There are car enthusiasts these days and then there are car enthusiasts these days. There’s the guy who throws an SR20 into his 240SX or a B16 into his Civic and then there’s the guy who meticulously wrenches each new modification onto his car overlooking nothing in the process.
There’s the guy who spends most of his free time in his room neglecting his girlfriend while he posts on community car forums, and then there’s the guy who spends most of his free time in his garage, neglecting his family, while he hand stitches his own custom one-of-a-kind leather Recaro seat covers.
There are car enthusiasts these days, and then there’s Joe Duarte, whose automotive addiction is borderline all-consuming and whose passion for cars is as pure as can be found. Duarte grew up in the Forest Lawn area of Calgary, Alberta, Canada… think of it as the ghetto of Calgary. His father and mother are both of Portuguese descent and immigrated to Canada back in ’71. Once in Canada they had three children, all boys. Joe was the middle child.
Joe was six years old when his father left home, leaving his mother to take care of the three rowdy boys all by herself. He remembers those early years being especially difficult. “We definitely grew up poor,” Joe says. “It was really tough at times. I was the middle child and I remember always getting my older brother’s hand-me-downs. I don’t think I had a new set of clothes until I was 16,” he laughs. His addiction to cars actually started with his father back when the family was still together. He remembers peeking through the curtains in his room, well past his bedtime, to watch his father work on the family car. When Joe was nine years old he received what would turn out to be the last visit he would ever receive from his father. His father was being deported back to Portugal for criminal activity. The tough times were about to get tougher.
Even with no money for toys the three boys found ways to let their imaginations run wild. “My brothers would jump on our bed pretending it was a car and try to get it to start,” Joe says smiling. “It would be broken though so I’d jump underneath and pretend like I was twisting wrenches trying to fix it and then they’d go back to cranking it trying to get it to turn over.”
Joe remembers cars being very important to him when he was younger. “Growing up so poor like that,” he says, “you need something to distract you from it all and cars are what I held onto for that distraction.” When Joe turned 14 he bought his first car, a Ford Escort LX. He worked the entire summer to earn enough money to purchase the car even though he still couldn’t legally drive it. “I would drive it back and forth on the driveway all day long,” Joe says, “but I never got to drive it on the streets.” Before he even had his liscence he sold the car to buy a Volvo 240 which was his first real driving car. Like most teenage boys with their first cars his first modification was a set of 15 inch subwoofers.
Joe sold his Volvo for an ’83 Mazda RX-7. This was Joe’s first taste of Japanese sports cars. The RX-7 didn’t last long though. He blew the engine racing it one night when he accidentally went from fourth to first trying to stop in time for a light. He ended up selling the car for parts. Joe’s next car would be his introduction into the world of modifying. He purchased an ’86 Toyota MR-2 and started playing around with it. “I’d go to the wreckers and pull body kit parts off of other cars and find a way to mold them to my car,” Joe laughs. “I got pretty good at it and the car really stood out, nobody had ever seen an MR-2 kitted that way.” The MR-2 was eventually sold to his older brother to purchase an Acura Integra which was then stolen and found stripped. The Integra wasn’t insured for theft and Joe had to take the loss and go the next few years without any car at all. He remembers it being one of the most depressing times of his life.
Then, in ’06, Joe purchased the ’91 R32 Nissan Skyline GTS-T Type-M you see before you from an importer up in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. The car originally started life red. Around this time Joe was also finishing up his second year as a mechanical apprentice and had recently took a job working at a local tuning shop. He immediately went to work on the interior of the Skyline. He installed a PlayStation 2, a big stereo system and new racing seats. He then worked on the exterior installing Axis Trinity wheels, a GT wing, splitters and canards. He also installed a bigger intercooler and did a little bit of engine dressing.
That summer he entered the car in a Calgary car show called “Driven” and took home “Best Skyline.” He remembers immediately after the show being heavily criticized and attacked by the members of the online forum he was a part of, GTRCanada, because his car won “Best Skyline” but had a mostly stock engine bay.
