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 |   |  2004 Subaru WRX - First Love
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2004 Subaru WRX - First Love

NorCal’s finest WRX

Yuta Akaishi
Mar 10, 2014
Photographer: Patrick Lauder

There is something undeniably unforgettable about a first car, perhaps it's the freedom that comes with owning your very own mode of transportation, perhaps it's the feeling of controlling something much more powerful than yourself, or maybe there is no possible explanation. Regardless of the reason, it's unimaginable that there is somebody out there who does not remember his first car. Then there are the fortunate few who do not need to remember, like Anthony Heng. This beautiful WRX is his first car. As a toddler Anthony rode with his father in the various cars that his dad owned—Mustangs, Camaros, and all kinds of Detroit muscle. To this day he can still recall the deafening sounds of exhaust passing under him as they cruised around San Jose, CA, where Anthony has lived since birth. These trips ignited something instinctual in Anthony, something that he probably won't shake for the rest of his life—a passion that a man can only have for a machine. As Anthony grew older, his love for machines never changed. When his uncle purchased a Toyota MR2 Anthony knew there was something special about the car, something different from the cars his father owned. That was the defining moment when Anthony realized his preference for Japanese-manufactured cars. Anthony visited his uncle often, hoping that he might be working on the MR2 to catch a glimpse of the inner workings of the machine. The time Anthony spent watching, observing, and learning amplified the desire to own his own car.

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During high school, Anthony spent much of his time reading magazines, sharing his newest findings with his buddies in the classroom, where they would specify each imaginary modification performed to their imaginary cars. Despite his automotive obsession, Anthony managed to graduate high school before his 17th birthday and enroll in a vocational school for auto mechanics. Once Anthony finished his schooling, it was finally time to choose his first car. Although many of his friends and classmates drove Hondas, Anthony knew exactly what he wanted and stuck to the plan, choosing this originally silver '04 Subaru WRX. Immediately after purchasing the car, Anthony applied for a job in the parts department at a Subaru dealership, interviewed, and got the job. Considering his schooling and certification, he may have been able to get a job as a technician right off the bat elsewhere but Anthony chose to take the lower paying parts position at a Subaru dealership purely due to his passion for the brand.

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Now that Anthony had a steady income, there was no way his WRX was staying stock. Within weeks of ownership the car was lowered on a set of Tein springs and STI struts, and the original wheels were replaced with a set of 18x9.5 Rays G-Games. At the time, wheels of that width were rarely used on WRX's, especially not with a 245-width tire. Consequently Anthony received his share of bashing on the forums. Rather than becoming disappointed and conforming to others' closed-mindedness, Anthony continued to do things his way. Soon after, he purchased a set of JIC full coilovers to replace the spring and strut combo. The more aggressive valving and adjustability allowed him to make full use of the enlarged contact patch. He then shifted his focus onto the exterior of his car, replacing the stock hood and trunk with carbon-fiber counterparts. The Alcon Prodrive brakes that are currently on this car were also purchased and installed around this time. An interesting fact about these brakes is that they were actually a dealer option for the first few years that the WRX was available in the United States. Not many people, however, chose to have them installed due to the astronomical price. Anthony somehow managed to find a used set and fitted them to his car.

When the economy tanked, Anthony was laid off from his job at the dealership, which forced him to start parting out his beloved car. After close to a year of searching, Anthony was able to find another job in the parts department of yet another Subaru dealership. This unplanned move to Capitol Subaru turned out to be a blessing. Anthony moved from the parts counter to a position as a tech after two years, fulfilling his dream of wrenching on cars for a living. The long hours and physically strenuous work also meant a higher salary, which allowed him to once again start building his car. After replacing the parts that he was forced to sell, he started making some major changes to his WRX—the centerpiece of the transformation being the full Varis widebody kit. Once the quarter-panels had been cut and virtually every panel replaced with Varis FRP and carbon fiber, the car was dropped off at the body shop to be resprayed with several coats of Desert Sage Metallic, originally found on the Nissan GT-R.

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Taking advantage of the additional fender clearance now available courtesy of the Varis widebody kit, Anthony started shopping for new wheels, finally deciding on a set of red 18x9.5 +22 Volk TE37s, wrapping them in monstrous 275/35-18 Falken RT615Ks. Anthony shared with us that his wheels are currently the only set of 5x100 originally red TE37s in the country. Yes, this car is still equipped with the original 5x100 hubs. Considering his rare brake setup, there was no need to convert to the STI's 5x114.3-bolt pattern. As the exterior of his car neared completion, Anthony started on the interior, locating and securing a pair of rare Japanese market optional STI front seats and reupholstering his door panels and rear seats in Bride fabric. A Safety 21 rollcage was powdercoated gold and installed, and a Works Bell hub and quick release secure a KEY!S wheel to the steering column. As the WRX reached a point that Anthony felt was presentable, he began taking the car to shows and car meets with the Speed Element team, showcasing the years of work he had put into his car. On one of these outings, a rear coilover broke at the mount, necessitating a replacement, so a set of Stance GR+s were ordered and installed.

