Rami Qasem of Baton Rouge, LA, was chillin' at home one day when a friend rolled up to his house in an S2000 he had just purchased and told him excitedly that he had to take the car for a spin. Initially, Rami didn't share his friend's enthusiasm and looked down at the Honda roadster skeptically. Why? Well, Rami is 6 feet tall and 250 pounds, so it's easy to understand why this car, or even this type of car, hadn't crossed his mind as one to own and fix up. Previously, he owned a '98 Mazda 626 and a couple of '94 Honda Civic coupes-two entirely different types of vehicles when compared to the snug, rear-wheel-drive convertible S2000. Nonetheless, he accepted his friend's offer and got in the vehicle and drove it. That one drive changed everything. "The S2000 didn't seem practical at all for me but once I sat in it, it hugged me, and I drove it around, and immediately fell in love." He decided right then and there that he had to have one and immediately began looking. In just two short weeks Rami found an S2000 for a great deal and although the car had its fair share of flaws, decided to make the purchase.
Now that the car was in his possession, Rami could begin to modify the vehicle to his liking. The thing was, he wasn't 100 percent sure what route to take with it. That was, until he laid eyes on one S2000 in particular. "My true inspiration came from an S2000 in Georgia most know as Leng's AP2." The clean paintjob, slammed stance, aggressively sized Work Meister wheels, and J's Racing rear diffuser all played a role in making that car stand out to Rami, but one aspect of the build really resonated with him. "The fitment of it is what really took over me, and I was quickly steered toward the 'hellaflush' route." I know, I know, some of you are probably rolling your eyes right now and I get it, believe me. That whole style of modifying cars isn't for everyone, that's for sure. And Rami knows that. The thing is, he likes it and it's his car, so it really doesn't matter whether you or I care for it. "Although not for everybody, it's what I like and enjoy. I love the effort and workmanship you have to put into it as far as achieving that fitment and look that you want," Rami says. I think we can all respect that perspective.
Rami decided in the very beginning that he was going to build the car as a head-turning daily driver. "All I was trying to achieve was a very clean daily driver-not a drag car or a track car, just a cruiser that I could enjoy riding with the top down, going about my business." First was to find a set of wheels that would achieve the type of fitment that Rami had become so attracted to. The first set that he went with were limited edition matte black Enkei NT03+M wheels from Touge Factory sized 18x9.5 +27 all the way around. "Trying to fit these was a pain especially because no one in Louisiana we knew was into the fitment scene." So Rami turned to the web. After reading various forums, he went with a set of 225/40-18 Falken Ziex tires to mount on the wheels. The next problem was finding a shop in the area willing to stretch and mount tires of that size onto his wheels. Rami ended up being referred to Sumo Dinh of SuWorks Auto who solved that problem quickly and easily. Putting the wheels on the car, Rami then realized that they poked out from the body of the car way too much, so he set out to get an alignment to get the wheels and tires to fit the body of the car. Once again, finding a business willing to do that type of alignment proved to be an obstacle; a majority of alignment facilities refuse to do this type of work. But Rami was referred to Chad Jackson, who took care of the alignment and made the necessary negative camber settings. With these newfound resources at his disposal, Rami felt comfortable switching to different wheel setups, which he eventually did, putting his car on an awesome set of SSR Professor SP1s wheels. The car was now ready to roll and that's exactly what Rami did, attending various meets and events and just cruising the car around. But one event in particular stood out, and for Rami, brought about the next phase of his build.
...once I sat in it, it hugged me, and I drove it around, and immediately fell in love.
It was the summer of 2010, and Rami had driven to Nashville for the ever-popular Import Alliance event. It didn't take long before the vehicles at the event had an effect on him. "This event made me realize I needed to step my game up tremendously. Everything out there was executed so nicely and I was able to see many builds that intrigued me." Rami decided that as soon as he got home some modifications would occur. If the event and the cars within weren't enough to get him going, the 10-hour commute that he and his friends had to get back to their hometown from the event would be. Apparently, a friend of his leading the caravan ran into and kicked up all kinds of debris, resulting in Rami's OEM AP2 front bumper and lip being completely ripped off. It wasn't a big deal to Rami, though. "Since I already had my mind set on going to a whole new level this was just more of an excuse, I guess you could say," he says.
