Starting with a 2005 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VIII MR my quest was to put together a high performance street car that I could take to a road racing track and find out what it was made of.
This entry is an explanation of what modifications I made to the basic car and why. Just about all of them I would not change.
I had previous experience with turbo cars and the Mitsubishi’s 4G63 engine. I found that turbocharged cars really respond to opening up the intake and exhaust. I also came to realize that the 4G63 is quite a stout engine. It has a lot of capacity in terms of power over the stock rating.
My first modification was to exchange the stock exhaust system after the cat for a Greddy Titanium system that weighs in at about nine pounds versus the fifty-five pounds of the stock system. Then I changed out the stock air filter element for one by K&N. My research showed me that the stock air intake design would work well even up to 400 hp. It is a good design that pulls cooler air right from the area at the front of the hood. I also got a reflash for the car’s ECU that allowed the mods to free up thirty or more horse power.
That was a good enough start and I then concentrated on the car’s handling. The MR has a fantastic suspension to start with. Bilstein shocks and struts along with some complementary springs provide a better ride than the standard GSR version yet loses nothing in terms of handling. So I chose to find ways to further stiffen up the already ridged chassis. First I found that Mistsubishi’s parts bin had a nice aluminum rear strut brace as well as a “trunk bar” that stiffened up behind the rear of the trunk.
The front suspension came with a pair of bars that do a very good job of keeping the lower suspension mounts from flexing, but I found a much more complex brace made up of stainless steel to replace the two bars with.
The rear anti-roll bar was replaced by an adjustable unit from Road Race Engineering. Since the new rear bar came with poly bushings I replaced the stock front bushings with poly as well. They squeak a bit, even with plenty of synthetic grease applied, but that is something I can live with.
Road Race Engineering recommended Project Mu Blue brake pads for the street and I picked up a set of Brembo rotors to go with them. I use Ate brake fluid, alternating between the yellow and the blue.
Eventually I chose to replace the springs with something that would drop the car just a bit, but not compromise the ride. I chose Swift Springs from MachV. When you change the ride height you must not ignore the other changes like the front roll center drop that comes along with it. Fortunately Whiteline makes a couple of kits to address that problem as well as rear bump steer. With all that I ended up with a reduction of 1.4″ in the front and 0.8″ in the rear. My friends evaluated the ride and pronounced that it was a better ride than stock as well as providing better cornering capabilities. Naturally I did an alignment to go with the change and found having negative two degrees camber on all four corners with zero toe in front was perfect. The rear toe was 1/16″ total.
By that time I had given up on the Yokohama Advan tires that Mitsubishi sold the car with. I went through three sets and while I found them very sticky, they were also noisy and got very sensitive to steering input as they lost tread. They were replaced with Bridgestone Potenza RE-01R tires that are also very sticky, cheaper, quiet, and have better tread wear. Nitrogen keeps them round.
Power, can you ever have enough? With the suspension sorted out and top braking capabilities I decided to upgrade the intercooler with a new Greddy unit that was much larger than stock, with no modification of the bumper or cover to fit. The downpipe was replaced by a Tanabe unit from Road Race Engineering again as well as a high flow cat. GSC Stage 1 cams replaced the stock pair. These kinds of mods also require an upgrade to the fuel pump to a Walbro 255 lph pump. The Evos from 2006 came with a metal version of the recirculation valve (often called a BOV) so I replaced my plastic one with a metal version. An ECU tune from Jestr made the most of all those modifications producing on the order of 400 wheel horsepower.
When I take the car to a road racing track I swap out the street rotors and pads for a set of nice stock rotors and Raybestos ST-42 pads. I always freshen up the brake fluid before an event.
Aerodynamics were also considered to complement all the other modifications. Mitsubishi had a “wicker bill” that I added to the rear wing and the front got a JDM carbon fiber front lip installed. In the rear an APR rear aero diffuser was put in place to clean up the air flow under the car.
On the cosmetic side I changed out the headlights and tail lights for some ones from an UK version MR. In the US the lights had a lot of chrome in them and I preferred the black surrounds along with amber turn signal lenses. The headlights required that I swapped the US HID shields for the UK ones as they were originally made for right hand drive cars and would blind on coming drivers if not changed out.
So how is the car with these changes? It is fast and handles very well. The exhaust is a bit loud, but not bad. The ride is excellent and the car is very drivable around town in traffic. At idle the cams provide a gentle lope that could probably be dispensed with if I turned up the idle. I have taken the car on a 3000 mile road trip since the latest modifications and had it on a road racing track for two days. It has excellent manners in both situations and is a blast to take to its limits.
There is always the temptation to “just tweek it a little more”, but I think I’ll pretty much keep it where it is now. It is a nice balance between a street car and a track car.