Undertaking Spec C: Rally Heritage For The Highway

It’s been effectively over a yr since my preliminary Speedhunters Storage publish, the place I launched a few AE86s and this – my Subaru Impreza WRX STI Spec C.

Over that point rather a lot has occurred, however an equal quantity hasn’t. Life outdoors of automobiles has been very busy, making an attempt to steadiness work priorities and a brand new addition to the household. I discover after I can spare a while, it turns into a method for escape and to reset, even cathartic at occasions. Having a brand new undertaking automotive to work on is at all times an thrilling prospect too.

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Earlier than I get caught into what I’ve been as much as with my Subaru and what’s deliberate for the longer term, I assumed I’d begin with a little bit of background on the mannequin and my particular automotive.

Up till 2005, the WRX STI served because the Impreza Group N homologation mannequin, regardless of a Spec C variant being out there for buy. That each one modified with the 2005 mannequin yr STI Spec C, the place extra dramatic revisions had been undertaken.

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Beginning with an STI base, the brand new Spec C was placed on a strict weight-reduction plan. Thinner glass, a thinner roof pores and skin and much less layers of paint, alongside an aluminium bonnet and boot lid and no underseal or sound deadening all contributed to a 70kg (154lb) weight reduction. The mannequin additionally obtained bigger wheel bearings and had its hubs modified to a 5×114.3 PCD, whereas elevated castor and a wider rear observe improved dealing with. I can’t overlook the final rally addition both: a pop-up roof vent.

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All of it sounds fairly good, proper?

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I knew I needed one, however now got here the problem of really discovering one which ticked all the precise packing containers. That’s simpler mentioned than performed contemplating the Spec C’s shortage, not to mention the truth that most had been was Group N rally automobiles or dust path or gymkhana automobiles, which is basically what they had been designed to be.

Following just a few unsuccessful buying makes an attempt, the precise automotive was finally received at a Japanese automotive public sale home. Following an arduous two month wait whereas it was shipped from Japan, the automotive – which up up to now had lived its total life in Fukuoka Prefecture – lastly arrived on the UK docks.

There’s at all times a level of uncertainty about what precisely you’ll get when shopping for a automotive sight unseen from any public sale home – mine being half a world away. We’ve all heard the horror tales of less-than-accurate public sale grading sheets and sub-standard restore work, however fortunately there have been no horrible surprises in retailer for me. Actually, the Impreza was higher than I anticipated it to be. The timing belt had been just lately modified and a stack of service receipts supported the Subaru’s general situation.

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Particularly, my automotive is a wide-track Subaru WRX STI Spec C 16-inch, which differs barely from the traditional (17-inch wheel) model. This was the mannequin devoted to gravel, and the specification it obtained mirrored that. Smaller brakes from the common WRX allowed 15-inch wheels to suit, ABS was eliminated alongside central locking, and the automotive got here fitted with the base-spec Impreza GX inside. There was little level for Subaru to specify the automotive with niceties when most purchasers can be gutting the within for a roll cage and racing gear.

To me, it was the best base for an fanatic automotive. Probably the most pure, lightest model out there, and uncommon with solely 103 made in 2005.

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I began with the inside, swapping out the manufacturing facility entrance seats with a pair of fixed-back Recaro Pole Positions. They’re excellent for preserving one from sliding round throughout spirited drives.

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Used JDM automobiles are infamous for have mountains of aftermarket wiring for TV/CD/MiniDisc/navigation head items and different equipment like digital toll assortment (ETC) readers. I changed this 2DIN Kenwood unit with a extra trendy unit that options CarPlay.

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I at all times have some type of fireplace extinguisher in my automobiles, however fortunately I’ve by no means had to make use of one in anger. It’s undoubtedly higher to have one and never want it, than want it and never have one. As an alternative of a cumbersome extinguisher, this time round I opted for an ultra-compact Hearth Security Stick mounted in simple attain from the motive force’s seat.

The actual fact my Spec C got here fitted with chunky snow tyres made it obvious the automotive was used year-round in Japan. First rate 16-inch rubber will be laborious to come back by nowadays, however the Dunlop SP SportMaxx RTs I’ve since fitted have confirmed their price as a positive summer season efficiency tyre.

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I then changed the entrance brake rotors, brake traces, pads and fluid. OE rotors and Undertaking Mu HC800+ pads had been deemed the precise steadiness of hot and cold efficiency, noise and mud.

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Extra upkeep adopted within the type of an engine oil change and changing the STI panel filter with a Ramair equal.

One factor the Spec C didn’t include – that might be good – are Xenon headlights. To offer the halogen items the finest likelihood at casting respectable mild, I gave them a sand and polish.

