Remember when you first became interested in modifying cars? While it’s not true for everyone, most of us started our tuning careers with an abundance of passion and a lack of cash flow to turn our dreams into reality. To top it off, it can be pretty tough to get into this hobby with a less than desirable platform to build on, especially when some of the people at local track days and shows are sporting expensive and heavily modified rides. But with enough patience and motivation, those humble beginnings can eventually produce some pretty impressive automobiles.
Growing up in Abu Dhabi, Mark Aquino was mostly surrounded by exotics and luxury euro cars. In fact, the import scene was all but non-existent at the time. It wasn’t until Mark went to college in the Philippines that he discovered his passion for Japanese tuning—at the hands of an ’89 Mitsubishi Lancer. Even though the car was old and had too many issues to count, he was attached to the little Mitsu. Knowing almost nothing about cars and fueled by inspiration from The Fast and the Furious, Mark began down the rough path of modifying a car with little aftermarket support. He added the standard beginner modifications, including an intake, exhaust, and body kit.
As Mark continued to modify his Lancer, he stumbled on the Evolution lineup. Essentially a turbocharged AWD version of his Lancer, the differing generations of Evos appeared to be the ultimate all-around platforms to modify. “Rally and track champions, four doors, turbocharged, AWD, etc. What’s not to love? I dreamt of owning and driving one someday,” Mark recalls. It was around this time that Mitsubishi released its final iteration of the Lancer Evolution, the Evo X. Before he knew it, Mark had become obsessed.
After landing his first job out of college, Mark moved to the United States. When he arrived, one of the first things he needed to do was buy a car. Unfortunately, the Evo X was out of the question at the time, so he had to settle for an Eclipse. Though it was still in the Mitsubishi family, it was far from his dream car. After working for a while and continuing to immerse himself in the U.S. tuning scene, Mark was finally able to obtain his dream ride. On New Year’s Eve 2010, he became the proud owner of a brand-new Evo X. He told himself the car was perfect and he would never modify it. Sound familiar?
Needless to say, a gearhead can only remain content for so long, and before he knew it, Mark was beginning to dive into tinkering with the Evo. He began with simple engine modifications, trying out several combinations of intake, exhaust, and intercooler components until he was 100 percent satisfied. As it stands today, the car is now equipped with a GReddy front mount intercooler, AMS intercooler piping, and an ARC airbox. A complete turboback exhaust system from Ultimate Racing works with the other breathing mods to unleash a hefty amount of power thanks to the Cobb Accessport tuned by Aaron O’Neil of English Racing. A slew of dress-up items also gives the engine bay plenty of spice without going over the top.
Mark’s goal was to build an Evo X that could be driven reliably every day while still offering the ability to win a car show or take a thrashing out on the track from time to time. With more power on tap for such occasions, Mark chose to focus on suspension and braking mods next. Even though the Evo is a capable performer from the get-go, the stock struts and springs were tossed in favor of a set of HKS Hypermax III coilovers. The factory Brembo calipers were treated to Girodisc two-piece slotted brake rotors and Project Mu NS400 brake pads on all four corners, as well as stainless steel brake lines for a more consistent pedal feel.
While Mark’s choice in engine and suspension modifications set him up for some fun on the track without sacrificing reliability, he wanted his Evo to stand out from the crowd visually. The car was sent to Auto Performance Aesthetics Club for an exterior makeover. Mark chose a rare mash-up of aero components to give his car a unique, one-off appearance. Chargespeed wide front and rear fenders were installed alongside a set of the company’s V2 carbon-fiber side skirts. But up front, Mark went with an M-sport front bumper, complete with a carbon-fiber front lip and canards. Out back, you’ll find a set of LED taillights and a Showstoppers rear diffuser. Despite the exterior modifications coming from several different manufacturers, everything flows together incredibly well. A set of Ganador LED Super Aero mirrors rounds out the car’s aggressive look. To put the final icing on the cake, a set of gorgeous matte bronze-faced SSR Professor SP3 wheels complete with anodized bronze lips was installed, along with Falken Azenis RT615K rubber.
