MITSUBISHI MUSCLE 700BHP VARIS-KITTED EVO X
Eric McWilliams swapped his mustang muscle car for a slice of Japanese speed in the form of this 700bhp Varis-kitted Mitsubishi Evo X, and he’s never looked back…
Words: Dan Sherwood and Eric Mcwilliams. Pics: Viktor Benyi
American muscle fan swaps his Mustang for an Evo X and never looks back!
Looks can be deceptive. When you first clap eyes on Eric McWilliams’ evil-looking Mitsubishi Evo X, resplendent in its aggressive Varis wide arches, high-level carbon GT wing and the malevolent satin black deepdish ISS Forged split rims, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Eric was a dyed in the wool import fan, brought up on a strict diet of Paul Walker and Vin Diesel. But the fact is Eric only got into the Japanese scene in 2009; before that his automotive fantasies were much closer to home.
Now a resident of the glitzy town of Las Vegas, where he works as an engineer at one of the top casinos on the famous strip, Eric originally hails from a small town in the state of Iowa in America’s mid-west. A state known for its agriculture, Eric was more likely to swoon over a John Deere tractor than a tricked out Mitsubishi as he was growing up, and in fact his dream ride for the majority of his life was the good ol’ boys’ favourite: a V8 Mustang. Eric went on to eventually own the Pony car of his dreams and had big plans to give the mighty muscle car a steroid injection to turn it into a full-on drag machine. However, before he could complete his quarter mile queen, he cashed in his chips on his life in sleepy Iowa, to make a new one in America’s City of Sin.
‘Las Vegas opened my eyes to a whole new genre of cars,’ recalls Eric with a smile. ‘Before I moved there I was all about US muscle cars, but seeing tuned Japanese metal screaming around the sunscorched streets really sparked my passion for something a little more exotic from the Far East.’
And it was when things started to ramp up on his Mustang project that Eric got his first real taste of Japanese machinery, when he decided to take the ’Stang off the road and get a new ride for daily driver duties. The car in question was a 2008 Evo X.
‘Coming from the Mustang, the Evo was a revelation!’ Eric enthuses. ‘Even in standard spec it was so fast and cornered like nothing I’d ever felt before. It didn’t have that deep V8 rumble, but it was just on another level in just about every other area, and the more I learnt about them and what was possible, the more I was eager to start the tuning process.’
As the weeks and months passed, Eric’s love for his slice of Far Eastern fun was beginning to take over his life and the Mustang was steadily gathering dust as his passion for it diminished. Eventually, he decided it was time to move on and sold the shunned muscle car, leaving him free and unburdened to focus all his attention, and money, on the Mitsubishi.
‘At the time there was a whole host of companies producing parts for the Evo X and it was exciting planning the Evo’s evolution from mild to wild,’ Eric says with a grin. ‘In the end, rather than simply settling on one route to take the build, I decided to take on everything and make the ultimate, street driven, trackready, show ride capable of completing a 10 second quarter mile!’ Not too much to ask for then! Phew!
First up on Eric’s wish list was to sort the performance. As an avid fan of the legendary AMS brand, it was an easy decision to outfit the four-cylinder turbo motor with a host of the firm’s bolt-on bits.
Matched with bigger injectors and fuel pump, a drop-in turbo upgrade and a high-flow manifold, the car became more juiced for the track while still keeping its smooth daily drivability with a quick turbo spool and low-end torque. The final result was 467bhp at the wheels and a flat torque curve peaking at 350lb ft.
With the engine power suitably increased, Eric attended Motion Auto Show in Long Beach, with high hopes of some recognition from his fellow tuning fans for his hard work, unfortunately, and to his shock, the car didn't even get noticed!
‘After the disappointment of the show I knew I’d have to improve the Evo’s appearance if I was to get the attention that I craved,’ says Eric. ‘Luckily, it was around this time that Varis Japan had released a widebody kit for the Evo X, which was the perfect way to get the visual edge I needed.’
To source the stunning body addenda, Eric got straight on the blower to Ben Schaffer and the boys at Bulletproof Automotive in Los Angeles, California. As fate would have it, Bulletproof said they already had one of the rare kits winging its way from Japan to the US.
