For most of us, those far too infrequent “Eureka!” moments—when life comes into clearer focus and million-dollar ideas dance in your head—happen on the toilet, in the shower, or halfway through a bottle of Crown Royal. This tends to make it difficult to capitalize on these fleeting moments of clarity, but luckily for Kaizen Tuning’s Scott McIver, his happened while going “ludicrous speed” in his Japanese dream machine.
To properly appreciate Scott’s moment of clarity, we need to rewind for a second and take a look at how he got there. As Scott told us, “I was involved in my family’s manufacturing business back in 2000 and made frequent business trips to Japan. I had a free day in Tokyo, so I went down to Ginza to pick up something nice for my girl. While down there, I was stopped dead in my tracks outside a Nissan showroom. A blue car the likes of which I had never seen was rotating on a raised platform. I went in and got the hardbound brochure and stared at that car for two and a half hours. It was an R34 GT-R V-Spec in Bayside Blue. I was in love. I vowed that when I could afford it, I would own one.”
Almost 10 years later, in July 2008, Scott took delivery of the very first R35 GT-R in New England. But his dream car experience was quickly brought back to reality when he took it to the dealership for its first oil change. “Unlike in Japan, where the Japanese know what the GT-R is and how much the owner cherishes it, the dealership here didn’t give a shit. It was another Sentra to them. I vowed that I could do it better and started servicing these cars out of my garage. Kaizen Tuning was then born.”
Steadily growing ever since, Kaizen Tuning is located in a new 10,000-square-foot facility just outside of Boston. The company is now a 12-man operation that specializes in GT-Rs, Evos, and STIs, and Scott and his crew pride themselves on being a full-service tuning shop modeled after IAG, AMS, and SP Engineering. As Scott explains, “We knew that we could build something special up here in New England that had not been attempted: a high-end, dedicated import speed shop that concentrates on customer service and quality first and foremost. Our Name, Kaizen, literally translates to ‘constant improvement.’ We strive to achieve that every day while specializing in building motors, twin-disc transmission builds, and dyno-tuning the best cars up here.”
So why an Evolution X, if Scott’s dream car has always been a GT-R? “I’ve been track driving since 2001. I started out with HPDEs and fell in love. My driving has reached the point were I really need a full safety system in the car—something I realized while doing 171 mph down the back straight at Watkins Glen in my GT-R. We desperately wanted to make a track-going GT-R but could not justify the costs, and I still wanted to drive mine on the street. It would have been painful to see it gutted so that a full rollcage could be welded in.”
And just like that, the idea for this ’10 Evolution X project was born. According to Scott, “The Evo project really started to roll once we met with Varis in Japan at the ’11 Tokyo Auto Salon. We tune a ton of Evo Xs here at KT, so we wanted a showcase for our in-house know-how. We had set a meeting with Varis to talk over our thoughts on a racing program sponsorship in the USA.
Their wide-body kit was icing on the cake, as it fit our ideas for the car perfectly. We explained to Varis that we wanted to concentrate on the East Coast time attack circuit with Real Time Attack, a group that does mostly northeast time attack events. Varis loved the idea, as they wanted to prove the functionality of the kit, and we got started.”
The time attack race car conversion started by sending the Evo to one of the best rollcage fabricators in the northeast, HT Motorsport, where they spec’d out a rally ’cage from Custom Cages in England using T45 steel. With the X stripped down to the shell, this beautifully gusseted and triangulated ’cage was welded to the chassis before the real fun began, installing the Varis wide-body kit.
This kit, which was flown over first class from Japan (OK, maybe it flew coach), was in fact the first Varis Evo X wide-body kit installed in the USA. As Scott explains, “It’s the full wide-body kit with the VSDC diffuser, VSDC hood, and VSDC trunk. The VSDC process is unique to Varis, using a lighter, stronger combination of wet and dry carbon. This is a perfect combo for motorsports aero with a front splitter providing enough downforce to completely eliminate any understeer.”
To balance out the aero package, Kaizen Tuning opted for an Aeromotions wing. “These guys are aero engineers from MIT and make an amazing product that we use on Evos and GTRs that see track duty. These guys rented the Haas wind tunnel and did real aero testing on the wing at 140 to 180 mph. It’s a proven product that works very well,” Scott says.
For enough power to fully utilize its newfound downforce, Kaizen’s Evo got a serious tune-up using an AMS 750R turbo kit. According to Scott, “We moved to this kit after the NJMP event last year when we were running a stock-frame turbo and aftermarket header. Every time I got out of the car I was throwing up. It was easily 150 degrees in the cabin of the car. Our crew chief just kept shaking his head at me, telling me to grow a set.
After our first run on the second day of racing, I came in early, after setting best time of the day, and started heaving again. Once I could talk, I told the chief that the car was down on power and making weird noises under boost. Lo and behold, the welded manifold had cracked right down the middle and was dumping raw exhaust right into the firewall, cooking me from the feet up! That’s when we made the decision to move to the cast manifold from AMS on the 750R so we would not have this issue again.”
Clearly the Kaizen Tuning crew had a moment of clarity of their own when they decided to build this Evolution X instead of converting Scott’s beloved GT-R into something similar, because by the end of their first season of competition, Scott and his Evo claimed the Real Time Attack Unlimited Class championship, outrunning 15 other heavy hitters from well-known shops. And things are only going to get more intense this year, with the Kaizen Evo moving on to tackle the Whelen USTT Championship, an even more competitive time attack series with national exposure.
Specs & Details
’10 Mitsubishi Evolution X
Engine 2.0L 4B11T turbocharged inline-4
Engine Modifications 2.2L stroker w/ 86mm crankshaft; 10.5:1 JE pistons; Manley rods; AMS rod and main bearings; CNC race-ported cylinder head; 750R turbo kit; FMIC and lower IC pipe; FPR; fuel rail; A/C-delete kit; EBC; resonated mid-pipe and downpipe; +1mm oversized Ferrea valves; ARP main and head studs; GSC S2 camshafts; Kelford valvesprings; Synapse BOV; Sakura upper IC pipe; ID 2,000cc fuel injectors; Kaizen custom fuel lines; Full Blown dual fuel pumps; Tomei Ti Expreme after-cat exhaust
Engine Management Cobb AccessPort pro tuned by Kaizen Tuning
Drivetrain Exedy twin-disc clutch kit; AMS clutch m/c and shifter bushings; TMW full shifter cage and short shifter; Whiteline diff bushings
Wheels, Tires & Brakes Volk Racing 18x10.5’’ CE28N and Enkei RPF01 18x10.5” wheels; 285/30R18 Hoosier A6 tires; and DBA 2-piece 5000-series rotors; Carbotech XP12 brake pads; Technifit brake lines
Suspension BC Racing ER-series coilovers; Whiteline sway bars (f/r); roll center kit; control arm bushings
Exterior Varis Evo X wide-body kit w/ carbon diffuser; VSDC cooling bonnet; VSDC carbon trunk; VSDC carbon front splitter, front bumper, and carbon rear splitter; Aeromotions S2 wing; Lexan windows
Interior HT Motorsports Group N rollcage; Racetech racing seats and seat rails; Schroth 6-point harnesses; Key’s Racing steering wheel, fire suppression system; AiM MXL digital dash; Zeixtronix ZT-2 wide-band and boost gauges
Sponsors Kaizen Tuning, Varis Japan, AMS, Tomei Powered Japan, Gardini Law, Driven Perfection