The BRZ STI That Subaru Won’t Make
Early Adopter

I know I can’t be the only one who feels that the internet, and more recently social media, makes it seem like time passes faster than ever. How many times have you scrolled through dozens and dozens of someone’s Instagram photos only to get to something that happened hardly a week ago? With everything being updated constantly and always connected, it’s easy to lose track of time.

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On that note, it’s hard to think it’s already been over three years since the Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ were first introduced to the roads of America. But in that time a huge community of enthusiasts has grown around the cars.

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While the initial hype surrounding the coupes may have subsided a bit, the passion that owners have for these boxer-powered sportscars is as strong as ever.

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One of those owners is Nguyen Le, the guy who drives the heavily-modified Subaru BRZ you see here. And like a lot of the country’s most dedicated FR-S and BRZ enthusiasts, he’s been there since day one. Prior to the debut of the BRZ, Nguyen worked as a tech at a Subaru dealership where he learned how to repair and rebuild the brand’s cars from the ground up.

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For a while he had a beat-up old Lexus and a Kawasaki motorcycle as his transportation, but when he heard that Subaru would be releasing a rear-wheel drive sportscar he was extremely interested. Like many people, Nguyen followed every move of the car’s development.

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In early 2012, a Subaru rep stopped by the dealership with a pre-production BRZ and Nguyen fell in love with the car’s heavily driver-focused attributes. He immediately placed an order, vowing to become one of the first BRZ owners in the USA.

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In May of 2012, Nguyen took delivery of his car and quickly began to tinker with it. He began with the simple stuff: fitting lowering springs, larger wheels and an upgraded intake system.

Enter Boost
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Nguyen loved the way the car felt with the upgrades, but he knew it was lacking something. Power. Having been around so many turbocharged WRXs and STIs, he knew forced induction was something that needed to happen.

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He went with a Full Blown Stage 1 turbo kit, and needless to say, he did all of the install work himself. With boost, the BRZ was initially making a stout 320 horsepower at the rear wheels.

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Over the years Nguyen continued to hone the engine setup, more recently adding larger injectors and an E85 tune for an at-the-wheels figure of 401 horsepower and 307lb-ft of torque. Lack of power was no longer an issue.

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But making the BRZ faster would be just one of Nguyen’s goals for the build; next he turned his attention to the car’s exterior. He’d been watching the aftermarket grow with great interest, and took a big liking to the Varis wide-body kit.

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Nguyen got in touch with Bulletproof Automotive to see about sourcing the kit, and found that it wouldn’t but cheap. But knowing that it would be of high quality, he had to have it. At this point Nguyen decided to go full-out on the build. He sold his motorcycle to help fund the Varis kit and began to gather other parts to take his BRZ to the next level.

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It wasn’t until February of this year that he was ready to install all the parts he’d gathered in his house. For the kit install and body work, Nguyen called on his friend Joe Adams at Collins Collision.

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Nguyen wanted the car to have an OEM quality look, and that meant great care had to be taken during the install. He also wanted the rear quarters to be fully molded with no exposed rivets.

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Along with the full wide-body kit, the car was also fitted with a Varis carbon fiber hood, a Stillen trunk lip and 1600mm-wide carbon wing from a Porsche 993 GT2 Evo2.

Doing What The Factory Won’t
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Nguyen wanted the car to sit right with Varis kit with no wheel gap, but also be friendly for daily driving. So he went with a fully adjustable Air Lift kit with V2 management that can be adjusted on the fly.

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He also wanted the car to handle well, so he gave it a full performance alignment and fitted a number of other upgrades including Perrin sway bars, Whiteline control arms and more.

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Being a huge fan of RWB Porsches, Nguyen knew exactly which wheels he wanted for the car’s makeover: Work Meister S1s with dark gray centers.

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The wheels measure 18×10-inch in the front and 18×11-inch at the rear, and if you look behind the spokes you can also see the ’08 STI Brembo brakes fitted at both ends.

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Inside the car you’ll find a mix of tasteful upgrades including an ATC Sport carbon fiber steering wheel and a full collection of Alcantara trim from JPM Coachworks.

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Nguyen also ordered a set of Recaro RS-G SK2 seats, but they arrived just after Larry’s shoot with the car in Washington DC. Other future plans include more power and a color change to Midnight Purple II from an R34 Skyline.

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Because it seems like Subaru is not going to make a turbocharged STI version of the BRZ anytime soon, Nguyen figured he’d make his own. And we think he’s actually done one better, creating one of the nicest and most well-rounded BRZs we’ve ever seen in the United States – or anywhere else for that matter.

Mike Garrett
Instagram: japanifornia_media
mike@speedhunters.com

Photos by Larry Chen
Instagram: larry_chen_foto
larry@speedhunters.com

Cutting Room Floor
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103 comments

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1

Does air suspensions perfomance well for example, on the track?

