This is no ordinary Evo, say hello to Nathan Noone’s 2JZ powered Mitsubishi Evo VII…
When it comes to performance cars, you can separate them in to various categories. Hot hatches, 4wd rally weapons, RWD beasts, and so on, and each category of car feels totally different to the next, and after driving any of the cars you’re in no confusion of what type of car it is.
In any of these categories engine swaps are commonplace too, in a lot of cases it’s the cheapest and easiest way to the performance you want. But even with an engine swap, these cars tend to stay the same kind of performance car they always were; just faster.
But what about this car? The Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution is a world famous car, and any car fan would put this straight in the ‘4wd rally weapon’ category even if you told them it’s had an engine swap, as, well, it’s just an engine swap, right? Well, yes and no, as yes it’s had an engine swap, but it’s now no longer the type car it looks like; it’s now well and truly a RWD beast!
We’re sure you’ve all seen the engine picture already, and yep, that’s a Toyota 2JZ engine. While everybody loves these legendary tuner powerhouses, loads of you right now are probably thinking ‘Why 2JZ swap a Mitsubishi Evo’, and basically the answer is, ‘why not?’
“I had a pretty big spec S14a 200SX before this, but I was offered good money for it so I decided to sell it and build another powerful RWD car, but a four door this time” Nathan, the owner and builder of this car explains. “I decided it had to be a straight 6 turbo engine and a manual box, but the obvious stuff just didn’t tickle my fancy, and I’ve always had a soft spot for the Evo 7-9s; they’re pretty small and light compared to the more obvious Chaser and Skyline options too. After a few beers with my mates I decided to tell them my idea, and they all thought I was mad and would never be able to pull it off, but that was the drive for me; I had to do it to prove them wrong!” He explained.
From speaking to Nathan, you’d imagine the engine swap was simple, but when you delve in to the details of what this swap consisted of, you realise it’s one hell of a job, and the car now consists of almost as much Toyota Aristo and Nissan Silvia S15 parts as Evo ones. Despite this, and pretty amazingly, aside from the paint and ECU wiring, the whole job was done by Nathan and a few of his friends in just a few months!
The Toyota Aristo is the JDM version of the 1990s Lexus GS300, but unlike the Lexus, the Aristo had an option of coming with the legendary 2JZGTE turbo engine, and in fact under the skin is effectively a 4door Supra. Nathan happened to own a manual converted one, and how well it drove, and how strong and reliable it all was, was what influenced the decision to not only go for the 2JZ powerplant, but also have so much of the Aristo running gear fitted to this tuned Mitsubishi Evo VII.
With an Evo being a 4wd four cylinder with the engine fitted transversely, ie left to right, fitting a much longer straight six engine longitudinally, ie front to rear, sounds like it would be somewhere between tricky and a nightmare, but the actual modifications needed to the shell was not too bad at all, though the way Nathan explains things no doubt makes it sound far easier than it would be for most of us!
A transmission tunnel was needed to be created as the gearbox is now mounted under the car, the hole in the bulkhead for the steering column needed to be adjusted, and custom engine, gearbox, and front subframe mounts were needed, but that’s it for the shell, which is pretty amazing considering the amount of non-Evo parts that are fitted.
So what parts are from what cars? Well, the rear suspension and subframe is Evo, and even the rear diff was Evo for a short time, but thanks to the massive torque from the tuned 2JZ, the diff and shafts was swapped for an Aristo setup with an LSD. “I actually broke three Evo rear diffs in one weekend!” Nathan laughs.
The front subframe is actually from an Aristo, which despite being a much bigger car, fitted ok once on custom mounts, which in turn allowed the 2JZ to fit easier, and he used the Aristo steering setup too. The coilovers are actually Evo parts from BC Racing, and the brakes are also original Evo Brembos.
Nathan’s substantial fabrication skills not only came in handy when it came to making the Aristo diff and shafts fit the Evo subframe and rear hubs, but the front suspension arms and hubs aren’t Evo or Aristo; they’re Nissan Silvia stuff! Nathan likes drifting, and the huge popularity of S-body Nissan drift cars means there’s loads of great parts available for them, so the whole front suspension setup are fully adjustable parts intended for an S15 Silvia, and it even has S15 Wisefab hubs for serious amounts of steering angle; something a standard Evo certainly hasn’t got!
