Remember when you initially became thinking about modifying cars? While it’s not true for everyone, many people started our tuning careers with loads of passion and a lack of cashflow to turn our dreams into reality. To top it well, it can be pretty tough to get into this hobby with a less than desirable platform to build on, especially when a number of the people at local track days and shows are sporting expensive and heavily modified rides. But with enough motivation and patience, those humble beginnings can eventually produce some pretty impressive automobiles.
Growing up in Abu Dhabi, Mark Aquino was mostly surrounded by exotics and luxury euro cars. In fact, the import scene was all but non-existent at the time. It wasn’t until Mark traveled to college from the Philippines that he discovered his passion for Japanese tuning-at the hands of an ’89 Mitsubishi Lancer. However the car was old along with too many issues to count, he was attached to the little Mitsu. Knowing almost nothing about cars and fueled by inspiration from The Fast and the Furious, Mark began down the rough path of modifying a vehicle with little aftermarket support. He added the standard beginner modifications, including an intake, exhaust, and the bodyAs Mark continued to modify his Lancer, he stumbled about the Evolution lineup. Essentially a turbocharged AWD version of his Lancer, the differing generations of Evos appeared to be the greatest all-around platforms to modify. “Rally and track champions, four doors,AWD and turbocharged, etc. What’s to not love? I dreamt of driving and owning one someday,” Mark recalls. It was around this time that Mitsubishi released its final iteration of the Lancer Evolution, the Evo X. Mark had become obsessed, before he knew it.
After landing his first job out of college, Mark transferred to the United States. When he arrived, one of the first things he needed to do was get a car. Unfortunately, the Evo X was out of the question back then, so he had to settle for an Eclipse. Though it was still within the Mitsubishi family, it was far from his dream car. After working for some time and continuing to immerse himself in the U.S. tuning scene, Mark was finally able to obtain his dream ride. On New Year’s Eve 2010, he became the proud owner of a brand-new Evo X. He told himself the automobile was perfect and he would never modify it. Sound familiar?
Needless to say, a gearhead can only remain content for so long, and before he knew it, Mark was commencing to dive into tinkering together with the Evo. He began with simple engine modifications, checking out several mixtures of intake, exhaust, and intercooler components until he was 100 percent satisfied. The automobile is now designed with a GReddy front mount intercooler, AMS intercooler piping, and an ARC airbox, since it stands today. A complete turboback exhaust system from Ultimate Racing works with the other breathing mods to unleash a hefty amount of power on account of the Cobb Accessport tuned by Aaron O’Neil of English Racing. A slew of dress-up items also provides the engine bay plenty of spice without groing through the top.
Mark’s goal would be to build an Evo X that could be driven reliably each day while still offering the capability to win an auto show or take a thrashing out on the track from time to time. With more power on tap for such occasions, Mark chose to focus on suspension and braking mods next. However the Evo is really a capable performer from the get-go, the stock struts and springs were tossed to opt for a set of HKS Hypermax III coilovers. The factory Brembo calipers were treated to Girodisc two-piece slotted brake rotors and Project Mu NS400 brake pads on all four corners, as well as stainlesssuspension and engine modifications set him up for some fun in the track without having to sacrifice reliability, he wanted his Evo to stand out from the group visually. The auto was shipped to Auto Performance Aesthetics Club for an exterior makeover. Mark chose a rare mash-up of aero components to give his car an exclusive, one-off appearance. Chargespeed wide front and rear fenders were installed alongside a collection of the company’s V2 carbon-fiber side skirts. But at the start, Mark went with an M-sport front bumper, complete with a carbon-fiber front lip and canards. Out back, you’ll find a set of LED taillights plus a Showstoppers rear diffuser. Regardless of the exterior modifications coming from several different manufacturers, everything flows together incredibly well. A set of Ganador LED Super Aero mirrors rounds the car’s aggressive look. To get the final icing on the cake, a set of gorgeous matte bronze-faced SSR Professor SP3 wheels complete with anodized bronze lips was installed, along with Falken Azenis RT615K rubber.
When Mark’s fiancée, Stephanie, heard that he had his sights set on competing in his first track day, she surprised him with some spice for his interior. She went all out and purchased a set of Takata racing seats and six-point harness belts to the car to hold Mark snug and safe during his time on the right track. (If you ask us, she’s a keeper! ) In addition to the Takata gear, the automobile is equipped with a Cusco six-point rollcage and rear diagonal bar, adding further chassis rigidity and safety during this process. A Personal steering wheelIf you were to ask Mark back in his Lancer days if he thought he would build and own an Evolution of this caliber someday, it’s safe to say he probably could have been skeptical at best. Though it can be tough starting this hobby in a less-than-ideal situation, Mark Aquino and his Evo X are a fantastic example it pays to dream big. With perseverance and a very well thought out plan, Mark has built a reliable car that’s fun to drive, effective at taking home a trophy at a car show, as well as a blast to drive on and off the track. Seeing that Mark has produced an Evo that’s nicer than he had ever imagined, what’s next? From what Mark tells us, he’s hard at work helping Stephanie modify her Evo X and plans to bump power levels a bit in his own X with a new head and turbo work. Talk about livin’ the dream!
He told himself the car was perfect and he would not modify it. Sound familiar?