Subaru Sambar Dias II - Shawn Rizzo
Being a JDM car makes it fairly unique in the states. These things are everywhere in Japan, so over there, it would only be unique in the fact that no one would modify it.
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Subaru Sambar Dias II
Photographer: Donnie Rochin
“Anything is possible with enough time, money, or imagination.” ~ Shawn Rizzo
I was born in West Point, NY and I'm 46 years old. Moved to Texas when I was 12 and have been here ever since. Went to school and worked in technical theatre as a lighting designer for years. Got into working on cars because I did not want to travel anymore.
I started as a lube tech and worked my way up to become a Master ASE factory-certified technician. In 2006, I started working on cars out of my garage and began to build up a client base. In 2012, I started a career as an instructor at Universal Technical Institute, continuing my side work at the same time. After almost 7 years, the for-profit education system was really starting to wear on me and my 'side business' had become basically a full-time job. So we decided to make the move to a full brick-and-mortar shop and Kraken Motorsports was born. We have now grown to over 7000 square feet, 8 full-time employees, and two incredible business partners...Calvin Dotson of Dotson Tuning (@dotsontuning) and Ryan Payne at P2P Racing (@p2p.racing).
No one in my family was ever into cars, I remember though, as a kid, I would go to the public library and pour over car magazines like Import Tuner, Car and Driver, and Euro. I got into reading technical manuals in high school. When I turned 16, I wanted a sports car and my dad wanted a truck to pull his boat with, so we compromised and I got a truck....lol. I would spend the weekends pulling it apart and modifying it. If I didn't want to ride the bus to school Monday morning, I had to figure out how to get it back together...I rode the bus many, many Mondays.
LOOK AT THIS CAR! JUST LOOK AT HER! She's different, fun, quirky, and unique. It's the perfect vehicle to promote my business. It gets a LOT of attention and doesn't break the bank to build. It is also very practical, we are able to fit an entire day's worth of show stuff (tent, chairs, coolers, whatever) in the van, making it super easy. She also gets about 40 miles to the gallon and is just a lot of fun to drive. There are so many positives to our little Sambar.
I wouldn't say I have been through a lot of cars...I actually still have most of them. I get attached to cars and I never let them go. I started with my truck, once I graduated high school I got into the 300ZX (because I could not have a skyline) and had a couple of those (the last one I sold only 2 years ago). I bought my first Subaru WRX in 2003 and I still have her, although she is quite different today. Other cars in the stable include my R32 GTR, Mitsubishi Evo V, and a 600 WHP 2011 STi. They are family...I'm going to die with all of them....lol.
What I love about all of my cars are the responses of people that see them. Kids especially. I remember being a kid and having dreams of nice cars, but a lot of the people that had nice cars were not super nice to me. Most of them did not have the time to talk to me about their car, let me look at it, or experience it in any way. I had someone ask me why I let kids sit in my cars at shows and events and I told them, "because I used to be that kid." I love how much joy the cars bring to people, it's really what drives me to build all of the cars we build.
Being a JDM car makes it fairly unique in the states. These things are everywhere in Japan, so over there, it would only be unique in the fact that no one would modify it. The fact that we went with a rally theme for this vehicle makes it stand out, and I know there aren't many of these out there with successful engine modifications.
What do you think?
Please leave your comments in the comments section at the bottom of the page
Engine/Drivetrain Modifications -
- 660cc EN07 Supercharged 4-Cylinder
- ECVT Transmission with Full-Time AWD
- Flat-top high-compression pistons (8.3 to 8.9)
- Ported cylinder head
- Ported supercharger
- Smaller supercharger pulley (7.5 to 9.5)
- Ported intake manifold
- Custom fabricated stainless exhaust (not installed yet)
- Custom-painted and powder-coated pipes, covers, and shields
- Van makes 72 WHP and 78 WTQ
Suspension Modifications -
- KYB Shocks modified to fit the suspension
- Heavy-duty rear coil springs
- Front Sway bar from a Subaru Domingo
Brakes/Wheels/Tires Modifications -
- OZ RACING SUPERTURISMO WRC 14x6 +36 in Polar White
- Bridgestone Potenza 165/65R14
Interior Modifications -
- Nardi Leather Steering Wheel
- Led Lights Under Seats and Dashboard
- Second Row Fold-flat seats
- Sony DSX-A415bt head unit
- Rockford Fosgate 400w 4-Channel Mini Amplifier
- Rockford Fosgate PS-8 Punch Powered 8" Subwoofer
- Rockford Fosgate Punch 4x6 Front Speakers
- Custom Roof Mounted Rear Speaker Enclosure
- 4 x Rockford Fosgate Punch 6.5" Rear Speakers
Exterior Modifications -
- Full Subaru rally livery-inspired vehicle wrap
- Full Led Under-light package
Since I own my own shop, I obviously did all of the mechanical work in-house. The wrap was done by PSD Ink (@psdink) and the bodywork was done by Shiloh Bradford at Heritage Collision Center (@heritage_collision). Fabrication was done by Dash built Fabrication (@dashbuilt).
Buying a JDM Kei car is not for the faint of heart. Make sure you import it through a reputable importer like Top Rank (@toprankimporters). This will be a more expensive way to bring the car in than importing it yourself or using a low-rent third party. But they are worth every penny. Parts will be difficult to get, for most of the modifications we had to fabricate or modify parts to work with the vehicle. There is also not a good source for service information, even if you read Japanese, the books from the 90's are terrible. Make sure you are prepared to do a lot of research and figure stuff out yourself.
Next for the car is a complete interior remake. Want to keep the old-school Japanese look, so we are going with grey suede with a multi-colour confetti insert in the seats, grey plush carpet and custom mats...Hopefully, it will be done next year. After that, she's pretty much done and I can move on to one of the many other projects we have!
No way this van would be anywhere near where it is now without the help of the folks in the Sambar Squad Facebook Community. If any of them see this, thanks for everything guys. As always, huge thanks to all of the supporters and members of the Kraken Show Car Team.
I can't even begin to describe what this scene has given me. Obviously, my business, my passion, my livelihood. But more than that, I get a sense of family...something that I was lacking for a good portion of my life. I'm grateful to everyone who has supported me, believed in me, and even kicked me in the ass when I needed it.
When I was 16, I had a poster of a white-on-white R32 GTR on my wall, next to it was a Slant Nose Porsche 911 Turbo. Two years ago I was able to purchase my 1994 white-on-white GTR, so I am lucky to say, I own my dream car and it is everything I dreamed it would be. Now for that 911......
Please leave your comments in the comments section at the bottom of the page
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