What would you do with $250,000? Put yourself through college? Buy a house? Take a few years off and travel the world? Die happy in a back-alley Patpong "parlor"? No doubt if you asked 23-year-old Alex Whitken what he would've done in the same situation eight years ago, his answer would've been similar. But that was before he put a cold-air intake on the practical, all-wheel-drive daily driver his parents got him for school, to "give it a little more pep." His words.
"I've been a car guy since before I could remember," laughs Alex, "My mom tells stories of me pointing and yelling out car names from the back seat of her car when I was a baby." Once Alex was given that first tune-able car of his own years later, it was all he could do to resist the urge to modify it to the hilt. He had friends who were in that situation; whose daily-drivers-turned-project-cars became less street-worthy the more they progressed, and he knew he needed to be patient. Living in North Potomac, MD (a suburb of Gaithersburg, equidistant from Baltimore and Washington, DC), and driving through upper elevations for school, he needed transportation, and knew that investing time and money in school would pay off in the long run.
Fast forward a few years. Alex graduated, co-founded realty specialists MBN Properties, and has become an analyst for one of the DC area's most prominent medical investment brokerages. Needless to say, it was finally time to open the flood gates on his dream project. Thanks to friends at Team Emotion, Alex had been immersed in the show scene all the while. Combined with his own passion for motorsports, he'd stayed current not only with trends in the import and Subaru scenes, but also with the moves that were earning JGTC, WRC and time-attack teams their status; moves that, once the time came to build his daily into the show winner of five past years' worth of dreams, he'd be sure to make in his own way.
Over the previous few years, the car had progressed moderately. Tein Type Flex coilovers had been added behind each wheel, and the engine had been swapped for a 2.5-liter EJ255 turbocharged flat-four crate motor-the same as what powers the JDM Forester, only this one came with an upgraded turbo from the JDM STI and pushed out around 300 whp and 300 lb/ft of torque. The suspension and motor were retained, but that's where the nostalgia stops. Everything else was completely re-worked, beginning with a complete tear-down of the interior, and fabrication of a true WRC-legal cage which includes gusseted side-impact zones, dimple-died A- and B-pillars, reinforcement of the rear strut towers, and integrated supports for nitrous and fuel systems, as well as a self-contained AP Racing air-jack system (powered by a modified nitrous bottle, filled with nitrogen-thought to be the only such system in existence), courtesy of Piper Motorsports. See that flashy aluminum trunk paneling? Contrary to show car M.O., no high-priced stereo components lurk beneath it-just two Walbro fuel pumps in the stock fuel tank to suck up pump gas, and a C16-dedicated custom ATL fuel cell and dry-brake filling system, also courtesy of the Piper crew, which employs the use of twin Weldon pumps tucked neatly behind the $1,000 ATL filler neck-the same unit used in the JGTC.
Things remain crazy in the cabin, which is separated by a genuine WRC-commissioned Prodrive carbon fiber seat delete, and complimented by Prodrive WRC carbon fiber door panels (that re-position door handles and window controls above where a properly constructed cage would pass), and a Piper custom aluminum center console. A Stack digital dash display replaces the OE cluster, a grip of Defi Link meters can be found about and the stock seats and steering wheel have been replaced by Bride and Sparco alternatives. The only audio equipment to be found is a pair of Polk Audio speakers in the glove box and a Pioneer Avic-D1 above the shifter. Lord, how the show scene has changed.
Chances are you've seen some impressive Subaru engine bays in our magazine, but none quite like this. Dynamic Power Solutions, of Gaithersburg, MD, deserves praise here, beginning with the prototype Turbo XS T04R kit staring you in the face as the hood is popped. It's one of two ever produced, with undisclosed wheel trim and housing specs. Aiding it are one of nearly every applicable Turbo XS accessory imaginable, right down to the Delta EMS modified high-flow fuel rails and removable map selector that allows Alex to switch between pump-gas and race-fuel tunes on the fly-the advantage of having two independent fuel delivery systems in one car. Power Enterprise 850cc injectors deliver either fuel, and what's unused is returned to its reservoir before the other fuel can be called into action, via a top-secret Dynamic method. JDM Beatrush, Blitz, Prova and Zero Sports bits were added liberally and the heat-reflective gold foil throughout-that's rumored to have come directly from NASA, through some backdoor connection Alex made in DC. We're not asking for proof. The whole mix was tuned by Turbo XS's lead tuner Jermaine to produce just over 404 whp on 93-octane pump gas (538 hp, factoring for drivetrain loss), with about 560 whp expected at next tune, switched to the car's C16 fuel system and nitrous. His first trip out, Alex sheared all the teeth of his stock transmission's Second Gear. His solution? Replace it with a PPG dogbox with custom-ratio straight-cut gears, a PPG interlocker, Driveshaft Shop Stage Four axles and lightweight aluminum driveshaft, and an Exedy triple-plate clutch.
