Everybody wants to be different. As human beings, we make a consistent effort in our lives to do things to set us apart from the rest of the crowd. Being an individual is what makes us relevant to our peers and to the opposite sex. Whether people like to admit it or not, nobody wants to just fade into the monotonous blur of conventionality. That's why you do your hair a certain way or buy a specific style of clothing. The struggle to +be relevant to the rest of the world is something we all deal with on a daily basis.
In the automotive tuning world, the thought of "being different" is paramount. The whole point of modifying your car and adding parts to it is to set yourself apart from your fellow enthusiast. Otherwise, you wouldn't do anything to your car and it would just look like any other unmodified variation of the car you owned. Though the thrill of being unique is the goal for most, there are times when people try too hard to be different and manage to end up looking like everyone else. Trends form and popular parts, which would at one point be considered "rare", are distributed heavily throughout the community and oversaturation ensues. There's nothing wrong with rocking these products-chances are they're probably great parts. Everyone else just happens to have the same idea as you do.
The Diamond Star brand has seen a substantial shift in popularity in the last couple of years. Almost two decades ago, the Mitsubishi that enthusiasts sought after was the Eclipse. The idea of owning a sports coupe that was boosted from the factory was an enticing one. Once the "JDM movement" changed the entire landscape of the tuner community, the U.S.-market Eclipse's popularity diminished just as quickly as the big body kits and head/taillight conversions of the late 90s. Today, Mitsubishi remains relevant in the tuner community solely because of the Lancer Evolution. First introduced to Americans in 2003, the Evolution immediately rose to stardom because it offered the same power plant and all-wheel drive of the Eclipse GSX with a ton of Japanese aftermarket support-and we can't forget to mention that it also had a cult-like following worldwide.
Like all things popular, you're likely to encounter a lot of Evo VIIIs and IXs at various automotive events in 2013-and many of them carry a very similar aesthetic appearance. There is an almost endless supply of Japanese aftermarket support for this chassis but many Evo enthusiasts have chosen to build their cars with a very similar mindset. There isn't anything wrong with that; someone has developed a formula for building these vehicles that works. Differentiating from the norm can be risky but again, being an individual is what gets your ride recognized in a crowd. Jay Altamirano recognized that the Mitsu Evo community had developed a state of repetition-and he set out to change that.
The first and most obvious shift in the Evo paradigm was Jay's decision to have the entire car re-sprayed in BMW Laguna Seca Blue. LSB has become quite the popular color choice over time, especially with non-BMW owners, but he lays claim to being the first (possibly the only) in the U.S. with an Evo of this tone. The other distinguishing mod selected to distance him from other Lancer Evo builds was the rare Japanese aero.
"I get asked a lot about the kit on my Evo," Jay explains. "It's a Japanese Varis Version 2 kit and one of only three that have been imported to the U.S. I really wanted a kit that was uncommon because there are so many Evos around now that have full Voltex kits. Don't get me wrong, Voltex stuff is badass and looks raw as hell but I just feel like it is way too common. That and there are replicas popping up in the U.S. market now so it's just going to end up on every Evo."
With a custom paint job and rare (baller) aero components, you'd think that Jay is trying to build a full-fledged track/show car but his original intentions are far from that. "It's crazy but I never planned to modify the car at all back when I purchased it brand-new in 2004. I thought the car was perfect the way it was. It didn't help that I had friends that had a passion for cars so I eventually got the itch to go all-out on my project-it became an addiction. I thought that a three month waiting time for parts from Japan was ridiculous but I ultimately came to the realization that quality products were the only way to go. If it took some patience on my part, it was totally worth it."
Jay may have once thought that his Evo was factory perfect, but eight years later, his 4G63 motor is far from stock. The cylinder head has been upgraded with HKS 272° camshafts and cam gears, while fuel delivery is improved via RC 1200cc injectors and a Walbro fuel pump. An FP Green turbo and Full Race Pro-Stock exhaust manifold replace the original factory DSM units as a larger ETS Race Core intercooler pulls cold air into the 2.0-liter engine. Ride height adjustability is possible courtesy of HKS Hipermax III dampers and seated beneath the all-wheel drive chassis are 18x9.5-inch Volk TE37s. To fit the +15 offset Volks and wide 255-series Falken rubber up front, Jay added custom brackets to push the fenders outward.
