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Team Building

Editor’s note: Sergio Guevara is an unassuming guy—shy, a little bashful, maybe. He has a ready smile and a hands-in-his-pockets-aw-shucks kind of earnestness about him. But make no mistake—he knows a thing or two about building. That much is evident when he pulls up to Point Mugu, CA, to join Stephen Talbot and James Lin, his Team Hybrid brothers.

The Oxnard native drives a 2013 Nissan 370Z. It’s all curves and long hood. The silhouette almost looks stock—a little wider, a little lower—but the impossibly glassy, silky shade of silver draws in any lingering looks, flowing into carbon fiber accents. It’s a subtle, cohesive build—a statement piece that invites double-takes instead of demanding them.

Guevara's 370Z

I remember going to a bunch of car meets out here in Oxnard, CA, right when I had just gotten my license. Team Hybrid always had the sickest builds—everybody was after them. They were the ones to beat. Everybody wanted to be them. At the time, I was in my own car club, and I just remember trying to build the 1999 Honda Civic that I had to Team Hybrid’s standards.

Time passed. I had a kid and I stopped building for a couple of years, but then my kid grew up and now I’m back in it again. I bought my 370Z because it looks good and turns a lot of heads. It’s a fun car to drive, and when I take it to the canyons, my BFGoodrich tires keep me warm.

“It’s like a big family. We all look out for each other. If someone needs help working on their car, everyone’s just—on the drop of a dime—willing to come and help out.”

A month after I bought the car, I talked to my wife and said, “Hey, you know what? I think I’m going to start building a car again.” I told her if I do it, I want to join a team that’s stable and has history. I’ve always had Hybrid in my mind because I know they’ve been around for years. I said, “You know what, I'm just going to apply and see what happens.” I actually submitted an application online to join. The recruiting director, Mark Lopez, contacted me. That was it. I’m excited to actually be a part of Team Hybrid now.

Guevara's 370Z

It’s like a big family. We all look out for each other. If someone needs help working on their car, everyone’s just—on the drop of a dime—willing to come and help out. Once when I needed my brake rotors installed, I asked for some of the guys from the Oxnard chapter of Hybrid to help. I had six guys helping. I didn’t need that many people, but they all came down. We knocked it out in an hour-and-a-half.

Since I joined Hybrid, I’ve just kept building and kept building. Every month, I had something done on the car. It was just continuous. Right now, I’ve got the 2013 SS lip kit all the way around on the front, rear, and sides. I’ve got carbon fiber vortex generators that go on the rear lip; a carbon fiber duckbill spoiler; a Seibon carbon fiber hood; carbon fiber wrapped roof; carbon fiber vented fenders. As far as performance mods, I got an H&R suspension, 19-inch Work wheels, an Akrapovic exhaust with carbon fiber tips; K&N dual intakes…

I wanted to keep a real clean look. I didn’t want to go with crazy wide body fenders or something outrageous that I wouldn’t feel comfortable driving. I drive it every day, to work and back, to get groceries. I just wanted it to have a sleek look and kind of keep that factory look to it.

But it’s always going to be in progress.

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All In

Editor’s note: To quote the inimitable, but fictional, Ron Swanson: “Never half-ass two things. Whole-ass one thing.” Ben Packard had never owned or even driven a manual transmission vehicle, and he had never gone off-roading. But that didn’t stop him from going all in and purchasing a Jeep with a stick shift.

I was already in the market for a Jeep. My friends had some, and I wanted to get my hands on one myself. I found my Jeep on a Craigslist ad: a 1993 Wrangler with 30,000 original miles from the original owner. I almost thought there was a typo. It couldn’t have been a better deal.

Ben's Jeep

On the first day, I had to learn to drive stick, and then my buddies took me off-road. I was hooked. I’ve been a Jeeper ever since!

I live in Florida and it’s definitely not the first place I think of for off-roading. However, the off-road community is alive and well down here. There are lots of parks and places to go — Ocala National Forest is a fun place I’ve gone wheeling. There are miles and miles of trails to ride, and you can camp anywhere. The terrain isn’t too crazy, but you have to have a 4x4 to go on some of these trails. We usually go down to Fort Myers to a park called Lazy Springs. There are lots of man-made obstacles to drive on and over.

“I’ve built it from stock to where it is now with my own hands, and I still have so much to do. But it’s a never-ending project that can take me anywhere. I never intend to sell it. I hope to keep it and hand it down to my kids one day.”

