A fresh Sunday morning in late Spring, at a time where the addition of a jumper or coat becomes an optional extra, is an incredible time to escape and unwind. Getting out in the early crispness of a clear day seems to allow the whole body to release tension. The work week just past seems at this point almost forgotten, while the following is still somewhat far enough away to be of no true significance. Stood beside a mountain road, a sense of tranquillity reigns. Thin wisps of morning fog rolls off the lush mountain side all around, while shimmers of yellow and pink punctuate the vast expanses of green wilderness. Everything seems silent, except for the occasional swish of a Wind Turbine grabbing a rare puff of wind. But like everything, it just can’t last. The lucid early serenity must make way for reality, and I’m expecting a guest at any moment. Then, an unholy roar begins to echo through the tree’s below. It’s Here!
There’s something oh-so-mystical about hearing the iconic thumping roar of a Boxer engine punctuating the still and quiet air, forcing every hair on your body to stand up. Looking down the hill, flashes of blue whizz through breaks in the canopy. This is everything I live for all in one. The excitement of a rally derived monster from the pinnacle of the sport, rushing towards me at stunning pace. Images flash through my head of McRae, Liatti, Burns & Kankkunen racing up ribbonous mountains stages, and the buzz of the fans standing road side waiting for the roaring monsters to arrive. I am truly having a moment, and as soon as Piotr comes around the bend before me, I know this is going to be special.
I’ve had it said to me recently that cars, the newest in particular, are getting more and more aggressive looking these days. The beefed up, over the top styling of something like a Focus RS is the current poster child of the rally inspired road cars, but 20 years ago the method was very different. As a pair, Mitsubishi’s Lancer Evo and Subaru’s Impreza defined a section of the market totally at odds with all around them. As if wheeled straight off the World Rally Stages, the pair were landed into the 90’s car scene like a pair of spaceships. They brought useable, reliable face bending power to the masses. While the body lines and lack of arches may seem total opposite to the latest breed of Hyper Hatches, the truest modern continuation of the lineage, it can never be denied that the GC8 Impreza is one of the single most aggressive body shapes that ever made it into production.
Before me sits Piotr’s 1999 Subaru Impreza WRX Type-R, a car that belies its near 20-year age with ease. The clean crisp lines, razor sharp headlights and sweeping bumper vents are truly stunning, but the addition of bonnet vents, the large intake scoop and massive rear spoiler quickly remind anyone within sight that this car means business, real proper full tilt business. Looking around this Ver 5 model, there plenty of little touches that grab your intention, but then haven’t I gone and missed the largest and most obvious touch of all. While many people correctly couple Impreza and the colour Blue together, this particular car does not wear its original hue of World Rally Blue, instead the colour is that found on the 2003 spec WRX.
The model year designation in the paintwork is no fluke nor simple decision of what looked the best, instead it is a celebratory nod to one of the brands finest days, Petter Solberg’s WRC victory. Piotr, like myself, is totally obsessed with rallying. Have stared his motoring life competing in Poland, the aim was always to acquire the dream Impreza. Originally a JDM car, the route to Piotr’s ownership is rather unique. Rather than leaving the Far East destined for Dublin Port, the car was bought by an RAF pilot in Cyprus. Over the course of a few years, the car was transported back to the UK before eventually finding its way across the Irish Sea in 2007. As a high-grade import and having had a number of proper enthusiast owners, it plain to see why the car is immaculate all round. Besides the new paintwork, only a slight arch roll in the rear to accommodate wider tyres and the addition of a Ver 6 front lip, the car sits exactly as it left the STI specialist dealership in 1999, complete with original roof vent!
So far, so….normal. A clean two-door Impreza, while absolutely stunning, isn’t exactly what this car is about. It’s what’s under the surface, hidden from initial sight, that really marks this car out as being something truly special, and worthy of chasing to get this shoot done. The first clue to the purposefulness begins with the bright White 18” Rota GRA Tarmac wheels, an obvious bone of contention who like that distinctive Blue-on-Gold colour scheme. I question the colour choice, and Piotr says its simply about being different without being over the top visually, a theme carried through the build. Being different though means not settling for any old parts. Perfection, to Piotr, can only be achieved through the use of high-end components. It begins with the brakes. While the rear retains a Brembo setup from a ‘03 WRX, up front is a work of art. Sat behind the multi-spoke white faces of the wheels sit a pair of 355mm AP Racing Discs, with nothing less than a pair of Porsche GT3RS 6-pot calipers utilized for some of the sharpest stopping power I’ve ever seen on an Irish road car.
The brakes are only the start of the rare and expensive parts that make up this build, each sweep of the eye grabbing something previously missed. A genuine Prodrive WRC diff Guard shields the rear drivetrain from the harshest of terrain, much of which is dealt with ease through the BC Racing Coilovers at each corner. The Whiteline catalogue has been well and truly raided aswell, with everything from Anti-Lift camber enhancement plates through Bump Steer Correction kits, Adjustable Drop Links, Fully Adjustable Rear arms and a complete Polybush treatment ensure that every ounce of power is transferred onto the tarmac. Oh ya, there’s that word Power. I’d almost forgot about that. It makes a full blown 276 BHP!
