Everyone remembers his or her first ride in a turbocharged car. Whether it was with a parent or friend or just a chance spin around the block with an acquaintance at a car gathering, it's hard to forget the feeling of being pressed hard into the back of your seat while hearing the "psshh" sound of air being force-fed through the turbo and into the engine's throttle-body.
While that first experience is a memorable one for most of us, it's safe to say it was a total game changer for Walker Morgan. Walker's first taste of boost came from a '73 Datsun 240Z with a 280ZX engine swap. From the moment he felt what a turbocharged engine was capable of, he knew he had to have one for himself. Shortly after this initial encounter, Walker picked up a '77 Datsun 280Z of his own with the same turbocharged engine. This is when his love of boosted engines really began to blossom. So much so, in fact, that he decided to leave his dreams of completing college to become a veterinarian in favor of pursuing an automotive-related career. "Let's just say that my initial plans to become a veterinarian went up in smoke, just like the tires on that old Datsun," he recalls.
Walker left college behind and picked up a job as a technician at a local Z-car performance shop. By both working on customer cars and his own, his knowledge and understanding of turbocharger systems and engines in general began to grow. At the expense of a few unfortunate short-blocks and drivetrain components along the way, Walker had built himself a boosted Z that not many other vehicles on the road could touch. "I was absolutely addicted to the sound of a turbo spooling." From that point forward, Walker was never without a turbocharged car. At one point he attempted to be content with a '97 BMW M3 by adding a few simple bolt-ons, but within the first six months of ownership, he had added a complete turbo setup to the car.
It's rare to hear a story like this without the mention of at least one Mitsubishi vehicle. Walker had been a fan of Mitsus for a while, and at one point he enjoyed the AWD and turbocharged combination offered by the Galant VR4. If the Lancer Evolution was ever offered in the States, he knew he would have to have one. As we all know, that dream became a reality for many Mitsubishi enthusiasts in the early 2000s. In 2004, Walker flew to Dallas to buy the only Evolution without a sunroof within a 1,000-mile radius of his home. And just like that, the build was on.
With his new Evo home in the garage, Walker set out to build the most enjoyable car he has ever owned. The first aspect of the car that would need to be addressed was, of course, the turbo setup. The stock turbo was ditched in favor of an HTA3076 T3 turbocharger, the centerpiece of a complete turbo kit designed and developed by Walker's own shop, Morgan Performance Fabrication. Additional supporting accessories from MPFab include a stunning and beautifully crafted 321 stainless steel twin-scroll exhaust manifold, a 3.5-inch downpipe, and a custom intercooler core with piping.
With reliability and usable power being the main goals for this car, the engine internals were beefed up via MAPerformance rods, Wiseco standard-bore pistons, and ACL race bearings to ensure everything would hold together. Walker's well-thought-out and designed setup nets 541 whp and 455 wtq while using standard 93-octane pump gas, all of which he tuned himself via ECU flash. "I've had brief stints where I thought about putting a larger turbo on it and making ridiculous power, but it would only detract from how usable the powerband is. This allows me to drive kids to school, make passes at the dragstrip, or turn some quick laps times around a road course," Walker explains. Though he is still tweaking it here and there, the guts of this setup have been virtually unchanged since 2005-a testament to the quality of the setup and tune.
Any car that makes more than 400 ponies to the pavement is only going to be as reliable as its drivetrain will allow. Though the Lancer Evolution is sometimes criticized for its rather fragile gearbox and drivetrain components, you won't run into any of those durability issues here. Walker installed a famed ShepTrans rebuilt Evo VIII five-speed transmission, beefed up and fortified with the addition of an Evo IX First gear. A Spec single-disc push-conversion clutch kit complete with hydraulic release bearing and a Tilton clutch master cylinder was added to guarantee a smooth transfer of power from the engine to the wheels.
When turbo junkies set out to build a boosted monster, they often overlook some very important aspects of a safe and well-handling car-like the suspension and braking systems. If you haven't caught on by now, Walker is an extremely meticulous builder who rarely skimps on the details. This Evo has been outfitted with Baer Racing two-piece Eradi-Speed slotted brake rotors, Axxis ultimate brake pads, and stainless steel brake lines on all four corners, bringing the fun to a halt quickly if the need arises. A set of Nitto NT05 tires provide a nice, sticky contact patch to allow the brakes to do their work effectively.
On the handling side of things, a set of Stance GR+ coilovers with 10K springs all around make for an Evo that handles even better than it did from the factory. A pair of pretty trick looking titanium DC Sports strut tower braces tie together important points on the chassis without adding a large weight penalty. Polyurethane bushings from AMS and Energy Suspension replace the car's worn and soft factory rubber bushings, further tightening up the suspension feel.
