Avid enthusiasts know the hunt for something different is almost never ending. Off-the-shelf parts offer the convenience and immediacy to satisfy the masses, but at the cost of repeated builds that seem to get tougher to differentiate. The bolt-on fender flare craze is testament to this, as lookalikes become all but mandatory, right down to wheel choice and even sticker placement.
So, how do you break the mold and stand out in a sea of similarity? By going with something one-off, of course. Easier said than done, obviously, because the vision of a perfect build that haunts you isn’t always a possibility and leaves most reaching for what’s obtainable. In the case of Tim Tobar @tntmasterpiece and his 2004 G35, standard wheel and body mods could only hold his attention for so long.
Purchased in 2014, the car’s current status is essentially its second life. Its first iteration featured standard body lines, a different set of wheels, and the custom carbon trunk you see pictured, produced by Outcast Garage, who also created the 1-of-1 front bumper currently on the car. The combination set the car slightly apart from the numerous others, but it simply wasn’t enough, and Tim wanted to further separate himself from the crowd.
With thoughts of what his G35 could look like, a friend at Outcast Garage urged him to contact DTM Autobody @dtmautobody. Based in El Monte, Calif., DTM has been working with the aftermarket since 2005. Originally known as European parts retailer DTM Autohaus, the group expanded into a full service auto body shop that caters to your standard insurance claim repair and paint, to full blown custom creations, like this G35 that included a color change from black to Audi‘s Nardo Grey.
Between those two extremes, you’ll also find a number of other services available through DTM, like fender cut/rolling, head and taillight tinting, body kit fitment/installation, as well as actual parts sales. DTM certainly has the experience and know-how to make custom creations happen, but in order to fully translate Tim’s vision a third party was needed …
@jaked_up_car_art is a Los Angeles-based car artist-for-hire that has a knack for masterfully sketching out what it is you’ve got floating around in your head. His artwork covers all vehicle types and styles, and in this case his rendering would serve as a basis for DTM to work from. The group offered a rough idea and some details on the build, then set Jake loose to create something original.
Starting from scratch would usually mean a stock-bodied G35, then adding all of the personal touches. In Tim’s case, however, the caveat in his design wishes included working around a set of massive 20×12.5-in. front, 20×15-in. rear Infinitewerks Concave MT wheels. The size and style of the wheel has a major impact on the design, which relies heavily on sweeping, non-traditional lines from front to back.
Taking the artistic angles on paper and applying them to a real subject is about as hard as it sounds, according to Long of DTM, who states, “We’ve done R&D for various body kit brands for years so we know what works and what doesn’t. We definitely used that experience on this build in all aspects, even the ones that don’t seem that important to some. The wheel wells, for example—we’ve worked with many customers that want to tuck their wheels but keeping the wells proportional, not oblong or mismatched, is a huge step in getting it right.”
The process to transform Jake’s rendering to reality took a full year, off and on, and as you might expect with something this involved, setbacks were part of the process. Long adds, “The front fenders dip in with the side skirt, and getting that angle right was very tough. You have to remember that the drawing doesn’t take into account the structure of the vehicle itself. So, certain parts you can cut or even remove, but others you simply can’t, and you have to figure out ways to work around them.” Though the front fenders are metal, the majority of the rest of the kit is fiberglass—a material that, Long says, is best for working around extreme body lines and exaggerated curves.
The front end of Tim’s G35 still sports the Outcast Garage one-off bumper, but additional material was added to both sides by DTM in order to meet the newfound width of the front fenders.
Those fenders feature the sharp cut that Long mentioned previously, but it’s not the blunt, cut-and-paste feel you’re accustomed to. Instead, the mid-portion of the fender, which looms over the top of the cutout, is sculpted, and the flow of the fender that combines OEM and aftermarket sheet metal remains seamless.
The lower portion of the leading edge of the side skirt is rounded to help finish off the fender cutout, then flattens out as it traces the G35’s flanks and leads to a complex rear quarter panel.
The flat, straight side skirt makes a sharp turn outward, where it’s met by the lower portion of the rear quarter that might be the most controversial section of the entire kit, as it’s not shy in announcing its presence. A multi-tier portion that sits atop the angled skirt continues the push outward to help house those large, 20×15 rear wheels.
With a few inches separating the original body from the wider, fabricated portion, step around to the side and you’ll notice yet another sculpted portion at the top of the panel, just under the rear quarter window, which helps to continue the sweeping line that angles upward before flattening out as it passes the trunk.
Like the front, another cutout was made to not only match but also to display a portion of the rear wheel and tire. Completely aired-out with Air Lift Performance and lacking the extreme camber treatment thanks to dialing in the suspension with Voodoo camber arms, the exposed rubber adds an even more aggressive touch.
In the rear, a carbon-fiber diffuser houses an ARC differential cooler and a set of Motordyne TDX2 finishers on the lower half, while up top the Outcast Garage carbon-fiber trunk remains but was partially painted with the majority of the integrated deck spoiler left in raw carbon.
