Car of the Month : Chris Bhulai’s 2013 Subaru STI
Model: 2013 Subaru Impreza WRX STI Limited Sedan White
Current Mileage: 57,500
Backstory: “My first car was a 1992 Honda Accord, automatic, handed to me from my aunt. It wasn’t everything, but it got me from point A to point B,” says Chris Bhulai. He didn’t always have his fancy Subaru STI. He was about 17 years old when he got the Accord. It had about 100,000 miles on it, and he kept it all through high school. It also took him through his years attending UCF. After nearly six years, the car began to give him some trouble. It would randomly jerk when driving it. He tried fixing the problem, but fixing the car became expensive and it was time to give it up.
Chris ended up taking the car to a Honda dealer, got about $1,000 for it and leased a 2013 Civic SI. The SI was quite the upgrade from the Civic. Not only was it a sports car, but he made sure it had a manual transmission. Having the automatic for so many years was too boring, and he grew hungry for standard. Since it was his first manual, he had his share of growing pains and learning curves with car jerking and stalling the engine, but over time he got the hang of it.
The Honda Civic was great, but it wasn’t quite his dream car. Bhulai wanted something with a little more muscle. At first, he played with the idea of a Mustang, but it wasn’t anything to pursue. He knew he always liked Asian culture, especially Japanese. He was a huge Gran Turismo fan in high school – a car racing video game he played on his PlayStation 24/7. He also downloaded many episodes of a Japanese show called JDM Option, where they took cars to race and drift. Initial D also was a favorite show of his that was based off a Japanese manga series. One could think of it as the Asian version of Speed Racer.
With all of this, it was no surprise when he turned his eyes to Subaru, a Japanese-based car manufacturer. The BRZ and the WRX were the running candidates for this new car. How did he stumble upon his STI? He described a casual scene where he got out of work after a normal day at the office. He did a Google search on Subaru STI’s in Orlando, and there that’s when he found it. It was a white Subaru STI at Greenway Ford on East Colonial Drive. The car only had one owner, 20,000 miles on it with no accidents. He knew he had to strike while the iron was hot. If he didn’t jump on the car, someone else would. So, the next day, he drove to the dealer and snatched it up. He traded the Honda Civic, and it all worked out because the three-year lease was over on the Civic and it was time to either keep the car or give it up for a new one. The STI was $29,000, and he paid off the difference of the trade since the STI was worth more than the Honda.
The STI wasn’t too small, but it wasn’t overkill, either. It had more horsepower than the BRZ stock, and it was definitely a beast compared to the normal WRX. It came turboed, and it was also a rally car. This satisfied the “muscle car” taste he needed, yet it still had a foreign feel to it – it wasn’t an American car. The all-wheel drive came with 305 horsepower from the engine and STI suspension and performance brakes.
Mods: Air oil separator – for reliability since the car is turbo. It helps catch excess oil and returns it back into the engine.
Cobb access port – a device that goes inside the car and connects to the computer of the car. It comes with preloaded settings, you can override controls in the car such as increasing horsepower. The different settings for the engine even have a “valet mode.” If you get your car valet parked, it restricts the RPM to a certain limit so the valet won’t be tempted to rev or speed in the car. It also can show engine temperature and air-to-fuel ratio. Chris says it’s a good tool to help keep track of everything on the car. He can even download the car’s logs of daily activity from the access port and send them over to Cobb on an Excel spreadsheet. As a free service, they will check the logs to make sure the car is performing well. You can even do “launch control” on the car for something like drag racing. The port will keep the car at certain RPM until your foot comes off the clutch all the way.
Cobb SF intake – In Chris’ words, “It gives the car a nice ‘woosh’ sound. You can hear the bypass valve a little louder.”
Catless downpipe/catback exhaust – He bought it from a Japanese company called Invidia. It is the N1 model, dual tip exhaust. Circuit MotorSports installed it. It opens the car up for more power with the catback, fuel pump and electronic boost controller.
All in all, Chris currently has a “stage 2 plus” car with the modifications he’s made on it so far. A few thousand was spent on it. He did a custom tune at a car shop in Winter Springs called Rev Works, where they put the car on a dyno, and the custom tuner wrote the map of a tune on laptop to send to the car’s computer. The process took about 20 minutes. It was tuned to match the new mods placed on the vehicle for reliability. The tune also ensured power, and the fun factor was there. He’s put about 45 to 50 extra horses on the car since he bought it.
As for his exterior, there are a few decals. One that sticks out is the Japanese Hanya mask that symbolizes a demon in the culture’s folklore. He first saw the mask in an anime called Rurouni Kenshin. “I just thought it was pretty cool,” says Chris. Other decals are from shops he’s been to such as Rev Works and Kami Speed. He also has an Orlando Subaru group sticker. He added red mud flaps to contrast against the white paint. The tail lights are blacked out, and there is now a carbon fiber overlay for the Subaru decal.
Future mods: He wants to bump the car up to “stage 3,” which would be a new turbo to get more boost, a custom motor to increase the reliability, and a new clutch. He also wants to add coilovers to stiffen up the car and replace the stock sway bars to increase handling. A short shifter with new shift knob is also on the list along with bucket seats. As for the body, wider tires plus new rims and a body kit will do the trick.
Where to catch Chris’s Subie:
Bhulai attends Orlando Cars & Coffee, Sebring – The Face Off at Sebring Raceway, and he will be going to Subaru Mega Meets. He also has an Instagram page @cbhulaiphotography that showcases his car along with other cars. You also can spot his car on his Facebook page Chris Bhulai Photography or go to his website at www.cbhulai.com.