If you’re parent of a toddler showing any sort of interest in the automotive world, it’s almost guaranteed that they’re tugging at your pant leg anytime you’re at a store with a few die-cast cars on the rack. Years ago, that was Jiajun Pan, who, at a very early age began ogling at miniature cars and trucks—a passion that turned into a full-fledged obsession that led to a performance shop of his own and this multi-faceted Mitsubishi Evo X.
The transition from collecting Matchbox cars to his current status took place in a series of steps. From the 1:64 scale toys, Pan would soon discover “Bakusou Kyoudai Let’s & Go!!”—a Japanese manga series that featured twin brothers taking part in mini car racing. He adds, “Under that influence, I started to assemble different model cars from Tamiya and modified mini 4WDs, and when I entered adolescence, I was impressed by another anime known as Initial D.” Like so many others, the tofu-delivering AE86 and the series’ co-starring vehicles became the most desired by Pan.
Upon finishing his college career, Pan was finally in a financial position to start collecting some of his favorite Japanese vehicles. “With owning more and more vehicles, I needed extra space to store my collected cars and maintain them,” he says. “I developed my hobby into an automotive career and started running Neo Autoworks in Oakland, California.”
One of the cars that ended up in his collection is this 2008 Evo X MR which served as a daily driver and a weekend track car, but he also dabbled in car shows, making it a true multi-purpose build. In 2017, he took a trip to Vegas to attend the SEMA show and one of the cars on display was an Evo X fitted with a Varis V3 aero kit, and it was love at first sight for Pan. He adds, “I was deeply attracted to it, and it was inspiring to me that an Evo could be so wide and unique. Right after SEMA I ordered the complete kit from Varis Japan as a salute to that amazing car.”
No Turning Back
The makeover is a commitment, with Varis’ much wider fenders requiring cutting into the car’s body at all four corners. The result is a massive increase in wheel well space to which Pan filled with huge 18×11 -30 TE37V fitted with 315/30 Falken RT660. Either his math was just that good or he got incredibly lucky, but the wheel fitment is spot on, with no need for any wacky camber settings to provide essential clearance. Custom APG Performance calipers in the front and rear spice up the car’s braking power.
To match the increased width of the Varis fenders, the bumper features a ridge along either end to meet up with the fender’s flare and adds some aggressive angles to the car’s face. A carbon fiber lower splitter pushes the bottom of the bumper out by quite a bit and folds over on each end. Four canards are also in place and use Varis’ large-format carbon design, which you might remember from their Solid and Joker Integra Type R demo vehicle from Tokyo Auto Salon in 2017.
Like the front bumper, the rear completely transforms the mundane look of the Evo X’s factory piece. Large vents close out the rear quarter panel flares and use hits of carbon fiber, while a large diffuser cleans up the lower portion. Up top, above a mild carbon fiber trunk lip sits a 1,700mm Voltex GT wing and the entire car was refinished in BMW’s Atlantis Blue.
Pop the hood and the dust and residue you’d expect from a daily driver and track day fun haver is evident. Though it can easily be detailed for a show, the majority of the car’s time is spent being driven rather than displayed. The Cobb intercooler piping kit tells you it’s not stock, but doesn’t let on to the fact that its bottom end is built using a Manley crank with Platinum series pistons and Turbo Tuff rods, with ARP hardware holding everything together.
A set of GSC stage II cams with supporting valvetrain hide under the factory cover, and there’s a Ralliart ported intake manifold at play. Supplying the additional boost is a Garret GTX3076R held in place by a MAPerformance manifold with gases exiting through an AMS down pipe and titanium GReddy exhaust system. The cast of characters brings power output up to a safe and reliable 417 with 412 lb-ft of torque, which is more than enough for street and weekend track days, though there’s plenty of room for growth given its solid foundation should Pan decide to turn things up further.
What was once a four-seater is now reserved for just two, with the back seats yanked and a Beatrush rear bulkhead plate in their place. OMP harnesses tie the occupants to the factory Recaros and a Cusco roll bar with harness bar fill the rear portion of the car. Speaking of Cusco, you can find most of their suspension bracing catalog tied into this Evo’s interior, engine bay, and under carriage. Öhlins Road & Track coilovers and Whiteline’s roll center bump steer correction kit, rear end links, and control arm bushings help greatly tighten up the car’s handling.
It’s not uncommon for an automotive obsessed toddler to work their way up from die-cast and model cars to a lifelong partnership in modifying whatever it is that they drive. For Jiajun Pan, he took it a step further and not only amassed a collection of his favorite JDM cars, but found his calling with Neo Autoworks. He adds, “The modifications were all done by the team at Neo Autoworks and I feel so proud that I can accomplish my childhood dream. In addition, I really love sharing and hearing different ideas about this car. People get inspiration from this vehicle and their ideas are like a muse for me.”
2008 Mitsubishi Evolution X MR Specifications
Engine: Torque Solution engine mounts; Weapon R engine damper; Manley crankshaft, Platinum Series 9.0:1 pistons, I-Beam Turbo Tuff rods; ARP 625+ bolts; GSC Power Division Stage II cams, beehive spring kit, titanium retainers; Garret Gen II GTX3076R; ARC Brazing super induction box filter kit; Ralliart ported intake manifold; AMS front mount intercooler, widemount down pipe, fuel rail; Cobb upper/lower intercooler piping kit; GReddy Type FV2 blow-off valve, RS-Ti titanium exhaust, test pipe; MAPerformance Evo X turbo manifold, inline fuel filter; Injector Dynamics 1,340cc injectors, USCAR to DENSO adapter; Radium Engineering fuel surge tank kit; Walbro 450lph and 255lph fuel pumps; Grimmspeed electronic boost controller; SSP engine oil cooler, aluminum undertray
Power: 417 hp, 412 lb-ft of torque
Drivetrain: SSP Performance stage 1 SST transmission, deep transmission pan, cooler, heated sump
Suspension: Ohlins Road & Track coil over kit; Whiteline control arm bushings, roll center bump steer correction kit, rear end links; Eibach front camber bolts; Cusco front/rear sway bars, front/rear shock tower bars, Type II front lower bar, Power Brace floor bar, rear member, floor rear side, roll bar w/optional rear X-bar, harness bar
Braking: APG Performance 2-piece rotors w/alloy hats, anodized calipers; Hawk DTC-60 trakpad; StopTech stainless lines
Wheels & Tires: Rays TE37V mark II 18×11 -30; Falken RT660 315/30
Exterior: BMW Atlantis Blue; Varis V3 front bumper, dual carbon canards, rear bumper, widebody fenders, V2 carbon hood; Voltex Type 5 1700mm GT wing w/gurney flap; Vland headlight, taillight, third brake light; Cusco short antenna
Interior: OMP harnesses; Rennscot RSpro harness collars, fire extinguisher roll bar mount; Carbontastic carbon fiber steering wheel; GReddy titanium shift knob; rear seat delete; Beatrush rear bulkhead plate
Thank You: Team of Neo Autoworks in Oakland California. Thank you for all the fabrication work and body work by Carlos Pagan. Paint work by Margarito Reyes. Detailing and Ceramic coating by Enrique Miranda and Steve Oh From Ceramic Pro. Mechanic and engine work done by Xu Gao. Team of Wrap Culture for the paint protection film. Bains Tuning for the dyno tune. Team of Gifted Lifestyles Brand. Jimmy Tu and Albert Trinidad.