We have to say, for a guy this obsessed with performance, Walker's Evo manages to look damn good doing it. The exterior has been spiced up with a variety of subtle components that all flow very nicely together. The large factory trunk spoiler has been ditched in favor of a much less conspicuous Rexpeed carbon-fiber lip spoiler, keeping airflow in check alongside the APR carbon-fiber rear diffuser. The carbon-fiber theme continues at the front of the car via a pair of Rexpeed front bumper ducts, a front lip spoiler, and a hood vent. A set of stunning Forgeline ZX3-R 18x9.5-inch wheels with titanium hardware nicely completes the car's menacing appearance.
The cockpit of this Evolution has been left virtually unchanged. The factory Recaro seats and MOMO steering wheel have been retained, and even the stock shift knob still resides here. Why mess with a good thing, right? The most noticeable addition to the interior is a Zeitronics wide-band AFR gauge and a trio of gauges from STRI to monitor important engine information. Should Walker ever tire of the sound of his turbo spooling (we doubt he will), an Alpine head unit, five-channel amplifier, and MB Quart 8-inch subwoofer provide some tunes after a long day at the shop.
So there you have it. What began as a seemingly harmless ride in a friend's turbo Datsun has blossomed into one beautifully crafted and well-performing Evo capable of daily daddy duty, tearing up the track, or winning a car show without a hiccup along the way. Walker's obsession with boost may have turned his life plans upside down, but he has certainly managed to build a very successful fabrication business-and some awesome cars, like this one, in the process.
Specs & Details
'05 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VIII
Engine Mitsubishi turbocharged 4G63 2.0L I4
Engine Modifications MAPerformance 1,000hp rods; Wiseco standard-bore pistons; ACL Race Bearings with dry film lubricant; ARP L-19 head studs; Headway Performance CNC'd head; Kiggly Racing Beehive springs, hydraulic lifter regulator; Ferrera valves; Kelford 276 High Lift camshafts; AMS F1 intake manifold; Milspec 65mm ported throttle-body; FIC 1,350cc/min fuel injectors; Walbro E85 fuel pump with -8 feed, -6 return lines; ATP billet fuel rail; Aeromotive regulator; MPFab twin-scroll T3 Turbo kit, thin-wall 321 stainless exhaust manifold, 3.5" downpipe, intercooler w/ Garrett core, sheetmetal end tanks, aluminum intercooler piping, catch can, velocity stack intake w/ heat shield, CAS shield; Forced Performance HTA 3076 turbo; Tial 44mm wastegate; Synapse BOV; Tomei Expreme titanium after-cat exhaust; mid-mounted Vibrant aluminum muffler
Engine Management ECU Flash (self-tuned)
Drivetrain ShepTrans rebuilt Evo VIII five-speed transmission with Evo IX First gear; AMS polyurethane engine mount inserts, transmission mount inserts; Spec single-disc push-conversion clutch, hydraulic release bearing; Tilton clutch master cylinder; MPFab aluminum crossmember, aluminum transmission bracket; Blox Racing aluminum transmission mount; AWD Motorsports aluminum driveshaft; Torque Solutions carrier bearing bushings
Suspension Stance GR+ coilovers, 10K springs (f/r); DC Sports titanium strut tower brace (f/r); Energy Suspension polyurethane sway bar bushings; AMS polyurethane rear control arm bushings
Exterior Custom modified Evo VIII front bumper; Rexpeed carbon-fiber bumper ducts, front lip spoiler, hood vent, trunk spoiler; APR carbon-fiber rear diffuser; MPFab headlight duct, front bumper exit for wastegate; JDM Mitsubishi black housing headlights, tail lights; Ralliart side mirrors
Interior Status Hockenheim ultrasuede seats, four-point cam lock harness; Bride low-down seat rails; OEM Type R floor mats; Circuit Hero polished shifter extension, polished shift knob; NRG steering wheel hub, flip up hub adapter; MOMO Mod 8 suede steering wheel; Sony head unit; Orion speakers
Wheels, Tires & Brakes Foregline ZX3-R 18x9.5 +29 with titanium hardware (f/r); Nitto NT05 265/35/18 tires (f/r); Baer Racing two-piece Eradi-Speed slotted brake rotors; Axxis Ultimate brake pads; stainless brake lines
Numbers 541 whp and 455 wtq (93-octane)
Special Thanks My parents, Robert and Sharlotte Morgan, for not disowning me when I said I was dropping out of college to go work on cars; Ira Weissinger and Steve Whitaker of Foreign Automotive Technicians for sharing a wealth of knowledge regarding Z cars and helping me keep my first turbo car on the road; Reed Patridge of WORK Turbochargers for giving me my first job building turbos and working on some of the baddest cars; My wife, Kathryn, for believing in me enough to help me open my own shop; Phil Sohn for helping me get in this mag; Danny Spittery of Assaultech.com for hooking me up with incredible pricing on go-fast parts; Danny Smith and David Norton of Spec for providing me with the clutch