Spanish poet Pedro Calderon de la Barca once said, "Green is the prime color of the world, and that from which its loveliness arises." (This must be the first Spanish poet ever quoted in et!! - Ed). Nature is green, money is green, green means go, Kermit the Frog is green. Whatever happiness or loveliness we find in the multitude of green, Olivier Duong found his in a shade called Urban green, and it was this color that became the basis of his four-door VW Golf 1.8T we call Project Envy.
It's ironic, but while many artists seek to be individuals, they seem to submerge themselves in products and a lifestyle that all ring a similar tone. Coffee in hand, they all dress like an Urban Outfitters catalog, work and design on Apple computers, listen to Radiohead on an iPod and have fancier MySpace pages than the rest of us. You know the type I'm talking about. Well, you can also add Volkswagen to that list of products preferred by these artists.
"I don't know why so many artists choose Volkswagens, but they flood the parking lot at the nearby Pasadena Art Center," observes Duong, the web producer responsible for et's own website and a graphic artist at pixelwerkzdesign.com. "Maybe it's the creative ad campaigns VW has had over the past few years. It's just a more creative and intriguing platform - far more interesting than a domestic vehicle," he adds.
Duong has carried his creative passion from computer to car. However, his Golf was no overnight masterpiece, and as we sat down with him we discovered it's been an ongoing work in progress.
From Van Gogh to architects like Frank Lloyd Wright, it's not uncommon for an artist's work to find alterations during its progress. As in Duong's case, his GTI originally wore stock Indigo blue paint. It wasn't long before he decided to embark upon version 2.0 and unleash the Hulk from within, by sending his ride to DTM Autohas in El Monte, CA.
"The show scene was dominated by kandy colors, so I wanted to showcase something unique and more subtle," says Duong.
"I found Urban green, a BMW Z4 color, and fell in love with the flat, yet vibrant shade."
While Duong's paint was stock, the body wasn't. George Nogal at DTM Autohas repainted the vehicle, that was already equipped with a full Rieger kit over front and rear Euro-spec bumpers and a Kamei grille. Ryan Pietersz and Kingson Tse at DTM generously kicked over some desirable carbon fiber products, fitting a carbon/kevlar splitter and hood, plus a carbon rear spoiler to balance it out. "I first began modifying the car to see what it would look like if I changed this or that," explains Duong. "It's a lot of fun changing parts until you're finally satisfied with one look or another. Then I met Ronny Ng and he introduced me to the next phase - addiction."
At one time, Ronny Ng's red GTI (et 10/03) single-handedly beat every VW on the show circuit and set the standard for complete vehicles when few Euros were heavily modified. With Ng's guidance and friendship, Duong made contacts and developed relationships to help build his mean, green machine. Stan Chen of JLine Wheels, for example, helped Duong with a nice set of 7RL2s (18x9" front, 18x10" rear) wrapped in Toyo T1R Proxes.
The nasty fender gap was eliminated courtesy of Eibach, which lowered the center of gravity with a Pro Street coilover kit. Front and rear anti-roll bars were then installed for improved handling.
"I think many enthusiasts get excited with power upgrades, but suspension and tire enhancements make a world of difference," says Duong. "That's not to say I don't enjoy power upgrades."
Already equipped with an Oettinger exhaust and software, Duong acknowledged his ride still whimpered without more boost. Enter GReddy and the next step in performance.
Notorious for its turbo upgrades on imports, the green machine was GReddy-ready. The stock turbo was replaced with a TD04-19T turbo with integrated wastegate, an Airinx intake, upgraded airflow meter, larger 370cc injectors and a re-tuned ECU. Along with a front-mount intercooler for those global warming summers, it all should result in a plentiful 245hp to the wheels (see p92 for the turbo install how-to).
"I don't race, but trust me, the car pulls!" Duong says with a grin.Artist before racer, we were curious to know how Oli would utilize the space in the rear behind the Autopower rollcage.
"I wanted to go big," says Duong. "I met Darrick Yu from TWCompetition and his Mercedes CLK widebody (et 4/06) at a car show. He took Best ICE at nearly every event, so I had him introduce me to his installer."
Duong sat down with Lorenzo DiMichieli of Quality Mobile to draw up a design that integrated three Hifonics amplifiers, two 12" Hifonics square subs and two 8" Icon monitors into a fiberglass enclosure painted BMW silver gray and carbon black.
"ICE is often an entirely creative project within itself, and I knew we'd envisaged a pretty ambitious design to house a lot of sound," notes Duong. "I knew it'd take a while to build but felt confident in the team we'd assembled, having Hifonics, Scosche, Icon, Select Products and Quality Mobile on board." Patience intact, the green monster soon had a stomach with a deafening growl, and DiMichieli finished off the system with some suede accents, installed an Xbox 360 and an adapter for the inevitable iPod.
The final result? A boomin', boostin', mean, green machine worthy of an exhibition in any modern auto gallery. A few brush strokes away from completion, Duong confirms, "I may change the color of my wheels, or splash some color inside, but for the most part the project is complete." With that said, we raise our green Heineken cans in celebration of Olivier Duong's Project Envy.
Location: Temple City, CA
OCCUPATION: Web producer
2001 VW Golf 1.8T
Engine: 1.8 liter i-4 20v with GReddy TD04H-19T turbo upgrade, GReddy FMIC, intake and software, 370cc injectors, modified airflow meter, Airinx intake, Forge 007 diverter valve, Oettinger exhaust, DEI CR2 system
Drivetrain: five-speed manual
Suspension: Eibach ProStreet coilovers and anti-roll bars front and rear
Wheels & Tires: 18x9" front, 18x10" rear JLine 7RL2 wheels, 225/40-18 (front) and 255/35-18 (rear) Toyo T1R Proxes tires
Exterior: Rieger R-RX front spoiler, side skirts and rear apron, Kamei grille, front and rear Euro bumpers, DTM Autohas carbon rear spoiler, DTM Autohas kevlar front splitter and bser hood, all painted BMW Z4 Urban green
Interior: Recaro SRD seats, Sabelt harnesses, Autopower rollcage, Blitz turbo timer, Pivot boost gauge, Momo shift knob, Personal steering wheel on NRG quick-release hub, Audi TT pedals
ICE: Alpine 7200 DVD monitor, Xbox 360, four 5.25" AS5.25CI and four 6.5" AS6.5CI Hifonics component speakers, two 12" AS12SQD4 square Hifonics subwoofers, one mono BX16050 Hifonics amp, pair of two-channel ZX6000 Hifonics amps, two MT-800w Icon monitors, Scosche cable, all in custom fiberglass installation painted BMW silver-grey and carbon-black
Thanks: Family, Leslie, Brian Joe, Ronny Ng, Ryan Pietersz and Kingson Tse at DTM, David Lieu, Eibach, Lorenzo DiMichieli at Quality Mobile, Ben Oh, Greg Emmerson, Sam Du, Stan Chen at JLine wheels, socaleuro.com, Douglass Autobody, Jan at 5th Dimension, GReddy, Hifonics, Scosche, Select Products, Toyo Tires, DEI, twcompetition.com, George at DTM autobody. Andy at Sprewell Racing, Chrissie Klein, Thai Cali, Justin Fivella and Danielle Leigh, Brad Hoss, and Crue Wake Boarding