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2003 Hyundai Tiburon GT - Turbo Shark

This Hyundai Tiburon Is Ready For A Feeding Frenzy!

Eric Eikenberry
Oct 2, 2009
Photographer: Daniel Olivares

The Hyundai Tiburon has and probably always will be a forgotten soul in the sport compact world. However, to the fans of these V-6-powered, long-nose, short-deck hatchbacks, that doesn't matter in the least. They're die-hard enthusiasts to the core-the same sort of inspired folks who launched the import car craze in the early '90s with Volkswagens, Hondas and Nissans. People who refuse to hear what can't be done with front-wheel-drive, small-displacement vehicles. Daniel Olivares is a shining example, and even if he may not have graduated high school until long after the heyday of the JDM movement, that same spirit drives his love for his'03 Tiburon GT.

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This self-proclaimed "Honda/Acura fanatic" admits he felt the need to go his own way early on in his search. "I looked at models like the RSX Type-S, Integra, Civic Si and so on, but as I did this I couldn't help but feel like I was following the norm. Being who I am, I started looking for something different, or unique, for lack of a better word." His "unique" came in the form of the then-new Tiburon. "Later that summer I picked up an '03 GT V-6 5-speed. I was hoping to get a 6-speed, but I was too impatient to wait for the dealer to find me one." Pay attention to this statement, boys and girls, because it could save you thousands of dollars in modifications one day! "By not getting the 6-speed version that I wanted originally, my car was missing some of the options that I was after." This is how the path to the dark side begins.

Starting with an OEM high spoiler for the rear and a metallic pedal set, Daniel was pleased with his car until he stumbled upon "I came across the Korean version of the Tib and, all of a sudden, I found myself with this goal to make my car have all the options offered overseas. I started with the KDM badging conversion, followed by the KDM gas door and doorsills." From there, the bug had firmly taken root in his soul and he wanted a turbo kit. One small problem, no one made a turbo kit. In fact, only one shop-Enhanced Street Performance, in Sterling, Massachusetts-was even working on a prototype kit for the 2.7-liter V-6. Daniel kept tabs on the progress, and when the idea was killed off, he arranged to buy the prototype version. "For the next nine months, the kit sat in my room as I worked my butt off to get all the supporting mods; I was determined and found myself at one point working three jobs to save up-all of this while still going to school." Finally, parts in hand, he went back to Dave Brady at Enhanced Street Performance for the installation. We wish we could tell you it all went smoothly, but with used parts, this isn't always the case. The Subaru turbo was smoking under boost and worse, it was making unusual noises. The list of issues went on and on, and included a too-large intercooler, boost creep and a damaged air-conditioner condenser. Not exactly the high point of the project. Daniel and Dave kept at it, and they worked up a plan. They went to a Subaru TD05-20G, meant for the larger 2.5-liter Boxer engine, and had Blouch Performance weld the internal wastegate shut so ESP could fit a Synapse 40mm external unit and atmospheric dump. Daniel selected a Treadstone intercooler. Mounting it required flipping it upside down and welding on new 90-degree elbows (and a little creative bumper bar trimming). The results speak for themselves, looking mighty tasty in the lower '05-06 front bumper opening.

With some revisions to the up- and downpipes, Daniel's car was back on the street and looking for 350 hp at 9 psi. Considering that it started life with just 140, that's a notable increase. Of course, he'd also been busy with the exterior, swapping first from the stock hood to a VIS Racing EVO-style carbon-fiber hood, then to a GT Tech N1 CF hood. He added KDM '05-06 headlights and taillamps. The new-style bumper meant he needed a new front lip spoiler so he settled on one from M&S while choosing the sides and rear skirts from the GT Tech catalog. "I went through a few sets of wheels as well until one day I decided, you know what, I need to do something else that no one has done to this car yet." He plunked down his hard-earned money for a set of Work Emotion CR Kai wheels in 18x8.5- and 9.5-inch. The rear offset is a whopping 38mm and resulted in contact with his OEM struts. A pair of 6mm spacers and a set of ARK DT-P coilovers solved that problem and got his Tiburon back on the street with the wheels flush to the arches. While he admits it's not kosher to run this sort of staggered setup, he's already planning his next wheel combination with a closer eye on track performance.

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In the interior, he learned that the lack of aftermarket support for the Tiburon didn't necessarily mean that parts weren't available. With the aid of Speed Concept, he discovered that an EVO harness bar from Sparco would work well with the Bride Euro 2 seats and Takata four-point harnesses. Likewise, an NRG-Innovations Mazda short hub and 2.5 quick-release mount would allow Daniel to run with a Personal Neo Grinta 350mm steering wheel in place of the OEM piece.

With the long process taking six years to this point, Daniel could be forgiven if he had skimped here and there along the way. But he hasn't. Four-piston Wilwood Superlite calipers grip oversized rotors with ceramic pads. A Super Sequential blow-off valve from HKS offers a bit of audible entertainment between shifts. A Clutch Masters four-puck sprung hub clutch, Fidanza lightweight aluminum flywheel, and an NGM solid front motor mount help him transfer the 347 ft-lbs of torque to the wheels effectively.

In the end, we have more than just a turbocharged Tiburon-more than a hopped-up Hyundai. We've got a glimpse into the future of KDM tuning. With cookie-cutter EVOs popping up around the country as fast as people can order plug-and-play parts, it's refreshing to see the original JDM-infused can-do spirit is still alive and well. Perhaps all it takes is a fresh design from a different country to stir the creative juices? Whatever the case, make no mistake about it-Daniel's well-fed road shark is on the right track now.

Specifications & Details
'03 Hyundai Tiburon GT

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2.7-liter V-6

Engine Modifications
Custom V-6 turbo setup w/ Blouch Performance TD05-20G, Synapse 40mm wastegate, HKS SSQV blow-off valve, Treadstone TR8 intercooler, NGM 310cc injectors, GReddy oil catch can, NGM solid front motor mount, SSA after-cat exhaust

Fidanza lightweight flywheel, Clutch Masters FX400 clutch

Wheels, Tires and Brakes
Work Emotion CR Kai 18X8.5 +25 (f) and 18x9.5 +38 (r), 225/40/18 Toyo T1R (f) and 245/35/18 Toyo T1R (r), Rays lug nuts, Willwood 4-piston Superlite Front brake kit and OEM-size slotted rotors (r)

ARK DT_P Coilovers, ARK front strut bar

OEM FL '05-06 front bumper conversion, KDM '05-06 FL headlight, taillight and foglight conversion, M&S front lip, GT Tech Type 2 side skirts and rear skirts, GT Tech N1 carbon-fiber hood, Tomato A&P eyelids, ARK Shorty Antenna, OEM KDM Tuscani badges

Bride Euro 2 Seats, Takata 341-mph harnesses, Sparco harness bar, Auto Meter C2, boost, EGT and oil pressure gauges, Innovate LC1 AF gauge, A'PEXi Neo, TWM M1 Abram shift knob and short shifter, NRG 2.5 quick release and short hub, Personal Neo Grinta 350mm

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