Here at Modified, we tend to stick to a pretty strict mantra: Performance above all else. If it goes fast, we want to know more about it. We see a lot of cool turbo AWD cars in our line of work, and after a while they can all begin to blend together. But every now and then we come across something a little different — something that sticks with us.
When Scott Molitor first contacted us months ago with a few pictures of his STI-powered Impreza 2.5 RS, we were immediately interested in learning more about what brought him to build this unique (and very cool) Subaru.
“I got into cars at a very young age,” Scott says. “My hobby started with Hot Wheels and grew from there; my dad used to repair smashed cars in our garage as a second form of income. I remember a FC3S RX-7 that really struck me as cool. Growing up in a small town in Minnesota didn’t really expose me to many cool cars, but my dad did a good job of showing me brands other than typical American models. My dad loved his Hondas, so my first car was a ’91 Honda Accord EX. I started with the typical mid-’90s mods: intake, exhaust wheels, et cetera.”
As Scott grew older, he fell out of the car scene and momentarily shifted toward another motorized hobby. “Our family moved to Colorado, and I got into motocross,” Scott says. “By 2001 I was doing a few amateur Moto X races here and there, but I kept getting hurt. My mom finally presented me with an ultimatum: move out or stop riding, so I stopped riding!” Scott says with a laugh. It was at this point that Scott began to reevaluate his motoring life. With a longtime love for off-road rally cars, Scott began to search for his first dream car, the Mitsubishi Gallant VR-4. A bit of a black sheep, admittedly, but that wouldn’t stop Scott.
“I actually wanted [a VR-4] when I was younger, but had trouble finding one,” Scott says. “I eventually found a great VR-4; I loved how the feel of boost felt like the powerband of a two-stroke dirt bike. At that same time, my good friend, Levi Woods, was building a 2.2 Subaru Impreza and doing some rallycross events, so I joined him. We both poured money into our cars, as you typically do with racing — his car ran flawlessly (being NA, he never had issues), but I was running into the typical Mitsubishi problems and began looking into the Subaru brand for assurance.” >>
Scott picked up his first Subaru shortly thereafter, but he was never much for keeping cars around longer than he needed to. After owning a wide variety of other cars (Nissan, Honda and even a turbocharged Geo Tracker) Scott found himself back at square one, looking for a GC8 Impreza 2.5 RS, the one Subaru he had always liked best.
“The ’00 Subaru 2.5 RS was always my favorite body style,” Scott says. “In Colorado it’s hard to find a reasonably priced example, but, eventually, I did. I drove the car NA for a while, but after a few months I couldn’t take the anguish of no power.”
Because of Denver’s high elevation, Scott tells us that it’s tough to have fun without boost. “I swapped in a 2.0-liter WRX engine soon thereafter,” Scott says. “Because I like to fabricate, I decided to do the dash swap as well. For a couple of years, the car remained a 2.0-liter with full interior, basic bolt-ons, making around 320 horsepower. After the 8-point, NASA-certified cage was installed, I wanted to repair some rust on the roof, so I cut the roof off and ordered a new skin from Subaru. Levi had since graduated with a composite engineering degree from Colorado State University and told me that we should build a carbon-fiber roof using the factory roof skin as a mold. So we did the lay up, and it turned out great and shaved some extra weight off the top of the car.”
Satisfied with the current setup (but always thinking of the next step), Scott’s plans were thrown for a loop when he came across a great deal on a ’06 WRX with 13K on the clock.
“Levi wanted the shell for a new rally project, and I wanted more displacement,” Scott remembers. “We split the cost of the new car — he took the chassis and I took the engine and drivetrain. After another couple of months and a test day at the track, I came to realize that with all the torque of the 2.5-liter, I needed more grip. I swapped in the hubs and brakes from a ’07 STI along with the R180 rear differential, front and rear control arms, lateral links, and a few other odds and ends. The gear ratios between my existing transmission wouldn’t match up with the R180 rear differential, so I enlisted the help of my friend, Mark Ringleman, to swap out a transfer gear in the trans to a unit from a ’05 model.
