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The Mountain Said, No!
Rebuilding the Zenkai WRX STI





After weighing all available options and having seen the magic worked by team sponsor Pacific Custom Paint - both on modifying pristine cars and restoring accident-damaged cars to as good as new – Zenkai Motorsports made the decision to drop off the race-scarred body shell at the body shop in early January, 2012.


As Pacific Custom Paint performed its magic, slicing and dicing mangled sheet metal from the STI, other related projects were making good progress. One important decision was for Subaru of Las Vegas’ Performance Department, Zenkai Motorsports, to assume all the additional aspects of the car, including the mechanical build – previously the responsibility of a former sponsor. The concept of a Zenkai Motorsports STI powered by Zenkai came to light and caught on quick.


A key addition to the Subaru of Las Vegas/Zenkai Motorsports family helped make that concept a reality. Mori Walker, one of the gentlemen behind the infamous Cricket NSX, was tasked with building a reliable and powerful motor.


Impressed with the direction of Zenkai Motorsports’ rebuilding efforts, Turbo by Garrett picked up the team as its official turbo provider. Through this partnership, a well-built GTX turbo will significantly boost the STI’s power output.


Zenkai Motorsports is not without previous experience in this field, having built a number of custom motors for clients over the years. Some customers choose to begin with stock Subaru engine blocks, and others have requested high-end aftermarket blocks as the base for their builds. For Subaru of Las Vegas’ purpose and goals, the reliable and very capable Subaru block halves were to be used.


Added Mods


While the car was undergoing its transformation, it was decided that this would be a good time to implement additional modifications. At the forefront was a concerted effort toward weight reduction. One major solution was to incorporate new, lightweight SEIBON carbon-fiber doors, rear hatch, and hood to complement the car’s new color scheme. Additionally, Harding explained, “We did a lot of changes this year to the steering and the weight of the car, which will result in the car handling totally different than in the past.”


During Zenkai Motorsports’ unplanned modification moment with the Pike’s Peak guardrail, the TEIN coilover suspension received some unwanted bends. This resulted in the suspension making a transoceanic trip back to Japan for service and repair by TEIN’s skilled staff members. Upon its return, the custom TEIN suspension joined the rest of the Whiteline and GTSPEC components comprising the vital system for maintaining stability while on track.


Interestingly, other underbody components were surprisingly intact – highlighting the stout chassis and sub-members Subaru builds into its products. Also, team sponsor GTSPEC’s lateral links and trailing arms were still straight, uncracked, and even pretty much unscathed! Nobody on the team expected to see those parts in such great condition.


Team driver and Octane Academy victor, Thomas Smith, has been watching the progress of the build and is anxious to get back on the gas in the Zenkai Motorsports WRX STI.


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