Buying an estate car is what sensible people do. But Darren Simon is not a sensible person. Just look at his modified Mitsubishi Legnum – just for the hell of it!
There comes a point in everybody’s life – and believe me, if it hasn’t happened to you, it will – when you tell yourself. “I can use it to take hedge-clippings to the tip. I won’t have to pay an extortionate delivery charge when I buy a new washing machine. It’ll easily swallow the kids’ pushchairs along with the weekly shop. It’ll be handy for the dog…” And before you know it, you’ve joined the beige Volvo set. It’s an immutable constant of human existence.
This, however, hasn’t exactly played out as fate dictated for Darren Simon. He may have pulled the trigger on a Legnum – one of the larger wagons offered by the JDM scene – but he’s not exactly filling it with garden trimmings. There’s no room. It’s full of speakers. “Yeah, I did get a bit carried away,” he laughs.
No kidding. So, where did this all start? “Well, when I was young my dad had a Galant V6 and I loved it,” he says. “So when I found there was a twin-turbo version, I decided it would be a cool car to build – especially as they’re not a common sight. I managed to find a limited edition Legnum [the estate version of the Galant] not far now gone though – the black leather, the pearl paint, everything! And I’ve also converted it to a manual with an Evo clutch.” Ah, what price originality, eh? It’s not as if it was the only one left. Besides, it’s an even more limited edition now…
OK, you’ve probably noticed the Fitment Junkies branding on the car, so let’s ask Darren to clear that up, shall we? “Having been a part of car clubs over the years, some close friends and I had drifted away from the local club scene and needed a way to get to shows if we couldn’t all get into show and shine, so we had to create something,” he elaborates. “Fitment Junkies is what we came up with. We run the Ultimate Rides Hall at the Modified Nationals, we host an invite-only BBQ day with Dodo Juice at their headquarters, we do a 15-car show paddock at TRAX, as well as hitting as many shows as possible.
“Fitment Junkies operates on a personal level, actually talking to people in real life about their cars, rather than just posting comments over Facebook and Instagram.” A mission statement right there, and an indication of just why this Legnum is so brutal.
Right then, back to the build. “After fitting Rotas and coilovers, it all really began,” Darren recalls. “There was a bit of colour coding, and I found an Energy polybush kit comprising 48 bushes which made body roll obsolete. At the same time I fitted the Evo brakes all round.” While searching Driftworks he unearthed a second-hand set of staggered SSR Koenigs on a high offset. “Useless for S-bodies and perfect for me!”
A set of Super VR4 sideskirts lowered the side profile nicely, while the thorny issue of finding pretty bumpers was solved by an OEM Evo VII bumper which was custom-moulded and widened by Xquisite to fuse with the Legnum’s existing unit. This is complemented by a Lexus IS250 rear lip imported from the States, again uniquified by Xquisite.
“I began hunting for camber mods and found nothing,” says Darren. “So I decided to go it alone and started altering suspension parts myself: bolt-holes moved, and adapting parts from other cars until I got the maximum I could out of it. Then I decided the car needed to stand out. I sourced some hot-rod bonnet hinges in the US and had them welded into my chassis leg. The bonnet now flips open sideways!”
Yep, this is proper outside-the-box stuff, and you’ve got to admire the dude’s ingenuity. This continues to the colour scheme, too. He was having trouble matching the limited edition paint shade, so what did he do? Sacked it off entirely and slathered the whole slab-sided wagon in Nato Green. Sod it, why not eh? And from there, naturally, the full-on military theme was but a stepping stone away. It would have been churlish not to.
Where we entered the story, of course, was the point at which Darren stuffed that cavernous load bay with audio gear. “I wanted to be that loud obnoxious guy,” he grins mischievously. “But to do that, you really can’t have distortion. I wanted people to complain about the sound level, but admire the sound quality.” And so that’s exactly what he set out to achieve.
It helps that Darren’s a carpenter by trade, as he was able to fabricate all of the housings himself in ply and MDF. “I started out with two 12s and some uprated mids,” he continues, “which was fine, but hardly attention-seeking. So I installed two batteries into the boot and fitted a second alternator in place of the aircon pump. With my power supply sorted I went to town on the front of the car. The front seats were swapped for Bride buckets and Takata harnesses, which made room in each door for an 8-inch Hertz SPL and a 6.5-inch mid. This was my first attempt at playing with fibreglass and it didn’t go badly!”
With his enthusiasm and confidence bolstered, Darren then set about stuffing the back with gizmos, all surrounding a custom rear bench from a 200SX which, he gleefully admits, was installed with the help of a hammer, an angle-grinder and an electric bread knife. And look, there’s even amps sunken into the rear footwells!
Seasoned modifiers may know Darren by the name Pugme and will be familiar with him through his well-known old Peugeot, a fully custom 106 GTI. But this Legnum is an entirely different kettle of sushi. “I’m proud of this car in a different way. This one has, as much as possible, been built by me – out on the road in front of my house,” he beams. “It seems to go down well because it’s different. I’m often asked if it’s on air and I’m proud to say it’s static. But more money has gone into making it able to drive like this than any air kit would have cost! The ride is rock solid and I’m often removing the bumper to get into places. But I wouldn’t change it for anything.”
We have to suffer for our art sometimes, don’t we? But that’s what’s most fun about this car. Darren’s taken a sensible and practical car and deliberately made it belligerent and stubborn, for the sheer hell of it. And the ‘for the hell of it’ vibe is something that’s missing from the scene these days. Too many people are focused on following trends. Why not just be silly and have a laugh? It’s a hell of a way to live. Just ask Darren.
TECH SPEC: MITSUBISHI LEGNUM
Custom Evo VII front bumper; aftermarket front grille; Cibie headlights with custom demon eye halos; side-hinged bonnet; Super VR4 skirts; Ganador
wing mirrors; Lexus IS250 rear lip moulded to fit; door-controlled puddle lights in skirts; dipped in Nato Green with army and Fitment Junkies decals.
6A13 2.5-litre V6 twin-turbo, custom remap;
Blitz pod filter; full 3in straight-through exhaust system with 2.5in downpipes; HKS SSQV blow-off valve; Walbro fuel pump; front-mount intercooler; full engine polybush.
9.5x18in (front) and 10x18in (rear) SSR Koenig rims; 215/40 (f) and 225/40 (r) Nankangs; Evo Brembo brake conversion front and rear; Tein street coilovers; full Energy Suspension polybush kit of 48 bushes; custom upper rear arms with adjustable camber mounts; reverse-mounted camber correction kit fitted to front.
Custom smoothed centre console housing 10in touchscreen – displaying i3 PC running Windows 7; clock housing modified for three gauges; Bride Vios III front seats; Nissan 200SX rear bench modified to fit and retrimmed to match front seats; doorcards trimmed with red flock in centre section; Hertz
ST25 tweeters and HSK163 three-ways in A-pillars; HSK163 mid speakers and 8in SPL show subs in front doors; 2x 12in Rockford Fosgate T2D212 1200w subwoofers; 5x Rockford Fosgate power amps running all audio – controlled by Rockford 360.3 EQ; 3x amps and EQ built into boot; 2 amps built into rear footwells; LED headlining; dash, pillars, door tops and boot trims all flocked black.
Fitment Junkies and all its members; RAF Museum London; Xquisite; and LA Paintworks.
Words Dan Bevis Photos Dan Pullen