Giving up on convenience in order to obtain something truly outside of the box is always a risk, but it’s something that Tim Tobar was dead set on turning into a reality. Friendly networking brought him to DTM Autobody and an artist’s touch helped tie all of the pieces together for a truly one-of-a-kind build.
Inspired by a legendary JDM car crew, this SoCal NSX widebody finds its way in front of the camera for Travis Scott’s JackBoys.
The first generation Acura NSX came in a variety of configurations during its 15-year run. Only about 18,000 were built, making this mid-engine marvel, that’s been massaged by the hands of Formula One great Ayrton Senna, one of the most sought-after ’90s-era sports cars today. Its C-series, V6 VTEC engine was praised early on for its technology and reliability, but was never a powerhouse; however, a lightweight aluminum body and chassis along with a fully independent cast suspension and titanium connecting rods were just some of the things that made the rear-wheel-drive NSX a race-bred winner that could hold its own at your local track and backroad canyons. These reasons, along with a rich history in modified JDM car culture is exactly why Anthony Valenzuela picked up this particular 2001 six-speed model four years ago.
I’d met Anthony on multiple occasions at events across Southern California which include our very own Supra One Night Stand car meet and a Guess Jeans pop-up car show that we helped organize in downtown L.A. Anthony’s NA2 is admittedly a show car and weekend cruiser, but that doesn’t mean it lacks function.
The 3.2-liter C32 engine is perhaps the weakest link of the project with 320hp on tap – just 30 ponies more than stock thanks to an ARC intake and exhaust, and Comptech headers. What’s more interesting about his car, however, is the combination of JDM style and chassis performance. No, it’s not a straight line car (and the NSX was never meant to be) and where it excels is in the corners where BC coilovers with stiffer Swift springs are installed and StopTech big brakes and ultra-wide 18×9.5″ front, 18×10.5″ rear Volk Racing TE37 wheels are matched with 100-treadwear Toyo R888R tires.
The extreme aero from the Voltex wing to the widebody, splitters and canards are all intended to improve track width and downforce which both play an important part when it comes to grip and handling. To the critics, Anthony’s car might just look like a trailer queen and if it wasn’t for me witnessing him going up the canyon roads for our photoshoot, I would have never believed it myself. This NSX can rip!
Anthony debuted the final look of his T-Top NSX at the 2019 SEMA Show in the MFR Engineering boot, but perhaps what’s got people excited is its recent appearance in Travis Scott’s JackBoys compilation music video “Gang Gang“. Currently the video has almost 30 million views, and the numbers are still climbing. Sure, it might only be a short cameo, but being recognized by one of today’s biggest hip-hop stars is no small feat, and we gotta give props where props are due.
1-ON-1 INTERVIEW WITH ANTHONY
First things first, how’d you end up in a music video with Travis Scott and Sheck Wes?
I was invited by Jonathan Oregon at Enticed Motorsports to the video shoot. Travis is a big fan of JDM and older tuner cars, so it was a cool experience and nice to see our cars in the video.
I’m jealous! And you’re on a first name basis with Travis now? Just kidding… So why the NSX?
The NSX was a dream car when I was a kid, so it was always on my list of must-owns. This is my second one. My first just had wheels and suspension about 17 years ago. This is my first full custom build.
Now that you’re a bit of a seasoned NSX owner, what was the whole theme and inspiration behind this one?
It’s definitely themed after the Team Top End NSX crew in Japan. One of the NSXs had a full Marga Hills body kit and it always stuck in my head. Team Top End was very popular in the ’90s and well known for having highly modified NSXs. I have a DVD titled Grip Video that has a story about them. I’ve kept it all these years in hopes to build a similar style NSX. They were known for racing up and down the wangan and meeting at Daikoku Futo.
I can’t say I’ve seen a Marga Hills NSX outside of Japan. The last two we shot following our 2015 Tokyo Auto Salon trip featuring Jun Saitoh and Yoshinobu Yamamoto. Can you elaborate more on what makes the kit/brand so special?
The Marga Hills body kit was designed and developed in a wind tunnel, then also race proven in Japan. I built my NSX with this kit since it would be the only one on the West Coast and I didn’t want my car to look like anyone else’s. DTM Autobody performed some custom touches to the kit, like the side skirts and the rear spats have been molded to clean up the lines and make it just a bit different.
But it didn’t end there, right?
Correct. Mike at MFR Engineering is known for making aero parts for race cars. Recently, he expanded his business and started building aero for show cars, hard parkers and for cars like mine—occasional canyon cruisers. All of my parts are chassis mounted and are made of very high-quality aircraft aluminum, able to stand up to abuse. My kit consists of front and side splitters, plus a rear diffuser all meant to keep the car stable at high speeds. I also have some front canards to further assist in downforce on the front end.
Surprising you kept the stock color after goin’ widebody…
I kept the original color Silverstone Metallic since it’s not seen too often, and I think it complemented the body lines of the kit.
Touche. I noticed the interior looks pretty boss with that ‘cage and those Pole Position seats.
Yes, the roll cage is a custom ‘cage built by Studio RSR. It’s connected to the rear engine brace and to my knowledge, it’s a one-off. The plan is to work on the rest of the interior with Alcantara and carbon everywhere. The Karo floor mats are custom pieces the company did for some left-hand-drive cars.
