I spent nearly $30K on my Infiniti G35 three years ago with the knowledge that no part of the car would ever be replaced by anything aftermarket. It meant that even a harmless head unit would be passed over, including a resounding "no" to iPod adapters, a fancy equalizer with flashy, hypnotizing lights, and DVD navigation to tell me where the closest Fatburger within a 3-mile radius is. The thought of changing anything under the hood wasn't even considered. I wanted my ride to be the way I bought it with absolutely nothing modified, except maybe the occasional squash-scented air freshener.
It's not that I don't like modified cars; I've been in the game since '92 and was the kid who dreamt of drifting down the touge inside an AE86 Corolla, while copping feels on circa-1994 import models. It's just that I wanted to feel more grown-up with a more grown-up car. So I promised to retire my wrenches and screwdrivers, cut up my membership card to the tuning community, and let the young kids have at it, while I watched from afar. It was this promise that I kept to myself until I started writing regularly for this magazine. The more I saw and read, the faster I craved the rumble of an exhaust, the bumpy ride of an aggressive suspension, and the defiant sounds of amped-up speakers. My inhibitions took a quick U-turn to the backseat of my brain, and all of a sudden, I was on eBay searching for white LED sidemarkers and JDM badges.
I was foolish to think I could go on with life modification-free. The fact that the majority of Americans "can't eat just one" Lays potato chip and the fact that there's such a thing as sex addiction, should've served as a warning that people, naturally, cannot get enough. It all came to a head when I was assigned to write about David Emig and his '06 Subaru WRX STI. His story, like so many others before him, is eerily similar. Anytime I ask, "What made you start modifying your vehicle?", the answer is always something along the lines of "I started small, then I went crazy" or "It was just a hobby at first..." or "I didn't know how good life could be until I built my entire block, and ported and polished my head." It was a question that had better odds than the question they ask dentists about the strength of Listerine against gingivitis, and David's response was no different.
I can't really blame David and his STI for my own shortcomings. I'm a tuner by blood, apparently; plus between the two of us, he's the smarter one. As I moped around in a stock '06 G35, David went with a car that had a little bit (ok, a lot) more testicular fortitude for about the same price I paid. The '06 WRX STI retailed in the low-30s that year, which brings me to my ultimate point: How did a car like this get slept on so much? In retrospect, I would've swallowed my pride, drove pass the Infiniti dealership, and parked my car inside the showroom floor to hand over cash straight to the sales shark's pocket.
David was actually a WRX-junkie before he purchased his STI. "I was bored with my WRX," he explained, "I wanted more power and more style, so I bought the STI." As soon as he parked the car inside his garage, David wasted no time modifying. He mapped out his attack plan and decided to flank the car first with a Voltex body kit. The Voltex front bumper helps accentuate the bright intercooler like a Paul Wall set of grills, while the canards provide assurance that his car will not take flight. "We actually installed the kit in the rain before a show," David said, "In the Fizz Autosports parking lot, we tooled away while my girlfriend held a tarp over us. We were all soaked before we headed out to Philly for the show. My favorite part of the exterior, though, is the Monster carbon fiber food. It's the only one in the country."
Underneath this one-of-a-kind hood is a relatively stock motor with only the essentials modified. The Zero Sports A/R20 high-performance turbo replaces the stock snail, providing upwards of 400 horsepower at 25 pounds of boost. David and his friends installed it with a Tomei Expreme manifold, TiAL blow-off valve, APS D/R 525 front-mount intercooler system, and a GReddy Profec B boost controller. To cool the engine, David added an ARC Prestige radiator and a set of Samco hoses to properly transfer the liquids. But before handling the cooling department, he made sure the fuel system was in check and added 850cc side-feed Power Enterprise fuel injectors, a Walbro fuel pump, and a Perrin fuel rail with stainless steel lines. It was all hands-on work that David was responsible for: "I learned a lot about the mechanics of cars by working so closely with this STI. My friends and I worked on every inch of this car without any professional help. The only thing we didn't do was tune it."
David and company even performed all the chassis work, installing the coilovers, stabilizer bars, and strut braces. He opted for the JDM quality of the Cusco Zero 2R coilovers with 12kg springs, lowering the car two inches all around. Stiffening it up even more is a Zero Sports rear sway bar, Ganador titanium strut bar, and a J Speed roll cage. It's a set-up that's made perfect for the track. But thankfully, David keeps it on the showroom floor. After all, as dope as the Voltex body kit is with its wind-tunnel-proven aerodynamics, it's definitely something you want to keep damage-free. Besides, 18x9 Advan RG2 wheels are much more properly appreciated when not spinning so fast, which brings me to wonder if the six-piston front brakes and four-piston rear brakes from Endless are actually doing any work.
So I ask again: Why was this car slept on? More importantly, why did I sleep on this car?! David managed to make the sexy even sexier, and he did it all with the self-determination and passion of a true tuner. And really, that's all that matters. It's not about feeling grown-up; it's about feeling the passion where burning the midnight oil inside a garage, installing a body kit during a rainstorm, and sharing camaraderie over engine oil and exhaust fumes is a regular occurrence. Point is, I think it's over for me, but I'm glad there are tuners out there holding the torch proudly and passionately.
Behind The Build
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Islip Terrace, NY
Movies And Work
"A big headache that was totally worth it!"
'06 Subaru WRX STI
Output 315 whp @ 6,800 rpm
Engine Port and polished and Jet Hot-coated intake manifold; Concept G Blue turbo-back exhaust; Tomei Expreme manifold; Zero Sports A/R20 turbocharger; APS DR 525 intercooler and pipes; GReddy ProFec B boost controller; Samco turbo inlet, radiator hoses; ARC Prestige radiator, pulley cover, oil cap; radiator cap; Trust oil cooler; Cobb AccesPORT ECU; Power Enterprise 850cc side-feed injectors; Walbro 255lph fuel pump; Perrin Version 1 fuel rail with stainless lines; Prova clutch and brake caps; Aqua pitch stop; Braille CF battery; Carbing catch can
Drivetrain Cusco twin-plate clutch
Suspension Cusco Zero 2R coilovers with 12kg springs, rear strut brace, front under brace; Zerosports 22mm rear sway bar; Ganador Titan titanium strut bar; J Speed roll bar; Perrin front and rear endlinks
Wheels/Tires 18x9 Advan RG2 bright chrome wheels; BFGoodrich KDW 245/35-18 tires
Brakes Endless 345mm front brake rotors with six-piston calipers, 332mm rear brake rotors with four-piston calipers, brake lines; Project Kics Neo Chrome lug nuts
Exterior Voltex front bumper, side skirts, canards, Type 2 V-mount rear wing; Monster Sport hood; Graph Tech imaging graphics
Interior Bride Vorga front seats, hyper red upholstery; Team Orange quick release steering wheel; ARC shift knob; Zero Sports leather shift boot
Electronics Pioneer D1 head unit