Introducing Project Nine
It’s Time

I’m extremely fortunate to be constantly immersed in the car culture I love so dearly. Getting up close and personal with such a wide variety of ridiculously high caliber modified vehicles is a dream come true, but it’s not without its drawbacks.

As your exposure to finer examples increase, so do your subconscious expectations of what a car can should be. So much so, that often I see my humble Mitsubishi Evo as little more than a runabout taxi.


Don’t get me wrong, I still love my little pretend rally car, especially after track days or a spirited run. Often though, after packing up my camera equipment and saying farewell to a street machine like the King Kong Cuda or a sub-10-second GT-R, I’m almost guaranteed to feel a little disappointed when I flick the ignition to hear the little 4G63 politely ticking over. It reminds me of my little 2kg (4.4lb) Maltese dog, Lamington, barking her loudest yet failing to intimidate well, anything.


I haven’t always felt like, though. The Nine is my second Evolution, and I’ve owned her for two years now. Prior to that I had a silver Evolution VII for five or so years, but that car was abruptly shortened a full metre during a multi-car pile up on one of Sydney’s freeways. I remember jumping in, turning over the engine and smiling; I remember feeling a smug sense of satisfaction when my eyes would wander across the instrument cluster and notice the bold ‘Evolution’ logo (which is now replaced with ‘Lancer’ in the IX, boo hoo.)

When Dino and the rest of the team at Speedhunters invited the Evo into the SH Garage, I was equally excited and reluctant. ‘It’s just an Evo’ I first thought, but I guess it doesn’t have to be just an Evo. It could be something more. It could be my ideal Evo with time and work.


And that’s exactly what this journey is about; it’s time to rekindle my passion for the car and reshape it into something that puts a smile on my face every single time I get behind the wheel.

I have no illusions that the Evo will ever compare to the remarkable feature builds that Speedhunters revolve around. I also doubt it’ll ever be anybody’s desktop wallpaper (apart from my own), but it really doesn’t need to do either. It just needs to make me happy as an owner, and more importantly, excited as a driver.

Earlier today, while packing some groceries into the Evo’s sensibly sized boot, I noticed a passerby suddenly and sharply change direction to walk directly towards me and the car. Initially, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but for the first time in a long, long while I heard “Awesome car – I love Evos!” I thanked the stranger and smiled. His timing was impeccable, almost as if the universe was signalling me to hurry up and introduce the car to the world. This stranger’s enthusiasm really drove home just how relevant it will be to a lot of you Speedhunters out there in a similar situation.


I really shouldn’t be so hard on the old girl; she’s been a reliable companion who’s always eager to please regardless of whether the next challenge is keeping me in one piece on twisty roads, or being overfilled with a metric tonne of gear for the next big shoot. Not only that, she’s been a great muse and served as a very attractive model when I feel like experimenting behind the camera.

So without any further ado, let’s get into it.

Up To Speed

To give you a snapshot of exactly how the car sits right now, aside from a handful of minor engine tweaks, it’s a standard 2005 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX, or an “Eye-Ex” as I’ve been asked by strangers once or twice. Yes. seriously.


Less than a week into my ownership and I’d already thrown the car up on a hoist. A good friend of mine, Damien, with an almost superhuman knowledge of all things Evo had agreed to help me out. The logic was to hit two birds with one stone; while completing the initial flush of all fluids that comes with acquiring a secondhand sports car, we’d do our best to sensibly free up a little more horsepower from the MIVEC-enhanced 4G63.


The Nine already had a HKS Silent Hi-Power exhaust fitted when I picked it up, but it was a cat-back item. It didn’t stay that way for long though as an Invidia turbo back dump and front pipe replaced what was left of the OEM system, and the catalytic converter was swapped with higher flowing unit.  A Turbosmart 1.2bar (17.4psi) turbo actuator increases the boost from the standard 1.0bar (14.7psi), and a simple K&N air filter was fitted to the factory air box. The engine was finally flash tuned to suit the minor mods, and it’s currently sitting somewhere in the vicinity of 210kW (280hp) at all four wheels.

Recently, an Exedy Sports Organic clutch and lightened flywheel were fitted, but more out of necessity than any sort of quest for improved performance. If I’d waited any longer the only way the car would have left my driveway was with a push and a tow truck. The rest of the driveline remains untouched.

The original Brembos and brake lines are also the original Evo fare. The suspension and bushings are stock and starting to show their age too, and the car sits at the standard rally-spec ride height. Aside from horrid ‘eye-lids’ covering the headlights, which I have every intention of getting rid of, the exterior hasn’t been tampered with.


I can’t really see myself doing anything drastic to the interior; there’s no risk of every confusing your surroundings with the cabin of a luxury vehicle, but it’s nice enough and most importantly functional. The leather-finished Recaros provide a comfortable ride and do their best to add some appeal to what’s essentially the ‘fast version’ of the very mundane, cattle class Lancer the platform is based on. I don’t mind not being surrounded by opulence, but I do take some issue with how cheap and tacky the faux-carbon interior trim is, so I’d like to address that at some point.