I have a long list of upgrades I have planned, but this is what I’ve got on it now: the stock 2.5L engine with an AX5 manual transmission and an NP231 transfer case;  a 3” Rough Country suspension lift; 4.88 Yukon gears in the stock front and rear axles with a Spartan posi locker in the rear; HID KC lights on the windshield; an ARB Safari snorkel; Brown Dog Offroad motor and transmission mounts; aftermarket front and rear bumpers with a Smittybilt 8K winch; and an ARB onboard air compressor. 

Ben's Jeep

I also added power steering and a radio, since the Jeep never came with those things. Of course, I’m planning to add a few more things: a 4.0L engine from a Cherokee that I’ll rebuild; an AX15 transmission; a Dana300 transfer case; full-width Dana44 axles that have 4.10 gears and Detroit lockers in the front and rear; a total of 6” of lift with leaf springs in the rear and Ori struts up front; and 35” BFGoodrich All-Terrains.

I’ve built it from stock to where it is now with my own hands, and I still have so much to do. But it’s a never-ending project that can take me anywhere. I never intend to sell it. I hope to keep it and hand it down to my kids one day.

 

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Porsche Body, Subaru Soul

Editor’s note: Porsche is a marque known to favor consistency, tradition, and evolution, rather than total reinvention. It’s devotees often extoll the same virtues, and that’s perhaps why Porsche has become such an enduring icon. However, that impetus for tradition doesn’t preclude radical experimentation.

Take, for example, Mike Davidson. He’s the owner of this 1967 Porsche 912. And though it may look relatively standard by external appearances, a quick peek into the engine bay reveals something rather unique. Here’s a hint: the vanity plate says “912RSTI” for a reason.



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“When I was growing up, my dad always had a cool sports car that was fast and loud.”

From multiple 1957 Chevy Bel Airs to a few Toyota Supra Turbos, there was always something to be cruising in. I also grew up on dirt bikes three-wheelers, so I wanted a motorcycle during high school. The parents didn’t allow me to buy one, so I ended up with a Manx-style dune buggy instead! That was the first project that really inspired me to keep building.

My 912 came to be after my dad had given me one of his old '57 Bel Airs. It needed some work. It had sat, untouched, in the yard of my gramma’s house in Indiana for several years, but all the parts were there. After I got it running, I wanted to trade it for a Porsche 914—I planned to do a V8 install on it. However, a man from Monterey, California, contacted me about trading him for a 912.

I had no idea what it was at the time, but after working with my brother, we ended up sealing the deal. I paid to ship both cars since I was just outside Detroit at the time, and got the cars safely delivered to their new owners. The 912 was running, but it also needed work like the Bel Air.

After putting around the Midwest for a while, I graduated college and moved to the San Francisco Bay area. One morning, my brother and I took our Porsches out for a fun drive. After I had broken down about three times, we decided that we needed to rebuild the whole car.

When we started diving in, we noticed it was going to be a lot of work. We needed new metal: rockers, strikers, a front pan, and miscellaneous dent repair. During the repair process of putting in new metal, we also decided to convert some things to fiberglass and carbon fiber, including the fenders, bumpers, hood, and rear ducktail. Luckily, my brother had gone through his 1975 911S from the ground up, and he took the lead in helping me with my 912.

After four years, we finally got it back together with a newly freshened-up 901-series transmission and a weak 356 industrial motor. (It may have put out about 50hp on a good day.) Since these didn’t match the car anyways, it was an easy choice to think about converting to a new motor.

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Most people would go with a newer 911 motor, or perhaps a VW motor. I’ve even seen V8 or rotary motor swaps. But I grew up around Subarus. I idolized the 555 rally car, and I’ve always wanted to have the STi. After a bit of research, I found a gentleman near me who was building this exact transplant into his ‘68 912. When I found this out, I knew I had to do it too!
So Christmas ended up coming early when I bought a V7 Subaru WRX STi Spec C motor from Canada. My brother was on board to make it work and learn a few things in the process. We took another 2 years to get the engine and newer transmission (a 915-series) into the car and running properly and safely.

Now, I have a car with all the benefits of a Subaru along with the power of a new Porsche. It starts every time, doesn’t leak oil, and even gets 28 miles per gallon. I can take it to the store to get eggs, but I can hit the track as well and lay down some very competitive times. It’s a unique build, but ultimately quite fitting for a 912. I just exchanged one flat 4-cylinder boxer motor for another.

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Doctor Dirt

Gary Enterline could be your grandfather. He’s a jolly man nearing retirement, and he’s no longer as lean as he was in his youth. You might say he’s a little portly, but dignified. He’s got a warm, ready smile, and maybe even the subtle streak of mischievousness in his eyes.

