Mitsubishi Evo Buyer’s Guide – Every Generation

The Mitsubishi Evolution is one of the most famed and loved Japanese cars off all time. In the real world the different generations of the Evo could challenge much more expensive sports cars and they proved to be formidable competitors on rally stages across the globe.

With such rich history, incredible driving dynamics and oodles of performance, the different generations of the Mitsubishi Evo are starting to (or already have) become classics of the motoring world.

That’s why we have created the ultimate Mitsubishi Evo buyer’s guide that will give you all the information you need to know about purchasing Mitsubishi’s monster. This guide will cover all the models from the Evo I, all the way to the last generation Evo X.

In addition to this, we have also included information on how to get the best deal on the Mitsubishi Evo, where to find one for sale and how to import one from Japan.

Let’s dive in to learning how to buy a good Evo!

How to Use This Mitsubishi Evolution Buying Guide

This Evo buyer’s guide is long, so we have broken it up into a number of different sections that cover different generations and topics. To start with we will be looking at the history and specifications of the Mitsubishi Evo. Following this we will be diving into the buyer’s guide section of the article and then we will look at how to get the best deal on a Mitsubishi Evo. To conclude the guide, we will look at how to import a Mitsubishi Evo from Japan and where to find one for sale.

Note: Thanks to Southern Specialist Cars in Christchurch New Zealand for letting us come and take some photos of their excellent 1999 Evo VI. You can check out their website here

The History and Specifications of the Mitsubishi Evo

Lancer Evo and Rallying

The story of the Mitsubishi Evo starts in the unforgiving world of rallying. Mitsubishi rally driver Andrew Cowan set up Andrew Cowan Motorsports in 1983. This would eventually evolve into Ralliart Europe, with the backing of Mitsubishi’s high performance division.

Ralliart entered the World Rally Championship (WRC) full-time for the first time in 1989, with the Mitsubishi Galant VR-4. The car won a number of events, but the team saw more potential in Mitsubishi’s Lancer platform.

With a 2,500mm wheelbase, the more compact Lancer had superior turning characteristics and improved cornering abilities. The Lancer Evolution made its rally debut at the first round of the 1993 WRC. While the Lancer failed to win during the season, it did show serious promise.

1994 – 1995 Lancer Evolution II

With some success in the first year of competition, Ralliart and Mitsubishi pressed ahead with the car’s development. They came out with the Lancer Evolution II at the Acropolis Rally mid-way through the 1994 season. The new car managed to achieve second in the hands of Armin Schwarz, proving that the car’s design was on point.

However, while the design of the Lancer Evolution II was good, the car would have to wait until the 1995 Swedish Rally to get its first win in the WRC. The Swedish Rally Evolution II was fitted with an electronically controlled 4WD system that allowed the car to glide over the snowy terrain.

1995 – 1996 Lancer Evolution III

The 1995 win spurred on even faster development of the Lancer Evolution platform. Mitsubishi’s next rally car, the Lancer Evolution III made its debut at the first round of the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship in Indonesia. While victory eluded the team on this occasion, a series of wins from the third round proved that the car was good.

The Evolution III took victory at the 1995 Rally Australia, which was a round of both the Asia-Pacific Rally and the WRC. By the end of the season the Lancer Evolution III would finish third, behind the dominant Subaru team of Colin McRae and Carlos Sainz, and the Toyota Castrol Team.

The following year, the Evolution III was in for some big achievements. In the hands of Tommi Mäkinen the car won five out of nine WRC rounds and claimed the drivers’ title, however, Subaru would claim the manufacturers’ championship.

1997 – 1998 Lancer Evolution IV

Five years after the launch of the first Lancer Evolution, the Evolution IV made its debut at the beginning of the 1997 season. Both Mäkinen and the Lancer would be up against some stiff competition from the likes of Subaru and Ford. For 1997 season a new category, World Rally Cars, was introduced. This meant that manufacturers could produce cars exclusively for rallying, which Ford and Subaru took full advantage of.

Mitsubishi responded by increasing development speed, fitting a new sequential gearbox and turning the engine 180 degrees. The Evolution IV showed great speed, but it was its reliability that let Mäkinen win his second straight WRC title.

1998 Lancer Evolution V

Mitsubishi replaced the Evolution IV with the V at the fifth round of the WRC season in Spain. While rivals Subaru, Toyota and Ford pressed ahead with the development of highly modified World Rally Cars, Mitsubishi continued to base their design on the Group A regulations.

The car took a bit of time to get up to speed, but would go on to win its third event, the Rally of Argentina. Another win came at the ninth round in Finland, and the car remained unbeaten for the rest of the season. By the end of the year the Evolution V had won seven out of a total of 13 events. This meant that Mäkinen claimed his third consecutive WRC title and Mitsubishi finally won the manufacturers’ title.

1999 Lancer Evolution VI

The Mitsubishi team introduced the next car, the Evolution VI, at the opening round of the 1999 season in Monte Carlo. With its brightly coloured Marlboro livery, the Evolution VI stormed to victory at the event and went on to win the next round in Sweden. Another four wins would follow during the season and Mäkinen would go on to win his fourth consecutive WRC title. Toyota would win the manufacturers’ title.

2000 – 2001 Lancer Evolution VI TME

The limitations of the Group A design became increasingly apparent during the 2000 season. Mitsubishi’s car was at a distinct disadvantage, but they pressed forward with development and came out with the ‘Tommi Mäkinen Edition’. The car claimed the Rally Australia, but was later disqualified as the turbocharger did not meet regulations. Because of this, Mitsubishi and Mäkinen fell just short of claiming a fifth consecutive championship

For the next year, Mitsubishi developed the ultimate Group A Evolution model. This car visually represented the 2000 model, but all the weak points were fixed and improved. Mäkinen managed to claim three wins at the start of the season, however him and his teammate Freddy Loix struggled with the car.

2001 – 2002 Evolution VII WRC

In 2001, Mitsubishi took a big step forward and moved ahead with the development of a World Rally Car. The Evolution VII WRC received significant modifications over the Mäkinen edition, such as more suspension travel and better engine placement.

Mitsubishi’s Evolution VII WRC made its first appearance at the San Remo rally in October 2001. However, with a brand new car Mäkinen and Mitsubishi struggled to compete and only recorded one point in the last four rounds. As a result, Mäkinen lost the 2001 title and he moved to Subaru the following year. Freddy Loix also left the team at the end of the season, so the next year brought in a completely new driver line-up.

Alistair McRae and David Senior would pilot the second Evolution VII WRC2, with Jani Passonen making appearances at selected rallies in a third car. Overall, the 2002 season was a major disappointment, with Mitsubishi finishing joint last with Skoda.

As a result of this poor performance, Mitsubishi decided to take a year off from rallying to restructure their motorsports activities and develop a better car.

2004 – 2005 Lancer Evolution WRC

Mitsubishi returned to rallying in 2004 with the WRC 04. This car was designed to be more of a testbed for the 2005 season and after ten rounds the team reduced its programme.

The following year, Mitsubishi returned with the WRC 05 and had signed Harri Rovanperä to drive one car on all 16 rallies, with Panizzi and Galli sharing the second car. Panizzi scored Mitsubishi’s first podium since 2001 on the first event of the season in Monte Carlo. The team and drivers would score regular points over the season, with the best place finish being second in Australia. By the end of the season, Mitsubishi finished fifth in the manufacturers’ standings, ahead of Skoda.

Mitsubishi Motors Corporation decided to suspend its participation in the WRC at the end of the 2005 season. The WRC 05 continued to compete in various events for another couple of years with the backing of Mitsubishi Motor Sports (MMSP formed in 2002).

The History of the Mitsubishi Evo

The first Lancer Evolution model was produced in 1992 and the last one rolled out of the factory doors in 2016. In total, ten different versions of the Evolution have been produced to date and the designation of each is most commonly a Roman Numeral.

The first Evo model produced in 1992 was built to meet homologation requirements for the WRC. Mitsubishi needed to produce 2,500 production cars in order to compete in rallying. As Mitsubishi developed their rally cars, they also launched more production versions of the Evo. Each new model featured new improvements and slightly more power than the previous car. The most powerful of these Evo models is the 2004 Evo VIII FQ400 and the 2009 Evo X FQ400.

Mitsubishi Evolution 1992

The first Evolution model was not only produced to meet homologation requirements, but also to improve Mitsubishi’s image. Sales of the Evo started in October 1992 and Kenjiro Shinozuka, Kenneth Eriksson, and Iwao Kimata (Mitsubishi’s former rally chief) were heavily involved in the development of the car.

The Lancer Evo features a lightweight body and a powerful engine. As Mitsubishi was not sure they would sell 2500 pure motorsport models (RS Evo), they created the GSR model. In essence, the GSR was tamer, cheaper version the normal Evo and helped increase the Lancer’s popularity.

Mitsubishi’s worries of a sales disaster were short lived when the car launched. All 2500 models were sold within 3 days of launch and the company had to produce a further 2500 to keep up with demand.

The engine fitted to the Evo was essentially a modified Galant VR-4 unit. The turbocharged 2.0-litre 16v DOHC engine produced 247 hp at 6,000 rpm and 227 lb/ft of torque at 3,000 rpm. Reduced internal friction produced a better throttle response, especially at higher rpms and the car was fitted with an oil cooler as standard.

Unsurprisingly, no automatic transmission was fitted to the Evo. Mitsubishi mated the 2.0-litre turbocharged engine to a close-ratio 5-speed manual gearbox. A viscous-coupled centre differential was used on the permanent 4WD system, with a limited-slip differential at the rear. Both of these items were borrowed from the Galant VR-4.

Mitsubishi based the suspension on the standard Lancer GSR but improved it for more performance. Anti-roll bars were installed at both the front and the back, and the ride was setup to be hard, but not too hard for normal everyday use.

Ventilated discs were installed at the front, while solid discs were used at the back. The GSR model sat on 15-inch alloys and 195/55VR15 Michelin XGT tyres. Four wheel ABS came as standard.

The standard Lancer Evolution came with air conditioning, Recaro bucket seats, power steering, a three spoke Momo leather-trimmed steering wheel and a six-speaker stereo radio-cassette. Buyers could also opt for a front LSD, an electric sunroof, Cibie foglights and a number of other optional extras.

The RS Evolution was a stripped-down version that was 70kg lighter than the GSR (RS weighed 1,170 kg). Mitsubishi removed the air-conditioning, ABS and many other electrical items. Some trim pieces were removed and the Recaro seats were replaced with basic ones. A mechanical rear limited-slip differential was fitted and it sat on steel wheels.

Mitsubishi Evolution II 1994

The second version of the Evo was announced at the end of 1993 and went on sale in January the next year. Both the GSR and the RS model grades were retained and a total of 5,000 cars were made available at launch.

Visually, the Evo II was slightly different to the first gen car. A base with the word “Evolution II” was on the rear spoiler and rear foglights were fitted. The overall width and length of the car was the same as the first, but it was 25mm higher than the original.

The main changes to the Evo II were the longer wheel base at 2510mm (Original was 2,500) and the wider track (15mm more at the front and 10mm at the rear). As the front wheel centres were moved forward and the car was fitted with larger tyres, the wheel arches were much deeper than the original car.

Mitsubishi retained the 4G63 engine from the first Evo, but increased boost and gave the car a more free-flowing exhaust. Power increased to 257 hp (up from 247) and torque remained unchanged at 228 lb/ft. An air-cooled oil cooler was fitted and the 5-speed manual transmission remained the same (although third and fourth gained double-cone synchronizers). At the rear of the car, the limited-slip differential was now a 1.5-way mechanism unit on both models.

The suspension received a number of updates and was made stronger. Mitsubishi increased the spring rate and fitted the car with fatter 205/60 HR15 tyres on OZ five-spoke alloy wheels (these were standard on the GSR). The RS model came fitted with the same tyres but on steel wheels. The changes made meant that handling performance improved.

Inside, the Evolution II was roughly the same as the first model. The main changes were new all-black Recaro seats for the GSR, and improvements to the audio and central locking systems. Additionally, the Evo II is said to have 30% more torsional rigidity than the previous model.

Mitsubishi Evolution III 1995

January 1995 saw the release the of third Evolution model. The Mitsubishi Evolution III went on sale from 10 February and a total of 7,000 were made available at launch. Most were destined for the Japanese domestic market, but some found their way into other markets.

The new Evo model featured a number of upgrades over the Evolution II. Mitsubishi gave the Evo III new pistons which increased the compression ratio from 8.5:1 to 9.0:1. This upgrade increased maximum power to 266 horsepower (9 hp increase) at 6250 rpm, while torque remained the same at 228 lb/ft. In addition to the piston update, Mitsubishi also changed the turbocharger and exhaust system to give a better response.

The gearbox ratios were the same on the Evolution III as the Evo II, however, final drive was slightly higher. Mitsubishi also carried over the wheels and tyres from the Evo II, but made a number of changes to the body. They gave the car a new front airdam with cooling ducts for the brakes and transfer box, along with a higher rear spoiler that incorporated a high brake light on the base. Additionally, “Evolution III” was stamped into the side skirts and a number of other changes were made.

