There really is no substitute for rolling up your sleeves and getting your hands dirty on a DIY project. Even something as simple as an oil change comes with a sense of satisfaction when you do it yourself. For those of us who like to get our DIY fix by working on cars, the rationale behind it ranges from saving money to working with our hands on something mechanical to challenging ourselves and learning something new. Whatever your reasons might be, when you’ve completed the job and fired up the engine, we’re betting you feel a very similar sense of satisfaction that DIYers the world over get from a job well done.
Andrew Johnson is a perfect example of a true automotive DIYer, having learned a few hard lessons before his ’00 Subaru Impreza 2.5 RS evolved into the super clean, STI-infused beauty it is today. In fact, Andrew learned a particularly harsh lesson about the perils of overconfidence in the grip provided by AWD, rolling his first car, an ’86 Subaru GL turbo coupe, just four days after buying it. That obviously set Andrew back, but a year and a half later, he jumped back on the horse and bought a bug-eye WRX that he began modifying after discovering the information and inspiration source known as NASIOC.
As Andrew told us, “Like most people, I started with the basics: exhaust, intake, tune, springs, wheels, etc. The power was fun for a bit, but after riding in some faster cars I got bit by the bug. I ended up going with an 18g turbo, FMIC, methanol, and a couple of other things. It ended up right at 300 whp and was tons of fun. After that I got worried about the transmission, so I purchased a full ’07 STI driveline, Brembos, hubs, suspension, etc. I couldn’t afford to pay a shop to do it, so I did all of the work myself in my dad’s garage. Everything went pretty smooth and I loved it!”
Having built his WRX into a serious performer, Andrew came to the realization that he needed a reliable daily driver and a dedicated project car that he could take off the road for a week or two at a time while he built it. As Andrew explained, “I have always been in love with the Subaru 2.5 RS coupes. I originally wanted one instead of the WRX but they were impossible to find for a decent price. I decided it was time to buy one, so within a couple of months, I gutted all the fun parts out of my WRX, took it back to stock, and sold it. Around three and a half years ago I bought my ’00 2.5 RS coupe and the fun really began.” Andrew’s always been inspired by super clean builds with a focus on performance rather than style. In fact, he’s been a proud member of the scoopless hood club on both his WRX and now his 2.5 RS, and he’s also a proud member of the wing-free society. The classic five-spoke styling of the 17-inch Gram Lights 57Pro wheels work very well with the understated exterior treatment on Andrew’s RSTI, as does the functional-not-slammed ride height. Not that this Impreza lacks in the style department. His GC coupe was originally Aspen White, but Andrew had it sprayed by Tyler at Bel-Kirk Autobody in a custom blend they call Sexual Chocolate, while the STi badges, foglight covers, and Brembo brakes hint at what lurks beneath the hood.
So far the build has taken a total of three and a half years, and I’m still a long ways from what I would consider “done.”
Speaking of underneath the hood, Andrew had his friends at Maxwell Power Services in Marysville, Washington, give the engine a serious overhaul by using their Signature Series heads and a Track Edition block built around a stroked (to 2.2L) version7 JDM STI RA-R EJ20 short-block. A Covert Performance twin-scroll manifold mated to a Garrett GTX3076R turbocharger makes for a very solid upgrade in the boost department, too, but until the Vipec ECU arrives and is fully tuned, Andrew’s stuck running wastegate pressure (15 psi) and around 350 whp. Expect a big jump in power once the boost gets turned up and the AEM methanol kit is plumbed in.
According to Andrew, the toughest part to the STi conversion process turned out to be fitting the ’06 STI dash and wiring harness. “It took me a couple of weeks worth of evenings to cut the [dash] beam, modify the mounts, modify the pedals, lay out the wiring, clip off what I didn’t need, and make it all look decent. That was definitely an adventure, but I am soooo happy I did it. I love the modern look it gave a car that is over a decade old. The gas tank swap was also an epic PITA. I have never been more dirty or smelly in my life. At the end of the day you just need to keep calm, carry on, and have a couple more beers.”
One of the other pleasures of the DIY experience is sharing the project with friends. Andrew certainly took full advantage of this, wrenching on his RSTI with his buddies while his girlfriend, Shandra, filled the all-important role of garage bartender. As Andrew elaborated, “So far the build has taken a total of three and a half years, and I’m still a long ways from what I would consider “done.” I need to finish getting the ECU and tune stuff worked out and get some real good numbers out of it, and then I want to redo a bunch of aesthetic stuff. I want to redo the interior, paint/powdercoat some bits, reupholster some other bits, and all around just keep updating portions of the car. There is definitely a lot more to come!”
Specs & Details
'00 Subaru Impreza 2.5RS Coupe
Engine 2.5L EJ25 boxer flat-four
Engine Modifications Maxwell Power Services Track Edition v7 RA-R short-block, CNC ported Signature Series EJ205 heads, modified rods w/ oil squirters, custom charge pipes, fuel rails and lines, coolant overflow reservoir, and upper radiator mount; Delta 272 camshafts; Ferrea springs, retainers and +1mm valves; JE pistons, 83mm stroke billet crankshaft, modified oil pump; Killer Bee oil pan and pickup; Cusco engine mounts, Injector Dynamics 1,000cc fuel injectors; Deatschwerks DW300 fuel pump; Garrett GTX3076R turbocharger; Covert Performance twin-scroll manifold, up pipe and downpipe; TiAL 38mm MV-S wastegates and Q 50mm BOV; CXRacing FMIC core; STI wiring harness, gas tank, radiator, front crossmember, steering rack, and rotated intake manifold; custom-ported throttle-body; Samco radiator hoses; HKS Carbon-Ti after-cat exhaust system
Engine Management Vi-Pec V44 plug-in system
Drivetrain ’07 STi 6MT, clutch slave cylinder, driveshafts, rear differential, and linkages; Cusco transmission mount; Kartboy front shifter bushings and transmission crossmember bushings; TIC pivot bushing and rear diff bushings
Suspension BC Racing coilovers; aluminum STi control arms; TSS Fab stainless steel adjustable rear lateral links and tubular subframe; TiC fender braces; Whiteline ALK sport 24mm sway bars (f/r), and steering rack bushings; Kartboy endlinks (f/r)
Exterior Bel-Kirk Autobody custom Sexual Chocolate color paint; shaved rear bumper, bump strips, and antenna; Impreza L hood and trunk lid; STI foglight covers, badges, and valvestem caps; Gimmick Motorsports hood struts; Grimmspeed stealth antenna; Aero Guards (f/r)
Interior GC8 STI dash, HVAC, center console, e-brake, wiring and gauge cluster; v2 STI front seats; v5 STI rear seats; custom 6-point rollcage with harness bar; custom upholstered suede rear decklid, trim and door cards; Defi BF 60mm boost, EGT, and oil pressure gauges; ATI 3-gauge pod, Schroth 4-point harnesses and pads
Wheels, Tires & Brakes Gram Lights 57Pro 17x8’’ +40 wheels; Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric 245/45R17 tires; Rays black locking lug nuts; STI Brembo calipers and 326mm rotors; Carbotech Bobcat brake pads; ATE Superblue brake fluid; Gruppe-S ss brake lines
Special Thanks To my girlfriend, Shandra, who helped me a lot during the build and kept a steady stream of hefes, IPAs, ambers, stouts, lagers, pales, and whiskeys headed my direction. Also my buddies Rob, Mikael, Jake, Paul, Dave, Dominic, Craig, and Jack (Daniel’s). Tyler at Bel-Kirk Autobody and the whole crew up at Maxwell Power Services