Humble Celebrity: Ramon Bautista’s Lancer “Evo III”
These days you can somewhat tell what kind of cars your typical famous celebrity would drive.
For the most part, being incognito is key – meaning they’ll either be rolling in bulletproof Land Cruisers or the odd coachworked Toyota Hi Ace with dark tint. Should they choose to represent themselves, you may see them driving the latest and greatest cars from Europe. Celebrity cars get somewhat predictable, and that may usually be the case especially for those who aren’t inclined towards the automotive hobby. There are however a few famous guys around town that translate their personality into the cars they drive – Such is the case for Ramon Bautista and his Mitsubishi Lancer.
We can wax on-and-off about the latest parts and the coolest cars in town, but homegrown builds like the Lancer we have here has something that cannot be quantified by spec sheets and dyno figures: A great story. You see, this car wasn’t a Lancer Evo III from the get go, and much like Ramon’s career as an entertainer it had to start somewhere: as a humble 1995 Mitsubishi Lancer EL. Yes kids, this is not a legit CE9A and it is what we’d usually call an ‘Ebuo’ – but stick with us for a bit.
Back in the day when Ramon was a video editor in Manila, he would usually take a tricycle going home. It would be during those times he would see a Lancer GLXi through the passenger seat and, being the aspiring youth that he was, worked hard to make enough money (along with a little help from his dad) to be able to afford the car in a lesser trim: A Lancer EL. This was then the beginning of the car’s own ‘evolution’ as Ramon simultaneously progressed with his career.
Ramon tells us that the car has undergone a series of engine swaps throughout the years. We’d reckon while he was busy doing The Ramon Bautista Show as well as stints as Dan Michael: Master Magician the car’s motor has gone from its stock 1300 Carb, a 4G91 DOHC, then a 4G93 1800 DOHC, then a 4G93 DOHC Turbo, and finally – as it should be for its true Evolution chops – a 4G63 Turbo. Pair that with a modest Mitsubishi TD0516G snail on stock boost and he gets about 270whp to the wheels. A number that’s just about right to retain useability on the street.
Of course, it isn’t just the immortal iron-block 4-banger that makes a Lancer Evolution. It also needs to be matched to Mitsubishi’s WRC-winning All-Wheel Drive powertrain to complete the pedigree that comes with the name. Converting a Lancer into a proper Evo entails being able to swap the whole AWD powertrain into the body. This isn’t as simple as adding a rear axle and a driveshaft – all three front, center, and rear differentials have to clear the underchassis for the whole system to work as it should. To properly do this, it took the expertise of RCS Autoshop to stay as close to the original Evo III recipe as possible.
Aesthetics like the front bumper, fenders, hood, side skirts, and the rear wing are all ‘basic’ requirements as far as Evo conversions go, and most half-assed ‘Evo’ conversion builds stop there. Ramon took this a step further by reinforcing the chassis itself to take the newfound power of the 4G63. For example, additional bracing for the shock towers in front have been added for additional stiffness – again another detail taken off the original Evo III. More details like these are found in the underpinnings of the car to bring it as close to Evo III spec as possible
Many people make the mistake of adding power via engine swaps without paying attention to the overall balance of the car: upgraded clutch and powertrain, better brakes, and stickier tires all contribute to making sure your vehicle is handling as it should given its power. Again Evo III brakes that have a larger diameter over the stock Lancer have been utilized – all the way down to its new 4x114 bolt pattern to mount the Enkei Tarmacs that round up the 90’s Evo look. The steering has also been swapped out for a quick-steer version; Another key piece that makes a Lancer an Evo, much as it is overlooked by many who haven’t driven a real one.
The interior does away with the drab trim pieces from the base model Lancer and completes the Evo III ensemble with a matching interior. Items like the Momo steering wheel, cluster, HVAC/Climate controls, and Recaro SR3s have all been lifted from the sporting variant of the Lancer.
Being the easy-going, relatable, and overall funny guy that he is, Ramon is just as much a pleasant character in person as he is funny as a comedian on television. His appeal as the overall nice guy makes him very amicable to everyone he meets around town. Famous, yes, but still very much approachable. And while he isn’t rolling around town in a Ferrari just yet, the evolution of this Lancer throughout the years makes a great parallel to the true homegrown story of his road to success as a celebrity.
Words by Aurick Go
Photos by Jose Altoveros and Alec Mendez
1995 Mitsubishi Lancer EL (Full CE9A Evo III Conversion)
Engine and Driveline
- Full CE9A Powertrain
- Front, Center, and Rear differentials and corresponding axles, transfer cases, and driveshafts
- Cusco Tarmac Gear 35:65 Center Differential
- Cusco MZ Front LSD
- HKS SSQV Blow Off Valve
Wheels, Brakes, and Suspension
- CE9A 4x114 Brake and Hub conversion
- Enkei Tarmac Rally 17”
- CE9A Suspension, sway bars, and corresponding reinforcement plates
- Cusco Front Strut Bar
- BC Racing Coilovers
- CE9A Full Interior
- Evo Cluster
- Recaro SR3
- Momo Steering Wheel
- Digital HVAC/Climate Control
- JDM Brown Glass
- HKS Boost Gauge
Full CE9A aero kit
- Front fascia
- JDM side markers, headlights, tail lights, fender lights
- Side Skirt
- Rear Valence
- Rear Wing