Mitsubishi fitted a new three-spoke Momo steering wheel to the GSR model, while the RS kept the old “Cobra II” one. A new gearknob was also fitted and the seat materials were changed on both the models. The rest of the equipment remained the same, but the overall weight of the car increased by 10kg (GSR: 1,260kg, RS: 1,190kg).

While Subaru’s latest fast Impreza model, the WRX Type RA STi, had an advantage when it came to power and torque, the Evolution was still faster than it, recording a 0-100km/h (62mph) in just under 5 seconds (Subaru was around 5.3 seconds).

A modified version of the Evo III appeared in the Initial D TV series. The Evo was driven by Emperor Leader Kyoichi Sudo and apparently featured a 310 horsepower engine, along with an anti-lag system.

Evolution IV 1996

Mitsubishi’s next Evolution model was announced in July 1996 and went on sale in August of the same year. The Lancer platform was completely changed for this year, and along with it, the Evolution, which had become extremely popular in both Japan and in export markets.

Mitsubishi’s new Evolution IV was 20mm longer than the previous model and both the width and height were 5mm less. The wheelbase remained the same at 2510mm, but the front track was increased by 5mm. Through the use of spot welding and reinforcements around the car, Mitsubishi made the Evolution’s body 45% stronger than that of the standard Lancer.

As the Evolution range was popular with motorsport enthusiasts, the exterior was updated to improve efficiency and performance. Mitsubishi fitted a new bumper, front airdam, side skirts, a bigger rear spoiler and a large air outlet on the bonnet. The car also featured newly designed tail lights at the rear and two large fog lights on RS models.

Under the hood, the 4G63 engine remained roughly the same, but Mitsubishi lowered the compression ratio from 9.0:1 to 8:8.1. They then fitted a new, twin-scroll turbocharger and a larger intercooler that had 15% more capacity than the previous one. To save weight, the cylinder head and the lower part of the block were machined thinner. Mitsubishi also fitted lighter pistons and a stainless steel headgasket.

A larger radiator was fitted, along with a lighter flywheel and a secondary air injection system on the exhaust manifold. This air injection system reduced exhaust gas interference and helped keep the turbo spinning hard at both low and high rpms, which reduced turbo lag.

The changes made meant that the Evo IV now produced an impressive 276 hp at 6500 rpm and 260 lb ft of torque at 3000rpm.

Along with the updates to the engine and exterior, Mitsubishi also gave the Evo’s transmission an overhaul. A new W5M51 5-speed manual transmission with shorter shift strokes was installed.

Mitsubishi fitted a new feature to the Evolution IV. The AYC (Active Yaw Control System) rear differential used electronics to hydraulically give more torque to the outside wheels, while giving less to the inside ones, improving cornering performance. GSR models were kitted out with AYC at the rear, a viscous-coupled centre differential, and a helical limited-slip differential at the front. The RS model featured a rear 1.5 way mechanical type limited-slip diff, while the torque sensing helical front diff was listed as an optional extra.

When it comes to the suspension set up, a multi-link rear system was used with revised geometry up-front. Additionally, a 23mm anti-roll bar was fitted to the front with a 21mm at the rear.

Mitsubishi also updated the brakes with bigger ventilated discs on the GSR model (294mm rear), which was made possible by fitting 6.5Jx16 OZ 12 spoke alloys with 205/50/VR16 tyres. RS models still sat on 6.5Jx15 steel rims and featured the smaller diameter brakes from the Evolution III. However, buyers did have the option of purchasing the RS with 16-inch wheels, bigger brakes, AYC, a front helical limited-slip differential and a close-ratio gearbox.

Moving onto the inside of the car, the Evo IV featured full Recaro bucket seats, a new Momo steering wheel (RS had a different one) and a leather gearknob. Additionally, the GSR was given dual airbags, which the RS did not receive. Buyers also had the option of a 6-speaker stereo system, heated door mirrors and and a Ralliart sports kit.

The Evo IV was a massive success when it launched. Mitsubishi sold all 6,000 vehicles in just three days and had to make another 3,000 due to demand. Around 90% of Evo IV’s sold were GSR models.

Evolution V 1998

Buyers and motoring enthusiasts got their first look at the next Evolution model at the 1997 Tokyo Motor Show. While power remained the same at 276 horsepower, Mitsubishi made a large number of changes to improve performance. The Evolution V was officially announced on 6 January 1998 and sales began just three weeks later.

The new Evolution’s engine was pretty much the same as the previous generation with a 8.8:1 compression ratio. However, Mitsubishi did modify the turbocharger and intercooler, and they also installed new lightweight pistons. In addition to this, the capacities of the oil cooler and radiator were increased. These changes meant that the Evo V now produced 275 lb ft of torque at 3000rpm.

The same gear ratios were used for the Evo V as were used on the IV, but Mitsubishi made the synchromesh and swift linkage stronger. Mitsubishi also carried over the innovative AYC system on GSR models, which was mated to a helical limited-slip differential at the front.

The suspension also received a bit of attention, with longer lower arms at the front which were manufactured out of a forged aluminium alloy. In addition to this, the inverted front struts were given longer strokes and modified rear mountings gave the car a wider track. The suspension geometry at the rear was also changed to improve the Evo’s response during cornering.

Mitsubishi installed a new pump in the Evo V, which meant that the power steering oil cooler could be removed to reduce weight. The steering rack position was also changed to give a more linear response while cornering.

Both the height and the wheelbase remained the same (1415mm and 2510mm respectively), while the overall length was increased to 4350mm and the width increased to 1770mm, an 80mm increase. The track was also wider at 1510mm at the front and 1505mm at the rear. This increase in size was due to a shift in regulations in the WRC, although the Evo V still adhered to Group A Rally regulations.

A new aluminium bonnet design was fitted to the Evo V, which improved heat dissipation. The car also featured larger flared wheel arches at the front and the back, and there was a new aluminium four-position adjustable spoiler that could alter rear downforce. Mitsubishi also gave the car new front and rear bumpers, modified side skirts and a different airdam.

With the changes in size and the new bodykit, the Evolution V was no longer considered “compact” according to Japanese dimension regulations. This change meant that Japanese owners had to pay an increased annual tax that previous Evo models were not subject to.

Along with the other changes, the Evo V was also given 225/45 ZR17 tyres and new 17-inch OZ alloy wheels. To fill the new wheels, Mitsubishi fitted four-pot calipers and larger 320mm discs to the front of the car. Two-pot calipers were fitted to the rear and these were mated to larger 300mm discs. Brembo manufactured the brakes and ABS was standard on GSR models.

On the inside of the vehicle, Recaro seats were employed and the same Momo steering wheel that was used on the Evolution IV was carried over. Dual airbags were standard once again on GSR models.

The RS model was virtually the same as the previous generation and buyers could opt for a number of different optional extras. Some of these options included; larger wheels and tyres, an upgraded suspension kit, a sports exhaust, special mud-flaps, a navigation system, larger brakes and much more.

Evolution VI 1999

Mitsubishi Evo fans would only have to wait a year to see the next version of the car. The Evo VI was announced in January 1999 and sales started at the end of the same month. As Mitsubishi had changed the Evolution’s body for the V, the company mainly focused on improving the car’s engine and cooling.

To improve cooling, Mitsubishi fitted a bigger oil cooler that increased heat dissipation by 23%. They also modified the cooling system, fitted a new sump and installed lightweight pistons that incorporated oil cooling channels. In addition to this, the Japanese company fitted a larger air intake hose and the turbocharger could breathe better.

The turbocharger on GSR models was the same as those on the Evo V, but RS models used a different turbo unit that featured titanium-aluminium alloy blades and was more responsive. Power remained the same at 276 hp and 275 lb ft of torque.

Mitsubishi continued to use the same gearbox as was fitted to the previous gen, but RS models could be kitted out with a twin-plate clutch (a hydraulically operated, single-plate clutch was fitted as standard.

More spot welding and special adhesives were used to further strengthen the car’s body, and the front shock mounting points were made stronger. Both the front and rear suspension received minor updates, with a lower roll centre and an increased stroke. In addition to this, more forged aluminium parts were used at the rear of the car. For those who wanted it, Mitsubishi continued to offer the Evolution V’s suspension on RS models.

The AYC system was improved on the Evolution VI thanks to Mitsubishi’s rally experience. Both the front and rear brakes remained pretty much the same, but the shape of the calipers was changed to increase strength. Ventilated discs were used at both the front and the back and the disc diameters were 320mm and 300mm.

New OZ wheels came as standard on the Evolution VI, but the same tyres were used. The RS model continued to use 15-inch wheels, but buyers could opt for larger ones if they wanted to.

A number of changes were made to the Evo’s bodywork so it would comply with the latest WRC regulations. The Evolution VI was given a new front bumper with an integrated grille, separate brake and oil cooling ducts, smaller foglights, and an offset number plate that increased airflow to the radiators.

Mitsubishi retained the old side skirts, but fitted a new smaller rear spoiler with twin blades. Underneath the spoiler, the rear light trim had been removed.

On the inside, the interior was pretty much the same. However, the Recaro seats were now black with blue inserts that matched the stitching on the Momo steering wheel and gear shifter. The gauges were now blue with white markings as well.

Six months after the Evo VI launched, Mitsubishi announced the Lancer Evolution VI Limited Edition. This model featured a number of Ralliart parts, including an air suction and intercooler pipe set, a sports exhaust and radiator, a high performance air filter and oil filler caps.

Along with the Limited Edition, Mitsubishi also released the Evo VI Zero Fighter and the Extreme.

Evo VI Zero Fighter

The Zero Fighter was supposed to be based on the RS, but many later versions were based on the GSR. It features thicker anti-roll bars, firmer mounts and a shiny strut brace to increase stiffness. The car runs lower on stiffer springs and dampers, and the wheels are one inch larger than on the standard Evo VI. Tyres were 225/40ZR18 Bridgestone’s.

The Zero Fighter’s engine also received some attention as well; with a smarter ECU, a new induction system with mushroom-shaped air filter, aluminium intercooler piping, a stainless sports exhaust, and lighter titanium turbo internals.

All these changes meant that the Zero Fighter produced an impressive 340 hp and 303 lb ft of torque, making it significantly more powerful than the standard Evo VI. The car could go from 0-100 km/h (62 mph) in as little as four seconds and on to a top speed of 233 km/h (245 mph).

Evo VI Extreme

The Extreme version of the Evo VI featured many of the same upgrades found on the Zero Fighter. Stock Evolution models were modified by Ralliart UK and they installed their own Sports ECU that increased boost. They also fitted a number of other upgrades that helped boost power to 340 horsepower and 303 lb ft of torque, the same as the Zero.

Ralliart gave the Extreme 18-inch wheels and 235/40ZR18 tyres, and they also lowered the suspension by 28mm at the front and 14mm at the rear. A sports Limited Slip Differential was fitted, but ABS and the AYC system were not.

With all that power the Extreme could go from 0-100 km/h in four seconds and on to a top speed of 250 km/h (155 mph). Only 50 examples were made, so they are pretty rare cars.

Evolution VI Tommi Mäkinen Edition

Mitsubishi launched the Tommi Mäkinen Edition at the end of 1999, with sales beginning in January 2000. The car was introduced to celebrate Mäkinen’s four consecutive WRC drivers’ championships, and is sometimes referred to as the Evo 6.5 or TME.

Both the engine and transmission were carried over from the VI, but with a few updates. High response titanium-aluminium alloy turbine blades were installed on the GSR’s turbo, along with a smaller diameter compressor wheel. RS models were fitted with the old turbo as standard, but buyers could opt for the new one if they so desired.

In addition to the changes to the turbocharger, the Tommi Mäkinen Edition was given a new exhaust with a big bore tailpipe. These changes meant that maximum torque was produced 250rpm lower down the rev-range.

The TME sat 10mm lower than the VI, as the GSR model came with the tarmac suspension setup (an option on the RS). Mitsubishi made the steering ratio quicker and a front tower bar was standard on all models. White Enkei 17-inch wheels came as standard on the GSR, while RS buyers had the option of purchasing them. A redesigned, more aggressive looking front bumper made the Tommi Mäkinen Edition easily distinguishable from the VI

Combined with the special ‘Passion Red’ colour package, the exterior of the Tommi Mäkinen Edition could be made to resemble a real WRC car. The inside of the TME was practically the same as the VI, but the blue trim and stitching was replaced with red (RS models had the same blue-themed interior as the VI) and there were Tommi Mäkinen Edition logos.

Evolution VII 2001

The next Evolution came in 2001 and was based on the Lancer Cedia series that launched in May 2000. As a result, the Evolution VII gained more weight over the previous generation Evo, but Mitsubishi made up for this by tweaking the chassis.

Mitsubishi continued to use the tried and tested 4G63 engine, but made a number of improvements to increase torque. Engineers fitted a new intercooler and redesigned the intake piping to reduce resistance by 20%.

