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2003 Subaru Impreza WRX - It’s A Jersey Thing

D-Money’s WRX: The Real Situation

David Pratte
Aug 18, 2011
Photographer: Eric Tong

We’ve got a situation here! Dimitri “D-Money” Tsougas has taken his fabulicious bug-eye WRX to beyond the next level, but is this thing a fugazi trailer queen rockin’ nothing but knock-off parts, or a legit JDM-meets-hot-rod beast worthy of nationwide fist pumps?

Between his strict regiment of GTL and heading up sales and marketing at Akuma Motorsports, D-Money made time to prove to us that his Subie is more than worthy of its legendary status on the interweb.

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Like any Italian (and Greek) Jersey kid, D-Money had two options to choose from when going car shopping as a teenager: a Ford Mustang or a Mitsubishi Eclipse. He opted for the latter, having been influenced by that timeless franchise known as “The Fast and the Furious.” As D-Money put it, “I bought my Eclipse when I was 16 and turned it into a pretty typical show car. We’re talking candy paint, F&F-type mods, and all that goofy stuff. That’s when a lot of people started going JDM, so I decided I either had to rebuild the Eclipse or get something new. I loved the WRX, so I bought mine brand new in 2004 so I could do the whole JDM thing. I started with a C-West kit and fully did it up while I was still a senior in high school. Then as a freshman in college I totally changed it up, painted it white and really started to develop a strong style, including slamming the ride height and doing the hellaflush thing. That’s when it really started to grab a lot of attention online and I got the nickname D-Money.”

After that, D-Money figured he’d have a better chance of smushing with Snooki if he picked up a fresh new BMW 335i. But maybe he realized Snooki would turn into a stage-5 clinger, because D-Money canceled his order at the Bimmer dealership and instead decided to turn his WRX into what you see here, a truly outrageous yet street-driven machine that’s taken a page or two out of the hot rod builder’s manual, as well as from the VW and West Coast Honda scenes.

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“I really wanted to raise the bar, so I had the engine bay, undercarriage, control arms and every bracket powdercoated by Martin at Liquid Powder Coats, every single bolt replaced with hot rod–style hex head bolts and shaved the engine bay,” D-Money says. “Nobody had ever shaved the bay of a Subaru before, so I started to rip everything out and look at how to shave it. I marked up all the spots to shave and let Bill Sr. and Bill Jr. at Vitale Collision work their magic on it. I also got rid of all the factory rubber hoses, replacing them with AN lines like the hot rod guys do.” Once the bay was shaved smoother than a guido’s chest (along with the factory antenna, side markers and washer nozzles) and the super-rare JUN front bumper arrived from Japan to go along with the rest of the top-shelf JDM exterior bits and pieces, the Vitale Bills applied a unique blend of BASF Ultrasonic Blue Mica with dark aluminum and purple flakes in it, which they topped off with no less than 12 coats of clear. The end result is a color deeper and more seductive than JWoWW’s cleavage after a dozen SoCo’s at Karma.

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In the engine bay, D-Money went all VW/Honda on the situation by complementing the shaved firewall with a full wire tuck, another first in the Subaru scene. “My friend Fred did the wire tuck,” D-Money says. “He doesn’t do this stuff for a living [and isn’t for hire], he’s just the kid that did it.” We also love the fact that D-Money and JM Fabrications managed to design the custom coolant, overflow and power steering tanks with hidden mounting brackets so that they appear to be floating in the bay. It’s this kind of outside-the-box thinking and attention to detail that really separates D-Money’s Subie from the rest of the show crowd.

The 700hp-capable engine build and PPG dog box gear set also suggest that D-Money isn’t playing games when it comes to performance. As he put it, “There’s lots of haters out there who say my car’s just a trailer queen, but the truth is I built it to drive it and to take it to the track. Once the engine is fully broken in, we’ll do the full boost tuning, but that didn’t stop me from driving this trailer king to Philly for a meet after winning Best in Show at Street Wars 7 in Jersey [where his WRX also picked up five other awards, including Best Subaru, Best Engine Bay and Best Interior].” Love it or hate it, you’ve gotta give this tanned and faux-hawked Jersey kid respect for driving a car this stanced out on the rough streets of the Northeast.