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Daily driving a car with this level of modifications can be nerve-racking; the sheer number of other drivers on the road with you at any given time can be overwhelming. A lapse in judgment by any one of them can mean hundreds of hours of work and priceless parts being destroyed in an instant—not to mention the strict California laws that are constantly being enforced by the good old boys in blue. Understanding this, Anthony looked into purchasing a second car, initially choosing a Toyota MR2 Turbo, a car that had played a large part in his early days as a young car enthusiast. He owned the MR2 for a bit and cleaned it up, but ultimately sold it when he came across a good deal on a '98 Impreza RS "because Subaru". The Impreza also ended up also being a fling. After he had rebuilt the engine and restored the body, Anthony once again found himself selling the car for another Subaru; this time a '02 WRX wagon. The wagon has since become kind of a side project for Anthony, which is actually becoming an extensive build in itself—full Japanese-spec exterior, STI interior, and the engine currently in pieces, many of which are being replaced by forged components. This led to Anthony purchasing yet another car; this time something quite different from his pair of Subarus, perhaps taking a bit of inspiration from the cars of his father's era: a Datsun 510.

Now that he daily drives his old Datsun, Anthony's WRX (the one you see here) is back under the knife. He has pulled the engine out, and has it on a stand at his work where it is undergoing a full build to support the rotated twin scroll turbo setup that he also has waiting to be installed. Not only will the car be much more powerful when it is completed for the second time, but it will also undergo a righthand drive conversion and full color change. Knowing Anthony's willingness to wait as long as it takes for quality parts and the pride he puts into his work, we are looking forward to seeing this car yet again raise the standard. How this man finds the time to build two world-class Subarus, maintain a Datsun, and enjoy a successful relationship with his girlfriend while working 12-hour days five to six days a week is mind blowing. As a matter of fact, Anthony had mentioned to us that he planned to propose to his girlfriend, Kim, in the near future. So we at IT would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Anthony and Kim on their engagement and wish them both a happy life together. We will look forward to seeing Anthony's vision for this car materialize even further.

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Behind The Build

Anthony Heng

San Jose, CA

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Build Time.
7 years


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Cars, snowboarding

Built to stand out with quality parts as a young person.

2004 Subaru WRX

Output: 343 hp/338 lb-ft of torque

Engine Trust timing belt, PE T1R exhaust; Group N engine mounts; custom 3-inch intake, Walbro 255-lph fuel pump; Deatschwerks 1,000cc injectors; Gruppe-S unequal length exhaust manifold; Perrin divorced downpipe, divorced cat delete downpipe; Grimmspeed up-pipe; NGK Iridium spark plugs; Optima Red Top battery; Forced Performance FP18G TD05 turbocharger; APS 3-inch inlet pipe; Tial 50mm blow-off valve, 44mm external wastegate; Injen Phantom intercooler, piping; Hallman manual boost controller; Cobb Accessport Ver. 2; tuned by Equilibrium Tuning; Defi 60mm boost, 52mm EGT, 52mm oil pressure, 52mm oil temp, 52mm fuel pressure gauge

2004 subaru WRX injen phantom piping 10 Photo 18/28   |   2004 Subaru WRX - First Love

Drivetrain STI RA gearset; Exedy Stage 3 clutch, lightweight flywheel; Kart Boy short shifter

Suspension Stance GR+ coilovers, camber plates; Cobb 22mm front sway bar, 24mm rear sway bar; Beat Rush front strut bar, rear strut bar; Cusco six-point rollcage

Wheels/Tires 18x9.5 +22 Volk TE37; 275/35/18 Falken RT615K; Project Kics lug nuts; ARP extended studs

Brakes Alcon Prodrive calipers, rotors; Carbotech pads; Stoptech braided lines; ATE Super Blue fluid

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Exterior Varis Super Taikyu front bumper, lip spoiler, side skirts, rear bumper, rear diffuser, rear spoiler, rear over-fender, trunk; Charge Speed carbon roof vane; Seibon carbon fiber hood; Nissan Desert Sage Metallic paint

Interior JDM STI Recaro seats, anodized blue pedals; KEY!S Racing 330 semi-deep steering wheel; Works Bell short hub; Prodrive collaboration quick release; BLOX 490 black chrome shift knob; Bride upholstered door panels, rear seats; Kenwood DDX6619 head unit; Kicker Comp VR speakers, Solo-Baric L7 subwoofer; Rockford Fosgate amplifier; Monster wires

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Gratitude "My fiancee, Kim Mai, for all the support and encouragement to finish the project; Ian at Falken Tire; Mike Vo at Capitol Subaru; Kevin at Auto Headquarter; and Devin and Ryan at Speed Element."

Special Thanks i-Club

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2004 subaru WRX volk TE37 12 Photo 28/28   |   2004 Subaru WRX - First Love


Falken Tire
Fontana, CA 92335
By Yuta Akaishi
45 Articles



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