The internal weight in the upper portion of the engine was reduced by replacing the aluminium rocker covers with magnesium ones, and hollow camshafts were used. To reduce backpressure in the exhaust system, Mitsubishi’s engineers installed a spherical joint for the front exhaust pipe and made the whole exhaust pipe straighter. The exhaust itself was manufactured from stainless steel and a variable backpressure valve in the main muffler lowered backpressure at high speeds, while reducing noise at low speeds.

Mitsubishi still rated the engine at 276 hp, while torque increased to 282 lb ft at 3500rpm.

The 4G63 engine was mated to either a five-speed manual transmission or, for the first time, an automatic transmission. With the increase in torque for the Evo VII, Mitsubishi’s engineers made the manual transmission stronger. They also lowered the first gear ratio to improve acceleration, while making fifth gear higher to increase fuel efficiency at higher speeds.

The GT-A was a new model in the Evo range and came with a five-speed automatic transmission. This automatic transmission came with Mitsubishi’s “fuzzy logic” system that would learn the driver’s driving characteristics. Gears could be manually selected via + and – buttons on the steering wheel or by selecting the tiptronic gate with the gear lever.

Mitsubishi retained the 4G63 engine for the GT-A model, but gave it a new turbocharger with a smaller diameter nozzle for better response. The engine was slightly detuned to 272 horsepower and 253 lb ft of torque.

A new Active Centre Differential (ACD) improved the Evolution VII’s traction and cornering abilities over the previous generation car. The ACD and the AYC system also improved acceleration and handling characteristics. In essence, the ACD regulates slippage in the 50:50 torque slip centre differential from free to lock-up to give the most traction possible. Drivers can further optimise the system via a three-way selector that lets them choose between Tarmac, Gravel or Snow modes. This system was standard on GSR models and an option on RS ones.

Torsional stiffness was increased by 50% over the Evo VI. This was down to the use of additional reinforcements and welding, especially around the joins.

Mitsubishi continued the trend of using Brembo brakes on their Evolution cars and models were fitted with the company’s sports ABS system. This system incorporates Electronic Braking Force Distribution and can improve stability and steering response under braking.

New, fatter 235/45/ZR17 tyres replaced the 225/45/ZR17 ones used on the Evolution VI, which helped improve cornering grip and performance. Additionally, wider 8Jx17 wheels replaced the old 7.5Jx17 ones fitted to the previous gen.

The new Evo VII featured vastly different styling to the Evo VI that made it somewhat more sophisticated, but still recognisable as an Evolution model. Some of these changes improved the aerodynamics and cooling performance significantly.

On the inside, the Evo VII featured Recaro bucket seats and a new Momo three-spoke steering wheel (both of these were factory options on the RS). The car also featured an updated instrument cluster and, on GSR models, an ACD mode indicator that showed the driver which mode the centre differential was in.

Other Evolution VII Models
Evo VII FQ300

The FQ-300 was a special edition model for the United Kingdom. It featured more power, a Power engineering exhaust (not on all models), carbon fibre trim pieces, FQ badging, a Ralliart panel air filter, and other things.

Evolution VIII 2003

The Evo VIII was launched in Japan in January 2003 and was an instant sales success. Initially, the Evolution VIII was only available in one trim level, but due to its popularity four trim levels were made available.

Mitsubishi continued to use the turbocharged 4G63 engine that was used in previous generations of the Evo, but updated it for the VIII. They improved cooling performance by updating the capacity of the water pump and by enlarging the water passages in the turbocharger.

Engine reliability and durability was improved by updating the aluminium pistons and by using forged steel con rods. Lighter valve springs and valve spring tensioners were installed to lower the moment of inertia and less load on the springs reduced friction in the valvetrain.

Mitsubishi enlarged the midbumper air intake by 10% to increase the intercooler’s efficiency. They also resigned the engine oil cooler air intake to make the flow of air into it smoother, which improved cooling performance.

With the new updates, torque increased to 289 lb ft at 3500rpm, while power remained the same at 276 horsepower.

Depending on the model, the Evo VIII either came with a 5-speed or 6-speed manual transmission. No automatic version was available for this generation. RS models with a 5-speed manual transmission came with a super-close ratio gearbox that was only offered as an option on the VII.

The body of the Evo VIII was made stronger and stiffer than the VII, through the use of large reinforcements around the centre pillar and body joins. Mitsubishi also increased the number of spot welded points and they made the suspension mounting stronger. To complement the stiffer body, the Evo VIII’s MacPherson strut front and multi-link rear suspension was optimised and improved.

Mitsubishi updated the VIII’s bodywork to improve cooling and aerodynamic performance. There was a new bonnet and rear spoiler. The spoiler used carbon-fibre-reinforced plastic for both the horizontal and vertical components, and created far more downforce than the one fitted to the Evo VII.

Below we have listed and detailed the different models in the Evolution VIII range:

Standard Models

RS 5-Speed – This car featured a five-speed manual transmission, rally suspension, a limited-slip differential, Recaro seats, 15-inch steel wheels, 205/65R15 94H tyres, SAYC (Super Acitve Yaw Control) (not on US models), Sports ABS, Brembo brakes.

RS 6-Speed – The 6-speed RS model was pretty much the same as the 5-speed but was fitted with a 6-speed manual transmission and 17-inch Enkei wheels. It also used ADVAN A046 model 235/45ZR17 tyres that were fitted to the VII.

GSR – The GSR either came with a 6 or 5-speed transmission, SAYC (not on US models), Sports ABS, 17-inch Enkei wheels, ADVAN A046 model 235/45ZR17 tyres, Recaro seats, Brembo brakes, power windows, a Momo steering wheel and double-din audio.

All Evolution VIII models came standard with a vehicle immobiliser that required the use of a pre-coded key to start the engine.

Evolution VIII MR 2004

In February 2004, Mitsubishi announced the Lancer Evolution VIII MR. This was a higher performance version of the Evo VIII and featured a number of changes. MR models received updated engines that were tuned to deliver maximum power over the mid-to-high rev range. Power remained the same at 276 horsepower, but torque was increased to 295 lb ft at 3500rpm.

Mitsubishi updated the ACD, the Super AYC and the Sports ABS system to make the driving experience more natural and better mannered. The Evo VIII MR was also the first steel monocoque Japanese production car to this a lightweight aluminium roof panel. Other notable features include Bilstein shock absorbers and lightweight forged BBS alloy wheels.

Other Special Evolution VIII Models
2004 Evolution VIII 260

The Evo VIII 260 was introduced to make the Evolution brand more accessible to a wider range of customers. It was powered by a turbocharged 2.0-litre engine that produced 260 horsepower at 6500rpm. The engine was mated to a 5-speed close ration manual transmission and the car could go from 0-100 km/h (62 mph) in 6.1 seconds.

Other changes included wider Recaro seats that accommodated larger Europeans bodies better. It also featured a smaller rear spoiler and a six-speaker radio stereo radio system

Evo VIII FQ-300, FQ-320, FQ-340 and FQ-400

A number of special edition Evolution VIIIs were produced for the UK market. These models included the FQ-300, FQ-320, FQ-340 and FQ-400 and they produced 305, 325, 345, and 405 horsepower respectively.

The FQ-400 was sold through Ralliart UK and produced 405 hp at 6400rpm and 355 lb ft of torque at 5500rpm. This power increase was the result of a number of special modifications from tuning companies Rampage Tuning, Owen Developments, and Flow Race Engines.

At 202.8 hp per litre, the FQ-400 had one of the highest specific outputs per litre of any road car every produced. With a weight of 1,450kg, the powerful FQ-400 could go from 0-100 km/h (62mph) in around 3.5 seconds and go on to a top speed of 282 km/h (175 mph).

When Top Gear tested the car, they found that it could keep up with Lamborghini’s Murciélago supercar around their test track. In a similar test conducted by Evo magazine, the FQ-400 was able to lap the Bedford Autodrome faster than a Porsche 911 Carrera 4S or the Audi RS4.

Evolution IX 2005

The next update to the Evolution range came in March 2005, with the announcement of the Evo IX. Mitsubishi continued to use the 2.0-litre turbocharged 4G63 engine, but this time they implemented their MIVEC technology (variable valve timing). Additionally, the turbocharger was updated which boosted power to 287 horsepower and 289 lb ft of torque.

The MIVEC system fitted to the Evo IX operates on the intake camshaft and helps optimize the engine’s valve timing to improve combustion in all running conditions. This technology not only improved torque and horsepower figures, but also increased fuel economy across the entire rev range.

Styling wise, the Evolution IX was pretty much the same as the VIII, but featured a resigned front fascia and a new bumper on JDM models. New wheels also saved about 1.5lbs over the Evolution VIII.

A number of different trim levels were available, the GSR, GT, RS, MR and the MR RS. These different models varied slightly in their performance capabilities and features. We have outlined the differences below:

Evo IX GSR – MIVEC, rear diffuser bumper, Evo IX Enkei alloy wheels, larger compressor housing diffuser, S-AYC (US models featured a 1.5way clutch type limited-slip differential), ACD, ABS and plastic spoiler uprights, Brembo brakes.

Evo IX GT – Similar to the GSR, but with a magnesium compressor wheel, titanium turbine wheel, 5-speed manual transmission, GT interior, RS front differential set up (no S-AYC), improved drive train. Air conditioning, electric windows and central locking was an optional extra.

Evo IX MR – Same as the GSR, but with Ralliart wing mirrors (not all cars), a carbon front lip, new turbocharger with titanium aluminium alloy turbo fins & reduced compressor inlet diameter, optimised SAYC to give increased torque differential across the rear axle, 17-inch Speedline Turini alloy wheels, lowered Bilstein/Eibach coil springs, aluminium door sill plates and piano black dash inserts.

Evo IX MR RS – Same as the MR but with a 5-speed manual transmission, the RS’s front differential set up and an improved drivetrain. Air conditioning, electric windows and central locking was an optional extra.

Evo IX RS – 5-speed manual transmission, front differential set up and an improved drivetrain. The RS excluded features that came standard on other models such as the GSR or MR (stereo system, power windows, central locking, rear wiper, rear wing, sound insulation, etc.). Some of these features were available as optional extras.

Other Special Edition Evolution IX Models

Evolution IX Wagon – The wagon variant of the Evo IX was offered in three different trim levels, GT GT-A and MR models. The GT and MR models featured a 6-speed manual transmission, while the GT-A features the 5-speed automatic from the Evolution VII. It was only sold in Japan and only 2500 models were produced.

The United Kingdom once again received a number of special edition Evo IX’s that came with more power and a number of other upgrades. We have listed these below:

Evo IX FQ-300 – Same as the GSR, but with 296 horsepower, PIAA lights and wipers, FQ badges, an HKS panel filter, and foglights. It also came with a 6-speed manual transmission, Bilstein shocks and AYC.

Evo IX FQ-320 – Same as the FQ-300, but with 316 horsepower, an HKS Superdrager exhaust, an HKS hardpipe kit, keyless entry, Ralliart pedals and a puncture repair kit.

Evo IX FQ-340 – Same as the 320, but with 335 hp, SmartNav and Ralliart seats.

Evo IX FQ-360 – Designed as a successor to the Evolution VIII FQ-400 and produced 366 horsepower and 363 lb ft of torque. It featured a race cat, Ecutek remap, Speedline 5 spoke alloy wheels, updated fuel bump, triple gauge din unit, carbon front splitter and carbon vortex generator.

Evo IX FQ-360 – Same as the IX MR, but with 366 hp and 363 lb ft of torque. It also featured a race car, Evutek remap, leather and Alcantara seats, carbon vortex generator, triple gauge din unit, upgraded fuel pump, 6-speaker audio system and an HKS badge on the boot.

Evolution X 2007

Mitsubishi’s next Evolution model, the X, made its first appearance at the 39th Tokyo Motor Show in 2005. It was designed by Omer Halilhodžić at the company’s European design centre and the prototype was known as the Concept-X. A second prototype would be shown at the 2007 North American Motor Show.

Production of the Evolution X started in October 2007, with sales beginning in the same year. The new Evo X ditched the old 4G63 engine and used a newly designed 4B11T 2.0-litre turbocharged engine. This new all-aluminium GEMA inline four-cylinder engine produced 276 horsepower and 311 lb ft of torque. Following the repeal of the Gentleman’s Agreement in Japan, power was raised to 296 horsepower at 6500rpm (2009 model year).

North American, European, Australian and New Zealand models were rated at 291 hp and 300 lb ft of torque. Depending on the model and where it was sold, the Evolution X could go from 0-100 km/h (62 mph) in around 4.8 to 5.0 seconds.

The Evolution X featured completely new styling and the wheelbase was increased to 2650mm from 2625mm. The overall length was also increased to 4570mm (from 4490mm), along with the width which was increased to 1810mm (1770mm for the IX). The height was also increased to 1480mm, a 30mm increase over the IX. This increase in size led to a weight gain of around 100 to 150 kg (now at 1420 – 1600 kg).

Mitsubishi’s latest Evolution model was given a new sequential semi-automatic 6-speed SST twin-clutch transmission with steering-mounted paddle shifters. A 5-speed manual transmission was also offered as well.

We have listed the Evolution X’s different trim levels below and where they were sold in the world:

Japanese Evolution X Models

RS – Gravel brakes, 16-inch alloy wheels, non-bucket seats, rear mechanical LSD and halogen headlights.

