Photos by Dan Hurwitz
Ever looked at project cars featured in magazines and thought, “Wow, they really went overboard on that. That seems like a lot of work. How did that project get so out of hand?” That’s what I used to think … until it happened to me!
I run a shop called Mach V Motorsports. Subaru vehicles are our specialty.
One day the shop staff and I were talking about road racing and how we didn’t want to risk our road cars by driving them on the track. Any time you’re on a racetrack, there’s the distinct possibility you might damage the car, and if it’s a car you want to drive around on the street, that could get expensive.
We resolved to build a cheap, simple Subaru track car. We figured we’d take a non-turbo Impreza 2.5RS, get it in decent running shape, then take it out to the road course. It wouldn’t be expensive, and since it would not be that powerful, we would save on consumables like brakes and tires. Since it would start out a little old and beat up, we would not worry so much if it rubbed a tire wall now and then.
So that was the plan.
The staff set about searching for a GC-chassis Impreza 2.5RS – that would be model years 1998-2001. We did find one in what seemed to be decent shape. It ran, had some aftermarket suspension bits, and the body was straight. We paid for it and drove it back to the shop.
Step one in preparing it for the track was to do some general maintenance, and we started with an oil change. The tech doing the oil change was draining out the old oil and said, “Hey Dan! This oil is sure thick!” Hmm. We put some normal 5W-30 synthetic oil back in the car, started it up, and heard ... a rod knock. At least one rod bearing was shot. The engine would have to come out.
Around the same time, a customer came by the shop and told us that he had been in a highway accident that had destroyed the body – but not the mechanical bits – of his 2004 WRX STi. Did we know anyone who might want to purchase the salvaged wreck?
The gears began to turn in the heads of all the Mach V staffers. The 2.5RS track car needed an engine. The crashed STi had the most powerful engine Subaru ever brought to America. Oh, and the STi wreck also could donate its stout 6-speed gearbox with Driver Controlled Center Differential and its big Brembo®1 brakes.
The reasonable, less-expensive thing to do at that point would have been to march back to the guy who sold us the Impreza 2.5RS, demand a refund, and start over. But, of course, I wouldn’t be writing this article in that case, so we know that instead I opted to purchase the STi wreck. Work immediately began on merging the older chassis with the newer mechanicals.
1 Brembo is a registered trademark of Freni Brembo S.p.A.