Jose Romo isn't your typical Euro enthusiast. Raised in Los Angeles, his first car was a heavily-modified Civic. The four-door Honda had a Bomex kit, wheels, interior and suspension, but no engine work. It was the definition of a rice rocket.
You'd think his father would steer him straight, but he was also into an unusual breed of cars. "Back then, they called them Euro lowriders. It was basically Hondas on Dayton wire wheels, and my Pops built them," Jose laughed. What was the Romo family thinking?
In '06', the clouds parted and Jose finally saw the light, selling his Fast & Furious Civic for his first European car. Now the 27 year-old drives one of the wildest Audi A3s in America.
"I was going to get an A4 at first but the A3 had just come out and nobody had it back then. I knew I wanted to modify it but didn't know where to get the parts," Jose confessed.
Rather than take the A3 to the track, he planned to build a complete show car with Euro and JDM flavors. So he opted for the more affordable front-wheel drive model with the 2.0T FSI motor, six-speed manual and leather interior. His journey into the Euro scene had begun...
He visited various shops and websites to gather ideas about trustworthy, respected brands. His first stop was F1 Motorsports near his hometown of North Hollywood, where he purchased a body kit and wheels.
An authentic Rieger kit was imported from Germany, including front and rear valances plus deep side skirts which quickly transformed the A3's persona from conservative college student to gangster.
The aggressive rear valance screamed for dual exhausts, so Jose had a custom 3" Magnaflow system fabricated with twin tips exiting both sides.
Jose went with his Japanese influences for the wheels, selecting black 19" Work VS-XX wheels. The classic mesh design gave the A3 a motorsport feeling, with Toyo T1R tires mounted for good measure.
The owner rushed to finish the car with lowering springs and drilled rotors before his first Hot Import Nights show only three months after he bought the car.
After that, the mods continued as pennies permitted. So next on the list was an audio system orchestrated by A&A Autosound: "I had an idea what I wanted but they helped me finish it, basically doing the entire trunk," he explained.
A simple Sony DVD/TV head unit controlled the Alpine components all round. For added volume, Jose mounted 6x9" speakers on the hatch shelf - visible through the rear windows to increase the car's allure.
For bass, two 12" Alpine Type-E subs receive power from Alpine amps and a Rockford Fosgate capacitor. Then, the trunk was lined in grey suede.
A Neuspeed intake and carbon engine cover was incorporated under the hood to check all the boxes for car show judges.
Despite the audio, the interior was fairly stock but Jose wanted something that would stop people in their tracks. Not considering anything subtle, he dipped into his JDM roots and sourced a pair of bright red Bride Ergo cloth seats.
The rest of the interior was upholstered in complementing red suede by California Upholstery, which included the pillars, headliner, rear seat centers and door cards. At the same time, Jose bought a sheet of the same Bride cloth and rewrapped the rear shelf. A Personal steering wheel, Abt pedals and carbon shift knob finished the interior.
Happy with the A3's current state, Jose has attended almost every car show in the California area, whether import or Euro. However, it wasn't until '09 he decided to repaint the wagon. "The car was Moreno blue, which is almost a midnight blue. I was planning to do pearl white but decided on lime green instead," he told us.
This particular green is from the Hyundai Genesis, which Jose mixed to include more gold. But before paint was applied, all four fenders were pulled 0.5", with the roof and trunk wrapped in carbon to match the Seibon hood. "The exterior is now my favorite part," he told us.
The project car was completed with a set of D2 Racing coilovers and 13" Rotora big brakes up front. "I've been building the car for four years while it's been my daily driver. I wanted the car to have real impact when people see me on the freeway. Now they can't miss it!" he concluded.
All that missing is motor work, which Jose plans to start this winter. He's also entertaining air-ride but he's done a great job mixing Euro and JDM influences to create his own unique style.
Engine: 2.0-liter 16v four-cylinder turbo FSI with Neuspeed intake and carbon engine cover, 3" Magnaflow exhaust with dual tips, front-mount intercooler, Forge Motorsport diverter valve
Drivetrain: six-speed manual
Brakes: 13" Rotora front rotors with four-piston calipers, drilled and slotted rear rotors, rear calipers painted blue
Suspension: D2 Racing coilovers
Wheels & Tires: 19x8.5" front, 19x9" rear Work VS-XX wheels with 215/35 R19 front, 225/35 R19 rear Toyo T1R tires
Exterior: Rieger front and rear valances and side skirts, Seibon carbon hood, carbon-wrapped roof and trunk, OE Euro grille painted flat-black, smoked third brake- and parking lights, Hyundai Genesis Lime Rock green paint
Interior: Bride Ergo seats with Schroth Rallye-4 harnesses, door cards, armrests, rear headrests, rear seats, pillars and headliner trimmed in red suede, hatch shelf wrapped in Bride cloth, Levoc carbon e-brake handle, Sparco shift knob, Abt pedals, Personal steering wheel on Isotta hub and NRG quick-release, boost gauge on steering column
Audio/Visual: Sony DVD/TV head unit, two 12" Alpine Type-E subs, four- and two-channel Alpine amps, 6.5" Alpine Type-S components, 6x9" Alpine Type-S speakers on rear shelf, Audio Control Bass Epicenter, Rockford Fosgate digital capacitor, suede enclosure with neon lighting
Thanks: A&A Autobody, A&A Autosound, M2 Motoring, friends and family