RS models were also available with a “tarmac pack”, which included the following; Brembo brakes, 350mm front discs, 18-inch Enkei alloy wheels, Yokohama A13 245/40/18 tyres and a chassis brace.

The RS was available with a “tarmac pack” which included the following GSR options:

GSR – Available with a 5-speed manual transmission or the 6-speed Twin Clutch one (GSR SST). Running on 18-inch Enkei 12-spoke alloy wheels or lightweight BBS alloys, and 245/40R18 Yokohama ADVAN A13C tyres. Uses the S-AWC 4WD system and comes standard with an engine immobiliser. Optional Mitsubishi Motors Communication System (MMCS) and Rockford Fosgate sounds system.

The GSR could also come with a number of optional extras including Bilstein shock absorbers and Eibach coil springs, Brembo 2-piece disk brakes, high performance tyres, a stylish exterior package, seats that match the colour of the exterior and 18-inch BBS alloy wheels.

GSR Ralliart – Launched in 2007, the Ralliart was fitted with a 5-speed manual transmission, Ralliart 18-inch black aluminium wheels, Yokohama ADVAN Neova AD08 tyres, a carbon fibre front underspoiler, front bumper air intake duct, hood air dam, and the intake and exhaust was tuned to increase engine performance. On the inside, the Ralliart featured special Recaro bucket seats and Ralliart trim pieces/badging. Engine produces 300 horsepower.

Final Edition – Based on the GSR, the Final Edition comes with a 5-speed manual transmission, black leather Recaro seats, 18-inch BBS wheels, Bilstein/Eibach suspension, Brembo brakes and ‘Final Edition’ badging. Mitsubishi only made 1,000 of these cars for the Japanese market.

North American Evolution X Models

GSR – Same as the Japanese one, but with a large spoiler.

MR – Featured a 6-speed SST transmission, Bilstein/Eibach suspension, 18-inch BBS alloy wheels, Xenon High-Intensity Discharge (HID) headlamps, Keyless entry and start, leather and suede seats, Bluetooth and a larger rear spoiler.

MR Premium – Same as the MR, but with a 9-speaker Rockford Fosgate Stereo/Navigation system.

MR Touring – Same as the MR, but with a heated-full leather seats, upgraded interior trim, a power-sunroof and a rear-lip spoiler.

SE – Sat between the MR and the GSR, taking features from both. Features a GSR front grill and interior, 6-speed SST transmission or 5-speed manual, Bilstein/Eibach suspension, MR rear diffusers, MR touring rear-lip spoiler, and a special key fob with a letter from Shin Kurihara. Only 340 were produced in the US.

Final Edition – Same as the Japanese spec Final Edition. Only 1600 models were produced for the US.

UK Evolution X Models

GS FQ-300 – Same as the GSR but minus the Rockford Fosgate audio system, keyless entry and the HDD satellite navigation system. Also featured an Ecutek tweak, FQ badging and foglights.

GSR FQ-300 – Same as the GS but with the Rockford Fosgate audio system and HDD satellite navigation.

GSR FQ-300 SST – Same as the GSR FQ-300, but with a 6-speed twin clutch SST transmission.

GS FQ-330 – Same as the GS FQ-300, but with an Ecutek remap to 329 hp and 322 lb ft of torque. Featured an HKS downpipe, HKS racing suction premium kit, HKS intercooler hardpipe kit, HKS race cat, HKS catback, carbon exhaust heat shield bumper covers and FQ-330 badging.

GSR FQ-330 – Same as the GS FQ-330, but with GSR features.

GSR FQ-330 SST – same as the GS FQ-330, but with GSR features and a 6-speed SST transmission.

GS FQ-360 – Same as the GS FQ-330, but with 354 horsepower and 363 lb ft of torque. Also featured a carbon fibre vortex generator, carbon fibre front lip spoiler, leather/techno Suede Recaro seats, carbon/aluminium handbrake handle and gear knob, carbon pedal covers and footwell mats.

GSR FQ-360 – Same as the GS FQ-360, but with GSR extras.

GSR FQ-400 – Same as the GSR FQ-360 but with 403 horsepower and 387 lb ft of torque. Also featured a bespoke titanium turbo conversion, Alcon front brake system, a unique bodykit, Arcasting Excalibur 18-inch racing wheels, revised intercooler and induction piping, a carbon handbrake lever, lowered suspension, motorsport fuel injectors, and high-flow sports catalytic converters.

FQ-440 MR SST – Same as the FQ-300 SST, but with 440 hp and 412 lb ft of torque. Featured an HKS turbo, Janspeed exhaust system, Janspeed intake and intercooler piping, Janspeed manifold, motorsport fuel injectors, Alcon braking system, lowered suspension, Eibach coil springs, forged 18-inch BBS alloy wheels and front fog lamps.

Australian and New Zealand Models

GSR – Same as Japanese/US spec.

MR – Same as Japanese/US spec.

Bathurst Edition – Ralliart tuned and upgraded Evo X with 331 hp and 322 lb ft of torque. Most powerful production Evolution X sold in Australia. Was available with both a 5-speed manual or 6-speed SST transmission. Only 100 produced.

Final Edition – Same as Japanese/US spec. 150 made available in Australia and 30 in New Zealand.

European Models

GSR – Same as US/Japan spec.

MR SST – Same as US/Japan spec.

The End of the Mitsubishi Evolution

Production of the X ended in 2016 and with that the Evolution brand was discontinued. The Evolution cars are some of the most iconic vehicles to come out of Japan and we hope to see them return in the future.

Buying a Mitsubishi Evolution

Now that we have covered the history of the entire Evolution range, let’s look at buying one of them. This section is broken down into different parts and will cover everything you need to know about buying a Mitsubishi Evo and where to find a good one for sale.

In addition to this, we have also included more general car buying advice at the end of this article, and some additional information on how to import a Mitsubishi Evo from Japan.

Check the Vin/Chassis Type

The first thing we recommend you do is take a look at the vin/chassis type, so you know exactly what you are dealing with. We have created a table of all the chassis numbers and what model they relate to.




Chassis Number


Oct 1992


Evo II

Jan 1994



Jan 1995


Evo IV

Aug 1996


Evo V

Jan 1998


Evo VI

Jan 1999



Jan 2000

CP9A 020


Feb 2001



Jan 2003


Evo IX

Mar 2005


Evo X

Oct 2007


We also recommend you take note of the vin and check it up on a website like, or (NZ based website), to see if you can glean any more information about the car.

Depending on what model Evo you are looking at, the chassis number/vin can usually be found in a few different places including on a silver plate on the bulkhead, around the dash, on the engine (backside), and a few other places. An example of a chassis number is something like CP9A-0202879.

If you can’t find a chassis/vin number anywhere it may be a sign that the car has been stolen at some point. Additionally, if the number is scribbled out or looks like it may have been tampered with the car is probably stolen.


Always try to inspect any Evolution you are interested in buying yourself or get a third party to do so for you. Buying sight unseen increases the risk of winding up with a lemon, so don’t rush into any purchase.

Remember to try and view a car first thing in the morning when the engine is cold. Warm engines can hide a lot of problems, so don’t let the owner heat the car up for you arrive. Additionally, try to avoid viewing any Evolution when they are wet, as water can hide problems with the bodywork or paint.


4B63 Evo IX

In this section we will be looking at both the 4G63 that was fitted to Evo generations I to IX, and the 4B11T that was fitted to the X.

Both the 4G63 and the 4B11T engines are fairly bulletproof, but things can go downhill quickly if they are not maintained properly.

To start your inspection, open the bonnet, making sure that it opens smoothly. Take a good general look at the engine (to see any major warning signs) and then check the fluid levels to make sure they are at the correct height.

It is important to change all the fluids, filters, etc. at the required intervals. The engine oil and oil filter should be replaced every 4,500 miles (7,000km) or every 6 months for both 4G63 and 4B11T engined Evolutions. The six month change interval is because oil that sits at the bottom of the crankcase will breakdown in the presence of contaminates such as dirt and gas.

Note: the recommended service interval for Evos 1-3 is 6,000 miles (or six months) with a recommended intermediate oil change every 3,000 miles, instead of 4,500 miles for later models.

If the owner has not changed the engine oil and oil filter at the correct intervals it is a sign that they do not care for the car. Some enthusiastic owners may change the oil in their cars more frequently (every 3,000 miles etc.) than the recommended service interval, which is perfectly fine especially if the car has been used for track days or driven hard.

4B11T Evo X

It is recommended that a fully synthetic oil be used in both the 4G63 and 4B11T engines used in the Evolution range, so check with the owner to see what they use. Semi-synthetic oils can be used to ‘bed the engine in’ up to 4,500 miles (7,000km), but as 99% of Evos are well past this you shouldn’t have to worry about it.

Once the engine has been bedded in fully synthetic oils should be used at all times. If the owner has not used the correct oil, then alarm bells should be going off in your head.

The oil you use will ultimately depend on the environment you live in and how you drive the car, but oils like Fuchs’ Titan Pro 10W-30, 5W 40 or 10W 50 should do the trick. There are a range of different oil filters available, but we recommend you use the OEM oil filter.

While checking the engine oil level, remember to check for any contaminants or metallic particles. If you do see any in the oil, thank the seller for their time and move on. Black oil indicates that an oil change may be in order. If the oil smells like coolant or fuel, it could be a sign of a failing headgasket or bad piston rings.

Timing Belt and Big Service

One of the most important things to check is whether the timing belt has been changed. If this work is not carried out, then you run the risk of winding up with some very expensive repair bills.

Interestingly, Mitsubishi recommends changing the belts at different intervals for JDM and EDM cars; it is every 72,000km (45,000 miles) or 5 years for JDM cars and every 86,000km (54,000 miles) or every 6 years for EDM Evolutions.

Note: It is recommended that the timing belt be changed every 65,000km (45,000 miles) on Evos 1-3. The Evo X uses a timing chain instead of a belt.

Some owners wait until 60 or even 70,000 miles to change the timing belt, but this will increase the risk failure. If the owner has waited even longer to change the belt (100,000 miles or something crazy like that), it is a good sign that they have not cared for the car properly or simply don’t have the funds for proper maintenance.

The type of driving that the car has been subjected to can also have an effect on how long the timing belt lasts. Lots of stop-start driving, short journeys or enthusiastic driving can reduce the lifespan of the timing belt. If the timing belt fails it can severely damage the engine, so make sure this work has been carried out!

While changing the timing belt, it is recommended that you replace the water pump, the timing belt tensioner, the balance shaft belt and various other timing belt components. Make sure this work has been carried out by checking with the owner and backing up their claims by looking at any receipts for work done. You may also be able to find labels around the engine bay that state when the work was carried out.

The Evo X fitted with the 4B11T engine utilises a timing chain instead of a belt. Models from 2012 onwards were fitted with a revised chain that didn’t stretch. The timing chain does not need to be replaced unless it stretches or breaks (models from 2008 to 2011 had a timing chain that was prone to stretching).

If the timing belt and other major service work has not been done, you should either move onto another Evo or try to get a large discount and get the work done immediately.

Spark Plugs

If possible, try to get a good look at the spark plugs. The appearance of spark plugs can tell you a lot of information about an engine and how it is running. Take a look at this spark plug analysis guide for more information on examining plugs.

It is recommended that you either use the OEM spark plugs from Mitsubishi or the following for 4G63 engined Evos :

  • NGK BPR7ES for stock Evolutions
  • NGK BPR8ES for modded Evolutions
  • NGK BPR9ES for Evolution cars with more extreme modifications
  • NGK BPR7EIX for stock Evolutions
  • NGK BPR8EIX for modded Evolutions
  • NGK BPR9EIX for Evolution cars with more extreme modifications

On 4B11T engined Mitsubishi Evolutions it is recommended that you use either the following:


NGK Iridium plugs are not completely necessary, but they will last longer and may make the car run smoother.


The first thing you should do when inspecting the intercooler is to look for any damage. A damaged intercooler will definitely need to be replaced, so make sure it is in good working order. If the intercooler is bent, it could also be a sign that the car has been in an accident and not repaired properly.

The next thing to do is to check that all the jubilee/hose clips are still there and that there are no missing pipes. Any missing clips means that the hoses are not secure.

Many owners like to replace the original intercooler with an aftermarket one to improve performance. This is perfectly fine, but check with the owner/seller to see if they still have the original.

The different generations of the Mitsubishi Evo feature an intercooler water spray system that sprays water from the washer tank onto the intercooler’s front surface to lower its temperature. It is somewhat of a gimmick for road going Evos, but you may as well check that it works correctly.

The spray button is located behind the gear lever (by the handbrake) and when you press it you should hear the pump working. If the pump works correctly but no water is sprayed on the intercooler, then there is probably a blockage in the pipes.

When the intercooler spray light is off the system is in manual mode and when the light is on the system is in auto. Auto mode waits until the air inlet is above a certain temperature before automatically squirting on the intercooler.

