It was 2001 when Mitsubishi released the Evo VII. People had just started going all out with visual mods.
Those were the "The Fast and Furious" days - underglow, aftermarket exhausts, subwoofers, vinyl wraps, and countless decals. These were all you needed in order to stand out in the car scene during "Saturday nights" back then or "Thursday nights" for the Bangladeshi petrolheads.
However, Mitsubishi, being a way cooler automaker back then it is now, decided to make a car that I would call a practical Evo. It was probably made to include the less expressive or the older generation of car enthusiasts into the scene.
Or perhaps, for someone who wants to smoke "race cars" with a family wagon.
This is when the Airtrek Turbo came in. A four-door wagon with a large boot space and more ground clearance than you can ever have on an Evo without sacrificing its aesthetics (and a fair bit of handling as well).
The Mitsubishi Airtrek Turbo shared its engine and a permanent 4WD drivetrain with the Lancer Evolution VII.
Although fitted with the same 4g63T four-cylinder turbocharged heart, the power was toned down to 240 BHP from the Evo's 280 BHP stock and the manual transmission was replaced with a five-speed triptonic.
Team Wheels had the opportunity to sit with Saimur Rahman Tushar who owns one of the four 2003 Mitsubishi Airtrek Turbos in the country. He has managed to keep it in immaculate condition even seventeen years after it first got out of the factories of Japan.
During the interview, Tushar said, "I got the Airtrek almost three years ago back in 2017 if I am not wrong. The car was not in its best shape back then, to be honest. I had to work on it a lot; especially on the suspension and also had to source a new exhaust manifold pipe."
According to Tushar, the Airtrek came with some sort of a custom DIY exhaust manifold pipe made by a local garage using "GI pipes". The first thing he had to do after buying the car was to ship a new exhaust.
He also had to work on the suspension which was in terrible condition back then and needed to be repaired urgently.
These were not necessarily what can be called mods though.
The first mod or actual upgrade Tushar went for was installing an Evo VIII turbo on the Airtrek. It was way bigger and better than the stock turbo that came with the car.
Along with the turbo, Tushar sourced Evo VIII turbo manifold and also installed an HKS Hyper Silent series catback exhaust.
When asked how it drives, Tushar said, "I love driving the Airtrek. It is very comfortable. Even more comfortable than the Honda Vezel I own. And also more spacious.
Four adults can easily fit inside the car and it comes with a decently sized boot as well. I must say, I can definitely use the Airtrek as my daily beater and that too with confidence.
But it was not much of a fun car to drive though. Not until recently when I installed a Greddy Profec boost controller and worked on the electronics. Now I love driving the car. It is a completely different feeling. This is probably the favourite mod I have done to the Airtrek to date!"
Tushar is currently waiting for coilovers for the Airtrek along with some sway bars and strut bars. He is more focused on the handling of the Airtrek than performance for now.
"I do not want to boost the performance of the Airtrek at the moment. I have had several project cars before and from my past experiences, I know the car will not run this smoothly if I chase horsepower figures.
I want to take my car out for a morning drive any day I want without having to think that the car might break down. I plan to do it daily and do not want to put its reliability at stake by chasing power."
Tushar had several project cars in the past. Some of his favourites were his MarkII Jzx100, an EG Civic, a 3sge Camry SV4, and an AE92 Trueno which he still has and never wants to let go of.
"The Airtrek has also successfully found its place in my list of cars I never want to let go of," said Tushar.
Any suggestions you would like to give to future project car owners?
Do not just chase power. Only go till the power you can make full use of on Bangladesh's roads.
Project cars should be fun cars in my opinion. It does not necessarily have to be fast.
One more thing I would like to mention. Know where you are driving. You should not be flooring your car in residential areas or in crowded places.
Be responsible and drive safe.
I strongly believe that if things go wrong because of our childish acts, then it is more than enough to make a bad name for the whole automotive community here in Bangladesh.