Lenspeed went on a regular stroll to shrug off the pandemic blues, and was pleasantly surprised to chance upon quite a special vehicle in electric blue hue.
This is not an Evo 6 from the factory – it is a Lancer, stripped down to bare bones and transformed to a road machine with a single-minded focus of having fun legally on Bangkok roads. Treat this as a CKD Lancer, assembled in Thailand to give it the Evo 6 treatment. Come to think of it, it does not matter if it is a CKD or CBU. It probably would have undergone a couple of overhauls at least given its age.. 20+ years and counting.
*Import taxes are more than 300% in Thailand, putting it on par on the ridiculous scale as taxes in Singapore.
We might be wondering – how can a Lancer be transformed to an Evo? What about the engine and drivetrain? How can this be legal? Are there workshops skilled enough to pull off such a project? It hit us for a moment, until the owner popped open the boot to reveal a clean 4G63 motor with no signs of it having been through 180,000km of harshness. It is only then when I realised that this is serious stuff – no LTA-related obstruction (!!) and we now had to reframe our mindset. Components that could actually be left untouched were not spared – cosmetic upgrades like rear seats were replaced, and crucial bits like the entire drivetrain underwent an overhaul. This is Thailand and, to say the least, pretty much anything is possible. They do have very skilled labour to perform these swaps with surgical precision. We are still very far from investigating the inner workings of workshop culture here but we’ll be sure to keep you updated once we dig deeper.
We were fortunate to bring it for a 20-minute spin. Jumping into the driver’s seat brought back great memories especially in the form of the 5-speed manual and analog instrument cluster. Scratches and smudges adorn the clusters, but it really didn’t matter much so long as they functioned – you would be focusing on its driving ability right from the get-go.
We were expecting some hesitation when shifting through the gears, but they were neat and precise despite its age – short gearing from 1 to 3 keeps you very occupied from standstill to 30km/h. The engine is silky smooth – probably due to a tune that prioritises linear revs over old school turbo lag. A part of me wanted to relive the moment where you had to anticipate the boost once the TD05 turbo (we have to verify the exact spec) kicks in – but honestly it is not that practical given the road and traffic condition in Bangkok. But if the owner decides to have a go in it in Northern Thailand (imagine 50km of B-roads in 15-degree fog), possibilities are endless and I bet there are not too many cars that can put a smile on Lenspeed’s face as much as a stick shift and a well tuned motor (linear yet punchy throughout the rev range).
*Special mention goes to the suspension that is well judged at high speeds, but understandably jiggly at low speeds. Not stock FD2R harsh, but 70% there!
The owner might be exploring swapping all-weather rubbers for full slicks, undergoing a couple more cosmetic repairs and perhaps a tune to understand more of its current potential. But in typical Lenspeed fashion, we will do our part and encourage him to focus more on drivability than chase numerical figures.
Stay tuned as we document more of its progress. After all, the owner is my neighbour!
*Thank you for the ride and driving opportunity, neighbour!