Mitsubishi Evo VI-VIII (1999-2004) - Buyer's Guide

By: Cliff Chambers, Photography by: Unique Cars Archives/Mitsubishi

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mitsubishi evo side mitsubishi evo side

It was a successful platform for many rally stars and was embraced equally by enthusiasts

 

Mitsubishi Evo VI-VIII

The Mitsubishi Lancer EVO (lution) was created in 1992 as a platform upon which factory and privateer teams could build Championship-winning rally cars. When the EVO’s days as a ‘homologation special’ ended, there were many enthusiasts still happy to buy the feisty 4WD sedan just for the fun of it.

The Sixth Generation EVO series was the last to blend road-going comforts with the weight-stripping design of a rally front-runner. In that guise it also added a version dedicated to celebrating Mitsubishi rally ace Tommi Makinen’s record of four World Rally titles.

MItsubishi Evo

The ‘EVO 6.5’ had no more power than a basic EVO VI but was identified by signature decals, white wheels and distinctive red with black seat trim. They were the first EVOs to sell in Australia as official imports, with 98 cars (two had to be crash tested) from the 2500 built, secured for the local market at $80,000 each.

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Based on scarcity and pure kerb appeal the Makinen cars should hold a special position in the ranks of collectable Japanese models. At present though in the used market they realise around 60 percent of original cost.

Mitsubishi Evo

The 2001-release EVO VII moved a step further into ‘road’ spec with a longer 2625mm wheelbase, more weight and a redesigned body. Part-way through the VII model cycle, a six-speed transmission was introduced but it was the EVO VIII that would bring the car’s greatest challenge to its own imagery - optional automatic transmission.

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Far from battling to preserve the EVO’s persona as an uncompromising rally weapon, Mitsubishi spread opportunities for ownership by offering four distinct models within the EVO VIII range. These included an MR version with an aluminium turret, uprated traction control and BBS wheels. In addition a stripped-out RS model took weight back to mid-1990s levels.

MItsubishi Evo

What didn’t change was the EVO’s prodigious grip levels, immediacy of response once boost was fully deployed and pin-sharp steering. With unobtrusive power assistance and 2.1 turns lock-to- lock the EVO is very much a go-kart with extra seats and a roof. Providing the engine is kept in the 3000rpm and above rev range, response is immediate and savage. 0-100km/h times can easily get below five seconds with the fastest recorded a 4.4 second run by the lightweight EVO VI.

These cars were built to be driven hard and fast and some suffer accordingly. If a car has obviously been used for competition, even just weekend ‘club days’ at the local circuit, insist on seeing records of recent maintenance. Also arrange a professional mechanical inspection.

Mitsubishi Evo dash

EVO VIIs cars can be found for less than $15,000, however required work may increase that considerably. Better prospects include a low-kilometre, properly maintained VI at $25,000-30,000. 

Beyond there at $40-50,000 sit the Makinen cars. Also very occasionally an exceptional example of the basic VI-VIII spreads ripples of joy panic through Japanese on-line auctions. Cars that were sold here new need complete history and preferably to have averaged fewer than 10,000 kilometres per year.

VALUE RANGE: MITSUBISHI EVOLUTION (EVO VI)

Fair: $8500
Good: $18,000
Excellent: $29,000

(Note: exceptional cars will demand more)

BUYER'S CHECKLIST

MItsubishi Evo

Body & chassis

Crashes and owner neglect are the most likely cause of EVO body problems. A car that encourages vigorous use will suffer more than its share of crashes so check panel gaps for consistency, mismatched paint and poor bumper/spoiler alignment. The boot spoilers can be immense and separating from their mounts or distorting the boot-lid. The front bumper/air-dam is vulnerable to cracks so look underneath for signs of kerb or speed-bump damage.  New and second-hand parts are available but prices can be savage so check costs before agreeing to buy a car with any kind of damage. Carbon-fibre bonnets start at $1200 and good boot-lids  with the spoiler attached cost $500 plus freight.

Mitsubishi Evo engine bay

Engine & transmission

EVO engines thrive on high revs but their performance comes at the cost of frequent oil changes and proper maintenance to ensure reliability. Cars without recent service history, especially recent arrivals from overseas,  should be regarded as suspect and allowances made for potentially expensive work. Changing oil and the filter every 5000 kilometres is essential to engine and turbocharger life. A turbo running quality lubricants and standard boost should survive 100,000 kilometres. Timing belts which need changing every 70,000km are $200 but labour will add $1000. Be wary of drive-line clunks, a slipping clutch and gears that are difficult to engage when the ‘box is cold. Clutch replacement are around $2500, with labour devouring most of the money.

Suspension & brakes

These components need to be maintained in top condition for an EVO to fulfill its performance potential. Replacing the dampers with factory-correct Bilstein units will cost the better part of $5000, but alternatives that detract minimally from performance cost half the price. Look for untoward tyre wear front and rear that may signify worn bushings or even bent steering components. The power steering should be unobtrusive with no noise or seizing when negotiating a sequence of bends. Brakes are vital to the EVO experience and need to be in perfect condition. The original-equipment Brembos are outstanding but expensive so quality kits of rotors and pads are available at less than $2000. Replacement wheels are available and cost around $300 each.

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Interior & electrics

If your EVO seats are structurally sound but the fabric is worn it will be cheaper to invest in a retrim than second-hand replacements. Good front seats can be found locally but cost more than $2000 per pair for genuine items. Look closely at carpets and hood-lining for indications that a roll-cage might have been installed. Electrical components are simple and generally reliable. Ensure with the engine running there are readings on all of the gauges, that air-conditioning responds quickly to altered settings. Tail-light units can cost over $300 to replace if damaged.

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1999 - 2004 MITSUBISHI EVO VI-VIII

NUMBER BUILT: 34,000 approx (1999-2005)
BODY: integrated body/chassis steel (mostly) four-door sedan
ENGINE: 1997cc in-line four-cylinder with overhead camshafts, fuel injection and turbocharger
POWER & TORQUE: 206kW @ 6500rpm, 373Nm @ 3600rpm
PERFORMANCE: 0-100km/h 5.3 seconds, 0-400 metres
13.4 seconds
TRANSMISSION: five or six-speed manual (automatic optional in EVO VII)
SUSPENSION: Independent with coil springs, struts, A-Arms, anti-roll bar (f) Independent with upper and lower links, coil springs, struts and anti-roll bar (r)
BRAKES: disc (f), disc (r), power assisted (ABS on some)
TYRES: 225/45ZR17 radial

 

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