No superlative seems too extreme in describing the success of the Subaru Impreza WRX lineage of automobile ingenuity. This rally epitomized chassis first got its acronymic name of the WRX-deemed World Rally Cross Country when Fuji Heavy Industries created a high-performance version of the Impreza. The STI label arrived when the motorsports division of the automaker Subaru Technical International was founded and specialized in preparation of these machines for the World Rally Championship (WRC). Although Subaru pulled out of professional rally racing in 2008, they still continue to provide the global market with performance-oriented race vehicles. The most current Subaru WRX STI versions that North America has been graced with are the sedan (GVB) and hatch (GRB) models. What makes the STI versions different from the base WRX are various performance upgrades such as flared wheel arches, more robust EJ257 powerplant, lightweight aluminum suspension components, electronic stability control, Subaru Intelligent Drive (SI) control, and the most advanced Driver Controlled Center Differential (DCCD) system ever. The last year the GVB and GRB Imprezas were sold was 2011.
This seemingly translucent year is profoundly scribed into the memories of Fuji Heavy Industries in Japan. Due to the devastation of the earthquake, tsunami, and the nuclear powerplant disaster all occurring in a domino effect, Subaru was forced to halt production in 8 of their 10 manufacturing plants. The Subaru workers responsible for constructing the automobiles of this year have our utmost praise; they performed their tasks in excellence during one of the most devastating times in their nation's history. Even the dealerships across North America faced a temporary shortage of the STI models. But patience is a virtue. Those who purchased the '11 Impreza surely understand the extraordinary nature of this model. Society deems automobiles as one-dimensional commodities, but to a passionate car enthusiast, they are an unadulterated manifestation of the most astounding form of art.
Every human needs some kind of creative expression. Building cars is a solemn form of self-expression. Knowing the production history of the '11 Subarus, Steven Tumolo of Worchester, MA, took on a GRB hatchback project, which he quickly noticed would be an interminable venture. "I simply love modifying my car and making it unique as well as personifying myself throughout the project," Steven says. This means that his '11 Subaru WRX STI hatchback is ever evolving with no end in sight. But much like marriage to a mafia boss's daughter, the incorrigible commitment was pledged to begin sculpting Steven's automotive ideology of function united with form.
The EJ257 is a horizontally opposed four-cylinder boxer engine, where the crankshaft is centralized around two cylinder heads laid out in a flat configuration. These engines produce that distinct rumble due to exhaust gas pulsations making their way through long primaries to the turbocharger unit. The North American Subaru WRX STI versions came equipped with a factory IHI VF48 single scroll turbocharger, so this unit was tossed and upgraded to a hefty Blouch Dominator 1.5XT-R twin scroll unit. Combined with an Invidia divorced downpipe, a twin scroll turbocharger involves two separate chambers, which aid in exhaust gas pulse leading to a stronger combustion chamber scavenging process. The rest of the exhaust gas is spent through the Invidia Big Tube equal-length (4-2-1) exhaust manifold to a Q300 Titanium catback muffler. A GrimmSpeed 3-Port Boost Control Solenoid provides a quicker, controllable turbine spool at the exact set target rate. Other components such as a Perrin turbo inlet, turbo blanket, and radiator shroud add air intake and heat suppression efficiency for the Cobb Tuning SF intake and Mishimoto intercooler to perform its intended functionalities. All these engine modifications would not have meant a thing without a solid short-block assembly fully built from Kaizen Tuning and the masterful tuning from Bren Tuning in the Massachusetts region. As an accomplice to the fresh air coming into the intake runners, a Tomei Type S fuel pressure regulator, FIC 900cc top feed injectors, and Deatschwerks DW65C fuel pump were incorporated into the air/fuel delivery mix.
A powerplant with an increased rate of horsepower and torque output beyond its factory means necessitates further supporting modifications to the drivetrain. That is if you don't want things to break before the tires begin rolling. First, an ACT 6-puck clutch and Streelight Flywheel were mated to the output shaft to correctly translate the power to the Drive Shaft Shop one-piece carbon-fiber driveshaft. Replacing the rear differential carrier support bushings with Whiteline bushings strengthened the torque shock-susceptible rear end. Torque Solution mounts were distributed amongst the entire chassis to solidify mechanical components to the static chassis areas.
Properly setting up the suspension on an AWD vehicle can be particularly tricky since the entire workings should be set and tuned in conjunction with its front and rear differential systems. To eliminate body roll, Whiteline adjustable sway bars were added to the front and rear, typically used to regulate under and oversteer during cornering. Various GTSpec, Cusco, and Kartboy suspension components as well as chassis stiffening braces were added to keep the suspension geometry from going beyond the set parameters. The higher the tire compound and the stiffer the suspension is, the more stress load becomes applicable and the chassis begin to twist, throwing off that hard-earned four-wheel alignment specification.
