Disturbing The Peace,</br> Tommi Mäkinen Style
I am the Evo hunter   

Working as a Speedhunter is a pretty cool job – I’m just going to put that out there. Getting paid to drool over fast cars is undeniably awesome, but sometimes the actual hunting part can be just as fulfilling. Throughout the last year I’ve been appointed the gruelling task of scouting the globe for dream cars to not only photograph, but to get behind the wheel of and embark on epic ‘dream drive’ adventures. Sigh… it’s tough work, but somebody has to do it!


The main thing I love about composing these stories is that they always leave me with a new level of understanding and respect for the universal bond we all share with our different machines. They’re also the perfect excuse to dip my toes into a variety of different car cultures; an opportunity to experience what it would really be like to spend a day in the life of a historic Japanese touge racer or an American muscle car owner.


What are the requirements for a dream drive-worthy car, you ask? I guess you could say it has to be desirable or well sought-after and rich with history and character; a perfect representation of what its own automotive subculture truly stands for. And above all, the thought of driving it has to make your heart rate increase substantially.


After seeing this car on display at the 4 & Rotary Nationals earlier this year, I knew that I couldn’t possibly find a better vehicle to represent rallying as an automotive discipline. But before I tell you about how I accidentally made several rural residents of East Auckland jump out of their skin with fright from the ear-splitting anti-lag, let’s go back and talk about how this particular Tommi Mäkinen-inspired Evolution VI came to exist in the world.


Last month I managed to get in contact with the owner, Leon Scott from NZ Motorsport Imports, a serious petrolhead who circuit races an Evo VII and also happens to be in the business of importing modified performance cars into New Zealand. He explained to me that the Evo was discovered around two years ago, hibernating in an old dusty garage at a deceased estate auction in Japan. After the auction closed, the new owners decided that they wanted the cars in the garage sold on, and after a small amount of negotiating he managed to purchase the Evo and had it shipped over to New Zealand soil.


Due to the nature of the sale, most of the car’s history remains shrouded in secrecy, and there’s some speculation around what the car was originally built for. What we do know is that it’s built from a brand new Evo VI RS chassis, which was sent straight to Ralliart in Japan and given the full race-prep treatment, including being seam-welded and strengthened with a full cage.


The identification number ‘W9 MMR’ suggests that this Evo VI is an immaculate race-ready (and race-driven) clone of the car that Tommi Mäkinen drove in the WRC from 2000-2001, and an incredibly awesome one at that.


Mäkinen piloted W9 MMR in Sanremo, Italy in the year 2000, which the livery reflects perfectly. Even the same Marlboro and Ralliart graphics have been completely recreated down to the smallest details.


A peep inside reveals the extremely tidy race-prepped interior, with OMP Racing bucket seats and Sabelt harnesses showing hardly any signs of wear.


Of course, the car wouldn’t be complete without a special edition OMP Ralliart commemorative steering wheel, signed by the four-time winning Finnish WRC driver himself.


After admiring the Evo for what felt like at least an hour or so, I felt a slight tingling sensation in my stomach and my palms started to feel cold and clammy. This was because I’d just been handed the keys, and the thought of taming this beast on the seriously fun driving route I’d planned out gave me that familiar nervous-excited feeling I always get when I’m about to drive a quick car for the very first time (oh, how I love that feeling!) .

Leave your comfort zone behind 

As I climbed over the cage and positioned myself in the driver’s seat, I instantly became aware of how much was going on around me; the interior was very busy with way more buttons, knobs, flashing lights, switches, and different tactile surfaces than I’m used to.


I’ve driven far more powerful cars than this before, but I’ll admit that I was a tad intimidated at first.


I mean, this is definitely not a sight I’m used to seeing in my rear vision mirror!


The RS body may sacrifice all luxury and creature comforts for the sake of saving weight, but at least there’s a designated area to put my handbag! Now that I think about it, my bag is so damn heavy that it probably made up for the lack of air con and sound-deadening combined. #GirlProblems


The 4G63 motor is relatively stock, but has been upgraded (I assume when it was at Ralliart in Japan), with aftermarket camshafts and pistons, and a recent tune revealed power figures around the 350hp mark.


I turned the key and jumped in my seat slightly as the turbocharged four-cylinder violently roared to life. It was almost ridiculously loud – I was about to cause some serious havoc driving through the peaceful rural roads I’d mapped out. I slowly eased off the heavy duty Ralliart clutch and felt it bite almost instantly and I was launched forwards. As I pulled out and turned sharply I could feel the Ralliart LSDs binding like crazy – jeez they were tight!