But his hands are rough and callused. They are sturdy hands—neat, save for maybe a light smudge of oil, or a speck of dirt under a fingernail.

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That’s to be expected. He likes working with his hands, and today, he’s standing in his garage and workshop, a Hoover building he outfitted adjacent to his home in Greenville, SC. It’s a substantial shop that’s a mixture of raw functionality and convenience. The walls are unfinished, just bare studs and insulation, but the shop has a gas and electric heater, a 55-inch TV mounted to the wall, and an air conditioning unit that’s doing an admirable job on a sunny, sweltering June day. Overhead, strips of LED lighting bathe the garage in clean, white light.

“IT’S DIRTY CAUSE I DRIVE IT.”

It’s a cluttered space: shelves, workbenches, and tool chests, line the walls; scrap wood, a table saw, and works-in-progress fill the floor in neat piles. An engine lift crouches, unused, in a corner. But for all the tools and accoutrement, there’s one centerpiece in the shop: a deep blue, 10,000-pound Atlas lift.

On this particular day, Enterline has his 1997 Jeep Wrangler perched atop the lift, its undercarriage hanging slack under the weight of wheels, tires, and gravity. The tires—BFGoodrich Mud-Terran T/A KM2s—are brand new. There’s practically no wear—Enterline picks at mold flashing still on the treads—but that’s about the only pristine thing on this TJ. A light layer of dried mud—light tan in the light filtering through the garage door—cakes almost every part of the suspension, and faint splatters migrate upwards to the bumper and body panels. At the front, the left fender’s squared-off corner is crushed in and a gash of rust mars the gunmetal blue paint.

None of this bothers Enterline. When it comes to Jeeps, dings and dirt just come with the territory. There’s even a sticker on the right corner of his rear bumper that says as much: “IT’S DIRTY CAUSE I DRIVE IT.”

It doesn’t hurt that he’s also a 36-year veteran of Michelin and BFGoodrich, and he’s been an off-roader since his childhood in Oklahoma. “There were dirt hills near the elementary school, and they excavated a river for drainage. Well, there was this long mound of dirt along this river, and you could get on top of it and go down the end of the hill. It was called Suicide Hill because it was a pretty big hill on a bicycle, especially for a kid,” he says.

Out of a family of four boys and one girl, Enterline was the only one to show a mechanical affinity, and that translated into working on bicycles, minibikes, and go carts. Enterline quickly graduated to motorcycles and dirt bikes, a hobby he shared with his wife. Before they were married and started a family, they each got dirt bikes to ride together.

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Enterline’s transition from two wheels to four-wheel glory came as he transferred from Michelin’s heavy truck and agricultural divisions to BFGoodrich’s light truck division. “In getting into the brand, I rode in a lot of Jeeps. I was much more into off-roading with dirt bikes. I never owned a four-wheel-drive vehicle until I owned this Jeep,” he says. “I got into this job and it lit a fire back inside me. It brought back all that interest I had in off-roading,” he recalls. “I came home one day and said we’re getting a Jeep. I bought this in 2001 and had it ever since.”

“You give a redneck a welder and a chopsaw, and he can build anything.”

As a child, Enterline had no problem getting his hands dirty, and that has been the case with his Wrangler as well. “Done all the work on it myself. Even the lift kit was put on in the driveway,” he says. “You come up with a lot of different things, how you want it done and so forth. When I put in the lift kit, I tilted my transfer case to get it lined up, and then I realized I bent a set of shocks. They were rubbing into the spring tower, and I go, ‘Crap, what am I gonna do?’ I said, ‘I just need to offset that…so you get creative.’”

Enterline points to a pair of brackets on his rear axle. “I didn’t realize you could buy these things, but this little shock extension bracket here, that was one I made. I got a chop saw and a welder…you give a redneck a welder and a chopsaw, and he can build anything.” Enterline laughs.

Among Jeepers, Enterline’s dedication to wrenching, building, and tweaking isn’t unique. But Enterline can claim something that not many people in general can say. Those brand new Mud-Terrains? Those are Enterline’s handiwork.

“I was the guy on the [BFGoodrich] Krawler [T/A KX] tire.” Enterline points to a toolbox off to the side of his garage. “In fact, that little box over there is the grooving iron that carved the first Krawler. I brought it home and carved it in the backyard because I was testing different tread patterns.” He looks back at his suspended Jeep and its fresh rubber. “So this tire, I created the tread design for it. It was based on the Krawler, and then we did some things to make it look a little more street-able.”

Enterline’s eyes twinkle as he allows a himself a chuckle and a small boast. “It’s done pretty well.”

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