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Brand loyalty is something that Mark Aquino both preaches and understands the value of. It all started - as it does for many enthusiasts - with his first car. A 1989 Lancer would come to be the beginning of an enlightening journey through automotive culture for a younger Mark. As his interest in cars crew, he quickly learned about Mitsubishi's famed "Evolution" and its history rich with racing prowess. Every enthusiast remembers that moment when they set their sights on their first dream car. For Mark, it was his Evo X.

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After completing college in the Philippines and moving to the United States, Mark acquired his second car, but it wasn’t time for his dream car just yet.

“I had to settle for a fourth gen Eclipse to get me around until I could secure a better career”, he says. “Eight months later, after landing a decent paying job, I received a call from my local dealership saying that they were interested in my Eclipse.”

Making the trip to that dealership would be a decision that changed Mark’s life.

“As soon as I got there, a certain blue, wingless Evo X caught my eye,” he recalls. “I never really paid attention to the new generation until I saw one in person. My sights changed and I knew I had to get the Evo X. There was just something about the new body style that gave it that modern and aggressive look.”

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Unfortunately, the blue Evo X that caught Mark’s attention in a heartbeat was already spoken for, but the dealership notified him that another one was in stock at a dealership two hours away, and that he could drive it off the lot as early as New Year’s Eve. Like any enthusiast with their eye on something, waiting any longer than required just wasn’t an option. First thing on New Year’s Eve morning, Mark made the pilgrimage to see what would become his new car.

Having had minor modification experience with his previous cars after giving them the usual intake, headers and exhaust treatment, it was only a matter of time (and money) before he committed to transforming his new Evo. Having gained some support from shops near to his Maryland residence, Moore Automotive and Zury Fabrications, the transformation began to take shape.

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“At first, I wanted to build my car to compete in car shows. After doing that for some time, it got boring quickly. The Evo wasn’t being used to its full potential,” Mark recalls, likely striking a chord that instantly garners him respect among enthusiasts everywhere who build for function. “I decided to take it to Summit Point raceway and tested its limits. A couple of track sessions got me addicted. It’s a different rush; a different feeling when you’re one with the car.” In a genuine driving epiphany, Mark’s direction with the car had flipped 180 degrees. “At that moment, I’ve realized that I’m actually putting my build to work. It was built to be driven. It will be driven. This gave the car a new direction and purpose. It wasn’t meant to sit still in a garage.”

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The car’s setup was tweaked, tuned and overhauled several times before arriving at the custom-tailored final product we see before us. In addition to a combination of ChargeSpeed, Varis and MSport parts making up the body kit, the Evo needed the power and handling enhancements to match the aggressive looks, and with the 4B11T power plant, forced induction is usually the answer.

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A custom 3.5-inch intake from Moore Automotive directs optimal air through to a Garrett GTX3076r turbocharger, and bellowing out of a custom straight pipe exhaust by Zury Fabrications. Custom, rare and functional parts were the name of the game with this build, even down to the suspension, a custom 500 Series setup from Fortune Auto.

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A set of super sticky Toyo Proxes T1-Sports wrapped around SSR SP3 wheels keep the car planted in the corners on the street, while track setup changes over to a wider set of Toyo’s R888s and SSR GTV02 wheels. A Whiteline sway bar and ARC front strut bar combination is paired to Cusco braces to maintain rigidity, and the OEM Brembo brake pads and rotors grip two-piece slotted Girodisc rotors on all fours to help bring this unit to a quick stop.

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One look at the car is all you need to know that this ride is one of a kind, just like its owner. Mark built his Evo not only as a track weapon, but as an extension of his own personal style. Thinking back to the beginning of his build, Mark offers some solid advice for aspiring builders.

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“Don’t let social media tell you how to build your car. Build it for yourself and don’t be shy to show your creative side. Make your car personal. Don’t be afraid to push your car to its limits. Try going to the track sometime. Stay humble and be open-minded - everyone has different tastes.”

Concluding our conversation, Mark extends a handful of thanks to the people who helped him get where he is: A loving shout out to Derrick, Paco, Byron, Sean at APAC, Chris Hoover and Bill at Moore Automotive, Brian at Zury Fabrications, Mark Enriquez, Thomas Million and Tim Varnasup at SOTRENDY, Terry at Fortune Auto, Jeremey Cornitcher, Kevin Choi, Khris Uybengkee, Justin Melton and his CCEVO family.

