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Driving the Last Brand-New Mitsubishi Evo to its Grave

Old Jan 11, 2019, 11:58 PM
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Driving the Last Brand-New Mitsubishi Evo to its Grave

The last brand new Evolution, euthanized in a crusher. Edit: Written by an author that writes some best-selling books! http://maggiestiefvater.com/novels/ and has her own Evo https://www.tumblr.com/search/stiefvater-cars

https://www.roadandtrack.com/car-cul...-to-its-grave/

Driving the Last Brand-New Mitsubishi Evo to its Grave



Mitsubishi was forced to send this preproduction 2015 Lancer Evolution Final Edition to the crusher. We gave it one last ride.
BY MAGGIE STIEFVATER
JAN 10, 2019
IT BEGAN WITH TWO DELIBERATE POPS, as if the crusher were knocking politely. Excuse me, it’s Death, may I come in?

The windows exploded. The car squatted; the spoiler flattened. Part of the driver’s-side mirror shucked to the ground. Dirt-splattered fenders crackled. Doors winced and buckled; the ground effects fell to their knees before collapsing entirely. It sounded vaguely like a mouth stuffed with potato chips. Contemplative silence followed. The crushing plate pulled back to reveal a geometric slab of pearl-white metal. From car to carcass in less than a minute.

The car was a bone-stock 2015 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution Final Edition—2.0-liter turbo four, 303 hp, 305 lb-ft of torque at 4000 rpm, Brembos, Bilsteins, Eibachs, Enkeis, a redline-limited top speed of 146 mph. Just a few days before, I’d been tearing down the 101 behind its wheel. Seeing that spoiler in the rearview mirror. Putting that dirt on those fenders.

As the forklift neatly speared it for transport, I noticed the badging had popped off the trunk. It was no longer an Evo. It was a 3550-pound paperweight.

FIFTEEN YEARS AFTER its arrival to the States, the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution—the Evo, as it is referred to in whispers or hisses, depending upon whether the speaker’s been wronged by one—is firmly lodged in the public consciousness as the action figure of the automotive world. It is not a car, it’s a car-shaped toy. Children, what is the antonym for "daily driver"?

Although it was born into rally, the Evo came of age in mass media—movies, video games, YouTube—before achieving its final form as an outlandish adult with a disdain for factory settings. To have an Evo was to have a modded Evo. A better intercooler. A bigger spoiler. A shocker decal, or possibly a sticker outlining what the driver would like to do with your mother.

Looking at an Evo now, one might not guess its past, but one can certainly guess its future as it rat-tat-tats past in the fast lane, flames barking from titanium tips, rap music muttering from a subwoofer.

I LEARNED ABOUT THE PEARL-WHITE EVO 10 days before its crushing. It was a preproduction model that had somehow survived for three years deep within the bowels of Mitsubishi Motors North America and was slated for the junkyard by the end of the month. Its crime? As a preproduction car without a VIN, government regulations called for its head.

All of which led to an intriguing offer: If I made it to California by the weekend, Mitsubishi would hand over the keys.

Three thousand miles away in Virginia, I opened the door of a different Evo: a 2012 GSR, 2.0-liter turbo four, 450 hp, 450 lb-ft of torque at 4200 rpm, top speed a matter between me and my god.

The registration said black, but it hadn’t been black in a while. It was yellow. Ish. Stripes and splatters were involved. Like many Evos, it had not escaped the sometimes heavy-handed affection of aftermarket suitors—engine, turbo, intercooler. Too many parts to list, it says, call for more details.

An unbroken gallop would get me to California in time to be the last thing Mitsubishi’s Evo saw before it died. I got in my Evo. I began to drive.

THERE WERE 10 GENERATIONS of Evolutions, each titled with roman numerals, like royalty. Evo II is dead; long live Evo III. The model was bred for one purpose: rally. The world was rally-mad in the Nineties, and no one was more enthused than Mitsubishi. Success makes one starve for more success, after all, and the three diamonds had been busily racking up international wins with the Colt and the Galant. In 1992, the first Evolution rolled out with the Lancer’s unibody, the Galant VR4’s all-wheel-drive setup, a completely redesigned trailing-arm multilink suspension in the rear, and a 247-hp 2.0-liter turbocharged engine that could do 0-to-60 in just over six seconds. It sold out in days.

