Evolution of a Species
Putting the engine from a Mitsubishi Evo VIII into a mk1 MX-5 is no easy task, but Dan Walker managed it, and all by himself
There are several established routes to making your mk1 go quicker. But Dan Walker wanted to do things a little differently, so he’s stuck in the 2.0litre turbocharged engine from the all-wheel drive Mitsubishi Evo VIII. It was no simple task, and he did it all himself
Modifying cars is essentially a protracted exercise in justifying silly ideas to yourself. Upgrading to a noisy stainless steel exhaust? Sure, that’ll last longer than a stock mild steel one; it makes sense in the long run. Fitting an induction kit? OK, the car was due a service anyway, and now you’ll never have to buy a new air filter again. And so on. It’s all just the train of thought that will most probably make your partner or spouse roll their eyes and give you a weary,‘yeah, yeah, if it makes you happy’. Let’s be honest – modifying a car to make it less practical and potentially less reliable isn’t actually something you can justify rationally.
Who the hell wants to be rational, though? This stuff is fun.you might as well roll the dice and see what the devil sends your way. It’s perhaps surprising, then, to hear Dan Walker, the owner of this rather eye-catching mk1 MX-5, justifying the fact that he’s fitted a Mitsubishi Evo turbocharged engine into it as ‘a sensible idea’. Although the more he explains it, the more it actually starts to sound weirdly reasonable and convincing. And not just with car-guy logic, but actual logic.
‘I originally toyed with the notion of fitting an SR20 [Nissan family engine],’ Dan explains,‘as it is already suited to rear-wheel drive – but trying to find a decent example wasn’t easy. The Yanks have the 4G63 motor in the DSM [‘Diamond-star Motors’ – the joint venture between Chrysler and Mitsubishi,] which they do all sorts of weird things with, so getting a bellhousing was one of the easier and cheaper things I had to do. Once I’d figured out I could easily attach a gearbox to it in longitudinal form, the Mitsubishi Evo engine was a goer!’
You see? The logic is flawless. And if we claw our way back through the cobwebs of Dan’s automotive past, the pieces of the jigsaw click together perfectly. He’s owned a couple of MX-5S before, as well as an Evo VI, and had previously built an engine for a friend’s Evo, so all the ingredients were sitting right there just waiting to be blended. Having sold his VI in order to be sensible and buy a house, Dan immediately decided that ‘sensible’ was a largely elastic concept and set about dreaming up a new project to have a bit of fun with.