Naming a car is one of the telltale signs that a car has evolved well past its role as a mechanical entity and into a more surreal realm as an object of affection where emotion, not the laws of physics, seem to be in control. While this trend could well have gotten its push start in Puerto Rico with drag racers Pepe Loco, Sakura, Rafealito and Party Time, some cars have been blessed to answer this call. Is this trend sweeping the States? Meet Tangerine Chaos, the brainchild of the schizophrenic mind of Rigo LaFontaine Jr. Rigo, shop foreman at South Coast Mitsubishi, spearheaded the project along with owner Abbas Ahmadi.
Rigo related that South Coast Mitsubishi is the No. 1 EVO dealer in the country. Since the dealership services thousands of EVOs and has seen a myriad of tuned ones, a shop car seemed appropriate. "We wanted to do something that stands out, turns heads and is a symbol of what we stand for at South Coast Mitsubishi," Rigo says. "One day the owner came up to me and said, 'Let's build something badass!' One hour later he brings us a 2003 Mitsubishi Evolution VIII GSR with ugly Infiniti G35 wheels that had been traded in at one of our dealerships with the hardest 73,000 miles I've ever seen an EVO endure-all those miles of driving with no maintenance." Rigo was told this was going to be his project.
Rigo aimed high when he thought of how to modify the EVO and make the proper statement. "The hardest thing was to have Abbas sign for the $12,000 Cosworth 2.2L stroked longblock, but after that it was all downhill," he says. "As far as signing checks, we went well over $50,000." The Cosworth engine starts with a fresh block that was specially prepped by Cosworth and then fitted with the company's forged 86mm pistons, forged H-beam con rods and trick billet crank with a 94mm stroke. Cosworth high-performance main bearings, rod bearings and studs keep the rotating assembly secure as engine speeds escalate.
Rigo happily urges the 4G63 to strive for 10,000 rpm since he covered that base with a Cosworth-crafted cylinder head. Torturous flow bench testing resulted in a program that delivers great flow and high-speed capability. It all starts with a five-axis machining regime with precise port-shaping alterations. A CNC machine carves out the ports and un-shrouds the 1mm oversized valves. The big valves work in tandem with Cosworth 272-degree camshafts to ensure the 2.2-liter can ingest big boost, while Cosworth high-tension valvesprings and titanium retainers ensure the engine can handle big rpms.
The stout 4G63 plant is pressurized by a Forced Performance EVOGreen turbo mounted on a DC Sports stainless steel turbo header. The custom EVOGreen turbo is based on the chassis of the stock Mitsubishi TD05H found on the EVO IX. Forced Performance hot rods the unit by swapping in its own 69mm, five-blade compressor wheel and a larger-than-stock 11-blade turbine wheel that spins in a 10.5cm2 housing. The EVOGreen expands the TD05H's envelope without drastically altering its spool-up characteristics. The turbo retains its efficiency up to about 24 psi on pump gas and has generated power in the 400whp range on 4G63s with the proper supporting modifications, according to Forced Performance.
Induction is augmented with a Nisei front-mount intercooler. One of the big tricks to maximizing intercooler performance is using piping with fewer or less drastic bends. In the EVO this consists of swapping in a super-compact battery and fabbing up the correct pipes. The Tangerine Chaos EVO runs a Nisei battery kit and hard pipe upgrade to provide better intercooling, which is key in sunny SoCal.
The hot side of the turbo feeds an 80mm stainless steel RS*R ExMag downpipe and an RS*R ExMag GT-II exhaust system that features stainless-steel construction, 80mm piping and a 101mm tip. To address fuel enrichment and ignition, a Walbro 255lph fuel pump feeds a Sard fuel rail and 1,000cc Rochester injectors, while a Sard fuel pressure regulator runs interference. The ignition system is also home to an HKS twin power ignition.
An Autronic ECU provides the game plan for fuel introduction and timing advances. Autronic fully guts out a stock EVO ECU and installs its own motherboard and connectors for accessing the ECU. The Autronic-enhanced ECU has all the factory plug-in sites intact and looks like a stock box, but it delivers full access to ignition and fueling tables as well as anti-lag and Autotune features. The Autronic box can be acquired with a baseline tune pre-programmed and ready to roll. Koji Arai at XS Engineering took the ball and ran with it, programming custom maps on XS Engineering's DTS all-wheel-drive dyno. With boost set to 1.6 bar (23 psi), Arai noted that the boost dropped to 1.4 bar during the pulls. All runs were made on C16 fuel. As expected the EVOGreen's response was evident from 3,700 rpm to redline. Max torque of 362 lb-ft was realized at 3,800 rpm and remained steady until it tailed off at 6,300 rpm. Peak horsepower registered at 431. The XS crew was quick to point out that the Cosworth internals and the high-tech head were begging for more boost and, with a serious upgrade, prodigious power in the 600whp range would be attained.
