How much does your car mean to you

Branden Sigala, 19, business, stands proudly next to his 350Z Nismo. (Sean Lara/Lariat Staff)

Sean Lara

For most college students, owning a car serves a simple purpose, to get from “A” to “B” as cheaply as possible. However, for the select few Saddleback College students, their cars mean much more to them than that.

Ryan Cubidez, 20, marketing communications, is one of those students who utilize his car for more than picking up groceries.  Cubidez drives a 2004 Subaru Impreza STI that he built from the ground up. The STI is an all-wheel drive four-cylinder monster that was originally designed for off-road rally racing and has become an extremely popular and affordable tuner car amongst all ages. A stock STI comes equipped with a 2.5L, 250 wheel horsepower Boxer engine with a single turbocharger at a compression of 14.5 psi. Cubidez has taken his car to the next level by making it “race-ready.” With a boost increase on his turbo to 21psi, intake, exhaust, rims, Tomei headers, fuel pump, suspension work, weight reductions and more, his car jumps up to 320 wheel horsepower and a 0 to 60 mph time of four seconds, allowing him to keep up with many competitors on the track including Porsches and Ferraris.

“I modify my car because I love racing on the track,” Cubidez said. “When I was younger I went off-roading in the desert with Jeeps and ever since then I’ve been hooked.”
Cubidez has already put six grand into his car and hopes to put in another ten within the next few years.  He plans to finish college and open his own auto-consulting business so he can afford his dream car: a 1970 Chevy Chevelle in Candy Apple Red.

Another student, Branden Sigala, 19, business, is also very passionate about his modified ride. Sigala has a 2008 Nissan 350Z Nismo that is designed to turn heads. A stock 350Z puts out 260 wheel horsepower powered by a 3.5L naturally aspirated six-cylinder engine. As fast as these cars are stock, Sigala was not satisfied and decided to put all of his earnings into making it faster and making it look nicer. In his two-month ownership of the car, he has put four grand of modifications into his ride which include Megan Racing coilovers, Nismo shifter, HKS exhaust, ECU upgrades, Nismo Intake, a high-quality audio system and much more.  His car now pushes 310 wheel horsepower.

“Ever since I went to my first car meet with my dad as a little kid, I knew I wanted a nice car,” Sigala said. “Modding cars is my passion and I hope to someday make a career out of it. I’ve worked hard to buy my car, and I know I can put that same dedication into starting my own business.”

Sigala is currently sponsored by Trebel Racing and Gold Star and attends many car shows where his car is featured on the show floor. He hopes to soon start his own car club business for other auto enthusiasts, and continue to modify his ride as much as possible.

Christian Cardona, 19, biological science, recently got into modifying his car and so far enjoys it thoroughly. Cardona drives a 2003 Infiniti G35 powered by the similar motor as the 350Z, a 3.5L, 240-wheel horsepower six-cylinder engine. This car is already an extremely nice luxury sports coupe; however, Cardona decided that it needed to be modified to grab everyone’s attention. With a cold air intake, upgraded headlights, powder-coated gold rims, Brembo brakes, Borla exhaust, Tein 350Z H-Tech springs and an Inven front bumper, he does exactly that.

“As lame as this is going to sound, I was inspired to modify my car by the movie ‘Fast and the Furious,’ ” Cardona said. “I love taking something average and making it sexy to grab the attention of others.” Although Cardona just started to upgrade his car, he plans on adding two turbochargers to the motor, and a wide body kit to the exterior. After college he plans on becoming a dentist and rally racing on the weekends for fun.