No matter how long we spend covering global automotive culture, there is still that feeling of excitement when we stumble upon something special and start shooting it right then and there. It’s the essence of being a Speedhunter, bringing you – our readers – the best rides we find during our travels and at times that may not be the latest and wildest tuner demo car from Japan, but a simple, old, privately owned car we just happen to come across. Back last summer when I stopped by the brand new Garage G-Force HQ in Yokohama, among all the high-power Evos and GT-Rs that were being worked on in the workshop…
…it was a lonely Lancer Evolution III parked outside that stole my attention. It had just been dropped off by its owner and was about to receive a quick service, a bit of TLC to keep this well looked after modern day classic freshly oiled up and functioning as it should.
These days we tend to get too caught up in the latest and newest versions that manufacturers continue to throw at us, but once in a while it’s always nice to take a step back and admire where some of today’s best cars have originated from. It was back in January 1995 that the third generation of the Lancer Evolution, the CE9A, made its debut. It was to be the last high-performance, rally-bred special before the new body design would be introduced the following year, a shape what would form the base for the Evo 4, 5 and 6 (and the Evo 6 Tommi Makinen of course).
What is very obvious is that the owner of this car has done a great job of keeping it looking period correct…
…upgrading it here and there with more modern touches like a carbon roof conversion. This might seem like a very pricy modification but once an enthusiasts makes a choice to keep a specific car for an indefinite amount of time, it’s then the serious upgrading begin. We all know the benefits that shedding weight from the very top of the chassis can bring to the handling…
…so one can only assume the car is driven hard on a regular basis.
The fresh set of Yokohama Advan Neova AD08 tires also points to this, 215/40R17 all round, mounted on Racing Sparco NS-II Python wheels.
These first few initial upgrades made me even more curious of what had been done to the engine…
…and not surprisingly quite a lot of work has been carried out. The Garage G-Force mechanic pointed out that the 4G63 has been upgraded with a 2.3L stroker kit…
…a custom made stainless steel manifold…
…and a larger Garrett turbo, all good for “over 400 HP.” When the Japanese add the word “over” in front of any power, torque or speed figure then you should probably assume they are being somewhat conservative. With more than 400 HP on tap and not much over 1,300 kg this is undoubtedly a fun car to fling around the touge.
The mechanic was as baffled as I was with the “tuned by AMG” lettering on the spark plug cover.
A custom intake pipe takes the HKS foam filter as far away from the hot side of the engine as possible, shielded even by a sheet of aluminum. All rubber hoses have been replaced with hard pipes, which also plumbing the larger HPI intercooler in position.
The car rides on D2 coilovers with adjustable camber plates, dialled as far negative as they go. The Cusco strut tower bar is there to keep the front section of the chassis as rigid as possible through corners.
The impromptu shoot continued…
…with a quick look inside. The fixed Recaro bucket seat on the driver’s side was yet another hint that this car gets driven properly on a regular basis…
…and when you do give your modified engine a workout it’s always a very good idea to fit accurate sensors and gauges, something taken care by a nice line up of “Defis.”
The boost gauge is positioned right by the driver’s side A-pillar…
…while boost control is handled and monitored by this HKS EVC module.
I’m guessing the stock leather shifter was replaced at one point as this looked way too unmolested to be the original one.
So there you have it. At times it’s those cars in the distance that grab our attention, once upon a time the latest and most capable performance models – forgotten by many but still very much remembered and appreciated by a few.
Japan is full of finds like this Evo III and you can rest assured that our search for these gems will never end.
-Dino Dalle Carbonare
Photo By Dino Dalle Carbonare
Photo By Dino Dalle Carbonare
Photo By Dino Dalle Carbonare
I wonder what the crankshaft endplay is on it? Those early Evos were just as vulnerable to the crankwalk as their DSM cousins. Can't tell if they swapped to a 6 bolt or not without a good timing belt cover picture. Either that or they're feeling lucky!
This is where the 'Tuned by AMG' spark plug cover comes from: http://japanesenostalgiccar.com/2007/12/28/debonair-when-amg-met-mitsubishi/
AMG did a full make over of the E39A Galant VR4, which included, different body kit, rear wing, interior styling, wheels and that spark cover in this expose.
"forgotten by many but still very much remembered and appreciated by a few." I certainly hope this is not the case. It would be a shame to forget the glorious Evo cars of old.
"...once an enthusiasts makes a choice to keep a specific car for an indefinite amount of time, it’s then the serious upgrading begin."
I wish more people reached that level of enthusiastic maturity.
An Evo III is always a sight for sore eyes (especially in the RWD-biased climate we are experiencing right now, '90s were a lot more diverse in that sense), but whatever handling improvements were made by carbon roof conversion are now void with Chinese-made D2 coilovers and Cusco strut bar that has pivot points (which is about as rigid as having no strut bar)...the owner would be better of with factory shocks and upgraded springs imho.
Amazing to see some of the earlies still in Japan!
Cant wait to get mine back to a decent standard and back on the road!
Thanks for this feature! I don't see early Evo's anywhere these days. It's good to see one of the originators of a genre, and one so close to it's rallying origins.
Can you possibly find out who made the carbon roof? These cars have a problem with the roof rusting out which might be the major reason the roof was replaced. Mine is rotting as well. If I am going to change my roof I might look into a carbon one.
Whats the story for the Evo X? I dont recall seeing any on here, or on any of the event coverage you do.
@Antonygl88 yea bro i had an 89 vr-4 for 14 yrz loved it miss it now
@Antonygl88 Weird. Very weird. LOL
it was the NA version that amg tinkered with 175hp, different interior, and externally different from the vr4 and regular galant. they had type 1 and type 2. i think it was the e33 chassis. i hope they feature a vr4 next time, quite a few of them still running in new zealand and the states, good following in some Asian countries as well.
Maybe they will feature my 4. Someday....... http://www.roryfollowscars.com/2013/02/the-daily-at-night.html
@Gerben aka Suburuuh Too right!
@guReMcO Well far too many people don't appreciate older cars no more...
@apex_DNA You can get custom made D2s which offer larger inserts and custom valving. Its possible hes done this which would make them a very good shock
@apex_DNA It may seem like a waste but those of us who know these chassis well can tell you that that upgrade is absolutely necessary! Evos 1-3 and all 4th gen lancer chassis cars including our usdm mirage suffered from horrible roof rust due to the panel bond used. It attracts moisture.
@Wreckleford I think it was T&E
@JDMized Dunno, sounds like a recipe for a lot of fun to me
@roeby There have been a few featured, Garage G-Force/Varis/Sunbeam collab car, Koyama Racing Labo...
and its one of the best stealth-mode Lancer Evos to have! i am also looking forward to seeing the 4th generation evo here on speedhunters!
@Ryanfels Not even close. Most JDM coilovers (or shock and spring combos) are not even that good to begin with, let alone some child-labor copyright-infringing company out of China...D2 originally was, and I believe still is, a company that offers cellphone plans in Europe, kinda like Metro PCS in US.
@Ryanfels While possible, what's the point? (I also very much doubt that's what this owner has done) D2's are a rubbish china spec coilover. The people who buy them usually fall into three categories. 1 - Uninformed buyer who thinks they're good. 2 - Cheap people 3 - People looking to slam their car.
@speedhunters_dino If "fun" to you means no grip, then yes. If you wanna go fast, then upgrade with wider tires/rims.
@Antonygl88 Well, it actually isn't that weird. AMG is a tuning company and they tuned many different cars before they tied up with Mercedes-Benz.
@apex_DNA True enough, was just saying he didn't really do it for the performance aspect.
@JDMized The professional race car driver strikes again!!