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2000 Subaru Impreza 2.5RS - The Freshman

Thanks To His Subaru Family, Justin North Has Built This Impeccable STI-Swapped Impreza 2.5RS

Jay Chen
Oct 1, 2009
Photographer: Rich Karbowiak

Justin North is a made man. He's not Sicilian, nor does he have a heavy Jersey accent, but what he did do was marry into the right family-a Subaru family, that is. And in a complex series of power plays, car swaps and clandestine deals, he now has the keys to this STI-powered 2.5RS.

Modp_0910_03_o+2000_subaru_impreza_2_5rs+interior Photo 2/5   |   2000 Subaru Impreza 2.5RS - The Freshman

Justin started his way up the gearhead ladder as a run-of-the-mill wise guy on the wrong side of the tracks looking for the right angle to get in. His first car was a Fox-body Mustang LX, which he promptly abandoned on account of its high insurance costs. Forced to find another way to satisfy his automotive ambitions, he settled on a less conspicuous route of sport compacts. His first ride was a '98 Eclipse GS, which didn't get him far, but at least got his foot in the tuning-world door. Not being one to settle for the goon status the Eclipse got him, Justin quickly changed crews and made the leap from his GS to at Spec-V Sentra. Using his resources as a service manager at a local Nissan dealer, he worked hard to build the Spec-V with just about every available R-Tune part out of the Nismo catalog and then some. But now that he had tasted power, he knew he wanted more.

2017 Subaru Impreza
$18,395 Base Model (MSRP) 24/32 MPG Fuel Economy

Even with his Sentra, Justin got bored. He saw the platform's limitations and instead of putting more money into a losing horse, he started looking for a new angle. Justin finally found the right crew to back when he once again traded rides. Seeing the success of all-wheel-drive turbos, he set his sights on the big daddy of them all, an '05 Subaru Impreza STI. The car had the right amount of power, grip, handling and nearly endless tuning potential.

Modp_0910_04_o+2000_subaru_impreza_2_5rs+engine_bay Photo 3/5   |   2000 Subaru Impreza 2.5RS - The Freshman

It was during his time hanging out with the Subaru boys that he met his wife to be, Kristi. Little did he know that the innocent little WRX-driving girl came from a Subaru mad family and that he would soon be pulled in and married to the brand. As it turned out, Kristi's dad was the Godfather of Subarus. Starting with his first '85 Subaru Loyale, Justin's father-in-law to be, William Frankenberger, has owned more than 20 Subies and has been the first on the waiting list for the 2.5RS, WRX and STI. Kristi, being a good daddy's girl would be the trickle-down recipient of each of these cars as her father found something newer.

While Justin had just stumbled into the Subaru family, his path to building this STI-powered RS wasn't as straightforward. As of the time of their meeting, Kristi had already moved on from her dad's original RS seen here, which she sold to a 65-year-old family friend in order to get into Daddy's '02 WRX. The WRX became their tuning project and somewhere along the line they found love (for each other, not just the Subarus) and got hitched.

As their love grew, so did Kristi's WRX. It soon got to the point where there was more power than what the stock 5-speed trans could handle. A decision had to be made: pour more money into the WRX or take a drastic change in direction. Justin and Kristi finally decided on pulling the trigger and building the ultimate Subaru. In another round of musical cars, Justin handed the keys to his STI to the wife while Kristi traded the 300hp WRX to a 65-year-old psychiatrist in exchange for her old RS, which now belonged to Justin.

Modp_0910_01_o+2000_subaru_impreza_2_5rs+front_view Photo 4/5   |   2000 Subaru Impreza 2.5RS - The Freshman

While the loss of the STI was a blow, it stayed in the family and Justin knew the older GC chassis would be lighter and the classic Subaru look was just what he wanted. He had a gameplan, too. Justin immediately scoured the Internet for a junked STI chassis, JDM interior and exterior parts for his GC swap. Instead of doing the swap one step at a time, Justin decided to do the complete swap and handle all the mechanical elements in one swoop.

He finally found an '05 donor STI in Oklahoma City, nearly 8.5 hours away from his Iowa home. They made the roundtrip run in one breath with his buddy and trailer in tow, and 20 hours later the STI was back in Iowa ready to be stripped the next morning. Both cars were mechanically and electrically gutted and the RS and STI harnesses sent out to Zephyr Belski (aka Zephyr250) in New Jersey to be merged. Merging the two harnesses would allow Justin to fit the STI harness into the GC while retaining all the STI's ABS, ECU and transmission controls.

In the process of four months, the harness was merged, and the entire STI driveline, all the way down the hubs and brakes transferred into the GC. For the STI DCCD transmission controls to also work in full auto mode, Justin also had to swap over much of the STI's brake and clutch hydraulic systems. Justin now had a fully functional STI within the super-light GC shell. To save time, much of the tuning bits were thrown in during the swap including heavy-duty boost and exhaust plumbing, TGV deletes and a LaChute twin-scroll exhaust manifold. The car now spends much of its time at local track events and according to Justin, "[it] easily holds off the big boy Porsches and BMWs, even with its stock turbo." He's upgraded the fuel system and the interior with JDM Version 6 STI parts, but is contemplating sticking with the stock turbo for response and changing the car to run on E85 fuel for slightly more power.

As for the fresh 50K-mile drivetrain originally out of the RS, Justin and Kristi already have it swapped into another '00 Impreza L wagon that will soon carry on the family heritage.

Specifications & Details
'00 Subaru Impreza 2.5RS

Engine
'05 USDM STI EJ25 boxer 4-cylinder

Modp_0910_02_o+2000_subaru_impreza_2_5rs+rear_view Photo 5/5   |   2000 Subaru Impreza 2.5RS - The Freshman

Engine Modifications
Ported heads, balanced bottom end, Perrin inlet hose, APS 3" turbo back exhaust w/ single 4" tip, turbo inlet hose and coolant catch can, Buschur racing up-pipe, OEM STI radiator, Grimmspeed TGV deletes, boost control solenoid and phenolic spacers, Lachute Performance twin-scroll exhaust manifold

Engine Management
P&L tune by Jorge Carrillo, OEM STI fuel tank, emissions equipment, fuel feed lines, APS Fuel Rails, Deatschwerks 850cc injectors, Walbrol 255-lph pump, OEM STI ECU w/ Cobb Accessport V2

Drivetrain
ACT extreme clutch, Gruppe-s lightweight forged flywheel, '05 USDM STI transmission, R180 rear differential and axles

Suspension
Bilstein PSS9 coilover suspension, Cusco front camber plates, strut tower braces and rear strut tower V-Brace, 24mm adjustable front and rear antiroll bars, Perrin sway bar end links (f/r), STI pillow ball rear trailing arms, JDM GC8 front control arms and '05 USDM STI power steering racknter text here.

Wheels, Tires and Brakes
STI Brembo calipers, TWR Racing front 2-piece slotted rotors w/ titanium hats, Goodrich SS brake lines, 17x8" '06 STI gold BBS wheels, 225/45R17 Bridgestone RE070 tires

Exterior
Prodrive P1 lip spoiler, Wings West 22b replica rear spoiler, JDM GC8 Aero guards, rear bumper spats, V6 rear bumper, STI aluminum hood, V6 grille, taillights, 22b Replica hood vents, lightweight bumper beams

Interior
JDM V6 STI front and rear seats, Defi link meter gauges, V6 Type R DCCD gauge cluster converted to U.S. units, USDM STI DCCD controls, steering wheel/column, parking brake handle and clutch, brake and gas pedals, ECS performance electronic pedal adapter

By Jay Chen
85 Articles

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