Meet the Rukus Customs tuned Mitsubishi Evo. A 750bhp carbon-clad monster that destroys Superbikes for fun…
Let’s get one thing straight: love them or hate them, Superbikes are fast. Like stupidly, ridiculously fast. Winding the throttle on a big 1,000cc machine is like spitting on an explosion. There’s a reason people call them “crutch rockets”.
So when Rukus Customs boss Craig Rukus told us he has raced all sorts of fast bikes in his heavily-modified Evo IV and beaten every single one, we were surprised. Partly because this doesn’t look like an Evo IV, it looks more like a VI – but also because that would put his car into a very elite group, one that even Supercars struggle to gain membership of.
Then he casually mentioned he also rides an 8-second drag bike too, a bored-out and turbocharged GSX-R slingshot no less. Our jaws hit the floor. We realized he wasn’t messing around. This wasn’t a drunken pub conversation, he knows his stuff. We were looking at a genuine bike beater.
“How does it compare to the drag bike?” asks Craig. “Well the bike is quicker off the line but that’s about it. Once you’re rolling the car feels faster. The Evo accelerates like nothing else I’ve ever experienced. It’s insane!” Craig tells us a number of high-octane stories that we can’t repeat. Each one more impressive than the last. We can’t print those sadly, so let’s see what we can talk about.
Firstly, the engine. It’s been put together with help from Ross Sport and AP Tuning, a combination that helped fellow Lancer Evo driver Phil Reed win the UK Time Attack Championship last year. Which explains its performance and reliability.
It’s also the only part of the build that wasn’t carried out by Rukus Customs. Ross Sport supplied the parts, some of which were in fact fitted at Rukus Customs. When Craig was unhappy with the performance of his last engine build, Ross suggested Gary Hayward at AP Tuning. It was an inspired choice.
Gary built this beast of an engine on a different engine block. The original 2.0-litre 4G63 block was ditched in favour of a 2.3-litre 4G64 block instead. The details of the engine build remain a closely-guarded secret, we couldn’t get any details on the spec of the Jun cams either. We did get Craig to admit that the crankshaft, con-rods and pistons have all been replaced, leaving him with something like a 2.4-litre engine.
More capacity is good because it means more power and a wider power-band, primarily because the engine can spool the turbo a bit quicker. Which in this case is a very trick GT37-HTA from Ross Sport. With regular Super Unleaded petrol in the tank, the MoTeC M800 ECU was used to dial in the engine, resulting in a massive 700bhp at 1.8bar of boost (26psi). Enough to leave pretty much any opponent in the rear view mirror.
Of course the Lancer Evolution is famous for attacking the twisties too. Craig isn’t a guy to do things by halves, so his handling upgrades have gone a bit further than simply bolting a set of coilovers on. In a moment of madness (or perhaps genius?) Craig made the decision to turn his tuned Mitsubishi Evo IV into an Evo VI. Why? Well, why not? That meant new bodywork was required but the real surgery took place underneath the car.
Incredibly, the Rukus Customs team stripped the Evo IV to bare shell, grabbed a load of Evo VI running gear and literally cut-and-welded the two together. Craig explains: “The VI chassis is wider, so it wasn’t simply a case of bolting the new stuff on. Despite what a few so-called experts told us. We quickly learned that we were the first ones to do this, so you expect some challenges when you’re exploring new ground. I’m glad we did it now.”
Craig continues: “We had to cut bits out of the original IV chassis and weld bits on from the VI before fitting the driveshafts, suspension arms, the lot. It was a big job but totally worth it. We went one step further by upgrading the front and rear differentials with the plate-type RS ones. We also fitted the quicker steering rack from an RS. It’s a completely different animal to drive now.”
Talking of different, have you seen the coolant hoses? Craig wanted something unusual to go with the blue and white theme, so Mark Hale from Samco Sport hooked him up with some custom camo coolant and power steering hoses. The engine bay is a work of art. The engine itself looks amazing, from the painted Magnus inlet manifold to the chunky Cusco strut brace it all works. It’s what isn’t there that really makes the difference though.
“We removed pretty much everything we could from the engine bay” explains Craig. “We’ve relocated the fuse box and relays inside the car, all the wires have been hidden or removed.” This sounds relatively simple but you need to know what you’re doing. It’s also very time consuming. There’s no denying the engine bay of Craig’s Evo looks amazing as a result, so it was well worth the effort.
Even the bits you can’t see have been done properly. Spin the car upside-down and you’d see the underside has been coated to match the colour-scheme. Craig has undersealed the car too, as being a Japanese import it wasn’t given any on the production line. The last thing he wants now is his pride and joy to rust away.
Especially as he’s now enjoying all the hard work. You can expect to see this Rukus Customs masterpiece at shows throughout the year. Or at the drag strip. Or maybe even scaring motorbikes on the street?
It’s amazing to think how far tuned road cars have come. Rukus Customs have taken a relatively humble Evo IV and turned it into a missile. One capable of blasting past anything the road, whether it has four wheels or two.
OWNER: CRAIGH RUKUS
TECH SPEC: MITSUBISHI EVO IV
2.4-litre forged engine built by AP Tuning on a 4G64 block, MoTeC M800 ECU, Ross Sport GT37HTA turbo. Wiseco HD pistons, I-beam con-rods, balance shaft removed from crankshaft, CNC ported cylinder head with oversize valves, JUN cams, HKS Vernier pulleys, Magnus race inlet manifold, S90 throttle body, AMS fuel rail, Injector Dynamics 1,600cc fuel injectors, Radium swirl pot with twin Bosch 044 fuel pumps, Walbro in-tank fuel pump, SARD fuel pressure regulator, JMF exhaust manifold and elbow, Precision 38mm external wastegate, custom 3in straight-through stainless-steel exhaust, HKS intake pipe with K&N air filter, Pace front-mounted intercooler with Ross Sport hard pipe kit, Spark Tech coil-on-plug CDI kit, HKS timing belt, Koyo alloy radiator with carbon brackets and Mishimoto slimline fan, HKS blow-off valve, Setrab 19-row oil cooler, Mocal oil catch tank, various Spec-R tanks and covers, Evo VII engine cover, custom Samco coolant and power steering hoses, Extreme alloy slam panel, Gizmo boost controller, polybush engine mounts, Exedy HD twin-plate clutch
Rukus Customs carbonfibre bonnet, one-piece H.I.D headlights, JUN front bumper with custom carbonfibre splitter and canards, Veilside door mirrors, wind deflectors, carbonfibre roof skin with custom vortex fins, 25mm wider wings all round, carbonfibre sideskirts, carbonfibre rear spoiler blade, carbonfibre rear diffuser
9.5x18in Rota GTR wheels custom coated by Rukus Customs, Full Evo VI running gear conversion and wider chassis, RS plate-type differentials front and rear, RS steering rack, HSD Monopro coilover suspension, Cusco front and rear anti-roll bars, Cusco front 3-point strut brace, Cusco rear 3-point strut brace, D2 8-pot calipers and discs with Carbotech XP8 pads, Battery relocated to boot
Evo VII seats, GReddy oil pressure, oil temperature and boost gauges
Ross Walker at Ross Sport for the engine parts and for putting me in touch with Gary at APT, Gary Hayward at AP Tuning for the engine, Mark Hale at Samco Sport for the custom hoses, Tim and Ben at Racing Lines for sorting the braided lines, Mrs Rukus for putting up with it all
Words Dan Goodyear Photos Chris Wallbank