FLI Builds the First True 100% Flex Fuel (no map switching) Subaru WRX

I have a 2006 WRX wagon with a stock motor, and over 90k miles on it. About one year after I got the car new, Fine Line started to tune it for me. First a downpipe and Accessport (a custom FLI tune was created), then full exhaust, light weight crank pulley, and light braking improvements. Then I got a deal on a ’06 STI turbo (VF39). I installed a carbon fiber driveshaft, Ohlins adjustable struts, wheels and all manner of steering and shifting improvements. Then I got some PE 800cc fuel injectors , a few other bits, and got myself an E85 map (custom-made by FLI). The power was great, but the car was really finicky on the stock ECU. The car ran differently every time I turned the key, and changing maps and resetting codes was bumming me out. It just never ran perfectly.

As my daily-driver, I wanted a true flex-fuel car with stock manners around town, crisp response, and gobs of torque at low rpm. I put off an aftermarket ECU for a while, but finally listened to Ryan and Miles when Link ECU came out with an easy plug & play direct replacement ECU that would work with the GM flex-fuel sensor. This sensor reads the ethanol content in the fuel system, sends this info to the Link ECU instantaneously, and FLI created the map which adjusts the tune accordingly. No map switching, no check engine lights, no problems.

After the Link ECU was installed, with no other changes, the dyno graph jumped up roughly 20 whp and 20 ft lbs. across the board. It now makes 360 ft lbs of torque at 3500 rpms and 316 horsepower at 5500 rpms (stock motor / VF39 / E85). The car sounds great, and I can feel that it’s happy. What’s special is the massive amount of torque under 2900rpms. Pulling away from 1500rpms feels good, where before nothing happened until 2100rpms. 91 octane feels nearly as good as E85, which I know is hard to believe. Miles tuned the throttle response to exactly where I like it, so it’s not too twitchy into first and second gear or while cruising, but pulls briskly once you get on it. Getting on it in fourth gear is like smearing torque onto the road. I’m pretty picky about how it behaves in the tight, twisty back roads as well, and it comes on and off throttle in a much more controlled manner than it used to. Basically, the car has been tuned perfectly to my liking.

Just to recap – with 93K miles on the car, it has never run smoother or stronger. It’s fast as stink, and trouble free. For those of you that question the value of a stand-alone ECU on modified Subaru’s, I can tell you that it’s worth the money to get all your “blingy” parts to sing in harmony. It really was the icing on the cake for my car.

The above info was written by James J, Oakland Ca, 2012.

541 WHP / 549 WTQ 2009 Dodge Challenger stroked 6.4 liter, Sinister Performance built, FLI tuned.

This project has been about 10 months in the making. Sinister Performance started this project last year with a ProCharger, a custom ground Inertia Motorsports cam, long tube headers and a cat back exhaust. this combo made about 505RWHP which the customer was very happy with. Soon after he decided he wanted to make the engine stronger by putting in a forged rotating assembly. Sinister Performance decided that if the engine was going to be removed and rebuilt, they might as well make it a stroker motor.

Sinister Performance decided to go out of the box a little on this build. Rather than buy a complete stroker kit, they opted for a Callies Forged Crankshaft and Rods, and Diamond Forged Pistons. The weak point in any Hemi engine are the pistons. Due to the height of the upper ring land, the top of the piston is very thin. With the custom 9.0:1 pistons they ordered from Diamond, they were able to lower that ring land and essentially make the top of the piston thicker. Sinister Performance port matched the heads to the 6.1L Intake manifold and radius cut the valves, installed ARP head studs, an ATI Dampener SFI rated and with an 18% overdrive to minimize belt slipping on the supercharger. They also installed an Arrington 90mm Throttle body. Sinister Performance upgraded the fuel system with a bigger Aeromotive fuel pump and Cobra 54lb Injectors.

FLI made an engine break in map and after 1000 miles, the final custom tune was performed. During the baseline dyno run (FLI custom tune with stock engine and Procharger kit, 7 psi of max boost) the dyno room temp was 65 degrees with 33%. humidity.  The latest custom FLI tune, max boost was 7.5 psi and the dyno room temp was 75 degrees with 34% humidity.

