Welcome to My Wheels, Mario. How did your passion for motoring begin?

Thanks for featuring me in the magazine. Much of it began from collecting little Burago model cars but mostly from spending most of my time with my late dad who loved his cars and used any time of his on them, even if they were running at their best. We spent so much time talking about cars and I learnt something new every day.

When I got my first car I remember how excited I was. It was a NGK Racing series Honda Civic EG built racecar with a B16 installed. I bought it from a dear friend of mine and it was a great first season to motor racing where I learnt so much. The car was easy to set up and tune and I remember catching up with Class 2 vehicles from my Class 3. It was something to look forward to every race day.

Our family car is a Civic which we have owned since new in 1999, but was later converted to a B18C Type R (which came from an Integra) and it is still with us today 19 years on. I am proud to say it’s in top condition and I make sure it stays away from trouble!

 

That’s good to hear — but what’s the best car you have ever driven?

A 150 horsepower Formula 2000 single seater. It had a four speed gearbox, the chassis was tuned perfectly for the track and it was a great experience.

 

That must have been a real thrill — as I bet is driving around in your Evo; how did you come across it?

I got to know about my Evolution from a work colleague who directed me to someone selling off two of these cars. One was an Evolution X and the other this Evolution 8 with a few Evo 9 exterior parts installed to it.

I chose to go with the latter car as it was a vehicle I had always admired since I was a youngster. I headed down to have a look at it and the excitement at the mere thought of possibly owning it was unexplainable. I always felt one day I would own one and I made the decision to buy it and haven’t stopped smiling since. It has been mine for four years now, and I had considered selling it recently but changed my mind.

It impresses me every time I get behind the wheel. Some say driving a car with a manual gearbox is not much fun on our busy roads but when you get out of town and find an empty stretch it is such a thrill.

Agreed, it isn’t much fun in traffic but that is why I plan my route twice!

 

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What were you driving before you bought the Mitsubishi?

I had a Peugeot 206RC which was given to me by my friend who I cannot thank enough. I had no requirement to get another car but then out of the blue the opportunity to buy the Evo 8 came along and I couldn’t pass that up.

The Peugeot had a five-speed manual gearbox and was great fun, it was basically a go-kart with a number plate! Sure it needed a bit more TLC than usual due to the harsh conditions here but it never stopped being exciting to drive, as is my Evo 8; it doubles up really well as a daily cruiser that ideal for the grocery run to a very aggressive, high performance sportscar itching to tear up the track. It’s roomy enough to be considered practical too and it’s always nice when fellow petrolheads eye it up, start a conversation and end it by asking if it’s for sale!

 

The engine is stock, however you have modified the chassis a fair bit, isn’t that right?

Yes, I’m running the original 2.0-litre Turbo with a tuned ECU but the handling aspect is something I focus on very carefully. My car has a D2 coilover kit with heavy duty control arms, stiffer Torque Solution engine and gearbox mounts, stiffer Energy bushings, sticky NT01 semi slicks (for track days), sway bars front and rear, body braces and I have dialed in extra camber. The handling is great but it is not quite to where I want it to be yet. It will take some more time to learn what else I can improve with a limited budget. That’s fine by me as I was taught to make the best of what you have, right here and now. It makes me smile every time I see it and proud when people ask questions about it. It’s nice sharing what you have learned with other car enthusiasts.

 

Long may you enjoy it. A final question — what is your dream car?

Aston Martin Vanquish.

 

Got a hot ride? Email us at mywheels@gulfnews.com with a photo and description and you could be our next my wheels star!