It’s the finer details that make this JDM Mitsubishi Evo IX MR completely boombastic…
Is there a more popular car for performance tuning than the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution? It seems every show is packed with ’em, and every one is making a billion horsepower. Because of this it’s easy to become a bit jaded by them. They’re everywhere and most of them are track cars, or are in the process of being turned into one. That’s why 25 year-old, race mechanic Aaron Palmer’s immaculate Palma Red Evo IX MR stopped us in our tracks.
Firstly, he’s been clever in picking the right base car. Aaron explains: “I saved up for years to buy an Evo IX. It was my dream car.” He didn’t want a cheap banger though. He’d been driving around in a modified Vauxhall Corsa while saving up and he wanted to do it right. The car he bought had to be special in some way, although he probably didn’t realise at the time just how special.
There are many different versions of Lancer Evolution to choose from; GSR, FQ, RS. And they all have slightly different specs and power output. Aaron found this JDM MR version for sale with just 38,000 miles on the clock. It had been imported from Japan almost from new and featured a load of bits that weren’t available on UK cars.
“It had an electric sunroof, polished side sills and chrome detailing around the blower vents. The piano-black dash inserts are unique to this model too – the UK cars got fake carbon fibre instead. I’ve tried to maintain the black, red and chrome theme throughout the whole car. I get compliments on the interior, but I think it’s all relatively subtle stuff. Like choosing a steering wheel with red stitching to match the factory-fitted Recaro seats.”
It’s a similar story under the bonnet. Ignoring the performance tuning for a moment, this is one sexy engine bay. Aaron has gone to a lot of effort to make sure the engine looks as good as it performs. For example, the JM Fabrications exhaust manifold has been Zircotec ceramic-coated to keep the heat in, reduce under-bonnet temperatures and keep the engine working at maximum power. However, Aaron admits that the Primary Black coating was also chosen to match the AMS F1-I inlet manifold.
The engine bay is packed with custom parts too. As a race mechanic for a European Formula 3 racing team, working at circuits including Spa and Monza, Aaron knows his way around the performance side of things. Initially he fitted some bolt-on parts and had the factory ECU mapped by Simon Norris at Norris Designs. The engine made 397bhp initially, then rose to 405bhp after fitting larger fuel injectors and a larger intercooler.
Then he moved from Southampton to Silverstone for work, so he was right on the doorstep of Indigo GT. “They’ve been really helpful,” admits Aaron. “They’ve got contacts all over so I was able to source parts from Japan and America through them. I bought several bits at a time to earn discounts.”
When it came to get the car remapped for the current list of mods, there was a problem. Aaron explains: “Indigo GT told me that Norris Designs had mapped the car on speed density (MAP sensor), which they didn’t do on the factory ECU. However, they could fit a Link G4+ ECU and map it on that. They had a Link in stock and my car was already booked in, so I had to make a decision on the spot. They offered me a good deal and I decided to go with it. The Link has much better knock protection than the factory ECU, but it was the toys that sealed the deal. I mean, who doesn’t like playing with anti-lag and launch control?”
The 2.0-litre turbo engine produced a meaty 436bhp and 425lb/ft of torque at 1.5bar (22psi) on Shell V-Power. If that figure doesn’t sound that impressive in a world of 1,000bhp drag cars then consider this. It’s a road car first and foremost, so that’s more than enough power to destroy pretty much anything Aaron is likely to meet at the traffic light GP.
Also, because this is a Japanese import MR model, the 4G63T engine is equipped with MIVEC, Mitsubishi’s variable valve timing system that helps spool the turbo quicker but still makes good power at the top end. Plus it has a TD05-15G turbo that is slightly smaller than some of the FQ models. In other words, there is no lag. There is power available whatever the rpm, whatever the gear. That makes this a properly fast street car.
What really attracts crowds to Aaron’s Evo is the way it looks. Those Work Meister S1 split-rims are the motoring equivalent of a diamond ring. They’re shiny, expensive and bound to make girls cry with joy. Probably. Aaron did flirt with a set of 9.5x18in Rota D2EX rims before upping his game and splashing out on one of the most iconic wheel designs of all time. He rolled the arches himself to make room and had to get his head around the quirky Work dish system.
“Being four-wheel drive, I had to make sure the front and rear wheels matched, to protect the transfer box” explains Aaron. “But I’ve managed to get a deeper dish on the rear wheels, despite them being the same width and offset all round.” The way he’s done this is by going for an R disc on the front and an O disc on the rear. Aaron adds: “The rears have a deeper lip, the fronts have spokes that bend further in.” It’s an optical illusion that makes the car look like it has a Kim Kardashian booty.
