Tony Nielson needed a fun and practical car he could drive year-round which wasn’t going to require US$15-$20,000 in modifications to make it truly fast. He was looking for something equally at home carving corners on tarmac (autox), gravel (rallyx), and the open road. Working as a service advisor at Vern Eide Mitsubishi in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, he didn’t have to look very far. A 2011 Lancer Evolution GSR fit the bill nicely.
A few months back, I did a story on TrueEvo.com, giving you a look behind the curtain at what it takes for an online community to evolve. Tony was the guy who took all the pictures used in that story. His GSR caught my eye, so I thought I’d reach out for an interview.
A DAILY DRIVER WITH PERFORMANCE & HANDLING IN MIND
I asked Tony what makes the Evo “fun and practical” and what a newcomer to the platform might realistically expect from one. “The Evo is a fun, yet practical, car due to the turbocharged engine, ease of modification, and the sedan body style. These cars are about as close you can come to a race car without sacrificing comfort and modern day conveniences,” he told me, “The driveability is amazing. It’s a pretty much point and shoot car. The handling, power, comfort, and just overall fit and finish of the car is on par with what you would expect from a much higher dollar vehicle.”
In the first 14 months he had the Evo, Tony put over 21,000 miles (33,800 kilometers) on it. That’s a bit on the higher end, don’t you think? Tony told me road trips are really enjoyable in the Evo, so he had no trouble taking it out on the open road and logging the miles.
- Chicago, IL (twice) – MWE (MidWestEvos, now TrueEvo) Spring Bash and vacation.
- Valentine, NE – Tubing down the Niobrara River
- Normal, IL (twice) – Mitsubishi Owner Day, aka: Factory MOD
- Rapid City, SD (8-10 times) – simple holidays and the 605racing.com fall and spring cruises.
- Omaha, Nebraska – the Ice Cream Cruise
Tony went on, “The evo is a very good road car. Not the best in fuel economy, but it all depends on how hard you push her. The last trip we took, we got 27.2 mpg (11.5 km/l) on one leg at 60-65 mph (95-105kph), so decent mileage is attainable. You just have to be patient. I honestly have had 0 issues with the car and how it performs. I could not ask for a better platform to modify and continue to have fun with.”
PHILOSOPHY & MOD CHOICES
When asked how his build philosophy has impacted his performance goals and modification choices, Tony told me, “The vehicle still has warranty, so my choices of mods have been of the non-voiding type. I did some Stance SS+ coilovers and Varrstoen 3.3.1 wheels in a 18 x 10.5 with a +22 offset, and a set of General Exclaim 285/30-18 tires. I have also installed an Injen intake and upper intercooler pipe, but I will be switching those out very soon for a better design. My goals for next spring will be to tune the car, put on a full turbo-back exhaust and different sway bars.”
Tony mentioned “stance.” He also mentioned coming close “to a race car without sacrificing comfort.” I asked how his choice of suspension, wheels, offset, and tires comes into play? Don’t those mods contribute to a rougher ride?
“The stance, in my opinion, is fitting the widest wheel/tire combo under your car without stretching the tire and still having it lowered down as much as possible without rubbing constantly. I put an 18×10.5 inch wheel with a 285/30-18 tire for daily driving use. The race car comment is based on the suspension setup I have. It is a stiffer rate spring-and-damper combo that is comfortable for the street but can still be tracked. It is a little rough compared to stock, but to me that just adds to the road feel of the car.”
You can connect with Tony online at 605racing.com, trueevo.com, & Facebook, and possibly on a couple other boards too, as he gets out to forums for tech and tips on his other vehicles. Until next time, keep going fast and press on regardless.