Aaron it really must have felt like a full lap of Fuji Speedway.

You can keep up to date with Aaron’s day-to-day life with his Galant VR-4 in Japan via his Instagram.

Toby Thyer
Instagram _tobinsta_

2000 Mitsubishi Galant VR-4 (EC5A)

Engine: Mitsubishi 6A13T 2.5L twin-turbo V6, A’PEXi air filter, custom cold air box, Trust Type R blow-off valve, ARC BNR34 GT-R intercooler, Samco silicone hoses, custom front turbo intake pipe, custom intercooler piping, SARD Racing 265lph fuel pump, Sard Racing adjustable fuel pressure regulator, custom front pipes, custom 3-inch exhaust with A’PEXi high-flow catalytic converter, A’PEXi titanium muffler, Trust GREX oil catch can, Trust GREX oil cooler, Trust GREX oil block adapter, Trust GREX oil filter relocation block, braided oil lines, Tomei baffled sump, Trust alloy oil filler cap, GReddy Evo VI aluminium radiator, SPAL fans, HKS fan controller, GReddy radiator breather tank, Greddy 1.3bar radiator cap, Optima YellowTop battery relocated to boot, Sun Auto voltage stabiliser, Sun Auto Hot Earth grounding kit, GReddy washer bottle, Mine’s VX-ROM ECU, A’PEXi AVC-R Black Edition electronic boost controller

Drivetrain: Factory 5-speed gearbox with Lancer Evo VII 5th gear ratio, OS Giken twin-plate ceramic clutch, OS Giken flywheel, OS Giken push/pull converter

Suspension & Brakes: Tein Superflex coilovers, Tein EDFC II control unit, Tein EDFC motors, Cusco front sway bar, Cusco rear sway bar, Okuyama Carbing 3-point front strut brace, Cusco 4-point lower brace, Lancer Evo X Brembo callipers with 350mm Project Mu SCR-Pro rotors (front), Lancer Evo VI Brembo callipers with 300mm Project Mu SCR-Pro rotors (rear), Project Mu Hyper Carbon Plus brake pads, Ralliart braided brake lines

Wheels & Tyres: RAYS Volk Racing TE37 wheels (Titanium Gunmetal) 19×8.5-inch forged wheels, RAYS lightweight wheel nuts, 235/35R19 Yokohama Advan AD08R tyres (summer), Enkei RPF1 18×8-inch wheels, 225/40R18 Goodyear IceNavi tyres (winter)

Exterior: VR-4 Type S arch flares, custom front bumper, carbon fibre Lancer Evo-style bonnet, Ganador Super Mirrors, modified Nismo-style R34 side skirt extensions, modified Nismo-style R34 front lip & diffuser

Interior: Bride Zeta III seats, Bride seat rails, Bride seat back covers, Bride side covers, Nardi limited edition steering wheel, Mine’s titanium shift knob, A’PEXi Black Edition Rev Speed Meter + G-Sensor, A’PEXi turbo timer, Defi Control Unit II, Defi Link BF gauges for boost pressure, fuel pressure, oil pressure, oil temp, water temp, exhaust temp, GReddy pillar mount, Sony CDX-M9900 head unit, Alpine Type R 6.5-inch components (front), Alpine Type R 6×9-inch speakers (rear)



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Thank you so much for the feature even though it's not a popular car. Toby took amazing photos as always! Also a huge thanks to Sasaki-san at Takata Techno Service in Hiroshima prefecture - this dream of driving it in Japan probably would not have happened without all his help getting it registered and maintained once it arrived.


As a fellow 8gen VR4 owner, you nailed it!!! SH should feature more of these cars. we need the support of aftermarket parts for these models.


Man this model Galant VR4 is so underrated and I would argue this is the best looking gen of that era
Definitely a nice build too simple not overdone for a sedan


Congratulations! Well deserved on a well
Maintained example VR-4…. One of the JDM