This Challenger made very impressive power gains from this custom engine package.  There is a lot more room to grow, but for now the customer is very happy.  For more info about this build, visit Sinister Performance’s blog here.

402 WHP all motor 2006 Charger SRT8, FLI tuned – Sinister Performance built.

FLI has established a partnership with Sinister Performance who is a modern Mopar speciality shop located next door to FLI.  This 2006 Dodge Charger SRT8 car was built by Sinister Performance and custom dyno tuned by Fine Line Imports using the Diablosport CMR software.  This black beauty has 22″ Viper reproduction wheels and makes 402 horsepower to the wheels after the custom FLI tune!

Here is the dyno graph showing before all the work completed by Sinister Performance and the FLI custom dyno tune.  This car made a solid 50-60 horsepower and torque to the wheels!

To read the complete article on this car visit Sinister Performance’s blog here.


361 WTQ, 357 WHP 2006 Dodge Charger Daytona – FLI tuned, Sinister Performance built.

FLI has established a partnership with Sinister Performance who is a modern Mopar speciality shop located next door to FLI.  This very cool 2006 Dodge Charger Daytona Edition car was built by Sinister Performance and custom dyno tuned by Fine Line Imports using the Diablosport CMR software.  This customer came from Nevada to have all the work performed.  Not only is the owner a true enthusiast, but this car is well-kept and very clean.  There are lots of small custom parts on this car which makes it unique.

For more info on this build, please visit Sinister Performance’s blog here.

FLI Tuning Trip to Hong Kong in 2011

FLI was contacted by a couple customers in Hong Kong in 2011 for some custom tuning services. There were two cars, one 2002 JDM-Spec Subaru STI Version 8 wagon complete car (right hand drive) fitted with a Link G4 plug-in stand-alone ECU, and the other car was a 2006 JDM-Spec Subaru STI Version 9 complete car (right hand drive) fitted with a Link G4 plug-in stand-alone ECU. The shop that built these cars is called OS Racing, located in Hong Kong, and owned by Joe. All tuning was performed on a dyno (until time ran out), and finished on the streets in the city.

There were lots of very cool JDM-Spec cars in Hong Kong. For those who do not know, Japanese spec cars are 100% legal and allowed in Hong Kong. Some of the rare cars found were, Subaru WRX Type RA V6 (yes, with the 5 speed DCCD transmission and a 8000 RPM redline), Subaru V5 Type R, a couple Subaru STI V8 wagons (with the wide flares like the sedan version), Honda Civic SIR and a Nissan Primera. There were many other exotic JDM-Spec cars in the city, but I did not get pictures of them.

Thank you very much for everything Alain, Gregory, Kolo, and Joe!

Up Two Mountains Rally Team 2011 year in Review

                                                                                                                                                                                On stage at Gorman Ridge Rally, 2011

FLI is excited to be apart of Up Two Mountains Rally Team and looks forward to the 2012 race season!  Good job Jon for finishing the season and more importantly winning your class!

The following was written by Jon Burke of  Up Two Mountains Rally Team.

2011 Year in Review: My Championship Season of DNFs

This year I competed in the 2011 California Rally Series (CRS) in the Open AWD Class.

I won it.

I entered five events….

I DNF’d in two and a half of them.

This is my story. (Cue dramatic CSI theme music)

Before you start saying, “Well, there probably wasn’t much competition then.” You can just stop right there…because you’re right. There wasn’t much. I pretty much was the only Open AWD competitor that entered in five CRS events this year.

But this isn’t about a close point’s battle, or making strategic tire choices, or grabbing that tricky extra dust minute in the time controls. This is about that famous, overused, trite (but true) expression: “To Finish First, First You Must Finish.” This isn’t about anything except me versus myself.

2011 was a year of emotional ups and downs…we started out on a high note with a brand new Modena Group-N dogbox transmission from Matt Monson at GT Gears. After some one-on-one instruction up at DirtFish rally school, Lars Wolfe (who also built my rollcage) helped me yank out my OEM gears (with a sheared 2nd gear) and install the complete Modena straight cut kit.

Learning to shift the dogbox on the street was a little tricky, and I definitely zinged a few shifts in the process, but it ran like a dream with a new Carbonetic carbon twin disc clutch. And let me tell you, I felt pretty cool driving up and down my street with that straight cut gear whine….I was straight up legit, yo. Time to go win some rally events….should be easy, now….right?

