Owning a well-known show car is a wonderful thing. But it comes with its own baggage, as Jon Livermore owner of this stunning tuned Mitsubishi Evo IX is all too aware…
You may have seen Jon Livermore’s carbon-studded Evo on the show scene – he does get around a bit. Furthermore, you might be one of the 2.5+ million people who’ve seen the YouTube video by our friends at Car Throttle about Jon and his car; entitled ‘How a 700bhp Evo Saved My Life’, it deals candidly with Jon’s battle with cancer, and the therapeutic properties of having a project car to deflect the harshness of reality into something simultaneously more dream-like and more measurably goal-oriented. From both of these angles, then, you might have formed perceptions about both Jon and his car; he pisses excellence, he vomits rainbows, and the sun shines out of his engorged tailpipe… but is it really that clear cut?
No, of course it isn’t. And after numerous features and countless trophy wins, it’s more important than ever that Jon’s car isn’t defined by its silverware, and that he himself isn’t defined by his health. So we’re here to dispel some myths…
Myth 1: He built the car to win trophies.
“No, that’s not the case at all,” Jon laughs. “My original vision for the Evo was to create a road-going Time Attack car – but I didn’t want to cut any corners. There are a lot of cars out there that tick all the boxes in terms of performance, but just aren’t up to scratch when you look at the quality of the details. There was no way this was going to be thrown together just to be fast, I had to get every element perfect. Yes, it’s true that I wanted it to be a show-winner – but it had to be a road-going Time Attack-style car that also happened to be a modified concours champion, I don’t think there’s any point doing one without the other.”
It’s not all about the winning for Jon, despite what people in the show scene may think. He built this car the way he wanted it to be, every decision made is one that ticks a box on his own mental checklist.
Myth 2: It’s a chequebook build.
One of the more common rumours about this car is that Jon’s just cynically thrown a lot of money at it, and that’s why it wins trophies. But that, frankly, is bullshit. He’s pumped a lot of blood, sweat and tears into this Evo over the years, with the help of his mates, and the thing bristles with emotion. “I’ve been so hands-on with it, right from the beginning,” he assures us. “Obviously I get help with the things I know other people can do better, because I want it to be perfect; I can weld, for example, but Ben at Rukus is a welding Jedi, so that’s his job…
“Let me tell you about the engine bay,” he says. “That’s one of the most recent changes. All I intended to do initially was just freshen it up, so me and Craig Rukus started sanding it all down and, after a while, he said ‘So, what do you want to keep?’ I said ‘What do you mean?’, and he replied ‘Well, we’re smoothing it aren’t we?’ And the idea just came from there, we thought we’d do something different and have it all back together in a fortnight. Three weeks later, there we were, still elbows-deep in the bay… have you ever poked around in an Evo bay? Smoothing them is not simple!”
Myth 3: He trailers it everywhere.
The car does get trailered sometimes, that’s true. This gets the performance purists up in arms. But Jon’s quick to correct them. “It registers about 115db,” he grins. “Even on a motorway cruise it’s over 100db – it’s a harsh, noisy, bumpy car. People tell me ‘If I had a car like that, I’d drive it everywhere’. Trust me mate, you wouldn’t. But I do drive it as much as I can – it’s a driver’s car with a huge spec, of course I do. And nothing makes me smile more than burying that throttle pedal and unleashing the fury!”
Myth 4: ‘How a 700bhp Evo Saved My Life’ neatly defines the build.
Does Jon need your sympathy? Of course not, that would be incredibly patronising. He’s not defined by his illness. It’s a neat framing device for that well-known version of the story, but it’s not the whole story.
“Yeah, it’s true, the cancer did help me to reassess my priorities,” he reasons, “but this car was going to happen regardless. No-one should look at me and see ‘the cancer kid’ or whatever. I didn’t know about the lymphoma when we started planning the project, but it did give me the push to go all-in, to ensure that absolutely no corners were cut and I’d never be looking at any part of the car and thinking ‘Oh, I wish I’d made a bit more effort with that bit’. So yes, there was a shift in perspective, but I’ve always been a very goal-oriented person, very hungry, and I don’t just mean eating at Five Guys. The cancer took that away from me a bit, but having the car as a project spurred me on, gave me something real and measurable to focus on. In a way, the cancer was one of the best lessons I could have had; not something to be thankful for, but definitely something to learn from.”
Myth 5: If Jon turns up at a show, there’s no point anyone else being there.
“It’s such a well-known car nowadays, and I do hear a lot of stories,” Jon laughs. (He laughs a lot, it’s infectious.) “It’s easy for people to forget that this car isn’t just a scene myth, it represents a lot of hard work and graft – not just the work physically put into the car, but the work I have to do day-to-day to afford it all! I hear that it’s a drift car, that it doesn’t actually run, all sorts of weird rumours. I recently took it down to Tuning World Bodensee in Germany, which is a show perhaps not as well known with the UK scene kids, and it was like being a genuine celebrity! People were asking for selfies, one German guy had driven for seven hours just to meet me and see the car, I’ve had people waiting by the car for three or four hours for me to come back… I don’t want to sound like a dick, it’s just what it’s like over there.
