One of the most intriguing questions that we like to ask every owner is a topic that applies to almost all enthusiasts: What problems, if any, did you encounter during your build process? It's great to hear about how the car comes together over time but we tend to get a better story when we hear about what went wrong. Errors build character and when it comes to putting a project together, these mishaps are what help the enthusiast learn more about their vehicles as well as themselves. If you don't encounter any sort of problems, then you probably haven't done any major modifications to your car or you've built enough cars before and have already learned from the previous headaches associated. It's just unrealistic to think that everything is going to go smoothly--and when we finally had the chance to talk to DJ Lloyd, the owner of this rear-wheel-drive WRX, he almost couldn't stop telling us about the problems he ran into. We didn't mind, of course, because what we learned in the process is what actually makes this Subaru so fascinating.
"Well, it turns out that this (WRX) is supposed to be all-wheel drive," DJ says sarcastically. "Many components really don't like having all that power directed to the rear wheels but, to be perfectly honest, the main problems I encountered had more to do with having a limited amount of finances. I think many people face these issues as well when dealing with an extensive build. When you start running out of money, you sacrifice the time to try to make or save more of it. Then you give up having a social life, losing your free weekends, not getting enough sleep and just never being able to say that you have 'nothing planned' or the time to relax. It's a struggle but hey, that's car life."
We can all relate. We've all been there and had to face similar issues. Financial struggles may not always be relevant to everyone but if you come from a middle-class household, you can fully understand what DJ's talking about. This hobby ain't cheap, especially when you want to do things the right way. Time is money as they say, and when you don't have money, you definitely don't have enough time. In his case, there was a point when he couldn't even fathom the idea of ever being able to drive his car again due to the fact that it was taking him so long to get everything perfectly the way he wanted it. Remember, converting an AWD Subaru to a RWD drift sled is no "bolt-on" affair.
The longest period of time when the car was down was approximately 13 months. From around November 2011 to January of 2013, the entire chassis was stripped and ready to be entirely rebuilt. "I set out to build a competitive drifter so I modified the chassis, caged it myself, painted it and built the motor with the help of my friends. My budget was limited so I tried to do everything I could on my own. Doing so, I gained a good amount of basic automotive and mechanical knowledge--but now realize why performance shops exist. Certain things like motor builds are best left to the professionals with years of experience--and after spinning a bearing the first time around, I was fortunate enough to link up with Forced Air Technologies who used their extensive knowledge base to run through every aspect of the block and assemble a rock solid power plant built for a beating," DJ told us.
DJ absorbed so much information that he was actually able to piece together a motor consisting of a U.S.-spec EJ22T short block from a 1993 Legacy Turbo with 2003 STI EJ207 cylinder heads, and everything from the inside out has all seen upgrades in one form or another as well. The heads have been ported, Kelford 272° camshafts installed and Supertech valvetrain added. The block has been strengthened with Manley connecting rods and custom pistons/piston rings from Ross Pistons to handle the high pressures of forced induction from the Garrett GT3076R turbine. Future Fabrications in Phoenix, AZ, was also called upon to help create the custom twin-scroll manifold and necessary piping for boost while Lloyd himself spent the downtime fabricating his very own V-mounted intercooler set-up. The factory front wheel wells were also cut out entirely allowing tubbed-wells to be created for maximum steering angle. And to push the angle just a bit further, a steering rack from a front-wheel drive '95 Impreza was installed for that maximum attack.
Delivering power to the pavement is a six-speed 2005 WRX STI transmission. Making the rear-wheel-drive a reality is a Watanabe Service Type D II Center Diff. The front drive shafts have been removed since they are no longer needed while the rear shafts have been upgraded to DSS conversion axles to handle all the power now directed to the rear wheels.
Stance GR+Pro dampers help bring the WRX closer to the classic, yet functional Enkei RFP1's. Just as in the front, the rear wheel wells have also been tubbed for more space allowing the staggered set to sit flawlessly. Front and rear Rotora brakes also help improve stopping force as DJ's car slides each and every direction at weekend drift events.
As most privateer drift cars are, the exterior provides a very rugged appeal. Most of the finances have gone towards getting the car running and DJ will be the first to tell you that he has definitely gone through a few learning experiences as he's dialed in his drifting skills. As such, the exterior sees a majority of his sliding blunders and he doesn't always have the resources to keep his WRX looking show car pretty. In drifting, a raw appearance is usually widely accepted and often preferred--that just means that the car is functional! His Charge Speed front bumper is one of the longest-standing modifications on his WRX and has been repaired numerous times due to damage. The hood is one of the most aggressive exterior mods to the build. Ensuring his monster run to the best of its ability, DJ created custom vents and louvers for functional cooling along with a couple of backyard piercings to fit the dump tubes.
The cockpit, like the engine bay, has been painted an alternate contrasting color to the Lexus Starfire Pearl exterior. Weight reduction was an integral part of modifying the interior as well and sections of his WRX have been cut out because of that. The trunk and doors were also gutted of all things unnecessary. Even the passenger and rear door glass have been exchanged for lighter Lexan pieces. Sparco driver and MOMO passenger seat replace the factory WRX seats and the steering wheel that takes the place of the OEM unit is an unknown JDM wheel that he calls a "ninja star-looking finger slicer." Looks dangerous!