We have all seen cars driving around with mangled fenders, looking like they put a set of improperly sized wheels and tires on their car and drove . . . because that's exactly what they did. Rami didn't want to be one of those people anymore, so he used the road debris incident to push him forward. He decided to have the metal of his S2 chassis worked on to properly accommodate the specs of whatever wheels he put on the car. Meeting Khai Dang of Unique Customs and Collision out of Baton Rouge, Rami had him work on the front fenders, flaring them out and adding reinforcement to keep them strong. Additionally, he had Dang flare out the rear fenders and prep and paint the entire car Dark Teal Pearl (a color he saw and fell in love with from a '10 Toyota). With the metalwork done and the color change complete, Rami was happier with the vehicle and decided to take the car to another event to showcase the build. This time, he took it to Import Reactor in Houston, where he was honored to receive the Best S2000 award. Rami was on cloud nine when he left the event to head home. Unfortunately, as he was driving down the interstate, he hit a dip so hard that it ended up cracking his freshly done and painted fenders. Although very frustrated and upset, Rami wasn't discouraged. Not having the money to have the fenders fixed and repainted, as well as purchase necessary suspension upgrades, Rami made the difficult decision to part with his beloved SP1s. The money from the sale allowed him to purchase coilovers as well as the comparably sized white Work Emotions that are now on the car in these photos. Although he figured the white would contrast nicely with his dark paint, he wasn't entirely convinced. "Once I put 'em on I immediately knew I made a great choice," he says. Rami then topped them off with a custom set of gold decals.
Clearly experiencing his fair share of problems during the course of the build, Rami has continued to keep his positive, optimistic perspective. "All I know is that this car has been through a bunch of ups and downs and has brought me along with it. I can tell you that we have had way more ups though, and I have enjoyed everything that we have been through thus far." With that attitude, I'm sure that no matter what happens, Rami will continue to modify cars and be a part of the ever-growing, multifaceted import tuner culture.
Behind the Build
Baton Rouge, LA
cars, poker, Xbox, eating out with friends, traveling
2003 Honda S2000
400 whp / 360 lb-ft of torque (est.)
Engine ARC induction box, intake chamber, exhaust manifold cover, titanium spark plug cover, oil cap; Invidia N1 dual cat-back exhaust; Mishimoto radiator; Gladman Performance master cylinder cover; Password:JDM gold fender washers, radiator stays, hood dampers; Optima YellowTop battery; NGK spark plug wires, spark plugs
Drivetrain ACT Stage 2 clutch, flywheel
Wheels/Tires Work CR Kai (18x9.5 +30 front; 18x9.5 +12 rear); Falken Ziex 512 tires (215/40-18 front; 225/40-18 rear); Project Kics R40 Neo-Chro lug nuts
Brakes Hawk HPS pads
Exterior Dark Teal Pearl paint; AP2 headlights, front bumper, rear bumper taillights; APR front splitter; custom side diffusers; Top One USA rear diffuser
Interior Bride Low Max front seats; Buddy Club seat rails; Personal 350mm steering wheel; NRG short hub, Ver. 2.5 quick release; AP2 center console
Audio/Electronics Sony head unit, 6.5-inch front speakers; Pioneer 12-inch subwoofer; Punch 600-watt amplifier
Gratitude "Khai Dang of Unique Customs and Collision; Autrey McKiver at DWS Parts; Chad Jackson for the alignments; Son Nguyen of 5th Element; Trung Luong for detailing the car; my roommate, Jonathan Chaffin; Cliff Wallace of Import Face-Off; my Low-weezy-anA family; my wonderful girl, Trang Lam; Sumo Dinh of SuWorks Auto; Top One USA."