It's the word "hybrid" that sends tinges of anxious loathing down an import guy's spine. Today, visions of smug asshats piloting Priuses (Prii?) and gas/electric Camrys spring to mind in a place where DOHC-swapped Civics have rightly whooped up on Mustangs and Porsches for the past decade and a half. Enter Team Hybrid, one of the import scene's longest-running and most respected car clubs, and the one whose early projects all but single-handedly coined the gearhead-approved version of the term. Calling them innovators would be nothing short of the truth, but in the carbon-neutral modern day, obsolete? Not while one of their original members and newest projects-Charleston Penesa and his '06 EVO IX-are running the streets. Hybrid? Sort of. Green? Yes . . . in a blindingly orange way.
The first thing to get straight is that this is a daily driver. That's how they do things in Penesa's home town of Las Vegas, it seems. Here's a cool thing: our man chose a sedan so he could haul his kids around. Just imagine them growing up and reminiscing about their childhood when dad used to drive them to school and stuff in this car.
Let's quickly take in the Tangelo Pearl paint job applied to the APR Performance Evil-R widebody kit before going into greater detail. The kit includes that carbon fiber front air splitter and undertray, along with those carbon canards. The rear bumper has a design that reduces drag, a fortunate attribute since the car has JDM vortex generators, but no rear wing to take full advantage of them. Penesa favors a clean look instead.
Every time he checks a side mirror, he's looking at $225. A pair of these Rexpeed Ralliart-style mirrors housed in carbon fiber costs around $450. But they do look sleek. A Seibon carbon fiber hood and trunk lid represent further substantial investments. Hopefully the JDM headlights were a little easier on the pocket, likewise the JDM EVO VII taillights.
When it came to the engine, though, Penesa was just asking for a call from his perplexed bank manager. It all started by taking the 4G63 engine apart to install a crankshaft, connecting rods, pistons, 280-degree intake and exhaust camshafts, valve springs, and lifters from Brian Crower. Then it went crazy from there. A Buschur Racing 3076R turbo kit soon followed, accompanied by an ETS (Extreme Turbo Systems) front-mount, four-inch race intercooler with RNR Motorsports plumbing.
Once someone is committed to a certain path, there's often no other option but to keep going down it. So in went a Tial 44mm wastegate, a Forge blow-off valve and a Hallman manual boost controller. Penesa made the most of Team Hybrid's relationship with Mishimoto to obtain an aluminum radiator, oil cooler, hoses and race thermostat from the company. Also helping out with the temperatures is a Greddy radiator panel and a Cusco heat shield.
Inhalation is taken care of by an HKS Super Suction air intake, while fuel comes squirting through RC 1,000cc/min injectors. On the exhaust side is an HKS carbon/titanium system (including downpipe), with an Ultimate Racing test pipe squeezing itself into the picture.
With the breathing sorted and the sparking synchronized (courtesy of an ECU re-flash and Magnecor ignition wires), Penesa drove home from the dyno shop with a slip that said 505 all-wheel horsepower at 6,617 rpm and 471 lb-ft of all-wheel torque at 5,531 rpm, at 27 psi of boost. But here's the cool thing: the engine runs on E85 ethanol. So Penesa's kids might still be able to use it when they learn to drive.
The final bits of engine bay finery consist of a Cusco oil catch can, a Stinger SPV20 Power Series 300-amp battery and a Beatrush front motor mount.
The great thing about an EVO transmission is that it can handle massive gobs of power, like those generated by Penesa's engine. So he left it pretty much stock, with the exception of an ACT six-puck clutch and heavy duty pressure plate, an ACT lightweight flywheel, and a Works short-throw shifter for good measure.
The suspension, however, is another matter. Although the factory setup is perfectly workable, the temptation to upgrade to Tein Super Street 16-level adjustable coilovers proved too strong to resist.
Penesa augmented this with Energy Suspension polyurethane bushings, a non-adjustable 25mm Cusco anti-roll bar at the front and a 23mm adjustable anti-roll bar out back, a Cusco upper rear strut brace, plus a Greddy upper front strut brace. The nose has been lowered by 1.81 inches, while the tail is 1.02 inches closer to the pavement. Spring rates run to a substantial 670 lbs/in and 560 lbs/in, front and rear, respectively.