A set of bronze 17-inch RAYS Volk Racing CE28Ns, which I foolishly rubber-dipped matte black, finish off the build as it sits right now. While the 17s are the perfect size for track action, a set of larger 18-inch rims that’ll do a better job of filling the cavernous wheels arches during daily duties are on my list of improvements.

The Game Plan

I’m not even slightly interested in creating a show car; I’m not aiming to break track records either. If I’m honest, I’d probably prefer it if what we do here doesn’t ‘break the internetz.’ The game plan is simple: I want to find the perfect balance between a reliable daily driver and a capable weekend warrior. Hopefully, the upgrades I end up doing will be relevant and helpful to some of you out there.

Obviously, the happy medium between these two duties is a sliding scale that’s likely to be different for all of us. Hell, even what I consider ‘ideal’ right now is likely to change as both the car and my driving skills (hopefully) evolve. So how will we know when it’s finished? I’m not sure yet, but I’ll keep you posted.


I’ve already taken steps and kicked the game plan into action. If the Evo is going under the Speedhunters spotlight, it needs to at very least look the part, and just last week I shipped the car to Ayman at Leading Edge Detailing. I’ve been following Ayman’s work on social channels since watching him detail the Pagani Huayra BC at last year’s World Time Attack Challenge, and he’s something of a magician when it comes to restoring paint.

Ayman had the Evo for two days. The first day was all about repairing the 12 years of abuse from Australia’s harsh environment and lazy owners (current owner included), which meant a proper foam wash, clay bar and paint correction.


The second day was all about protection from further deterioration and to help make maintenance easier in the future. Two coats of IGL Coating’s Kenzo silica paint protection was applied and baked onto the freshly corrected paint. The two days were punctuated with fun little update photos that teased me with how good it was looking. Ayman’s game worked a little too well; I couldn’t take the suspense and arrived earlier than expected to check out the results of his hard work first-hand. Needless to say, I was impressed. I don’t think I’ve ever owned a car in this condition before.


Once the coating sets, it forms a ceramic, glass-like layer that acts as a protective barrier between the elements and my paint and looks absolutely amazing. I’m assured by Ayman that it’ll stay looking good for years to come too.


Amused by my reaction to how well the the paint scrubbed up, Ayman challenged me to check it out in natural light. Apparently the lighting setup in his garage was purpose built to show imperfections, and the paint still looked ‘terrible’ compared how it’d appear in natural light. He was right – I’d never seen a finer reflected sunset before.

After spending years behind a camera striving to eliminate as many reflections and distracting elements as possible, it was time to do the exact opposite. I had a lot of fun walking around my Nine hunting out as many distracting reflections as possible to help illustrate the final results.

We’ve only just begun the process and I’m already looking forward to what’s next.

Next up, the car get’s an official name with new vanity plates (feel free to drop your guesses or suggestions in the comments section below.) I’ve also got a brand new set of tires to test out, and most importantly, I’ll be doing some first-hand Speedhunting on the same circuit at Sydney Motorsport Park that’s used for WTAC. Watch out Tarzan Yamada and Under Suzuki, you may have some new competition!

Matthew Everingham
Instagram: matthew_everingham

Cutting Room Floor


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It won't take much to turn a IX into a track machine. Once you get your KW suspension, some new Rays wheels and turn the boost up you'll be set.

Matthew Everingham

Sounds like a solid blueprint for a build. ;)


@Matthew Everingham it's what I'd do if I could afford it. I'll just have to make do with MCA's and secondhand Advans for my 94 GSR.

As for the suspension, if you don't go KW's get MCA's. Time Attack champions, Australian based and excellent quality and service. Keep it local!!!


I would look into Fortune Auto. They got their start fielding an Evo IX in Redline Time Attack here in the States so they know what they're doing. They should be able to build you a bespoke suspension based on your intention with the car.


Thats a lovely Evo mate. You should be proud :)
Bring back the bronze Rays though!!

Seb Agent-Orange Betts


Matthew Everingham



Gt Pumps 712 turbo, 1300cc injectors, fuel pump, tank of E85 and Benchmark tune and 300+ awkw smile on your face

Matthew Everingham

I know how many issues to expect once the 4G63 is cranked up around that 300kW region. Issues that I'd currently like to avoid, but who knows what I'll want in 6 or 12 months though.


I know the 6 speed isnt the best so most people with 6-speed 8s or 9s change to a 5 speed once they get big power. On the stock turbo and e85 a 9 can reach about 250 at the wheels pretty safely

Dino Dalle Carbonare

You plati-dipped bronze CE28Ns? Sacrilegious! Peal that stuff off immediately!

Matthew Everingham

Yep. I'm a terrible human. :l I got sick of the bronze. Might powder coat these.


rattle can or gtfo

Matthew Everingham

The Plastic Dip cans do rattle... does that count? ;)


rustoleum black lacquer


shots was stunning and the car is excellent!