Are there any other modifications you’d like to highlight or plan on doing?
The ARC parts are very rare and the suspension is a Stanceparts air cup lift system over my BC coilovers. Doesn’t sacrifice performance but definitely needed to clear my own driveway. Next plans would include a more track-focused suspension and possibly a turbo kit in the near future built ty Enticed Motorsports.
Right on! Last but not least, I can’t believe that I’ve known you for so long and didn’t realize you’re in law enforcement.
I’ve been a deputy sheriff for over 18 years and not many co-workers know about my car since it’s not daily driven; however, you would be surprised about how many police officers are car enthusiasts. We are just like every other car enthusiast, have a passion for cars and like hanging out with like-minded friends, for example everyone from Team Sonkei Blue.
Just 1 of 50 worldwide, DTM Autobody works its magic on Porsche royalty
Even if you’re not a Porsche aficionado and can’t discern the numerous models that, save for the SUV, crossover and EV offerings, carry similar aesthetic, versions like the 2019 Porsche 991 Turbo S tend to separate themselves in crowded 911 waters based solely on their numbers. They do so with the sort of stuff you can certainly appreciate – you know, like that twin-turbo 3.8L Boxer that belts out a cool 580hp and sends it through all four wheels. The tough part, at least for the high-tax bracket dwellers that can afford to buy and modify these rockets, is figuring out how to stand out even further from the crowd.
For some, it might be a funky vinyl wrap and wheels, while others, like Eric Wong, chose to go way beyond over-the-counter bolt-ons and eye-searing color schemes. This 991 has been given the very exclusive Gemballa GTR 8XX Evo R treatment and is but 1 of 50 in existence across the globe. We’d say that’s a pretty good way to make a statement. Not familiar with Gemballa? They’ve been in the tuning business officially since 1981 and have earned a much-deserved reputation for churning out some of the most extreme (and yeah, expensive) conversions on various models from the likes of McLaren, Mercedes, BMW and Ferrari, in addition to Porsche. Their unique take on these high-end vehicles maintains a healthy demand – at least among those who can afford them.
To perform the Porsche’s surgery, Wong reached out to DTM Autobody of El Monte, Calif., a group we’ve worked with on several occasions and you’ve seen their handiwork applied to numerous Super Street features over the years. Essentially a do-it-all outfit, DTM can handle your basic insurance claim fender bender, can source various OEM and performance parts, take on resprays and complete color changes, and they’ve established themselves as a force in the completely custom bodywork arena as well. How Wong found DTM is pretty simple in that they’ve had a relationship for quite some time, with the shop taking care of his Rolls Royce, McLaren and more.
Widebody conversions and fender flare add-ons have been all the rage for ages, but in the last five years specifically, both the Japanese and European markets have been flooded with new options almost monthly. Some are pretty good, and others are atrocious in their blatant kidnapping of factory lines that are usually replaced by the same fender curves and girth of the rest of their line-up in a “one-size-fits-all” affair. In the case of Gemballa, the intended bulking that’s been applied to the 991’s physique, which is noted for its lean muscle, is custom tailored with a look that strongly suggests factory special edition rather than universal mail-order bits and pieces. Of course, to get there, you can expect pricing for the exclusivity of a 1-of-50 complete conversion to set you back more than a few paychecks.
What’s in the Box?
The complete GTR 8XX package includes the hood and front bumper, fender flares and side skirts, rear bumper, diffuser, wing and engine cover. The aero pieces are produced in carbon fiber, though the owner opted to paint much of the outward facing pieces, and DTM expertly masked off specific portions of the fiber mix that you have to look a little harder to see. From a few feet back, the rich black paintwork seems to cover every inch of the body, but step in a little closer, and the inside of the wing’s uprights and inner portion of the bonnet inlet maintain their naked zig-zag design.
That new wing towers over the car’s rear and extends beyond the intakes on the factory decklid. The third brake light is also still intact, though now joined by a glowing red “Gemballa” logo that sits between the taillights, just above the updated rear bumper that tightly houses Gemballa’s Sport exhaust system with rounded finishers.
It’s Bulking Season
Take a step to the side (a much bigger step than you would when working your way around factory quarters) and it’s the fender arches that you’ll take in with the rear additions measuring two inches wider than Porsche originally intended (1.2 inches in the front). That leaves enough breathing room for 20×11.5 GRS-F2 forged rollers and Pilot Sport Cup 2 that measure 325/30 out back and 20×9.5 with 265/35s up front. Much of the success of the front and rear fender extensions flowing properly on this chassis can be credited to the side skirts that tie the two halves together effortlessly.
What You Can’t See
The additional downforce afforded by the menacing rear wing and the additional grip provided by the wider tire setup is as much a necessity as it is a styling cue. The already potent 991 Turbo S has been extensively upgraded via Gemballa’s performance package.
