The Governator’ Arnold Schwarzenegger has it. Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson has it. Red Hot Chili Peppers’ lead singer Anthony Keidis has it. It’s called star power and it’s very difficult to quantify, but whatever it’s made up of these guys have it by the pant load. Maybe star power comes from an inner sense of strength or confidence. Maybe it’s the result of hard work and ambition. Or perhaps it comes from a thick Austrian accent and even thicker biceps.
In the rally world, Four Star Motorsports has some serious star power of its own. As Canada’s most successful rally prep shop, Four Star knows what it takes to win, having earned six Canadian Rally Championships and four North American Rally Cup championships since 1991. They’ve also won 50 Canadian regional and SCCA PRO rally events and are the current record holder at the Mt. Washington Hillclimb event. Having built all manner of trophy-winning, gravel-spitting rally monsters, it’s only fitting that Four Star co-owner Frank Sprongl’s personal street machine is this WRC and Spec-C infused 2002 Subaru Impreza WRX.
To non-Subie fanatics this bug-eye GD Impreza may not look all that unusual, but for those of you who know your Subarus you’ll recognize many of the incredibly rare and super trick pieces bolted to this completely reworked chassis. Starting from the ground up, the hardcore crew at Four Star Motorsports stripped the car down to bare metal and removed 300 lbs from the chassis, just like they would with one of their championship winning rally machines. But rather than pulling weight by simply gutting the interior, Four Star did it the hardcore way by pulling weight out of the chassis instead, much like Subaru did to save weight on their Spec-C version of the STi (the Spec-C version having been specifically designed by Subaru to achieve Group N homologation for competition in FIA/World Rally Championship events). So focused on weight reduction is the Spec-C that it’s equipped with special lightweight glass throughout, a fact not lost on Four Star who used Spec-C glass on their WRX. Further aiding the Four Star Impreza’s diet is a full Prodrive 2002 World Rally Championship (WRC) body kit, including carbon fiber widebody front fenders, front and rear bumpers, side sills, and rear spoiler as well as an aluminum hood. If you’re unfamiliar with Prodrive, these guys have been running Subaru’s WRC program for many years and have also been instrumental in developing race cars at the highest levels of motorsports including Aston Martin Racing in world sports car series and for the Ford Performance Racing team in the Australian V8 Supercar Championship Series.
The street-legal rally super star conversion process didn’t end there though – the rear fenders were flared by 50mm by Four Star in their on-site body shop (part of their three-building facility that also includes a full tuning shop with four-wheel dyno and a climate-controlled customer car and parts storage building) in order to match the Prodrive front fenders. And in true WRC style, the wheelbase was lengthened 60mm via modified suspension pick-up points and custom control arms that give the front wheels and extra 5-degrees of caster for added high speed stability. Completing the rally-spec exterior conversion are JDM headlights and taillights along with a fresh Four Star Flame Red paint job and magnesium 18x8-inch Speedline WRC wheels and Michelin rubber.
The overall effect of this WRC-inspired diet is an Impreza that looks very clean and aggressive while weighing in at just 2,945 lbs with Sprongl onboard, and that’s without removing any of the creature comforts like power windows, air conditioning, and reclining STi bucket seats. As Frank said, “Since I’m in the business of building and modifying Subarus, I felt it was time to create the ultimate family hauler, baby seat and all.” And with Sprongl behind the wheel, himself a rally championship-winning driver, you’d better believe this Subie hauls some serious ass whether he’s on his way to work or kicking up dirt on his favorite piece of country road.
Helping keep this Four Star super star shiny side up are some fittingly hardcore rally-spec pieces including 2-way adjustable coilovers with camber-adjustable pillowball mounts from Hot Bits. With an STi front strut tower brace for reduced suspension deflection and 8 degrees of front caster along with -3 degrees of front camber, the ultra-quick steering rack (just 2.1 turns lock-to-lock) allows the pilot to hit his mark with laser precision turn after Michelin-torturing turn. And should Frank misjudge his corner entry speed a little, Rotora 6-piston front calipers and 355mm rotors teamed up with Rotora 4-piston rear calipers and 330mm rotors provide the necessary stopping power to save the day.
Under the lightweight aluminum Prodrive WRC-spec hood there’s a complete JDM Spec-C conversion including the 2-liter version 7 longblock, exhaust manifold and twin-scroll VF 36 ball-bearing turbocharger. This factory blueprinted and balanced masterpiece EJ boxer breathes through a Metallic Motorsports high-flow metal catalytic converter and a 2.5-inch Spec-C exhaust system, with the Four Star crew using their in-house Dyno Dynamics four-wheel dynamometer and an Ecutek to reflash the highly capable stock ECU with their custom fuel and ignition maps. The result of all this Spec-C goodness is an impressive 350whp at 22psi on 94-octane pump gas, an impressive improvement over the stock 320 crank horsepower the Spec-C version 7 motor normally produces. And allowing this bulletproof flat-four to put all its boosted juice to the ground is a version 7 Spec-C transmission with upgraded differentials including a clutch-type rear LSD, competition driveshafts, and version 8 Spec-C a-arms along with version 9 rear lateral links.
The rally legends at Four Star Motorsports know what it takes to build a Subaru with enough star power to say “Hasta la vista, baby!” to the competition. Assemble a drivetrain with the absolute best bits from Subie’s most hardcore Spec-C lineage, convert the body to full Prodrive WRC appearance along with insanely lightweight magnesium Speedline wheels, and underneath it all give it the reflexes of a cat thanks to the Hot Bits coilovers, lightning quick steering rack, and stretched wheelbase. So maybe this whole “star power” thing isn’t so elusive or difficult to pin down after all – apparently all it takes to transform a run-of-the-mill bug-eye Impreza into a street-legal WRC-spec monster is decades of experience building rally championship-winning Subarus, access to some of the most exclusive go-fast parts on the planet, and the technical expertise to put it all together into an all-star package. The Governator may think his Hummer rules off-road, but there’s no doubt that this Flame Red rocket would leave Arnie in the dust down just about any dirt road on the planet. That, my friend, is called Four Star power.