Why buy a Lancer and turn it into an imitation Evo X? Because import rules are very different in Thailand, as the inspiring story of Thanakorn Win and his modified Lancer shows…
Some say, teamwork makes a dream work (though maybe that was just something a mate back in college use to say?). Regardless, that saying holds true for virtually every aspect of team sports. No matter how many super stars you have on your starting lineup, if the team itself is weak, the end result usually follows suit.
The same could be said about car groups, or teams as they are commonly referred to in Asia. At first, I always wondered why they decided to call their group teams (being an American, anything with the word ‘team’ in it must refer to some sort of sports by default). However, the more teams I met in Japan, the more I realised their unity and the way they look after each other can greatly resemble teams of the athletic type. And in Thailand, the Liberate team embody this concept greatly.
On the subject of teamwork, it was this unity that drew Thanakorn ‘Win’ and his 2011 into the Liberate team. While in university, Win decided to buy this Mitsubishi. However this is not an Evo X, but the less powerful and FWD variant of the Evolution – the humble Lancer.
You may be wondering why someone would go through the trouble of making their car look like an Evo in the first place. Why not just buy an Evo and save yourself the time and money? I too had similar questions while pointing my camera at the imposter, but as Win explained his reasoning it began to all make sense.
In Thailand, the government has imposed strict import laws in an attempt to stimulate local economic growth, and persuade companies to open factories inside of Thailand to help create jobs. This method does indeed force companies to build factories in Thailand if they wish to enter the market, because if they don’t wish to comply with the government’s wishes, they face import taxes up to 300 percent on all goods. This includes parts as well, if you’re wondering.
Since the Evolution isn’t manufactured in Thailand, the price to buy one could reach figures damn-near six figures in USD currency. Since many who wish to enter the tuning and customising scene don’t have that kind of disposable income, enthusiasts have to settle for lesser versions of their performance variants – like the Evo.
“Even if I wasn’t in college, I don’t think I would buy the Evo X. It’s just too expensive to buy here in Thailand. It makes more sense buying a Lancer and modifying it to Evo Specs.” It makes sense why Win walked the path he did. If I was in his position I would do the same.
Since we are on the subject of Evolutions, it’s time to take a look at the aggressive aero kit that ultimately transforms the exterior appearance of the Lancer to an Evolution. If you had a chance to read issue 387 of Fast Car covering ‘Momm’s’ S20 Toyota MR2, you may be familiar with the styling of the kit. The same person responsible for Momm’s custom widebody kit is also the mastermind behind this widebody kit which he calls the StreetWarrior.
Up front hosts the largest canards and front splitter I’ve ever seen on a car that wasn’t a purpose-built Time Attack car. The “Please Mind Your Step !!” sign on the sideskirts (see overleaf) is a touch, seeing as it extends far out past the front, to the point I found myself being reminded not to step on it when trying to get up close for detail shots.
The sideskirts continue the trend of needing warning stickers for those who may try to get in and out of Win’s Lancer where the rear hosts a radical rear diffuser and massive GT wing, all a part of the StreetWarrior aero kit by Garage Unique.
Knowing that most Lancer owners also tune their cars to look like performance variants of themselves, Win wanted to modify his in a way that would stand out differently among the crowd. Going with a complete one-off aero kit by Garage Unique was the first step in achieving this. The second was the actual paint scheme in itself. Many people in Thailand like to have their car a solid colour versus a two-tone paint or wrap. So Win decided to take the path less travelled and had the aero kit painted black to add a bit of contrast to the orange warp.
The custom Street Warrior aero kit not only transforms the Lancer’s appearance to an Evolution, but also adds extra girth to tuck in those 18-inch WORK Meister S1R wheels with a -10 offset on all four corners. Custom Neomax suspension (10k in the front and 15k in the rear) provides a solution for having the proper ride height and stiffness to deal with the less than ideal road condition of Bangkok’s infrastructure, to make sure he doesn’t rub the WORK Meisters against the aero kit. It’s a bit harsh, I’d must admit, but you have to do what you have to do.
A look on the interior reveals that all but the driver’s Bride Stradia 2 seats have been removed in the quest to save weight. It also reveals this car came with an automatic transmission. Again, I was a bit confused. But the reason behind that makes sense too. With Bangkok having some of the worst traffic in the world, and temperatures that constantly hover in the mid-to-high 30˚ C, the combination is a recipe for ruined clutches if you drive often during the day. Since this is Win’s only car, which he uses to help run his business, I can understand why he opted with the automatic transmission.
Under the hood is where things start to really get interesting. The 4B11 has undergone a series of changes to extract more performance out of the inline four engine. Almost everything besides the crankshaft (for the time being) has been replaced with better and stronger parts. The turbocharger has come directly from the Evo X, Arias pistons, Manley connecting rods, and cams similar to the ones found in the Evo X have been swapped in attempts to increase power.
The valve train has also been modified to match the increased duration and performance of the cams and piston. ARP rods and head struts make sure everything stays together and doesn’t leak under the added boost. DW-65 fuel pumps and Dynamics ID 110 Injectors insure that the proper fuel mixture is delivered into the combustion chamber. The Lancer is now making close to around 350 horsepower to the tyres. The spent by-product of that new found power dumps out of the custom headers and out the exhaust system.
The build has been going on since college and yet Win still seeks different ways he can tweak it to not only make it a little closer (if not better) than an Evo X, but also stamp his own styling and originality on his beloved car. After spending time with the Win and the Liberate crew, it’s very clear they value a mindset that focuses primarily on originality and uniqueness.
They also value teamwork and Win was quick to let me know that if it wasn’t for the support of the Liberate team, he doesn’t know where he would be with this build. Which ties back to the original thought behind this piece. Teams and clubs are the ideal resource and can act as your second family in the car scene. Win and his Lancer found his family. How about you?