Now seasoned in all things Subaru-related, we asked what advice he would give to others who want to build a Drift-aru. His response: "Don't do it [said with a smile]. You might want to consider a more common platform like a 240SX. Yet, if you already have a Subaru and want to get into drifting, the process of making it RWD isn't overly difficult as long as you do the research. The most important lesson of all is that establishing seat time and driving experience is far more important than building the car itself. If you're a good driver, you'll make up for your car's shortcomings. Money for parts can always be made. Experience and skill are priceless."
2004 subaru WRX
Owner DJ Lloyd
Hometown Tempe, AZ
Power 406hp, 383lb-ft
Engine 1993 2.2L U.S. Subaru Legacy Turbo short block (EJ22T); 2003 JDM Subaru STI Spec C Type-RA cylinder heads (EJ207); Factory Subaru cylinder head porting for Spec C Type RA; Kelford 272? Non-AVCS camshafts; '04 WRX cam gears; Supertech +1mm oversized Inconel valves, valve springs and titanium retainers; ARP head studs; Gates Performance timing belt; LIC Adjustable Idler Pulleys; CNC timing belt guide; Ross Pistons custom 9:1 pistons; Total Seal custom piston rings; Manley H-plus connecting rods; Revshift polyurethane 95A motor mounts; K&N air intake; Grimmspeed 8mm phenolic spacers; TGV delete; Walbro 416lph E85 in-tank fuel pump; Perrin V2 fuel rail; Injector Dynamics 1000cc fuel injectors; Future Fabrication custom twin-scroll header, up-pipe, downpipe and EWG Screamer pipes; custom 3-inch straight pipe exhaust; NGK Iridium IX spark plugs; Optima Yellow Top D34-78 battery; Garrett GTX3076R turbocharger; Turbo XS H34 blow-off valve; TiAL MV-S wastegate; custom-fabricated GReddy V-mounted intercooler and intercooler piping; MAC three-port boost control solenoid; '06-07 WRX STI oil pan w/Killer B Ultimate Oil Pick-up; Setrab 9 Series 15-row oil cooler and power-steering cooler; Koyo R1819 radiator; SPAL 2130 radiator fans; Ace Up Motorsports custom engine and chassis harnesses
Drivetrain 2005 Subaru WRX STI six-speed transmission; R180 welded differential; ACPT carbon-fiber driveshaft; Driveshaft Shop 800HP R180 conversion axles; Competition Clutch Stage 4 sprung 6-pick ceramic clutch; ACT Prolite flywheel; Watanabe Service Drift Type D III Center Drift RWD Spool; 1.1:1 transfer gear and transfer-driven gear; front differential removed w/front axle ports plugged; clutch delay valve deleted; welded rear differential support bar and mustache bar; Stance solid rear differential and crossmember bushings; Perrin rear subframe lock-out kit; Revshift transmission mount insert; Kartboy Delrin shift knob, rear shifter bushing and shifter linkage bushing
Engine Management AEM Version 1 EMS, 3.5-bar MAP sensor and UEGO inline wideband controller; HRTuning Tunerview RD1; GM IAT sensor
Footwork & Chassis Stance GR+Pro coilovers (8K/5.5K); Perrin 25mm rear sway bar, endlinks and adjustable lateral links; Whiteline roll center/bumpsteer correction kit and steering rack bushings; upgraded polyurethane front/rear suspension bushings; custom rollcage; 1995 Impreza L (FWD) steering rack for increased steering angle; RPM Cromoly subframe; reinforced pitchstop mount; WRX STI steering linkage; custom braided power steering line; GC non-ABS drilled and modified front knuckles; notched/plated frame rails and crossmember; seam-welded chassis
Brakes Rotora 4-POT front big brake kit and 2-POT rear big brake kit; Wilwood rear brake proportioning valve and .750 master cylinder mounted vertical near wheel; ATI Super Blue brake fluid; ABS removed, brake lines re-routed; Perrin master cylinder brace; K-Sport hydraulic E-brake
Wheels & Tires Enkei RFP1's F: 18x9.5" +15; R: 18x10.5" +15; 235/40R18 Federal SS-595 (front); 255/40R18 Federal SS-595 (rear); Muteki lug nuts
Exterior Custom shaved engine bay and tubbed front wheel wells; Charge Speed Version 1 front bumper and side skirts; Liberal rear bumper; NASCAR Tegris splitter functionally-mounted to custom DOM Bash Bar; Lexus Starfire Pearl paint w/Metallic Blue Ghost Flake; rolled/pulled and spaced-out front fenders, pulled/cut rear fenders w/pocket-style fender flares; STI OEM HID headlights; APS GT3 carbon-fiber side mirrors
Interior Sparco Sprint JR driver seat; MOMO Corse passenger seat; Corbeau five-point driver's safety harness and four-point passenger's safety harness; NRG steering hub, quick-release; ACE Up Motorsports custom switch/fuse panel; Lexan rear windows and passenger window; cut-out spare tire, trunk, rear deck area shock tower, gutted doors and gutted trunk
Thanks You I would like to thank Vitaly Sopkin and Brianna Peebles of Ace Up Motorsports, Dylan and Dalton Bedore of Elevens' Paint and Fiber, Eric Frantz Larson and Alex King of Brewed Motorsports, Forced Air Technology for building an awesome engine and helping me out in so many other ways, Local Motors for all the support, Jon and Matty of Future Fabrication, Gerald McClellan, Tony Szirka of UMS tuning, Chad Carter, Shawn Smith for knowing how to party, on and off the track, everyone in the secretive "Proper RWD Subaru's" FB group and last but far from least, my good friend Dustin Latimer, for rad tandems and making this long garage build process "all good"!