Rule number one to building a show car is that it's got to catch attention. Following closely is rule number two: the rarer and more exclusive the schwag you fit it with, the better. Alex achieved both of these at once, when he ordered the Gram Lights front bumper and sides (which took two and a half years to arrive-the only such bits in the states), C-west rear lip, Varis carbon fiber hood, Voltex carbon wing, and genuine WRC Prodrive carbon-fiber side mirrors. Normally, paint over this eclectically scarce JDM mix would only be icing on the cake, But this is no normal car. Its custom HID Silver base and 15 coats of $650/pint red and blue pearl add up to a $17K Wayne Howard paint job that paradoxically screams "wild" and "subtle" at once, in the tradition of Japanese circuit machines . . . only to a slightly higher degree. And let's not forget the wheels: an $8K set of three-piece aluminum BBS E28s, sized at 18x9.5 and custom-formed around Alex's Stoptech big brake kit and oversized Chargespeed front fenders.
"I didn't want to half-ass it," he says, regarding the project, "I was sick of being some other kid with a kit and exhaust. I wanted to build the baddest WRX in the world." No small feat, but if you ask us, the results of years of planning speak for themselves-almost as loud as the 85 show trophies the car garnered in just over one year on the circuit. Alex's next project will be to apply the race-fab knowledge he gained building this car to a time-attack effort. "I'd love to drive this car on the track," he laments, "but I have too much money invested to beat it up. I need to build something I won't feel bad about wrecking." Seeing firsthand what became of the daily driver he first modified with bolt-ons for a few extra ponies, we're betting we know what's in store for this future undertaking!
Engine Subaru EJ255 engine; Brainchild Customs prototype intake manifold, three-inch exhaust; Nitrous Express Gen X 2 direct-port kit; Turbo XS prototype T04R turbo kit, Delta EMS, remote map selector, Hyperflow front-mount intercooler, downpipe, test-pipe, V2 up-pipe, modified intake, RFL blow-off valve, high-performance boost controller, modified high-flow fuel rails; ARC radiator; Beatrush alternator cover, pitch stopper, oil filler cap; Blitz radiator cap; Cusco heavy-duty engine mounts; Greddy oil catch can; Ku Engineering 70mm billet throttle body; Prova brake fluid cap, clutch fluid cap; Zero Sports turbo manifold, polished intake piping; DEI turbo blanket; NASA reflective gold foil; Kartboy exhaust hangers; relocated Optima red-top battery; Process West oil cooler; relocated and powdercoated coolant overflow tank; Samco nine-piece blue coolant hose kit, radiator hoses; TGV delete; Power Enterprise 850cc injectors; Sard fuel pressure regulators (x2), fuel filters (x2); Walbro 255 in-tank fuel pump; Weldon 1000 external fuel pump; ATL fuel cell, dry break filling system; tuning by Jermaine at Turbo XS
Drivetrain PPG transmission with custom-ratio straight-cut dog-engagement gearset, billet shift forks, interlocker; Driveshaft Shop Stage 4 axles, aluminum driveshaft; Energy Suspension shifter bushings; B&M short-throw shifter; Cusco transmission mount; Exedy triple-plate racing clutch
Suspension Tein Type Flex coilovers, EDFC; Beatrush 12-point underbrace, front compliance bracket kit, front strut tower bar; Cusco front and rear sway bars, front sway lateral links, rear sway endlinks, front and rear lateral links, trailing arms; Energy Suspension master urethane kit; GT Spec cowl stay braces; Perrin rear sway links
Wheels/Tires 18x9.5 BBS three-piece forged aluminum E28 racing wheels; Advan AO48 265/35-18 tires; ARP extended lugs; 5Zigen anodized lug nuts
Brakes Stoptech four-piston calipers and 355mm two-piece rotors (front), two-piston calipers and 328mm two-piece rotors (rear), stainless steel brake lines; Hawk HP pads; ATE Super Blue brake fluid
Exterior Chargespeed +20mm D1 front fenders; Gram Lights front bumper with carbon fiber ducts, side skirts, door trim pieces; C-West rear lip; Voltex Type 5 carbon fiber wing; Varis carbon fiber hood; WRC-spec Prodrive carbon fiber side mirrors; shaved corner markers, antenna, door sills; OEM STI projector headlights; Wayne Howard HID Silver base coat, red and blue pearl cleat coat
Interior AP Racing self-contained air-jack system; Piper Motorsports nine-point WRC-style custom rollcage, aluminum center console, trunk paneling; Stack digital dash display; WRC-spec Prodrive carbon fiber front and rear door panels, rear firewall, rear seat trim panel, rear parcel shelf; Blitz FATT DC II turbo timer; Bride Zeta III driver seat, Brix II passenger seat; Defi Link Meter EGT, boost, fuel pressure gauges, gauge holder; carbon concepts center gauge holder; Sparco 383 steering wheel, hub adapter, quick-release hub; Takata 340mph harnesses, foot rests; custom fire suppression system, kill switch, fuel option switches.
Electronics Pioneer AVIC-D1 in-dash head unit; Polk Audio four-inch speakers (x2); custom glovebox enclosure
Behind The Build
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North Potomac, Md
Co-Founder And President: Brainchild Customs President, Mbn Properties, LLC Analyst, Samson Venture Partners, LLC
Fast Cars, Biking And Good Wine
"Be patient and ready to find the next weakest link."