It's no secret that the rally-bred Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution has the ability to outrun just about every car you can throw at it. Since its inception in the early '90s, the Evo has been a masterpiece in technical design, with tenacious all-wheel-drive grip and a plethora of electronic gizmos, not to mention the extremely hard-working 4G63 motor. Now in its 9th generation, and with the 10th just around the corner, the Evo finally has its foot firmly in the door of U.S. dealers. Tuners nationwide are realizing the staggering potential of these cars.

The news that Mitsubishi was finally bringing their WRX competitor stateside had many car lovers giddy with excitement, only to find out that, like so many Japanese products, the car would be coming over as a tamer machine, one deemed more fit for the American public. The change to wider seats and the sunroof option were almost comical. However, the lack of an ACD (active center differential) and AYC (active yaw control) had no one laughing. These technical wonders practically defined the Evo; to remove them from the U.S. cars was seen by many as sacrilege. The true enthusiasts couldn't sleep soundly until the arrival of the Evo MR for 2005. Boasting the return of the ACD (although no AYC), a six-speed gearbox and Bilstein shock absorbers, among other advancements, the MR was the Evo that gearheads had been waiting for. It did not disappoint.

On hearing this news, New Jersey resident Michael Ko immediately bolted to his local Mitsubishi dealership to place a deposit. Even before taking delivery, Michael started attending local club meets, acquainting himself with the Evo circle. He even began choosing and ordering his aftermarket parts. As there was no shortage of parts available from which to choose, he soon had a plane full of mods on the way from Japan. He laid everything out in his living room, arranged as though they were on the car, and sat in his Bride seats in anticipation.

After a few months, he got the call saying his car had arrived, and within an hour he was at the dealer with a briefcase full of cash. Aside from a few suspicious looks and a trip to the bank to count the money, all went as planned, and Michael was finally the proud owner of a Graphite Gray Evo MR.

Although he knew he would have to wait out the 1000-mile break-in period before doing anything crazy, there was nothing to stop him from spending time with Evo-NY, his local Evo club, to soak up as much advice as he could. After the break-in period, he took his business to long-time Connecticut tuner Pruven Performance, where he first met Dan Cokic. Thoroughly impressed with Dan's hands-on attitude and obvious know-how, Michael knew this was the right guy to talk to. After Dan put him in contact with Al Friedman of Dynoflash to schedule a preliminary tuning, Michael drove up with the modifications he'd purchased to see what he and Al could pull off. Before long, the car was starting to put down some impressive numbers with simple mods. Michael was happy with this until he heard of other Evo owners swapping out their turbos. He knew he'd have to get a touch more serious than his current bolt-ons to keep up.

Dan's first recommendation was a stand-alone engine management system, and Michael soon settled on the F-Con V Pro from HKS. After the install, the car was immediately smoother and stronger, so Michael began to look at his turbo options. He was astonished by how many kits were already available, and decided to hold off until he knew for sure which way to go.

In the meantime, Michael focused on the car's other aspects. He picked up a Project Mu 355 mm brake kit and a set of Volk Racing CE28N wheels from Tire & Wheel Connection. They got the car into the Mackin Industries display booth at the 2005 SEMA show.