Evo­lu­tion of a Species

Total MX-5 - - CONTENTS - Words: Daniel Be­vis, Pho­to­graphs: Dan Sher­wood

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.

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