Trippin' Out: Jose Romo's Audi A3
Written by Micky Slinger | Photos by Vinny Mac

Some things just go together. Like peanut butter and jelly, or three-piece forged wheels on a built VW. Others less so. Such as dipping your fries into your milkshake (it’ll change your life), or going all Japanese on your German hatch. Joser Romo’s Audi A3 is what happens when you’re raised on JDM, but fall in love with the Euro scene. It’s all good though, because like putting chips on your sandwich (you’re welcome), it totally works. 

It’s not like Romo was new to the scene and just didn’t know the distinction between the two. You see, building cars has always been in his family – he grew up on it.

Trippin' Out: Jose Romo's Audi A3“My pops always had cars lowered with wheels, like 13-inch Daytons on his Toyota Tercel,” Laughs Romo. “My uncle had a crazy VW Bug he built. I have always been into it.”

Things started off in the form of a 1999 four-door Honda Civic with a full Bomex body kit, some interior parts, suspension and wheels – “just the basics,” according to Romo. Unfortunate circumstances intervened, however. A student driver was stalled directly in his path but, with traffic on either side of him, Romo knew that swerving to avoid the car wasn’t an option. He just didn’t have enough time to stop, so he was forced to bite the bullet and hit the stationary student. “That car ended up being totaled.”

An enthusiast without a car is just not right, so Romo’s top priority after the accident ordeal was over with was getting a new ride. This time he found himself leaning towards an Audi. Romo even went to the dealer with an A4 in mind as his next purchase. Just as he was looking over some models on the lot, something changed his mind.

“Suddenly a truck appears with a load of new A3s,” recalls Romo. “It was a brand new model in 2006. I was like, ‘This is something different, a sport hatchback from Audi.’ I test drove it and fell in love with it.”

Trippin' Out: Jose Romo's Audi A3 Trippin' Out: Jose Romo's Audi A3

With a new 2.0L TFSI (8P), Romo was ecstatic. He had never owned a turbocharged car before and made sure to put it to good use. Before he locked in on the A3, Romo knew he was going to modify whatever car he chose. His friends at High End Performance, and even his family had encouraged him to do so.

“My friends and family have always been there when I needed help with parts,” says Romo. “They always give me advice on what, and what not to do with the car. If it wasn’t for them, I don’t know what I’d have!”

What Romo has now though is a bad little piece of machinery. From any angle, you can see the JDM styling cues. When looking at it head-on, the yellow running lights and fog lights are definitely JDM-inspired. Romo gave his Audi some shades with a light smoke on the headlights and taillights. The stock grill has been blacked out with the lower bits punched out to reveal the intercooler hiding just behind the Oettinger front bumper. For a bit of charm, Romo bolted on a “SOO SEXZ” vanity plate. Indeed.

Trippin' Out: Jose Romo's Audi A3 Trippin' Out: Jose Romo's Audi A3

The Rieger skirts and rear bumper are matches made in Euro heaven for the Oettinger bumper, giving the car just the right amount of aggression. Adding to the aggression is the Audi’s stance. D2 Racing coilovers lower the pulled fenders over the 19-inch SSR Professor SP3 wheels, which are sporting MayRun MR500 tires. If you take a peek past the spokes on the SSRs, you’ll see some baby blue Rotora calipers that clamp onto some 13-inch slotted and drilled rotors. On the outside, custom carbon fiber panels go from hood to trunk and cut a nice contrast on the unique pale lime green paint.

Trippin' Out: Jose Romo's Audi A3Under the Seibon Carbon hood it is nice, simple and looks just right. A K&N air filter attached to a polished Neuspeed intake pipe winds around the engine. Polished to match the intake, a EuroSport custom front strut bar keeps things rigid. A carbon Neuspeed engine cover sits over the turbocharged inline-four, which is being manipulated by Revo Stage 2+ tuning software. EuroCustoms up- and down-pipes carry exhaust gasses to and from the Audi turbo and out the MagnaFlow exhaust with a nice note.

“I think that it’s something different,” says Romo. “Like, it has more of a JDM style than Euro and people trip out when they see it.”

The A3 definitely isn’t what you’d expect, and Romo has carried the theme into the cabin. The first thing you’ll notice is there’s Bride everywhere – the brand, not the newlywed. Bride carbon-Kevlar Gias Lowmax buckets with Scroth harnesses looped through them take the place of the cushy Audi seats. Red Bride fabric is used on the rear seats and the hatch cover to get the message across. Matching red suede coats the door inserts, headliner and A-pillars. Carbon fiber door inserts sit just above the suede to tie the outside to the inside. Glowshift gauges ensure Romo can see his speeds in any light, while pounding on ABT pedals and a Sparco shift knob. 

