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Lancer Evo X Mugen Si - Spied!

Top Story: "JDM Drifters And High Tech Tuner Team Up To Build A Wild Evo"

Nov 1, 2007
Photographer: Terence Patrick

Team Orange Lancer Evo X

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On my most recent Japan trip, I decided to meet up with my close friend-D1 Grand Prix Series Champion Nobushige Kumakubo-at his home track, the world renowned Ebisu Circuit in Fukushima, Japan.

After some arm twisting, I actually got Kuma to leak some information about the new competition drift car he was building: a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X. For the actual one-off fabrication and engineering of the new Lancer, Kumakubo enlisted the expertise of the legendary car builder Susumu Koyama, the mastermind behind JUN Auto Mechanic in Saitama, Japan. I knew I just had to get over there and check it out!

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In between about a million cigarettes, Koyama-san managed to tell me that he was converting the car from the original all wheel-drive platform to FR (front engine, rear wheel drive) by actually remounting the engine to longitudinal, or "North-South" configuration! Since Kumakubo prefers the Hollinger six-speed sequential transmission for D1 competition use, Koyama-san made sure to custom mount it to the new Lancer, along with a limited slip differential from a Nissan Skyline GT-R.

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When I visited JUN with Kumakubo, Koyama was in the midst of re-engineering the Lancer's front suspension, including using a steering rack and coilover front suspension from a Nissan! Koyama wouldn't exactly tell us all his secrets though-when I suggested that maybe the front suspension and steering rack looked as if it were from an S15 Silvia, Koyama just exhaled his tobacco smoke and nodded his head, saying "So! So! Zettai dayo... tabun." (Yeah, yeah for sure... maybe.)-Antonio Alvendia

Tetsu's Tales

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FR, drift, NA, Panda and Initial D: I think you are thinking one car now. It is AE86 Corolla/Hachi Roku. Hachi Roku is very popular in USA and Japan. The attraction of AE86 are FR, NA motor and the costs for driving is very cheap. I said that the costs for driving is very cheap but AE86 is over 10 years old. Toyota stop to sell some new parts for AE86 (drive shaft, some interior parts). If we didn't need to worry about old and some new parts to stop producng, I think AE86 is so nice car. Used AE86 is very expensive in Japan and I think U.S. too. You can find $1,000US used AE86 and over $25,000US used AE86 in Japan. $25,000US AE86 is looks like new car because most of genuine parts are new. $1,000US AE86 need many tune up. Many people and many car magazines say, "Please Toyota, please sell the modern AE86. Somehow or another, Toyota has the plan of a modern AE86."

Some Japanese car magazines say Toyota will sell new AE86 (AE what?) end of this year or next year. It will have FR, coupe body or hatch back, 1500cc NA motor. 1500cc motor is sounds like slow but Keiichi Tsuchiya got his drifting skill with '83 Toyota Starlet 1300cc NA motor. I guess 1500cc NA motor is no problem and aftermarket parts company will sell turbo kit or supercharger kit. The price of this car will be about $13,000USD. This price is almost same price as Yaris or Fit. How do you think about $13,000 FR car? I think it is very, very nice because sports cars are expensive these days. It is hard to buy 18-inch tires for driving on the race track for me because over 18 inches tires are expensive. JDM Civic Type-R is nice car and I want to buy it, but the size of tires are same as NSX. I think new AE86 will have 14- or 15-inch tires. If Toyota would sell new AE86, I guess Toyota give message for young people, which is driving sport car is very interesting. Now many Japanese young people like K-cars or mini vans. I said "if" because one magazine says that Toyota doesn't have the plan for selling new AE86. I am not sure Toyota USA will sell new AE86 in USA. Next generation of Scion tC will be new AE86? If so, it is very nice! (high five!) Please Toyota! Please!!

Mugen On Up

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We're not sure if JDM Honda heads will see this as the good, the bad, or the ugly-this being the release of the 2008 Civic Mugen Si Sedan. The good is the fact that this is the first official Mugen-badged Honda product to come to the U.S. The bad is that any philistine can walk into a Honda dealership and drive off in a Mugen'd Si Sedan, thus reducing some of the mystique and exclusivity shrouding this "unofficial" Honda tuning partner. The ugly concerns Honda's estimated retail price of "less than $30,000."

That's not to say that this isn't a good car; in fact, it's greatly improved over the already lusty Si Sedan. The Mugen Si (only available as a sedan and only offered in the Fiji Blue Pearl) comes with firmer springs and dampers, 18x7.5 forged GP wheels with 215/40ZR18 BFG KDW rubber, "sport-tuned exhaust", and a complete aero package including a front spoiler, grille, side skirts, rear bumper diffuser, and rear wing. Inside you get a Mugen Limited Edition placard on the center console (only 1,000 will be offered for the '08 model year) and a Mugen aluminum shift knob.

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We sampled the car at Mid-Ohio and on a brief street loop, and we found the chassis balance to be superb, even though we took it out on the track immediately after driving the hotter-than-your-average-Civic S2000 CR. The suspension was valved nicely for the track and not overly so for the street, and the KDWs gripped well, but the fronts didn't last as long as the CR's, mostly because they were tasked with steering and powering the Mugen Si. The minimalist 16.98-pound forged aluminum wheels (27 percent lighter than the stock 17s) didn't turn in like most plus-sized wheels and their lightness also helps reduce that dreaded unsprung weight.

