Money—or generating enough of it fast enough—was just about the only obstacle Yaqi Zhang ran into when putting together what he calls his "Banana Voltex Evo 8." It's the sort of predictable first-world problem that anybody who's attempted to meld the worlds of showboats and track brats together is likely familiar with.
Right about now you're expecting to hear about all sorts of other mishaps Zhang and his Mitsubishi Evo 8 had worked themselves into, like a connecting rod that might've landed on the sidewalk or a crooked engine shop that could've done him wrong from valve cover to oil pan...But you won't. That's mostly because Zhang's 530whp Evo VIII buildup was thoroughly orchestrated from its onset and relegated to the sort of body shops and tuners that don't hustle customers' parts on Craigslist. Embarking on this project with Mitsubishi's venerable 4G63 powerplant—an engine that survived through nine generations of Evos—also did its part in warding off any sort of trouble.
And that's exactly where the story of Zhang's Evo begins, underneath its Seibon hood. Here, the cast-iron block was fitted with forged pistons and connecting rods from Wiseco and R&R, along with ACL bearings throughout and AMS seals and gaskets. A longer-stroke K1 Technologies crankshaft was also dropped into place, resulting in 2.4-liters of displacement. It's a concise list of upgrades for an engine that's nearly doubled its power rating. But it's exactly the sort of result Mitsubishi fans like Zhang have come to expect of the now-discontinued 2.0-liter 4G63. "The only constant of nine generations of the Evo is the 4G63," Zhang reminds us. "It became a legend...until environmental concerns and enterprising business strategies resulted in [its replacement], which left many performance fans, like me, disappointed."
But we're not here to debate the merits of or any perceived shortcomings of Mitsubishi's 4G63 replacement—the 4B11T. What makes Zhang's Mitsubishi Evo 8 tick is a whole lot more intriguing. Assembled and tuned at the hands of the Pacific Northwest's English Racing, a more capable Forced Performance ball bearing turbo is responsible for the dyno numbers. The larger-frame compressor is accompanied by a higher-flowing Extreme Turbo Systems intercooler up front and an AEM Series 2 engine management system that makes sure everything, including the 1,000cc injectors, cooperate with one another. It's all very much the sort of stuff you'd expect from a car like Zhang's, whose sole purpose is to browbeat whatever he's sharing the road course with. Appointed as a dedicated track car after serving as a daily driver for a short period, Zhang goes on to say that there's more to life than power and speed: "I wanted to make one sexy Evo 8."
For this he looked to renowned aero tuning firm Voltex and its Cyber Version widebody package, along with a bright-yellow color change. Despite the smattering of exterior modifications, Zhang failed to lose sight of the point of all of this, though, which is to go a whole lot faster than what Mitsubishi's accountants and engineers thought he should. By all accounts, 530whp was quite tolerable, but the road-going suspension left Zhang for want: "The handling was no good," he says bluntly, "so I asked some friends and shops what to do." All of that advice led to a completely revised suspension that's based upon TEIN Super Racing coilovers and the company's EDFC electronic damping control system. Front and rear sway bars from Whiteline were also added, as was just about every bushing the company's ever made for the Mitsubishi Evo chassis. It didn't happen right away, but the suspension was ultimately dialed in, eventually meeting Zhang's approval. The Evo's stopping prowess was equally addressed, fitted with an AP Racing kit and Project Mu pads at each corner. All of this is recessed behind a set of WedsSport SA-60M wheels dutifully wrapped with Nitto NT01 rubber.
Zhang has since transplanted himself from Seattle to Shanghai, but his Mitsubishi Evo 8 remains stateside waiting for its owner's return. As it turns out, though, Zhang doesn't have the sort of patience his Evo does and has already embarked on an entirely new project. "I came back to China, but I hated to part with my Banana Voltex Evo," he says. "So, I built another [one], this time a Green Apple Voltex Evo." Zhang goes on to explain how the new car will be even more powerful, more aggressive, and that once completed, will make up a small part of his newly-established, Shanghai-based race team, LC Motorsport. "I've already ordered the engine and the car is almost done," he says of what he believes will result in the fastest Evo in China. "Building something like this is like [taking care] of a baby; you've got to be careful with every detail, and have a whole lot of money."
Must be nice, right? But we have to give Zhang props for having great taste and the ambition to build two track-ready Evos. Now, he just needs to either fly us out to Seattle or China so we can drive 'em. Preferably China, Mr. Zhang...