Rivalry can be a healthy thing. It's what makes professional motor racing so compelling, and it fuels the intensive research and development that goes on within just about any competitive form of racing. Of course, sometimes rivalry's can go too far, whether it's McLaren stealing technical information from Ferrari (resulting in Formula 1 fining McLaren an astounding $100 million dollars as punishment) or a driver intentionally stuffing his nearest competitor into the wall.
For Luis Bicol and Archie Santos, their rivalry is of the friendly variety. Having "met" on www.hondaclub.com.ph/ (Philippines Honda Club, the country they both originate from), the two lost touch as they each built their careers and developed automotive interests outside the Honda brand. But then in 2008, shortly after buying this Rally Red Evolution X, Archie got a message from Luis on an Evolutionm.net that he'd just bought this Aspen White Impreza STI. After exchanging a few PM's, the two realized they now lived about five miles apart in Van Nuys, California, and decided to meet in person for the first time, renewing their friendship and igniting a classic EVO vs. STI rivalry all their own.
For Archie, his love of cars started during college in the Philippines when he bought a '00 Honda Civic sedan. The first mods he did to it were admittedly skewed toward the ricer end of the spectrum, but once he got hooked on the Japanese anime TV series "Initial D" he fell in love with clean JDM styling and the show's hard-core performance orientation. Then in 2003, Archie returned to the United States and bought himself an EVO VIII. "When I was living in the Philippines, EVOs were very popular-EVO IV, V, VI and even TMEs were all over the streets in Manila. That's when I decided that one day I would have to buy one for myself."
In fact, Archie was so anxious to get his hands on an EVO VIII upon his return to America that he preordered one online. "As soon as I landed in the U.S. on a Friday evening, the next day I immediately went to the dealership to get my car and signed all the paperwork." Keeping his VIII for four years, Archie installed nothing but top-notch JDM parts on it-from Bride to Voltex to Advan and Ralliart. His EVO was so nicely built that it ended up as a feature on Jtuned.com.
But then in early 2008, Mitsubishi released the EVO X. "At first, I was not really impressed with the X. But when I saw one in person, I was amazed by how it looked. It made my EVO VIII seem outdated with the new body styling and huge improvements to the interior and engine." Unable to resist the X's allure, Archie parted out his VIII, using the money from the parts sold to put a big down payment on his X.
As soon as he got it home, Archie began planning how he was going to modify it, but at the time there were only a few aftermarket parts available. For starters, he picked up a bronze set of 18x9.5-inch Volk TE37s and wrapped them in 275/35R18 Toyo tires. In anticipation of the first coilover kits hitting the market, Archie used Adobe Photoshop to see how his car would looked lowered. "It looked wicked and mean, and I posted the picture on the EVO forum. This one newbie on the forum thought Adobe was a company making coilovers for the car. He asked me where he could get the Adobe coilovers from and how much they cost. That got me laughing out loud!" Eventually, Archie did get a set of real coilovers from BC Racing to set his X's ride height just the way he wanted it, and he continued to modify his X with "simplicity in mind but eye-catching at the same time-just the right amount of mods to tell it apart from a stock EVO X." With an impressive array of modifications inside and out, including a JUN front lip, Voltex rear wing, Bride seats, Defi gauges and a fresh set of Formula Silver Volk CE28s, Luis was going to have a tough time outdoing Archie with his STI.
For Luis, it all started with his EP3 Civic Si hatchback, which he fully built and daily drove. Right around the time that Luis was getting heavily into photography, he and his wife Gracie spotted an '06 Subaru Impreza STI at a car show and developed a strong love for the brand. But they resisted the urge to buy one, partly because Luis wanted to spend his money on camera gear, not go-fast parts for a new Subie. But that all changed when Luis went to the Los Angeles Auto Show and snapped a few pics of the new STI. As Luis put it, "It was love at first sight. I even went back to the show a few days later to check the car out again." As a fan of hatchbacks, the new STI's body style was what really sealed the deal for Luis, and with plans to start a family the switch to a five-door made perfect sense. After a few months of frustration with local dealerships and their no-discount pricing, Gracie started emailing Subaru dealers throughout Southern California in search of a killer deal. That's when, in May of 2008, Chino Valley Subaru offered them the price they were looking for. The EP3 was parted out and traded in.
"A few weeks before getting the STI, I was telling my wife that I was not going to modify it. I was going to keep it bone stock since it was already fast. Little did she know I had already bought a set of Rally Armor UR mudflaps. The modding didn't stop until I recently got a '95 Miata as a winter beater." Those pre-Miata mods include a list that certainly rivals the spec sheet for Archie's X, including a stunning set of gold 18x9.5-inch SSR Type F wheels wrapped in Falken rubber, BC Racing coilovers, Chargespeed Bottomline bodykit and a Cobb AccessPORT for ECU tuning.