2

Holy crap, those obelisk shots are unbelievable.

3

The car looks so much better like a hot wheels car with air in the system than slammed down.

4
90nissanS13@my350z

Image #2: My tax-money being spent in the background.

5

When I went to the local Subaru dealer with my brother to test-drive a WRX last year, I decided to take one of these for a spin. It took all of five seconds to cross this car off my list.


I'm 6' and 230 lbs, and I simply cannot fit inside the damned thing comfortably. I didn't even bother with a test drive. 


I like the BRZ, but it's just not voluminous enough inside for me.

6

So nice to see tires with some sidewall on them.

7

So nice to see tires with some sidewall on them.

8

Yes it is... Mine too. Maintaining our nation's seat of government and having pride in our Capitol is important regardless of politics.

9

Yes it is... Mine too. Maintaining our nation's seat of government and having pride in our Capitol is important regardless of politics.

10

Im having such a hard time liking the brz/ft86/scion...its trying too much to be something its not... It feels like the car with no soul... but i so want to like it...:/

11

Im having such a hard time liking the brz/ft86/scion...its trying too much to be something its not... It feels like the car with no soul... but i so want to like it...:/

12

Subie should do a 2 door AWD+Turbo project IMO ! #BuildingThaConcept

13

Subie should do a 2 door AWD+Turbo project IMO ! #BuildingThaConcept

14

Dont much like the kit or the low, like what's going on under the hood thoguh

15

Dont much like the kit or the low, like what's going on under the hood thoguh

16

Nice, great write up and photos, I do like the car as well, so winning all over here....

17

Nice, great write up and photos, I do like the car as well, so winning all over here....

18

I think the BRZ looks the best stock out of the three & god damn Subaru, just make an few STI versions for Christ sake!!! God knows Toyota doesn't have the balls to make a hardcore version & who the fuck is Scion? Says every other country except for America.

19

I think the BRZ looks the best stock out of the three & god damn Subaru, just make an few STI versions for Christ sake!!! God knows Toyota doesn't have the balls to make a hardcore version & who the fuck is Scion? Says every other country except for America.

20

I do love that Varis kit, probably more than the Rocket Bunny V1 or 2

21

I do love that Varis kit, probably more than the Rocket Bunny V1 or 2

22

AaronPTorres If done correctly, yeah, air can be just as competent as traditional springs & dampers.

23

I liked these cars before they released, and then after seeing no end to the Rocket Bunny kits they quickly became a bit annoying. I'm liking this build though (even ignoring that it's not in RB drag), it's very well-rounded. And MUCH respect to the owner for molding the flares; I know I'm not alone in thinking exposed rivets look terrible on modern cars.

24

I liked these cars before they released, and then after seeing no end to the Rocket Bunny kits they quickly became a bit annoying. I'm liking this build though (even ignoring that it's not in RB drag), it's very well-rounded. And MUCH respect to the owner for molding the flares; I know I'm not alone in thinking exposed rivets look terrible on modern cars.

25

Speedhunters Subaru won't make a 996 Turbo? ;)

26

When I read the headline I thought the article would be about an AWD BRZ...lol

27

When I read the headline I thought the article would be about an AWD BRZ...lol

28

Will he remold the fenders when the bondo and fiberglass crack?

29

Great build! Not a big fan of organic body kits but I'm sure it's more wind efficient than a Rocket Bunny.

30

I've noticed that a lot of these brz - frs with turbo kits still have stock internals, 400hp are no jokes on a "little" 2l.
Is that safe to run this kind of power on a "stock" fa20?

31

So far my favorite has been the bulletproof. This guy has done a great job and for not owning a company and making a demo car so he can sell parts makes this about as nice in my oppinion. Well done. The owner should be proud

32

A street edition of the BRZ GT300 and NOT THE Dome 86? Count me in.

33

Hey Nguyen, nice car. I have a question. How do you deal with the rain coming through the bonnet vents when it rains? I have similar vents on my car and everything on the motor looks like crap after the rain comes in when it's parked. Any tips for making it like nice like yours?

34

I heard it's safe for non extended periods aka high boost 400hp mode for a quick drag race or few laps then back to a lower boost 300-350ho mode for daily duty. Also cars are much more reliable running higher fugures with e85 since it burns so clean and reduces temps significantly over regular fuel.

35

@JDMpurist 
I did say something similar to yours a few days ago, and many where all over my comment bashing and hitting hard. To make a standard brz/86/frs a decent car you have to spend a fortune. 195hp is not in the fun category in 2015.

36

Foogazi dumb thing to say..i have 15 yr old fiberglass work on one car..0 cracks..car sit out side in -30c, +30c, all year..

37

Oompa After the engine has cooled off... try cleaning it? That's really your only option unless you want to remove their function and block them off.