The updates start inside the block with beefier rods and a drop in compression, paired with their head port treatment and larger valves, turbo manifold upgrade that hangs meaner turbos, high-flow cats and the aforementioned exhaust system, all which make the sort of difference you’d expect from a virtually new, built engine setup, with power figures jumping up to 818hp at 7,050 RPM. This is all controlled by Gemballa’s process of remapping both the engine and the transmission to keep pace. All of that goodness is neatly packed away, and other than the exhaust tips, there isn’t much to see under the factory plastics. This is by no means a sleeper, obviously, but given the fact that all of the newfound grunt is hidden away, you might fool a few people at your local cars and coffee, Toretto.
Not Too Much, Just Enough
Now back to that exterior makeover – reimagining the front end entirely might have pulled the design too far away from the car’s sultry flow, and to that end, Gemballa smoothed the inner edges of the left and right grill openings and angled the pillars that separate the top and bottom portions. An integrated splitter aids in providing downforce and actually fills in a visual gap that the original version possesses with its lower outer ends. The splitter and reworked bumper seem to bend and round out the front fascia as it carries to those larger front flares, and whether that’s visual trickery or dimensionally accurate, it’s undeniable. The scallops on the Gemballa hood are a massive departure from the flat, factory hood, and even-out the aggressive nature of that rear wing perched overhead.
You’ve often read or heard about how tough black paint is to apply and care for, and the owner put his trust in DTM to deliver paint and body work at a level that would match that of the car’s high-dollar fashion, and the shop nailed it. Each factory panel and the once bare carbon fiber pieces applied to the Porsche match perfectly, and there aren’t any flaws to be found. DTM describes the process, “We took the car apart to mockup all of the widebody pieces and then actually installed the parts to check for any misalignments or imperfections before drilling holes. You can only drill those holes once – there’s no room for error.” Not just a simple bolt-on affair, the new arches required cutting away some of the factory body in order to fit the more aggressive wheel and tire set up. DTM worked with Wong on deciding which parts would be painted and which would be left in raw carbon look, then everything was disassembled, properly painted, and reinstalled yet again to finish up the conversion. There were no shortcuts involved, even down to the hardware, which was specifically chosen for its black finish to blend in with the updates. How the owner maintains it from here is up to him, but we imagine someone with the sort of money needed to buy a 991 Turbo S and have it fully built, then fitted with an extremely limited body conversion has people for that.
With all of the aggression applied to the exterior, you might expect a set of non-adjustable, rigid bucket racing seats, but in actuality Gemballa kept things sporty and comfortable, with premium surfaces, of course. From the red stitched, alcantara dashboard that flows right to the upper portion of the door cards, to the bright red leather touches, highlighted by even more red-stitched black alcantara, the cabin is every bit as impressive as the outside.
The look and feel of Gemballa’s GTR 8XX Evo-R isn’t for everyone, and that’s exactly the point. The lengthy process of designing something so extreme, along with the painstaking R&D process and ensuring it carries its worth isn’t a simple process and the sticker shock that comes from a very low-volume, carbon-fiber aero kit, wheel and tire combo, and complete engine overhaul package isn’t for a frugal enthusiast. It’s expensive, but for some, the value in owning something only a handful of others on earth can afford to put in their garage is worth every penny.
ITBs, candy paint and rare JDM parts make up this Corolla time capsule.
HUMBLE BEGINNINGS AT DTM AUTOHAUS
I met Ryan Pietersz, owner of this 1985 Toyota Corolla GT-S when I first moved from Seattle to L.A. in April of 2006. I was just starting my tenure at eurotuner magazine as a Features Editor and one of my first assignments was to shoot cars from DTM Autohaus (now DTM Autobody). The guys from El Monte made a name for themselves by building a resume of Euro show cars that usually consisted of metal widebodies and candy paint jobs (this was way before the Rocket Bunny and Liberty Walk over-fender craze really took off). Cars built by DTM would score high at shows like Hot Import Nights thanks to the high quality of their work and attention to detail.
Ryan managed the aftermarket parts side of the business, well known for their DTM Karbon carbon fiber hoods. Eventually, Ryan and I became close friends as we’d coordinate photoshoots together or I’d be hanging out at the shop whenever I was free. His AE86 is a funny story because for the longest time I had no idea he owned the car, let alone he was building it up to be this extreme. It wasn’t until a year after getting to know him that his longtime personal project car, which he’d been secretly working on since high school, made its public debut as a Toyo Tires feature car at SEMA 2007. After 13 years it feels great to finally give Ryan’s Corolla the recognition it deserves, and arguably, it still looks as dope as it did 13 years ago.
CANDY PAINT JOB
In this day and age, it’s pretty damn rare to find a show or street car with a candy paint job anymore, especially with wraps of all finishes and colors becoming more affordable. Candy paint is something that was born from the hot rod scene and remains one of the most expensive and tedious paint jobs out there. There are many layers involved to give that extra metallic flake and if you’ve ever taken a look at an award-winning hotrod or lowrider, you could literally stare at their paint for hours. The hours of work it takes to make the paint glimmer unlike conventional metallic paints is something to appreciate.