Steven chose to go with a suspension kit, which is not actually a traditional coil-on shock setup for his application, but a compressed air-assisted system called Air Lift Performance Suspension. Purists may argue that an air ride system is a new and rather untested "fringe" technology for performance-oriented vehicles but they cannot be more wrong. The Air Lift Company has been around since the 1940s and their technological advancements exceeds that of every single JDM coilover maker out there. Their system retains the use of the traditional shock absorber, but on top of that, a heavy-duty rubber airbag sits, replacing the coil spring.
The central bragging element of the car is obviously the full Varis widebody body kit. While this kit is very hard to acquire Stateside, skilled individuals, such as the boys at Cove Custom Autobody, must perform the installation and bodywork. Steven claims, "The most unique feature on my car was the body in my eyes. There are few floating around now, but my car was one, if not the earliest adapters of this kit." Massively wide AME 18x11 +10 offset wheels were planted alongside the wide fenders with 295/35-18 Bridgestone RE760 tires. Few accentuations followed such as a Varis rear diffuser, 3M carbon-wrapped roof, and custom Candy Burgundy painted taillights.
Red-stitched Status Racing leather bucket seats with matching seatbelt harnesses were firmly planted to the STI's chassis frame. The interior portion didn't require a drastic change since Subaru Technical International's design engineers already took care of that straight from the factory. Just a few of Steven's touches were necessary, such as a JPM Coachworks black Alcantara shift boot and e-brake boot, both with red stitching. A GTSpec D-shaped steering wheel was added with full I.C.E. upgrades all around, plus microcell foam sound deadening to keep the tunes from leaking outside.
By the time this story is printed and hitting the newsstands, Steven will probably be enjoying his next move. With such mentions of Cosworth components and E85 fuel as his next step, his '11 Subaru has definitely paid homage to its creators and has already received great artistic recognition. "I built my car simply because of passion and creativity. There is no complicated reasoning," he says. We are confident that the people who helped create the '11 Subarus in Japan will surely appreciate Steven's passion and creativity.
Behind The Build
2012 and beyond
Creative outlet of form and function
2011 Subaru WRX STI (GRB)
Output 335 whp/405 lb-ft of torque
Engine Kaizen Tuning fully built short-block; Blouch Dominator 1.5XT-R twin scroll turbocharger; Composite TGV with butterfly delete; Invidia divorced downpipe, Q300 Titanium catback exhaust, 4-2-1 race header; Grimspeed 3-Port EBCS; Perrin turbo inlet, turbo blanket, radiator shroud; Cobb Tuning SF intake; Mishimoto intercooler; Tomei Type-S fuel pump regulator; FIC 900cc injectors; Deatschwerks DW65CC fuel pump; Bren Tuning ECU tune
Drivetrain Kartboy short throw shifter, shifter bushing; Whiteline rear differential carrier bushing; Torque Solution billet pitch stop mount; Drive Shaft Shop carbon-fiber driveshaft; ACT 6 puck clutch, Streetlight flywheel
Suspension Air Lift Performance air suspension; Whiteline adjustable front and rear sway bar, four-point lower control arm brace; GTSpec front adjustable arms, RCA, rear adjustable arms; Cusco rear lateral links, front strut tower bar, front member brace, steering rack brace; Kartboy front and rear endlinks
Wheels/Tires AME 18x11 +10 offset wheels, Bridgestone RE760 295/35-18 tires
Brakes Factory STI Brembo
Exterior Varis widebody kit B and rear diffuser, BMW Mineral White Metallic paint, custom Candy Burgundy painted taillights, 3M carbon-fiber wrapped roof, window tint
Interior JPM Coachworks Alcantara shift and e-brake boot with red stitching, custom Kaizen engraved shift knob, 3M Carbon wrapped dash panel, Zeitronix ZT3 wideband O2 sensor gauge, Status Racing full leather bucket seats and harnesses, GTSpec D-Shaped steering wheel, Sparco harness bar, full sound deadening and micro cell foam, Pioneer AVIC X930-BT head unit
Gratitude "All bodywork completed by Cove Custom Autobody in Charlton, MA; window tinting and wrapping done by Apex Designs in Boxboro, MA; Kaizen Tuning for allowing me the opportunity to import an extremely rare body kit and all of the guidance provided; photographer Dan Olivares; Bren Tuning for many different tunes as the setup changed and future planning; Scott and Nick from Kaizen Tuning who played a big role in allowing me to obtain certain parts and also what parts I wanted to modify; Brandon Cove who was a massive influence to the finishing work and color choice for the car; and lastly, Brendan Griffin of Bren Tuning who I had many conversations of the current trends, what it means to own certain cars, and even presentation of the product you own."
Special Thanks Cove Custom Autobody