It's early June as I write this and the price of gas has already been skyrocketing. As the hottest topic to burn through the auto industry, gas prices hovering between four and five dollars a gallon are downright incredible. Isn't that how much race gas is supposed to cost? If I have to pay $4.50 for a gallon of gas, shouldn't that precious liquid allow me to run more boost? At least you non-California residents have it better with 93 octane instead of 91.
With gas prices reaching new peaks, speed freaks are left in full-on crisis mode. As much as we like to tell our families, it's not like any of us are going to start easing off the throttle any time soon. If you had a 12-second car sitting in the garage, chances are you're going to take that thing out and wring it by its neck. No one jumps into their fun car and then putts around at two percent throttle on the weekends. No one who reads this magazine, at least.
With rising gas bills eating into our budgets, many of us are doing more research and being more selective about tuning purchases. Now more than ever, we want the hard parts that offer the biggest bang for the buck. We want the exhaust that can make 30 wheel-hp not just three, and the car that doesn't need a complete redesign to run rings around a muscle car at the racetrack. It comes as little surprise that factory turbocharged cars, such as the WRX and Lancer Evolution, are currently garnering huge waves of popularity. These cars can make so much power, and so easily, they're hard to ignore. Other, older platforms, such as the Civic, Miata and Integra, are so unburdened by current overweight luxury standards that they don't need to make a stinking pile of power in order to go fast. These are the elements that need to be capitalized on to go fast for less cash.
This month's front page Mitsubishi is the perfect example. It's street legal, registered, driven daily (seriously, the owner doesn't have another car), has a full interior and air conditioning and was the overall Street Class winner in the 2007 Super Lap Battle time attack event. It's a Lancer Evolution VIII that uses an upgraded turbocharger, bolt-on parts, good tires and race gas. The car is so near stock, it's almost scary how it laid waste to the $90,000 male enhancement pill known as the Dodge Viper.
Let this shootout be a hands-on lesson about the importance of choosing proper modifications. Big chrome wheels and multi-strobe neon lighting systems aren't free, and that money could be better spent elsewhere. Fiberglass stereo enclosures, flip-up Lamborghini door kits and electric superchargers? Save your cash. A properly set up and aligned suspension system, a set of good, sticky tires and choice power modifications can transform your ride into an exotic-murdering beast. Going fast isn't going to be free, but choose wisely and the cost of speed can be much lower than you think.