Rick Gonzalez might be 45 years-old but he's been a car guy since he was mastering his times tables. At a very early age (which will remain undisclosed), his father, a seasoned mechanic, showed him the ropes around the garage and behind the steering wheel. When Rick reached the legal driving age, he was already ahead of the game and spent every other weekend burning rubber on the drag strip piloting whatever muscle car his dad was wrenching on. Rick's passion for driving eventually turned into building project cars. Some of his favorites included a '74 Chevy Impala, '80 Mazda GLC, and Honda Civic, but within the last ten years Subaru took control over Rick.
"I got into Subarus purely out of the passion for stock cars that can run thirteen's," he explained. "I thought to myself, ‘Imagine what I can do with it?'"
Rick popped his Subie cherry with a '04 WRX before he moved on to this Aspen white '08 STI. The hatchback was an easy sell for him—faster and more versatile than the older STI with plenty of room for him and his family. The all-wheel drive hatch also boasted a wider track and a new diff for phenomenal traction. When the car finally made its home in Rick's garage, he didn't waste any time getting to work.
For the WRX's theme, Rick wanted the best of both worlds. At one end of the spectrum, he saw himself flossing in one kick-ass show car. But at the other end, he still had a thing for drag racing and didn't want to get left in the dust. So he addressed the motor first piecing together a turbo kit using a Garrett GT3582R. A new fuel system was thrown into the mix which required Rick to modify the lines, fabricate a custom rail and add 1000cc injectors and a high-flow pump. After installing a beefier downpipe and exhaust, plus a front-mount intercooler and water/meth injection, Rick enlisted the help of Precision Tuning to take care of the tune. The final dyno resulted in a healthy 451whp and 401 lb-ft of torque. And what do you think Rick's first order of business was after the dyno? Yes, you guessed it, a visit to his local dragstrip. After changing the STI's shoes to Hoosier slicks, Rick put down a best time of 11.4-seconds at 127mph—that's even with a rough sixty-foot start!
Still smiling from ear-to-ear, Rick shifted his focus to the STI's supermodel looks. Maintaining a clean and simple style, he updated the entire front-end with the '11 facelift, before adding a few sporty pieces like the carbon front spoiler, side skirts and a modified rear wing that Rick trimmed himself to appear more menacing.
The wheels for Rick's STI matched the rest of the car. He opted against any over-glamorous rim designs but kept it race-inspired and lightweight sticking to 18x10.5" Enkei NT03+Ms. He powedercoated them matte black giving the exterior a bit of contrast and tension from the body color.
Next, the interior received its fair share of top-notch goodies including bright red suede Bride seats, Takata harnesses and a Nardi wheel. It didn't stop there with more nice swag thrown in such as the suede headliner, rollbar with the integrated water/meth tank and a very serious audio setup in the trunk.
The most talked about part of the Subie is none other than the suspension. "When I go to shows, I want that low stance. I didn't want to have to deal with adjusting coilovers and messing with the camber," he told us. It's going to piss off the Subie purists, but Rick decided to go with air ride. He talked to SP Customs in Arizona who designed a custom bags-over-coil setup using Cusco coilovers and universal air bags. The end result isn't too slammed but pretty damn low compared to the majority of modified Subarus.
It took two-and-a-half years for Rick to get this far with the project. He still has a few tricks up his sleeves for the next couple of years including a full wire tuck and shaved engine bay. It'll definitely be more of a show car by the sound of it but he's already proven himself worthy. While it might have air suspension and some showy pieces, it still has the time slips to prove that it's not a force to be f'ked with.
2008 Subaru WRX STI
Hometown Woodbridge, NJ
Occupation DOE building manager
power 451whp, 401 lb-ft of torque
Engine 2.5 liter 16v flat-four with Garrett GT3582R turbo; Perrin intercooler, pipes powdercoated white, up-pipe and downpipe; Deatschwerks 1000cc Injectors; Walbro 255lph fuel pump; TurboXS fuel rails; AEM fuel regulator and water/meth injection with Nitrous Express bottle; Precision Turbo wastegate, TiAL 44mm blow-off valve; deleted tumble generator valve
Drivetrain Six-speed manual transmission with Clutchmasters race clutch
Engine Management Tuning by Cobb AP; GReddy Profec B Spec II boost controller
Footwork & Chassis Cusco coilovers with air bags, E-Con controller, 20mm sway bars, rear Power bar and H bracket; GTSpec front strut bar and camber controller arms
Brakes Brembo calipers powdercoated white; front DBA rotors; Endless pads
Exterior 2011 front end conversion; BlackTop Aero carbon front spoiler; Bottom Line Type1 side and rear spoilers; Chargespeed eyelids; Varis carbon pillar garnish; modified front grille; painted side badges; rear wiper delete; LED rear reflectors; Perrin shorty antenna; JDM vent visors; clear headlights with halo lights; Spec C roof vent
Interior Bride Euro II seats and seat rails; Takata harnesses; Autopower rollbar; carbon-wrapped armrest; keyless start with JDM bezel; Nardi steering wheel; NRG flip-up hub adapter; Taylor Battery relocate; Moroso quick battery disconnect; suede headliner; JPM Coachworks shift and e-brake boots; Defi boost gauge; JVC head unit; JDM radio bezel; Boston Acoustic components, sub and amp; JVC DVD/CD/Navi Head Unit, JDM Radio Bezel, Boston Acoustic F/R Components, Boston Acoustic G3 sub, Boston Acoustic 5 channel amp, Defi Boost Gauge, AEM UEGO wideband
Thank You Cleo at Prection Tuning, Dan at FB Customs, Justin at JSC Speed, NeedPowderCoating, Wired Electronics, Team Boostelo, GTSPEC, sntrl.com, Fresh Meets, IAG, Auto Concept Elite, Continental Cars LLC and my wife