Cheap, Fast, Reliable; you can only choose two. We’ve all heard this saying a thousand times. It’s as old as the combustion engine and as true now as it was then. Off the top of my head, I can’t think of anyone who has slayed this three-headed monster, but for years I’ve wanted to tackle this goal. With enough experience, connections and resources, I’ve finally said to myself, “it really can’t be that hard. Right?” Now is the moment in life, where I try the impossible.
But that’s not all! Since I’ve already agreed to do the impossible, I figured I’d make it extra hard. Not only am I trying to accomplish the above trifecta, I am doing the next impossible thing; making a car that is both a good daily driver AND a good track car, all while staying within a pandemic ravaged budget.
By sheer power of will and a lot of dumb luck, I finally have a true follow-up to the My Girlfriend’s Miata saga. Let the story begin.
I thought I had found the follow-up for My Girlfriend’s Miata in a 2004 Mazdaspeed Miata Turbo, but something about that car didn’t sit right for me. I had purchased the cheapest, clean title Mazdaspeed I could find, from a retiree in Florida no less, but it wasn’t as fun as I thought it would be. I sold that and then purchased a 2006 Honda S2000. I found one within my budget in California and flew out to find it was dramatically misrepresented and uncared for. No matter, I bought it despite its issues. I drove it home, did my best to revitalize the car and about the time I was making it presentable, another 2006 S2000 became available locally for an even better price and it was damned near perfect! Sadly, it was too perfect. It was way too clean to turn into a track car and the wife never used it. It had to go as well. Three red convertibles had come and gone, with a decent amount of work done behind the scenes, but nothing compelled me to write and track again. By some miracle I came out ahead financially on all transactions and the search was renewed again.
Whilst cruising Craigslist, STILL the best place to find a used car, I stumbled upon a $10k 2008 Evo X MR. Yeah, the Evo with the most delicate dual clutch transmission on the planet. It was in Houston, TX; one of the most flood prone cities and full of scammers selling clean looking cars to bamboozled buyers. I convinced the wife to spend our anniversary flying across the country to buy a car, sight unseen, with a drivetrain literally known to fail while turned off. Nothing could possibly go wrong.
When we arrived, we met the nicest twenty something dude you could imagine and the Evo, which had around 135k miles on it, looked pretty decent sitting out front. It may have had mismatched wheels and no front lip, but all the body panels were original and it had a clean interior and engine bay. Perfect! A quick test drive confirmed one scary sound coming from the back. I wasn’t sure what it was initially and I couldn’t use it to my advantage as the seller wouldn’t budge on the price. I looked lovingly at my trusting wife and she already knew I was just gonna send it. We threw the money at the dude and crossed our fingers; how close could we make it to Indiana before the car would die and we’d have to call AAA?
We hit the road and turned on our noise cancelling headphones to try and ignore the terrible noise and extra loud hot boi exhaust. A few miles in, I heard the noise coming and going. I quickly realized I could control the noise based on the steering wheel angle. Turn one way, the noise would get louder. Turn the other way, the noise would get quieter. Ladies and gentlemen, ye olde wheel bearing was failing and sounded worse than any wheel bearing I had ever heard in my life. The previous owner said the sound had been around for over a year and no one knew how to fix it. This was both excellent and frightening news, considering the journey we had ahead of ourselves.
A search of the Houston area did not turn up any locations with a wheel bearing in stock that could repair it that day. With caution thrown squarely to the wind, we headed north, praying the bearing would last until home.
Did it last? Of course it lasted! Dumb luck had worked in my favor yet again. On that trip, I was reminded why I loved my original Evo VII so much (this VII was questionably imported to the states, before I promptly crashed it at Road Atlanta). The steering was so direct, the brakes powerful, and of course it had that willing, turbocharged engine. Yes the Evo X is portly, but it’s worth it for the cruise control! Mitsubishi took a surgeon’s knife and turned it into a damned good cleaver. Maybe it can’t be thrown around like its older siblings, but it can still dance and be reasonable at road tripping at the same time!
That terrible bearing noise knocked at least $5k off of what this Evo X was worth and was repaired in a few hours in the driveway of the Professional Awesome garage. Well, a few hours squared. I initially replaced the wrong wheel bearing. I know I’m not the first to misdiagnose which bearing had failed and I won’t be the last. I consider the extra bearing replacement preventative maintenance. Aside from that noise, the car performed flawlessly and now the fun could begin.