Result! As the third ever kit to grace US soil and the first to feature on a car on the West Coast, Eric was sure the new look would go down a storm, and when fitted and drenched in the bright Carolina Blue with blue pearl paint (which was actually a hue based on the colour of Eric’s favourite BMX bike that he had as a kid) he tested the kit’s attention grabbing merits at the 2012 SEMA Show in his adopted hometown of Las Vegas.
‘The kit extends each corner of the car by 35mm and I filled this extra girth with a set of wide satin black Enkei wheels with 265-section tyres,’ Eric recalls. ‘The car looked so much better and people where raving about it at the show. I knew straight away that I’d made the right choice.’
His build now had the looks to turn heads, but he had already got used to the power provided by the AMS bolt-ons, meaning the next stage of engine development was required.
‘After doing some research I decided to go down the route of a rebuilt engine, uprated turbo and drivetrain. In the end I went for a full 2.2-litre stroker build with 90mm CP pistons, Manley I-beam Turbo Tuff rods, ACL race bearings, ARP main studs and Golden Eagle sleeves,’ Eric says. ‘The build itself was carried out by Trevor at TrevTec Motorsports in Las Vegas and also incorporated extensive head work with Ferrea +1mm oversized valves, FIC 2150cc injectors, GSC S2 cams and Supertech dual valve springs and retainers.’
The turbo side of the equation was met by an AMS 900X turbo kit controlled by a Grimspeed three-port electronic boost controller. This was then complemented by an AMS front-mount intercooler and hard-piping, plus an AMS 3in cat-back exhaust system.
‘As anyone that has undergone a similar build could tell you, the process will test your patience and passion for the car and mine was no different,’ laughs Eric. ‘The motor build alone took over a year due to several complications, but it did give me more time to spend on other areas of the car, such as removing any and all unnecessary weight.’
Eric removed everything he could from the Evo’s innards, including scraping off the sticky tar-like sound deadening under the carpets. The car is now definitely a case of function over form when you pull open the driver’s door, with only a single Recaro Pro Hans racer seat with Takata four-point harnesses plus the top half of the dash and door cards left for comfort.
When the potent new motor was finally finished and installed, Eric wisely sought to increase the car’s safety with a custom rollcage.
‘The car was sent to Merrill Performance in Colorado who handled the custom fabrication of a six-point weld-in ’cage built to the class-specific Time Attack regulations,’ Eric explains. ‘It’s a pretty comprehensive piece of kit with X-brace door bars and pillar tubes that plunge through the Alcantara trimmed dash top and mount to the front footwells. Hopefully I’ll never have the need to test it out!’ With the engine work, and then the interior tweaks, taking up so much time where the car was off the road, Eric decided that it would be rude not to give the exterior a refresh to match the new interior and engine.
‘I liked the Carolina blue paint, but felt it needed more of a race look, so tasked Paul at Grafik Impact with designing a custom Time Attack livery for the car,’ Eric recalls.
Sticking with the blue and black theme, graphic guru Paul came up with the cool black strake design that whips up the car and incorporates a huge Varis logo – just in case you were wondering which kit was on the car.
‘I debuted the car’s new look at Import Face Off and took home the award for ‘Best Evo’,’ smiles Eric proudly. ‘It was a fantastic result, but the one thing that stood out to me was my old wheels. I really wanted a three-piece wheel so I could ditch the spacers I was running and get more dish.’
To remedy his lack of girth on the rim front, Eric contacted Brent at ISS Forged to have a set of custom wheels made. Once they were completed and shipped, Eric was only too keen to install them, unfortunately the stress of the spacers on the stock wheel studs had took its toll…
‘I was driving to a local meet on my new rims when a stud snapped off on the front passenger side and destroyed the face of the wheel. I had to send the wheel out to have a new face cut for it,’ he says with a roll of his eyes. However, with a car build such as Eric’s, there’s no such thing as downtime, so while he waited for the damaged rim to be repaired, it seemed like an opportunity to finish up some other areas of the car.
‘I sent the car off to Mad Kustomz to have Ahmad and James install an AMS carbonfibre roof, colour match the door jams, rollcage and a new Stoptech big brake kit that I had acquired for the car,’ he smiles. ‘They finished everything up just in time for the replacement rim.’
Now that the car was finally all back together – a full nine months after having the motor installed – Eric decided to see what his new engine could really do and committed to a full mapping session to take things closer to the limit.
