The Secret to Modifying Cars? Knowing When to Stop.

Wes’ Subaru BRZ is a car we shot a while back. We met up with him outside Toronto’s infamous modified car show Importfest this past August, and took some photos of this incredible looking car with the Toronto skyline as a backdrop. Then, I sat on those photos for what has become nearly four months.

Andrew Zhang
Andrew Zhang

I could blame my own Ecotec Miata build for occupying my time, or more adult responsibilities such as, well, a full time job. The truth is though, after our photoshoot I was dumbfounded. When it came to selecting our other featured builds, we chose them because there was something magical about them. Sanjay’s RX-7 has this fantastic story of a wrecked racecar being reborn, Ramesh’s S2000 is a bonafide track-slaying monster, while Randy’s M3 is a rolling paradox, where stance works shockingly well on the racetrack. This BRZ isn’t quite that extreme.

Andrew Zhang
Andrew Zhang

We modify cars in order to eliminate their innate factory weaknesses, and the Subaru BRZ has many. On Wes’ car, the BRZ’s infamous “Prius tires” have been replaced with sticky Michelin Pilot Super Sports. Its soft factory suspension has been replaced with BC coilovers with revised spring rates, its brakes have been upgraded with aggressive Akebono ceramic pads, and brake ducting has been added through it’s factory fog lights. It’s also received the blessing of a track orientated alignment, to dial-out all its factory understeer.  Then there’s the greatest point of contention for BRZ owners; it’s power plant.

Andrew Zhang
Andrew Zhang

Not content with the ~160 whp these cars put to the floor when they rolled out of the dealership, Wes’ car has been given headers, a full exhaust, a unique intake with ducting through the front bumper and a 94 octane tune. The result is 210 whp and the elimination of the weird dip in torque the FA20 engine is known for. Throw in a 4.88 rear end, and this is a properly quick car. That’s it – wheels, tires, suspension, full bolt ons, a differential, and a tune.

Andrew Zhang
Andrew Zhang

Now maybe my engine swap has changed my perspective, but I’ve noticed a common theme in modern car culture; it’s very easy to get stuck in an endless build. Modifying cars is a slippery slope. You install a turbo kit adding 100 whp, and suddenly you’re looking at supporting mods like oil coolers, transmission coolers, maybe you’ll need an upgraded clutch, maybe wider wheels and tires to put it to the floor. Eventually, you get bored and bump up power a little more. This cycle continues until you break your transmission, blow up an engine, or maybe both in a blaze of glory. Now you’re looking at forged internals, sequential gear boxes, and you have to spend 10 minutes explaining to every cop you come across that somehow, despite its 3” exhaust and tendency to shoot flames, your car is “street legal.”

Andrew Zhang
Andrew Zhang

That’s not necessarily a bad thing. The problem is, if you don’t have a team of mechanics on stand-by who are willing to execute your wildest dreams, and fix it when it does (and it will) eventually break, you’re going to be wrenching. A lot. What’s better than fixing your broken project? Driving it.

At the moment, nearly every single one of the featured builds we’ve shot up to now is broken in some way, shape or form. Randy’s car has been experiencing ECU niggles all summer. Brandon’s Miata hasn’t been running all summer as it’s undergoing a secret engine swap. Sanjay destroyed his transmission when he went single turbo, swapped in a dogbox, and promptly broke that dogbox.

Andrew Zhang
Andrew Zhang

Wes took a BRZ and perfected it. It grips like a proper sports car, makes more power than an S2000, has a raunchy exhaust note, and it’s legitimately reliable. Not, “my car makes 550whp and can manage a season of abuse” reliable – a car like this will hit 200,000kms without breaking a sweat. Meanwhile I drove to this photoshoot in my girlfriend’s Protégé because my project car was, and currently is, broken.


  • 4.88 final drive
  • AFE drop in filter
  • Greddy Evo 3 cat back exhaust
  • HKS equal length headers.
  • DC over pipe.
  • Ecutek ECU flash.


  • Akebono ceramic pad
  • Akebono blank rotors
  • Stainless Steel brake lines
  • Dot 5.1 brake and clutch fluid
  • ST sway bars. Front and rear.
  • Adjustable endlinks.
  • ISC rear lower control arms.
  • BC coilovers with swift springs


  • Garage Vary front lip
  • Custom 350z carbon air intake velocity stack
  • Fog light delete with brake ducting
  • Project Mu Super7 lug nuts
  • TRD side skirts.
  • Custom gurney flap
  • Wink mirror.
  • Custom rear winglets. 
  • STi diffuser


  • Rear seat delete
  • Takata drift series four point harness
  • DND Performance Interiors – black on black racing wheel
  • Works bell short hub
  • Bride shift boot
  • Blox shift knob
  • Cusco handbrake button
  • Sparco R100 racing seat. 

Wheels and Tires

  • 18×8.5 SSR GTF01
  • 255/40/18 Michelin Pilot Super Sports
  • H&R wheel spacers