CJ Ramos needed more, and his Mazdaspeed3 gave him just that
Charles “CJ” Ramos is a car enthusiast through and through. As proof, his last car had a wealth of modifications. However, CJ hit a crossroads in his tuning plan; having a full assortment of bolt-on modifications but craving more power, he knew that he was facing forced induction as the next step in the evolution of his vehicular passion.
After researching options, Ramos decided it might be safer to put his old car back to stock and start all over with a car that was already turbocharged. A few test drives later and he decided the Mazdaspeed3 would be his new daily tuner, with a 2008 Crystal White sport package in his driveway before long.
As the saying goes, friends don’t let friends drive stock, and the itch to tweak the car hit Ramos shortly after ownership. In short order the modifying started with some simple go-fast goodies; a Hypertech sport programmer was installed, along with an Injen intake, replaced turbo inlet pipe, a fresh set of Volk SE37 wheels, and a custom methanol injection kit.
Thanks to some of the connections Ramos made while tuning his previous car, Ramos secured a spot in Hypertech’s booth at the 2009 SEMA aftermarket trade show in Las Vegas. With the SEMA spot locked in, CJ quickly worked to upgrade the looks of the car to fit the part. An AutoEXE front bumper was sourced from Japan and paired with an OEM-style carbon-fiber hood, while a Nextmod rear spoiler extension finished off the back end. Lighting was upgraded with HID-lights and a custom angel eye kit to give the car a menacing look when parked. Inside the car, a set of Sparco R100 seats and NRG steering wheel and quick-flip removable hub system were installed and the car was driven from Seattle to Las Vegas for the show.
The show went well and shortly after CJ got home the modifications continued. Being from the Pacific Northwest, the Mazda tuner community is very small and CJ soon learned about a local tuning shop in Portland, Oregon that was actively developing aftermarket parts for the MS3.
CJ topped off his car with the full line of parts from the Corksport catalog including a full turbo-back exhaust (which replaces the down pipe and continues all the way to the rear of the car), a Corksport front mount intercooler kit (relocating the intake to the OEM top-mount location) and stainless steel brake lines. CJ eventually also swapped out the Hypertech tuner for a Cobb Access Port stage 2 map and upgraded the bypass valve with a unit from Forge.
On the outside, the car stayed largely the same over the years, with a few choice upgrades eventually making their way onto the car. The suspension was improved with KW V2 coil-overs, Cobb front and rear sway bars, an SPC camber kit and GT Spec bracing. Although the Volk wheels made the car stand out, they were eventually swapped for a set of Enkei RPF1s, which were again swapped for the current set of Enkei NT03+m’s in 18x9.5-inch sizing. CJ later wrapped the roof of the car in 3M carbon material, added Rally Armor mud flaps, deleted the rear wiper, and protected the underside of the car with a Corksport skidplate.
Inside the car, the seats were replaced with a set of R700 Alcantera seats, a Neochrome shift knob was screwed on to the shifter, and Speedware harness bar was installed, all via a sponsorship from Speedware Motorsports in Redmond, Washington. In the interest of safety, the NRG steering wheel was replaced with the OEM wheel, which features an airbag. CJ replaced the OEM horn with Hella Supertones units, a Valentine 1 radar detector keeps him aware of any possible speed traps, and an MSD Dashhawk gives him the status of engine vitals.
The trunk of the car has gone through several evolutions of the stereo, all of which were built by CJ himself. Currently, a Pioneer P4000 DVD head unit powers the system, with a pair of Alpine amps providing power to the speakers (a 1,000-watt PDX1000.1 amp powers the subs while a PDX100.4 powers the mids and highs). CJ replaced the stock speakers with a DLS component setup in front and Image Dynamics 5x7 speakers in the rear. The car previously had a pair of 12-inch subwoofers but currently features six Elemental Designs 3.6 woofers in a custom enclosure which features LED lighting all around.
Since his SEMA Show appearance, CJ’s has become one of the most prolific Mazdaspeed3 on the mazda3forums.com website. CJ earned Car-of-the-month honors in November 2010 and was named Car-of-the-Year for the entire 2010 year. The car has also earned top honors at several car shows including earning best Mazda at both the 2010 and 2011 NOS Forumfest shows and the 2010 GaragePlus show, and second place Mazda at the 2010 Battle of the Imports. With the recent addition of a young daughter to his family, Ramos now feels justified in moving to a four-door “family” vehicle from his previous coupe from another automaker, and looks forward to many more years of Mazda ownership to come.
Charles Ramos's Mazdaspeed3
Engine & Drivetrain
Corksport turbo-back exhaust
- Race pipe
- Cat-back exhaust
Corksport front-mount intercooler kit
- relocated intake to the OEM top-mount intercooler location
- turbo inlet
- front mount heat exchanger
Corksport stainless steel brake lines
CPE motor mount
Devil's Own meth injection kit
PTP fuel pump internals
COBB Access Port - Stage 2 OTS map
Forge bypass valve
TWM short shifter
Suspension & Wheels
COBB front & rear anti-sway bars
KW V2 coil-over suspension
SPC rear camber kit
GT Spec bracing
- mid-chassis brace
- ladder brace
- rear V-brace
Enkei NT03+m 18x9.5
Goodyear Eagle GT all-season 225/40-18
Autoexe JDM front bumper
Carbon-fiber OEM-style hood
3M Di Noc vinyl wrapped roof
Nextmod generic rear spoiler extension
35%/20% window tint
6000k HID headlights and fog lights
Angel eye kit
Clear corner lamps
Rally Armor mud flaps
Rear wiper delete
Corksport skid plate
Sparco R700 alcantera seats
Blox 490g Neo chrome shift knob
Redline Goods shift boot
Speedware harness bar
Pioneer AVH-P4000dvd in-dash DVD player
Alpine PDX1000.1 1000w subwoofer amplifier
Alpine PDX100.4 100wx4 multichannel amplifier
DLS up6i component front door speakers
Image Dynamics 5x7 rear door speakers
Six 6.5-inch Elemental Designs e3.6 subwoofers
Valentine 1 Radar Detector
2009 SEMA Booth Car - Hypertech
Currently Sponsored by Corksport Mazda Performance Parts and Speedware Motorsports
2010 NOS Forum Fest - Best Mazda
2011 NOS Forum Fest - 1st place Best Mazda 5door
2010 GaragePlus Import Car Show - Best Mazda
2010 Battle of the Imports - 2nd Place Mazda
mazda3forums.com November 2010 Car of the Month
mazda3forums.com 2010 Car of the Year