When Mark’s fiancée, Stephanie, heard that he had his sights set on competing in his first track day, she surprised him with a bit of spice for his interior. She went all out and purchased a set of Takata racing seats and six-point harness belts for the car to keep Mark safe and snug during his time on track. (If you ask us, she’s a keeper!) In addition to the Takata gear, the car is equipped with a Cusco six-point rollcage and rear diagonal bar, adding further chassis rigidity and safety in the process. A Personal steering wheel with Works Bell short hub and Yoshioka Edition quick release also comes in handy during race outings.
If you were to ask Mark back in his Lancer days if he thought he would build and own an Evolution of this caliber someday, it’s safe to say he probably would have been skeptical at best. Though it can be tough starting this hobby in a less-than-ideal situation, Mark Aquino and his Evo X are a great example that it pays to dream big. With perseverance and a very well thought out plan, Mark has built a reliable car that’s fun to drive, capable of taking home a trophy at a car show, and a blast to drive on and off the track. Now that Mark has built an Evo that’s nicer than he had ever imagined, what’s next? From what Mark tells us, he’s hard at work helping Stephanie modify her Evo X and plans to bump power levels a bit in his own X with a new turbo and head work. Talk about livin’ the dream!
He told himself the car was perfect and he would never modify it. Sound familiar?
Specs & Details
2010 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X
Engine 4B11T 2.0L Turbocharged I4
Engine Modifications GReddy front mount intercooler, AMS upper intercooler pipe, Blitz piping stopper, HKS SSQV III blow-off valve, oil cap; ARC airbox, Ultimate Racing turbo back exhaust, resonated test pipe, mini-muffler; YR-Advance turbine duct, heat shield, oil gauge hanger, airscoop; titanium oil catch can, purple dress-up bolts, Colt Speed valve cover, APR carbon-fiber radiator shroud, JUN radiator cap, Project Mu brake fluid reservoir sock, Forge Motorsport alloy power steering reservoir, alloy coolant tank, MAP firewall heat shield
Engine Management Cobb Accessport, Cobb ProTune by English Racing
Suspension HKS Hypermax III coilovers, 12k springs (f/r), ARC strut bar (f), interior Takata Racing seats, six-point black harnesses, Cusco six-point rollcage, rear slash bar; Personal steering wheel, Works Bell short hub, Yoshioka Edition quick release; titanium blue dress-up steering wheel bolts, Colt Speed GT shifter, Fortune Auto titanium shift knob, Bride shift boot, center console; AEM air/fuel gauge, Defi boost gauge, Sony head unit with navigation, rear back-up camera, carbon-fiber A/C panel, carbon-fiber shifter panel
Exterior Widebody conversion by Auto Performance Aesthetics Club, Chargespeed wide front fenders, rear blister panels, V2 carbon-fiber side skirts; M-Sport front bumper, carbon-fiber front lip, carbon-fiber canards; Do-Luck carbon-fiber trunk, LED taillights, Showstoppers rear diffuser, Varis carbon-fiber door garnish, Ganador LED super mirrors, amber side markers, Cusco ventilation panels, Colt Speed wipers, Sigma Speed Shop hood diffuser, eyelids; blacked headlight housings with red demon eyes
Wheels, Tires & Brakes SSR Professor SP3 matte bronze face with anodized bronze lip 18x10.5 -8 (f/r), Rays Duraluminum lug nuts, Falken Azenis RT615K 275/35/18 (f/r), Girodisc two-piece slotted brake rotors (f/r), Project Mu NS400 brake pads, stainless steel brake lines
Special Thanks I’d like to thank my fiancée, Stephanie Mell, for supporting me and helping me with choosing mods, Mark Enriquez from #sotrendy for the motivation and ideas, JD Lazaro/TwreckFilms and Marson Velilla for the support, Kevin Choi/ KCImage for the photos, Aaron O’Neal at English Racing, Derrick Wellz at APAC for turning my vision into reality, Brian Zerrlaut at Zury Fabrications, Chris Hoover at Moore Automotive, Khris at KU Connection, Andrew at AWRPerformance, and Joshua Baum and my Xclusiv Alliance and Capital City Evolution CCEVO family.