38

Love it. Tasty as fuck.

39

This... this BRZ is perfect! I love every bit of it! Having owned one that I put a solid $15k worth of mods into, I could usually find something I didn't love about another person's build, but this is EXACTLY how I'd have mine, given the budget. OK, maybe it needs more JPM Coachworks interior bits ;-) Nice work, Nguyen!
Here's mine, before I traded it in:

40

This... this BRZ is perfect! I love every bit of it! Having owned one that I put a solid $15k worth of mods into, I could usually find something I didn't love about another person's build, but this is EXACTLY how I'd have mine, given the budget. OK, maybe it needs more JPM Coachworks interior bits ;-) Nice work, Nguyen!
Here's mine, before I traded it in:

41

@turbo BEAMS ae86 That's nice to hear. Don't get me wrong - I like the one piece look, but I just assumed they all crack. My friend just got a kp61 starlet with a molded widebody kit and showed me the cracks all along where the fender and quarter panels meet telling me molding fenders is just the wrong way to go.

What is done to yours that makes it so durable?

42

Diggin the approach on this build. 
Body kits isn't my cup of coffee but it fits the car, only thing killing it for me is the air ride.
Overall, great build.

43

Diggin the approach on this build. 
Body kits isn't my cup of coffee but it fits the car, only thing killing it for me is the air ride.
Overall, great build.

44

CoreyKononchuk What part of this car absorbed "$15K worth of mods"?

45

His build is similar to one of my dream builds. To build a V35 Skyline GT-R in a similar fashion that Smokey Nagata did. I enjoy seeing builds like this where people make personal upgrades that still pay homage to the companies original work that could have been. :D

46

MRinaldi Thought I was the only one!

47

The molded kit is a refreshing change of pace.

48

CoreyKononchuk 
This proves what I've been insisting on all the time, you have to spend a fortune on BRZ/86/FRS to make it a decent fun car, the starting point of 195hp is very shallow in 2015, to get it to move side by side with grandma's GTI you got to be forced induced at least, and that means some $$ to be spent. Soloution would be the return of Nissan S chassis, with entry level of 260hp as base.

49

Love this, with the molded in panels it looks more like a race car on the road. There's things I'd change sure, but this is a well executed build! Props to Nguyen on going all out and paying attention to the details. Also, if there's one colour that would look better than Blue Mica, it's Midnight Purple II (my favourite ever OEM colour)!!

50

Love this, with the molded in panels it looks more like a race car on the road. There's things I'd change sure, but this is a well executed build! Props to Nguyen on going all out and paying attention to the details. Also, if there's one colour that would look better than Blue Mica, it's Midnight Purple II (my favourite ever OEM colour)!!

51

AfroGTO  I agree, the dynamic ride height looks perfect to me!
If I had this suspension the dynamic setting would be used static as well, and just have an extra high setting to get over speed bumps and up my driveway!

52

AfroGTO  I agree, the dynamic ride height looks perfect to me!
If I had this suspension the dynamic setting would be used static as well, and just have an extra high setting to get over speed bumps and up my driveway!

53

Looks so much more OEM and sleek with molded, rather then riveted on overfenders. I would have maybe choosen a different kit but however, best BRZ i've seen in a Long while!

54

a SHOW and GO BRZ.  i like it!

55

Mahfoodh I hate that horsepower war going on, you cant appreciate that kind of power on the road and on track everything is enjoyable. I race my base RSX everyweek it had 160 hp at the crank like 14 yrs ago. You should see the smile on my face everytime i drive it !

57

@Saint Midnight II & III were both on the R34.

58

Oompa Actually Varis parts are really nice and very well engineered.  All Varis aftermarket vented hoods come with rain guards.  The rain guards are basically carbon fiber plates that slip onto the bottom of the hood where the openings are and block the rain.  When the rain stops, you can easily just unbolt the rain guards and drive off.  Cool little details like that made Varis one of the nicest aero parts manufacturers in the world.  Good luck with your build!!

59

Very nice photos Larry. In that environment I would not know how to make those dry day light work.

60

Ice Age There are many people on the forums 6'3"+ that also weigh more than you and are over 60 years old.  If they can use the FRS/BRZ as a daily, I'm sure you could as well.  

Many times at dealerships they have the seat raised by a couple of inches.  Pressing on a lever on the left side lets out the compressed air, making the seat lower several inches.

Also, if you do test drive another twin, don't worry about keeping it under 4k rpm.  Gun it, take it out for a spin on a beautiful road.  Often times dealers will brush off the BRZ because it's the cheapest car in their lineup, and will often let you get away with more in a test drive.

61

Ice Age There are many people on the forums 6'3"+ that also weigh more than you and are over 60 years old.  If they can use the FRS/BRZ as a daily, I'm sure you could as well.  

