Wandering Leopard – Done patiently waiting – LA 7/2022

Patiently waiting…

Project Leopard (the car) has moved a couple times waiting for it to be accepted at the SR20store. The RB25det is “90%” as I was told, but that hasn’t changed for months. I kept asking my builder when can I bring my car there, but I kept getting a moving goal post.

The car came back from Arizona (after 16 months) in November 2021. It was stored at Hung’s until he had to move at the end of March 2022.

May 2022 – I had stopped by the SR20store and talked to my builder. Here is how the conversation went:

“Marco, Do you still want to work on my motor? If not, just tell me and I’ll get this out of here. If you don’t want to keep working on it, I’m fine with that. Just tell me what you want me to do. Reference me to anyone.”

“Roger, I promise you, I will help you. I just don’t want to stress over cars.”

“Marco, I have never given you a hard time or pressured you. I’m not trying to give you grief or stress.”

“I know, you are good. I just don’t want your car sitting here for months.”

“Anytime you ask for something, I don’t mind paying for it, but some of the stuff that I can’t get, I only know about alternatives (such as – AN fittings). But I am a nobody in the car scene. I don’t have resources like you.”

“Give me 2 weeks, I am waiting for the Syko Engine mounts. They are 3-4 weeks out. I will go to Guatemala for 3 weeks.”

July 2022 – I had mentioned I will go to LA at the end of the month. I asked one last time if he could take my car and it was denied. The engine build has also stalled. It hasn’t been touched since May.

Finally, I decided I can’t be patient anymore. 2.5 years of waiting and this slow progress and constant delay of my car, while other cars/projects come and go out the shop.

While I love and respect my builder, never gave him a hard time and always paid when asked for money, It was time to move forward. I don’t and didn’t want this car to take a few years to complete, especially when I have the budget for it and anything I need I am willing to to buy right away.

Project Leopard is my priority and I constantly think about it. So you have to understand at some level, I felt I was being disrespect. I value people’s effort and time… and I expect the same in return. That was the last straw. I decided to contact anyone that would listen and give them the situation. I talked to a few shops and while the text messages seem positive, only one person was solid enough to talk over the phone and be real about it.

Jason said he will check out the engine, but I didn’t know if he would take it or not. Hung mentioned it could stay at his place and he would work on it, but I didn’t want to burden him. I was almost certain I was going to bring it to the bay area with me.


Saturday morning: I contacted Hung, Roger V and Ozzy. We all went to the SR20store and I went to my builder and respectfully told him I need to get my car going and I have no option but to get everything. He started to bring out everything. Roger V, Hung and myself pushed the engine to my van and pretty much slid it in. Then we started to load up the rest of the parts.

It was the end of a chapter. The last 2.45yrs I’ve been plagued with constantly wondering when my car was going to be done.

New Chapter – Rival Autoworks/Apexi

I brought it to Jason and he already started looking it over and pointed out some issues. One thing that stood out was that the Tomei Poncams weren’t lubed. He couldn’t believe it. Then he found the Tomei turbo’s internal wastegate would contact the inside of the Syko elbow, restricting it from opening all the way.

Jason said he will look over the engine the following week and come up with a game plan.

Bushings time!!!

Roger V and Hung headed out while Ozzy said he would come help me on Project Leopard

It’s been awhile since I hung out with Ozzy, but this would the 1st time we would spend a couple hours. He put in the steering shaft aluminum bushing and steering rack Energy Suspension bushings.

Later that Evening –

I went out to get some food. I was drained from the emotional stress and relief. I chilled at Rodeo 39 for dinner. During that time Edrik and I conversed on the phone. He had work that day and couldn’t meet up. We talked about a lot of stuff happening.

Next morning – 

I had to drop of some tools Hung let me use and also come up with a game plan. He’s done so much for me when it comes to this project. Plus I was able to check out his new place.


I haven’t seen my boy Randy in a minute. This time I wanted to stop by his shop and chop it up with him. He used to own 2 M30 convertibles, but gave up on them.

Moonlight Runners –

Jon and Astrid have always been awesome! I wanted to catch up and see how things were. I also throw out the idea of making a couple different F31 lip designs.

Also gotta give a shout out my relative Sid. He has and will play a pivotal role with Project Leopard.