Growing up in the Philippines, Alan Castro was introduced to the automotive lifestyle by his father, a diehard enthusiast who was constantly tinkering with and racing Volkswagen Beetles and Hondas. Throughout Alan's childhood, he bounced back and forth between the Philippines and Chicago, but cars remained the focal point of his interest, from every magazine he pored over to every ride his father built. Around the time he started high school, Alan became a full-time resident of Chicago, and the long-awaited idea of purchasing his own car became a possibility. Coincidentally, it was during this time that the Chicago import car scene underwent a drastic transformation, heavily influenced from Japan's drift culture.
Narrowing down the reason for the explosive popularity of drifting in Chicago is impossible. As a concept, drifting was by no means new to the U.S., as the famed D1 Grand Prix (D1GP) had crossed over from Japan to California for two exhibition rounds in '04 and '05. The Internet provided an endless wealth of drifting videos from Japan, and the question was not "Why?" but rather, "Why here?" Why was it that seemingly out of nowhere, the Midwest was emulating Japanese styling and culture as well as, if not better, than the West Coast? The popularity of drifting in California was undeniable through direct exposure to the best the drift world had to offer; however, Chicago pumped out a consistent stream of well-built, stylish cars, piloted by some of the most notorious drivers the streets had cultivated.
As a typical high school student, Alan had only heard stories about drift culture blossoming in Chicago. It was through a classmate, who he befriended out of sheer coincidence, that Alan had his initial experience of what was happening on his own streets after dark. This classmate was Phil Stubkjaer, and through Phil Alan was introduced to members of several local drift teams, teams that would go on to become hugely influential in the community.
At this point, Alan was still saving up for his first car and knew he wanted an S13. It was just a matter of time until he found the right one. In the meantime, he joined a few forums and spent as much time as he could around the older guys who already had cars and were driving—soaking in a wealth of knowledge and learning the intricacies of styling. Alan eventually started driving, and his first car was a Mitsubishi Lancer, courtesy of his relatives. As great as it was to gain mobility and freedom, his desire for a drift car never subsided and he eventually sold the Lancer (sorry, Grandma) and purchased his first S13.
Two more S13s came and went, and with each one hosts of learning experiences were had—lessons in performance, styling, and driving techniques. Out of necessity, Alan learned everything from bodywork to suspension setups, engine swaps, and the care of temperamental turbo engines. It seemed as though Alan would stay true to the S13 platform forever, and he probably would have, had it not been for the introduction of the Subaru BRZ.
To Alan, the BRZ was seemingly a game changer, and he picked one up as soon as they became available, selling his beloved S13 to make the down payment. He continued where he'd left off with the BRZ, styling it in the same way and drifting it constantly. Even now, he speaks nothing but praises of the platform, from its great gas mileage to its ability to take a beating night after night and still get him to work the next morning. Alan is quick to point out that the car itself was amazing, that it was everything he could have possibly wanted in a modern car, but that was the exact reason why he felt something was missing. He stuck with the BRZ for a few years, not quite sure of the source of his internal conflict. It wasn't until the R32 Skyline became legal for importation into the country that he was able to pinpoint the exact reason of his uneasiness.
Naturally, Alan's enthusiasm was reignited with the R32. The pedigree of the platform is undeniable, and to somebody who had lived for drifting as long as he had, he knew it was only a matter of time before he would own one. When a friend looking to sell his R32 offered to trade cars with Alan for a week, he jumped at the chance—the perfect opportunity to get a real feel for the car. All it took was one test drive, as a bone-stock, 25-year-old car with blown suspension and worn bushings possessed everything he felt was missing from the BRZ—a soul that could only be found in cars produced during a certain era. Going against all reason and logic, Alan parted out and sold his Subaru and purchased that exact R32.
The vague, boat-like ride and steering feel of old Nissans, though strangely comforting and familiar, was immediately addressed. Alan went directly to Stance Suspension and ordered everything the company made for the chassis, from custom-valved coilovers to every control arm.
With the car now lowered sufficiently and set up to suit his driving style, Alan was ready to tackle the aesthetics, contacting none other than his old friend Jesse Streeter. Jesse sourced Alan a full PS Duce Type II aero kit, supplemented by a D-MAX vented hood and Origin Lab over-fenders, which fit over a large set of Work Emotion CR2Ps.
Now that the majority of the body panels had been replaced, Alan started looking at paint colors. Coincidentally enough, his roommate had just sent his S13 out for paint, and when it returned coated in a candy yellow, one glance was all it took for Alan to shift his focus to candy hues—narrowing it down to "Candy Brandy Wine."
After paint, Alan's R32 underwent an engine replacement, a turbo and valvetrain upgrades, a bay makeover, and endless amounts of tinkering. The exterior has been constantly reworked, with the addition of aero parts, and the interior looks like it fell out of a copy of Drift Tengoku. The interior even features an ETC card reader—a device used in Japan that allows you to bypass the tollbooth, charging directly to your credit card. In the U.S., the practicality of an ETC card reader is virtually nonexistent, but it goes to show just how much effort has been put into the small details.
Alan, who turns 30 years old this year, claims that drifting is confined "mostly" to the track nowadays, but he sees no reason to ever let this car go. Now that he has finally found a vehicle that possesses the soul and style of the purest form of drifting, he'll likely build on this same car for years to come.