His first mod on the cleverly restyled exterior was the Rexpeed carbon fibre front lip from Carbon Goodies and the theme grew from there. He got a mate to wrap the roof in gloss black, including the original MR vortex generators. The rear lights are from a US-spec car and Aaron has de-tango’d the headlights to match. Round the back, Aaron has picked out the insides of the spoiler mounts in black to complement the Custom Carbon rear diffuser cover. He’s also added Varis rear bumper skirts on top of Rexpeed ones, to visually lower the car.
So far Aaron’s Evo has been a hit in the show ’n’ shine scene. He’s won a ton of accolades, including Top 10 and Top 25 placings at 100% Tuning in Holland, GR8 International Car Show in Belgium and Players Classic at Goodwood.
However, it’s the fact Aaron and his Evo have won the Show & Go trophy at Ultimate Street Car at Santa Pod for the last three years running, that proves he’s done a great job of merging form and function.
“The Show & Go trophy is half judged on how the car looks,” he explains, “and half judged on your time up the drag strip. I think my time last year was 12.3 at 115mph.”
Considering how many Evos are dotted around the show scene, we’re impressed that Aaron has managed to make his car stand out without resorting to a lairy paintjob or wrap. Yet stand out it does. Parked up alongside other Evos you can really see the extra girth. By fitting Meister R coilovers and dialling in four degrees of negative camber, he’s stanced his car without killing the handling.
It’s a masterclass in picking the right bits out to make an overall design, not just throwing loads of parts at it. As Shaggy would no doubt say, the result is boom-boomboom- boombastic.
TECH SPEC: JDM MITSUBISHI EVO IX MR
OEM Palma Red paint; gloss black wrapped roof and OEM vortex generator; Rexpeed carbon fibre MR front lip; APR front splitter; Rexpeed sideskirt extensions; Rexpeed carbon fibre rear bumper extensions; Varis rear bumper extensions; Varis Type II carbon fibre rear diffuser; Custom Carbon rear bumper and diffuser cover; Ralliart Evo VIII FQ400 wing mirrors; DIY rolled arches; Carbon Goodies front badge; simplified front grille; bonnet vent rain guard removed; de-tango’d OEM HID headlights with LED side lights; LED numberplate lights; USDM rear light clusters; USDM rear number plate with GReddy frame; inner rear wing mounts wrapped gloss black; tinted sunstrip; tinted front windows to match OEM rear tints; de-wipered; Mitsubishi tinted wind deflectors.
4G63T 2.0-litre 4cly 16v turbo engine; Link G4+ ECU fitted and mapped by Indigo GT; anti-lag and launch control; OEM TD05-15G turbo; standard internals; JM Fabrications large-runner stock-frame exhaust manifold Zircotec coated in Primary Black; JMF external dump elbow; 3in straight-pipe Kakimoto exhaust; GReddy 3-port boost solenoid; A’PEXi air filter with custom 80mm intake pipe; custom 2.5in intercooler piping; GReddy intercooler core; AMS F1-I inlet manifold; S90 throttle body; TurboSmart BOV; 1,000cc fuel injectors; AMS fuel rail; Sytec fuel pressure regulator; custom coil-on-plug conversion; custom breather setup with AN-8 fittings and braided lines; Mishimoto Evo 4/5/6 radiator with SPEC-R top hose; HKS radiator cap, alloy radiator mounts; Forge Motorsport power steering and coolant reservoirs; HKS oil cap; Frontline Fabrication billet aluminium dipstick, cam position sensor heat-shields, carbon fibre bonnet struts, cooling plate, cam cover, plug cover and fuse box cover; engine wiring loom relocation; battery relocated to boot; Tegiwa bolt dress-up kit; removed SAS; A/C and PAS cooling loop; IC spray system; radiator fans; charcoal canister and various solenoids removed; OEM 6-speed gearbox.
436bhp 425lb/ft 1.5bar on V-Power.
10x18in ET+5 Work Meister S1 split-rim alloy wheels (R disc front, O disc rear) with 225/40×18 Toyo Proxes T1R tyres; Meister-R Zeta-R coilovers; Cusco strut brace; OEM Brembo brakes.
Optional SSL (sun, sound, leather) package; chrome door handles and vent trims; Piano Black trim; IX MR factory Recaro seats; Takata 4-point Drift II harnesses; polished harness bar; Sparco L575 steering wheel; NRG 2.5 quick-release short hub; custom shift knob; colour-coded Coltspeed gauge pod; digital AEM boost; air/fuel ratio and oil temperature gauges.
Alpine CDA-117Ri headunit with upgraded speakers.
To my friends, for the late-night rescues.
Words Dan Goodyer Photos Matt Woods