The Mitsubishi Evo, an often sought after Japanese car among the likes of the Skyline GTR, Supra, RX7 and other Japanese legends, ranks high on the level of desirability. Growing up I’ve always been a Mitsubishi buff first falling in love with the late 1980s Galant VR4 and the Mitsubishi Starion. When the Evo 3 debuted it was at the top of my must have list, but as luck will have it, I was only able to acquire the Galant. Hurricane damages took the car to a level of repair that made us consider abandoning the project. With the prices of 1980s to 1990s Japanese cars skyrocketing on the market a replacement seems impossible. Our sites then set on getting something after the 1990s.
When the opportunity presented itself to acquire one on the cheap, it was near impossible to pass up. We scored a deal on a 2001 Lancer Evolution 7 RS in need of some tender love and care. The car had been sitting for a few years moving between out in the elements and being in the garage. Now having the car in hand, our first goals are to restore the car back to as clean a condition as possible. On the drive home we picked up quite a few suspension and drive train noises that were near impossible to ignore.
While it drove poorly, the engine felt strong, the transmission still felt crisp, the steering didn’t feel like there was any play, but the front suspension did feel off. The brakes were also noisy from sitting for so long as the rotors needed the fine layer of rust to be shaved off. The 18×9 Wedsport wheels are also a plus as they are extremely lightweight. The lack of Power windows, locks and mirrors isn’t much of a deal breaker as we gain an even quicker steering, mechanical differentials and a magnesium wheel compressor on the turbocharger for improved response all around.
Making it reliable
Taking an opportunity to now dive in, we changed the oil and used Shell Rotella T6 from R&C auto and hit ups the guys at Island Performance Services (IPS). They proceeded to source us some of our suspension and braking necessities, along with all our other service items. We also acquired an AEM Performance X Series Electronic Boost and Wideband AFR gauges along with Radium Engineering Dual Catch Cans. The temptation to go overboard with performance parts is very difficult but we have to stick with our goal of either OEM or necessary upgrades.
IPS provided us with some goodies from Whiteline including their lower ball joints and control arm bushings to help ease off some of the noises. We also sourced genuine inner steering ends and eventually once available the full suspension outlay. As we hope to gradually introduce improvements to the car and garner feedback, picking whiteline for the bushing and ball joint duties was a no brainer for the otherwise stock suspension.
We headed over to Direct Auto for assistance with getting it installed and sorted. The ball joints require being pressed out and then pressed in, something we aren’t equipped to handle in our meager backyard.
The car came equipped with some Tein Coilovers featuring piggy back reservoirs. We unfortunately replaced them with a set of stock struts and springs. The coilovers produced a god awful noise on the front of the car, indicating their need to be rebuilt. A quick test drive afterward confirmed our suspicion as the car no longer produced loud suspension noises. As luck will have it though, the CVs are now making noise and the alternator died, promptly ending the days activities.
THere’s always rust
As with many cars this age, rust is always an issue. Thankfully with a few exceptions, project evo only contained a few areas of surface rust. After sanding and cleaning with Acetone, we painted a few layers of rust inhibiting primer and a few coats of urethane rust proofing paint.
Having currently only tackled the trunk, over the next few weeks as we get ramp space available we will tackle other sections and paint on a new undercoating for the car. We intend to take our time and make sure every nook and cranny is covered.
As we continue to wait for parts to arrive, we continue work on the body and other preparation and maintenance work. Our immediate goals continue to be restoration as we source a lot of OEM parts needed. We will add a few bolt-on performance and give the car a baseline tune from IPS.
- Island Performance Services
- Phatz Custom Coats
- Direct Auto Inc
- H&J Automotive