Everyone has fantasies of flying around in his own spaceship. You know, visiting distant planets, dodging black holes, picking up space chicks dressed in tight silver jumpsuits. Whether you're eight, 18 or 80, it sounds like the perfect lifestyle. Problem is you have to be married to Theresa Heinz Kerry to afford such a toy.
Bill Knose of San Jose, Calif., isn't, so he decided to fly on the ground. Bill works at I-Speed USA, a Subaru tuning company, and his ship of choice was the Subaru Impreza 2.5 RS, dubbed the "X-Wing."
The first thing Bill addressed was the X-Wing's corner-cutting abilities. The stock shocks and springs were thrown out in favor of springs and struts from the spectacular Prodrive P1. A 19mm anti-roll bar from a WRX ties down the front end, while a 20mm bar from a Legacy is in the back. Cusco strut braces stiffen up both ends, while polyurethane end links and anti-roll bar bushings give little compliance.
With the X-Wing carving up the black-top like a lightsaber through butter, William gave his AWD coupe a few personal touches. P1 foglight covers were integrated into the STi Version 5 front lip and an I-Speed custom grille was added. STi mud guards block flying debris, while a V5 rear skirt is attached to a V5 rear bumper, both STi. Then the whole shebang was repainted 10-percent darker than stock by Carmat in Santa Cruz, Calif.
Bill then ditched the stock brakes in favor of something bigger and better. Up front, four-piston Alcon calipers mash Prodrive pads into 13.1-inch Prodrive rotors. In the back, 11.9-inch rotors, two-piston calipers and new pads, all from Wilwood, are in place. Bill also added stainless-steel brake lines with Super Blue fluid. Bolted to those brakes are Kumho Victoracer V700 rubber sized 225/45-17, and Rota Action wheels sized 17x7.5 inches with a 48mm offset.
With the X-Wing sufficiently stuck to the road, Bill turbocharged the stock 2.5- liter motor with a Stage 3 kit from Ludespeed. The performance gain was decent, but the reliability of the previously naturally aspirated motor was not. The daily driver turned into a daily tuner, so Bill moved on.
He installed a 2.0-liter JDM V7 EJ20 from a WRX that was a step down in displacement but a kick up in performance. This conversion, handled by I-Speed, was wired up for a U.S./JDM ECU and was not only smog legal, but also had AVCS variable valve timing. Bill unleashed the usual bolt-ons, but was only semicontent with his X-Wing's performance. The 2.0-liter simply didn't have the torque he craved. A year later Subaru came to the rescue with the 300 lb-ft bomb known as the STi. With a new EJ25 in hand, William went to work.
Crawford Performance in Vista, Calif., first stroked the 2.5-liter by installing a Crawford Performance Monster Crank that increased stroke by 4mm. Billet 4340 rods and forged pistons were stuffed in and JDM V7 heads were utilized for the AVCS. Finally, for improved throttle response, Dan Paramore Racing modified the tumble generator valves by eliminating the wedge that separates the main air passage.
Bill continued his buildup with a silicone Perrin turbo inlet hose, which smoothes the air feeding the GReddy 18G turbo (20 psi), a massive APS top-mount intercooler, Maxim Works headers and a 3-inch M2 turbo-back exhaust. A JDM V7 ECU, reflashed and tuned with EcuTek by I-Speed, controls the fuel delivered by a Walbro fuel pump rated at 255 lph. RC Engineering cut the caps off the OEM WRX injectors to increase flow to 830cc.
We've heard talk of 350 whp and 365 lb-ft. The GC8's stock five-speed wasn't up to that kind of abuse, so Bill built a new one with a WRX transmission casing and an STi RA gear set that had been cryotreated for strength. An Exedy 13-pound flywheel lets the engine rev easier, while a custom copper puck friction disc clamps all that torque down. Finally, all three differentials were replaced with stock WRX units.
Inside the X-Wing's cockpit, STi V5 seats hold the occupants snugly, while Bill snaps through the gates holding an STi V6 shift knob. ICE consists of XM Radio throwing electrons at Sony Xplod tweeters and mid-range speakers, while a Kenwood MP3 player handles downloaded tunes.
Plenty of power in a lightweight package plus AWD grip makes this entrant a worthy adversary. There are definitely more extreme expressions of automotive excess, but this is the Ultimate STREET Car Challenge. The point is, this daily-driven rocket can hang with the big boys, but is tame enough to drive every day. Will the X-Wing complete its mission or be blown out of the sky?
1999 Subaru Impreza 2.5RSEngineEngine Code: EJ25Type: Horizontally opposed four, turbocharged and intercooled, aluminum block and headsInternal Modifications: Crawford Performance Monster crank, billet 4340 rods, forged pistons, JDM V7 AVCS heads, DPR upgraded TGV stacksExternal Modifications: Maxim Works Headers, APS top-mount intercooler, GReddy 18G turbo, Perrin turbo inlet hose, M2 turbo-back exhaust.Engine Management Modifications: JDM V7 ECU, I-Speed USA EcuTeK reflash, Walbro fuel pump, modified OEM WRX Injectors (cap cut off)
DrivetrainLayout: Longitudinal front engine, all-wheel driveDrivetrain Modifications: STi RA cryotreated WRX gear set, WRX differentials, copper puck friction disc clutch, Exedy 13-lb. flywheel, WRX transmission casing
Suspension Front: Prodrive P1 kit, 19mm WRX anti-roll bar, Cusco strut bar, polyurethane anti-roll bar bushings and end linksRear: Prodrive P1 kit, 20mm Legacy anti-roll bar, Cusco strut bar, polyurethane anti-roll bar bushings and end links
BrakesFront: Prodrive 13-in. rotors, Prodrive pads, Alcon four-piston calipersRear: Wilwood 11.9-in. rotors, two-piston calipers
ExteriorWheels: 17x7.5-in. Rota Actions w/48mm offsetTires: 225/45-17 Kumho Victoracer V700Body: P1 foglight covers, I-Speed grille, STi V5 front lip, STi V5 rear bumper, STi V5 mud guards, STi V5 rear skirt
InteriorSTi V5 front seats, STi V6 shift knob and e-brake handle, XM Radio, Sony Xplod tweeters and mid-range speakers, Kenwood MP3 player