Lawyers. They’re prevalent everywhere in this society. Want to open a business? There’s a lawyer for that. Buy a house? There’s a lawyer for that. Heck, look at the receipt of your most recent go-fast purchase. Most likely, a lawyer wrote the disclaimer on that. Newport Beach, CA, residents should be familiar with a certain guitar-strumming Balboa Island ferry boat captain, surf bum and lawyer. While living in Japan, amongst the ski resorts of Nagano, I befriended yet another former lawyer turned ski bum. Add to the list David Vespremi, the owner of the MR2 gracing these pages.
David swore off the practice after falling in love with and modifying this SW21 (the normally aspirated version of the MR2 that shared the 4-cylinder Camry’s 135hp 5SFE engine). Suffice to say, this Mister changed his life. “Here I was in a job I hated, living a double life, driving this obnoxious car, and the partners were nudging me to get a normal car like a BMW 5 series,” David says. The year was 1999 and he had what many considered the most sought-after law career at the time: a job as an IP lawyer.
Many wise (and perhaps broke) men will tell you to take the road less traveled, and that opportunity showed its ugly arse when the dot.com bubble crashed the following year. By this time, he was spending more time with the Mister than the missus would have liked. The unemployment situation only added more fuel to the fire. All of his fellow dot-bomb casualties were car/computer geeks anyway. They collaboratively decided, “If we’re gonna go broke in this recession, we might as well have fun doing it!” Thus they started their own Internet-based marketing firm catering to the automotive world: Boosted Group.
Right around that time, the first HIN shows were gaining traction and David caught wind of the very first container of Gen III 3SGTE engines coming into Los Angeles Harbor. To the uninitiated, one might think there are no differences between one 3SGTE and another 3SGTE. But when the JDM honchos axed the USDM MR2, the zen bastards continued production in the motherland with a beefed-up version until 1999. The ’96+ JDM MR2 achieved 45 more horsepower than previous generations via improved cooling, better CFM, a MAP sensor (versus the older MAF) and a slightly larger CT-20B ceramic turbo similar to that of a Celica rally car. >>
However, the installation of the improved 3SGTE presented its own challenges. Lower U.S. octane levels and tuning on Apex Power FC were now supporting 250 hp on an engine accustomed to 96 octane — the fear was detonation, heat and the like. Enter Aquamist. The makers of the European Group A Rally water injection system are now commonplace in today’s high-performance market, but back then they were curiously looking at the burgeoning U.S. market. At this point, Boosted Group had a booth at HIN, thus David scored himself some Aquamist and his first client.
More importantly, David’s MR2 was beginning to gain the attention of tuner-type magazines. Jared Holstein (Sport Compact Car) was assigned to write about his car, and the publicity was certainly well received, but this meeting of the minds turned into one of those life-altering friendships. Not only did Jared introduce David to many crucial industry people but he helped influence David to remove any doubt about his career path being in the automotive world.
In 2002 bigger things came in the form of a former Dinan (BMW aftermarket) engineer, Pete Kang. Pete had sourced himself a crashed JDM Lancer EVO VII and was looking to develop parts for the soon-to-be released EVO VIII with some first-to-market exhaust, suspension and (later) ECU components. Kang’s gamble paid dividends when it was learned that the first ever USDM EVO VIII was indeed 90 percent a JDM EVO VII. Although a talented engineer, Kang was no hype man. David’s prowess in marketing and his highly tuned MR2 landed him the gig, and WORKS’ Tuning was formed.
It just so happens that WORKS R&D workshop was situated adjacent to a TechTV’s original San Francisco location, including the show “Screen Savers,” which was hosted by fellow motorcycle and car geek Joshua “Yoshi” Deherrera. The show specialized in interesting computer hacks and, at Yoshi’s encouragement, ended up doing a segment on hacking ECUs that they asked David to help co-host based on WORKS’ hacking of the EVO’s ECU. The show wasn’t much money, but in the viewing audience was a talent recruiter for John Wiley & Sons, the publishers of the For Dummies (FD) series of books, and approached David on doing one. With “The Fast and the Furious” movies imminent and the import car hobby at a fever pitch, the people at John Wiley & Sons pitched the idea of doing the book Car Hacks & Mods For Dummies, which David initially turned down. But when his work at WORKS started slowing down, the book was born.
Certainly there were many Misters that helped shape David’s career, but the Mister 2 is the one that started it all. It’s currently in its fourth evolution — from post-college commuter, to mildly tuned street car, to ultimate street car challenge contender and finally ethanol-burning, high-horsepower tree-hugger. As previously mentioned, this is a JDM 3SGTE and hardware modifications include ARP head studs, ATS adjustable cam gears, a GReddy oil cooler and a USG fuel pressure gauge. TRD goods include engine mounts, an oil cap and a 160-degree thermostat. For power, air penetrates through a KO Racing intake, is then pressurized via a Garrett GT35R turbo and excess exhaust spits into a Tial Sport 38mm wastegate. Wolfkatz aluminum intercooler piping guide the charged oxygen into a Blitz 4-row intercooler before making its way into the engine via a custom one-off Gen III intake made to adapt to a Infiniti Q45 90mm throttle body. Excess boost relieves itself by means of a HKS SSQV blow-off valve.
