After experiencing an awesome mix of machinery during the New Year Meeting at Daikoku PA last week, 2021 has already started off on a bit of a nostalgic theme for me. It seems people can’t get enough of the JDM classics.
I don’t mean the really old stuff, but the Japanese cars of my generation – the modern day heroes that have slowly but surely become extremely sought after. And along with your obvious big three – the Skyline, Supra and NSX – it’s always fun to see where enthusiasts are directing their interests and what they are doing with these cars.
When I first arrived in Japan as a high school student, my father was given a run-of-the-mill Mitsubishi Lancer sedan as a rental until his new CD Honda Accord arrived. It certainly wasn’t anything special in narrow body, entry-level spec, but it was still a Lancer, and all I could think about when riding in it were the rally cars spawned from the then current Evolution II variant.
Two years later, the Evolution III came out – the best of the first-gen Evo iterations. To this day, I still prefer the Evo III over the IV and V, which to me never really looked quite right until the VI.
For some reason though, I’ve only ever shot one Evo III – a 400hp tuned version at Garage G-Force – and that was eight years ago.
I emphasize the word ‘tuned’ here as that car was indeed a tuner car in the truest sense of the word. It boasted a high-mount turbo and the usual visual cues that ensured anyone with basic Japanese car knowledge would instantly know what they were looking at.
The CE9A Lancer Evolution III you see here is different. It was sent to Garage Yamago in Saitama Prefecture by a friend of mine in Bahrain, who has a real love for Japanese cars but is very selective about who he has work on them.
The car is stock. Well, stock-ish, and that’s exactly the reason I wanted to go and check it out. To me, it’s a perfect example of how Japanese modern day classics can be approached.
Massive power is doable on any platform, but a few simple touches to refine what was there from the factory seems like a really good approach for long-term preservation.
Plus there’s the driving part. The owner wanted to respect how the car came from Mitsubishi, as enjoying the Evo III’s unique character was his main goal.
So inside you’ll only find subtle but important additions that combine to support that main goal. Things like a lowering kit for the seats and a modified steering wheel hub that allows for a more comfortable driving position for taller people. Then there are the Defi boost and an AEM A/F gauges, there to keep an accurate tab on two important parameters, especially when driving the car in an extremely hot climate like Bahrain’s.
Outside, the original body has been treated to fresh paint and as many new parts as Mitsubishi is still able to supply.
The quest for new parts, however, is a difficult one I am told, but seeing as other manufacturers are now remaking parts for popular models, maybe Mitsubishi will also join the club and launch a heritage program of their own. It seems like a real no-brainer.
The engine, which was already in an unmolested state, has been left stock, but it’s been treated to a modern set of injectors and fuel pump, refreshed ignition wires, fresh hoses, and was give a general once-over. The stock intercooler was deemed inefficient for the climate the car will be in, so it’s been replaced with a Plazmaman high-flow unit with hard piping. A Koyo radiator does the same for the water cooling side of things.
Tying it all together is a Link ECU, custom mapped by Yamago-san with an emphasis on keeping it all reliable. The car has been dyno-tested and the engine generates a healthy 300hp. A new clutch has also been added, so it’s pretty much ready for that power to be put to the wheels and thoroughly enjoyed.
And speaking of wheels, the white-on-white look courtesy of the 15-inch OZ Racing wheels is spot on.
Once the car arrives in Bahrain the stock suspension will be removed and replaced by Australian-made Pro Comfort coilovers, joining the fresh bushes that have already been fitted. To me, this is simple yet very well-executed ‘mild’ restomod.
You’ll be happy to hear that I’ve got a shop tour of Garage Yamago coming up, one I think you guys will rather like. The fact it’s located a short 10-minute drive from JUN Auto Mechanic is no coincidence either…
Dino Dalle Carbonare