When we say Puerto Rico, you might think Chevy Novas with purple-tinted windows and rusted old Ford F150s. But the simple fact is that more performance cars make it to the shores of the small island than you could possibly imagine. The drag racing culture here is easily as developed as that stateside and the passion for the automobile is equally as strong. We'd go so far as to say that import drag racing owes much of its popularity and ingenuity to the inventiveness of the people on this island.
As islands go, the tuners of Japan may be the most respected but the battle for craziest-modified cars has to be between Australia and Puerto Rico. The Puerto Ricans' originality has led many a strange car into the pages of this magazine and into the heads of speed freaks around the nation. It's tough to ignore the number of Puerto Rican Mazda RX-3s and Datsun 510s that rocket down the quarter-mile in eight-seconds dead.
While import drag racing may be huge on the island, it's hard to imagine a guy who owns a Pro Street '69 Camaro and a new Corvette Z06 picking up a Lancer Evolution. But when Armando Jimenez drove his son's Evolution IX MR, he was hooked. The lightning-fast steering response and the all-wheel drive were a revelation to a man familiarized with rear-wheel drive and pushrods.
Armando is known as "El Original", because his custom creations circulate car shows around Puerto Rico. He owns his own body shop, Armando Garage, which is responsible for all the custom work. Within weeks of driving his son's car, Armando went out and bought a new EVO IX MR of his own. A quick consultation with Alexis Diaz from ADR Precision Service and noted tuner Javier Monroig lined the new EVO IX up for a set of modifications that would net 361 hp at the wheels.
Though the car retained the stock ECU, a few tweaks were necessary to make that horsepower number possible. Off the boat came breathing systems from Injen, including their exhaust, intake, intercooler and intercooler piping. With the help of a GReddy Profec-B boost controller and VP Import's C16 go-juice, the car was able to crank off a 12.1-second quarter-mile at over 115 mph.
Only a guy with a Pro Street Camaro could be dissatisfied with performance like that. And so the EVO went back to the shop for the kind of all-inclusive makeover that would make Dr. 90210 look half-ass and eventually net 838 whp. Luckily for Armando, there was already a tried-and-true formula in place for pulling off such a feat. All he had to do was check all the boxes and wait for the end product. Based on his list of modifications, there wasn't a box he didn't check.
Intensive work started when the almost-new 4G63 was yanked out of the engine bay. An array of Automotosports (AMS) goodies, sourced through Predator Performance, made up the brunt of the changes. Forged AMS pistons grasp Pauter rods in the bottom end, while a ported and polished head from Techno Tools Machine Shop houses GSC's S1 cams and a Fidanza exhaust cam gear. The whole high-pressure hunk of metal sandwiches a Cometic HD headgasket and is held together with ARP head and main studs.
Mating to the back of the head is an AMS VSR intake manifold. The design allows more air to enter the intake tract at a substantially higher rate of speed. The incoming air should be substantially cooler, too, thanks to an AMS Race Intercooler and corresponding 3-inch piping leading right up to the throttle body. The piping has been specifically designed to mate up to the VSR throttle body and comes flanged for a TiAL blow-off valve, something Armando has two of.