Even with the 4G63's loud and aggressive rumble, this is one ride that you can see coming long before you hear it. The Mitsubishi's vibrant tangerine orange paint scheme and wicked body mods make it stand out. Love it or hate it, this two-door conversion is a first. Eagle's Auto Body & Paint installed the intricate APR Evil-R widebody aero kit and poured on the pearl tangerine paint. The APR kit was delivered with the rear door section attached, since Rigo and Eagle's Auto Body & Paint elected to leave it together and weld up the rear doors. During the coupe's transformation Eagle's Auto Body & Paint also molded an APR front wind splitter, rear diffuser and GTC-300 wing into the mix.
The EVO's hot looks are not an empty promise as the trick coupe is outfitted for fast cornering and spirited straightaway speed. A set of Raceline coilovers from AST By Powerstation absorb road irregularities during the commute and lateral g's during hot lap sessions. The ASTs provide three dampening adjustment points and 12 different rebound settings, the latter made via an externally mounted reservoir. The front reservoirs are located near the firewall under the hood while the rears are at the lower shock base. An APR strut tower brace teams with the stock sway bars to complete the suspension.
The EVO's clutch has always been the car's Achilles' heel so Rigo addressed this with a lightweight Exedy flywheel and an Exedy twin-disc clutch set. A Quaife center differential keeps the gears in sync and puts the pain on the Mitsu's blacked-out rolling stock.
The EVO's outstanding Brembo brakes are hard to improve upon but Rigo added DBA rotors all around, with the front being high-tech two-piece propositions, Goodridge stainless lines and Porterfield pads.
Inside, the cockpit was upgraded with moderate strokes. Classic Soft Trim has accented the OEM seats with orange stitching and embroidery while the rest of the cabin has been tweaked with suede by Roberto's Auto Upholstery in Costa Mesa, CA. Control was enhanced with an Ikeya Formula shifter, Sun Auto Cyberspeed pedals and a Nardi steering wheel. A full array of Auto Meter boost gauges provide detailed communication between the engine and driver.
While many can argue that even a '85 Ford Taurus with tangerine orange paint would be noticed, Rigo knows there is more to it than sizzling retinas. "I commute from Lake Elsinore to Costa Mesa and, thanks to the great guy I work for, have the privilege of using this EVO as a demo," Rigo says. "The looks that the car gets, the thumb's up that I get, people yelling out their windows, it's crazy with a capital 'C.' The car's cornering ability and all functions of the car are unique and feel like no other EVO. But when the throttle is down scrubbing the carpet, the car is gone. The back end squats, tires scream and I reach an instant @!#@! (Editor's note: male state of euphoria). Everyone should experience something like this!"
Tangerine Chaos is still not quite complete. Rigo says things are around 90 percent done at this point. Once that is accomplished, Rigo plans to race it on a road course where it can properly stretch its legs.
2003 Mitsubishi EVO VIII
Cosworth 2.2-liter stroker engine
Cosworth 272 camshafts
Forced Performance EVOGreen turbo
Invidia O2 housing
DC Sports exhaust manifold
RS*R Exhaust Magic 80mm downpipe
RS*R Exhaust Magic GT-II 80mm exhaust
SARD fuel rail
Walbro 255lph fuel pump
SARD fuel pressure regulator
Rochester 1,000cc/min fuel injectors
HKS Twin Power ignition
HKS turbo timer
Anthony Woodford Racing (AWR) aluminum radiator
Samco radiator hoses
Agency Power engine mounts
Agency Power crankshaft pulley
Carbign Craft timing belt cover
Carbign Craft spark plug cover
Nisei hard piping kit
Nisei battery kit
DBA front two-piece brake rotors
DBA rear rotors
Porterfield Racing brake pads
Goodridge stainless steel brake lines
Exedy twin-disc clutch
Quaife center differential
APR Formula GT mirrors
APR GTC-300 wing
APR Evil R widebody kit
APR front wind splitter
ARP rear body diffuser
APR front strut bar
Works lower Croxx Plate
Custom paintwork by Eagle's Auto
Body & Paint
Auto Meter three-gauge pillar pod
Auto Meter steering column gauge pod
Auto Meter EGT, oil temperature, oil pressure and boost gauges
Sun Auto Cyberspeed pedals
Ikeya Formula shifter
OEM seats with orange stitching and embroidery by Classic Soft Trim
Suede interior by Roberto's Auto Upholstery in Costa Mesa