Where would we be without the EVO?
Mitsubishi's latest turbocharged all-wheel-drive wonder has an uncanny ability to grab the imagination and set off fantasies about the good times that could be had while driving it. Even straight from the factory, it must be one of the most affordable cars that can still turn heads. Steve Baez had his turned, even though he's used to more upscale European wheels like the VW GTI, Scirocco, BMW 325i and a couple of M3s. He still owns a Range Rover Sport (the supercharged model). But the Evolution, on this occasion an '06 IX (bought new in 2005), hooked him, just as it has so many others. The quest for more power and performance inevitably leads here.
Of course, Baez became a gearhead long before. "It started when my dad sat me on his lap and let me hold the wheel of his '78 Camaro," he says. "It was all over after that." Just as our other tastes mature, Baez's preference in cars went more toward the sublime. Now 36 years old and a sound engineer by trade, his spare time is spent going faster.
Thinking about it, his goal for this project seems over-ambitious: an all-around daily driver that can stand out at the track or a show. Show cars are usually one thing, track cars another and everyday transport something else again. It's taken three years and the best part of $40,000 on top of the original cost of the car, but Baez seems to have pulled the hat trick off.
It began by swapping an air filter (K&N), fitting a new exhaust (HKS Carbon-Ti, now with an AMS manifold) and an ECU flash. Then it all got out of hand. Ambition crept into the engine by stretching the stroke--thereby increasing displacement from 2.0 to 2.3 liters--and upping compression from 8.8:1 to 9.0:1, to increase displacement and fatten up torque production. Ross AMS-spec pistons perch on top of Oliver E4340 connecting rods bolted to the stock crank, while GSC camshafts spin above them with a 274-degree lift on both the intake and exhaust sides. Engine work was carried out by AMS in Chicago. Considering Baez and his car are based in Palm Springs, FL, this shows the extent of his commitment to getting it done right.
Out went the stock turbocharger, in came a Precision 850R 6262 unit, accompanied by a wastegate and blow-off valve from TiAL, with an AEM boost controller as the brains behind the operation. As if an EVO IX painted in stealth black wasn't cool enough, a Buschur Racing intercooler, a slim CBRD radiator and Samco hoses do their best to keep the mercury on a leash.
During its spell in the Windy City, the 4G63 was also treated to a ported and polished head, an intake manifold (AMS VSR twin-rail), Mil Spec 65mm throttle body, Supertech 1mm-oversized valves, springs and titanium retainers, an AMS oil cooler, a powder-coated valve cover and a thorough blueprinting.
A well-known name in the EVO tuning world, Sean Ivey was the conductor of an orchestra that includes an AMS 1,000-hp fuel system consisting of injectors, twin fuel rails and two Walbro 255 lph pumps. Other players include a Fuel Lab regulator, Spark Tech plugs and ignition system, and an AEM ECU. The resulting symphony is a clamorous 728 whp at a stratospheric 8,400 rpm and 592 lb-ft of churning torque at a still-high 7,000 rpm (with boost at 42 psi). Baez covers the quarter-mile in just 10.9 seconds, hitting 131 mph, in full street trim.
John Sheppard was drafted in to upgrade the transmission, fitting Driveshaft Shop Stage Five axles and a trusty Quaife limited-slip differential. The clutch/flywheel partnership is now a Tilton rally version--the former of cerametallic construction, the latter made from lightweight billet steel. Further tranny mods are a 4.11 final drive, longer EVO VIII cogs for Third and Fourth, plus a billet input shaft.
Baez is currently seeking sponsorship to go racing; although he likes clipping apexes, he doesn't cut corners. Robispec of New Jersey, a giant in the American EVO scene, was approached to rework the suspension. First thing: KW Clubsport rebound- and damping-adjustable coilovers, lowering the car by three inches at each end, stiffening its stance and absorbing imperfections in the driving surface of choice. Next came Cusco 25mm anti-roll bars and strut braces, front and rear, plus bushings from Whiteline; a track-friendly (stiff) set-up, but one still usable on the street.