Exhaust System

When inspecting any Mitsubishi Evolution, you are going to want to take a good look at the exhaust system. The first thing you should ask yourself is whether the exhaust is stock or aftermarket. If it is an aftermarket one, check to see if it still has a catalytic converter. If not, ask the owner/seller if they still have the original catalytic converter.

While looking at the exhaust system, keep an eye out for any leaks, corrosion or repairs. The original exhausts fitted to the different generations of the Evo are fairly hard wearing, but they can deteriorate with age. Additionally, give the exhaust a good shake (when it is not hot) and see if it knocks on the body.

Black sooty stains on the exhaust indicate a leak (a small amount is usually nothing to worry about). Excess corrosion on the weld points of the system are a major problem and well set you back a fair amount of coin if they need fixing. If you can, take a look at the exhaust manifold and check for any cracks or dodgy repairs. Some owners will do a bodge-job on the exhaust to hide any problems from unsuspecting buyers.

The last thing to do is to make sure all the rubber hangers are present. If not, it is not a major problem as they are only a few dollars each.

Oil Leaks

While you are looking around the engine bay and underneath the car, keep an eye out for any oil leaks. You will probably find that a tiny bit of oil has leaked from the engine (especially on older cars) but anything more serious should set off alarm bells in your head.

If the Evo you are looking at hasn’t moved in a while, make sure you check for any oil puddles under it – there should be none at all. Additionally, remember to check for any oil leaks after you test drive an Evo (or any car for that matter).

Oil leaks can be a major sign of trouble, so proceed with caution if you find any.

Overflowing Expansion Tank

An overflowing expansion tank is a very common problem that effects many Evolution models. It usually occurs following a period of hard driving after the coolant has been topped up or replaced.

The problem occurs because the cap does not seal properly and coolant leaks around it, instead of going down the drainpipe. The correct level of the coolant when cold is around 10 – 20mm above the ‘Min’ level.

If the coolant continually drops below minimum and doesn’t settle, then you are probably looking at a coolant leak somewhere in the system. This needs to be fixed as soon as possible and will require further inspection.

When you inspect any Mitsubishi Evo, make sure you check the coolant level both before and after you drive the vehicle.

Fuel Pump Relay and Fuel Pressure Regulator

There is an issue with the fuel pump relay on some Evo X models, so make sure that has been upgraded. Before they fail, they cause too low a voltage to the pump and as a result the engine runs very lean. This will lead to eventually failure down the line, even after the relay is replaced. The fuel pump relay needs to be replaced before it becomes a problem.

Another issue is that the vacuum return for the fuel pressure regulator can start to randomly come off as the rubber ages. This is because Mitsubishi never used a clip to hold it on and a simple cable tie should fix the problem.

Engine Rebuilds

You may come across a Mitsubishi Evolution with a rebuilt engine. There is nothing wrong with a car with a rebuilt engine, but you need to be careful of them. This is because recently rebuilt engines may have been slapped together for a quick sale. The seller/owner of the Evolution may be trying to offload the problem onto an unsuspecting buyer, so watch out. Some sellers even claim that their car has a rebuilt engine, when in actual fact, only minor work has been done to it.

It is incredibly important to check any receipts for work or parts when inspecting an Evo with a rebuilt engine. Try to find out who rebuilt the engine by asking the owner and by checking any paperwork. If the rebuild was done by a trusted Mitsubishi or Evolution specialist, you shouldn’t find too many issues.

While it may be tempting to go for an Evo with a recently-rebuilt engine, it is usually safer to go for one that has a few more miles on it. For example, an Evo with a rebuilt engine that has done around 10,000 miles is probably safer than one that has just a few hundred miles on a rebuild.

Engine Swaps

During your search for your dream Mitsubishi Evo you may come across one with a swapped engine. There are a few different engines that people swap into their Evolutions, with the most common being the 2.4-litre 4G64. This engine is used as more power can be squeezed out of it.

Additionally, you may come across an Evo that has had the same engine swapped into it (4G63 replacing 4G63, etc.). The owner may have done this because the old engine was past the point of no return or they may have built a car up from multiple cars (body from one, engine from another).

While engine swapped Evos may be tempting, as they can be cheaper and/or have more power, you need to be really careful. Always inspect any engine swapped car extra thoroughly and check to see who did the work. If the work was carried out by an Evo specialist then it is probably safe, but be cautious of swaps done by enthusiastic owners in their garage. If you notice any signs of bad workmanship you should walk away.

Rusted Wastegate Actuator

A lack of boost or excessive boost levels that cause fuel cuts (more on that later) can be due to a rusted wastegate actuator. The wastegate actuator can become corroded due to water entering the assembly. This is mainly caused by the location of the actuator and the angle that it sits at. The only way to fix this is by fitting a new one. Aftermarket actuators with a different design should not have this problem.

Other Things to Check

Make sure you have a good look at all of the wiring, brackets and clips around the engine bay. If the wiring is not stock and the clips/brackets around the engine bay have been replaced, it may be a sign that the engine has been swapped or other major repair work has been carried out. Alternatively, the car may simply be modified. We also recommend that you make sure the engine mounts have not corroded. If they have, they may need to be replaced.

Starting Up a Mitsubishi Evo

Ask the owner to start the vehicle for you. There are a couple of different reasons for this with the first being that you can see if any smoke comes out the back on start up. The second reason is that you can see how the owner/seller treats the vehicle. If they rev the pants of the car you know to walk away and never touch it again.

It is incredibly important to let any Mitsubishi Evo warm up correctly before they are given some revs. The oil inside of the car’s engine needs time to circulate otherwise it can lead to premature wear.

When the key is turned in the ignition the car should start immediately. If the car struggles to start or is extremely lumpy upon start-up, then you have a problem. This issue could be caused by anything from dodgy injectors to a bad battery, or the car may simply need a bit of a tune. If the outside temperature is cold, expect a rougher engine start.

Take a look at the exhaust when the car starts up – do you see any vapour or smoke coming out? Vapour is usually caused by condensation in the exhaust system and is perfectly fine as long as it disappears. If you notice an excessive amount of vapour or smoke coming out of the exhaust, then there is a problem with the vehicle and you should probably move onto the next Evo. We have detailed what the different colours of smoke mean below:

White smoke – Is usually caused by water that has made its way into the cylinders and could indicate that the head gasket has blown. If the smoke smells sweet it is almost certainly coolant.

Blue smoke – Can be caused by wear to the pistons, piston rings and/or worn valve seals. To check for blue smoke, get a friend to follow you as you drive the car or get the owner/seller to take the car through the rev range. Blue smoke on start-up and overrun is a sign that the car has been thrashed.

Black smoke – Usually occurs when the engine is running too rich (burning too much fuel). The first things you should check is the air-filter and other intake components.

If it is warm weather, you shouldn’t really see any exhaust gases. In cold weather you may see some white smoke/vapour like we outlined above.

Once you have had a good look at what is coming out of the exhaust, head back to the front of the car and listen out for any strange noises. Can you hear any rattling, banging or tapping? Knocking from the engine could be anything from detonation issues to a spun bearing (detention issues are usually inconsistent while a spun bearing should have a rhythmic sound when knocking).

If the Evo you are looking at makes serious knocking sounds than it probably isn’t worth your time.

Noisy Tappets

You may notice a “ticking” noise from the top of the engine, especially when cold starting. This noise can persist and is caused by trapped air in the Lash Adjuster (Hydraulic Tappet). The high-pressure chamber in the Lash Adjuster should usually contain oil, but the oil can drain away leaving only air in the system. This is caused by a number of issues we have listed below.

  • The first reason is that the oil may be old and debris in the oil can block the adjuster.
  • The second reason is if the incorrect grade of oil is used (too thick or thin).
  • The third reason is if the engine has been overfilled with oil. If the oil level reaches the crank it can lead to air being mixed into the oil which will eventually make its way to the adjusters.
  • The last reason is if the car has sat for long periods of time or has sat on an incline. This causes the oil to drain from the adjusters.

If the oil drains away it can lead to the adjuster becoming compressed. A compressed adjuster will not take up the clearance between the roller rocker and the cam lobe properly when the valve is opening. This causes a ticking noise that should disappear after the air has been expelled from the Lash Adjuster.

If the tappet noise does not go away after about 5-10 seconds, then try rev the engine slightly. Slowly increase the engine speed to around 3000 rpm over a period of 30 seconds. Once you have done this, reduce the engine speed back to idle over 30 seconds and repeat the process around 10 times. If the noise does not go away after this, then there is a problem.

The first port of call should be an oil change. If this does not fix the problem then the adjusters may need to be cleaned or replaced.  

Blown Head Gaskets and Other Overheating Problems

Overheating cars can be a major problem, so always be cautious if the owner mentions anything about overheating. We would personally avoid any Evolution that has had a history of overheating.

While inspecting any Evo, keep an eye out for a blown headgasket. The signs are as follows:

  • Coolant leaking externally from below the exhaust manifold
  • White smoke from the exhaust pipe (especially if you see lots of it)
  • Bubbles in the radiator or coolant overflow tank
  • An engine that overheats
  • Oil that is white and milky
  • Fouled spark plugs
  • Low cooling system integrity
Fuel Cuts and Deceleration

If you experience a sudden deceleration while driving an Evo it is probably caused by over boost being detected. This usually happens while accelerating hard and is similar to your foot slipping off the accelerator, except the car will recover almost immediately.

The Engine Management cuts fuel to prevent a serious and damaging over boost situation from occurring. Rather than detecting actual boost pressure, the ECU uses information from the air flow meter to calculate the boost pressure. The amount of fuel cut depends on the generation of the car. Additionally, the fuel cut point depends on atmospheric conditions at the time, so it will vary from vehicle to vehicle.

We have listed some things below that will make fuel cuts more likely to occur:

  • Cold weather/winter (air is colder and therefore denser).
  • Aftermarket induction kits and/or exhaust kits (increased airflow can increase the chance of a fuel cut).
  • Faulty wastegate actuator (not a super common cause).

Fuel cuts can cause damage to the engine and drivetrain by sending a shockwave through the system. You can drive around the issue by keeping the engine speed below 4000 rpm at all times and not accelerating hard, but this isn’t ideal.

It is important to fix the issue at its core and don’t let the owner/seller tell you it is perfectly normal. If the problem is caused by aftermarket parts then the boost level can be manually dropped by altering the boost control system (although this somewhat defeats the purpose of installing performance parts). An upgrade to the engine management system can also solve this issue.

Idle Speed

The idle speed should be fairly smooth and consistent, especially once the car has warmed up and should sit at around 850 – 1000 rpm (will be around 1500 rpm when cold).  

Unstable idle higher than normal idle speeds (especially when fans or air con are used) or stalling can be caused by a deteriorating idle speed control valve stepper motor.

The stepper motor controls a valve that allows the air around the throttle butterfly to maintain a consistent idle speed. If this motor does not function as intended the idle speed will not be consistent.

Additionally, unstable idle speed can also be caused by a vent to air blow off valve, so watch out for that.

Below we have listed some things to check before writing off the idle speed control valve (if the owner will let you):

  • Check that the connection to the idle speed control valve is secure.
  • Remove the connector with the ignition on and measure the voltage between pin two (top centre and earth on the harness side of the connector. Do this for pin five (bottom centre) as well. These pins should be at system voltage. If they are not then there is a problem with the harness between the connector and the engine control relay.
  • Check the coils of the idle speed control valve stepper motor. Measure the resistance between pins 1 – 2, 2 – 3, 4 – 5, and 5 – 6 on the idle speed control valve body connector. These should measure between 28 and 33 Ohms. If they do not than the idle speed control valve needs to be replaced.
Other Problems and Noises

Keep an ear out for any chugging or misfiring when the car is cold as it could be a sign of low compression and/or bad fuel injectors. If you hear any metallic whining sounds it could be down to a dodgy oil or power steering pump.

In addition to the above, make sure you listen out for any squeals from the timing belt area. If you do hear any it may be down to a worn bearing in either the alternator, power steering pump or idler wheel. Squeals may also be caused by a worn timing belt as well.

Signs of a Failing Turbocharger

Listen to the turbocharger (during full boost) – do you hear any rumbling, high pitched metallic sounds or whistling noises? If you do, then the turbocharger is on its way out, but it will probably fail before you notice any of these sounds.

Another sign of a failing turbocharger is a distinctive blue/grey smoke from the exhaust. This occurs when the turbo housing cracks or if the internal seals become worn. The smoke will become more apparent when the turbocharger is in use, so get somebody to follow you and check while you are test driving an Evo.

Burning excessive amounts of oil is another sign of a turbocharger failing. If you can find and disconnect the downpipe that connects to the turbocharger, take a look inside with an endoscope to see if there is oil inside (get the owners approval first before doing this or take it to a garage). If you do locate some oil it is a good sign that the turbocharger is failing. This problem needs to be fixed as soon as possible otherwise the turbocharger will eventually fail.

Slow acceleration is another good sign that the turbocharger is failing or has failed. This is why it is important to drive a number of different Evos before purchasing one as you can get a feel for what is normal acceleration.