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It was at this level that, by pure likelihood, I bumped into an proprietor of a white GDB WRX STI whereas out for a drive one afternoon.

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Parking the automobiles collectively, the STI was visually extra aggressive, however I’ve grown keen on my Spec C’s understated seems to be. It’s form of a ‘if you understand, you understand’ factor.

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Regardless of having no intentions of driving the automotive over winter when British roads are coated with salt, the shortage of underneath seal and seam sealer necessitated some type of safety.

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After many hours of cleansing and encapsulating any floor rust, the underside and any cavities had been sprayed with Dynax-S50 anti-corrosion wax. That is by no means a enjoyable job, as a giant proportion of the coating finally ends up overlaying you as a substitute of the automotive.

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All the above work was performed consistent with my unique plan for the Impreza – to get it to a very good normal, then use it, work out the place upgrades are wanted, and slowly develop it to be a extra succesful and gratifying automotive. Utilizing it was a major focus, and I took the Subaru on every part from brief drives to multi-day highway journeys.

Right here within the UK we’re fairly lucky to have an abundance of excellent roads. Among the highway surfaces aren’t nice, however for probably the most half it doesn’t detract from the general expertise.

The Welsh countryside particularly has numerous roads that deliver a excessive diploma of enjoyment, however there’s a disclaimer to this all: Pragmatism and being respectful means extra of us can get pleasure from them. The Evo Triangle – a well-known three-road loop – has, over the previous few years, been overrun by fanatics who’ve much less consideration for the native neighborhood than they need to have. Unsurprisingly, this has resulted in an elevated police presence, extra irate residents, and even common pace cameras on some roads. Rant over.

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Fortunately although, there are numerous roads extra off the crushed path to be loved. North Wales for just a few days with pals in a Porsche 911 GT3 and Aston Martin Vantage V8 was massively gratifying. The additional floor clearance and narrower width of the Subaru was undoubtedly helpful down a number of the roads.

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I like preserving my automobiles clear, and a comparatively new technique of cleansing we’ve all seen getting used of late is dry ice blasting. Eager to see the advantages for myself, a session was booked with Tom, aka TheBlastSmith, to clear the engine bay.

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This sort of blasting is way much less aggressive than vapour or media blasting. As a media, dry ice pellets evaporate immediately upon impacting the floor they’re directed at, the one residue left behind being dust on the ground to comb up afterwards. An enormous diesel-powered compressor supplies Tom’s blaster with round 300 cubic ft per minute of compressed air (for reference, a standard store compressor supplies round 15cfm) to shoot the dry ice out the nozzle at over 100psi.

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Tom defined that the more serious the automotive is to begin with, the larger the distinction and due to this fact the extra spectacular the outcomes. It’s laborious to convey in images simply what a distinction it made in my Subaru’s engine bay, and I don’t assume these outcomes might have been achieved by scrubbing and brushing. Within the area of only a few hours, the dry ice managed to get oil and dust out of even the tightest areas. Dry ice blasting is usually a pricey course of, however as a one-off, I believe it’s completely price it. The engine bay is again to close new.

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Profiting from the 2023 UK summer season, I made one other journey to Wales, this time a one-day affair with my good friend Rob in his Renault Mégane RS. Each automobiles have related energy and weight, which meant we might hold a reasonably regular tempo.

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This a part of Wales affords gorgeous vistas and no scarcity of picture alternatives. However being one of many hottest days throughout a freak heatwave, my engine oil acquired fairly heat. Peaking at 130°C (266°F) in high-load, low-speed conditions was a bit greater than I’d have preferred, so an exterior oil cooler is unquestionably on the playing cards.

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Many a bug met their destiny on the journey which necessitated a radical post-drive clear. When you might have white wheels and aggressive brake pads there’s some additional work to be performed.

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The spirited driving additionally referred to as for a brake calliper refresh. Utilizing compressed air and blocking three pistons at a time, it was a very simple course of to pop the pistons out to resume the seals earlier than bleeding once more. The passenger aspect entrance hub had additionally began to rumble, so a brand new OE one was fitted.

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For these of us within the Northern Hemisphere, gritted roads and miserable climate are upon us but once more. Whereas I’ve grand plans for the automotive – suspension, bigger brakes (which can necessitate a bigger wheel/tyre bundle) and a dyno session to get the automotive mapped for UK gasoline – these will all are available time and certain after numerous hours of analysis. I don’t need to make the automotive undriveable for any size of time.

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I can attest to this with my AE86, which has sat for a complete of 12 years; 5 in my possession. The rebuild course of is effectively underway and the shell is at the moment being repaired and painted. However that’s a narrative for subsequent time…

Chaydon Ford
Instagram: chaycore