Subaru EVA 88D - The MR2 rival you've never heard of
During the 1988 Tokyo auto salon chassis builder EVA revealed their newest creation. It was made in collaboration with K.I.T. tuning shop which is specialized in aftermarket parts for Subarus and known for their involvement in the Japanese rally community. Their goal was to compete in the gruelling Dakar rally.
The car was very loosely based on the Subaru Alcyone. In fact, the only parts shared between the two were the engine and the windshield, everything else was made from the ground up. The core chassis was a carbon fiber monocoque and the turbo pressure on the 1.8L AE82T engine was doubled. It was mated to a complicated 4WD/2WS system. The driver could manually choose how many wheels were driven by operating a small lever. 2WD for high speed desert plains and 4WD for muddy roads and flooded rivers.
Due to unknown circumstances the 88D never made it overseas to compete in the legendary rally raid. Instead it stayed home and participated in something completely different and perhaps more native: Gymkhana.
It was entered in class D of the all japan gymkhana championship of 1988 at Kanetsu Sportsland in Takasaki sporting an added wing and low profile slick racing tyres. There it faced fierce competition from modified and more specialized machinery and off course that other small mid-engine sports car: the Toyota MR2. The MR2 was very popular in gymkhana events due to its short wheelbase and agility. Perfect traits for weaving around an obstacle course. The 88D was in for a challenge.
The first run was in 4WD and things were looking very promising until the driver hit a cone in the final couple of meters resulting in a 2 second time penalty. The second run was in 2WD. This sacrificed acceleration but enabled the driver to slide around the many tight hairpins more easily. This more oversteer focused driving style resulted in a time of 1:08.029 giving it the last step on the podium.
compared to a soft suspension for Africa it ended up running a rock solid setup for gymkhana which often lead to three wheeling
It's gymkhana career was rather short lived as the car got such a beating at another event that the carbon chassis cracked at various places deeming it unsafe and undrivable. K.I.T tuning shop took it home and stored it away. There are plans to revive it but restoring an entire custom carbon chassis is proven to be difficult.
The rejected Dakar racer managed to prove itself in the exact opposite type of racing it was intended for. Perhaps not taking it to Dakar was a wise choice as a bumpy Japanese parking lot was too much for it's carbon chassis to handle.