During every feature car owner interview I inevitably end up asking what sparked an individual’s descent into automotive madness. Some have genuine genesis moments, but most simply can’t pinpoint exactly why they ended up an enthusiast. Usually, what started as a small interest grew until the number of days spent interested in cars surpassed the days not.
Gordan Mandich falls into this latter category, where cars rapidly crept into every nook of his life the same way coffee creeps into the crevices of a keyboard when a clumsy writer knocks over his mug. Today, even though he can’t say exactly why he ended up ‘one of us’, Gordan’s day job, side hustle and adrenaline-powered escape from reality all center around cars.
Growing up in Los Angeles, an area highly regarded as the automotive mecca, Gordan could have wound up an enthusiast of any type of car. But, his heart was pulled almost exclusively into the world of Japanese automobiles.
More specifically, Japanese cars that took two steps closer to performance, rather than luxury or economy.
Today, Gordan is employed as a specialist at Bonhams auction house. This means he makes a living helping others buy, sell and valuate their classic cars. As an enthusiast in such a job, he’s met countless people and made invaluable connections.
Years of shaking the right hands put Gordan in the almost unbelievably fortunate position to buy a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VIII MR off a dealer lot for less than list price. Keep in mind that when new, these cars were doing FK8 Honda Civic Type R numbers. That is to say, several thousand over MSRP.The Excitement Is Still There
“The car is still as fun to drive now as it was when I first bought it,” Gordan says, abbreviating his 16-year history with the car as much as possible.
The Evo had only a couple hundred miles on the odometer when Gordan first started making it his own. But truth be told, before the dealer had even completed the pre-delivery inspection, Gordan had already purchased some of the initial modifications.
While voiding manufacturer’s warranty immediately might discourage some, Gordan paid them no mind. Maintenance would be performed by his own hand, or those of other trusted Evo experts.
At this point, Gordan is acutely aware of every bolt that’s been turned on this car. The Evo is truly his and he’s made sure there’s no other quite like it.Built To Move
Through the years, Gordan has taken care to modify the car both tastefully and carefully. A high-mileage-yet-reliable car is the fruit of his methodical and thorough labor.
I’ve always had the utmost respect for those who have a higher mileage car capable of making jam. There is perhaps no better indication of someone’s dedication to their vehicle than an odometer that reflects frequent use.
In Gordan’s case, the 4G63 up front makes 505awhp at 31psi on a Dyno Dynamic dyno. Those dynos are known as heartbreakers because they read notoriously low compared to others, so should the car ever be run up elsewhere, 600awhp might not be out of the question. Fuzzy math is fine with Gordan in this case, because he didn’t want an unpredictable dyno superstar anyway.
Inside the engine, Mahle 4032 forged pistons have been installed with Manley forged connecting rods. The cylinder head, ported and polished by Portflow, features Comp Camps 280-degree camshafts, Ferrea valves, Supertech valve springs, and is secured with ARP studs.
An ETS T4 twin-scroll exhaust manifold mounts a Precision Turbo 6262 tweaked via an OCD Works ‘T51R mod’. That upgrade gives the turbo a distinct whistle, reminiscent of HKS’s iconic T51R.
Wisecraft provided much of the piping, from intercooler to down-pipe. Cat back, Fujitsubo takes over with the Super Ti titanium exhaust system.
The bay also features a CBRD aluminum radiator, oversized oil cooler and various dress-up caps. Of course, there’s a great deal more going on between the strut towers than what I’ve mentioned here, and an exhaustive list of the engine modifications can be found at the end of this post.Fancy Feet
While Gordan has tracked this car fairly regularly, he’s always wanted it to remain street plated. The various hills near his home offer up incredible driving views and opportunities, so enabling spirited runs through picturesque mountains is a robust collection of handling modifications.
Anywhere that could benefit from additional bracing now has it; the strut bar and under-brace is from Mine’s, the rear trunk brace is from Cusco, and Grimspeed braces the brake booster. The handling is further enhanced through a Cusco front sway bar and Robispec rear, plus a Whiteline steering precision kit, anti-lift/caster correction kit and roll center adjustment package along with sway bar lateral locks.
Bringing everything together are custom-valved KW V3 coilovers. KW Suspensions has been very supportive of this project from its inception, and Gordan tips his hat toward their team via a windshield banner.Looks That Kill
Gordan has continued to lean on reputable manufacturers in the vehicle’s aesthetic department. RAYS Volk Racing CE28N wheels in an 18×9.5-inch fitment feature currently, winning out the battle over the eight different sets that proceeded them. And yes, the right side of the car does wears silver CEs and the left side bronze. After a dirt drop claimed one silver wheel, Gordan bought an additional pair in Volk Racing’s most iconic hue.
There’s two different looks depending on which way you view the car. For me, the bronze side looks rather menacing, where as the silver side looks slightly more refined.
Varis GT fenders ensure there’s no rubbing up front, even with 265-section Achilles ATR-K Sport rubber fitted.
The balance of the exterior is the result of Gordan looking far and wide for unique parts that would work together. There are Ganador mirrors, Rexspeed carbon fiber J Panels, OEM Lancer Evo VIII MR headlights and an extremely hard to procure Mine’s carbon fiber rear deck lid spoiler currently on the car.
The rear wing above the deck lid spoiler is also an extremely rare item, one of less than a single handful in North America.
