Spac’s adventures in Magna

SpacSpac @Spac Canberra-ish.

This story starts in maybe 1995 when a mate had a fairly quick Gemini and he came home distraught that he had just been demolished in a traffic light battle … by a Magna.

We later learned that the third generation V6 Magnas were decently quick. I got hosed by Ross Dunkerton in the 2004 Rally of Canberra when he was driving one of the two factory AWD Magna rally cars.

Owning a Magna is an idea that has floated around in my mind for nearly three decades since, but I never had a need for one.

And I still don’t… but the idea came up again last weekend when a registered manual one was advertised dirt cheap. I missed out on that car, but a mate told me that a mate of his had a manual one for sale.

It was a maroon 3.0 V6 one, with terrible paint, and a dead alternator, but the interior is nice and it runs beautifully. The clutch master cylinder is also dead.

He talked himself down to $300 while I was looking at it, and I gave him the money.

Meanwhile, another one was advertised for $1234 🙄 but I noticed that it was also a V6 manual one. Covered in tree sap, not running and a dead clutch.

The seller told me that she wanted $500 for it, so I took the punt and hooked the car trailer up and drive 90 minutes to go and have a look: What a disaster!

It was another 3.0 litre (I was hoping that it might be a 3.5), dead clutch, stinks of mouse piss, flat tyres, full of dirt, broken/trashed interior, missing keys and busted ignition switch.

I haggled her down to $200 and then let her haggle me back up to $250 because it was clear that the extra $50 meant a lot more to her than to me…

The towbar, five factory alloys and the paint being better than the maroon one are pretty much the beginning and the end of the positives.

Oh, and the custom headlining!

The custom “mural” on the bonnet is not entirely to taste…

Today I tried to get my head around the white car: work out how good the paint actually is, under the tree scum and mould; and try to get it running.

So, the body is ok. A few dents here and there, and the original paint is pretty good.

Unfortunately it has been poorly repaired on the LHR quarter panel has flaking clear coat.

I temporarily fitted a Mirage ignition switch, and the maroon car’s ECU, and the maroon car’s key in the white car’s immobiliser ring … but the immobiliser is a separate unit so I have no spark and no fuel pump.

I will try to find the immobiliser unit and swap them tomorrow.

The longer term solution appears to be finding a later model (programmable) Magna ECU and have the immobiliser switched off - but I really only want to see if the car runs.

Right now, my thoughts are to use parts off the white car to make the maroon car work properly, and then strip the manual bits from the white car and send what’s left to scrap.

If I like the whole idea enough, then I will try to find a decent 3.5 litre wagon and convert it to manual.



  • SpacSpac @Spac Canberra-ish.
    edited October 2022

    Today was spent on the maroon one, dodging the rain, and sometimes in the rain.

    Apart from the terrible paint, it is actually quite a nice car.

    Clutch master cylinder had some gunk wedged under the seal. Just needed a clean out.

    Haven’t bled the system properly, because it didn’t seem fair to drag either of the kids out into the rain to help… but it works well enough to move it around the yard.

    Next was swapping the alternator. Have to take the radiator out to do this, so I swapped radiators because the maroon car’s was visibly blocked.

    (Forgot to take photos)

    This is the white car, with the radiator removed… I am guessing that it was driven through a muddy creek at some stage shortly before it was parked.

    Washed it, to see how bad the paint/body is… It is actually very straight, except for the poor repairs down the passenger’s side.

    I mean, when your clear coat is worse than 1990s Mitsubishi clear coat, then it is time to take a long hard look at yourself.


    Probably the first time it has been up to operating temperature since 2015. The steam pouring out of the engine bay (see three photos up) was a source of concern, but it was just evaporating out of the outside of the radiator.

    Starts easily, runs smoothly, and does everything nicely except for very occasionally misfiring on one cylinder at idle. I am assuming that it is water somewhere, or maybe oil in a spark plug tube. Meh - it definitely needs rocker cover gaskets, so it will be sorted then.

    I pulled a front upright off the white car to test fit the Evo Brembos. Apart from needing to trim the backing plate down very slightly, it all just bolts straight on.

    Side quest was to sus out the differences between Magna and Mirage uprights.

    Balljoint taper is bigger on Magna. Note how far the reamer slides into the dirty Magna upright compared to the the Mirage one.

    Strut bolt spacing is the same 65mm, and the same 12mm bolts, but the Magna upright is 3mm wider.

    Magna strut is about 35mm longer. NBD considering most coilovers can be adjusted for overall length.

    Spring OD appears to be the same as Evo/S40 but I forgot to measure it.

    PCD for the strut tops is larger on the Magna. I reckon that it is close enough to just make the holes on the strut tower oversize, but I need to think it through properly before I do that.

    Oh, and I found a nice looking, lowish kay 3.5 litre wagon in Victoria at a decent price. I really need another couple of weeks to get my act and my brain together, but I think that it is something that I should buy…

  • Ex850RSnoopy @Ex850R Somewhere Over the Rainbow. Melbourne.

    There's a TJ auto wagon in Melbz for 750 ish on gumtree.