Apparently I was feeling too good about it all because the Rally Gods knocked me down a few pegs pretty quick, and pretty hard. Our first race was in March at Desert Storm Rally, where I teamed up with Tom Morningstar from www.TheSmokingTire.com who co-drive with me once before in 2010.

Two stages in, with barely four miles on the rally computer odo, we spun a bearing–the worst I ever heard. Not that I’ve heard a lot of spun bearings in my time, but I’ve seen those fun video’s that people post with the tell-tale ‘knock knock knock.’ This sounded more like any angry squirrel was in my #4 cylinder with a 4lbs BFH.

Pulling out the engine at Outfront Motorsports’ driveway, Buena Vista, CA

We packed it up and headed out the very next day to Outfront Motorsports, where the shortblock came from. We pulled the engine right in their shop and left it with them for a tear down and rebuild. Jeremy had it fully assembled and ready to go again in just over two weeks. This one easily lasted the rest of the season, and I got to check out Global Rally Cross @ Irwindale the weekend I picked it up.

Lesson Learned: Shit happens, and that’s racing. Be nice to your sponsors, and they’ll be nice to you when it really matters.

Our next race was in June in Boise, Idaho where I teamed back up with my usual co-driver, Tucker Heiner. Idaho is a long 100+ miles event (and a long 700+ miles tow from NorCal!) with wide, smooth roads. We started out strong for the first few miles until something went through our exhaust and destroyed the turbo. WTF?

On stage at Idaho Rally, 2011

In service we figured out that other than blowing a bit of smoke we could keep going at ZERO psi and so we were able to finish day 1 despite blowing a lot of smoke out our exhaust, while simultaneously asphyxiating the course workers, the competitors directly behind us, and about 1.5M Idaho bugs and mosquitos. We borrowed a stock TD-04 turbo that we swapped out that night. On day 2 the car ran solid, (depending on your definition of ‘solid’) but on the TD-04’s 5psi of wastegate pressure, we we also running pretty slow. We were still in the top ten, and picked up 1st place CRS championship points as we were the only California competitors there.

The turbo issue turned out to be an old exhaust bung plug that worked its way loose and went INTO the exhaust headers…are you friggin’ kidding me? I had replaced the plug earlier thinking it popped OUT, and I even pulled the headers while replacing the plug, but somehow it was sitting inside the turbo when we pulled it out. Awesomeness.

Lesson Learned: Press on Regardless…thinking we were out after day 1, I was ready to pack it up. But Dick Rockrhor (Idaho Rally’s organizer, and my #1 competitor) was the one who offered up the spare turbo and extra garage space to swap it out. We were at his place until 1am, Thanks Dick!

With the TD-04 turbo still locked and loaded, we entered North Nevada Rally in July just outside of Reno. Down on power, I used this as a good practice session for late braking and carrying momentum through every turn. Despite the obvious power disadvantage, we were able to stay within a few seconds of the stage leaders and took 2nd place on Day 1. Day 2 ended abruptly with a DNF on a deceptive blind right corner that put us into a berm and taco’d our control arm and punched through the left rear strut tower.

Lets watch it together:

Lesson Learned: When the organizer supplied stages notes say ‘Deceptive’….take better notes.

NNR Damage: Before

NNR Damage: After

After a few weeks of some fun custom @home fab work, the rear strut tower fixed and reinforced, we headed to Gorman Ridge Rally in Lebec, CA.

Zach Dickenson is my crew chief, and he’s been with me for a while. He’s seen all the car damage I’ve done and torture to my co-drivers that I’ve inflicted, but for some weird reason, he still wanted to get in my co-driver’s seat and try it out. So he jumped in and did pretty well on the first couple stages, but the Rally Gods were still fighting us, as we punched a hole in the transmission sometime on the fourth stage. It turns out that a piece of the front pinion gear broke off, got caught in between the ring gear and the case, and punched a nice hole in the bottom of the case….STILL can’t catch a break. To top it off, were still on the TD-04 turbo and were holding our own in 3rd place when this happened.

