While most of us know the truth, the import scene is sometimes cursed with a lackluster image in the public eye due to street racing/drifting, sideshows, and decades of tacky style trends. While this might not apply to all of us, we can't be surprised that the greater population tends to remember us by our worst. Fortunately, there are cars like Sergio Miranda's Mitsubishi Evo IX to remind everyone what we're capable of. His Evo is the bright, red middle finger to the pretentious status quo.
The Evo IX is perhaps the pinnacle of homologated racing technology infused in a modern Japanese production car. The ninth-gen Mitsubishi sedan features one of the most advanced all-wheel drivetrains of its time with one of the most proven turbo-fours ever produced. Sure, the Evo X earned its fair share of achievements, but the IX was arguably the last production car to be designed for racing proficiency then adapted for road car duty. As such, it's practically indestructible when tuned past the limits of its showroom performance, which is exactly what Sergio achieved.
We'd love to give you some quippy one-liner about how building this car wasn't easy, but truth be told, it was pretty much trouble-free for Sergio. He began with a strong foundation and made all the right moves. Inspired and guided by his older brother Luis, he'd previously built a slew of Hondas—most notably a turbocharged B20-powered EG Civic. He and his bro wrenched on the hatchback together, making close friends in the industry along the way. Sergio also spent a few years modifying and racing street bikes but eventually decided to return to imports with this Evo IX.
When this clean and nearly stock '06 Evo surfaced, Sergio jumped at the chance to buy it and enjoyed daily driving for nearly two years. Then the mod bug began to bite. Before he knew it, he completed the first stage of his build: top-mount turbo upgrade, carbon-fiber front end, Volk Racing TE37s, a big ole wing, Autopower 'cage, plus lots of other goodies. While it still served as his daily, the car began earning awards at events like Clean Culture and Mitsufest. But for Sergio, it was only the beginning.
Some other turbocharged AWD cars (not naming names) are great performers when stock or modified up to a point, but the Evo IX seems to welcome just about any modifications you throw at it. In Sergio's case, he threw a lot.
His first call was to one of those important friends he made in his Honda days and who was instrumental in the Evo's build, Alexander "Sheepey" Soto of Sheepey Built. Plans were drawn up for a new, second-gen Precision 6266 ball-bearing turbo setup featuring a first-of-its-kind, top-mounted, forward-facing manifold with a hood-exit exhaust and wastegate dump, and front-mount intercooler, not to mention all the plumbing that would be fashioned in titanium. The titanium theme became an obsession as Chasing Js, Ebb Fabrication, and Dress Up Bolts stepped in with more titanium goodness under the hood. Gonzo Motorsports, helmed by a member of the Sheepey crew, took to the 4G63's cylinder head, installing Crower valvesprings and retainers, GSC cams, and AEM cam gears. Sergio's homie Dillon converted the car's four-point 'cage to a six-point unit, while Sergio got to work rewiring the engine harnesses. Next, Ultra Racing kicked in its whole suite of chassis bracing (which works great with the Whiteline sway bars).
Sergio sold a lot of the original bodywork when he converted to carbon-fiber years prior. While he still has love for the black weave, he decided to freshen up its overall appearance yet again. An OEM front bumper, JDM rear, and Chargespeed fenders replaced the existing carbon gear. Voltex generators, a genuine Do-Luck trunk lid, and Varis diffuser add some JDM spice to the rear. Continuing the theme are Rexpeed carbon side skirts, side spats, and front bumper vents. APR and Seibon Carbon can be found up front, the latter being modified to accommodate the new hood-exit exhaust. Sergio tells us most of the paint was color-matched by his buddy, Chuck, to the factory Phoenix Red hues. Quite frankly, there was no shortage of support from close friends and industry partners here.
Inside is a combination of old and new parts—some subtle and some not so much. The Status Racing seat and harness and suede MOMO wheel blend in with the low-key black style of the interior; however, a Beatrush rear bulkhead and Chasing Js titanium instrument bezel hint that there's plenty more at play.
After the addition of some 88 Rotors brakes, CCW forged alloys, and sticky-icky Falken rubber, the Evo rolled onto the dyno. After some tweaking by the KT Motoring and Massimo Power crews, it belted out a cool 518 whp on E85 fuel.
With Sergio's massive rebuild completed last July, his Evo is now comfortably living its third life. It's already begun to rake in new accolades, taking "Best Mitsubishi" at Wekfest L.A. But what's most impressive to us is that Sergio drove his award-winning Evo to Wekfest and other local gatherings without using a trailer. What you see here is how you'll likely catch him on the road any day of the week in the Inland Empire.
Not surprisingly, Sergio's immediate plans for the car are to simply enjoy driving it. Next year, his plans will include driveline and engine internal reinforcements, a bigger power number, and plenty of trips to the dragstrip.
Veterans and newbs, die-hard gearheads, and total derps take note: This street-driven, 518-whp Evo IX is a fine example of what the tuning scene is all about. That, and all the carefree enjoyment that should come with one.