This is strange. I’m sitting on the cold ground along a backstreet in Akihabara pointing my camera at a car that shouldn’t really be here, yet it is.
We first saw this Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X Final Edition at the SEMA Show last year, then at the Tokyo Auto Salon, then at the HKS Premium Day, and again the other weekend at Tsukuba for the Hyper Meeting. It’s as if the US-market Evo had been trying to get my attention, perhaps hinting that I should feature it. And really, how could I not? This is a car that’s been built with a level of substance and attention to detail that gets me all giddy.
During its holiday on this side of the Pacific the Bulletproof Automotive Evo X is being looked after by Matsui-san of Power House Amuse, and it was he who drove the car over the Aqua Line from his shop in Kisarazu to the otaku center of Japan’s capital for this shoot. I’d usually associate itasha cars with Akihabara, but I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to capture this US-built and tuned Evo in one of the most Japanese locations possible.
So what is this build all about? Well, a few things really. Built for a Bulletproof customer, this is the car that was used to unveil the third iteration of the Varis wide-body conversion for the CZ4A.
That and a new wheel brand called Hyperlock. These wheels are quite interesting as they are not only offered with center-locks but are also extremely customizable. The forged faces are mated to heat-treated barrels and on the Evo measure 19×11-inch.
The idea behind the center lug nut is to offer simplicity and streamline the design for additional lightness. Vehicle-specific hub conversions are included as well as a the tool set required for torquing them up.
The jaw-dropping setup doesn’t end there as this is the only Evo X in the world to run a R35 GT-R Brembo front and rear caliper swap, not to mention Overtake carbon ceramic discs with matching pads.
Lifting up the Varis vented carbon hood it quickly becomes obvious that the exotic race-grade brakes were added for a reason: This built 4B11 pushes out 800hp. That number comes courtesy of a balanced and blueprinted 2.2L AMS crate motor featuring a ported and polished head, oversized valves, 9:1 compression ratio, and a 9,000rpm redline.
Then there’s the turbo, an ETS Precision 67mm unit which is hard to miss sitting between the engine and firewall. Due to its position heat management was paramount, so there’s a shielding plate, ceramic coating on the exhaust manifold, and the dump pipe is sleeved in exhaust wrap.
With most of the piping and metal surfaces powder-coated in black and all the silicon hoses selected in the same color, the whole setup can almost be described as ‘stealthy’. But there are some cool upgrades hiding in the blacked-out bay, including Injector Dynamics 1,700cc squirters and the supporting fuel system to go along with them.
As I was chatting with Matsui-san about how it’s all managed with a Cobb Accessport ECU module, the manager of the Pachinko parlor we were parked up in front of came out and apologized sincerely for having to ask us to move as we weren’t supposed to be there.
After bowing and apologising back in at least seven different ways we went on our way, hunting around Akiba for a second shooting location.Standing Out
We ended up on Chuo Dori, the main street that crosses ‘Electric Town’, and positioned the car by the side of some well known shops.
The bright neon lights turned out to be just what we needed to examine the bright red exterior and new Varis aesthetic conversion for this final generation of the Evo, which even includes front and rear lights.
The kit is comprehensive with only the doors and roof really remaining untouched. Every other panel is other swapped out for an original Varis design or mated to additional pieces as part of the transformation. And no, your eyes are not deceiving you either; the Hyperlock wheels on the driver’s side are black with red center centers as opposed to silver with black centers on the passenger side.
When Varis began in business vented carbon hoods quickly became their top-selling parts, so it makes sense that we look at this item first. While all of their carbon may not be of the pre-preg, autoclave baked ‘dry’ variety, it still helps to shed a decent amount of weight and in the process introduce functional design cues that in this case help expel engine bay heat. If you are interested to see how these guys make their parts, I visited their factory back in 2014, so take a look.
Then we get to the first step of the widening conversion, which begins up front with the bumper and the way it flows into the wider fenders. It gives a noticeably stouter presence, while easily containing the 11-inch wide wheels and 295-section tires.
There is ample carbon detailing here too, from the extended splitter and pair of canards that help push the front end onto the ground, to the fender finishers where the arches meets with the skirt lines.
The only non-Varis bit to adorn the body is a pair of JUN mirrors, but with the same glossy exposed carbon fiber finish they’re a perfect fit.
For me, however, the most visual aspect of this newest Varis kit is the rear fender treatment, a wider and more extreme variant of what’s been done before. The way it merges into the rear bumper reminds me of Super GT cars.
But wait, we aren’t quite finished with the carbon yet. The high rising wing and the trunk lid it’s mounted on are also both made from carbon.
Take a few steps back and the complexity of the exterior really makes sense as a whole, and you can’t help but nod in approval knowing that there’s ample performance to go along with the time attack look.
And don’t for one second assume that the same attention to detail wasn’t given to the handing.
Squaring off the geometry was an important goal, which is why on top of beefier sway bars at both ends, Whiteline roll center adjusters were added to counteract the effects of the lower ride height. Aragosta adjustable coilovers take care of the rest while a front lift kit will no doubt extend the life of the carbon lip.It’s All In The Details
This being the second Bulletproof Automotive build I’ve shot in Japan (do you remember the FR-S?) I wasn’t surprised when I saw that the entire interior had been covered in Alcantara. In fact, I sort of expected it as I know these guys like to do things properly and hate skipping details. It’s a massive contrast to the usual Evo interiors we see, but then again, shooting for supercar-like levels of finish in a more affordable Japanese sports car requires a big investment.
When I say everything I really do mean it; the velvety gray and red Alcantara was even used to reupholster the Recaro seats to ensure that everything matched and just felt right.
The high level of finish extends to the Overtake steering wheel which is made out of dry carbon. Carbon on a steering wheel!
As the plaque on the transmission tunnel hints, this car is one of the last of a very special breed. It was a bit strange seeing the MPH speedometer and the temperature reading in Fahrenheit, but being left-hand drive is what caught the attention of many passers by in Akihabara who stopped to ask some questions.
With Bulletproof being official distributors for Power House Amuse in the US, it was nice to see one of their most recognizable products – the R1 Titan shift knob – fitted in the Evo.
I could have stayed all night chatting about the car and tuning in general with Matsui-san, but the time eventually came to part ways.
He jumped in the Evo, cranked the 800hp engine to life and roared down Chuo Dori towards the Shutoko entrance. I was left thinking that it’s indeed possible to have the best of both worlds, or at least close to it. Brutal power coupled with a sense of luxury and exclusivity, the epitome of the custom car.
Dino Dalle Carbonare