The story of Mark and his Evo is one that will resonate with enthusiasts far and wide — a true tale of the journey from form to function with humble beginnings and perseverance. We’re sure that the next chapter in Mark’s adventure will be just as exciting.

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ESSENTIALS
2010 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution

OWNER: Mark Aquino
LOCATION: Middle River, Maryland
BUILT BY: Moore Automotive, Zury Fabrications, Auto Performance Aesthetics Centre, Brandon Fuggitt Designs, ESH Upholstering, Mastermind North America
ENGINE: Mitsubishi 4B11T 2-liter I4
HORSEPOWER: 555 whp
TORQUE: 420 lb-ft
CLUB AFFILIATION: Xclusiv Alliance

ENGINE MODIFICATIONS

Garrett GTX3076r turbocharger
Greddy 4” Intercooler
Mishimoto hoses
Tial QRJ BOV 
Tial MVR wastegate
Moore Automotive 3.5” intake
Vibrant 5” air filter
Cosworth High Flow Fuel Rail
Tomei Type L fuel pressure regulator
Walbro 450 E85 in-tank, MagnaFuel Protuner 650 external fuel pump
Jun Auto 272/272 camshaft
Injector Dynamics 1300cc injectors
NGK Laser Iridium spark plugs
Okada Projects Plasma Direct and Plasma Booster coils
Dress Up Bolts
HKS DMR
Blitz Throttle Controller
OpenSource Tune
ATL fuel cell
JUN baffled oil pan
Radium fuel pulse damper
Driven Fabrications oil catch can
Tomei titanium upper intercooler pipe
Radium surge tank
Forge Motorsport steering fluid tank
MAP firewall heatshield
Blitz piping stopper
Upgraded metal pulleys
Torque Solutions fuel pump hanger
Tomei valve springs

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EXHAUST
Zury Fabrications (custom exhaust, quad tip)
Full Race Prostock exhaust
ATP downpipe with 02 dump
Ultimate Racing resonated test pipe

CHASSIS / SUSPENSION
Fortune Auto (500 Series coilovers with cup kits up front, springs)
Whiteline (heavy duty sway bar, urethane bushings, endlinks)
ARC front strut bar
Cusco (power brace front, Power Brace Floor Center, Power Brace Floor, Rear Side, Power Brace Rear Member Side and Power Brace Rear Member)

WHEELS / TIRES / BRAKES
Track: SSR GTV02 wheels – 18x10.5+12 (f/r), Toyo Tires Proxes R888 – 295/30/18 (f/r), Raybestos ST-43 brake pads
Street: SSR SP3 wheels – 18x10.5+12 (f/r), Toyo Tires Proxes T1Sport – 275/35R18 (f/r), Project Mu NS400 brake pads

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INTERIOR
Suede/Bride Fabric reupholstery
Coltspeed GT Shifter with ARC shift knob
Personal Pole Position 350 mm steering wheel
Bride Fabric (shift knob, door inserts, armrest)
Defi boost gauge and AEM wideband gauge
Autometer gauge pods
Cusco Bride Vios III seats
Takata Race 6 harness
Weather tech all season mats
Beatrush rear division plate
Custom black suede rear seat delete
Cusco (6-point roll cage, carbon fiber add-on X-bars, harness bar)
Zoom Engineering Kevlar rear view mirror
ARC titanium emblem
YR-Advance carbon fiber paddle shifters
Works Bell (Short hub, Yoshioka Edition quick release system, lock)

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EXTERIOR
ChargeSpeed (wide body, wide fenders)
MSport front bumper with carbon fiber lip and canards
Varis side skirt ver.2 with carbon fiber air shroud
JUN carbon fiber mirrors
Coltspeed (antenna, carbon fiber door pillars)
Origin Lab GT Wing with Zury Fabrications mounts and iParkHarder titanium stands
SSP aluminium undertray
Showstoppers rear diffuser
Kosky modified headlights
LED taillights
Fuggitt Designs livery

MOBILE ELECTRONICS
Sony XNV600bt head unit
Kicker Hideaway (sub amp, sealed subwoofer)
Balupunkt CX170 mid range speakers
Panasonic battery

SPONSORS
Toyo Tires, Fortune Auto Suspension, SSR Wheels, APAC, Moore Automotive, SoTrendy, KU Connection, Fuggitt Designs, Impulse Automotive, Zury Fabrications, KC Image, AMSOIL

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Contributor: Kevin Choi (KC Image)

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