The car rolls on a set of ultra-light 18x9 Volk Racing RE30 wheels, wearing 255/40 Yokohama Advan Neova AD07 tires. Hardly a frugal choice, yet a combination that has proven itself time and again. But here's something unusual: Baez has kept the brake system virtually stock, except for Hawk HPS pads and Stoptech braided stainless steel lines. Those factory-issue Brembos aren't too shabby, it seems.
As the pictures attest, the body didn't get off quite so lightly as the brakes. A carbon fiber front lip from JDP Engineering helps cut drag and increase downforce, while Fiber Images' CF hood and trunk shed weight, as does an AMS CF roof; around the back is a JDM bumper for style.
If you could see past the tinted windows, you'd find a six-point roll cage with swing-outs made by MPH Fabrications of Connecticut. Try not to drool on the black Bride front seats and rear upholstery, or the suede-covered Sparco 383 steering wheel that matches the suede headliner. Yet more props go to AMS for installing the electronics: AEM gauges, Alpine IVA-D310 DVD with GPS headunit, plus one 750-watt stereo amp and a 600-watt mono unit. Speakers are 6.5-inch Boston Acoustics Pro series with a JL Audio 10-inch subwoofer, all wired up with Monster cable. Baez is a sound engineer, remember, so he's probably just as picky on this stuff as he would be with the greasy bits.
It's fair to say that, although his car has some serious kit installed by top-level people, Baez has had a tougher time of it than most. "There are shops out there that just want to take your money and not even do the job right," he says. "One place had my car for over a year--it's been a long road." He regrouped, did the research and settled on reliable, well-known companies. And he's been up and down the Eastern Seaboard as well as over to the Mid-West to have his vision realized.
Behind The Build
Head to the message boards atwww.importtuner.com to chat about this feature vehicle
Name: Steve Baez
Hometown: Palm Springs, FL
Occupation: Sound Engineer
Hobbies: Building Fast Cars And Racing Them
Build time: Three Years
Quote: "This is my first japanese car."
'06 Mitsubishi EVO 9
Output: 728 WHP
Engine: AEM ECU, boost controller; K&N air filter; HKS Carbon-Ti exhaust; AMS VSR twin-rail intake manifold, oil cooler, twin fuel rails, exhaust manifold; Walbro 255 Lph fuel pumps (2); Fuel Lab fuel regulator; Spark Tech spark plugs, ignition system; Precision 850R 6262 turbocharger; TiAL wastegate, BOV; Buschur Racing intercooler; CBRD radiator; Supertech I mm-oversized valves, valve springs, titanium retainers; GSC 274 camshafts; Ross AMS-spec pistons; Oliver E4340 connecting rods
Drivetrain: Tilton rally cerametallic clutch, lightweight billet steel flywheel; Driveshaft Shop Stage Five axles; Quaife limited-slip center diff
Suspension: KW Clubsport coilovers; Cusco 25mm anti-roll bars (front and rear), strut braces (front and rear); Whiteline bushings
Wheels/Tires: Volk RE30 18x9, +35mm offset wheels; Yokohama Advan Neova AD07 255/40 tires
Brakes: Hawk HPS pads; Stoptech braided stainless steel lines
Exterior: JDP Engineering carbon fiber front lip; Fiber Images CF hood, CF trunk; AMS CF roof; JDM rear bumper
Interior: Six-point custom roll cage w/swing-outs; Bride Low Max seats (front), rear upholstery; Sparco steering wheel; suede head liner; AEM gauges; Alpine IVA-D310 DVD, GPS unit, 750-watt stereo amp, 600-watt mono unit; Boston Acoustics 6.5-inch Pro Series speakers; JL Audio 10-inch subwoofer; Monster cable
Gratitude: AMS Performance, Ivey Tune, JDP Engineering, CBRD Speed Factory, Mil Spec, MPH Fabrications, A Spec (source for Volk Racing wheels)