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Mazda Protege5

24 Feb, 2012

"the Protege will always be there for me, low and slow."

We all have that one friend that loves wagons, your author being one of them. Coupe? Sedan? SUV? YES. ALL AT ONCE. And make it clean. We caught up with a good friend of ours Chris Bernardo at the WekFest show in San Francisco this past weekened to check out a prime example of why wagons, as niche a group as they can be, will take home trophies and groceries on the same run.

(emotive) Of the wagons out there, why did you choose the Mazda Protege5 as your platform?

 (chris)     I purchased the car almost 4 years ago after my last car, a 2001 Eclipse, was totaled in an accident. I just started to get into modding with that car, and wanted to look for something fun and with 4 doors. I remembered wanting a Protege5 back in high school when they came out. Back then I was looking at a yellow one with an automatic trans. When I got my check for my Eclipse, I found this silver Protege5 in 5-speed at a local dealership. It was the only car I looked at, and came home with it.

(emotive) The modifications on your Mazda are subtle and precise. It looks like you took a lot of time picking and choosing your parts wisely then even more time puting them together. What was your inspiration for the build?

(chris)     I worked in car audio for a long time, so the first thing I did to the car was put an awesome sounding stereo in it. I was never about the big bass, just wanted something with very good sound quality. Once I got involved with a couple Mazda forums, I started researching the parts available for the car. Unfortunately, there is not much aftermarket support for the car, as it is not very fast, and when it came out in 2003, the WRX and Evo were just coming out and totally dominated the market. I modify my car to my own standards and always want to keep it clean. I drive the car daily, so it still has to have some function. I have touched almost every part of the car, and done all the work myself. From the stereo, to the motor and transmission replacement, to all the suspension work, everything has been upgraded to quality parts. Some parts I have had to wait for months for them to be shipped from Japan or the UK (like the Tein hood struts and Samco camo-colored radiator hoses), because they are not normally stocked hoses. I always try to get the best quality parts for my car, especially if they are rare parts that no one else has, like the Carbing strut tower bars, which I think no one else in the US has.

(emotive) The car look solid at the WekFest show and was definitely a stand out. What are your plans for the future?

(chris)     With the amount of blood, sweat, and dollars put into the car, I don't think I'll ever let it go. Next plans include Recaro front seats and maybe a turbo kit. I will probably get another car that comes with factory 4WD and a turbo, just to give me something faster to drive, but the Protege will always be there for me, low and slow.

(emotive) Shout outs and thank yous!

(chris)       My amazing girlfriend, Mea, for all her support. My friends and family for also supporting me and helping me work on my car.The forums, and, for all the information and For-Sale sections. Sam at for the great deals on parts. Alex of EmotiveImage for this shoot, and my friend Lawrence Castillo for shooting my car in the past.


Mazdaspeed Front Bumper
Mazdaspeed 03.5 Front Lip
Chargespeed Replica Lip
iSport Wing Lip (molded)
Tint – 50% front, 35% rear
WeatherTech Window Visors
JDM Familia Sport20 Taillights
JDM Familia Emblem
VG Shark Fin Antenna
Mazda6 Wagon Rear Wiper
DDM Tuning 6000K 55W HID Kit
PIAA 1500XT Fog Light Housing
DDM Tuning 3000K 35W HID Kit
Laminx Yellow Fog Overlay
CDM Headlight Blackout
Magnet Front License Plate

Mazdaspeed Floor Mats
Mazdaspeed Door Sills
Mazdaspeed Pedal Set
Carbon Fiber and Brushed Aluminum vinyl
Monster Knobs Shift Knob
Redline Goods Shift Boot
ForceFed Gauge Cluster Dual Gauge Pod
AEM UEGO Wideband and Digital Oil Pressure Gauges
LED Lighting

Kenwood DNX8120 with iPod Adapter
Eclipse XA4000 4-channel Amplifier
Eclipse XA1000 Mono Amplifier
Polk Audio SR6500 Components
Polk Audio DXi Midbasses
Stereo Integrity BM MKIII in custom stealth spare tire enclosure
Monster Cable Wiring
Dynamat & RAAMmat Sound Deadening
Optima Red top battery
JL Audio fuse blocks

Volk GT-P 17x9 +30
- Custom build by
Yokohama S-Drive 215/40/17
BC Racing BR-Type Coilovers
AAC Adjustable Rear Link Kit
Carbing Front/Rear Strut Tower Bars
Racing Beat Rear Sway Bar
Whiteline Sway Bar Lateral Locks

Mazda MP3 ECU
Mazda MP3 Intake Manifold
Perrin Fuel Rail
Outlaw Engineering Thermal Spacers
AWR Deep Sump Oil Pan
Intake Snorkel Delete
Nology Hotwires with Custom Mount
Mishimoto Aluminum Radiator
SPAL Slim Fans
Samco Urban Camo Coolant Hoses
Racing Beat Catback Exhaust
Corksport J-Pipe
SLS 2.5” Catted Midpipe
Corksport Exhaust Hangers
AWR Side Motor Mount Inserts
Corksport Front/Rear Motor Mount Inserts
Medieval Air Diversion Panel
Black Wrinkle Valve Cover
Tein Hood Dampers
Mild Engine Harness Wire Tuck

Mazdaspeed 16lb Flywheel
Mazdaspeed LSD (welded)
Exedy Clutch
NSN Motorsports 5th Gear Upgrade
Kartboy Short Shifter & Shifter Bushings

Recognition Mazda of the Month – February 2010 and February 2011 - Keeping it all in the Familia, Mazda Familia

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