The “check engine light” can also indicate a failing turbocharger. However, the check engine light (CEL) is also displayed for a number of other issues as well, from minor problems such as a loose gas cap to much more serious issues. If the CEL is on and you notice some of the other symptoms above, then the turbocharger is probably on its last legs.

Checking the Gauges

The temperature gauge should be sitting at around the half way mark once the car has warmed up. When the engine is sitting at the correct temperature, give it some revs and listen out for any strange noises from the engine.

Boost gauges probably won’t tell you that much but if the needle on them rises from zero to max quickly then you should be careful of the car. It may be a simple problem such as a split hose or something much worse.

Should You Get a Compression Test Done on a Mitsubishi Evo?

If possible, we always recommend that you get a compression test done on any Evo you are seriously considering purchasing. Compression tests can tell you a lot about the health of a car’s engine and may save you big bucks down the track. Here is a good guide on how to perform a compression test on a Mitsubishi Evolution.

While performing a compression test is an excellent way to assess the health of an Evo’s engine, some owners will be reluctant to let you do this (understandably so). If the owner doesn’t want you to do it, see if they would let a reputable garage or Mitsubishi specialist do it for you. You may have to pay, but it could save you money in the future.

Tools Needed for a Compression Test
  • Socket Wrench
  • Socket Extender
  • 10mm socket (for spark plug cover)
  • 13/16 Spark Plug Socket
  • Torque Wrench
  • Compression tester kit (This one from OTC comes highly recommended)
Stock compression pressures should be as follows:

4G63 Engine

  • Minimum – 9.7 bar (140psi)
  • Standard Value – 11.5 bar (167 psi)
  • Limit between cylinders – 1.0 bar (14.5 psi)

4B11T Engine

  • Minimum – 8.3 bar (120psi)
  • Standard Value – 10.3 bar (150 psi)
  • Limit between cylinders – 1.0 bar (14.5 psi)

Compression tests should be run when the vehicle is at operating temperature otherwise the results can be skewed. Additionally, the altitude where the test is conducted can also have an effect on the results.

The most important thing with a compression test is that the results do not vary much between the cylinders. If you do notice a variation between the cylinders then there is a problem. Additionally, if the compression readings are excessively low then there is a problem as well.

Transmission (Differentials and Gearbox)

The Mitsubishi Evo was fitted with a range of different transmission options over its ten generations. Below we have listed everything you need to know about them.

Manual Mitsubishi Evolutions

Both the 5-speed and the 6-speed manual transmissions (6-speed was only available on Evos VIII and IX) fitted to the different generations of the Evolution are fairly strong, but they can take a bit of a beating. The 5-speed transmission is a bit stronger than the 6-speed and will cost less to rebuild

While test driving an Evolution, listen out for any whines from the transmission that rise steadily with road speed (especially on Evolution models 5 and 6). If you do hear a whine it will most likely be caused by worn gearbox input shaft bearings. It may be difficult to hear any whines below 50 – 60 km/h (30 – 37 mph), so increase your speed beyond that.

The noise will continue no matter what gear you are in and whether the clutch is depressed or not. This problem will usually rear its ugly head after the car has covered around 30,000 to 40,000 km (18,000 to 25,000 miles), but it can occur at any time.

The problem is caused by the input shaft being incorrectly set at the factory, which leads to excess stress on the bearings and eventual failure of them. This only seems to be an issue on some Evolution 6 models, but keep it in mind when you are looking at any Mitsubishi Evo.

To fix the issue the gearbox needs to be removed and stripped. Following this the bearings need to be replaced and set to the correct preload by using the relevant spacer kit and refit. It is beneficial to replace all the bearings in the gearbox as swarf from the worn bearing can damage or contaminate the other bearings.

To check for synchro wear, shift through the gears at both low and high revs. If you hear any strange noises such as grinding or whining then there is a problem. Synchro wear can be a sign that the car has been thrashed.

When you go through the gears during a test drive the gearbox should be tight, but not so tight that it is difficult to get into the next gear. If the gearbox feels sloppy then you may have to replace the shifter bearings. The gearbox will be tighter when the car is cold, but should become less tight once it has warmed up.

The transmission fluid should be changed at least every 40,000km (25,000 miles), but many owners like to change it every 16,000 – 24,000km (10,000 – 15,000 miles). If the transmission fluid has not been changed or it has been changed very infrequently then it is a sign that the car has not been maintained properly.


It is important to check the engagement of the clutch and that it does not slip. To check for clutch engagement on a manual Mitsubishi Evolution, put the car in gear on a flat surface and gradually let the clutch out. It should not engage immediately or near the end of the pedals travel (around 7 to 10cm (2.5 to 4 inches) should be ideal).

After you have checked the car’s clutch engagement, check to see if the clutch slips. You can do this by changing into a gear that is too high for the speed you are going. Once you have changed gear, plant your foot on the throttle pedal and check the revs. If the revs jump but you don’t accelerate then the clutch is probably slipping. Here are some reasons for clutch slippage:

  • It is worn out
  • It is covered in oil from a leak
  • The clutch cable is too tight meaning it is not releasing properly.

The last thing you need to check is for clutch drag. Make sure the car is on a flat surface with the clutch pressed to the floor (you need to be stationary). Rev the car hard (this is why we recommend doing this after a test drive as the car will be warm) and see if it moves. If the vehicle does move, the clutch isn’t fully disengaging when you shift and parts will wear prematurely.

Automatic Mitsubishi Evolutions

The 5-speed F5A5 automatic transmission was fitted to the seventh and ninth generation Evolution. It is important to check the automatic transmission fluid level to see if it is filled correctly. If the fluid level is too high or low then it indicates that the vehicle has not been maintained properly. Automatic transmissions do not respond well to incorrect fluid levels, so be cautious of any auto Mitsubishi Evo that has this problem.

Check the fluid level when the car is on a level surface and after a test drive, when the gearbox is warm. Once you have done this take the gear lever through all the gears while the engine is running and the car is stationary – do you hear any clunking sound? If so then there is a problem.

While test driving an automatic Mitsubishi Evolution, listen out for and knocks or clunks from the transmission. Poor gear selection is a sign that the automatic transmission will need some work soon. In addition to this, make sure the transmission kicks down during various applications of throttle.

It is recommended that the automatic transmission fluid be changed every 48,000km (30,000 miles), but some owners like to change it every 24,000km (15,000 miles).

SST Transmission (Evo X)

The Evo X was either fitted with a 5-speed manual transmission or a 6-speed SST one. The SST transmission is definitely a bit more complicated than the simple 5-speed gearbox and is expensive to repair if it goes wrong. There have been numerous reports of SST transmissions failing, so make sure it works before buying car!

Mitsubishi recommends changing the SST transmission fluid and filter every 48,000km (30,000) miles for daily driving use. For heavy use, they should be changed every 16,000 – 24,000km (10,000 -15,000 miles). Changing both the fluid and filter on SST transmissions can be quite expensive (especially if you get it done at a dealer), so try to get a discount on the car if this needs to be done.

While driving an Evo X with a SST transmission make sure you take it through all the gears at different rev ranges. Gear changes should be smooth and if the clutch slips then there is a problem. Clutch problems are common on modified cars, so be mindful of that. In addition to checking for clutch slippage, make sure you keep an ear out for any clunks or knocks from the transmission.

If you are test driving an Evo X and the SST transmission won’t go into gear, thank the seller for their time and move onto the next one.

Some Evo X models came with launch control and others did not (Ralliart, etc.). Be careful of any Evo X that has been flashed to have launch control as it can not only break the transmission, but it can also be a sign of a thrashed car. Additionally, it will void the warranty if the car still has one.

The easiest way to test if an Evo is flashed is to try put it into super-sport mode. To do this, press up on the lever once to sport and then hold it up for a few seconds and if it goes into s-sport it is flashed. If it doesn’t go into s-sport then the car doesn’t have launch control.

AYC Problems

Here are some problems you may encounter on AYC equipped cars.

Squealing Rear Axle

While driving an AYC equipped car, listen out for any squealing during low speed corners. Squealing usually means that there are some wear particles trapped between the clutch plates. During cornering the plates are pressed together and the trapped particles make a squealing noise.

To fix this problem the AYC fluid in the diff needs to be replaced. A flush of the system should remove any unwanted particles.

Alternatively, the hydraulic control system for the AYC may not have been bled correctly, which will lead to the same problem. If this is the problem than the system needs to be bled (you will probably need to get this done at a dealer/specialist).

If the problem persists than it could be caused by a damaged diff, which will need to be replaced.

AYC Warning Light

If the AYC warning light illuminates than there is a problem with the AYC system. When this happens the AYC is disabled to prevent any further damage from occurring. The cause of the problem can be determined by looking at the ECU codes, but usually the issue is caused by a pressure problem.

To correct the problem you may need to replace the AYC pump. The pump is expensive to replace, but you may be able get away with replacing the AYC pressure switch in the pump if that is the problem (much cheaper). You will probably have to get the pump replaced at a specialist or dealer, unless you have the tools to replace it yourself and bleed the system.

The pump on Evo X models seems to fail at far smaller mileages than on previous Evolution models. The explanation for this seems to be the placement of the pump. While it is mounted inside the boot on previous models, the Evo X has it mounted externally, just behind the offside rear wheel arch, and all sorts of dirt and debris get thrown up at it. Some owners have covered the area in underseal to protect the pump.

Front Helical LSD

If you hear a clunking noise from the front of the car with every wheel rotation but only on full or partial lock, it is probably caused by the bolts securing the two halves of the diff. These bolts can start to break or come loose, and will clunk when the diff is under the most strain due to torque transfer (full or partial lock).

This is a problem with the factory fitted front helical LSD, which is standard on RSII’s and optional on RS models. Some of them were also fitted to GSR models when the production line ran out of normal open type differentials.

No damage should be caused by this issue unless it is left a long time before being fixed.

Body and Exterior

There are a number of things to watch out for when it comes to the body and exterior.

Crash Damage and Other Major Repair Work

Accident damage is probably going to be your biggest concern on a Mitsubishi Evolution. Crash damage can turn a perfect Evolution into a complete dog, so be on the lookout for any signs of it.

Many owners/sellers will lie about the severity of an accident or say that their car hasn’t been in an incident at all. If they do mention that the car has been in an accident, assume the worst and hope for the best. Here are some things you should watch out for when inspecting a Mitsubishi Evolution:

  • Walk around the outside of the vehicle, checking for any misaligned panels or large panel gaps. Make sure the bonnet fits correctly and the gaps on either side are even. The panel fit is fairly good on all the generations of the Evolution so bad repairs should be easy to spot.
  • Have a look at the doors – do they open and close properly? Do they drop when you open them? If the doors drop or they don’t open/close properly the vehicle has problems.
  • Inspect the paintwork closely – do you see any inconsistencies such as waving or rippling? Are all the panels the same colour? Any problems here may be a sign that the car has had major or minor repair work done.
  • If the bonnet/hood looks like it is popped when it is not, it usually indicates that the vehicle has been in an accident. This problem can usually be fixed, but is a sign of a careless owner.
  • Check the underside of the vehicle for any accident damage. Make sure everything is straight and check for any parts that may have been replaced. Bent metal or broken parts is a good sign that the car has been in an accident.
  • Check that the tailgate/boot opens properly and the panel gap is even.
  • Rust in strange locations also indicates accident damage, so watch out for that.
  • Keep an eye out for paint runs or over spray as this could either be a factory issue or a sign that the car has been resprayed due to repair work.
  • Missing badges may be due to repair work (body shop couldn’t find replacements) or a number of other things (stolen, etc.)

While accident damage is a serious problem, you should not automatically exclude an Evo that has it. Find out how bad the damage was/is and see if it has been repaired correctly. Minor to medium damage that has been repaired well is probably fine. If the Mitsubishi Evo you are looking at has severe accident damage, we recommend that you move onto another one. Remember to use any accident damage/repair work as a bargaining point.

Looking for Rust

While Mitsubishi Evolutions shouldn’t rust too badly if looked after properly, there are quite a few out there with the problem. It is a good idea to rust treat any Evolution, so check to see if the owner has done so. Rust/corrosion is most likely to appear around the following areas:

  • Wheel arches
  • Underneath the car (Use a torch/flashlight here)
  • Suspension turrets
  • Brakes/Brake Discs
  • Boot floor
  • Engine bay
  • Sills
  • Around the windows and sunroof (if it has one)
  • Under/around the boot lid

Take extra care checking the underside of an Evo for rust as this is probably where it will occur. Additionally, rust can appear under the boot lid as the rubber bump stops rub away the paintwork over time. This is caused by the effectiveness of the rear wing.

Signs That an Evo Has Suffered from Rust Before

It is important to check for any signs of rust repair. You don’t want to buy a car full of filler or one that has been repaired poorly.

While walking around the outside of the vehicle look for any areas where the car may have been resprayed or any inconsistencies in the paint. In addition to this, take a look at the vehicle’s service history/paperwork and ask the owner about any rust repairs – they may be honest or they may try to hide something from you. You can also use a magnet on steel sections of the vehicle or a coating gauge thickness tool to find areas that may have been repaired.

