Sixteen years ago, did you ever think we'd be sitting here as the eighth installment of The Fast and Furious series passes the $1 billion mark at the box office? Hell noooo! But even with its circus-like stunts, flying cars, and submarine action scenes, it's hard to knock the franchise's success. And while later movies have veered away from being about cars, we still have to remember where it all started, especially as the earlier films were the main reason why many friends and fellow enthusiasts joined the car scene.
Take for example, Ricky Gomez. Ricky was only 10 years old when the original F&F hit the big screen, but he tells us that film was what ignited his passion for modified cars and made it a community he wanted to be a part of. He'd attended meets and become acquainted with other car guys for years, but it wasn't until 12 years later, at 22, when he finally picked up his first and only project car, this '04 Subaru STI, and he's never looked back.
Like many of us at that age, Ricky didn't make the dough to go out and buy all the parts in one go. He had to save money where he could, which inevitably became a four-year journey with his STI. He spent the first year getting to know how to drive the 300hp 2.5L sedan and familiarize himself with the all-wheel-drive grip Subaru's are known for. As time progressed, he set goals for himself, and little by little he improved each category of his STI, starting under the hood.
First, he had the stock turbo ported, then added bolt-ons like an intake, downpipe, exhaust, headers, and uprated fuel components. The car is tuned via a Cobb Accessport and running strictly E85 and is now pushing 366 whp—well over 100 hp more than the factory output.
The chassis was tackled next with fundamental upgrades such as Fortune Auto coils, Whiteline sway bars, and a roll center kit to dial in the vehicle's suspension geometry.
One of Ricky's main goals was to own a car he'd be proud to display at a show, so he took steps to make the Subaru's appearance aggressive and meaty. The exterior parts include fender flares, Chargespeed skirts, and a custom-ordered Voltex rear wing. He tells us the front splitter and rear diffuser have been modified to be a bit wider than usual, while add-ons like the GT3 mirrors and intake duct in the passenger-side headlight demonstrate he hasn't skimped on the little details. Paint is still factory Java black, however Ricky had his body and paint shop add an extra green flake to make it pop a bit more than usual.
For wheel selection, he's elected to go with the "can't go wrong" Volk Racing TE37SLs wrapped in Falken Azenis FK453 rubber. The Hyper blue finish matches the interior—Braum bucket seats and a painted rollbar.
Ricky still plans to tear down the engine and amp it up for more boost, but right now his car is as good as the best of them. It might not have 1,000 hp or $50K in rare parts, but in a sense it's much better than that, with a solid list of parts, a mean appearance, and a humble owner who's taken his time to build his first and only project car—even if it was Fast and Furious that started it all for him...