A fairy godmother granted each successive Evo an assortment of gifts. For the II: increased boost and suspension tweaks. The III: new styling and a higher compression ratio. The IV: new active yaw control and twin-scroll turbo. The V: improved torque and widened track. So on. So forth. This fairy godmother’s real name was homologation—if Mitsubishi wanted a better rally car, it had to make a better street car, and sell at least 2500 of them. It worked. From 1996 to 1999, Tommi Mäkinen drove four gens of Evos to four World Rally Championship titles as each generation of Evo sold out.

When I asked Mitsubishi if it considered the Evo a streetable rally car or a street car that could also rally, chief engineer Chiaki Tsujimura’s answer was simple: "Both."

ON MY CROSS-COUNTRY SPRINT, I encountered only one other Evo, a white X that sported with me through Arizona’s splendid Virgin River Gorge. When we stopped for gas, the driver told me they’d come from Manitoba. I was the first Evo they’d seen too.

There were never many to begin with. The United States only got slightly defanged versions of the VIII through X. From the beginning, few made it to their birthright: rally stages. I asked 10-time Canadian rally champion Antoine L’Estage what he remembered of the car he drove to multiple North American titles. He spoke with fondness. "It was just a good car and a good team. . . . I have very good memories of my years driving the Evo."

In his opinion, the rarity that maintained the Evo cult streetside was what kept it out of the Subaru-dominated rally scene. "We were one of the first to build one in North America. It was very difficult to find performance parts; we needed to be a little bit ingenious," L’Estage said. "It’s much easier if a guy starts rallying right now to find a Subaru. . . . They’re both good bases to start from."

It wasn’t impossible to find parts for the Evo, but it was expensive. And money was the last thing American Evo enthusiasts had.

SWEAT TRICKLED DOWN MY BACK as I stood surrounded by more Evos than I had ever seen in one place. I’d made it to Mitsubishi Motors North America in time for their annual Owners’ Day. The massive parking lot overflowed with modded cars bright as poison-dart frogs.

While waiting to collect the fabled final press car, I wandered through the assemblage. As I did, the guys (and one woman) shared why they’d chosen Evos (Need for Speed, 2 Fast 2 Furious, Initial D, Gran Turismo), their favorite memories ("Dude, when you popped that intercooler hose!"), and where I could find them on Instagram. They introduced me to their crews; they showed me their logos. They told me how they got their cars: "When I wrecked my BMW." "Sketchy kid on Craigslist." "Salvage title."

They were wired and insane and generous and very educated about their rides. I loved them.

Nearly everyone there had bought their car used. "I got this car off my brother because he f***ed it up, spun it out, burned up the tires, the brakes," said the owner of a deep-red Evo X, who wanted to be known only as Troy or "squeakycahlean." "He’s totaled five cars. My mom calls me while I’m snowboarding and says, 'Do you want an Evo?'"

Current Evo culture has less to do with the actual practice of rallying and more to do with the underlying spirit of it: an average person doing something incredible. The underdog becoming unlikely hero. Modding is a way to conjure something previously reserved for those with disposable income: lots of horsepower in a unique package. Autonomy, individuality, bravado, the chance to look like the swaggering protagonist in the action movie of your life. With a base price around $35,000, the Evo was already accessible to a new class of enthusiasts. And if you managed to snag a used one with a salvage title, why not go for it?

It’s hard, however, to maintain a brand when your primary fan base exists in the secondary market.

A FEW YEARS AGO, I TRIED TO GET MY EVO PAINTED. I went to four different paint shops. I’m not the guy for you, they said. No room at the inn. Several weeks into my search, one of them actually explained it. "That car ain’t worth the paint I’d put on it."

The Evo had a reputation, and classiness wasn’t part of it.

The Evo was in trouble—too spendy for its fans to buy new and too commonplace for the luxury market. It couldn’t find its groove in rally or club racing. It was capable of doing almost anything, but it was doing almost nothing. All you need is love, sang the Beatles, but love couldn’t save the Evo.

In 2015, Mitsubishi released the baldly named Final Edition. Number 1600 of 1600 sold for $76,400, almost twice its price, even as hundreds of less collectible numbers languished on lots. In the end, fans still couldn’t pay sticker. They’d catch 'em on the other side. Salvage title.

The Evo has always done everything at speed, including obsolescence: In the U.S., it went from car to carcass in just over 12 years. A generation of boy racers donned widow’s weeds. The Evo was dead.

I READ ONCE THAT SERIAL KILLER Velma Barfield had Cheez Doodles and Coca-Cola as her final meal. It’s a tradition, the special meal, a taste of freedom right before the end. Steak’s a popular choice. So’s pizza. KFC chicken is more represented than one might expect.

