Boyd Coddington Alumacoupe
The name “Mitsubishi” isn’t exactly on the tip of everyone’s tongue in the hot rod world. But when Boyd Coddington thought about a power plant for the Alumacoupe, first of his custom-body aluminum trio that came to include the Alumatruck and Alumatub, he settled on the four-cylinder Japanese motor in defiance of rodding convention. The reason? The two-liter, dual overhead cam Japanese mill fit the ultra light specifications of the car, and its small, efficient turbocharger was highly regarded for its ability to spool up quickly with a minimum of turbo lag.
Larry Erickson, who also sketched out Boyd’s CadZZilla for client Billy Gibbons of the rock band ZZ Top, designed the Alumacoupe. Built on a mid-engine custom tubular chassis, the car features aluminum bodywork by Marcel DeLay, with touches including a grille hand-formed by Pelle Forsbert, a scratch-proof aircraft-style windshield, and a plexiglass rear window. Unlike Boyd’s later aluminum creations, the Alumacoupe doesn’t wear its silver skin in the raw-it sports a lime-gold pearl acrylic lacquer applied by Greg Morrell, who also hand-formed the seats that were upholstered by Ron Mangus in tan Connolly leather.
With a stance that harks back to the classic fenderless rods based on coupes of the early ’30s, the Alumacoupe also seems to prefigure the Plymouth Prowler, which was still on Chrysler’s drawing boards when Boyd’s car made its debut at the New York International Auto Show in 1992. The Alumacoupe’s wide-set front paws claw the road via an independent cantilever suspension, Fiat rack-and pinion steering, and a pair of Boyd’s own Tri-Fan sixteen-inch aluminum wheels, matched in the back by a pair with the same diameter but with an extra two inches over the eight-inch front width.
That game little Mitsubishi engine, built by Russ Collins of RC. Engineering, is mated to a 1990 Mitsubishi Gallant four-speed automatic transaxle with Boyd built billet aluminum drive shafts and hub carriers. At 4,000 rpm, the ultra light setup delivers 275 ft. lbs. of torque. Was the turbocharged four-cylinder motor controversial, in a realm dominated by American eights ranging from prehistoric flatheads down through small- and large-block Chevrolets and Boyd’s own favored Corvette LTl? Of course-and no one argues that it set any major trends. But in a car as radically different as the Alumacoupe, it was just the right touch-a perfect example of a potent but understated engine in a sleek, superlight package.
- ORIGINAL OWNER: Boyd Coddington
- DESIGNER: Larry Erickson
- BODY: Custom aluminum
- CHASSIS: Custom; tubular steel
- ENGINE: 1991 Mitsubishi 4-cylinder; turbocharged; 330 hp
- TRANSAXLE: 1990 Mitsubishi four-speed automatic
- WHEELS: Boyd Coddington Tri-Fan; 16″ front and rear;
- TIRES: Goodyear
- FRONT SUSPENSION: Independent cantilever; Carrera coilover shocks
- REAR SUSPENSION: Independent; inboard Carrera coilover shocks