  • SpacSpac @Spac Canberra-ish.
  • Ex850RSnoopy @Ex850R Somewhere Over the Rainbow. Melbourne.

    ID in 2nd pix.

  • SpacSpac @Spac Canberra-ish.

    Ah, Gumtree, like you said.

    Not Marketplace where I was looking…

  • Ex850RSnoopy @Ex850R Somewhere Over the Rainbow. Melbourne.

    I didn't even pick that up from your photo! Ha!

  • SpacSpac @Spac Canberra-ish.

    FTO, yes.

    Mitsubishi made two series of V6 in this era: the little 6A1x motors that were used in the FTO and Galant, and the “big block” 6G7x that were in Pajeros and Magnas.

    Both fit, but the 6A1x fits far more nicely/easily into a Mirage than the 6G7x.

  • I meant the GTO into a magna...

    you need a 1000hp magna in your life

  • SpacSpac @Spac Canberra-ish.

    Oh… it must fit?

  • SpacSpac @Spac Canberra-ish.

    Reasonably busy, but not frantic day got the white Magna very close to being ready to send to the scrappy.

    I had no idea that it had a pull clutch until I got it out… Hole sawed into the bellhousing let me get to the clutch bolts and get the box off the motor.

    But even once I realised that it was a pull clutch, it still isn’t clear how to get it off…

    I have since found the correct procedure, but it is not obvious.

  • SpacSpac @Spac Canberra-ish.
    edited October 2022

    Around lunchtime today, I bought a Magna wagon in Ballarat.

    About 20 minutes after picking it up, I pointed it toward Adelaide…

    It has many of the predictable problems that $1500 cars have, but it has impressed me so far.

    As a car, it is better than the BF Falcon wagon, but I have zero doubt that the Falcon is the better tow car.

    The early ‘00s trip computer tells me that it used 8.9l/100km, but the trip meter and servo bowser say that it is more like 8.4. The Falcon would have been around 10.0 for that trip.

    The shocks aren’t quite up to the task - they’re not awful, but they don’t have enough rebound dampening and this makes the car a bit bouncy. Not sure if this is worn out shocks or just low quality bits.

    The radio doesn’t work, which is not ideal before spending 8 hours in anything…

    Interior smells like a heater core leak.

    It has more top end power than the Falcon - it doesn’t count as a fast car, but it is remarkably entertaining when overtaking other cars in 110kph zones.

    Seats aren’t wonderful, but after four hours in the Falcon’s XR6 seats and 8 hours in the Magna seats, I only got a bit achey in the last couple of hours - no real discomfort and I feel fine now that I have been out of the car for a bit.

    Really looking forward to seeing how it goes with the manual conversion from the white car. And the Evo Bilsteins, and the Evo Brembos. 😁

  • PaddlerEdPaddler Ed @PaddlerEd New England Region, NSW

    "Spac's misadventures in Magna collecting" is the proposed new title.

  • SpacSpac @Spac Canberra-ish.

    I thought that the “misadventure” part was implied from the moment I started talking about Magnas.

  • 3.5 has a really fun kick hey?

  • Regarding the front being a bit bouncy, likely they're worn shocks - my wife (then girlfriend) used to have a Verada wagon, and I told her every time in her car for a year to replace them.

    This led to driving from Ganmain to Melbourne with completely failed shocks. Not a fun trip...

    They do have a surprising kick given what they are and how little fuel they use.

  • Mitsubishi GTO also know as 3000 GT

    I was over taken in a R33 skyline once by a magna like we were standing still we later discovered it was running a motor swap with some nice shiny snails in there.

  • PaddlerEdPaddler Ed @PaddlerEd New England Region, NSW

    Tiny bit on the history of the older Magna wagon - Volvo gets a mention, so there's your tenuous link to Volvo...

  • SpacSpac @Spac Canberra-ish.

    Today began at 4:30am Adelaide time. Left my friends’ house at 5:15am, and drove the Magna wagon back to Ballarat.

    It was great. Fuel consumption was reset in Adelaide and was at 11.7l/100km when I began the return trip. Down to 9.3 by the time I collected the trailer and Falcon from DCW’s (thanks for looking after them!).

    Went and collected some Mercedes wheels from a champion bloke before heading home.

    It was a slow but uneventful trip until I stopped to refuel at Holbrook.

    Two Vietnamese blokes approached me with broken English, asking where I was going. Long story short, they had a crashed Mazda 3 and they needed to get back to Canberra.

    After a bit of thought and some clarification of expectations, I unloaded the Magna off the trailer and loaded up the Mazda.

    So they are driving the Magna back to Canberra and I have to work out how to dispose of a rooted 3 and how to collect my Magna back off them…

    I recognise all of the risks here. I have covered myself on the speed camera risks, so really my only concern is if that steal or root the Magna, but I figure that the risk is bearable.

    I have been actively trying to live the change I want to see in the world… will see if it bites me.

    I am kind of wondering if it is reasonable to swap the crashed Mazda for the loan of the Magna, and then scrap it.

    So yeah, it was a weird end to a big day!

    Ex850RGreenGLChristimboAshDVSdp666carnut1100Vee_Quebgpzfm142pauljlozand 1 other.
Sign In or Register to comment.