An Irish Evolution
Arms Race

It might come as a surprise, but we live in a very boring era of car culture.

Of course, I’m speaking in generalities, but I don’t think it’s too outlandish of a claim. When was the last time a car truly excited you in a way that drove you to action? When was the last time a car suddenly popped up out of the blue? A car that was built for the builder himself and not for Instagram ‘fame’?

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Don’t answer me. I want you to think about it for a few minutes…

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I describe the current scene as boring for a couple of reasons. People are either building cars according to a pre-defined recipe, resulting in a conveyor belt of near identical cars, or they’re shouting about their builds for so long on social media, that you’re already bored of the car by the time it eventually makes a public appearance.

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I’m not saying anyone is building bad cars, just that there are very few people building cars that really inspire and excite. Maybe we, the automotive media, are to blame? Should we stop shining a spotlight on the demo and promotional cars in favour of the more down-to-earth, built-at-home cars? Have we overhyped the truly great builds to the point where we’ve almost normalised them?

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Again, don’t answer. Just think. In the meantime, let’s go back to the cars…

The Right Car For The Right Situation
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I’ve often heard it said that a well sorted Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution is the perfect car for Irish roads. Nothing with insane horsepower, just a well considered setup with a little extra in the power department should see off the majority of competition on a backroad blast.

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Ireland is not a country that favours big horsepower cars, as I’m sure a lot of countries around the world are. It essentially comes down to creating a usable amount of horsepower for any given situation. What’s the point in having 1,000hp if you can’t put it down to the ground?

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That’s what I like about this car and what its owner, John Power, has created.

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He’s struck that almost perfect balance in creating a car that can be used everyday if need be, but can decimate all if he feels that way inclined.

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From a distance, it’s just another Lancer Evolution V. Okay, they’re not quite as common as they used to be, but there’s still no mistaking that factory wing or the aggressive bodywork from any distance.

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It’s when you get close and start to take in those little differences that you start to build a better idea of what this car is about; the carbon fibre canards being about as strong a visual clue as you’re likely to get.

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Strangely, the full Varis carbon roof is far more subtle than you would think in person. The lightweight composite panel has replaced the original steel roof skin, which results not just in a loss of weight but also helps to lower the car’s centre of gravity.

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The already capable Brembo factory brakes have been upgraded with Carbon Lorraine RC6 pads and Godspeed 2-piece discs. They squeal quite loudly as they find their way up to temperature, but once optimal, the bite is ferocious, even from the passenger seat. They’re framed by a full compliment of Work D9Rs, measuring in at precisely the same sizes on all four corners.

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I know some people out there like to let the 4WD system sort out any traction issues and use ordinary street tyres, but there’s a lot to be said for specifying proper performance rubber.

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And as I’m about to show you, there’s a very good reason for adding Yokohama Advan AD08Rs to the mix here.

Four Gee Sixty Three
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The most impressive part of this is probably not the ultimate power figure, as impressive as it is at a solid 550hp, but rather that John is shortly about to replace the whole engine setup.

Having slowly pieced together this whole puzzle, John has become acutely aware of its limitations. Having experienced the car first-hand, ‘limitation’ is probably not a word I would use to describe its potential. It’s incredibly fast in a way I had previously forgotten existed.

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Despite being deployed in a twin-scroll setup which makes use of two TiAL external wastegates, the HTA GT35R turbocharger is quite laggy. Power doesn’t really arrive until 4,300rpm, but at that point you’re doing everything in your power to hold your head forward and not have it snap back into the headrest. When the boost comes, it’s obscene.

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Of course, it’s nothing that can’t be overcome with always being prepared to drop a gear when required, but it’s a shortcoming that John isn’t willing to live with. As we spoke over a cooling engine, he told me about the 2.3-litre motor that he has just finished at home which will be added shortly.

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You get the impression with John that he doesn’t settle and is constantly evaluating the car for what he can improve next. ‘Improve’ is of course subjective, but he, in my opinion at least, is doing the right thing by building the car around what he wants from it. It sounds simple, but how many of us have got sidetracked by doing things to impress friends, or by just straying slightly off course?

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Underneath has received similar attention and love. It’s even small things like disassembling parts to clean and repaint them that make the difference. It doesn’t really cost anything except time, but shows that a slightly higher standard is being adhered to.

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The interior is a subdued affair, with only the slightest of changes to make monitoring the car’s vitals that little bit easier. The Evolution IX Recaros are a nice upgrade too.

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Gearing has been shortened using an Evolution VII RS2 gear set. Power is effectively transferred to the ground via a HKS twin-plate clutch and a Carbonetics 1.5-way rear LSD.

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It’s a remarkable car and like all good projects, is continuously improving.