Trippin' Out: Jose Romo's Audi A3 Trippin' Out: Jose Romo's Audi A3

Romo didn’t skimp out on the audio side of things. Smack in the middle of the dash is a Sony XAV-A1 head unit with an in-dash display. From there, Romo has access to Sony tweeters, Alpine Type S speakers and 12-inch Alpine Type E subwoofers. An Alpine MRP-M500 amp drives the subs in the custom box enclosure in the back, while a MRP-F300 moves the speakers up front. A Rockford Fosgate LED capacitor and AudioControl Bass Epicenter helps to ensure the Audi shakes the ground as well as people’s heads. 

Trippin' Out: Jose Romo's Audi A3Romo built this A3 in hope that it would be known at shows, and to hopefully get a magazine feature (here you go, buddy!). He also says that one day he would like to track it. But, what about those out there who have the same goal and want to build up something nice to show off?

“It takes time and yes, anyone can build their dream car,” says Romo. “Sometimes you will have your ups and downs, but I never thought I’d have a car like this. I worked hard.”

Oh, and one more thing:

“Always drive your show car. I daily mine all the time because it’s nice and I won’t hide it in the garage.”

Damn right.

Trippin' Out: Jose Romo's Audi A3

ESSENTIALS // Car: 2006 Audi A3 | Owner: Joser Romo | Club Affiliation: R-RYDES | Engine: Volkswagen Group 2.0L I4 T-FSI | Horsepower: 275 hp | Torque: 300 lb-ft

ENGINE MODIFICATIONS // Forge Motorsport blow-off valve | K&N air filter | Neuspeed (air intake, carbon fiber engine cover) | Revo Stage 2+ software

EXHAUST // MagnaFlow (exhaust system, exhaust tip) | EuroCustoms (up-pipe, down-pipe)

WHEELS / TIRES / BRAKES // SSR Professor SP3 wheels – 19 x 9-in. +36 (f), 19 x 10-in. +36 (r) | MayRun MR500 tires – 225/35 R19 (f), 235/35 R19 (r) | Rotora brakes (four-piston front calipers, braided lines, brake pads) | 13-in. drilled & slotted brake rotors (f/r)

CHASSIS / SUSPENSION // D2 Racing coilovers | Eibach (sway bars, urethane bushings) | EuroSport custom front strut bar

EXTERIOR // Oettinger front bumper | Rieger (rear bumper, sideskirts) | Blacked out grill | Smoked headlights & taillights | Seibon carbon fiber hood | Audi (custom carbon fiber roof, custom carbon fiber trunk) | 1-in. pulled fenders | Body work by A&A Autoworks, DTM Autobody | Paint work by Limerock Paint

INTERIOR // Sparco shift knob | Personal steering wheel | Glowshift gauges | New South Performance gauge pods | Bride carbon Kevlar Gias Lowmax seats | Schroth harnesses | ABT pedals | Suede (door inserts, pillars, headliner, shift boot) | Carbon fiber door inserts | Bride fabric (rear seat inserts, hatch cover) | Upholstery work by California Upholstery

MOBILE ELECTRONICS // Sony (XAV-A1 headunit with in-dash display, tweeters) | Alpine (MRP-M500 amplifier, MRP-F300 amplifier, 12-in. Type E subwoofers, Type S midrange speakers) | Stinger (front fuse holder, main power wire) | Rockford Fosgate LED capacitor | Audio Control bass epicenter | Custom box enclosure 


SPECIAL THANKS // My friends and family who have helped me, my team, R-RYDES, my friends from Limitless Society, my fam at Auto Concept Elite, High End Performance, Tanginamo Lifestyle, A&A Autoworks, DTM Autobody, SSR wheels, and A&A Autosound

Featured in PAS Aug/Sept 2014 (16.04). Order your copy here.
PASMAG August 2014 16.04

More Vehicle Features

FWD Unlimited: Chris Rado's 2007 Scion tC

Written by Dave Pankew / Photography by Devin LeFevere Ask anyone into the drag racing scene about leaders and icons out there and one name will crop up continually: Chris Rado. The Pennsylvania native has been putting fast front wheel…
Read More

GT-Tribute: Phatt Audio's 1998 Nissan Skyline GT-T

"I just can't stop tinkering," says Phatt Audio Concepts' Sam Pansino, with a laugh. That's his simple explanation for how, over four years, he went from a silver, automatic R34 GT-T to the 430 whp, manual-equipped, Bayside Blue, Paul Walker…
Read More

Fearless: Carl Nadeau's 2006 Pontiac Solstice

Written by Dave Pankew | Photos By Mike Gazda The only thing constant in life is change. In the face-paced world of performance and competition anything can and will happen. We have seen feature cars stolen, vandalized, blow up and…
Read More

The Golden Rule: Brian Camacho's 1992 Honda Civic Si

It has often been said, “If you want something done right you’ve got to do it yourself.” We’ve heard it so frequently in the modified car arena that it’s become second nature, a truism which should have been carved in…
Read More

Overdrive: True Grit - DTA 2008 Scion xB

What do you do when you have a 2008 second generation Scion xB, and want the car to make 400hp reliably on 91 octane pump gas, as is dispensed in California? If you’re Johan “Yo” Esbensen, co-owner of Rogue Status…
Read More