Many times at dealerships they have the seat raised by a couple of inches.  Pressing on a lever on the left side lets out the compressed air, making the seat lower several inches.

Also, if you do test drive another twin, don't worry about keeping it under 4k rpm.  Gun it, take it out for a spin on a beautiful road.  Often times dealers will brush off the BRZ because it's the cheapest car in their lineup, and will often let you get away with more in a test drive.

62

Ice Age There are many people on the forums 6'3"+ that also weigh more than you and are over 60 years old.  If they can use the FRS/BRZ as a daily, I'm sure you could as well.  

Many times at dealerships they have the seat raised by a couple of inches.  Pressing on a lever on the left side lets out the compressed air, making the seat lower several inches.

Also, if you do test drive another twin, don't worry about keeping it under 4k rpm.  Gun it, take it out for a spin on a beautiful road.  Often times dealers will brush off the BRZ because it's the cheapest car in their lineup, and will often let you get away with more in a test drive.

63

MRinaldi Keep those fingers crossed.

64

MRinaldi Keep those fingers crossed.

65

@Saint I did say Midnight Purple III, LX0 paint code, must have been a typo

66

Foogazi yup, and change colors too :)

67

Who needs an AC Vent anyways? Is that a boost gauge in there ?

73

UGH!.... Midnight purple II... I'm officially in love with this car.

74

UGH!.... Midnight purple II... I'm officially in love with this car.

75

MRinaldi Not with subies awd layout!  Understeer will always be there; frustrating you in tight corners.  This is because the engine is entirely in front of the axle, like Audi.  50/50 weight dist is not practically achievable.  Nissan and BMW awd have a transfer case behind the trans with 2 driveshafts & diffs allowing the engine to be mounted further back.  Other designs - Mitsubishi, etc, use transverse mounted engines. Unfortunately, subie/audi layout is all that will work with the boxer style engine.  But who am i kidding, I'd still love an awd brz.

76

MRinaldi Not with subies awd layout!  Understeer will always be there; frustrating you in tight corners.  This is because the engine is entirely in front of the axle, like Audi.  50/50 weight dist is not practically achievable.  Nissan and BMW awd have a transfer case behind the trans with 2 driveshafts & diffs allowing the engine to be mounted further back.  Other designs - Mitsubishi, etc, use transverse mounted engines. Unfortunately, subie/audi layout is all that will work with the boxer style engine.  But who am i kidding, I'd still love an awd brz.

77

Mahfoodh Oops, Mazda didn't hear that either :'(

78

rickycervantes one day

79

Jagdroach I could agree more - exposed rivets is something I expect on Jeep Wranglers and Ford pickup trucks. :)

80

Met Nguyen at Boxerfest and we chatted a bit.  His car was one of my favorites there!  A really well put together car and I'm sure it's a blast to drive.  He's a cool dude to boot!

81

when its resprayed, can be 're-featured'?!

82

" He also wanted the rear quarters to be fully molded with no exposed rivets." Praise God! The car looks like what an STI should, well maybe a little wilder than an STI but it looks nice. Great choice on the wheels.

83

" He also wanted the rear quarters to be fully molded with no exposed rivets." Praise God! The car looks like what an STI should, well maybe a little wilder than an STI but it looks nice. Great choice on the wheels.

84

" He also wanted the rear quarters to be fully molded with no exposed rivets." Praise God! The car looks like what an STI should, well maybe a little wilder than an STI but it looks nice. Great choice on the wheels.

85

car looks amazing, and has like the rarest wing in the world lol... i just dont like air bags on sporty cars

86

car looks amazing, and has like the rarest wing in the world lol... i just dont like air bags on sporty cars

87

Way to out do the factory. They should hire him for their R&D.

88

Hey I'm a ZL1 CAMARO owner
but I can admire him for his experience and engineering.
Hey SUBARU PAY ATTENTION! !!!!

89

Anyone know how much all this would cost?

90

gonna buy brz soon but is it ok if i copy everything from this build?? im new to car world :D very addicted.

91

Looks a lot like gt300 brz
I like that

92

Ha!  This is how an STI should be.  Yeah, that's damn true.  But Subaru would never build them like that from the factory.  300 HP yeah, 400 at the wheels?  Hell no.  Warranty claims would be raping them from idiots who don't know how or when to shift.

93
igotdagoldengun

SPOOKYGUNNER I was thinking the same thing. He's be a great consultant if they ever did do an STI

94

schwackman13 dumdass

95

MohammedAbraham nice name dude hahahahah

96

schwackman13 you dont even have the money u bitch

97

cerealkeller you have a big head dude nice vanes

98

schwackman13 a small loan of a million dollars

99

How do you hide the rivets i hate how they look and his car looks so clean with the hidden rivets?

100

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101

This Shubaru is so beautiful

102

It is as beautiful inside as outside

103

It has amazing features

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