The Evo isn’t the sort of car you drive politely. It requires a bit of aggression but I got used to this pretty quickly, and the gutsy 2-litre felt every bit 350hp when the boost came on, pulling out of the tightest corners with ease. It was an unfamiliar feeling to me, driving a lightweight chassis with so much rigidity like this. 


The tiny Japanese race car driver-sized bucket seat made me feel extremely snug and well supported, and it wasn’t long until I was confidently negotiating corners at a much faster pace, much to the slippery – not to mention extremely noisy – gravel tyres’ objection. I’d forgotten how satisfying it felt driving without the distraction of having to brace myself with my arms or legs against the side of the car for support. I usually always wear Chuck Taylors when I drive but as I’d just finished work, I forgot that I was wearing ballet flats – which as I found out, are actually extremely impractical to drive in! Mainly because it got quite hot near the firewall and my feet got a bit sweaty, (gross, I know!), but have you ever tried to heel-toe a rally car with slippery feet falling out of your shoes? It’s a bit like trying to wrangle a wild animal covered in dishwashing liquid!


This isn’t the kind of car you can find yourself relaxing in and going into autopilot mode, it’s a machine that commands your complete attention at all times. All of your senses are kept on high alert, making sure you’re constantly aware that you’re driving a race car, which of course is especially useful when you’re hammering from corner to corner on skatey tyres that were designed for rough gravel, not slick black top. I’m sure that gets old after a while for most people, but after an hour I was still laughing my head off and in a state of joy of machine-induced euphoria!

Screen Shot 2014-03-17 at 9.02.14 PM

If you live around Auckland or are planning on visiting NZ, here’s a quick glimpse of the rough route I drove from Botany Downs to Clevedon Village. I’ve added a few important notes in there for your reference.


It’s weird to think that this beautiful scenic route is less than a 25 minute drive out of New Zealand’s largest city, and it’s even weirder how little traffic is out on these roads on a weekday evening.


Around halfway into my journey, I suddenly realised that the Stack digital dash was showing a reading of ‘1’ as the fuel level. Call me blonde, but to be quite honest, I wasn’t completely sure whether that was an indication of how many litres were left or whether it was a percentage – or did it mean number one out of ten!?

Whatever it was, I wasn’t going to wait around and find out…

What does that button do? Oh, #$%*! 

Thankfully I didn’t have to take a detour to reach a gas station with high octane fuel to feed the greedy Evo. If you didn’t know, the BP in Whitford does have 98!


With a full tank of gas I could finally step on the throttle without worrying again, and this seemed like the perfect time to test out the Evo’s anti-lag system.


If my Japanese isn’t too awful, that middle switch reads ‘mi-su-fu-a-i-ya’…


One flick of the ‘misfire’ switch and the exhaust erupted in a series of violent blasts, and I could still hear the bangs echoing back again and again over the ringing in my ears afterwards. I may have chosen a bad time to turn it on though, as I came round this corner and sent these poor sheep running in terror! Talk about disturbing the peace. I didn’t see any angry neighbours running down their driveways wielding rolling pins though, so maybe it was okay (just for the record, I have actually seen someone do that before – unfortunately it was my own mother!).


At the time of this car’s acquisition from its previous owner, there was speculation that it could have perhaps been used as a backup car or recce car for Mäkinen himself in Sanremo, though the 5×114 stud pattern, lack of roof-scoop, different ECU and of course the fact that it is right-hand drive amongst a few other things, suggest that this probably isn’t the case. Regardless of its pedigree, for a race car built almost fifteen years ago that’s most certainly seen its share of action in its time, it’s in immaculate condition for its age, and it’s just as enjoyable to sit back and admire from afar as it is from the driver’s seat.


As exhilarating as that was, I still can’t help but wonder how the car would behave when properly set up for road driving. As much as I enjoy spectating rally on gravel, I think that tarmac is more me. Purists go ahead and hate, but I think I’d personally prefer a car with a set of slicks and a lower centre of gravity!


One thing’s for sure: it’s just absolutely, completely impossible not to have a lead-foot driving a car like this – unless of course you’re running out of petrol in the middle of the countryside. Sooner or later, I’m pretty sure I’d end up losing my license if I owned this car.


