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Mitsubishi Evo is 20: a potted guide by owners

By Chris Chilton

Motoring Issues

21 March 2012 09:24

In the new April 2012 issue of CAR Magazine, we've gathered together most of the Mitsubishi Evo family for a 20th birthday celebration. Here you can read more about Evos I to X - in the words of their owners. And don't miss the full 10-page feature in CAR Magazine.

Evo 1

Owner: Paul Stevens
This is Paul’s second Evo I, and follows a hideously unreliable Nissan 300XZ he describes as a ‘nightmare’. ‘I love my Japanese cars,’ he says, and has no plans to sell this one, which is broadly standard, bar a set of replacement rims, Tein coilover suspension and a boost controller giving the choice between 1.0, 1.2 and 1.4 bar of pressure. Wind up to 1.4 and it delivers around 300bhp. Like all our owners he’s a regular on the Lancer Register (www.lancerregister.com) as well as www.evo123.net, a hangout for owners of the early Mitsubishi Evo cars.

Evo 3

Owner: Kerry Johns
Our Evo I owner, Paul, is Kerry’s dad, and between them they’re turning this Evo III into a bit of an animal. ‘We thought the engine was gone, so we pulled it apart,’ says Paul. ‘But it turned out to be the gearbox.’ Bad luck, but a great opportunity to build an even better engine. The new one is a 2.3-litre stroker built by Baldyne Aviation in Kent. Since the pictures were taken, it’s been fully run in and had a trip to the rollers where it recorded 327bhp before the actuator failed. Now fixed, it’s due to go back with a bigger exhaust where the pair aim to hit between 450 and 500bhp. ‘I use this car for everything,’ Kerry says. ‘Shopping, school run, the lot. The kids love it!’

Evo 4

Owner: Chris Smith
‘Imagine an old pub carpet,’ Chris Smith says of the original seats in his spotless Evo IV, just one item to get the heave-ho in its transformation to the stunning example it is today. Like Paul, Chris is a repeat Evo owner. He’d already had a couple of IIIs before he picked up this Evo IV, which landed in the UK in 2006. Since getting his hands on the keys Chris has added the spoiler from an Evo V, the bootlid from a Makinen and upped the wheels an inch to 17in to cover bigger brakes. Inside, the flocked dash, proper buckets and OMP wheel make it feel substantially different to standard, but it’s all beautifully done. It’s not just a case of style over substance, either. The engine’s been upgraded with Evo VIII internals (‘the 4’s rods are like chocolate’), HKS 264 cams, an FP Green turbo and bigger injectors. It’s also running an Evo V ECU because the IV’s can’t be remapped, apparently. The result is around 425bhp, up from 276bhp, but it’s still surprisingly tractable.

Evo 5

Owner: Ali Ziyaeddin
Incredibly, Ali has owned this Evo V from new. ‘I bought in in 1998, and for almost two years, until the Evo VI came out, no one knew what it was. I paid £28,000 for it, but I’ve probably spent that again in upkeep.’ Ali readily admits it’s no trailer queen. He’s clocked up over 125,000 miles driving into central London every day, it was rear-ended at ten years old and has just been treated to a £5k engine and gearbox rebuild including new pistons, turbo and cams, taking power to 456bhp. Like Chris, Ali has upgraded the brakes too, in this case to AP six pots. Compared to Chris Smith’s slightly less powerful IV, it takes a while for the power to arrive, but when it does the kick is monumental. ‘I’ll never sell it,’ Ali says. ‘My nephew already has his eyes on it.’

Evo 6

Owner: Chris Short
Talk about time warp. The nature of the beast means it’s hard to find an unmodified Evo these days, but Chris Short’s Tommi Makinen edition (TME) looks like it just rolled out from the factory. Drives like it too. If you wanted someone to understand why we got so worked up over these things, this car would be a great teacher. Chris gets the bus to work most days, saving the Evo for sunny weekends, meaning its done just 10k in three years. It’s needed a replacement clutch and turbo, but has otherwise been reliable. ‘You can pick up an Evo VI for £5-6k,’ he says, ‘but a good TME costs more like £10k, and the red ones tend to be more desirable because that was the rally car’s colour.’

Evo 7

Darren O’Brien
When Mitsubishi unveiled the radically toned-down Evo VII, not everyone liked the new design direction. But Darren O’Brien obviously has a thing for them – this is his third VII and his fourth Evo, having previously owned a lightweight IV RS. The VII was the first Evo to appear through official UK channels in any great number, but this one isn’t a Brit-spec FQ car, it’s a Japanese GSR with a Varis front splitter. ‘It’s got a replacement exhaust, intake, cams and ECU upgrade, and is good for 365bhp,’ Darren says, ‘though with new conrods, you can take them to 500bhp I believe.’

Evo 8

Chris Williams
Here’s one big grey reason not to drop £25k on a new hot hatch. Chris Williams’ beautiful Evo 8 MR340 has just 27,000 miles on the clock, yet he paid only £12.5k for it last autumn when he wanted a replacement for his VXR8. With its carbon roof and Bilstein dampers, the MR was already pretty trick as it came from the factory, but this one’s been lowered 25mm and remapped to boost power to 395bhp. ‘That makes a massive difference says,’ Chris. ‘The torque gains are enormous.’ Even factoring in the sizeable fuel bills you’d generate running the thing every day (Chris has a Merc C250 daily), this is an incredible amount of car for the cash.

Evo X

Owner: JRM
Think the latest Evo is a bit lardy compared to its predecessors? Or maybe you just want to turn one into a trackday or rally weapon. This is what you need. It’s a proper Evo X RS, complete with roll cage and some nasty-looking flat seats that are just begging to be ripped out and replaced by some proper buckets. JRM (www.jrm-group.com) brought a stack of factory-fresh, unregistered cars into the UK but they’re all now sold bar the demo car, yours for £16k plus VAT. When we drove it a couple of years ago, Ben Barry called it ‘the best Evo you can buy’.