Things That Can Rust More Likely to Occur

Mitsubishi Evolutions that are in (or have been in) a country that salt their roads (United Kingdom, etc.) or those that have lived close to the sea will be more likely to suffer rust issues. In addition to this, be wary of any Evolution that have been stored outside its entire life as it will be more likely to rust. Signs that an Evo has been stored outside include:

  • Hard rubber window seals
  • Excess water in the engine bay or cabin
  • Faded paint
  • Heavily discoloured badges
  • Cracking on the plastic parts
  • Obvious rust or corrosion

We also recommend you avoid any car that has had flood damage as this will not only cause rust, but a whole host of other problems as well.

Other Bodywork Problems

The paintwork on a large number of Evos is getting a bit tired (scratches, chips, etc.), especially on those that have been stored outside a long time or have travelled many miles. You will probably find dents around the car as well, so keep an eye out for those as well.

To protect against stone chips it may be a good idea to fit mud flaps to help deflect the stones back onto the road. It is also worth considering preventing stone chips by fitting a clear plastic protection film on the vulnerable areas of the car.

Brakes and Suspension

Suspension and Steering

Get down and take a good look at the suspension components – Does everything look in good condition or are the parts worn and/or corroded? Have aftermarket components been installed or is everything stock?

Aftermarket suspension can be incredibly expensive on Mitsubishi Evos, so keep that in mind. If you have to replace an aftermarket shock/spring it could leave you with a nasty bill.

Worn shocks will destroy the handling capabilities and ride of an Evo. Here are some things that indicate a car’s shocks are past their prime:

  • Swerving and dipping when the brakes are applied
  • Rear-end squat during acceleration
  • Vehicle tips to one side during turns
  • Instability at high speeds
  • Excessive vibration coming through the steering wheel
  • Delayed or longer stopping distances
  • Uneven tyre wear
  • Excessive tyre bounce after hitting a bump
  • Leaking fluid on the exterior of the shock/strut

While driving a Mitsubishi Evolution, make sure you check that the car drives straight without you correcting the wheel. If it does not, it could be an alignment issue or the vehicle may have been in an accident. Note: roads slanted to one side can pull the vehicle to one side slightly, giving the impression that the wheel alignment is out. If you do suspect that the wheel alignment is out, ask the owner/seller when the alignment was last done (check any receipts for work as well).

Another thing to check is the CV joints. Drive in a figure 8 and keep an ear out for any strange clicking or knocking sounds from the CV joints. You should also visually inspect them, looking for any grease around the joint or cracks in the boot.

Front Strut Top Mount

A regular knocking sound that can be heard from the front when turning is usually associated with the front strut top mounts drying out or having inadequate lubrication. The sound is similar to a CV joint problem, however, it will be depended on suspension travel. Replacements are expensive, so make sure you check for this.

Anti-Roll Bar Bushes and Drop Links

If you hear a rattle from the front (one side or both) mainly over light to medium rough roads it could be worn anti-roll bar bushes/drop links. The anti-roll bar bushes and drop links seem to take a beating on Evos and need to be replaced when they become worn.

To check the bushes and links, jack the car up and try prising against the bar with a solid lever. The goal here is to put the bar under the same tensions it would experience during road use. Check for play and listen out for any strange noises while doing this.

In addition to this you can try disconnect the anti-roll bar drop links completely. If the noise disappears while driving it indicates that there is a problem with the bushes or links. Bushes can be upgraded by fitting harder material ones.


While inspecting the suspension components and the bodywork, take a good look at the brakes. Are the discs pitted, scored or do they have grooves in them? Do the pads still have life left in them? Is there any corrosion?

It is also important to check that the brake lines are in good condition and there are no leaks. If possible, get somebody to press the brake pedal while you check for any leaks. Some owners change the stock brake lines for stainless steel ones to ‘firm’ up the pedal. Remember to check that the handbrake works, especially on an incline.

The brake caliper lacquer can flake or the calipers can turn a brown/dark red colour. Brembo calipers fitted the Evo can very easily chip. Once this happens the lacquer can peel away showing the dull paint underneath. This problem usually occurs when work is being done to the brakes and they are handled poorly.

During prolonged, aggressive use the brake calipers can overheat. If they do overheat they can turn a dark shade of brown or red, which is permanent.

While Driving

When test driving an Evo, make sure you abuse the brakes heavily (when it is safe to do so) and see if the vehicle pulls to one side. If it does pull, it may be a sign that a caliper is seized/sticking or it may be caused by a number of other issues.

Seized brakes usually occur when the vehicle has been left standing for a period of time (overnight even). Brakes that have seized can make it difficult to pull away for the first time (a load thud may be heard).

The problem is caused by the brake discs rusting onto the pads and the handbrake drum rusting onto the shoes. This problem usually occurs after washing a car and then leaving overnight without drying out the brakes, but it can also simply be caused by rain or condensation.

If you feel a judder through the steering wheel when braking the brake discs are warped and need replacing. The first sign of this problem usually appears under high speed braking. Warped discs are a known problem for many of the different generations of the Evo and it doesn’t seem to matter how you treat the brakes. Aftermarket caliper and disc kits can solve this problem, but they are expensive.

Wheels and Tyres

Quite a few Evos you come across will be sporting aftermarket wheels. Even if you don’t mind the aftermarket ones, we recommend you ask the owner to see if they have the originals. If they don’t, try to use it as a bargaining point to get a better price.

Have a good look at the tyres – how much tread do they have left? Are they wearing unevenly? Are they from a good brand? Uneven tyre wear is usually a sign of poor wheel alignment or suspension issues.

If the tyres only have a little bit of tread on them, you will have to replace them soon, so try to use that to get a discount. You should be cautious of Evos with cheap tyres, as this shows that the owner probably doesn’t care much for the car.

Tyre Pressures

These should be measured when cold.


Tyre SizeFront (PSI)

Rear (PSI)

Evo I

195/65 R15 84V30


Evo II

205/60 R15 91H30



205/60 R15 91H30


Evo IV

205/50 R15 91H32



225/45 ZR1732



235/45 ZR1732



235/45 ZR1732


Evo IX

235/45 ZR1732


Evo X245/40 R1832



Interior, Air Con and Electronics


You shouldn’t find too many problems on the inside, but expect the usual wear and tear, especially on higher mileage models. The Recaro seats fitted to the different generations of the Evo are rare and cost an arm and a leg to replace. Make sure the seats are in good condition and don’t rattle about. Stains on the seats can be difficult to remove.

Check both the front seats slide on the runners properly and don’t have any play. It is extremely dangerous if the seats move on the runners while the car is moving and it will be a WOF/MOT failure.

Recaro seats can develop a problem where the recline adjustment gradually slips back over a period of time. This is because the recline adjustment clamp does not secure itself properly, which will cause the seat recline to slip backwards.

You can fix this problem with a replacement base frame, but you will have to find someone in your country who has one.

Interior trim pieces and materials can be quite hard to find and expensive to buy, so make sure that the interior is up to a standard you are happy with.

Remember to check the steering wheel, gear shifter, carpets/mats and pedals for wear as they can indicate how far a car has travelled. If they are heavily worn but the car has low mileage, it could be a sign that the vehicle’s odometer has been wound back.

Take a good look at the dashboard, checking for any scuffs, splits and missing pieces. If the dashboard has been taken off, make sure it has been put back together properly.

Give the roof lining a good sniff – does it smell of cigarettes? If it does then you know a smoker has owned/been in the car at some point in its life. Another sign of a smoker is if the roof lining has changed colour above the driver.

If the owner has replaced parts such as the gear shifter, steering wheel, seats, etc., ask them if they have the originals. Having the originals will make the car be worth more if you decide to sell it in the future.


Check that all the buttons, switches and knobs work as intended – windows, locks, air conditioning (if the car has it), etc. When you start up the vehicle do the lights on the dash appear? If any warning lights stay on, check to see what they are. If no lights appear on the dash when the car starts you may have problems. Electronics can be very expensive to fix/replace, so take your time doing this.

Make sure you inspect any aftermarket devices or parts closely and check to see if they have been installed correctly. Is the wiring and workmanship of a high standard? Or has the device been thrown in and not installed properly? Aftermarket components/devices that have been installed incorrectly can be a real nightmare and indicate a careless owner.

Air Conditioning

A terrible smell when you turn on the air conditioning is caused by the air conditioning evaporator becoming contaminated with dust and debris. The condensation from the evaporator will make the contaminants smell as they cannot dry out. This problem can be easily fixed by unblocking the drain hole on the evaporator.

The drain hole can be cleared by carefully using the blunt end of a knitting needle to remove any blockage. You need to be extremely careful when doing this as it is easy to puncture the evaporator.

When you turn on the air con you should hear a click (A/C compressor clutch engaging) and your idle speed should increase slightly. Following this, put your cold setting to low and see if cold air comes out. If it blows any cold air the compressor clutch is fine. If the clutch is working but the air con doesn’t work as intended then there may be a refrigerant leak.

Gauges and Dials

You may notice the fuel gauge acting erratically during a test drive. This is common on Evos I to IX (mainly IV to IX models) and is due to the layout of the fuel tank. The fuel tank is virtually split into two halves due to the propshaft and rear diff location. There is a connection between the two halves and it can take a while for the fuel level to equalise between them, leading to inconsistent fuel readings.

If you notice that the that the speedometer flickers or just doesn’t work at all, it could be caused by a couple of reasons. The first reason is due to the electrical connector on the speedometer drive gear becoming water logged. When the connector becomes water logged it shorts out and stops the signal reaching the speedometer. To fix this, the connection needs to be opened and dried out. Remember to check the connection for any corrosion.

The second reason is much less common and is due to a faulty km/h to mph converter. Vibrations can cause the converter to fail and stop sending the signal to the speedometer.

Buying a Modified Mitsubishi Evolution

While we have already covered a bit about modified Evos in this buyers guide, we thought we would go into a bit more detail about them. A large number of Mitsubishi Evos have been modified and there is nothing wrong with this. However, it is incredibly important that modifications are installed correctly and are legal (if you want to drive it on the road).

We would avoid buying Evos that have excessive amounts of power, especially if they have not been tuned by a reputable tuner. Lots of power can lead to premature wear of the components.

Here are some modifications you may come across on Mitsubishi Evolutions you look at:

  • Wheels and Tyres
  • Exhaust system
  • Intake system and (air filter, etc.)
  • Intercooler
  • Engine swaps (4G64)
  • ECU upgrade
  • Turbo upgrade
  • Radio/Stereo
  • Suspension
  • Brake discs/calipers
  • Roll Cage

If the Evo you are looking at has seen considerable track use, you need to be extra careful. Track cars can be a real headache and we personally wouldn’t buy one (unless we were looking for one specifically). Additionally, be cautious of any Mitsubishi Evolution that has been modified by multiple owners. Look for a car that has been modified by a reputable tuner or look for a stock one to tune yourself.

Summary of Buying a Mitsubishi Evolution

Finding a good condition Mitsubishi Evo is becoming increasingly difficult, especially if you are looking at an older generation model. Many Evolutions have been maintained to a poor standard, been in an accident or fitted with crappy mods. However, if you take your time you should be able to find your dream Evo.

Low mileage, perfect condition Evolutions can be seriously expensive (this Evo IX sold for $138,000), so we suggest you look for a car that has done a few more miles (unless you are looking for the perfect classic). If you look after a Mitsubishi Evo well and maintain it correctly, it should provide many years of motoring enjoyment.

In the next section we have included more general car buying information (service history, how to get the best deal, etc.). Additionally, at the end of this article we have included information of where to find a Mitsubishi Evo for sale and how to import one from Japan.

General Car Buying Advice for a Mitsubishi Evolution

How to Get Yourself the Best Deal On an Evo

This information applies to both dealers and private sealers. Knowledge is power and it can save you a lot of money when purchasing a vehicle.

  1. Do your research. Before you start your hunt for a Mitsubishi Evo make sure you know what model and condition you are happy with. Are you okay with a highly modified Evolution or do you want something that is completely stock? Do you want a low mileage example or are you happy with a car that has travelled far?
  2. Shop around. Don’t limit yourself to just one dealer, seller or location. Check out various different dealers and sellers to find the best car and get the right price. Limiting yourself to just one area will make it more difficult to find your dream Evo.
  3. Test drive multiple cars. Don’t just take one Mitsubishi Evo out for a test drive and then buy it. Drive as many Evos as you can get your hands on. This will give you a good idea of what makes a good and what makes a bad Evolution.
  4. Adjust your attitude. Don’t rush into purchasing an Evo, take your time. If you are desperate to buy a car you are more likely to get ripped off. Take your time looking through all the different vehicles available and then go inspect the ones you think look promising.
  5. Use any issues with the car to your advantage. Take a mental note of any issues you find with the vehicle. When it comes to discussing the price, use these problems to try and drive down the price. For example, if the car needs new tyres or brake pads make a point of it and try to get the seller to reduce the price.
  6. Don’t trust the owner. While some owners/sellers are honest about their cars, many will lie to get a quick sale. Take in what the owner has to say, but check out the vehicle thoroughly and inspect all the car’s documentation.
  7. Bounce between sellers/dealers. If you are looking at multiple Evos, let the owner/seller know. This way they will know that you have other options and they may try to undercut the price.
  8. Be prepared to walk away. If you are not happy with the deal, simply walk away. You may miss out on the car or the seller may get back to you with a better offer.