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When you compare this to the plethora of overfender-wearing supercars that currently dominate social media, it will likely not even register with the majority of car fans. But maybe that’s the difference between those who are merely fans and those who are true enthusiasts; those who eat, sleep and breathe cars. Those who exist only to build and drive cars. Those who find excitement in the simpler things and extract their enjoyment from cars with the purity of driving and not social media.

I’m going to leave it there, I need to go for a drive.

Paddy McGrath
Instagram: pmcgphotos
Twitter: pmcgphotos

Cutting Room Floor
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Now that's one perfect Evo


These homebrewed builds always seem to excite me more than a 1,000+ horsepower full carbon budgetless build. I feel that placing the spotlight on these types of builds was severely lacking from automotive culture as a whole; so I'm glad you're helping to lead the charge. Beautiful Evo as well!


Dill Pickle Really glad you enjoyed it and obviously I feel the same. Spoke at length to someone recently about why a lot of us don't buy magazines or that anymore and we discussed that it's not the advent of the internet and free content, but rather there's rarely anything relatable in a lot of magazines any more. The mags that have kept it relatable are still going strong which maybe proves that point?


That fantastic Rallye Red paint really sets the tone for the rest of the awesomeness. Loves me an Evo on meaty rubber...

...I've had a plausible theory about 1000hp builds. Along with the braggadocio of a hi hp build, at least in the US many of the cities that could support such a culture/economy are usually supported by a network of boring ass straight highways and efficient multi lane roads. Atlanta comes to mind. Huge culture of pimpalicious cars and showing off, on highways.

It just the only kinda action for someone who wants to ...*Caesar Milan accent* establish dominance, if only for a few seconds.

Makes me happy I have plenty of seasonal access roads and country driving in my area. Also a road course, a mighty fine road course.


Every picture drops my jaw further. Compliments to the builder for doing something clean and by his standards. I have a friend that builds his cars the same way and inspires me to follow the same path. Any way I can recommend a feature or spotlight here?


Paizuri_4g63 It's funny you say that, it's pretty much the same reason I was told that the Qataris have more interest in drag racing and big horsepower cars than drift, time attack etc. They typically have only straight roads to drive on, so the only way to make them interesting is to add lots of power. It's obviously a world wide thing. 

Also have access to great driving roads, incredibly appreciative of that fact.


Diesel Dude If you want, send any pics / spec to me directly ( and I'll try get them to a staff member that might be closer.


@j_kouki I concur. Have been looking at them in the classifieds since...


Now this, this is why I have so much love for Evos. So much potential and they're cars which can blow people's perceptions out of the water and embarrass just about anything when set up correctly. Very, very nice 5 and it's the model which you just don't see enough of anymore. Awesome car and awesome words Paddy.


You summed up my issue with car culture perfectly. Bag it and slap lipped wheels on it and all of a sudden you are HELLA DOPE YO. When the guy who busted his ass, weekends and nights in his driveway with the awesome sleeper build doesn't even get a second look simply because he didn't slam it or spend more on wheels than the car is worth.
I love weird builds, funky shit and most of all the builds that get no love from the "mainstream".
I guess thats why when you look in my driveway there are 5 Volvos lol... Works for me.


LukeEVOVIII Glad you enjoyed it, Luke. Always had a soft spot for the mid-life Evolutions and this is the epitome of what one should be.


BradHarvey The only problem is that builds like this, sadly, don't generate the same hype. It sucks, but that's the way it is. Why we don't shout about them from the roof tops is beyond me.


Paddy McGrath BradHarvey Unfortunately you are very correct. These arent the builds people want to see plastered all over the facebook feed, which is a shame. I guess I'm just used to being in the car nobody gives a sh!t about, so similar ones really catch my eye.
I know what its like to FINALLY get a compliment on some random little thing you did, that nobody else has noticed up until then lol.


Were I live everyone as the same cars same style yet there is a few out there who do build there cars for them. I have a Corolla G-Touring Wagon its old it what you could call boring but I've spent many days and nights building it to what it is and you'd never know looking at it until you look at the details and that is were it shows I know myself the car isn't what most would call perfect but to me it is. I've gone down the road of build a car to please everyone else and I just sold the car on I got board of it now I build for me and me only.


BradHarvey Paddy McGrath In turn, the same cars don't attract the same number of page views, hits etc. so they're only going to become rarer to see within any publication. Well, unless there's a drastic shift in what people want to see.


gtouring It doesn't matter what you drive, it only matters how much of yourself you put into it. Best of luck with whatever's next!


This car represents what it should really be like, building for your own enjoyment and not the Internet. I can relate somewhat as I'm currently doing the same thing to my Evo and I don't feel the need to plaster it all over social media for the approval of others.
Great write up as usual, couldn't have picked a better car to feature.


