We had a set of RECARO® seats from a Lancer Evolution in the shop. They are a bit more snug than the STi seats, and snug is good for the track, so we built some custom mounts for those (more welding), and fit them in. We used the rear seats from the STi and the original door cards from the 2.5RS. We custom-built a harness bar to hold shoulder harnesses for use at the track.
After about two months of nights and weekends (and a lot of daytime work, too, when we could have been working on customer cars), the last wiring work was done, there was gas in the tank, and it was time to fire it up. I was holding my breath. Would it start?
It did, indeed, start – on the first try. Whew!
The car ended up making 280 horsepower on the dyno – figure around 350 engine horsepower. It weighed in at 2,850 pounds. That power combined with the lower weight – about 400 pounds less than a newer STi – made the car quite fast at the track!
What started off as simple plan for a cheap track beater somehow morphed into a pumped-up, customized, powerful, and light racer.
Was it worth it? Financially, I’d have to say, “No.” We spent more than $12,000 on the project just in the things I can remember off the top of my head, and I think the total is way more than that. For $15,000 you probably could buy a car just like we built, and you wouldn’t have to do the building. For a little more than that you could just buy a 2004 STi. (Then you’d have a working dome lamp!)
But the experience was a great one for the staff and me. If I didn’t know these cars before the project, I definitely knew them inside and out after, and that was true for all of us. Plus, although it was difficult, we did have a good time, and seeing our finished car driving around the parking lot (and, later, the racetrack) gave us all a feeling of pride.
Just make me reread this article before I embark on my next “cheap and simple” project.