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
paddy@speedhunters.com

Bonus Images
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72 comments
Stanceman_ztk
Stanceman_ztk

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.

Naxxramas
Naxxramas

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.

toddwithrow9
toddwithrow9

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!

ChrisKutcher
ChrisKutcher

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 :)

Gary89
Gary89

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

flyingjolly
flyingjolly

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.

Buick Man
Buick Man

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

Fernando M
Fernando M

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.


http://www.speedhunters.com/2013/03/modern-classic-garage-g-force-ego-iii/


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.

Michael
Michael

Great article as usual Paddy!

meal stub
meal stub

I'm in love with this car right now.

Ava
Ava

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.

fabulous71
fabulous71

@Ava Oatmeal of the automotive world = Prius. 



Ava
Ava

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

TarmacTerrorist
TarmacTerrorist

@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... 



Paddy McGrath
Paddy McGrath

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

fabulous71
fabulous71

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


Ava
Ava

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

Ava
Ava

@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.

Ava
Ava

@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.

Ava
Ava

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


I visit sh.com 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.

fabulous71
fabulous71

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

Paddy McGrath
Paddy McGrath

@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. 

worker bee
worker bee

@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, it is clean. 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".

TommyHarrison1
TommyHarrison1

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.

nugundam93
nugundam93

beautiful, and subtle.  sweet.


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

tbtstt
tbtstt

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! 

Paddy McGrath
Paddy McGrath

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

Verdigrie
Verdigrie

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.

Paddy McGrath
Paddy McGrath

@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. 

i23sonny
i23sonny

Looks good. Performs good. Affordable.
Those are pretty much the like 3 categories, which each sort of has it's 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 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 with 'performs good' cars are likely the same. Screw fame tbh.

Sebring
Sebring

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


JakWhite
JakWhite

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.

JakWhite
JakWhite

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.

JakWhite
JakWhite

All most seem to care about these days is getting sponsored and getting "inside" at shows it would seem, in this shows case I'm glad they're turning loads of people down, so the quality is much higher. The butt-hurt is real though.


JakWhite
JakWhite

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. 

ajmullaney
ajmullaney

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

danielbelvino
danielbelvino

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

EH098
EH098

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.

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