Up next in the Archives of Chris Reno is a car that belongs to a long time Houston tuner, and huge supporter of what we would call the local tuner “scene”, Greg Lilly. Greg, like many of us just cant seem to shake the tuner habit, and has devoted his life to ricerhood. Now, a father of two he has to juggle his business (Underground Graphics), children (he has 2), and a marriage ( to a very patient wife ). With all of this juggling around Greg still manages to pull off some petty sick builds. Note I said builds, with an “s” because this is the first of two cars that we will be putting up on Mayday Garage from Greg. Although this car has been out of Greg’s possession for a long time and no longer exists in this form it is still a rad ride. Note: The car was shot 2 years ago, for your viewing pleasure.
“In 1995 I owned my first “import”, a 95 Honda Civic EX coupe. Two years following came an Integra GSR sedan. In 2001 as I looked at S2000’s, the price was just still too steep, so I became an avid Subaru junkie. Two 2002 WRX’s and a 2004 STI, six years of Subaru, but I sold out and bought a Lexus. Yes, it was an incredible car, but I still missed the feel of a “drivers” car. So the search began for my first “second” vehicle. This one would serve as a weekend toy, show car, auto-x car (all my Subaru friends were doing it). As I looked for months for a pristine WRX, a fellow friend was looking to sell his S2000, …I finally caved. The car was already a show car and well taken care of, and his selling price was one that could not be refused. Thank you, Cory Zimmerman, for that opportunity to build an S2000.
So, in November 2006 I purchased the car. My intentions at the time were to slowly re-build what my friend had already done. At the same time I’d have fulfilled my desire for a true sports car, one that I could auto-x, show, and just “enjoy”. Being in the car show scene for over 10 years, I believe in the cardinal rule of: It is improper to buy and not change a previously owned show vehicle. (We’ve all seen it). And so it began, first came the auto-x’ing, then a new front lip (one of many to follow), new wheels (same story), new tires, and so on, and so on.
Trends and goals continually change during the course of a project. Since purchase, many parts have been added, and then removed or replaced yet again with something better or for function. A prime example, the nitrous system. I paid a small fortune for the custom install only to see it as a show piece; later, after the supercharger addition, it was time to completely redesign the system. It would have worked the old way, but function over form prevailed. The audio system was another hurdle, and the carbon products yet another. I found myself striving for the best products that give the best performance, and so began many authentic JDM products being added or replacing current pieces.
However, I saw a much brighter future in store. The car was purchased with most of the products still on the vehicle: Fiber Images carbon hood, VIS carbon fiber trunk, Feels carbon diffusers, Amuse (replica) carbon fiber lip, APR carbon fiber mirrors, BYS carbon fiber intake cover and panel, Cusco carbon fiber strut brace. As well as a few performance goodies: ACT clutch, Spoon flywheel, and HKS Hiper exhaust. Most of these parts were replaced, and what wasn’t yet, would be.
I spent the good portion of my first year of ownership at the auto-x events once a month. I didn’t do too bad, finishing right in the middle of the pack of STO, right behind the Subarus and right in front of everything else. During this time, I slowly began modding and drifting away from the auto-x events, as I didn’t want to risk damage to any of the new carbon parts. Although, it did double-duty for a few months doing both the track days and car shows. Not soon after, I was basically back in full “show car” swing. The car was either in the shop getting more work done, or sitting in my garage awaiting the next local car show or meet. And so it had “officially” begun.