Those Enkei wheels are of the RPF1 persuasion, sized 18x10, with Special Brilliant Coating (SBC) and a 15mm offset. Tires are BFGoodrich g-Force T/A KDW in 275/35, which are especially good in the wet. Considering Nevada is officially the driest state in the USA (with an average rainfall of seven inches a year), we hope that gives Penesa a nice, warm reassuring feeling.
No need to hope for reassurance from the brakes. These are Rotora anchors: six-piston calipers up front and four-piston units at the rear, both chomping down on two-piece rotors with Rotora carbon compound pads, while Amsoil fluid runs through Rotora braided stainless steel lines.
The brake pedal is just one of three JDM EVO pedals that adorn the interior. This is accessed by inching past the Cusco six-point roll cage, finished in the same radioactive green as the Takata racing harnesses. Sat in either of the Status Ring front seats, the Greddy boost gauge comes into view, as does the Nardi 350mm steering wheel set on a Works Bell quick-release hub, the Blitz turbo timer, and the Ralliart shift knob. Oh, and just in case anyone was wondering, that little blue bucket seat stuck on the dash is a Bride cell phone holder.
Penesa handled the installation of a Pioneer AVIC N-3 DVD/CD/Nav system personally, matching it up with the Infinity SSL-series amplifier, speakers and subwoofer.
"I've owned a lot of Hondas before, so this was a change for me," says Penesa, who has been a member of Team Hybrid since 1995, "And all-wheel drive is a bonus." After sinking something like $25,000 and 10 months into this project, he's decided to make it work harder. "I'm gonna start competing in a lot of time-attack competitions, so the car will have more of a race/track setup," says Penesa. Time to stick that rear wing back on.
Behind The Build
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Engine Brian Crower crankshaft, connecting rods, pistons, 280-degree intake and exhaust camshafts, valve springs, lifters; Buschur Racing 3076R turbo kit; ETS (Extreme Turbo Systems) front-mount four-inch race intercooler; RNR Motorsports plumbing; Tial 44mm wastegate; Forge blow-off valve; Hallman manual boost controller; Mishimoto aluminum radiator, oil cooler, hoses, race thermostat; Greddy radiator panel; Cusco heat shield; HKS Super Suction air intake, carbon/titanium exhaust system, downpipe; RC 1,000cc/min injectors; Ultimate Racing test pipe; Magnecor ignition wires; Cusco oil catch can; Stinger SPV20 Power Series 300-amp battery; Beatrush front motor mount; Mobil 1 20w-50 oil
Drivetrain ACT six-puck clutch, heavy duty pressure plate, lightweight flywheel; Works short-throw shifter
Suspension Tein Super Street 16-way adjustable coilovers; Energy Suspension polyurethane bushings; Cusco 25mm anti-roll bar (front), 23mm adjustable anti-roll bar (rear), upper rear strut brace; Greddy upper front strut brace
Wheels/Tires Enkei RPF1 SBC wheels, 18x10 (+15mm offset); BFGoodrich g-Force T/A KDW tires, 275/35
Brakes Rotora six-piston calipers (front), four-piston calipers (rear), two-piece rotors (front and rear), carbon compound pads, braided stainless steel lines; Amsoil brake fluid
Exterior APR Performance Evil-R widebody kit; Rexpeed Ralliart-style mirrors; Seibon carbon fiber hood, trunk lid; JDM headlights, EVO VII taillights, vortex generators
Interior JDM pedals; Cusco six-point roll cage; Takata racing harnesses; Status Ring front seats; Greddy boost gauge; Nardi 350mm steering wheel; Works Bell quick release hub; Blitz turbo timer; Ralliart shift knob; Pioneer AVIC N-3 DVD/CD/Nav system; Infinity SSL amplifier, speakers, subwoofer; Bride cell phone holder
Las Vegas, NV
Hanging With The Family, Paintballing
"The Car Is Orange, But I Went Green."