One hurdle that he did not anticipate was the issue with his 7-point Cusco rollcage. Jay tells us, "When I first ordered my cage, I had no idea that Evos in Japan never came with sunroofs! The Cusco pieces were developed on the Japanese domestic market Evolutions so they never accounted for the additional space taken up by the sunroof rails and motor. I was clueless so I spent hours furiously jamming the middle hoop of the cage in my car. I couldn't believe that I spent so much money and time on what I thought was a simple bolt-on cage! After I calmed down and did some research online, I found out from other Evo owners that it had to be modified to fit. Luckily there was a trusted fabrication shop not too far from me that was able to alter the middle hoop to fit around the sunroof."
Every addiction comes with an intense high, followed by a downtime when the addicted comes to a stark realization. The drug that is car-modification is no different-and Jay might just be coming down from his high. "I've done so much to this car the last few years that I rarely drive or enjoy the car anymore. I hate to admit it but I even sometimes think about selling it," he says. "When I do get a chance to drive it that rush of excitement instantly comes back. It could just be a cruise around the block or to run a few errands but it makes me feel giggly inside. Then I remember that I'll never get back what I put into it and remind myself that I need to appreciate my hard work. Hopefully soon, I'll get a chance to get my car on the track and push my Evo to new limits."
2005 Mitsubish Lancer Evolution Viii
Engine 2005 Mitsubishi 2.0L 4G63; HKS 272° camshafts, cam gears, Suction Reloaded Air Intake Kit; Supertech valve springs, retainers; GReddy timing belt, rolled-tip full titanium exhaust; Walbro 255lph fuel pump; RC 1200cc fuel injectors; Full Race Pro-Stock turbo manifold; Invidia test pipe, downpipe, O2 sensor housing; NGK iridium spark plugs; Forced Performance FP Green turbocharger; OEM Evo 9 blow-off valve; ETS Race Core intercooler, intercooler piping; Hallman Pro boost controller; ARC blue oil cap; Tomei polished spark plug cover; Baller Bolts True Ti strut bolts; custom yellow powdercoated valve cover
Drivetrain Exedy twin-disc clutch, chromoly flywheel; WORKS short shifter
Footwork & Chassis HKS Hipermax III coilovers; ARC titanium strut bar; Cusco rear strut bar; modified Cusco 7-point rollcage
Brakes Project Mu B-Force front/rear brake pads; ATE blue dot brake fluid
Wheels & Tires 18x9.5" +15 Volk Racing TE37; 255/45-18 Falken Azenis RT615K; T1R titanium lug nuts
Exterior Varis Ver.2 front bumper, front carbon-fiber lip, carbon-fiber dual canards, Extremor carbon-fiber sideskirts; JDM Evo 9 rear bumper, Evo 8 headlights, Evo 7 taillights; Voltex Type 5-V rear spoiler; PPG BMW Laguna Seca Blue paint; front fenders w/custom front widening brackets
Interior Bride Gias racing seats, seat rails; Takata safety harnesses; KEY!S suede semi-cone steering wheel; SPLASH steering wheel hub; Works Bell Rapix II quick-release; Varis limited edition Maziora shift knob; Cyberspeed pedals
Electronics Pioneer AVIC-Z120BT head unit; Infinity Kappa component speakers, 10-inch subwoofer w/custom enclosure, amplifier; Eden Customs double-din conversion kit w/custom HVAC enclosure; JDM double-din bezel
Thanks you First of all I would like to take my employer for the money I've earned to contribute to this expensive hobby of mine! Haha, then secondly I would like to thank my friends and family for ALWAYS supporting me with my addiction; Also Devin, Ryan, Cary, and Trieu at SPEED ELEMENT for the countless hours working on my car.