Picture 7 is incredible, I've only ever achieved that sort of look once, and I have no idea how I did it!


Picture 6 ( 7 if you count the header) is just amazing and not only this one could be set as wallpaper.
How about EYE9X as no. plate ?

Matthew Everingham

Points for heading in the right direction. The new plate does a 9 in it somewhere!


"no wallpaper material" :D


LOL some of these are already in my wallpapers folder...

Matthew Everingham

Nice. :D

Niek van Rossem

Your evo had been one of my wallpapers for a pretty long time :-)

Niek van Rossem

edit: has been


Matthew Everingham

Awesome. Good to know, thanks, dude. :)


your evo is not made to be a wallpaper for desktops or mobile phones, it was a life changer ^ ^ a must have


Yes, yes, yes! I love the Projects of the Speedhunters Team. Especially since Paddy (hopefully not) reached a end of his GTI Build, I'm thrilled to see such an beauty being worked on in an realistic way. I mean who really has the money for a 700bhp EVO. Especially a hot daily is becoming my favorite way to go. Can't wait for more Matthew!


No such thing as 'just' an Evo. One of the all-time great 4-cylinder cars, and that's a huge title.
Also, with photography like that, yes most updates could be wallpapers I suspect.

Love an Evo :P


sorry but i cannot leave your blog alone hahahha, this is just the kind of story we love to read in speedhunters ^ ^

Matthew Everingham

Thank you. I'll try to get the follow up to happen sooner than later.


wow we would love that, can't wait ^ ^


Yes! The hero we deserve!
I always love the photos of the evo! My favourites are the puddle night one and the light paint one, so perfect!


EFR6758 .85AR, full-race turbo kit, Evo 7 tails, Ohlins DFV, TE37 SAGA 18x9 +35. Well that's my ideal Evo 9 build anyways... I think once my ITR sells an evo 9 will be my next purchase, can't wait for updates!


I count the 'real' Evos, by which I mean the 4G63-powered cars, as classics of the golden age of the Japanese performance car. Even the IX, although a newer release, still continues the unbroken heritage of motorsport-derived engineering. And while the 'remarkable' feature builds here may draw more remarks, a clean, mildly modified Evo is something desirable and special.

Desirable both for what it represents, but also just to drive - often, a near-OEM car with midrange response and compliant chassis is better on ordinary winding roads than a slammed variant with a big turbo and bodykit.

So yeah, just because you haven't ventured far from what the Mitsubishi engineers decided doesn't lessen your car in my eyes, happy to see it on SH!

Matthew Everingham

For me, the IX is the final iteration of that same lineage you're talking about. I don't mind the X, and I'll probably be torn to shreds for saying this, but I don't really feel it's a true continuation of the Evo lineup. It's more like a cousin than a child in the family tree.

MPistol HVBullets

damn... I'd be done at this point - where I live in the states, a fairly stock EVO IX is RARE - but I'd say nearly impossible to find - they are usually modded to death and ruined - hoping to see something decent come of this one

rather that the "5th gear grinds a bit, but 25k firm" ads I always see - LMAO


Nice tidy EVO you have there, it's nice to finally see what our local speedhunter drives and will be interesting to see what you have instore for it.


I was waiting for this! Been following your Flickr posts for a while and was very keen to see your new(er) Evo up!

Evo's are such incredible all-round machines. Even at 210kw it packs a good punch, all the while having the practicality of a sedan. The more mods you do the more you'll like the car.

My 8 is pretty modified and I get a lot of looks, thumbs up and people talking to me about it. I was surprised since Evo's are a little more under the radar compared to popular Jap cars here in Melbourne like Supras or GTR's. It's always nice to get noticed and have people show appreciation for your car.

Very excited to see what you do with it. Whether its power, looks, track based or a bit of everything!

Matthew Everingham

The overall plan is a solid all-rounder. The main focus, for now, will be stopping power and handling. Who knows what'll be next.
I've been in Melb since lunch and I think I've only seen about 2 Evo's.


Thats good! Basically a perfect platform for an all rounder!

Haha yeah there is definitely more Evos in NSW than here but if you go to certain areas you will see many


Looks like i got another desktop wallpaper , thanks matt

Matthew Everingham





I'm really looking forward to see more of this build


i'm a subie guy, but an EVO is never just an EVO mate! in Indonesia, used EVO IX will cost you more than $75,000! and the value is still rising...


Nice car, I have a 7 and it hasn't let me down.
Don't forget brakes, the stock Brembo's are fine for the street but if you plan on doing regular track days a front BBK at least is a must. Also re: gearbox, outfit in SA Neat Gearboxes now does a strengthened build for the 6 speed

Matthew Everingham

Very useful advice. Thanks for sharing, Richard.


Welp, this won't help me try to repress my want for an Evo