Since DTM specialized in accommodating customers who wanted candy paint in the early 2000’s, Ryan followed suit but with his own JDM twist. He opted for a BASF burgundy candy paint to replace the white often seen on the “Panda style” two-tone AE86. It’s a retro tribute with a lot more swag and pop.
Ryan goes on to explain that the issue with candy paint is that it’s also impossible to fix. “I used to take it to the canyons all the time until I did the widebody and paint. After that you have to be so careful driving it. Once you damage candy paint, it’s impossible to fix it. You have to spray so many layers on it and it’s going to be really hard to match. Basically, have to paint your entire car again.” Reasons like these are why you don’t see candy paint jobs anymore.
Under those beautiful coats of burgundy and black is a JDM soul that’s hard to knock if you’re a Hachiroku fan. The aero is all from Japan starting with an authentic J-Blood kit and Blood Line fender flares. Ryan cleaned up the body ever so slightly by shaving small things like the side markers and antenna. He also molded the TRD wing to look more seamless.
BUILT TO TOUGE
Under the hood is 4A-GE 20-valve Black Top engine—one of the most popular JDM swaps for AE86 owners. Ryan had a custom set of individual throttle bodies and downpipe made, and also installed an HKS exhaust and TRD header. It’s not fast by any means according to today’s standards, but where the car still shines is in the corners. JIC prototyped a one-off coilover kit for Ryan’s car; JBT followed suit and outfitted the Corolla with a four piston-front brake kit up front.
MAKING A LIGHTWEIGHT HATCHBACK LIGHTER
Your typical AE86 Corolla weighs anywhere between 2,200 and 2,400 lbs. Ryan lightened the load a bit more by stripping out the interior and substituting things like a carbon-fiber hood, carbon door panels and Recaro buckets. There is a tad bit of weight added back in with the Safety21 ‘cage and Cusco rear strut bar, but not much. The car remains extremely nimble and fun to corner in.
LIFE AFTER DTM
New opportunities led Ryan to garage the car indefinitely. In 2009, he left DTM to start a new venture at Meister Watches. Shifting from cars to fashion wasn’t without its challenges but Meister has grown year after year offering modern, high quality and affordable watches to the masses. They’ve also made a name for themselves with some very sweet collab pieces with brands like Marvel Entertainment, Star Wars and Call of Duty.
Despite leaving the industry, Ryan has stayed true to his roots and supported the community when he can, sponsoring events like Formula DRIFT and Global Time Attack. More recently, Meister has collaborated with manufacturers like Lexus, Honda and Ford. His most recent collab is with Honda as he’s behind the Type R Heritage event which took place December 2018. Meister also partnered with Honda to drop a series of limited edition Type R watches, which have all sold out! Ryan tells me that doing these projects with the car enthusiasts that he grew up with for much of his life has reignited the fire in him to bring his AE86 back to life, back on the road and back to enjoying the car the way he used to 13 years ago.
If you’re looking to build the ultimate project car, take notes
It has never been easy to build a project car. Even if your goal is to add simple bolt-ons, lower it, and throw on a set of wheels and tires, you still need to put some thought into how it’s going to look and how well it may perform. Everyone’s looking to do something unique. However, that uniqueness may be in their eyes—and sometimes you need a little help to take a build to the next level. Let’s face it: Building a project isn’t easy, nor is it cheap. Sponsorships can help alleviate some of the financial burden, but it also means you are obligated to fulfill your requirements to support them by representing their brand. Free suddenly isn’t as “free.” Ultimately, to be in full control of your build means you become the full-time boss. You get the final say in what gets done and how it’s executed.
Quincy Yuen from British Columbia, Canada, is one such enthusiast who wanted complete control of his Subaru STI project. Make it unique—no corners cut. “One of the main points in my build was to do it without any sponsors,” he says. “Many builds these days are sponsored; they don’t have to pay for parts, and they settle for second best. I wanted mine to be top notch, built without compromise, and for me to say that I did it without any sponsors.”
Purchased new in 2012, Quincy’s STI has gone through several different phases. It’s hard to believe, but at one point, he was happy with keeping it fairly stock with wheels, coilovers, and an exhaust. Within two years, during the second phase, he added a wide-body conversion and lots of bolt-ons, which produced 382 whp on the stock block. His next move was to build the engine and convert the vehicle to a full track car. After he saved up money and collected parts, the project became a roller coaster of emotions for Quincy.
To see how far Quincy’s STI has come, one need look no further than his epic spec sheet. It reads like a greatest hits compilation of some of the world’s best parts that happen to be seamlessly integrated with top-notch fabrication work by The Speed Syndicate. What can be classified as a purpose-built track car also doubles as a complete show car. “It may not have A/C or heat or a factory dash, stereo, airbags, or seatbelts, but it’s going to turn heads one way or another,” Quincy says. The Speed Syndicate helped modify the rear quarter panels and installed the Varis kit while it was still white. Quincy continued to add more parts and took his track racing more seriously, then he decided to go all-out with a built motor from IAG Performance.
