If I could sum up Ryan Gates’ 311RS project in one word it would be passion. Gates is the driver of a 2008 Mitsubishi Evo X GSR in the Time Attack program. He has combined his personal experience from 5 years of time attack racing with several well-known companies to bring us a beautiful example of a 2014 Mitsubishi Evolution X. I had the awesome opportunity to meet Gates and pick his brain about this car. During our hour together, one thing became very apparent: this is his child. I have never seen someone speak with such passion for something. We went through a significant amount of detail, and I still feel that there is a huge amount left to know about this car. Let’s start with a basic overview.
The 311RS Evolution is a car that is (was) sold from the dealership (White Bear Lake Mitsubishi) in Minnesota. Only 11 are being made and all are spoken for. However, the 311RS is not a car that was purchased by Gates, modified, and then sold to a group of people with too much money in their pockets. This car was handcrafted with each part picked for a specific purpose in mind: to be “track developed, street prepared, and limited production”.
Each owner gets to choose from an extensive list of options to create a completely unique and customized vehicle. Some of the standard features include: a timeless livery designed by Jon Sibal, an upgraded engine that produces 420 horsepower and 420 torques thanks to AMS Performance, the suspension is provided by JRZ which is derived from Gates’ own race Evolution, the brakes are provided by Girodisc and are a whopping 4.5lbs (each) less than the standard Evolution X brakes, the wheels are beautiful Volk Ce28Ns wrapped with 275 mm wide Nitto NT05 tires for extreme grip, and the interior (one of my favorite parts) is lined with Etnies E-Suede and a tartan (plaid) layout that pays homage to some of history’s greatest driving cars.
On first seeing the 311RS, even if you’re not a Mitsubishi fan, you know this car means business. The wide tires that fit perfectly in the wheel wells, the carbon fiber splitter on the chin, and the roll cage in back all tell you what this car is about. Even the PPG Blue color was created specifically for the 311RS and is stunning.
When I got my first peek inside, I immediately noticed the wood e-brake grip. This may seem a bit odd, and it is. It’s only when you feel the handle that you understand. Gripping it is strangely satisfying.
The seats have a tartan insert, harkening back to classic driver’s cars of the 60s and 70s. The shift knob is a very plain black and white lettered sphere. However, and this will show you the thought that goes into the 311RS, the shift knob comes from a Ferrari 365 GTC/4 (bear with me), the only Ferrari with a factory tartan interior. Even the steering wheel, which is covered with Etnies E-Suede, a material which is 3x more wearable versus traditional suede, is a strong addition the interior.
The trunk also has a plaid lined leather insert. When you remove the insert and some of the back panels, you’ll find a battery and a CNC cut aluminum mount. The battery is a Lithium Iron Phosphate model which is a full sized battery that weighs less than 13lbs.
The suspension is where this car really shines. JRZ is a brand known for being top of the line in quality and performance. The standard 311RS suspension has RS1 with 311RS specific spring rates, valving, and 311RS branding. The RS1 311RS spec dampers provide “premium everyday performance in combination with lethal track performance”. The alignment specifications are born out of 5 years of Gates’ time attack experience. There are several different options for the suspension, including a similar system to the one on Gates’ own time attack car.
Once you pop the hood, you’ll find even more scrupulous detail. On the radiator cap, for instance, is a 311RS warning sticker. The JRZ external reservoirs and suspension components are also etched with the 311RS branding. The engine bay shares the same 311RS blue seen as the exterior. The valve cover is CNC’d aluminum and also boasts a 311RS logo.
Owners also have the option to upgrade the OEM turbocharger to safely allow for more power and transient response. This, combined with fuel system upgrades, yield 530hp and 450tq. This particular 311RS had the optional Akrapovic exhaust. When Gates fired it up, I was expecting shouty race car, but was pleasantly surprised with a very mature and fitting exhaust note.
The 311RS is not a track only car, it’s not a collector’s car, it’s a car that is meant to be driven everywhere. This fine Evolution (no pun intended) is a car that’s meant to take you to the track, take you around with breath taking speed and agility, and then take you home again. I asked Gates if there was anything he could change on the 311RS and with absolute certainty he responded that he wouldn’t put his name on something he wasn’t 100% sure of.
When we were discussing the battery and mount, I was curious as to why there was that much effort put into the details. Ryan answered with a line that will stick with me, an engineering student, for a long time. He said there’s “Beauty in design”. That sums up the car in an astounding way. A perfect tag line for a perfectly well rounded car.
For more info hit up 311rs.com