Expensive car hobby a passionate subculture for some students

Students are modifying their cars to compete with friends


Photos and story by CHRISTOPHER HARCOURT

Some young adults don’t see cars as just a mode of transportation, but a passion that went into overdrive.

These students have multiple cars they work on that they modify, often spending thousands of dollars they can barely afford. Each modification serves a purpose — and creates friendly one-upmanship between peers.

Allan Murillo, who attends the automotive technician work training program at BCIT, owns a white 2018 Subaru WRX STI sports car.

Currently working as a technician at Mercedes-Benz, he has access to a Mercedes shop, which he uses for repairs. Luckily for Murillo, he can get discounts on certain services or parts like an oil change or a new cooling line.

“Basically, maintenance stuff but I don’t think modification stuff you can really get discounted,” he said.

One of Allan’s friends Denver Paganster, a technician from Honda, owns a sleek navy blue model. He said his hobby is an expensive one because the used car market is overpriced.

According to Paganster, a 2000 Civic currently runs between $6,000 to $8,000 when not long ago it would go for under $3,000.

European brands are hard, too, said Murillo.

“Just for the body of a rusty car is $8,000 to $10,000,” he said.

Despite the toll on their wallets, this group of young adults somehow finds ways to keep their passion of their vehicles running all gas, no brakes.


Allan Murillo and his friends like meeting up with each other and comparing the specs of their custom cars.


Cars lined up at an angle in a row in a parking lot. A group of students are seen towards the back.
Allan Murillo and Denver Paganster chatting and laughing with their friend group beside their custom cars on Nov. 3, 2023.


They share a common bond as car enthusiasts and multiple of them work as technicians to stay close to their hobby.

A close up of a tire on a white car.
The golden rims on Alan Murillo’s 2018 Subaru WRX STI on Nov. 3, 2023.


Cars in a covered parking lot. People can be seen looking under the raised hood of one car.
Allan Murillo, Denver Paganster and friends inspecting Pagnaster’s car on Nov. 3, 2023.


Whether it’s an outdoor parking lot, an indoor one or cruising on the road the hobby extends to multiple locations around Metro Vancouver.

One person works under the hood of a car while others shine lights from their phones.
Denver Paganster a technician at Honda, checking the oil levels in his caron Nov. 3, 2023.


Four cars with headlights on are in a row, with a person standing in front of each car.
Four young adults having a mini car meet outiside Vancouver BMW on Nov. 3, 2023.


Allan and his friends will continue to hit slingshots and donuts in the open parking lots and roads while constantly improving their vehicles.

A white car with a man standing in front of it dressed in black. It is dark outside and parking lot lights are seen in the background.
Allan Murillo, a student at BCIT standing infront of his customized 2018 Subaru WRX STI.

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