“After I swapped the knuckles, I found out that the front hubs have a larger mount flange for the lower shock mount, so I called up BC suspension. I told I them what I had planned for the car and they sent me a set of their Inverted monotube coilovers, and I got the project off the ground — literally. We talked about suspension setups, and I ended up going with heavier spring rates because of future front splitter plans. It was then that I found out with the modifications I made to the car I could no longer compete in PTA class any longer. That meant NASA Super touring was going to be my new home, and that meant more power — lots more. I wanted to do a rotated-style turbo, but didn’t like any of the kits out there. Being the true fabricator at heart that I am, I began to make a list of things I liked about some kits, as well as things I didn’t like. I started with a blank sheet of canvas and designed a kit that would be made from 321SS, utilizing a newly released Tial SS turbine housing and a Garrett GT3076R turbo. I matted a 38mm Tial MVS wastegate that dumped into the atmosphere with what could best be explained as a Harley-Davidson-style pipe cutoff, situated at the side of the vehicle to keep noise directed out side the cabin without affecting ground clearance, and the downpipe is hung very tightly to the body for off-track excursions. I also built a custom 3-inch V-banded exhaust from the downpipe back, using more 304 stainless steel and a JDM GReddy muffler.
With the power department under control, Scott now turned to the tuning aspect to dial everything in. “I built some custom fuel rails,” he says. “I chose to use an Aeromotive fuel pressure regulator and Injector Dynamics 1,000cc injectors, set up for E85. I also put in new intercooler piping with a Perrin intercooler core blow-through MAF, a HKS blow-off valve and filter, and a single Walbro 255-lph fuel pump. I took the car to my longtime friend and tuner, Nick McMahan, and he made 420 whp corrected with open ECU on just 15 psi on E85.”
At this point, Scott was happy with the car. It was making good power and running strong, but as is so often the case, the motorsports gods had ideas of their own. “During a practice session at a local NASA race day,” Scott says, “the car was brought down to its knees once again. A wastegate signal line loosened and spiked the boost, and I lifted a head gasket. There I sat with a car that had everything but an engine to make it go. I could drive the car to and from work, but as soon as I made boost it would start to overheat. I was out of money again, so I parked the car.”
In an ironic twist of fate, however, Scott would not be without a new motor for long. After helping locate a car that was stolen from good friend and reputable local Subaru guru Troy Matta of Suba Performance, Troy returned the good karma in the form of a brand-new STI short-block for Scott’s car. Must be nice, right? All said and done, Scott and his Subaru have been through a lot together, and it’s not over yet. “Money is tight this summer, so I don’t think I’ll be entering too many events,” Scott says with a sigh. “I hope to run a couple local NASA races and possibly some time attack events, and in light of this year’s events at the Pikes Peak Hill Climb (I go every year and I’ve always dreamed of running it myself), I’m considering entering the car for next year’s event.” That’s something we would love to see happen — what would be a more suiting duty for a sweet Subie than to climb Pike’s Peak with the big boys. We certainly can’t think of anything.
Specs & Details
'00 Subaru Impreza 2.5 RS
Engine EJ25 2.5 liter boxer 4-cylinder (’06 STI)
Engine Modifications New Subaru nitride crank; Eagle H-beam connecting rods; CP 9.0-1 pistons; Cosworth bearings, oil windage tray & head gaskets; ARP head studs; Heads by Drew valvespring shim job & bowl job; DCC Works powdercoated valve covers & engine brackets; MoFab oil catch can, GT3076R rotated turbo kit w/ custom manifold, coolant catch tank, fuel rails & steering reservoir; Tial wastegate & stainless steel exhaust housing for GT3076R; 4" intake w/ HKS filter; custom front-mount intercooler w/ Perrin core; Aeromotive fuel pressure regulator; Braille Battery; Koyo radiator; Mishimoto fan shroud; Hallman boost controller; Cusco engine & transmission mounts; HKS exhaust manifolds; custom 3" V-band stainless steel exhaust; Walbro 255-lph fuel pump; Injector Dynamics 1,000cc fuel injectors; NGK spark plugs; AMS oil lubricants
Engine Management Open ECU tuning
Drivetrain R180 rear differential & axles; ’06 STI 5-speed transmission w/ 1:1 transfer gear
Suspension ’07 STI front control arms & rear lateral links; Whiteline sway bar (r), subframe bushings, differential mount bushings, rear subframe lockout; custom rear lateral links; BC RM coilovers w/ adjustable front camber & caster plates
Wheels, Tires & Brakes 17x10" 5Zigen FN01RC wheels; Nitto NT01 tires 255/40R17
Exterior Carbon-fiber hood, front lip, fender flares & custom-made roof skin
Interior 8-point NASA-certified rollcage; Race Tech 4009hrc seat (driver); Momo Start seat (passenger); Sparco steering wheel; NRG quick release; ’06 WRX dashboard; Race Quip harnesses; G Force window net; aluminum partition between trunk & rear seat; fire extinguisher; AEM wideband A/F gauge; wide-angle mirror
Thanks To My parents for always encouraging my talents, my girlfriend for being as passionate about motorsports as I am, BC suspension for all the product support & assistance, Troy & the gang at Suba Performance in Denver, & my tuner Nick McMahan