Paddy McGrath Paizuri_4g63  And if I lived in such an area, especially with dependable weather I'd tots go for the same thing

Like a 700hp Lincoln town car or Impala or something similarly silly 

At the moment I have to settle for awd sno nuts and adverse weather. My turbo is slightly smaller and my lsd not as fancy but the British racing green respray is mildly apropos : p. Someday I shall travel to Ireland specifically for the roads I'd been awestruck from watching WRC as a child...and pubs.


love this car! great piece, great pictures, awesome video!


Paddy McGrath BradHarvey 
but in todays flood of ´flashy´coverings , you may have to ´lead´ the people to take a second look after less flashy but way more remarkable builds.
How about a Hunters2ndLook section , it may start a hype for projects without hype :)


Enginered to slide. Watching him drive the Hilux for the first time made me want to cheer. Nice Evo also.


That's spicy..


Paddy McGrath BradHarvey  I think the reason you don't see them on instagram is because it takes genuine skill to be able to create a car that works well. It is generally easy to lower a car and change the wheels.


My unicorn!!!




I think even the people are getting annoyed with the same old stuff, people are arguing about who's been accepted into Ultimate Dubs, yet again haha, funny thing is the people moaning haven't done anything original either.


All most seem to care about these days is getting sponsored and getting "inside" at shows it would seem.


Good point, for some reason I've never made that connection. Makes total sense now that you mentioned it.


Quoted "Very true, used to be such a good vibe now it's cliquy groups of people who won't let other cars in unless there in with the crowd.. Be nice to see it back to the way it was with good mates getting on and enjoying there Volkswagens..."

Which I imagine is the same across the whole car scene with regards to shows.


Like with everything else, it's those taking the quick and easy route that feel the need to shout the loudest and seek approval. People with passion just keep on doing their thing, unnoticed by the general populace. That's how it is,That's how it will always be

Once in a while someone does take notice though, and it can make all the difference in the world


the funny thing is with the comment above, the "cliquy groups of people" are mates getting on enjoying their cars lol, the difference is they as a collective put more effort in than the person who commented.


Looks good. Performs good. Affordable.
Those are pretty much the 3 categories which each fan base, and some mix and match in between.
If you want or like something, just do it. Don't stay away from it because because say its too 'mainstream'.
Just leave the categories as they are and understand they are separate forms of taste and opinions really. The 'looks good' group gets the most traction because its easiest to chuck opinions at.
I love this car and this article and appreciate what it is. And don't really care if it gets hype or not. Neither should the owner, or anyone else.
Anyway, my satisfaction comes from when driving, no one can keep up. Most people in with 'performs good' cars are likely the same. Screw fame tbh.


Great photos Paddy!


Great to see another home-brewed, self-motivated build on here Paddy, you've been doing us a great service lately.
I couldn't agree with you more on the relationship between high hp builds and Irish roads. Depending on where you are, you're never too far from a tarmac rally stage, upon which I'd rather enjoy 180 than potter along with 600.


OEM+ builds are unquestionably my fave type of modified car and this is a perfect example of one in my eyes. Many well thought out  (and well executed) mechanical changes plus subtle exterior tweaks for function, not form. Great article and photos as well!


beautiful, and subtle.  sweet.

the 5 wing and 6.5 front bumper though is giving my brain fits.  hahahaha.


JakWhite Paddy McGrath BradHarvey That, and these sort of builds require time and concentration to truly appreciate. You can't see the whole build and the thousand details from just a quick glance.


EH098 Glad you enjoyed it, best of luck with your own project.


danielbelvino Thanks, Daniel.


@Sebring Well said.


Verdigrie I think Larry nailed it on his Z feature, that he'd rather have 200hp he can use all of rather than so much power that he can only use a tiny percentage of on the road.


tbtstt Happy you enjoyed it, it's such a subtle build I thought it would go completely unnoticed.


nugundam93 Hahaha. it's the best combination!


I for one love seeing homebuilt cars. Ones on a budget. maybe not even done. It gives you room to imagine what it will be. I personally have a del Sol that I plan to line-x knock it if you will but at least he's scratch resistant. Plus its bulit for me.


You talk about a conveyor belt of near identical cars and then you spotlight a car that is the oatmeal of the automotive world. There was literally nothing about this evo that stood out.


I'm in love with this car right now.


@Ava Oatmeal of the automotive world = Prius.


Tbh. I would much rather a done up prius over seeing evo #900012. People lack taste in the US and UK


@Ava or perhaps we have a more reserved nature different style and different attitude to builds.... but sure dude, you go with the generalisation of two whole entire nations having no taste...


@Ava Your troll score is 4/10. Good idea, but ultimately your lack of conviction let you down. Better luck next time.


Great article as usual Paddy!


I'm glad to see another EVO being featured by SpeedHunters. This one reminds me of that EVO III that happened to be at the right place in the right time on the G FORCE GARAGE feature some time ago.

