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2003 Mitsubishi Evolution VIII - Introducing Project Super VIII

Maybe newer isn’t always better.

Peter Tarach
Mar 30, 2012

If you haven’t noticed by now, our EVO X project car has wrapped up. In many cases, it was the perfect street/track car with four doors and a trunk (even though it was a small one). There are few cars out there that can be transformed into such great reliable and dependable track cars while still maintaining their civility for daily driving. Our EVO X put down close to 350 awhp, ran a 2:00 flat track time at Buttonwillow Raceway Park and still managed to get factory-rated gas mileage — when driven normally, of course. This begs the question, is it the best generation of Evolution?

There have been countless debates about whether the X is better than the VIII/IX platform, but for us there’s only one way to find out, and that’s to build our own. Without further ado, we would like to present Project Super VIII.

The car before you is a ’03 Mitsubishi Evolution VIII that’s bone stock, for the most part. It’s getting hard to find these cars in unmolested condition, and we could have bought modified examples much easier. However, starting from stock is the best basis for an equal comparison.

When you get into the VIII, it’s quite apparent that it lacks the amenities of the much more refined X, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Not having a navi screen or fancy gauge cluster keeps with the ethos that this car is meant to go fast without sacrificing much. All those extra add-ons in the EVO X fatten it up quite a bit; it weighs 3,585 lbs compared to the VIII’s more trim 3,254-lb curb weight.

Initial driving comparisons reveal that the VIII has more cabin noise, engine vibrations and is a harsher ride than the X, which is to be expected. However, the handling is its bread and butter, feeling sharp and precise with excellent steering response and crisp turn-in that’s almost expected from any Lancer Evolution these days. Because it’s lighter, the VIII feels more agile and nimbler than the X, even though it has a more primitive AWD system.

Stock versus stock, the VIII and X accelerate at practically the same rate. There’s a bit more noticeable lag on the VIII, largely due to the lack of variable valve timing. However, those of you concerned about it can buy an EVO IX, which comes with MIVEC.

Enough of the stock car talk — you can pick up any magazine to read about that. Let’s get down to business. Modifications to this EVO VIII are going to be simple and effective — do all the power-adder bolt-ons first: intake, full exhaust, intercooler and so forth. On the suspension side, the plan is to get the best coilover setup I can afford. If there’s one spot where cheaping out is a bad idea, it’s suspension. This car has so much potential with the right coilovers, sway bars and tires that there’s no way we would avoid giving these departments the royal treatment. The exterior will get a slight facelift with EVO IX front and JDM rear bumpers, since the days of body kits are long gone in my books. Then the car will hit the track to see how it performs.

That’s just the brief outline I have right now. As I get into building the car and find its shortcomings, the list of mods will continue to grow. Unlike Project Evolution (X) that remained internally stock, this 4G63 will eventually receive a bigger bore and stroke along with a turbo to support its greater displacement. It’s time to make some big power.

As you can imagine, there’s a lot in store for Project Super VIII, so buckle up and sit tight — it’s going to be a wild ride.

By Peter Tarach
352 Articles

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