“A big overhaul never goes as planned,” he adds. “You have to work through the delays and tackle uncontrollable situations as they happen.” The STI went from Canada to Tacoma, Washington, for tuning but ran into issues. Even without being able to sort those out, the car then left for California, where it would be painted at DTM Autobody. Though he intended to keep it the original Subaru Satin White Pearl, he saw a new NSX pass by and he fell in love, so he changed it to Acura Valencia Candy Red. But after the bodywork was done, the car remained in California for another year, untouched because of the engine problems. Dreams of hitting big car shows and track events never materialized and wouldn’t until he had the car shipped home to have it back up and running again.
With as many different build phases as Quincy’s STI has gone through, the final outcome is one that’s made the long journey worthwhile, and then some. “Patience is definitely key, and it’s tested mine many times,” Quincy says. “But it’s come a long way, and I couldn’t be happier.”
|2006 Mitsubishi Evo IX MR – Ultimate MR
Kelvin Hsiu has every dope JDM part for an Evo IX and more
The Evo IX MR before you is no sleeper. Aggressive Do-Luck aero worth more than your whole fleet of Hondas and a Voltex wing won’t let it be. And that’s just because good, functional aero has a funny way of not being cheap and not existing quietly.
This is all in stark contrast to the car’s mild-mannered and temperate owner, Kelvin Hsiu. Kelvin is a guy who didn’t penetrate the car world until he’d reached his early twenties. He also isn’t ashamed to tell you that in the beginning, he was no Mitsubishi expert by any means. “The only thing I knew was that Mitsubishi had some nice coupes, like the Eclipse and the 3000GT,” he says before going on to explain how his strict parents wouldn’t sign off on either of those. “I decided to purchase [an] Evo,” he says, “the next best thing,” or, what he says he’s now come to realize was actually the best thing Mitsubishi had to offer. “I found out after purchasing the Evo that the amount of aftermarket support was endless.”
Kelvin’s story begins with a Lightning Yellow Evo VIII, and luckily the car’s four doors and sedan-like demeanor alleviated any concerns his parents might’ve had. For six years, he got more and more acquainted with the Evo’s rally-inspired, all-wheel-drive performance; however in ’09, a drunk driver made sure Kelvin would never see his first project car again. This threw him off course for a while, but it ultimately landed him in the seat of a newer and more desirable six-speed MR.
As a daily-driven project car that would see more Los Angeles traffic than it would see a racetrack, Kelvin’s MR probably needs as much downforce as Southern Californians need snow boots, but that doesn’t mean for a minute that he was wrong for draping his new MR in all of that track-appropriate aero. Besides, whether or not this Evo needs the expanse of carbon fiber that’s been strategically placed from headlight to taillight is all of a sudden a whole lot less important once you see it.
The aerodynamicist in you knows that, if Kelvin goes fast enough, those Do-Luck canards, side skirts, splitters, and diffusers will all contribute to those Toyos being able to better do their job, all the while the car show weenie in you knows that it just looks damn good. Kelvin’s no weenie, but he knew that being among the few to fit an Evo IX head to toe with what Do-Luck Japan has to offer was a good idea.
Another good idea was the TE37s he’s fitted to the car. “I’m a hoarder of TE37s,” he says laughing, in part out of modesty but also because he’s got multiple sets of Volks and you don’t. “I own five sets, including two sets of Top Secret TE37s, of which one has been signed by Kazuhiko ‘Smokey’ Nagata.”
Jealous yet? Maybe you will be once Kelvin opens the hood. You’ll notice an immaculate 4G63 with a legit HKS turbo upgrade, Full-Race exhaust manifold, and a host of ARC goodies, including a massive intercooler. ARC, as it would turn out, was also responsible for the lions share of Kelvin’s frustrations, not because its high-dollar wares exhibited any sort of trouble, but because this MR owner was determined to own just about everything the upper-echelon, overseas parts maker offered. “I was already late,” he says about his wanting to own the company’s titanium exhaust system shortly after ARC had discontinued it. Lucky for Kelvin he’d already begun to surround himself with the right sort of people, though; people with the sort of pull to get a company like ARC to do a pretty big favor. “Thankfully,” Kelvin says, “Mackin Industries pulled through and was able to get ARC to make one [more] for me.”
If you think an Evo like this doesn’t get driven, you’re wrong. According to Kelvin, miles are accumulated often—three to four days out of the week—and when the car shows call, it’s driven to them, not trailered. It’s even seen the track, of which Kelvin simply says: “It’s meant to be driven, and it’s gratifying when I can keep up with the big V-8s and V-10s.” Doing that’ll be a whole lot easier soon enough, too, because Kelvin isn’t done. An HKS stroker kit is on the wish list, which, as far as he and Evos go, is pretty much as good as done.
Kelvin Hsiu doesn’t share the same sort of flamboyant, attention-seeking personality that most car owners would with a build like this. He’s soft-spoken, he tiptoed into the world of modified cars, and he works two jobs just to provide the sort of care his car deserves. But all his hard work and passion show in more ways than one. His Evo is one of the top cars in the scene right now, capable of taking first place at a car show but also able to hold its own on the track.
Five-door GRB WRX STI hatchback is a JDM-themed show-stopper with air suspension.
