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Dark Matter


It's on a run-in Tune. It still shatters gear boxes. It's seriously sinister.

Since the dawn of life, humans have always had an unshakeable fascination and often dangerous attraction to the dark side. Adam and Eve were seduced by it, Darth Vadar fell to it, and Batman kicks some serious ass with it. Today, we present to you the tale of Nathan Portelli.

The 23-year-old's decent into the modifying abyss began in 2004, At the time, he was out on a quest, shopping for a V8 ute. While on his journey he stumbled across opportunity to take a small tangent and test-drive a 2001 WRX. He never stood a chance.

The almost insignificant decision back then to step off on a small tangent from the straight and narrow has since butterfly effected. Nathan had fallen into the Netherworld of Fast Fours, and what began as his stock bodied, stock motored, bug-eyed WRX spawned into this stygian imp presented before you.

"I didn't like the 01 shape and I liked the 05 more," Nathan tells us. The gravity that Nathan was sucked into was strong, and he succumbed to its demand, swapping panels and headlights with the then freshly released 05 WRX. However, his dark vision was only beginning to unfold.

Nathan sought Jetspeed and met with Victor. Together they formulated a custom, one off bodykit based on an M Style kit. "We were looking for something new that nobody had done before," he states about the bodykit that would present advantages at the track while practical enough for the street.

The dangerously aggressive bodykit in all of its furious line-work is skinned in a Charcoal coat of paint, an undercoat used on Lamborghinis from factory.  The flat colour is broken apart by a two-tone, jet black bonnet and boot complete with 05 STI wing. It's menacing, cold, unmoved by anything.

Although the 01 looked devilish, its heart was timid in comparison, still beating out of stock power from the factory EJ20. It was far from enough to strike fear when shove became a priority over push. However, this didn't last very long, Nathan was well on his downward spiral into the dark.

He took out the 01's heart of flesh, and replaced it with a heart of steel. Calling upon an EJ257 from the US, he had it reinforced with imported US parts. "They're made to last in America," he says about the advantages of the United States born and bred parts.

The motor features US specs STi semi-forged pistons and conrods. AVO Turboworld Australia was called to assemble the motor and to port and polish the head. The head itself hosts upgraded retainers and springs in support of giant Stage 3 camshafts. A Garrett GT3076R cinoketes the package, balancing the setup.

The 01 was built to be a fear-striking track fiend that would pass without too much notice on the street; a beast that would dominate its opponents both on and off the track. It was born for this call, and so there it waited on a run-in tune to mature.

Even on its run-in tune, the 01 was more than just a handful. Nathan describes it as "Very harsh. Power under 2500rpm was very slow, but it's very strong anywhere above that". While running in, the 01 still managed to lay waste to several gearboxes, even strengthened boxes fell victim.

Says Nathan, "I then bought an upgraded, strengthened gearbox", who while driving normally on the highway had it break apart on him. He "then threw a wobbly" and headed straight to the big guns, purchasing a PPG straight-cut dog set. But even it fell victim to the Nathan's curse.

"I blew second gear on the dog box. Blowing that up was a big surprise, so all I could really do after that is have it full overhauled", he says on the race spec dog box disintegrating on him. All this was while the 01 was on a run-in tune.

Thankfully the latest gearbox incarnation has held up against the curse so far. "The dog box takes a bit of getting used to", he outlines, "but other than that the car handles very well". The 01 runs atop Pedders performance shocks and KING springs, a "perfect combination" in Nathan's opinion.

A set of WORK Emotion CR Kais fill the wide body guards and are responsible for launching the car on Nexen 3000 tires. It exhales unhindered via a straight through exhaust system. "It's very loud, even at low revs. But on full noise, you'll hear it miles away" Nathan explains.

"I was doing everything for track advantage and only after driving it around did I realise how loud it was" Nathan describes, "It's like a V8 muscle drag car, you hop in and everything is metal, uncomfortable, and it's all rattling, there is a hint of regret in his voice.

"The target was to make a streetable race car which I found out which was much harder than I thought" he continues while in thought. "Something more suitable for track use, but could pass  on the street  as well" he continues. He seems perplexed and lost in thought a little.

It's evidence of much time spent on the age old track versus street crossroads, a place where many a modifier has been. It's a place where we're left with decisions on comprising practically for performance. It can be a confusing, dark place; many modifiers have been lost and stumbled here.

Some of us emerge victorious armed with our perfect car. The less fortunate of us are left with a barrage of 'what ifs' that can consume our daily thoughts if left unchecked. By building a track car that would see the street, Nathan would definitely have spent some time here.

"Well I've actually sold the car," Nathan tells us in an unenthusiastic tone. "It just came to a stage where I was spending more money on the thing than I was actually getting out of it" he adds. After six years of ownership, Nathan sounds understandably downed by the decision.

Well, we know what people say about every dark cloud. Over the years of building up his 01, Nathan's managed to 'accidentally leave' some silver lining parts in his garage. He laughs cheekily "I'll put it to good use. It'll end up in an STi of some sort some day".

Nathan was taken into the dark side when he took this 01 WRX out for a test drive and was consumed by an unquenchable hunger and thirst to modify until it reached race car specs. By letting go and selling up, Nathan can start fresh on a new project.

Nathan says "I was thinking about building a V8 twin turbo. But then again, I love Subarus; will always be a Subaru boy. I was a typical V8 'buy a ute' person. But I've converted. Four bangers are definately better". Well done Nathan. Welcome to the world of Fast Fours.

Words: Phillips Huynh
Photos: Jun Sawa