In many ways, the appeal of pure Japanese tuners is very similar to the appeal of older American muscle…

They’ve both got a generational fanbase… meaning they are both cemented into the youth culture of their time. And while these two genres of cars have got very different performance/handling characteristics, when it comes to driving attitude & intensity… they’re both incredibly raw & visceral. They activate the same endorphins or whatever. We‘ve seen our fathers & grandfather’s go back to the dream cars of their youth, restore them, and bring BIG money at the Barrett Jacksons & Mecums. So it should only make reasonable sense if we’re following the same path… that we’re gonna see the same thing happen with tuners. 

English Racing Evo

Now it’s one thing to say that a car is going to be valuable or collectable. But what it really takes… is TIME.

You have to let the years play out, and the nostalgia set in naturallyWhen the Evo 8 came to the US, it instantly owned the streets. It had big intimidation factor, JDM legacy, made all the right sounds, and checked all the right turbo/AWD boxes. It was a streetfighter in a gymnast’s body. A super-stout, strong, agile, big-winged, unapologetic sedan… that preyed on Cobras. And the Cobra owners knew it too. Evos were an instant legend with youth car culture in the US. The Evo defined the tuner generation in America… at the peak of the import explosion. 

Mitsubishi Evo

And then a few years after that, the whole thing began to lose a little steam…

Tuner-type cars started getting cut from the new-car lineup. And most of the tuner models that stuck around got fat, ugly, & disappointing and/or gimmicky. The Japanese manufacturers were losing the way of the nimble turbocharged/vtec-y affordable coupes of the 90s. Mitsubishi fell flat on its face. The economy got tougher. Car prices went up. Gas prices went up. Punk went emo. And adulthood hit like a brick to the face. The import generation began to stray & scatter… it happens. 

Evo Voltex widebody

But now it’s been 15 years in a flash. All the 23-year-olds are almost 40 WTF…

They’ve gotten financially settled… and bored. These once-upon-a-time badasses now drink their morning coffee in silver F150 listening to news or sports radio. Everyday is routine. And now they’re starting to reminisce hard about the good ol’ days. Thinking back cars that got their blood pumping, the cars that were tied to their freedom. The cars people remembered them by

Rexpeed Evo

And THAT’S what makes a car iconic & collectible…

When it instantaneously time-travels us back to an anthem chapter of our lives. And the presence of 1 car, all the sudden makes the air around you feel lighter. 

Evo Voltex kit

William Lewis was one of the first in line to buy the Evo 8 when they came to the states in 2003…

He was 25-years-old at the time, and in the Navy stationed in San Diego. William 100% loved that car. So much in fact, that he screwed up & traded it in for the Evo X when it came out… thinking it’d be even better. But… William just never felt as connected to that X as he did the 8. He had a couple other cars along the way… nice cars… like an Audi S4 for example. But that lovin’ feeling was just missing as the cars got newer, nicer, and more ‘age appropriate’. 

Evo 9 MR

So now, at 40ish, William decided to search out an Evo 9, which he always saw as like – the ideal Evo…

And whereas his Evo 8 was admittedly a little bit of a Frankenstein build back in that day on limited resources… this time William had a little more financial muscle to build his dream car.  

William had Diamond Motors out of San Diego install/mold the Voltex wide body & repaint the car. Then he had the car shipped to English Racing in Washington for the engine build. Life experience had taught William to just suck it up & do it right the first time. With English Racing being the only shop/tuner to put their hands on the engine… there would be no hodgepodge. No confusion, mismatching, or mystery parts. And everyone would be in the same headspace – from the engine build to the tune. The car is set to make a longterm & reliable 490hp. Now William resides in Georgia, and enjoys the car regularly. 

voltex evo

490hp is such a sweet spot for the Evo… don’t let internet-boasting fantasy numbers cloud what’s real. 

Text by Wooley     Photos by Chris Daley

Evo JDM headlights


This car has an English Racing 450+ engine head build, using an ETC 6266 turbo kit & PTE 5858 turbo – with coated turbine housing, manifold, downpipe. 

Walbro fuel pump

Fuel Injector Clinic (FIC) 1100cc injectors

TiAL Sport Q blow off valve

GSC S2 camshafts & beehive springs w/ titanium retainer

Gates Racing timing belt

Grimmspeed boost controller

ETS titanium exhaust & intercooler kit w/ 3.5” Cisco intercooler & titanium piping


-Voltex widebody & wing – installed & resprayed by Diamond Motors in San Diego

-Rexpeed carbon trunk lip, canards, hood vent, side spats, and side skirt extensions 

-JDM headlights



Volk TE37 Saga wheels: 18×10.5 +15

Fortune 500 coilovers

Stoptech slotted rotors & custom powder coated OEM Brembo calipers

Volk TE37 Saga


Cusco roll cage & chassis bracing 

Cusco cage Evo

Evo 9

Import Alliance car show