While the running gear has had an unbelievable amount of work done to it, you’d really not know from the outside until Nathan starts smoking the rear wheels, as the main reason he started with an Evo is he likes the look of them, and let’s be honest, they all look fantastic.
That doesn’t mean it looks like a standard Evo 7 though, far from it, in fact he’s used the best of the Evo 8 and Evo 9 bodywork, along with a whole host of carbon goodies, bronze Rota Torque wheels, and BC coilovers, all of which combine to make it lower, meaner, and cooler than any factory version, while still looking pure Mitsubishi Evolution. The paint? Well he always had a red Evo in mind, but the actual paint is a custom blend that he’s keeping to himself for now…
Just like the exterior, the factory Evo interior is a seriously nice place to be, so he just added the Evo 8 Recaro interior and a few carbon goodies and the car was good to go, but how does it drive? If we’re being honest, a whole lot of drastic engine conversions like this, while they’re cool and seem a good idea, often don’t drive well at all, many pretty terrible in fact, but we’re very glad to report this isn’t one of them!
“It drives and handles brilliant, way better than anyone ever believes until they get in it, and the turbo is on boost from under 2000rpm but pulls all the way to 8500rpm, making it great to drive” Nathan explained.
He actually originally intended to build it as a track car, but once the build was nearly complete he realised they’d built such a nicely done car he turned it in to the full road car you see today.
The future for the car is, as ever with these things, even more performance, but despite being a welder and a mechanic for a living in the past and getting fed up with that, and doing drifting in the past and giving that up too, this insane 2JZ Evo build has gone so sell and handles so well that he’s got the bug back for all of it, and his ultimate dream now would be not only to get back in to drifting, but also building and fabricating insane project cars for a living.
Most project cars are such hard work it’s enough for most of us to feel like giving up on cars sometimes, but this crazy car has done exactly the opposite, and if that’s not a sign of a good car we don’t know what is…
TECH SPEC 2001 Mitsubishi Evo VII
Toyota 2JZGTE VVTi engine, Mamba GTX3076R turbo with T4 flange, Japspeed tubular exhaust manifold, 38mm Tial external wastegate with screamer pipe, 3inch custom downpipe, 3inch Cobra exhaust, HKS timing belt and tensioner, turbine blanket and heat wrapped downpipe, HKS oil filter, 50mm alloy Evo3 radiator, uprated alloy intercooler, twin electric fans, custom silicone boost hoses, braided oil lines, HKS air filter, alloy oil catch tank, lightweight alloy pulleys, Walbro 350lph fuel pump, Vibratech engine mounts, Link G4+ Extreme ECU, mapped by MD Tuning, 470bhp and 564lb/ft at 14psi boost, 8500rpm rev limit.
RWD conversion using a Toyota R154 5 speed manual gearbox with extended selector housig, Cube quick shift, lightweight flywheel, 5 paddle clutch, custom gearbox mounts, Toyota Aristo rear diff with LSD, custom propshaft, Aristo driveshafts, custom rear wheel bearings, custom rear diff mounts.
8×18 (front) and 9.5×18 (rear) Rota Torque alloy wheels, 225/40×18 tyres front and rear, 20mm front spacers, 5mm rear spacers, Aristo front subframe, Aristo power steering rack, custom front subframe mounts, BC Racing Evo 7-9 coilovers with 10kg front springs and 5kg rear springs, Japspeed S15 Silvia front lower arms, Japspeed S15 Silvia front tension rods, Japspeed S15 Silvia adjustable steering rod ends, S15 Wisefab front hubs, Evo rear hubs, 4pot Brembo front calipers and 320mm discs, Brembo 2pot rear calipers.
Evo 8 MR front and rear bumpers, HID headlamps, Evo 8 MR rear lights, Evo 9 MR bootlid and rear spoiler, carbon front splitter, carbon bonnet vent, carbon side skirt extensions, carbon rear vortex generator, carbon rear bumper extensions, custom red/orange paint.
Standard with Evo 8 Recaro seats and carbon dash and centre console trim.
All my family and friends for the help, and especially the ones who said I was mad and it couldn’t be done, as you were the biggest encouragement to prove it was possible!
Words Stav Photo Ade Brannan