As aforementioned, the car has gone through several transformation, or schemes (if you will). As you see it now, the vehicle is loaded with carbon fiber: from the exterior pieces, a Seibon CF front lip, Top Secret hood, APR GT mirrors, Go-Tuning side diffusers, VIS trunk, Veilside lip spoiler (painted black), exhaust cap finisher, and Top Secret rear diffuser w/ vortex generators. Engine bay pieces include: APR radiator shroud, Comptech air box lid, DownForce heat shield, Braille battery, Carbing Craft spark plug cover & NRG hood struts. Interior pieces include: door sills, MaxSpeed center console, MasterGrade upper door cards, and a base/floor for the nitrous bottle in the trunk. Moving away from the all the carbon fiber, one might notice a few shiney goodies under the hood. Most of these pieces were hand crafted by Nathanials Performance, including the J’s Racing themed oil/coolant tank, the inlet elbow, all reservoir covers, VTEC solenoid cover, fuse box covers, and HID box cover. In addition, the Comptech aftercooler, valve cover, intake manifold and nitrous bottle were all polished by Atlas Plating. Following suit with shiney things, recently added were the SSR SP1’s in SBC finish, 18×8 +49 SL, and 18×9.5 +55 SL, wrapped in BFG KDW’s 225/40 and 255/35 and secured with black RAYS duralumin lugs.
For those interested in the performance and engine details, the heart of the car is the Comptech Supercharger w/ aftercooler. The kit is running a Tech2 high boost pulley at 8lbs, putting out approximately 325rwhp and 200rwtq, still using stock internals and stock EM. Engine Logics worked thier magic tuning with just the Apex-I VAFC. …So far , so good. Furthering the performance goal is a custom Nitrous Express NXL direct port kit, w/ hard lines, purge valve, remote opener, jetted for a 35 shot and run via a MSD digital RPM window switch. No dyno results on this just yet, for safety’s sake. Other improvements include: HKS Hiper exhaust, Berk header and test pipe, RC 550cc injectors, Koyorad radiator, Walbro 255lph fuel pump, Inline Pro fuel rail, Comptech FPR, ACT stage 3 clutch, and Spoon Sports flywheel, oil & radiator caps.
During those auto-x days, I spent some time finding a budget friendly suspension set up that ended up working quite well. The Apex-i N1 Type-EXV adjustable coilovers worked well with Tanabe’s front and rear sway bars, Comptech titanium series strut bar, and TopSpeed X-brace. At that time I also swapped the rotors for DBA 4000 replacements with Hawk HPS pads and Technafit stainless steel braided lines pumping ATE Super Blue fluid.
Taking another look inside, you’ll find the previous mentioned assortment of carbon fiber. Bride Digo reclinable seats atop Bride rails hold you snuggly while gripping a KEY!S Racing steering wheel mated to an NRG hub & gen 2 ver.2.5 quick release. Shifting gears comes with a Spoon Sports titanium shift knob. Cusco gives the car a bit of safety in the form of a 4 point roll bar, powdercoated black. MUZ custom fit floor mats finish off the interior bits. But, the real fun inside came in the form of a full custom audio set up by Custom Car Stereo. After a few takes at audio, this time it was finally done right. Custom Car yanked what little I had left for storage and fitted two JL8w1’s in a custom center stack between the Brides, (this also houses the MSD window switch). Flowing off this piece are additional custom panels housing the JL VR525 CXi coaxials behind the seats. JL Audio C5 650 components sit in the doors and in the lower A-Pillars. Powering the system is a duo of JL Audio black series amplifiers, a 300/4 and a 300/2 nestled in the trunk surrounding the custom mounted nitrous bottle. A false wall was put in place with a lit carbon-look acrylic plate that slides to allow access to the adjustable suspension (just in-case I do ever get back to a track). A hidden Kinetik battery and isolator ensures a safe start-up. And lastly, control comes from an Alpine 9885 HU w/ the obligatory i-Pod interface and PAC dash control.
Many people give me a hard time because I don’t do what they think I should be doing with the car; but, it’s not their car. It doesn’t really matter what you drive, as long as you love what your doing to it and share your hard work for others to appreciate. This is where my heart is. I love the industry, the people, the community.
Addendum: This photo shoot was taken December of 2008 by Chris Reno. The vehicle only attended select shows in 2009, as another project vehicle was purchased, …yes, yet another black STI. So, as this photoshoot finally reaches the web, the car has long been retired and recently sold alongside a complete partout. The photos you see here are the pinnacle of it’s life, …I’d like to bid it a proper tribute and farewell. So long friend, you will be missed!”
Until part two!
All Pictures taken by Chris Reno (Chreeno), brought back to life exclusively for MaydayGarage.