Lesson Learned: OK, what the hell is going on here? Seriously? Who breaks pinion teeth, anyways?

We did get lucky with finding a busted donor transmission for a new case and ring/pinion for free (thanks to Alex Rademacher!)…and by the very next weekend, we were ready to race again.

Last stop, Prescott Rally in Prescott, AZ; one of my favorite events both for the great roads, beautiful Arizona landscape, and the Prescott Brewery. With all of our previous mechanical failures and general ‘bad luck’, my only strategy was to take it easy on the car and just finish the god-damned race. I had the turbo finally replaced (Thanks to BLOUCH Turbo) and we were back up approx 300wtq at only 15psi, but I didn’t plan on using all that power. Our main competition (Dick Rockrhor) wasn’t able to make this event, so from a championship points standpoint, all I had to do was put in a top 5 finish and that would give me the lead.

On stage at Prescott Rally, 2011

Tom Morningstar co-drove again and he brought the Smoking Tire crew along; they put together a pretty good episode covering our adventure together for the weekend:

Even with a few hiccups (a worn shifter cup bushing allowed the shifter to pop out twice on stage) we ran a nearly flawless race and ended up fourth place overall for the weekend. This put us at the top of the CRS series for the year, and it was REALLY nice to not have anything major to fix on the car!


Profit! (wait…what?)

Lesson Learned: So THAT’s what they mean by, ‘To finish first, first you must finish!’

It took an entire season, but I think we finally ironed out all the gremlins, personal demons and ‘bad luck’ for hopefully quite a while. Since October, I’ve been on a rally hiatus, taking a little time off for the sake of my sanity. It was a rough year, and ‘winning’ the CRS championship certainly made it all worthwhile, but I was mentally on the edge there for a bit. Towing to Prescott, all I could think about was ‘what if…what if…what if.’ It took quite a bit of mental work to keep it together on stage. Rally definitely tests you, it will mess with your head and it doesn’t take much to pack it up and head home (if it were easy, everyone would do it, right?). And it takes a LOT of energy to come home from a 700 mile tow, unpack, and then start fixing everything all over again knowing full well that you might wreck again at your next race in just a few weeks.

This year was all about me versus myself, and I crushed myself pretty good.

BUT with the new year starting, I’m getting excited to start the next season….upgrading to E85, a Global Rally Cross event (Vegas, baby, Vegas!), and another year of CRS rally events….time to do it all over again!

Special Thanks To:

  • Krista Canfield
  • Tucker Heiner
  • Zach Dickenson
  • Lars Wolfe
  • Jason Powers
  • Gleb Serbin
  • Matt, Tom and Thad at TheSmokingTire.com

Special Thanks to Sponsors:

  • Miles, Ryan and Jerob at Fine Line Imports
  • Jeremy at Outfront Motorsports
  • Kiyo at Carbonetic
  • Matt at GT Gears

To view Up Two Mountains Rally Teams official blog, visit here.


Here are some pictures last time the rally car was here at FLI.

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FLI Tuned / Sinister Performance built, 2008 Jeep SRT-8 Turbo, 553 wtq, 422 whp @ 7.5 psi

FLI or Fine Line Imports Tuned (CMR), Sinister Performance built, Jeep SRT8 turbocharged

This Jeep SRT8 has a long list of shops that originally built it, before it arrived at Sinister Performance who solved all the issues.  Sinister Performance is a Dodge speciality shop located two doors down from FLI.  We have established a great relationship over the years and Sinister is the premier Dodge performance and OEM shop in California.  Ian Moore, the owner of Sinister Performance is one of the best Dodge mechanics that we know.  I have seen some wild projects over there which all have left running well with customers happy.

This is Scott’s Sinister Edition SRT8 Grand Cherokee. This has a Custom Built Precision Turbo, ERL 426 Stroker Short Block, Tial MV-R Wastegate, custom 3.5″ Full exhaust and a  Paramount Transfer Case. It is putting out 501HP and 649 ft/lbs of torque to the flywheel!

FLI or Fine Line Imports Tuned (CMR), Sinister Performance built, Jeep SRT8 turbocharged 553 wtq and 422 whp on 7.5 psi of boost with 91 Octane fuel.