The Si Sedan may not be the best looking car, but the Mugen aero bits do remove some of the Prius from its appearance. While the Mugen exhaust doesn't add any power, it sure does sound good at WOT. But therein lies the challenge. The Civic Mugen Si may handle, look and sound better than a base Si Sedan but without a power bump, it makes it hard to justify a price nearing Evo and STI levels. No matter-the limited run, the factory warranty and the fact that the price of the Mugen hardware alone would inflate any new Civic to the $30K range makes this car hard to resist. Now, JDMers, all we need to do is unite and pick up all of these Mugen Si Sedans before the poseurs get in on the secret. -John Naderi

Editor's Rides

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Fun fact: Even though we work for the number one tuning mag in the biz, we don't all get to roll around in D1-spec cars on a daily basis. Over the 10-year history of the mag, some of us showed up to work in clapped-out rustbuckets, old domestics and cars with engines that only geriatrics with gray beards and Hawaiian shirts could love. Let's take a look back at 10 of the most notable editor's rides.

10. Matt "The Emp" Pearson's 1991 Civic hatchBefore he shilled cars for Acura, The Emp started this little rag we all know and love, so his old Civic will have the honor of starting off this Top 10 list.

9. Cater's JGTC SupraThe best-looking Supra shell a Primedia salary can buy. Too bad it still doesn't have an engine.

8. Ricky's NSXWhen Ricky isn't looking, we swipe the keys to this car and go out and scam on import models. Apparently driving a nice car doesn't make us more attractive.

7. Richard Chang's Ford ProbeHow Chang Bang landed a job here while driving that car, we'll never know. Perhaps it was due to the fact that he actually knows how to write.

6. Carl Brauer's Dodge StealthCarl sure stepped his game up; the man is driving an Enzo-biting Ford GT these days.

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5. Uncle Ro-Dawg's CorollaStill scattering pieces throughout Southern California.

4. Derrick Yee's '73 MaverickDerrick's always had an odd obsession with unpopular American cars-the man just bought a GTO. One of the new ones.

3. Yamzy's CelicaRockin' a Buick engine much to the delight of octogenarians everywhere.

2. Ed Eng's 1991 IntegraLanded the cover of Turbo back when the magazine only featured Buicks. Said cover totally bummed Yamz out.

1. Jonny's 240The most famous Super Street ride to ever be sprayed by poo.

And the Winner Is

After sorting through thousands upon thousands of entries, we finally managed to select the winner of our Konig-Super Street Time Attack contest. And the winner is... drumroll please... Nicolas Kennedy of Simi Valley, CA.

In addition to winning a brand-new set of Konig wheels, Nick will have the privilege of being kidnapped by our own Yamz and whisked away to a weekend of romance and adventure. Just kidding... no romance here, but Nick will get an all expenses paid trip to our very own Time Attack at Buttonwillow, courtesy of Konig Wheels.

Not only will Nick get full access to our Time Attack, he will get the ride of a lifetime (no, not with Yamz) when he's strapped into the passenger seat of a top-ranked Time Attack car as it makes its full-throttle assault on Buttonwillow. After this pants-soiling ride, Konig will treat Nicolas to all the food he can eat as we sit at the end of the table begging for his leftover scraps of sustenance. Sucks to be us, but at least Nick will get to live the life we like to pretend we have. Congrats, Nick!

Depheartment Of Korekshuns

Going way back to the April '07 issue, we inferred that the high strain of drifting was enough to cause damage to Rhys Millen's brakes. The truth is, the high strain of drifting-plus contact with a wall-was enough to cause damage to Millen's rotors.

In the September '07 issue, Stephanie Eggum's hotness distracted us to the point where we printed a couple of mistakes regarding her '00 Civic's engine. Wilson Manifolds custom-made the intake manifold and throttle body; Shearer Fabrications custom-made the exhaust header. Someone should tell Stephanie to be less hot so that we can do a better job of fact checking.

We also must mention that we incorrectly referred to "Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca" as just "Laguna Seca" in our September issue. Calling the track just "Laguna" and/or "Seca" is also incorrect.

Street Smart

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MyNismo/Performance Nissan of Duarte, CA is a Nissan dealership like no other with a strong motorsports racing heritage. They've ran a race team in the Grand AM Cup with a full rig and three fully built race cars and prides themselves with the uniqueness of catering to modified vehicles and consulting with each of their clientele to express their individuality through their vehicles. MyNismo/Performance Nissan carries an extensive inventory of Nismo and JDM Nissan parts. Touted as one of the biggest Nismo dealers in the country, you can find anything from turbo inlet gaskets for your SR's to Nismo exhausts for a 350Z. www.mynismo.com

Classic Super Street

Our November '97 issue had us debating the best ways to build a Honda or DSM motor on a $1K budget. We also spent two pages talking about how "awesome" pastel-colored interiors are, but let's pretend that never happened. Our news story on the Japan-only Lexor line of tuning parts also gave us our first glimpse of Japan's now-hot VIP scene.

Sam Du
By
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