"After a few months of having the STI, I got bored of taking photos of the same car. I started thinking of someone with a built import I could shoot my car with. That's when I thought of Archie since I knew he had a built EVO VIII, I went to Evolutionm.net and saw he'd already upgraded to an X and modded it pretty heavily, so I sent him a PM and asked if he'd be interested in doing a photo shoot with both our cars. He agreed and the rest is history."
Both Archie and Luis may tell you that they're more or less "done" building their AWD Japanese rivals, but with all the inspiration they get from browsing their favorite Web forums, don't be surprised to see them posting pictures online that include upgrades not seen here. The only thing that might stop these two friendly rivals from one-upping each other in the tuning department are their winter beaters, which they're both currently enjoying as low-cost alternatives to their gas-guzzling turbo beasts.
Winter Beaters in So Cal?
Southern California isn't really an environment that necessitates owning a winter beater. For our cover car owners, Luis Bicol and Archie Santos-who call Van Nuys, California, home-their excuse for owning a cheap second car was the cost of a tank full of premium for their thirsty AWD dream cars.
Archie was first, buying a '99 Civic hatchback for $3K on Craigslist, with Luis following suit a week later when he bought a '95 Miata. According to Archie, "My EVO was averaging around 17 mpg or about 200 miles on a 12-gallon tank of gas. Now my Civic gets about 300 miles on a 10-gallon tank, or about 30 mpg. Everybody at work was asking if I sold my EVO because of the economic crisis. I told them no, it's at home and is a garage queen now."
Of course, the economics of owning these cheap secondary cars may have flown out the window a bit, because both Archie and Luis have taken to modifying them. As you can see, Archie's EK is getting the Type-R treatment and Luis' Miata has been lowered on a fresh set of rims for starters.
Specifications & Details
'08 Mitsubishi Evolution X
4B11T turbocharged 2-liter inline-4
AGP intercooler, Turbo Trix upper and lower intercooler tubing and intake tubing; Forge BOV, HKS Super Megaflow air filter, 5Zigen after-cat exhaust, Ultimate Racing downpipe, test pipe and mini muffler; AEM water/meth injection kit
Wheels, Tires and Suspension
19X10.5 +22 offset Volk CE28N Formula Silver wheels, Falken FK452 275/35R19 tires, BC Racing coilovers
JUN front lip and carbon-fiber mirrors; Voltex 1,500mm carbon-fiber GT wing, Ralliart carbon-fiber center grille cover, carbon-fiber pillar covers, dual exhaust shields, and taillights; HKS carbon-fiber side spats, Varis carbon-fiber dual canards and carbon-fiber side vents; OEM carbon-fiber hood scoop, side skirts and rear aero kit package
Bride Stradia sport seats, Defi BF boost gauge and controller; Ralliart scuff plates and carbon-fiber A/C surround panel
369.3 whp and 410.1 wtq on 91 pump gas at 30 psi w/ 100 percent meth injection
I would like to thank my beautiful wife Marigil Santos and my loving son Angelo Santos for supporting me with my Project EVO X-I love you guys so much
Specifications & Details
'08 Subaru Impreza STI
EJ25 turbocharged 2.5-liter flat-4
Injen CAI, Invidia catted downpipe, Tanabe after-cat exhaust, Crawford Performance air/oil separator
Wheels, Tires and Suspension
18x9.5" SSR Type F wheels, Falken RT-615 265/35ZR18 Tires, BC Racing coilovers, Whiteline rear camber adjustment bushings and 22mm adjustable sway bars (f/r)
Chargespeed Bottomline kit, 20 percent tint, Hella supertones, painted STI logo, OEM foglights, red taillight overlay w/ cutouts, carbon-fiber OEM style exhaust garnish, Venture Shield clear bra, Rally Armor UR mudflaps
Pioneer AVIC F90BT, PAC SWI-PS steering wheel control interface, carbon-fiber shift knob, OEM adjustable armrest, auto-dim rearview mirror w/ Homelink
281.4 whp and 326.1 wtq from a Stage 2 protune at HBSpeed
To my wife Gracie for letting me buy mods for this very expensive hobby; Young, for hooking me up with parts; HCP buddies: Jason, Jeff, June, Randy and Bernard; Import Image Online, Turn-In Concepts, Tanabe USA, Sticker City, City Tire Online, Jeff at Stokes Tire Pros in Santa Monica, and NASIOC.COM/IWSTI.COM for all the subie info