This project has been a 2 and a half year nightmare for Sinister Performance’s customer.  Spanning about 3 states and many, many hands in the mix with the vehicle, all with different reasons as to why it was having issues. Sinister Performance received the Jeep after having five different shops work on it prior. It had been mixed and matched together so many times it was hard to make any sense of any of the setup. so after hearing about Sinister Performance through the grapevine, Scott shipped it to them.  Scott, Sinister Performance and myself are very happy that he did.

For the complete article, visit Sinister Performance.

FLI Holiday Hours

FLI will be closed December 26th-30th.  FLI wishes all of our customers, contacts a wonderful holiday season and a successful 2012 year.

SEMA 2011

This year FLI was in attendance at the 2011 SEMA (Specialty Equipment Manufacturing Association) show in Las Vegas, Nevada. The SEMA show is one of the largest specialty automotive product trade shows in the world. To put it simply, if you are into cars or anything automotive related, this is the place to be. For the second straight year Miles Hechtman lead tuner at FLI was asked to work the LINK engine management booth. On October 1st, Miles and I boarded a plane for “sin city”.

The SEMA show itself spans the entire Las Vegas convention center. Even with being there almost a week, and walking several miles each day, I do not think I saw everything there was to see. It truly is an endless parade of the most meticulously well-built and designed cars you will ever see in one place. From American muscle cars, to wild Japanese imports, and everything in between. If it has wheels, and is customizable, it can be found here.

Check out Miles’ favorite two cars at SEMA 2011, the 69 bagged black Cadillac with red interior, and the 69 fully custom Dodge Roadrunner.

BAM XI 2011

Fine Line Imports or FLI at BAM XI

On August 11th of this year, 350+ Subarus descended upon the Rock Wall Winery at the Alameda Naval Air Base for the 11th annual Bay Area Meet (BAM). This year’s meet featured a rally roll-over simulator (provided by Primitive Racing), car show, wine tasting, vendor area (with their latest cars on display), lunch, and a raffle. All of the money raised from this event was donated to charity. This year’s recipient is the Red Cross Japan relief fund.

Fine Line Imports sponsored and attended the event for the 7th year. In the FLI booth was our shop 2002 WRX, and a customer’s very clean, and heavily-modified 2006 STI. The vendor area of the show was filled with heavily-modified Subaru’s from all the local Subaru shops. Everything from fully-prepped race cars, to award-winning show cars, was on display.

This year’s BAM brought us to the Rock Wall Winery located on the Alameda Naval Air Base which is a stone’s throw across the bay from San Francisco. The venue – aside from having more than enough room for all of the cars – provided a great view of the San Francisco skyline. Wine tasting was available for the 21 and up crowd, with half of all wine tasting sales being donated to the Japan relief fund, courtesy of the good people from the Rock Wall Winery.

This year’s car show was the biggest yet with many top quality cars in attendance. From custom-painted wide body show cars, to every day street cars, there was something in the show for everyone. The car show categories were broken down by year and body style, with winners for each category. FLI’s very own Miles Hechtman won best vendor car with his absolutely stunning 2002 Subaru WRX. Features include a one-off Fine Line Imports V-mount intercooler setup, FLI custom welded-in brake ducts, JDM Version 7 Type RA engine and transmission, many suspension upgrades, and a long list of other parts.

Fine Line Imports or FLI 2002 Subaru WRX STI GDB RS, Vendor Class Winner

Fine Line Imports or FLI 2002 Subaru WRX STI GDB RS, Vendor Class Winner and 2006 STI Flagship 001 built by FLI

This year’s meet was the biggest and most enjoyable BAM meet of recent memory. Not only was there plenty of food, music, and nice cars, but the camaraderie of all the people in attendance made it a great way to spend a Sunday. FLI would like to thank the event organizers (Greg & Silke Smith), and all the volunteers that gave up their free time in order to make this event happen. We would also like to thank our customers who joined us at the meet. Without their continued support, Fine Line Imports would not be here. We look forward to many more years of the Bay Area Meet.

BAM XI held at Rock Wall Winery, Alameda California

* All the photos were taken by Wilson Tai.   FLI would like to thank Wilson for capturing this great show.  These pictures are really amazing!  For more info about the pictures visit here.