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D-Money readily admits that he’s not a wrench-spinner, but thanks to his boys John, Evan, Jay and Doug at Akuma Motorsports, every last mechanical detail of the build has been sorted to the same meticulous standard as the aesthetics. Add to that the help of his homeslice Andy, the Bills at Vitale Collision, the flawless work of JM Fabrication and D-Money’s own eye for design and determination to build the ultimate WRX, and you’ve got the perfect storm for pulling off one of the most outrageous show-n-go Subarus you’ll ever lay eyes on. Sure, it took more than a thousand man hours and over $100K to build it, but all the more reason to give D-Money a gorilla-sized fist pump for having the stones to build a WRX this extreme.

Specs & Details

'03 Subaru Impreza WRX
Engine 2.5-liter EJ25 flat-4
Engine Modifications RAW Performance Signature Series block & cylinder heads (2.5-liter STI semi-closed, Darton sleeves, modified EJ257 crankshaft, custom Pauter rods, custom CP 8.5:1 pistons, ARP head studs, Cometic head gaskets, STI Group-N Kevlar timing belt, custom Kelford 280/280 camshafts, Supertech +1mm valves, Ti retainers & springs); Ultimate Racing turbo kit & 1,260cc injectors; 2.5" ID up-pipe; Gruppe-S UEL header; Cosworth intake manifold; JMF custom intercooler kit, 4" intake; TiAL 50mm BOV & 44mm wastegate; JDM TGV deletes; Cusco motor/trans mounts; PNT Performance 70mm billet TB; Koyo rad; ARC oil cap, rad caps & shroud; ATI super damper; Unorthodox pulley set; Hayden slimline fans; JIC Spartan DE type-1 full Ti exhaust (80mm); Setrab oil cooler; Killer B Motorsports V2 oil pan; Gallery Original dress-up colored bolts (56 pieces); Project µ brake & clutch reservoir caps; NRG hood dampers; wire tuck by Wkderf; TurboXS surge tank setup; Bosch 044 external fuel pumps; Walbro 255-lph fuel pump; Aeromotive A1000 fpr, fuel filter & bracket
Engine Management Hydra EMS v2.6 w/ wideband & flat foot shift/launch control; A’PEXi AVCR electronic boost controller & turbo timer w/ HKS harness
Drivetrain PPG 1-4 straight cut gear set, 1-4 billet selector forks, front LSD, transfer gear & synchros; ACT XT 6-puck sprung clutch & Streetlite flywheel; ’07 3.54 R180 rear diff: Kartboy 5mm short shifter; DSS 600hp rear axles & front axle bar upgrade
Suspension Stance AL+ PRO coilovers (8k/6k); ARP extended wheel studs; Carbing front strut bar w/ msb & 8-point subframe brace; Cusco strut bar & V-brace (r), lateral links, trailing arms & 22mm sway bars (f/r); Hotchkis endlinks (f/r)
Wheels, Tires & Brakes Work Emotion CR Kai 18x9.5" +30 WMB finish wheels; Dunlop Direzza Sport Z1 Star Spec 255/35R18 tires; Project µ 355mm big brake kit; StopTech SS braided brake lines (r); Wilwood brake proportioning valve; custom ABS delete
Exterior JUN Auto front bumper; C-West side skirts; HKS Kansai Service rear diffuser; ARC Magic splitters; Ganador mirrors; Varis carbon-fiber B-pillars; Chargespeed carbon-fiber brake ducts; ’04 STI rear bumper; Velocity Carbon V1 trunk lid; Kakumei carbon-fiber window spoiler; JDM STI headlights, rear aprons, grille w/ STI emblem, VKInnovations carbon-fiber/shaved wiper cowl; BASF Ultrasonic Blue Mica w/ dark aluminum & purple flake
Interior Bride Stradia Maziora edition front seats w/ Andromeda backs, brackets & sliders, & gradation wrapped door cards; Takata harnesses; Key!s Racing 325mm steering wheel; Works Bell Rapfix II QR, short boss hub & Rapfix flipper; ARC polished titanium shift knob; ATI steering column pod; Defi triple gauge hood pod, control unit, BF amber 60mm boost, oil temp, EGT, oil pressure & water temp gauges; Rallytech 5-piece carbon-fiber rear seat delete; Cusco 11-point polished rollcage; VKInnovations carbon-fiber interior trim pieces; GarageSpec billet aluminum shifter extender
Sponsors 201motorsports, Liquid Powdercoats, RAW Performance, Andrewtech Automotive, CVR Motorsports, Bride/Tees USA, Stance-USA, Vitale Collision, JM Fabrications, Velocity Carbon, VKInnovations, Rockstar energy drink, Akuma Motorsports, Killer B Motorsports, GarageSpec, Oakes Detail, Shades of Gray Window Tint

By David Pratte
216 Articles

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