Loved that car for it's simplicity yet functionality. It was tailored to its owner, just like this one.

Paddy, you strike a nerve with your comments of the current state of car culture, and I want to agree with you, however, try to see things from my perspective. I don't own a car, nor a driving licence (although I'm old enough to own both). Seeing a new car being released and the car community starts fizzing with ideas and projects as soon as the car hits the streets, and that excites me.

On the other hand, I do believe thanks to social media and the more main stream car culture in the past ten years, the market became over saturated with nearly everyone going at it on identical cars. Perfect example of this is in the drift scene, how many non Nissan cars can you count at an event?

To answer your original question however, that last car that excited me was the Toyota GT 86. And I still believe it's a fantastic car.

All the best, I'll be waiting for your next feature.


Beautiful machinery


Nice ride that represents about 90% of real car enthusiasts. Good job


That videopart from the passenger seat is both hilarious and so perfectly showingcasing the power of the car. You did a great job holding that camera, it's just the perfect amount of movement.


@Ava You lost your car guy card at done up Prius.


Sorry. I forgot Im supposed to contribute to the circlejerk.


TarmacTerrorist I aplologize for the broad generalization, its just in my experience most of the US/UK JDM scenes are quite toxic communities that knock down builds unless they are of cars that fit on their #JDMlegends posters.

I'm not saying that this car was a bad build either and I probably shouldn't have used lack taste as a term, But that being said this article wrote in so much hype for this car being different when its just a textbook JDM car with some mods and its the same here in aus, people will crowd around a fairly stock NSX at a car show but then refuse to acknowledge cars that to me have had much more work down and much more effort put in. 

I understand people can like whatever they like and maybe im just hanging around the wrong crowds. But I'm just annoyed it has to be that way because in the end it is stifling the quality of builds that come out from the west.


fabulous71 #1 I don't give a crap about any car guy membership. Even if I was a guy.

#2 I would much rather hear about the cutting and welding and the solutions to problems that there were fitting a crazy stupid engine into a prius rather than hear about how some guy bolted a larger turbo and a tommi mak kit onto an evo.

#3 I'm not saying the evo is a bad build. all credit to the guy but it is by no means a breath of fresh air like the article makes it out to be.


Paddy McGrath Also, I can genuinely tell you that I am not trolling. 

I visit for good builds like the lead sled cedric and the sr20 fairlady you guys featured a while ago and I understand that as a journalist it is in your best interest to be throwing around buzzwords for attention in articles like these, but in all honesty I did give honest criticism on your article saying that another good but albeit normal evo build is not unique or a breath of fresh air in the scene.

If you want to discount it as trolling to make yourself feel a bit better then by all means do so, but that is my honest opinion as someone who is not going to hugbox you like all the other comments on here.


Cool car but I way prefer the original evo 5 front bar over the tme one.


@Ava fabulous71 Ah, so you're saying you're not a car guy. Thanks for clearing that up.


fabulous71 I have no idea what youre on about...


To be honest the only one that has really stayed in my memory is the Tantrum charger.. It was unique and very exiting build. And its been a quit a time since it was featured... 

As with this evo... As impressive as it is, it still feels kind of generic... I like it how it looks and as automative engineer that engine gives me goosbumps just thinking about it, but still.

Anyway, good job :)


@Ava Paddy McGrath Apologies, but when someone comes in and talks another's car down with a short and snide comment, without qualifying their opinion or at least adding some thoughtful discourse, they're going to be labelled as a troll until proven otherwise. 

I've no problems with someone not liking a car, but next time why not start with your considered feelings rather than just passing a throwaway remark? You're obviously intelligent enough to do so.


flyingjolly I was just holding on!


Cool article. 
Here is a link to a car build that got me fired up and inspired to start the ball rolling on my own sleeper project...


@Ava You've missed the point. This is a car built by an enthusiast to be driven. Not a big budget build to please internet readers like you... It was built to please its owner not to look outstanding so you can like it. It performs. That is all it is not on the conveyor belt of cars flooding the internet full of sponsor graphics with millions of dollars invested by sponsors into the build. it has the heart and soul of the builder in it and is not built for some jaded internet voyeur to say its "cool".


Cool article Paddy.  I love the differentiation between enthusiasts and fans.  The car is absolutely perfect, an Evo 5 dream build of sorts (albiet the tme bumper is a clash with the 5 wing, however is starting to grow on me).  Keep up the articles like this; in-depth and truly speaking to us who really live and breath for this shit.  Great work brother!


Loving the amount of pictures in this article. It really gets you looking closely at the details and a deeper appreciation of the car, the build and the owner. More of this please.


The way you described this car in the article, and the way you used the photographs in correlation with your statements makes this one of the best articles I've read in almost a year of following the Speed hunters.


the car was very good 
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