As winter approached, Joe parked the car in his garage and went to work on building the engine, not because of the online criticism, but because he now had the time to build it properly. He installed a new throttle body, intake manifold and blow-off valve to go along with his new cams, injectors and his new turbo kit and with a little tuning he managed to net just over 300 HP. That following summer he entered the same Driven car show he had the previous year and this time he won “Best Nissan” and “Best Import.” Over the course of the next few years Joe spent each winter further modifying his car and each summer winning awards. His first series of modifications were a new interior and paint. He decided to paint the car Speedway Blue, an OEM Toyota color. He also pulled the whole body and then started redoing the entire interior in white, a look that lasted 3 years before he went back to the classic black.
Next, he added the Trust side skirts, Trust rear spats, R33 GT-R grill and the Work Meister S1 wheels in the rare “burning black” color. He also upgraded his turbo to a Borg Warner 8875 and completed his interior by adding Kevlar Bride seats and a Cusco half cage.
His TMR Racing RB20DET was also swapped out for the bigger RB25DET and highlighted in pink with blue pearl as requested by his two daughters. His current setup pushes 501 HP to the wheels.
Joe continues to enter his Skyline in car shows and continues to enjoy working on it. As for Joe’s future plans, “Make it fly high in the sky,” he laughs. “To be honest, maybe a bit more power, maybe a V8 twin turbo or maybe an RB30… only time will tell.” Whatever it is Joe decides to do, we’ll be sure to keep an eye on him. His breed of car enthusiasm doesn’t come around that often.
Words: Patrick Gall
Photos: Eymeric Widling
Owner: Joe Duarte
Location: Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Vehicle: 1991 Nissan Skyline GTS-T Type M
Horsepower: 501 WHP @ 7,500 RPM
– Seibon TT2 carbon fiber hood
– Seibon carbon trunk
– EPR carbon 30mm fenders
– JP Racing canards
– JP Racing carbon splitters
– Do-Luck front bumper
– TBO side skirts
– TBO rear spats
– EPR carbon vented headlight
– EPR carbon grill
– Smoked projector head light
– 3M vinyl wrapped roof
– 6k HID kit
– EPR carbon air diverter
– EPR rear carbon spats
– G-Force harnesses
– Megan c pillar support bars
– Megan harness bar
– NRG shift knob and ebrake handle
– Kevlar Bride seats
– Bride Low Max rails
– Cusco half cage
– Deep dish steering wheel
Wheels | Tires | Brakes | Suspension
– 18×10.5 +9 Work Meister S1 in burning black
– Fedral 595 225/40
– Fedral 595 255/35
– Cadillac V series front calipers and 13” rotors
– Brembo rear OEM rotor replacement
– GT-R rear sway bar
– Cusco front and rear strut bars
– Megan tension rods
– Megan coilovers
– Cometic steel headgasket
– ARP head studs
– Tomei RB26 264 9.15 cam shafts
– Tomie cam gears
– Greddy cevlar belt
– Godspeed intake manifold
– Godspeed top feed fuel rail
– Ku Engineering 80mm throttle body
– Siemens Deka 630cc injectors
– EPS exhaust manifold
– Turbosmart waste gate
– Borg Warner s300 (aka 8875)
– Custom down pipe
– Custom mid muffler type exhaust
– Carbon fiber coil pack cover
– Yellow Jacket coils
– Carbon fiber timing belt cover
– Custom pink with blue pearl valve covers
– Koyo radiator
– Mishimoto fans
– Vibrant Performance FMIC pipes
– Yonaka FMIC
– Vibrant Performance oil catch tank
– Cusco coolant over flow
– 6 black braided fuel lines
– Autometer fuel filter red
– Adjustable fuel pressure regulator
– Link Xtreme ECU
– Bee-R rev limiter
– Turbosmart e-Boost2 boost controller Auto meter temp oil volts boost ect gauges
– AEM wide band gauge
– RB25 transmition
– OS Giken twin plate gold cover
– Drive shaft shop aluminum one piece shaft
– Cusco 2-way differential