Over the last few years I had a local EVO specialist who carried out modification to evolve my beast into a monster. I've always wanted to write about my experience and I thought this would be a good time to take my #Mind into the fast lane.
I wanted a car to have a nice balance between power and handling. I bought this gem of a car in 2015 with only 23k miles with no modification. The pictures from the specialist just had me dribbling with love at first sight and I wanted it! I had to have it! Literally, I drove there on the spot and paid my deposit, it was mine! My prreeccioouuss!
The base car is a fourth generation 2006 Mitsubishi Evolution IX FQ340 UK spec with 345bhp at 6800rpm and 320lb/ft of torque at 4600rpm. The official figures indicate 0-62mph in 4.3sec. Flooring the accelerator throttle from standstill in an FQ-340 produces the effect of being launched out of a catapult and as the FQ badge implies it's ‘F’#%king ‘Q’uick!
The turbo boost spool is instant between 3500rpm and 6500rpm. If you weren’t ready for next gear, the power surge can make it very easy to run into the rev-limiter due to the gear ratio. This design of gearing meant changes are quick to produce mind boggling acceleration and a top speed of 160mph.
The very first time I went drag racing in the Evo, I was lined up against a Duramax Chevrolet S10, at first glance I was thinking "it's only a diesel", then a his support team comes out and after a very smoky burnout they check his tyre pressure, line him up on the lines by now I knew some serious $h!t is about to go down.
My results to establish a base line run with my standard Evo with 345bhp was 13.4 seconds average with my best time being 13.2s at 104mph terminal. Now it’s time to satisfy the need for speed child in my brain that screamed I need more power!
A local specialist near me advised that with a De-Cat, uprated fuel pump and a 3 port electronic boost controller I should see circa 400BHP. I dropped the car and asked them to also do a full service, sparks plugs, gear box oil and anything that could maximise power. A week later and with a hole in my pocket, my Evo evolved in to a beast with 385lbft Torque and 401bhp. Knowing my car had just evolved my balls also grew and transitioned to beast mode.
Dyno days are always enjoyable and memorable, chatting to other performance car owners and finding out that we all spend our extra cash on parts to make more power and that by the end of the week I would probably forget the face but I'd remember the car.
It's nice to be able to quantify and see the numbers for power and torque. But, I prefer to get real life numbers on the quarter mile. In beast mode I averaged 12.6 seconds, with my best time being 12.5s at 105mph terminal. The acceleration definitely improved but problem was that all 4 wheels kept spinning up on me and I just couldn’t tyres to hook and give me the grip.
I was able to hone in to the resolution of 12 seconds and every time I went on the track it felt like the longest 12 second of my life to the point where I was in the zone. I had time to think about each shift, when to shift and even had the time on odd occasions to wave to my friends watching.
The Evolution has a history of pin-sharp steering and the amazing four-wheel-drive grip that gives you the confidence to turn hard in to corners, only to make you feel like a pussy and tempt you to take that last corner even harder next time. So off I went to Silverstone to have my balls squeezed…
After the scrutineering session, I was ready to play. I took the first lap easy allowing the pros to pass and then using them to guide me as I familiarised myself to the track. The second lap I upped the ante and started to catch up to those who over took me, slowly memorising the track. The funny thing is I already knew the track from playing Gran Turismo 2 weeks non-stop with a standard Evo and at some point coming up to the third lap my memory muscle kicked in and I remembered which gear I should be in at each bend and imagined the HUD from Gran Turismo as I decided to push harder.
Maintaining high revs kept the spool to a minimal, over taking cars that looked like pro’s (you know when it’s all stripped out with a roll cage and a sticker that says number 1 on the side). I was beaming with joy as I achieved a milestone in my life to drive on the track, the adrenaline and the pressure from the cars behind just kept building I was in the Zone…
Then approaching the fast S bend before the lovely straight stretch to complete lap 4, I nearly pissed my pants as my brakes would not work… WTF where are my brakes?? As I buried the brake pedal I could feel my brakes were like jelly. What do I do? I’m now thinking I’m going to end up hitting the car in front or go off the track… F^^k it clutch down 4th to 2nd gear 80mph -50mph Instantly with the engine screaming at me, 'phew' I’m back in control … I take the bend and enter the straight and decide I’m calling it a day with no brakes…
Now I’m thinking how the F#%k am I going to get home... I’ll think about it after some food and when I’ve calmed down as at this point I was experiencing hand cramps from the hard steering and they felt like I’ve been holding on to my sausage for too long. I get back to the Evo drive 10 meters and check my brakes, WTF my brakes are working again? I tell a friend, who tells me I’ve experienced brake fade; which simply means they were so hot they turned to jelly. Why the F#%k does that not happen on Gran Turismo? The so called most realistic racing simulator designers need a F#%kin' earful about that.
To be fair, there aren't many cars that offer the drama and confidence the Evo produces mentally and physically. The Evo sits comfortably alongside the world’s fastest exotic and supercars, now to quantify this I used BBC Top Gear power lap times:
PAGANI ZONDA C12 S 7.3 (Partly damp) 01:23.8
ASTON MARTIN DBS 01:23.9
KOENIGSEGG CC8S 01:23.9
MITSUBISHI LANCER EVOLUTION VIII MR FQ-400 (Damp) 01:24.8
FORD GT40 01:25.4
LOTUS EVORA 01:25.7
First to note is that the model is Evo VIII with a very laggy turbo which is only found on the FQ-400 model. Secondly the test was done on a damp track and thirdly the cost of an EVO was a fraction of what you would pay for some of these exotics. If I had unlimited money I'd definitely add these to my collection in a heartbeat but for now there's no harm in still thinking no F#%ker is keeping up with me.