I decided the meal the Evo X deserved as its last was actually its first. I drove the last Evo X several hours north of Long Beach to let it do what it had been made for: playing in the dirt.


As I swiped big sideways arcs in a dry lake bed, I marveled that there was little softness to the Evo, even at the end. It wasn’t the heart attack that was my built Evo, but it still quivered at a touch. The handling was bright-eyed and responsive on both tarmac and dirt, thanks to the three-mode, active center differential. The yaw control had matured into Mitsubishi’s Super All Wheel Control, a sophisticated system that added braking to the active yaw control. With stability control enabled, it was nearly impossible to get the car sideways—it confidently tracked through every corner. Stability control off, however, and everything became loose and dirty and snarling.

It delivered what every Evo always has: frantic, capable joy. It whispered what the Evo had whispered to thousands of drivers before me: Drive it like you stole it; drive it like there’s no tomorrow.

WHEN I PULLED INTO THE LONG BEACH JUNKYARD a few days later, a worker eyed my yellow Evo and asked, "Are you here to shoot a movie?"

"I’m here about the other Evo."

He told me I could go in without him. "I can’t watch."

I could.


Because after this was done, I was going to get back into my own Evo. It, at least, would live forever, becoming an ever more complicated amalgam of aftermarket parts. Eventually maybe no longer an Evo, but rather simply a vehicle built by an Evo driver.

Evo culture has never needed a new model to stay enthusiastic. The Evos that still sputter and gasp and roar dopamine trails across the country will dwindle, but the spirit of ingenuity they inspired will linger. Maybe the Evo didn’t realize its dream as a rally icon, but it’s evolved into something bigger and possibly even more immortal.

The Evo is dead; long live the Evo.

Last edited by moparfan; Jan 12, 2019 at 07:39 PM.
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Old Jan 12, 2019, 04:50 AM
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"I went to four different paint shops. I’m not the guy for you, they said. No room at the inn. Several weeks into my search, one of them actually explained it. "That car ain’t worth the paint I’d put on it."

Where the hell was he shopping around ? never heard of a shop turning down to paint an Evolution before, or anything for that matter.
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Old Jan 12, 2019, 04:55 PM
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I just read the story in Road and Track and quickly came here to post, glad it is here to read. I have never owned an Evo, but it has been my dream car since 2003 with the Evo VIII. When I saw the Evo in the crusher, I shed a couple of tears. I still dream of owning one but it is highly unlikely I ever do. My lease ends in May, and there are 3 cars in my list, the first being, FIND a beautifully cared for, Evo X. We will see what happens. Long Live the Evo and blessed be those that had the opportunity to earn one.
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Old Jan 12, 2019, 06:21 PM
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LOL @ "rap music blaring...".
no wonder the public thinks I'm a ghetto *** hoodlum.
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Old Jan 12, 2019, 07:47 PM
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Old Jan 13, 2019, 06:51 AM
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Such a shame to kill such a nice car!!
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Old Jan 13, 2019, 12:18 PM
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Shame they couldnt have stripped it and sold the components or even give them away then crush the chassis.
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Old Jan 14, 2019, 02:35 PM
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cliff's? why did they crush the evo?
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Old Jan 14, 2019, 02:42 PM
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Originally Posted by warmmilk View Post
cliff's? why did they crush the evo?
It was a pre-production car with no VIN number assigned. I used to work for a motorcycle OEM and this is the fate of all vehicles we had that had no VIN.
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Old Jan 14, 2019, 02:48 PM
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They could have sold it to a pick your part if they didn't want to spend the time and money to have a tech disassembly the car for sale parts, but this seems like a situation where the law wanted to make sure that nobody could potentially buy the entire thing and use it. The untrusting and unwavering hand of the law. Preproduction could also mean it was not safe yet to use.
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Old Jan 14, 2019, 03:47 PM
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Originally Posted by pikwit View Post
It was a pre-production car with no VIN number assigned. I used to work for a motorcycle OEM and this is the fate of all vehicles we had that had no VIN.
oh ok... I was gonna get mad... but this is understandable
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Old Yesterday, 01:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Pal215
They could have sold it to a pick your part if they didn't want to spend the time and money to have a tech disassembly the car for sale parts, but this seems like a situation where the law wanted to make sure that nobody could potentially buy the entire thing and use it. The untrusting and unwavering hand of the law. Preproduction could also mean it was not safe yet to use.
No. Pick a part needs a title to take a car in. No VIN, no title...
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