But I guess that will be up to the new owner, as it’s actually up for sale to anyone who fancies having the ultimate functional Tommi Mäkinen tribute race car in their garage. As I stepped back to admire the RS one last time before I had to return it, an eerie feeling crept over me as I wondered what story would this car tell us if it could talk?


This experience has made me realise two things. New cars will just never be able to give you that same feeling. It’s a mixture of nostalgia, mystery and being able to imagine the unknown; getting lost in a daydream thinking about the places a car has been, the events, races or workshops it’s seen and the people who have sat in that very seat before you. No new car can ever make you experience those kinds of emotions, don’t you agree?

Oh, that’s right, there was a second thing I realised. I really want a race car.

Taryn Croucher
Instagram: taryncroucher
Twitter: taryncroucher



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Awesome - definitely one of my "Hero" cars! I've seen another Mak replica that was daily driven around wellington, didnt have a cage tho


Cool car. Are you implying that the WRC spec EVO is something else than 5x114 stud pattern?


I'd love even an Evo 6.5 'TME' xD
And I completely agree with your preference for tarmac rallying, my first exposure to motorsport was the 5 day epic Targa Tasmania. I still love that thing =)


Yes to Twilight Road.


greenroadster  I believe the WRC cars are all four stud. Not quite sure why they were different though...


Mak attack! My childhood hero! Great story Taryn - glad you got to have a taster of the Evo bug. :)


SuzyWallace greenroadster  They were four stud for gravel and five stud for tarmac if i remember correctly. I remember spec'ing them whilst at Ralliart for the 2003 season. :)


SuzyWallace greenroadster  Actually... that was for the first WRC car that Ralliart produced (the hideous LancerWRC with the mid-mounted boot spoiler) The Evo 6 Group A car was four stud as was the Evo 7 Group A, the Evo7 StepII later had some five stud hubs fitted during testing whilst developing the LancerWRC.


Awsome write up and pics taryn.I do love the rally slag look more so when its Tarmac, low and wide.
You have my dream job...


wheatgod All WRC cars are street legal, since the drivers are required to drive on public roads connecting the timed stages.


wheatgod  the half-cage seems to imply that the car was made as a "stand-in" for tommi's car but can be taken out for races (most likely exhibitions) if needed.  though i'm just speculating here.


"I didn’t see any angry neighbours running down their driveways wielding
rolling pins though, so maybe it was okay (just for the record, I have
actually seen someone do that before – unfortunately it was my own
This sounds like a story worth being told again. Your mother? With a rolling pin? WHAT HAPPENED?!


I would run that that anti-lag switch on the "on" position all day everyday. And the tarmac rally, I agree 100%. Over the past two years I've been to six rallies here in the US. And none of them were tarmac, I mean I love gravel, but I want to see the Rally America cars let loose on tarmac so bad. I can only imagine the speed they'd hit.


Your heel'n'toe problem would be solved if you drove it with bare feet...


nugundam93 wheatgod  Looks fully caged to me...


anybody else feel like lighting up a cigarette right now? i don't even smoke...


Schmuppes wheatgod  AFAIK, there's no confirmation it saw actual competition, but as Schmuppes said, the cars all drive on public roads between stages. Indeed, a bunch of them got speeding tickets and bans one year. lol


EricSeanDelaney  You would go through a lot of turbos. ;)


Its definitely not a 2001 WRC car. Could have been a recce car, but doubtful seeing as its a bolt in cage


So this car was fully prepped by Ralliart, then they
stripped the cage out? Because that isn’t a cage…at all. They don’t even have
proper bolt together tube junctions that might make the half cage acceptable.

Another case of inappropriate journalism. Speedhunters
really needs to get a technical proofreader.

Sebastian with s

the map is funny jaja. awesome car btw and the pictures wow.


I love these cars!We recently had a customer install an MAPerformance EF4 on his Evo VI TM and I'll just let the video speak for itself...566awhp http://bit.ly/1dKSr4Y


Great article, love the car. If I were you I would've tested the Evo's antilag system at the gas station, just priceless! Hahaha.


Here is an example of tube connectors that have structural integrity.


These won't pass any reasonable sanctioning bodies tech inspections, but they are more acceptable than the "eared" connectors in this car.


Pretty sure the article called it a tribute car and goes on to debunk why even she had doubts it's a real wrc car. In Japan, you can go to places like Nismo, Ralliart (no longer in business), STI to have your car worked on. Anywhere from full race builds to simple bolt on work. Bolt on cages are what you'll find in most car's in Japan.
We get it bro, you're mad technical. Try finishing the article next time though.