HATCHBACKS NEED LOVE TOO
12 years ago, Subaru made a bold move to offer its all-wheel-drive flagship WRX STI in only a five-door hatchback/wagon. I’m a huge fan of hatchbacks with a VW GTI and EK Civic in my resume so I didn’t mind, but many felt the second-gen STI should’ve remained in sedan form. In 2011, Subaru reintroduced the STI sedan and then eventually phased out the hatch. The people had spoken, and Subaru listened.
Regardless of the mixed reviews, there were still thousands of enthusiasts who welcomed the wagon with open arms. The GRB STI retained an attractive spec – 305hp turbocharged flat-four, six-speed manual, Brembo brakes, forged 18-inch wheels and advanced AWD. Our friends at MotorTrend recorded a 4.8-second 0-60mph and 13.5-second quarter-mile in the hatch, as well as picked the STI over the Mitsubishi Evo X for its better practicality. It wasn’t long until shops like JUN Auto and Runduce began modifying their own and over the last 10 years we’ve seen countless other gorgeous examples, including Thai Quan’s 351hp Varis-wearing STI, and today’s spotlight of Daniel Leung and his 2010 model.
FAMILIAR FACE FROM OUR 2020 CALENDAR
If Daniel’s car looks familiar, it’s because he’s featured in this year’s Toyo Tires calendar, and we also caught up with him during our Subaru Angeles Crest Drive which featured the 2019 STI S209. Daniel took a different approach to his Subie, opting for more of a show car appearance using first-rate JDM parts and an extreme stance. On the canyon drive, I’d have to say he was the one who was falling back the most; however, with as much as he has invested into its striking appearance, we don’t blame him.
VARIS BODY WITH SPEC-C PAINT JOB
The outside is highlighted by a Varis widebody kit accompanied by a matching carbon fiber hood and rear wing. Out back, the stock rear bumper has been replaced with a Syms Racing piece and for a cleaner look, the rear fenders were molded to the body. The finishing touch is a Sunrise Yellow paint job which was never made available on the GRB STI but introduced for the JDM Spec-C model. Go yellow!
CHOICE CHASSIS & INTERIOR UPGRADES
The brakes have been upgraded to Brembo six-piston front and four-piston rears, while Volk Racing TE37 wheels in a wide 18×11-inch size, with 295-series Toyo R888R tires fit snuggly under all four corners.
We’re always skeptical when all-wheel-drive owners go with air-ride but with improvements in technology, they’re becoming more and more popular among Subaru owners. Daniel opted to install an Air Lift kit, which has been proven on the track time and time again, for example with Cody Miles’ 500whp time attack STI sedan.
Inside, Daniel’s hatch rocks Recaro SPG bucket seats, a Cusco four-point rollcage and Vertex steering wheel; nothing over-the-top but high-quality gear for a high-quality build.
STI ISN’T DONE YET!
According to Daniel, he’s far from done with his project car with the engine bay still awaiting more dress-up parts and a turbo upgrade (hence why we didn’t snap any photos of it). He’s also planning to add more carbon bits with Varis side extensions and front diffuser, plus a Voltex rear wing. So, while WRX STI hatchbacks aren’t exactly everyone’s favorite body style, seeing a gorgeous example like Daniel Leung’s sure makes us wish Subaru still offered an STI hatch its lineup today.
Using a combination of rare and modified parts, Daniel Medrano creates a stunning S2000
The S2000 has been around for what…20 years now?! It was a car that enthusiasts loved, but after a peak in its lifecycle in 2002, sales gradually declined until Honda pulled the plug in 2009. Despite the sports car lacking the financial success Honda hoped for, it garnered huge fandom among tuners and track goers and, over the last two decades you can easily find a modified S2000 at literally every car show ‘n road course from California to New England. With so many examples built and modified over the years, you’d think it would be something we’d get sick of at Super Street. Quite honestly, it’s still one of the sharpest looking Japanese coupes in history, driving enthusiasts still rave about its handling and performance, and owners old and new are still finding ways to make them unique and stylish in today’s modern day car world, just like Daniel Medrano and his AP1.
We invited Dan’s S2000 to our 2020 Toyo Tires calendar shoot where you might’ve snuck a peak at his ride. What we like about his AP1 is that it’s not over the top. He’s focused on using his own recipe to create an S2000 that’s fresh to the community without painting it some eye-searing color. It’s tasteful, it’s purposeful, it’s clean, and it’s our pleasure to share his car in all of its glory with you today.
Where is home and what do you do for a living?
My roots are in the land where you can find good Korean barbecue, dim sum, street tacos and everything in between—Los Angeles. When I’m not working on my car, I operate as an Aquatics Specialists for the City of El Segundo. Growing up, I was surrounded by cars due to my father’s passion for old school hot rods from Chevy Chevelles to classic ’70s Japanese cars. Specifically, his old ’71 Datsun 510 paved the way. Ever since then, I have been hooked.
What were some of your previous project cars?