Then $h!t hits the fans and scattered it everywhere, the increase in torque killed my clutch :( time to start saving again while I watch my pride and joy sat on the drive with the only option to wash, polish, wax and add a few subtle exterior mods ...
Soon after we sold our house and after buying another house, my wife was really happy as we ticked all the boxes on this new property and as they say “Happy wife, Happy life”. She gave me permission to do what I like to my Evo, within reason of course. At first I felt like a kid in a candy store, surprisingly £9k budget doesn’t buy much when it comes to tuning an Evo and I never buy eBay stuff as fakes nowadays look as good as genuine but I’ve heard too many horror stories to risk this investment. I ended up spending a couple of months deciding I want this, then no I don’t want that, spoilt for choice I was so confused about how I could get the best out of my budget.
Unfortunately I was short of £3-£4k from getting the engine blueprinted and getting it to 800BHP+ spec, then the Mrs throws a curve ball and finds a few problems with the house. A new boiler and new windows and doors to replace the old and rotted, had a slight knock on effect to my budget. Now I was getting the feeling if I didn’t act quickly the Mrs would easily find a way to spend it.
So I started it up with fingers crossed and took a gamble to drive it to my tuner and luckily as long as I didn't hit boost it was ok to drive because the boost would cause the clutch to slip. So dropped off the Evo to my specialist along with a request to do what they can with my budget and I also decided to replace the dampers, springs, brake discs and add a set of performance brake pads as they were rusty, dusty, old and worn.
I wasn't expecting a major transformation and my views completely changed about my tuner after this occasion. At first I viewed them like any other tuner out there ready to milk my pockets but I was very wrong on this occasion. Credit goes to the top guys at M.G.Autos in Ripley, Derby who evolved my beast into a monster with a tasty 430lb/ft Torque and 470bhp with 1.8 bar (26 PSI) boost. Now not only did they keep the torque within the safe limits of the gear box (6 Speed Manual) they allowed for breathing space and the capacity of pushing between 500-600BHP safely.
They were able to achieve these figures with the following upgrades (Full Spec):
K&N Induction kit
Ross Sport 3” short route intake kit
Mishimoto Race Intercooler
Uprated Fuel Pump
264 Jun Cams
Kiggly Racing: High Pressure Beehive Valve Springs
Manley I-beam rods
Cosworth Head Gasket
HKS Cam pulley
HKS Timing belts
Race spark plugs
1.2 Bar Turbo smart actuator
3 Port Electronic Boost Controller
3" exhaust system from the turbo elbow
ACT HD Street Clutch and Streetlite Flywheel
B8 Bilstein Dampers
Swift Sport Spec R Springs
Performance Friction Pads
Nankang AR-1 (Road legal/semi-slicks)
Power delivery is very smooth but at the same time aggressive and handling was a lot tighter and more precise. The G-Hook brake disk from Godspeed sharpened the brakes and gave me the confidence to approach corners hard. The B8 Bilstein with Swift Spec R Springs helped maintain and improve a smooth, comfortable ride by reducing body roll and squat and overall created a nice balance to the suspension system. Corners that I would normally take at 40mph, I was comfortable doing at 60mph and the car felt connected to the ground, thanks to the additional grip from the semi-slick road legal tyres.
Unfortunately as much as I would love to lie through my teeth and say I've broken my 12 second barrier, I haven't. Every time I jump in to drive to the drag strip I give myself whiplash, I'd get there and think F#%k it I know I can break the barrier and at the back of my mind I think "I'll probably kill the gear box" and I’m not in a position to repair or replace that at the moment.
Why am I so confident I'll break the 12 seconds? Because I have casually taken it down the quarter mile in 12.25 seconds at 108mph terminal speed with a very bad 60ft time and having keep it in 4th gear and holding on to 7500rpm. The problem I come across now is that I’m now being forced to shift in to 5th gear because the acceleration has increased and if I do change I lose time but I gain more top speed at the terminal.
The thing is once you've experienced drag racing you quickly realise 12 seconds is not fast at all especially after you’ve seen the pro dragsters doing 1/4 miles in under 10 seconds. So when you see a car doing a 1/4 mile in less than 10 seconds appreciate that a lot of money has been spent under the hood to achieve that as well as honing the ability to do perfect shifts.
Now, I applaud you for reading to the very end of my life in the fast lane and just so you can experience how quick a ¼ mile usually lasts, find your stopwatch on your watch/phone and try stopping it on 10 second dead. So next time you ask someone the question how fast is your car? Try and quantify the question instead… Such as “how fast is it on the ¼ mile?” or “How fast is the 0-60mph?” then you’ll be able to get a better judgement of how fast a car truly is. It’s not about the top speed, but how quick you can get it there that quantifies fast.
Now that I have perfected the balance between power and handling to the next level whilst keeping it road legal, I have decided after 3 joyful years I will be storing away my pride but before that the wife and I enjoyed a boosted wedding, what more can a man want on one of the happiest days of his life?
I hope you have enjoyed reading my journey to evolving this beast in to a monster, I look forward to making a new chapter when I’m ready to put it back on the road.
Disclaimer: Please note road speed limits are always adhered on public roads and all mature language has be edited for a PG rating.
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