Well known in the US for their tuning skills with Japanese cars, especially Evo Xs – English Racing built the world’s fastest and quickest Evo X – Lucas and Aaron from English Racing came down to Las Vegas to tune several Evos at the Dynojet research facility and Eric’s was one of the lucky rides on the list. The final numbers it put down on a conservative road/race tune was 640bhp and 476lb ft at the wheels @28psi. Impressive numbers, but what’s more impressive is how much more there is left in reserve.
‘Yeah, Lucas and Aaron said that there's plenty more in her, but after such a long time without the car I’m just looking forward to spending time behind the wheel and driving it as much as I can,’ Aaron explains. ‘Chasing numbers is all good, but it’s more than fast enough for me – for now at least – and I don’t want to risk more time with the car off the road to fix things if we push it much further.’
So for now, Eric is happy with his Evo, and even if the urge to push on gets too strong and he gives in to his speed and power cravings, it’s good to know that his desires are only a dyno mapping session away, meaning he may be down a Mustang, but his malevolent Mitsubishi has got more than enough muscle to compensate!
TECHICAL SPECIFIFCATIONS #Mitsubishi-Evo-X
ENGINE: 2.2-litre, 4-cyl, 16v, #4B11
engine built by #TrevTec
turbo kit, AMS front-mount intercooler and hardpiping, #AMS
3in cat-back exhaust, AMS fuel rail and fuel pressure regulator, AMS motor mounts, ACL race bearings, #ARP
main studs, CP 90mm pistons, #Cosworth
90mm head gasket, Ferrea oversized valves, FIC 2150cc injectors, Golden Eagle sleeves, Grimspeed 3-port electronic boost controller, GSC S2 cams, Manley I-beam rods, Mishimoto radiator cap, gauge and hoses, #Mishimoto
10in slim fan, #Password
JDM dress-up bolts and carbon-fibre ignition cover, #Supertech
dual valve springs/retainers, TiAL QR blow-off valve, Merrill performance catch can, Walbro 450lph fuel pump
TRANSMISSION: 6-speed manual gearbox with Exedy triple-plate clutch, Jacks Transmissions ultimate final drive
2-way adjustable Clubsport coilovers, Agency Power rear lower control arms and anti-roll bar drop links, Cusco front and rear strut braces, Cobb front anti-roll bar, Whiteline rear anti-roll bar
BRAKES: Stoptech big brake kits front and rear
WHEELS & TYRES: 11.5x18in ISS Forged FM-10R Spec B 3-piece wheels with 295/35/18 BF Goodrich Rival tyres
EXTERIOR: Varis carbon-fibre wide-body kit, front splitter and dual hyper canards, AMS carbon-fibre roof, Aeromotion R2 static wing, Ralliart tail lights, Seibon carbonfibre bonnet and boot lid, Carolina blue pearl paint, custom Time Attack livery
INTERIOR: Agency Power short shifter, AMS shift knob, AMS small battery kit, custom black suede dash, arm rest and shift boot with blue stitching, custom carbon-fibre gauge cluster, Glowshift boost gauge, Innovate Motorsports LC-1 DB gauge, NRG black suede steering wheel, Recaro Pro Hans racer seat, Takata 4-point harnesses, Works Bell hub, 6-point weld-in rollcage
THANKS: Team Hybrid, Founder/President James Lin, LV Chapter Director Archie Concon, Scott Dean, Jesse Ramirez, Hybrid Hunnyz, BFGoodrich, Mishimoto, Meguiar’s, K&N, NRG, Sony, Seibon, Exedy, Bulletproof Automotive, Grafik Impact, Trevor from Trevtec, Pete Makowski and also my mom, dad, brother, family and friends for all their support!
‘A CUSTOM WELD-IN ROLLCAGE WAS INSTALLED TO MEET TIME ATTACK REGS’
The Carolina blue paint that covers the EVO is inspired by Eric’s favourite BMX bike that he had as a kid. the searing blue hue accentuates the lines of the awesome varis widebody kit, which is actually made of lightweight carbon-fibre. Combined with a varis vsdc carbon front splitter and varis carbon dual hyper canards the front end looks proper aggro! But that’s not all of the exotic black weave, as Eric’s Evo also has an AMS carbon roof and seibon vented carbon bonnet and boot lid! For a similar hardcore Japanese tuner-look for your Evo, check out www.indigo-gt.com. Based in tredegar, south wales. Indigo GT is a licenced varis dealer and has form for supplying these awesome aero kits to some of the hottest cars in the UK.