“The scene in Europe is a lot more friendly and accepting, people are genuinely just in it for the love of the cars,” he continues. “I recently had one guy come up to me at a UK show and say ‘I wish you hadn’t come’. Totally straight face, just a really nasty thing to say. People need to realise that we’re all just car enthusiasts; I still take inspiration from other people’s cars at shows, and I certainly never enter expecting to win. Bodensee, for example… waiting for the judging there was so nerve-wracking, it was the most painful hour of my life!”
Jon’s humility is, in itself, humbling, and his awareness of the realities of the situation is impeccably logical: he’s just a car guy who’s built an awesome car, and is now enjoying the fruits of his labours. Screw the haters, let them get on with their own thing. “It’s all just Chinese whispers,” he smirks. “I don’t buy into the hate, I’m just a joker, just enjoying my life.”
This car, then, is one of contrasts. Its fully-built stroker motor runs the sort of spec that makes race teams weep, while the body wears all manner of lightweight parts from Jon’s own company, Daibutsu-R – the sheer acreage of carbon-fibre is a marvel to behold in all its lacquered, exposed-weave glory. Yet at the same time the entire car is flawlessly, improbably clean. And Jon’s eager to point out the competence of the chassis too – it’s running Air Lift suspension along with most of the Whiteline catalogue, and he’s pretty forthright when you get him onto the subject of wheels: “The new ones are Volk RE30s,” he explains. “They’re forged rims, one-piece and proud! So many people get hung up on the idea of having split-rims, but these RE30s are strong and they weigh about 7kg a corner, it makes a difference!”
It’s Jon’s attention to detail that makes the car what it is – this is certainly no cynical chequebook build, but an emotional project that’s been with him through thick and thin. “I’m not saying that the only thing I’ve done with my life is to build an Evo,” he grins. “It does what I built it to do though, and I’m proud of it.” As well he should be. Consider the myths busted.
OWNER: JON LIVERMORE
TECH SPEC: MITSI EVO IX
Fully smoothed engine bay, Daibutsu-R vortex generator, carbon fibre wings, front and rear doors, bonnet, boot, side-skirts, spats and diffuser, APR carbon fibre wing mirrors, USDM taillights, custom headlight intake, APR front under-splitter, full carbon fibre roof, Voltex carbon fibre exhaust surround, Rexspeed spats, Ralliart front splitter.
Indigo-GT built 2.0-litre 4G63 MIVEC – stroked to 2.2-litres, Precision 6266 turbo with Zircotec black hotside, Zircotec black manifold, elbow and downpipe, Oliver Extreme billet rods, billet crank, CP 85.5mm pistons, Supertech dual valve springs, Ferrea valve guides and collets, Tial F38 wastegate and BOV, Fluidampr harmonic balancer, Race Developments cylinder head, HKS gaskets, ACL Race bearings ARP main studs, A1 head studs, Kelford 272 cams, HKS cam pulley, Indigo-GT lash adjusters, HKS timing belt, ARP manifold studs, 3in downpipe, 4in K&N filter, Magnus black intake, chromed tanks, thermo housing, sensors, intercooler and intake pipework, boot-mounted fuel system with Sytec pump and swirl pot, 3in Blitz Nur exhaust system, Koyo radiator, AMS race intercooler, braided Hel turbo oil and boost lines, HKS Kansai carbon fibre plug cover, Zaklee clear cam cover, Spec-R chrome tanks, battery relocated to boot, carbon-dipped rocker cover, Ralliart cooling plate, rad cap and thermostat, Super Pro engine mount and gearbox bushes, Blox engine mounts, Tomei piston oil cap, LINK ECU with anti-lag, launch control and switchable maps, factory 5-speed RS manual gearbox, RS diff conversion with RS propshaft 702bhp, 590lb.ft
9.5x18in Volk RE30 forged one-piece wheels in custom candy red, Air Lift Performance Series airbag suspension with V2 management, Whiteline roll-centre kit, Whiteline adjustable front droplinks, Whiteline front and rear anti-roll bars, custom rear camber arms, race-spec rear toe arms, HKS Kansai front and rear struts, fully polybushed, Evo X FQ-400 365mm discs with Alcon calipers and XP8 pads, full-race brake setup – ABS and servo delete, HEL braided brake lines, OBP in-car brake bias valve
Daibutsu-R dry carbon fibre interior parts with single- coat lacquer: doorcards, A,B,C & D pillar covers, kick plates, parcel shelf; Cobra Misano carbon fibre-backed seats with carbon leather and custom stitching, Takata 4-point harnesses, OMP harness cutter, Rexspeed carbon fibre steering wheel cover, speedo surround and armrest cover, Ralliart pedals, carbon-fibre window switches and gear surround, custom headlining, Blitz turbo timer, A’PEXi AVCR, AMS carbon gearknob, Coltspeed carbon-fibre gauge and stereo pod, Safety Devices rollcage, Audi R8 accessory net
Thanks to Craig at Rukus Customs, all the boys at Indigo-GT, Mark Moss at Autobrite, Cobra Seats, Carl Taylor at Air Lift, all the lads who’ve helped with the build, Ben the welding Jedi, my friends in the scene who’ve made it all worthwhile, and Lance, who’s helped from the very beginning but is no longer building cars – he’s moved to Scotland and he’s trying to find Nessie! Also In The Detail.
Words Jon Bevis Photos Chris Wallbank