SuzyWallace EricSeanDelaney Oh, didn't know that. I would use anti-lag all the time *if I were rich.* :D. Slight correction haha.


237 Agree there. The rollcage in the Gr.A CN/CPs went through the floor where the factory saddle tank would have sat, and IIRC the recce cars didn't have a bolt-in cage. It's a very good replica though, as even the bolt-in cage has the absent cross bracing in the main hoop like the WRC cars (not a good thing for safety, but a correct detail).
I wonder if it had the special rear quarters that were "tubbed" to the shape of the flare for the clearance they needed? That would certainly give weight to the claim of being a special shell. Both gravel and non-gravel cars have this IIRC.


Fredrik Sorlie  Was thinking that, I heart barefoot driving. She said the firewall was hot tho, mmmmm


SuzyWallace Schmuppes wheatgod  The carbon Focus here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r26QTo-O5Hc was a result of a rally driver having a ban and switching to the circuit for a year if the story I heard is true. Jap spec cage too, why is it all bolt in cages and low mounted harness straps there?


Have also seen the same car you are talking about when I first opened the article I thought it was it.


wheatgod  As I've said, the exact history of the car is a bit of a mystery as it was purchased from a deceased estate auction in Japan. We're pretty certain it's just an awesome replica of the chassis that was driven in Sanremo in the year 2000, but we also know that it was driven at some stage by a Japanese driver 'T Akabane' - we're unsure for what exact purpose though!


ToyotaSupraMan  This is quite normal. My mother is CRAZY and unintentionally embarrassing like this … in a hilarious way though :)


Pancakes Fredrik Sorlie  We are so not going there! Haha


dcarey0406  Nice!


EvolveWRC  I would definitely get chased with a rolling pin/some other kind of makeshift weapon if I did that!


@Lan  Ahh ありがとうございました!
I'd tried to find information on T Akabane but couldn't find anything previously. It's thought that he used this car in rally demos and some competitions in Japan, but I hadn't been able to find out any exact details. Thank-you!


dcarey0406  Welcome to the party DC. Ive had a couple map items installed through the years without disappointment.


Nice article Taryn !
Your handbag looks so heavy :p, about the A/C, it seems that the car was equipped (maybe from factory ?) which is unexpected being an RS chassis (see that black hose with the blue cap clamped next to the timing belt cover, and the drier with the pressure switch on top of it ?). Or maybe the system wasn't functionnal at the time ?

Shoot my ears with the anti lag if I'm wrong :D !


I don't know if you could order an Evo RS with a few options back in the days, the manual ac could be one but I don't know enough about Evos (edit time expired .. lol)


Great article! This car would really  be my hoonmobile, and a first class ticket to jail! antilag + zebra-crossings? say goodbye to your ears!


Polar Pierre  I believe you could spec a/c as an extra on the RS. It's rare though, because most people who wanted the benefits of the RS, wanted to keep the weight of the a/c off.


Pancakes Fredrik SorlieGrip tape + bare feet. It's still hot but you won't lose the grip on the pedals. Just kidding:)


SuzyWallace Schmuppeswheatgod Yeah ... sometimes not so legal lol. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WF_0PoLbZro&t=3m43s


SuzyWallace SchmuppeswheatgodOk so starting time doesn't work in embedded video ... 3:43.


brilliant article, i love this stuff :D anyway this evo looks like a group N rather than a group A (like the ones driven by Makinen) and it still looks beautiful.


JDM_Luca Pancakes Fredrik Sorlie  Deffo going for a barefoot drive in the Waitakeres this weekend, corners galore and a gravel treat at the end :)


@randomswede Love it! Same car and same colours so same speed hahaha. I can go, I know I can go, cop looks unhappy.


so wanted to buy this when i saw it on trademe!


Gorgeous car. I remember being a kid and falling in love with this thing in GT3 on my PS2; while my other friends were gloating about 1000hp Vipers and R34's, I was running around with 390 hp on the Tahiti Maze and Smokey Mountain courses.
I might be an MR2 guy now, but god damn if this post didn't give me amazing feels and a bunch of beautiful wallpapers to drool over...


Awesome car, much the same as Colin Mcraes Impreza which i have seen articles on. Must be one hell of an experience driving what is effectively a race car on the road.

And your gorgeous, may i add.