Even if you’re not a walking encyclopedia about cars, you should know a few things about the Impreza WRX STI. First off, it’s Subaru’s flagship high performance car and it came exclusively with an all-wheel drive layout. In addition, the car is well-decorated in motorsport with success in the World Rally Championship. But for the next few minutes, let’s throw all that shit out the window because this particular STI beats to a different drum. It’s been specifically designed for drifting, sporting a rear-wheel drive conversion. It’s also powered by an RB25DET from the Nissan Skyline! If you’re a Subie purist, please turn the page now—but if we caught your attention, you won’t be disappointed.
The sideways-sliding WRX belongs to Sajid Moghal, the owner of Jap Performance Parts (JPP). Now you might be wondering, who in their right mind would use the word “Jap” in their company name? A bloody Englishman of course! Saj’s story takes place in West Sussex, UK, just an hour south of London where he started JPP selling parts out of his garage. Seven years later, he’s developed JPP into one of the most recognized JDM distributors in Europe. His shop has even built a couple other cool creations including an RB26-powered Datsun 240Z and an SR-swapped AE86; however, nothing matches the menace you see here.
“This Subaru is a ’98 version four STI Type R—your standard road car that was imported from Japan for sale in the UK,” Saj started. “In our shop, we also had a Skyline with a bad body but the engine was too good to waste. Both cars weren’t selling so I came up with this crazy idea that’s never been done before. I didn’t want to use an EJ20 anymore because it doesn’t handle the punishment like the RB, plus the RB is more cost-effective to repair or replace.”
The game plan was set and both cars were stripped down. To ensure the engine would fit and run like butter, Saj teamed up with PR Developments. The first mission was to rebuild the RB25 with a stronger physique. The six-cylinder was fortified with a crank and pistons from a later-model RB26. For boost, Saj mated a larger GReddy TD06-25G turbo to a custom top-mounted manifold and Blitz exhaust. The fuel supply received 600cc injectors, twin Walbro pumps and an HKS fuel rail.
With the engine hardware connected to an R33 GT-R tranny, the next project involved fitment. At first glance, the motor was too big, leaving half the motor poking above the hood line. After all, they were fitting a beefier engine with two extra cylinders… The transmission tunnel was also too tight to accommodate the Nissan gearbox. But the team prevailed as they reworked the tunnel, removed some paneling and redesigned the crossmember to allow the motor to sit lower.
With the powertrain mounted properly, the next task was sorting out the electrical system, then tuning. After months, the STI rolled the dyno to 510hp.
“We had the pressure of making an all-wheel drive Subaru into a drift car and make it competitive as well.”
“But hardest part wasn’t even that. It was the handling,” Saj admitted. “We could get the car running but it needed further development to make the car able to drift. It’s not like a normal drift car. Anyone can use a Nissan or Toyota and make it more powerful. We had the pressure of making an all-wheel drive Subaru into a drift car and make it competitive as well.”
This is where Garage-D took the reins and developed the steering, suspension and rear axle setup for the STI. While HKS coilovers provided the proper groundwork, the front track was widened a foot to improve the geometry for drifting. The crossmember was re-adjusted and a quick steering rack was added to help with maneuvering. Mitsubishi Evo 8 tie rods, longer steering arms and Zerosports track rod ends fixed the steering lock. A custom driveshaft was fab’d up and a Nissan R200 diff was added to handle extra abuse on the track.
The rest of the goodies ensured a proper and safe drift contender including the stripped interior, seam-welded shell, six-point rollcage, widened fenders and carbon rear wing.
The car was finished in ’10 where Irish driver Walton Smith got accustomed to the machine taking it to the professional level. But long story short, Walton only needed a year to master the car as he finished third place overall at the ‘11 JDM Allstars Championship, one of Europe’s biggest drift series. He also stood atop many podiums in other events. Whether the car would do well against the V8-powered drift cars in the US is another question, but bloody hell, this thing is cool. It’s not everyday we see a CG Imprezza WRX with a complete powertrain from the Nissan family that’s feared in a competitive drift circuit. So we tip our caps to Saj, Walton and the rest of the team. Good luck lads in the ’12 season.
1998 Subaru Impreza WRX STI Type R
Owner Sajid Moghal
Hometown Crawley, West Sussex, UK
Occupation Owner Of Jap Performance
Engine RB25DET swap with RB26 crank and pistons; Tomei cams; adjustable cam pulleys; GReddy TD06-25G turbo and top mount oil cooler; Z32 air flow meter; front-feed intake plenum; 80mm throttle body; HKS fuel rail; 600cc SARD injectors; Japspeed fuel pressure regulator; twin Walbro fuel pumps; top-mount turbo manifold; external wastegate; Blitz Nur Spec exhaust; Mishimoto radiator
Drivetrain Six-speed RB26 dog box with removed transfer section; OS Giken twin-plate clutch, custom driveshaft; R200 rear differential; S14 rear axles
Engine Management A'PEXi Power FC ECU
Footwork & Chassis HKS coilovers; STI hubs and lower rear arms; Evo 8 steering arms; Zerosports track rod ends and lower ball joints
Brakes Front and rear '09 Brembo STI brakes
Wheels & Tires 17x9'' front CST Hyper Zero and 18x9" rear Rota wheels with Bridgestone Potenza tires
Exterior Custom wide arch kit based on HT Auto 22B kit; modified Evo V front bumper; Evo X rear diffuser; WRC fiberglass bonnet with STI VII high-level bonnet scoop; WRC roof scoop; GT-style carbon rear wing
Interior Bride bucket seats; Takata harnesses; six-point rollcage; modified dashboard; Pivot and GReddy gauges; Honda S2000 fuel tank
Thanks You Car Travel, Transvalair, Garage-D, Togethia, PR Developments, HT-Autos, Customize Bodyworkz and JDM Allstars
WWW japperformanceparts.co.uk; garage-d.com