In this month's installment, I'm stepping away from figuring out how to make the Evo a faster and more potent street car and instead taking care of a few items that have been on the back burner for quite some time.
Vehicle theft is an unfortunate part of life, and for a car enthusiast, it's a nightmare we all hope never comes true. There are many lines of defense, and an alarm is one of the best. I have a top-of-the-line Viper unit sitting on my desk, but it's so far back on the list of to-dos that I haven't installed it yet.
However, I do have a roll of 3M Crystalline window tint I've been meaning to get installed. Sure, it's a bit of a stretch to call window tint a theft deterrent, but every little thing helps. And when prying eyes have a hard time seeing inside your car, that's not a bad thing.
Truth be told, I was getting the windows tinted because the Evo sits outside most of the day, and its interior is already starting to show its age. Thankfully, 3M's Crystalline tint technology blocks 99.9 percent of UV light and 97 percent of heat-producing infrared light, which is good news for my interior and me. The tint consists of 200 individual layers sandwiched between the adhesive layer and an external scratch-resistant layer resulting in up to 60 percent blockage of the sun's heat coming through your windows. Moreover, it's made of a nonmetallic film, so Crystalline will never fade purple or interfere with cellphones, garage door openers, or other similar devices.
When you have premium tint, you want someone who knows how to handle and install it properly. Fortunately, there is an authorized 3M installer just miles from the office. Tint Factory in Los Angeles is one of the biggest and best installers in the area. The team of professionals is trained to apply the film properly and ensures it reaches under the window trim edges and hard to reach areas for a seamless look and finish.
I selected the 60 shade of darkness Crystalline tint and am very pleased with the look and installation job. With tint, you want a long-lasting product that won't degrade over time, so it's best to buy the high-end stuff, and it doesn't get any better than 3M.
Next on the to-do list was the steering wheel. I've never been a fan of stock steering wheels, and swapping one out for a more track-oriented setup has proved worthwhile. As a bonus, a removable steering wheel acts as a great theft deterrent.
My wheel of choice was a Personal Grinta suede 350mm steering wheel. For the hub setup, a Works Bell Rapfix II quick-release and short hub were sourced from ASpec in South El Monte, California. I have typically used NRG quick releases and hubs in the past, but after seeing first-hand the quality difference in the Japanese-made Works Bell parts, it was hard to go back to NRG. Don't get me wrong-NRG parts are good-but once you get your hands on and use the Works Bell stuff, you'll realize why it costs more, especially the tightness in the quick release; once engaged, the Rapfix II has zero play in it.
Since the Evo's steering wheel is equipped with an air bag, be very careful if you're doing the installation on your own. Always disconnect the battery and be sure to have the proper tools for the job. Aside from that, the installation is pretty straightforward, and if you're using the Works Bell stuff, then all the necessary plugs are provided to hook up your horn, and better yet, a plug-in resistor is supplied to mitigate the air bag warning light from turning on.
I'm happy with the new steering wheel setup with one exception: The position of the steering wheel has been moved about 2 to 3 inches toward the driver, which isn't bad per se, especially for the track, but when I'm reaching for the turn signal stock, I have to stretch out my hand, so take that into consideration. It's not a big deal, but it can become annoying if you are doing a lot of daily commuting.
After finishing that job, I focused my efforts under the car. As much as I'm a diehard car guy, I have a green, eco-friendly side as well. I recycle at home and try to do my part where I can, so I've always had mixed feelings about running test pipes on street cars. Not only are they illegal, but they also cause your engine to spew out every harmful exhaust gas auto manufacturers have worked so hard to contain. I get it; we all want to maximize engine output and horsepower, but with today's high-flow catalytic converters, there's no excuse not to run one, especially when companies such as Vibrant are offering examples that don't even hinder performance. The new GESI High Output (HO-series, rated at 350-500 hp) and Ultra High output (UHO-series, rated at 500-850 hp) Universal Metal Core Catalytic Converters have been specifically designed for high-performance cars such as the Evo. They flow extremely well but still meet EPA certification for use on OBD2 vehicles in almost every state. Their full stainless steel construction, including the substrate, means they'll last for many years, and with an ability to withstand up to 1,500 degrees F, they are perfect for forced-induction cars.
With cats such as these on the market, there's really no reason anyone should be running a test pipe unless you like the smell of exhaust on your clothes and inside the cabin.
Because the Vibrant UHO-Series cat is a universal application, I had to fabricate my own piping to bolt it up to the Tomei exhaust system. Luckily, Vibrant also sent me some of its 3-inch stainless steel pipe and hangers. Within an hour of starting, I had a finished product bolted up to where the Tomei Expreme Ti test pipe used to reside, and now I can drive the Evo with no remorse.
Project Super VIII is now in full effect. There are still some key upgrades that need to be completed, but soon it'll be ready for its first track day.
I have a bit of OCD, and when I see something that bugs me, I immediately have to fix it. For example, the first time I turned on the foglights in my newly acquired Evo IX headlights, I noticed how much warmer the color temperature was compared with the much whiter-looking headlamps. This didn't go over well with me, so I logged onto HeadlightBulbs.com, selected my vehicle, and moments later had a list of available bulb options for my headlights. As you can see, the H7 platinum bulbs I chose are a perfect match for the headlights, and I can sleep easy again.