Mileage vs Condition

Mileage vs condition is always a big debate, but we recommend that you should always buy on condition and then on the mileage. There are a truck-ton of Evolutions out there with low mileage but in poor condition, while some high mileage examples may be perfectly fine.

Lots of owners make the mistake of believing that they are preserving their car by not driving it. In reality, this is completely false and not driving a vehicle can actually do more damage than good. Short distance trips are not kind to an Evo’s engine as they do not have enough time to warm up and get lubricated properly.

Rubber seals and plastic parts will fail regardless of mileage and can even deteriorate quicker on cars that don’t get used often. Letting a car sit will not prevent rust or stop the electronics from failing.

Mileage will never decrease with age, so go out and drive your car!

Service History and Other Documentation

It is incredibly important to check any vehicle’s service history and any additional paperwork that goes along with it. The service history will give you a good idea of how the Evo you are looking at has been maintained. In addition to this, receipts and paperwork for modifications can help you determine whether they have been done by an experienced tuner or a bad one.

If the owner can’t or won’t let you see the service history, you should probably pass on the vehicle. A complete service history will only add value to any Mitsubishi Evo and will make it easier to sell the vehicle in the future.

Additionally, you can check websites such as CarFax (USA) and CarJam (NZ) for more information about the car you are thinking of purchasing. These sort of websites can be incredibly useful, but there is usually a cost associated with them.

Questions That You Should Ask the Seller/Owner

  • How often do you drive the car?
  • When was the last service and who was it serviced by?
  • How much oil does it use?
  • What oil do you use in the car?
  • When was the timing belt replaced?
  • What parts have been replaced?
  • What modifications have been made to the vehicle?
  • Has the vehicle overheated at any point?
  • Has the car been in any major or minor accidents? Is so, what repairs were made?
  • Is there any money owing on the car?
  • Have you got any information on the previous owners and how they treated the vehicle?
  • Is there any rust?
  • Has rust been removed at any point?
  • Has the car been used for track use at any point?
  • When were the brake pads replaced and have the calipers seized at any point in time?
  • Where do you store/park the car usually?

There are loads more questions you can ask the seller, but we feel these are some of the most important.

Things That Would Make Us Walk Away from a Mitsubishi Evo

Sometimes, the best option is to simply walk away from a vehicle. While you may be happy with a vehicle with these problems, we are not.

  • Overheating problems
  • Significant Crash Damage
  • Money owing on the car
  • Stanced
  • Modifications with no paperwork or carried out by a poorly reviewed tuner
  • Excessive amounts of power (too much power can lead to reliability problems down the track)
  • Bad compression
  • Bad resprays
  • Significant rust problems
  • Engine swaps with non-standard engines
  • Significant track use
  • Major engine or transmission issues
  • Owner who is not forthcoming with information (could be trying to hide something)

Notes on the Owner

The owner is one of the most important things to think about when viewing any vehicle. You need to ask them plenty of questions when inspecting an Evolution, but don’t trust their answers completely. Remember, it is your problem if you wind up buying a lemon. Below we have listed some things to consider about the owner.

How long have they owned the vehicle? If it is less than 6 months it tends to suggest that the car needs major work done to it that they can’t afford. It also could be a sign that they deal cars as well.

  • Do they thrash the car when it is cold or continually launch the vehicle? If so, you are better to walk away.
  • Why are they selling the vehicle? Could be a genuine reason or they may be trying to offload their problem onto an unsuspecting buyer.
  • Do they let the turbo warm up and cool down properly?
  • What sort of area do they live in? Is it a good area or a complete dump?
  • How do they respond when you ask them simple questions?
  • Do they know anything the Mitsubishi Evo and the model they are selling?
  • What can they tell you about previous owners?
  • Do they have lots of cars on their drive? If they do it may mean they are a dealer.
  • What is their reaction when you ask them about money owing on the car? Tell them you are going to do a check and see how they respond.
  • What is their reaction to you asking for details for HPi check?
  • How do they respond when you ask them to show you the service history and paperwork for the car?

If you get a bad feeling about the owner, you are better off moving onto another Evolution. There are plenty out there and you don’t want to wind up with a dog of a car.

Where to Find a Mitsubishi Evo for Sale?

Auction/Classifieds Websites

Websites such as Craigslist, Kijiji, TradeMe, Piston Heads and GumTree are excellent places to start your hunt for an Evo. You will find a range of Evolutions for sale at different prices and in different conditions. You can easily compare the price, specs and condition of different Evos and you will be able to select the ones that look promising.

Dealers and Importers

Most dealers and importers will have an online presence, so make sure you check out their website for any Evos for sale. Dealers tend to be a bit more expensive than private sellers, but sometimes you can get some extras thrown in or better protection.

Social Media

Websites such as Reddit, Facebook and even Instagram can be excellent places to find Evos for sale. Check out some of the many enthusiast groups or subreddits and let other users know you are interested in buying a Mitsubishi Evo. Additionally, social media groups are often great places to find spare parts or get advice from other owners.

Owners’ Clubs

This sort of ties in with the above, but many owners’ clubs have their own website or they may not even have a website at all. Look to see if there are any Mitsubishi or Evo clubs in your area as these are often great places to find cars for sale or ask for advice.

Importing a Mitsubishi Evo from Japan

If you are struggling to find a suitable Mitsubishi Evolution in your country, you may want to look at importing one from Japan. While the Evo was sold in a number of different countries, the best place to import them from is usually Japan.

Exporting vehicles from Japan is a big business as it keeps the country’s motor industry moving and older vehicles become more expensive to run. Below we have outlined everything you need to know about importing a Mitsubishi Evolution from Japan.

How to Import a Mitsubishi Evo from Japan

While importing a Mitsubishi Evo from Japan may seem a bit daunting, it is actually quite easy. The first thing we recommend you do is to Google search “import Mitsubishi Evo” or “Import Mitsubishi Evolution”. You will be greeted with loads of different websites to choose from. These websites will let you search for Evos based on their age, generation, condition, price and more.

Most of the websites/companies you encounter should be based in Japan, but you may find some other ones that are located in different parts of the world.

Make sure you check reviews/feedback of any website or auction house you want to use. While you are unlikely to get scammed, it can happen, so be prepared. We have listed a few examples of Japanese importers/exporters below:

Goo net ExchangeIs one of the biggest vehicle exporters in Japan and they have head offices in Tokyo and Nagoya. They have quite a good selection of Evos ready for export.

JDM Expo Is an independent subsidiary of Nikko Auto Co., which is recognized as on the most reliable exporters of Japanese cars in the country.

Car From Japan – is another large portal for connecting overseas buyers with Japanese second hand cars. They have a number of Evos available for export.

Japan PartnerIs one of the fastest growing exporters of used Japanese vehicles and they have a range of Mitsubishi Evos available for export.

Always read up on any website or auction house you are thinking of using. Look for reviews and feedback from people who have used to service before. While you are unlikely to get scammed, it can happen. Here are some examples of Japanese importers/exporters.

How Does the Japanese Car Grading System Work?

The auction houses and car exporters in Japan all get their vehicles in roughly the same way. The difference between them is how much support they are willing to provide, how honest they are, and how they grade their vehicles

They will provide what is known as an ‘auction check sheet’ – a document that contains most of what you need to know about the vehicle. As you can’t see the vehicle personally, you will have to rely on the check sheet and other information on the listing to make a decision. If the seller/website is not willing to provide you with an auction check sheet or additional information on the car, don’t proceed any further.

Before you make a purchase you need to learn how to read an auction check sheet. The sheet contains information on the make, model, condition, specifications and any other notes. There will be a grade on the sheet that denotes the overall grade of the vehicle.

While the grade on a check sheet is important, you should not rely on it to make a final decision. Different companies have different methods for grading their vehicles, so a grade 4 for one company may be a grade 3.5 for another.

Some websites may use a different grading system and if you can’t view the auction check sheet, you should contact the seller/exporter.

Use the grade to whittle down the number of Evos you are looking at and then use the check sheet and additionally information to make a decision. We also recommend you pay a third party to check out the car for you.

The Auction Check Sheet

Below you can see an example of an auction check sheet. The grade is located in the top right corner of the check sheet. You will notice that there is both a letter and a number grade. The number indicates the overall condition of the vehicle, while the letter shows you the interior grade. At the bottom right of the check sheet is the ‘car map’. The car map tells you information about the exterior of the Evo and where any problems are located.

Additionally, the sheet contains information about the specs of the vehicle and any modifications (major or minor). The inspector may also write some additional notes about the car.

What Does the Number Grade Mean?
  • Grade 7 to 9 or S – New car with delivery miles.
  • Grade 6 – Same as above but with a few more miles.
  • Grade 5 – Vehicle is in excellent condition with low miles.
  • Grade 4.5 – Overall condition is great, but may have up to 100,000 miles on the clock.
  • Grade 4 – Overall condition is good, but can have low or high miles.
  • Grade 3.5 – Similar to grade 4, but some work may be needed and they usually have more miles.
  • Grade 3 – Can be the same condition as grade 3.5, but with more miles. Alternatively, the car may have lower miles but require more work.
  • Grade 2 – Very poor condition car and may have significant mechanical or exterior issues. Not necessarily a right off, but you would have to be a brave buyer to purchase one of these.
  • Grade 1 – Is modified in some way (can be extensive or something simple).
  • Grade 0, A, R, RA – Some repair history that can be major or minor.
The Letter Grade

As we wrote earlier, the number grade is usually accompanied by a letter that indicates the interior grade. An ‘A’ indicates that the interior is in exceptional or good condition. A ‘B’ indicates that the car is in average condition, while a ‘C’ displays that it is in poor condition. Grades below C show that the car’s interior is in very poor condition.

The Car Map

The check sheet will also contain what is called a “car map”, which tells you all the information you need to know about the exterior condition of the car. It will show the location of any problems or damage to the vehicle. Any problems are indicated by a letter and a number. The letter tells you what the issue is and the number indicates the severity. You can read more about the car map in our “How to Import a Car from Japan” guide.

Our Guidelines for Importing a Mitsubishi Evolution from Japan

  • Always demand to see and have the auction check sheet before making a purchase
  • If you can’t read Japanese or the company won’t provide a translated check sheet, get help from somebody who speaks/reads Japanese.
  • Check that the chassis number on the check sheet matches the one on the frame
  • Cross reference the check sheet with other websites
  • Don’t rely on the grade (always check the auction sheet thoroughly)
  • Investigate each website/service thoroughly (reviews, feedback, etc.)
  • Be careful of heavily modified vehicles
  • Get someone to inspect the car for you if possible. Ask for photos and get a good run down of the condition.
  • Avoid cars with unknown mileages
  • Stay away from bargains that seem to be too good to be true
  • Stay away from grade 0, A, RA, R vehicles that have been involved in accidents

Know Your Country’s Importation Laws

Always make sure you check your country’s importation laws as you may find you can’t bring the vehicle you want in. For example, some countries have certain restrictions on importing cars under a certain age.

Useful Links– Is a website dedicated to all generations of the Mitsubishi Evo. The users on here have a wealth of knowledge and will be more than happy to answer any of your questions about any Evo model. We recommend you check this site out before you buy a Mitsubishi Evo Is dedicated to the tenth generation of the Mitsubishi Evolution. You can find information and forum posts on everything from common faults to modifications.

JNZ Tuning – A great source of OEM and aftermarket parts for Mitsubishi Evolutions.

Mitsubishi PartsAnother great source for finding Evolution parts.

Lancer RegisterHas loads of great information from workshop manuals to model comparisons. You can also buy Evos and Evolution parts on this website.

Summary of this Mitsubishi Evolution Buyer’s Guide

This guide should have covered most of what you need to know about buying a Mitsubishi Evo. The different generations of the Evo are some of the best Japanese cars ever produced and will provide years of motoring enjoyment if looked after properly.

Now Read: The Top Ten Japanese Cars of the Sixties


  • Ben

    From his early days playing the original Gran Turismo and with his Hot Wheels car set, Ben has had a long interest in all things automotive. His first foray into the world of automotive journalism was way back in 2009 and since then he has only grown more interested in the industry. Ben also runs and heads up the video production side of Garage Dreams, focusing on small informative documentaries about some of the world's most legendary cars.

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8 thoughts on “Mitsubishi Evo Buyer’s Guide – Every Generation”

  1. The image used for the Evo 6 is actually a Tommi Makinen edition, not a standard Evo 6.
    This can be seen by the wrong front spoiler and when you zoom in, you can read the TME stitching on the passenger seat.
    It would be more appropriate to use a correct image.


    • Hi Fabio, thanks for your kind comment on our Evo buying guide – it means a lot to us when readers leave positive comments. You can support this site by letting your friends know about it!

  2. Thanks for the helpful info in this Evo buyer’s guide – these cars are getting a bit pricey now so I’m wary of buying a bad one.


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