Once in the head, air meets misted fuel when it finds a set of voracious Phoenix Power 850cc injectors, then the flammable brew is swallowed into the combustion chamber by the use of 272 HKS high-lift cams. Once burnt for power, spent gases dive into a Gen III port-matched exhaust manifold to propel the aforementioned GT35R and the KO Racing downpipe and exhaust carry it all out to the atmosphere.
Engine management solutions are delegated to an A’PEXi Power FC and PFC commander, while an Aquamist System 2S averts detonation. FC Datalogit works in conjunction with the PFC to log vital data and a MSD ignition amp, coil, wires and modified distributor cap all serve to ensure more than proper spark is on tap, while a Walbro fuel pump gives it something to spark. All this power and no stability, nor stopping ability, would make a car as light as 2,680 lbs — a mere tire roaster and dyno queen — so David swapped out his original lowering springs with JDM TRD (there is a difference from USDM) coilovers, but stiffer springs mean that it amplifies chassis flex. Initially, David started with an Autopower 6-point cage. Framed within the confines of 16x7-inch and 17x8.5-inch Volk TE37s are Endless Type NA-S brakes, Goodridge stainless lines, custom Kevlar ducting and H&R 15mm spacers.
Being an ads man means a particular attention to aesthetic. However, most of the exterior upgrades exhibit function, not just form. Border Racing side vent covers, Mad PSI carbon pieces and an Odyssey dry cell battery all replaced OE pieces with lighter versions; ditching the stereo even saved 30 lbs. More weight savings? The A/C (-34 lbs), lightweight clutch (-5 lbs), seats (-45 lbs) and a whole host of unnecessary items resulted in a net savings of 457.7 lbs.
All this hardware has given the JDM-TRD-paint-themed Mister its share of the limelight. But it’s not the hardware that counts. It’s the software, and by that I mean David’s uncanny ability to schmooze and rub elbows with the automotive elite. Next time you gaze upon the familiar silhouette of your beloved ride, know this: somewhere on some far corner of the globe, someone else is doing the same thing. We’re all interconnected in this car hobby, and for someone like David, that people connection has resulted in a career.
Specs & Details
'93 Toyota MR2
Engine Toyota Gen 3 JDM 3SGTE inline-4
Engine Modifications Aquamist System 2S; ARP head studs; ATS adjustable cam gears; Blitz 4-row TMIC intercooler; custom Gen III intake manifold; Q45 90mm throttle; EMS power side vent block-off plate; Garrett GT35R; GReddy oil cooler; HKS SSQV BOV (2), 272/272 high-lift cams; KO Racing air intake, downpipe & R1 Exhaust; MSD ignition amp, coil wires & modified distributor cap; Phoenix Power 850cc injectors, one-off big-bore Gen III fuel rail; port-matched/polished OE exhaust manifold; Tial Sport 38mm wastegate; TRD engine mounts, oil cap & 160-degree thermostat; USG fuel pressure gauge; Walbro fuel pump; Wolfkatz aluminum IC piping
Drivetrain ATS CV joints; Clutchmasters twin-plate clutch/flywheel; Kaaz 1.5-way LSD
Engine Management A’PEXi Power FC, Commander & Turbo Timer; Blitz Dual SBC-R boost controller; FC Datalogit
Suspension/Chassis Carbing 4-point lower arm brace; EMS-powered strut tower braces (f/r) & sway bar reinforcement plates; a mix of Energy/Prothane bushings; Gab lower arm bars; HKS pillow-ball rear upper mounts; H&R 15mm spacers; High and Tight spherical endlinks; JIC Magic spherical tension rods & traction rods; JDM rear sway bar; TEIN camber plates; TRD JDM circuit coilovers & front sway bar; Ultra Racing fender braces; Bellco chassis reinforcement foam; Autopower 6-point rollcage
Exterior Border Racing carbon-fiber side vent covers; DJ Limited Raybrig/Pivot carbon-fiber low-rise light conversion; Mad PSI carbon-fiber hood, engine cover & side pieces, trunk lid & front lip; OEM JDM TRD paint scheme; OEM JDM front clear corner lens, amber corner lens, reflector replacement mouldings, sill plates & taillights; Street Weapons carbon headlight covers; Tom’s duckbill spoiler; YoshiWorks carbon-fiber undertray splitter
Interior Corbeau Monza carbon-Kevlar seats; EMS-powered boost, oil temp & fuel gauges; JDM SW20 gauge cluster; Nardi steering; NRG quick-release hub; Recaro helmet pads; Willans 6-point harness; WORS shift knob
Wheels, Tires & Brakes Rays Engineering Volk TE37 16x7” & 17x8.5”; Falken Azenis 215/45R16 & 255/40R17; custom Kevlar brake ducting; Bedell Racing brake master cylinder brace; Goodridge stainless steel brake lines; Endless Type NA-S brake pads