“I didn’t want to build something that was easily copied, so I sought out very hard to find visual modifications,” Gordan explained. As he descried the ‘hunt’ the excitement in his voice grew. I’d wager finding the part is equally as rewarding as installing it.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t also mention that the roll cage – made by Kansai Service – is the only left-hand drive example to ever exist. After helping a client import a car from Japan fitted with it, Gordan worked out a deal to put it into his car. That client has baby seats in the back of their car where Gordan has no seats at all.
The driver’s seat has been replaced with a Recaro Pole Position mounted to a Buddy Club low-mount rail. Rexspeed Evolution, AEM, and HKS offer up various gauges, and a Personal Kingston steering wheel shares the wear of Gordan’s spirited hours of driving with an HKS shift knob.The Grass Isn’t Always Greener
Keeping this car legal on the streets of California hasn’t been easy for Gordan. So far it’s been ‘ref’d’ three times, which means that it’s had to go through an extensive smog test, where the emissions system is stringently checked against original factory specifications. Passing this essentially requires reverting said systems back to stock. With storage units full of his original parts, Gordan can switch the Evo to factory spec when required, but it’s not his preferred way of spending a weekend with the car.
At this point it’s become a weekend cruiser, simply to reduce the chances of getting ref’d again. Despite having to strategically take the car out, Gordan takes pride in the fact the Evo is still a “race car with a plate… it’s driven to and from every track day and I don’t plan to ever own a trailer.”
Though he’s owned it for 16 years and driven it extensively, I get the feeling that Gordan’s journey with this very well sorted Lancer Evolution is very far from over.
Photos by Keiron Berndt
2005 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VIII MR
Engine: Mitsubishi 4G63, 2.1-liter, Mahle 4032 forged pistons (OEM compression), Manley connecting rods, Cosworth crankshaft oil scraper, ARP 625+ head studs, ARP main studs, ARP crank bolt, ARP 625+ rod bolts, ARP flywheel bolts, Portflow cylinder head with pocket port & polish, Ferrea valves, Supertech valve springs, Comp Cams 280-degree camshafts, ETS T4 twin-scroll exhaust manifold, twin TiAL MVS wastegates, Precision 6262 turbocharger with OCD Works T51R Mod, Wisecraft down pipe, Wisecraft lower intercooler pipe, Wisecraft 4-inch intake, Nisei 4-inch core race intercooler, Nisei upper intercooler piping, Tomei blow-off valve, 3-port boost solenoid, Fujitsubo Super Ti titanium cat-back exhaust, Kiggly HLA, Mil.Spec ported throttle body, MAP Rev 2 intake manifold, FIC 1,650cc injectors, Walbro 450lph fuel pump, AMS stainless fuel delivery hose, Auto Produce Boss fuel wire harness, IDS coil-on-plug ignition, OEM ECU with dual map tune by KT Motoring, Setrab oversized oil cooler, XRP oil lines, STM oil catch can, JUN oil cap, Ralliart thermostat, CBRD aluminum radiator, Sard radiator cap, Garage HRS carbon fiber radiator shroud
Driveline: Factory Evo VIII MR 6-speed gearbox, ACT clutch, RRE flywheel Spoon front & rear subframe collar kits, Beatrush propellor shaft bushings, Beatrush shifter base bushings, Beatrush rear differential carrier bushings, Beatrush front roll stopper, AMS underhood shifter bushings
Suspension/Brakes: KW V3 coilovers with custom valving & spring rates, Robispec rear sway bar with custom adjustable end links, Robispec rear control arm bushings, Cusco front sway bar, Whiteline sway bar lateral locks, Whiteline roll center control adjustment, Whiteline anti-lift/caster correction kit, Whiteline steering precision kit, Mine’s front strut bar, Mine’s 7-point front under-brace, Tanabe rear lower tie bars, YR Advance strut plates, Cusco rear trunk brace, Grimspeed brake booster brace, Project Mu front brake pads, Endless rear brake pads, Stoptech stainless brake lines, Stoptech rotors
Exterior: Varis carbon fiber bumper ducts, Seibon polyurethane lip, Monster Sport carbon fiber canards, Datum One tow hook, Varis GT wide front fenders, Varis GT side skirts, Ganador mirrors, Mine’s carbon fiber rear deck lid spoiler, Cusco 3D carbon rear spoiler, JDM rear bumper with carbon insert, Varis Version 2 carbon fiber rear diffuser, Rexpeed carbon fiber J-Panels, Varis door pillar garnishes, OEM window visors, JDM OEM VIII MR headlights, EDM OEM VIII RS taillights with OEM foglight, JDM GTO side marker lights, Coltspeed antenna
Wheels/Tires: RAYS Volk Racing CE28N 18×9.5-inch +28 wheels front/rear, Achilles ATR-K Sport 265/35R18 tires front/rear, Kics bolt-on spacers with studs, Kics lug nuts
Interior: Kansai Service LHD 6-point chromoly roll cage, Kansai Service floor mats, Recaro Pole Position driver’s seat, Buddy Club low mount seat rail, carbon fiber center console lid, YR Advance rear division panel, HKS D1 shift knob, Circuit Hero shift extension, Rexpeed carbon fiber gauge cluster surround, Rexpeed Evolution gauge, AEM wideband 02 gauge, HKS boost gauge, Personal Kingston steering wheel, Works Bell steering hub, Works Bell detachable steering unit, Works Bell locking hub, custom piano black dash inserts
Thanks: Gordan would like to thank everyone the car has brought into his life thus far for their help along the way, including KW Suspensions, Dean at All Auto Care In Santa Clarita, Wisecraft Fabrication, and KT Motoring in Chatsworth, California who tuned the car into the reliable street/track vehicle that it is.Cutting Room Floor