Joe Samondo - Toyota Camry
For a Camry to get second place.,That was just confirmation for me. That I am heading towards the right path. This has been a very humbling experience so far
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Hi, my name is Joe Samondo
Job Title: Technical Account Manager
Youtube: Diecast Alive
location: Austin,TX USA
It was 2003, and 2Fast &2 Furious came out. I saw these cars, with lights underneath their cars. And the sounds of fully spooled turbos. Followed by fire coming out of their exhaust! this was the time also that Need For Speed Underground came out for PS2 and PC! The fact that I could go into a game and customize a car the way I want it to be customized like the cars I saw in the movie 2 Fast 2 Furious. That was the day I fell in love with cars!
With that being said, my first car was a 1990 CRX. It was red, naturally aspirated black rims. lowered. It had about. 200K miles on it and it was a fun little car. But, it was a major money pit. I broke an axle on it. (I know shocker right!?) And the car just went downhill with repairs so I had to give it up.
I always was a BIG fan of naturally aspirated engines. They are harder to work on to gain power. but if done right, you can surprise people. Now a little older, and looking for my next car. I wanted to be different. I wanted to find a car that everyone would count-out. A car that was still reliable and safe with a comfortable interior for long drives. I did not want to follow the current trends.
Enter….. The Toyota Camry!
Camry’s are known as grandpa cars and grocery getters. They are meant to save gas and not increase power. To make things even more interesting, I declined to get the v6. I went with the 4 cylinders instead!
This 2.5 L 4cyl Naturally aspirated FWD Camry has a totally new redesigned engine.
The A25A-FKS engine comes with a 13:1 compression and runs on 87 octanes.
This is a very complex engine as Everything on this engine is supervised by electronics!
As awesome as that sounds, what's not so awesome is pretty much, that you are at a dead-end when it comes to bolt-ons and tunes. But that’s why I purchased this car. I was told things like, “You should have gotten the v6.” “Why waste money on a 4cyl Camry? You should have gotten a Honda!” “Don’t waste your time buying parts nothing will happen.” The list goes on. It’s pretty funny.
This is personal to me. Because just like the Camry, I was also counted out in life.
My dad passed away when I was 14. And my mother abandoned me thereafter. I pretty much raised myself on my own. And learned life the hard way. I was very suicidal and actually ended up in the hospital and flatlined. The doctors were able to revive me. I was dead for several minutes. I don’t know How I am alive today. I did not go to college. I was the poster child for going in the wrong direction. However, I fought for my mind back. I got stronger, smarter, wiser. Even when no one was cheering me on and waiting for my failure, I pushed on.
Now I work for a Huge tech company, Living in one of the best cities to live in, managing Fortune 500 companies! The path may have not been the path I wanted to go through. But I am humbled by these experiences and want to be a voice for everyone who is suffering in silence! So that’s why I got the Camry. The Camry and I are connected. Stock, the FWD Camry comes with 206 horsepower at the crank and 186 pound-feet of torque. Not impressive numbers. Counted out. Forgotten.
The current modifications that I currently have are as follows;
- AEM Cold Air Intake
- Weapon R Engine Torque Damper
- Non-Stop Tuning Aluminum Crank Pulley
- Eibach Springs
- Tanabe Strut Bar
- iDrive throttle control.
- Air Fuel ECU Chip
- Falken azenis fk510 performance tires.
- Asanti 20 inch wheels.
- Opt 7 Underglow
- Led Glow grille light.
Because of these Mods and after I dynoed the car. I am pushing 220 at the crank. 178 to the wheels! These are very impressive numbers for a 4cyl FWD Camry. I wanted to prove to people that 4cyl Camry’s can look good, gain power and have a platform for more gains!
This thing goes! Push back In your seat! Acceleration and super loud! Take the traction control off and I can burn rubber! The good news is, that now I am able to go to the grocery store a lot faster! (Bad joke. I know) It wasn’t easy. There was a lot of frustration and even tears sometimes! I even almost sold the car! I am just being honest. It’s life.
The car is not complete yet. I still am looking for performance exhaust, headers, throttle body spacer and a 93 octane tune. Once I get all that, I would not be surprised to be hitting 300HP. That is my goal. And I am determined as ever to get there. I can’t take all the credit. I have to give A BIG BIG kudos to
Soul speed performance for helping me with the tough installs such as the crank pulley.
Graphics Guys for helping me bring my wrap and decal design to life
Tint World, For helping me with installing the Underglow lights.
Elysium Performance for custom fabricating a certain part for me that I will not say as it will be a surprise and you would just need to follow my Instagram to be kept in the loop! (Sorry!)
My good friend Sean Johnson who is a service advisor for round rock Nissan, but on the side gave me advice, helped with late-night installs. And overall, continued to push me with great advice to make the car the way it is today! And lastly. My Cam fam. We have a huge following. #genakamuri. We all support each other and encourage each other. Cry with each other, cook. Joke. You name it.
It is a big family that I am happy to be a part of. That's why I am writing this article. I am doing it for them! Because of all the kindness, they showed to me. It’s not just my car you are featuring. It's all of us! I was able to hit many milestones with this car. Other than the power gains
I won second place as best Toyota at the Clean Car Alliance car show in Killen, TX. A supra got 1st place. I mean c'mon! It’s a Supra! For a Camry to get second place.,That was just confirmation for me. That I am heading towards the right path. This has been a very humbling experience so far, and I have met so many cool people, and made wonderful connections that will last years! I am only getting started. Watch out world! This Camry is coming for YA!
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