Hello everyone, my name is Micah - and I'm an addict.
I'm not sure when my addiction to modding my vehicles started. With the first few cars it wasn't that big of a deal, just audio stuff. Then I had a car painted and put rims on it. A few years later, I built what was to be the first turbocharged automatic protege (2002 ES "sportshift AT") in the USA (near as any forum could prove anyway), shortly there after I blew the engine.
This is where I should have stopped.
I bought a car which I felt I would be happy to leave stock - my 2005 Nissan 350Z. I even purchased an extended 7yr/70k warranty to ensure I left it alone. My plans were to drive the Z on weekends and days off, and my now restored to stock (mostly) protege as my daily driver. 7 months and 13,000 miles later, I realized I was never going to drive the protege again. So in October of 2005 I traded it in for a 2002 WRX. I got a decent deal on it, it had 32,000 miles on it and everything looked to be stock. I saw it on the net for 15,900, it was stickered on the lot for 16,900 - I paid 14,900.
My friends Andy and Frank had WRX's - so I had seen what they had done to theirs. I knew this was a mod friendly car. I found this forum and started doing some posting and reading. Imagine this, I even used the SEARCH! I walked into Precision Tuning in Brick and met Rich and his crew. Talking to them, I learned even more and started to figure out the direction I wanted to go in.
"Just a few light mods", maybe some Perrin bars and a Cobb AP was what I was thinking.
I started off with their stage II brake kit, it made a marked improvement in stopping distances and also brake pedal feel. I replaced the tires as the stock rubber was due for replacement and winter was just around the corner. I did the 30k service because who knew if it had been done. I was behaving.
I read more, I considered the UTEC and the AP. Since my protege was tuned with a piggyback (MPI Tuner, a special version of a Precision Power piggyback), I decided I would rather not have the mess of wiring and/or the time needed to massage a tune that would not anger the stock ECU. I ordered the AccessPort. When it finally arrived - I was elated. Everything was set, and just then I found out the unit was bad. So back to Cobb it went, and I waited for the replacement. It came, and in it went. Flashed to stage I and it became a whole new car. I got a CEL which was triggered for "Bank One Lean", cleared it, and took it easy for a while, then eventually got back on it and never had a problem again.
Gas mileage increased from 21 to 23mpg. The car was much smoother in power delivery. I could use the AP to check how much boost the car was running (no stock boost gauge). My little bugeye was becoming a fun car.
I did more reading over the winter and a few more mods were purchased. Perrin Uppipe, Intercooler Hose Kit, Intake Charge Pipe, and Turbo Inlet Hose. These were all installed at the same time, and it made a marked improvement in spool time. Even better, my mileage went up slightly. I was now closer to 24mpg. Yes, I'm one of those anal people that does the math everytime I fill up. Call me a geek but I like to know what kind of mileage I'm getting. (Oh, and yeah, I still have the occasional weekend where that dips down to about 16mpg heheeheh)
Life was good, I was adjusting to modding - yet trying to do so with a mind towards sensibility. Money wasn't an issue, I was a single guy who had earned 85k last year and I was sure I was going to be fine financially. That's when my job told me I was being laid off, or more accurately, my open ended contract (and those of my coworkers as well) was being cut in June. Even though it was February, I freaked the **** out. I cut all spending, I was pissed because here I was with 1000 a month in car payments, and nothing saved in the bank. How the hell was I gonna make this work. I was too far upside down on both of my car payments to get out of either one. I had no money saved other than 12k in my 401k, which I can't touch anyway cuz Uncle Sam would tax the hell out of it rendering it near useless in the process. I started job hunting on Dice, Hotjobs, Monster, and Craigslist. I talked to friends of mine and family about my situation and tried to find a job. I moved back in with my parents and saved as much as I could. I was eligible for Unemployment if I needed it, which would be 451/week for six months before taxes. This would be just enough to pay my car payments and insurance, put gas in my tank, and let me live on ramen. Still - it was something. In the meantime I saved and kept job hunting. In a few months I realized exactly how much money I had been wasting as I managed to save 8k in the bank by not going out or otherwise doing anything that required money for fun.
I found a job and a good deal on an exhaust. The modding resumed! A bosal DP/gutted 3rd cat/Cobb 3" SS catback were installed and I flashed to stage II. The WRX officially started to sound and feel like a beast. I looked around for deals on the forum and tried finding a vf30 or vf34 setup that was used but would be safe to install. After reading and discussion I decided I didn't want to cheap out on a turbo, and ordered the 1299 package from Gruppe-S (which is not expected to ship until the end of July) for the vf34, sti pink injectors, and walbro fuel pump - while I was at it, I also ordered the Cusco Engine & Tranny mounts and rear sway bar with Helix endlinks. I'll be picking up Tein SS damper coilovers from a member of the forum next weekend. My Tein EDFC and Autometer Boost and EGT gauges should be arriving next week. I've already got the Perrin Dual Gauge pod - just waiting for the gauges to arrive so that I can have everything installed next month.
I love my WRX, modding it is a blast, there is such a huge aftermarket supportbase for this car and no shortage of forum members modding and reporting on the pro's and con's of each item. Even better, my WRX looks tame enough that I don't have cops following me, nor little johnny ricer revving at me at each stoplight.
So the purpose of this thread is to mainly chronicle my own history with the car, and also to serve as an example of an upgrade path for others. Next up will likely be taking care of the chipping paint, 2 small rust spots on the roof (por-15?), and chipping paint on the grille before winter.
1. Brakes need to be upgraded - stopping power should always be first
2. Engine Management - better power delivery, and increased mileage
3. breathing mods - intake and exhaust - an engine is an air pump, help it by opening up the areas of restriction
4. suspension, gauges, drivetrain mounts, fuel system,and turbo upgrade - ok, I kinda went a little crazy but I was making up for months of not modding.