I’ve always had the mentality of buying a second-hand car that I’d be able to modify instead of buying a new car that would see little to no modifications. When the Fast and Furious came out, it enhanced my desire for a Japanese two-door, rear-wheel-drive car of my own mainly because of the drift scenes from Tokyo Drift. Searching for what I could afford at the time, I stumbled upon a 2004 Nissan 350Z. Within a year and a half, I had done the basics including an exhaust, springs, and Volk Racing wheels. After my second year, the car didn’t seem to please me anymore. I sold the Z and was on the hunt for another two-door Japanese sports car.
What prompted you to get an S2000 next?
I originally found out about the ever-so-glorious S2000 from multiple magazines and the second movie from the Fast & Furious franchise. It was everything I was looking for with the reliability from, well, a Honda. It was rear-wheel-drive and had a timeless design that made me instantly fall in love with it. It was also significantly lighter than my 350Z and had a variety of parts available for it in the aftermarket world. I found a clean title AP1 and after keeping it mainly stock for about two years, it was time to start modifying it.
What’d you do first?
Scrolling through a huge list of aftermarket parts and running around like a headless chicken, I didn’t know which ones were the best. Little by little, I built the car starting with wheels, exhaust and some Spoon fenders, along with a poor paint job in 2014. The car had great balance despite lacking power and torque. After meeting up with more awesome car owners through shows and viewing different builds on the internet, I was inspired to revise the design again. So, in 2015, I decided to create something much better, which is what you see here today.
There are thousands of different modified S2000s around the world, but which one inspired you the most?
Many of them from J’s Racing, Touge Monster, and ASM Yokohama, but my all-time favorite is Arvou’s Kimodori S2000. Like the Kimodori S2000, I wanted to have a purpose-built car which not only retains its reliability and functionality, but also was ready for the track or any car show.
So, what makes your aero so unique?
I didn’t follow the conventional route of choosing only one shop to make my body kit. Instead, I picked parts from multiple shops that would make the car flow smoothly as if it came from one. After many attempts, I achieved one of the best-looking body kits I’ve ever seen. To my knowledge, the first of its kind in North America.
And the hardest thing to get?
Knowing so little on the Car Garage Amis kit, I had a hard time gathering information on it besides a few photos here and there throughout Yahoo Japan and Narita Dogfight. This left me with multiple questions in terms of wheels and wheel sizes, fitment issues, etc. There was so little info on the kit that multiple reputable shops never heard of Car Garage Amis and were left clueless as to what I was looking for. I once questioned myself about changing my decision and going with a safer route, but I didn’t want to have this car be another commonly spec’d S2000. After multiple emails going back and forth with the actual designers and owners of Car Garage Amis in Osaka, the owner Matsuura-san was able to find a distributor for me and I placed an order through Bulletproof Automotive. All my researching made this specific kit my crown jewel, my peanut butter to my jelly, the Mona Lisa to my car, and it’s the first S2000 in North America with it. After getting the kit, I didn’t want to follow the same pathway of having fenders with rivets and bolts. I made things much more complicated for myself by molding on the entire kit, from the side skirt all the way through the rear quarter panels. This process of sourcing and funding the entire build lasted around three years.
What’s next for your S2000? We noticed there isn’t a lot of engine upgrades. Was this intentional?
All the hard work eventually paid off in the end and I couldn’t be happier with the results. The only thing left is to run ITBs to retain the naturally aspirated nature of the car and potentially upgrade its displacement size to 2.6-liters, but that’s later down the road for me. As of right now, I will to continue enjoying it as it is!
Watching the accompanying video of an Acura NSX fitted with a wide body kit is a good reminder of the strange journey of these Japanese supercars. Just the fact that some people smirked at the term “supercar” is only the tip of the iceberg, considering when the NSX was first revealed by Honda in 1989 it absolutely knocked the socks off everyone at the Chicago Auto Show and then pretty much everywhere else.
Honda was known for making sensible cars, motorcycles, and lawnmowers too, not a sexy, mid-engine two-seater which went toe-to-toe with Ferraris of the day. Of course, Ferrari was able to pull away while Honda kept loping the NSX along into the early 2000s. Thanks to that stagnation while everyone else was pushing the envelope, what started out as a super-advanced vehicle became something detractors loved to mock as overrated.
Some had forgotten just how special of a car the Acura NSX was for its time. That meant buying one for years after Honda stopped making them was surprisingly affordable. Some people thought they would forever be remembered as a failure or a wanna-be supercar, but then everything seemed to change after the second-generation NSX launched, like people remembered how well-balanced and enjoyable the original had been.
Now, prices for NSXs, whether they’re badged as an Acura or Honda, are on the climb. Like other 90s Japanese classics, people are feeling pretty nostalgic about these cars. Honda is supposedly even weighing expanding its factory restoration program to the United States.
The NSX in this video wouldn’t be a good restoration candidate since the owner decided to go in a dramatically different direction. Not everyone will like the body kit or the other mods, which includes Recaro seats, cage, racing steering wheel, big wing, diffuser, front splitter, and more. Before you knock this ride, check out the video and then make the judgement call. Let us know if you like this tuned NSX or prefer them OE.