Ha, as if.
Power here depends on which fuel map you choose, with the adjustable ECU being the very first addition Piotr made to the car. I feel almost giddy asking the question, waiting for figures that I would expel expletives as a reaction. The man plays ball, I swear and this car instantly gains monster status. On road fuel, power sits at 480 bhp, but add race fuel to the mix and fire up the methanol injection kit, your looking at well over the 520 mark. Under the vented and scooped bonnet lies the true beating heart of this beast.
While I could go into the incredible engine build, I’ll include a truly mega spec sheet at the end. To begin with though, this is certainty no standard Type-R Impreza engine. The build began with an EJ22 block more commonly found in the legendary 22B, in this case stoked out to 2.35 litres. Added to the ultimate Subaru engine is a shopping list of some of the true pinnacles of After Market tuning parts. The majority of the engine internals, including Pistons and Conrods are forged items from Cosworth, with the English tuners also supplying the Kevlar Timing Belt and Baffled Oil Control Panel.
The forced induction side of things are looked after with a MDX321T Hybrid Lateral Performance Ltd turbo, a huge addition designed to provide not only large power figures, but torque right through the rev range. The Alkatec stand alone ECU has been designed to allow for the provision of a ballistic sounding Anti-Lag at the flick of a switch. All the spent gases, and that sweet Boxer note are taken care of by a Kakimoto 3” N1 Racing exhaust system.
All in, this is truly one of Irelands top modified cars, and the culmination of a lifelong dream to create the ultimate incarnation of a dream car, one that evokes memories of a single pivotal point in the history of world Motorsport. Asked about future plans, Piotr wryly smiles. The obvious route is to head along the path to creating a replica of the S5 WRC, but the car is so perfect right now that it might be a while yet. And with that, in a blaze of anti-lag pops and bangs, the Scooby roars off into the distance, and quiet serenity returned atop the mountain once more.
- EJ22 block (2.35 build)
- forged pistons & conrods
- baffled oil control plate
- kevlar timing belt
- MDX321T – Hybrid Lateral Performance Ltd turbo
- 1000cc ID injectors, flow-matched by Lateral Performance Ltd.
- FueLab fuel pressure regulator
- Bosch 044 fuel pump
- Exedy Hyper Twin clutch kit
- Apexi Power Intake filter matched with HKS RS intake pipe and Samco inlet turbo hose.
- HDI GT2 Front Mount Intercooler
- Blow-off valve delete
- Lightened Perrin crank pulley
- Mishimoto uprated radiator
- Alcatek stand alone ECU with custom maps (ALS + Launch control) with 2nd map for 20% meth add in fuel.
- 4bar MAP sensor
- 3 port Prodrive turbo solenoid
- Custom oil catch tank
- Cusco 3” decat downpipe
- Kakimoto Racing 3” Mega N1 exhaust
Chassis & Suspension
- BC ER series coilovers
- Whiteline polybushes all-round
- Whiteline AntiLift-Kit with custom castor enhancement plates.
- Whiteline Front Roll Centre / Bump steer correction kit
- Whiteline 22mm adjustable antiroll-bar
- Whiteline adjustable drop links
- Cusco lower arm brace Version II
- Beatrush front engine pitch stopper fork.
- STi Spec-C quick steering rack 2.25 turn from lock to lock
- Whiteline steering rack bushings
- v6 STI RA 5-speed close ratio DCCD gearbox with front LSD
- R180 rear LSD diff
- Whiteline gearbox solid mount
- AS performance gear link bushes with short shifter.
- Whiteline 24mm adjustable antiroll-bar
- Whiteline rear antiroll-bar mounting kit
- Whiteline solid droplinks
- Whiteline adjustable control arms
- Whiteline rear camber bolts
- HardRace uni-ball based lateral arms.
- Cusco top strut tower bar
- Whiteline rear diff solid mounts.
- Prodrive diff guard
- Rota GRA Tarmac 18” White
- Nankang NS2R 225/40 ZR18 medium compound track tyres
- Porsche GT3 RS – 6 pot calipers
- Powerstation adapter kit
- 355mm AP racing disks
- Brembo Sport brake pads
- 310mm disks with 2 pot Brembo calipers (conversion from 03 STi)
- Brembo Sport brake pads
- Sparco 383 steering wheel
- 5 DEFI Advance BF gauges with control unit (Boost press, Oil temp, Oil press, Water temp, EGT)
- The car was completely re-sprayed 4 years ago with a slightly different shade of WR Blue from 03 WRX STI (colour code 02C)
- Rear arches rolled to fit 225/40 18” wheels
- Ver6 STi front lip is pretty much the only part added to the bodywork as I wanted to keep it standard just as it came out from factory.