Drake's always been a Subaru guy in the time I knew him. He's the guy I'd go to, if I had a Subaru question right now. His knowledge of Subaru cars fascinates many enthusiasts. His passion inspires many of his friends, too. But, he's a man of a simple vice; he needs speed and power. So, it should come as no surprise to anyone that when he decided to sell his previous 2012 WRX, he wanted to buy something even faster - lighter, and with more power. And, where most people would be terrified of buying a car like this - in another province, and with a known faulty transmission - he stayed his path, well aware that his mechanical competence and manufacturer affinity would see him through. Sure enough, he picked up this gorgeous example of a project car with minor blemishes, and proceeded to fix them. He's got plans for this car, rest assured. He had plans for his 2012 WRX, too, but decided that the 2012 platform just wasn't for him. Faster is better. Faster is more fun.
Drake's new project was born as a sedate 2000 Subaru Impreza 2.5RS coupé. It was optioned with the Blue Ridge Pearl paint that it still wears to this day, and... That's all that I really know about the original equipment the car came with - the STi swap was extensive, and then the number of parts added on top of that really further hazes the finer details of the OEM version of the car.
he car was sold somewhere in Canada, as it's a typical left-hand-drive Canadian market car. At some point in its life, however, it received a Version 7 EJ207 swap, Deatschwerks fuel pump, [unknown brand] injectors, and a Forced Performance 76hta turbo. Then it was tuned by Neetronics, fell into the ownership of a man in Montréal, and then experienced hefty transmission trouble, before being posted for sale. Not necessarily in that order, though.
Drake, though, is no stranger to pulling gearboxes and doing transmission work. He assisted me with the clutch replacement on my WRX, and also replaced the clutch on his WRX, as well as replacing a blown gearbox on his WRX. He knew that - no matter what the problem - he could fix it.
He had the car towed back to his home in Ontario, and with only $450 and some spare time, managed to get the car running. The car now runs on a 6 speed gearbox, but with the Melons' Better Driving preferred fixed-torque-split differential for consistent, predictable cornering behaviour. Subaru's Driver-Controlled-Center-Differential never did appeal to me, in much the same way that the GT-R's torque split switching didn't appeal to me. It detracts from the driving experience; the very same driving experience that Drake craves.
Drake's 2.5RSTi was finally on the road, putting down its 387 wheel horsepower in a vicious display of manliness. Every shift causes a huge lunge as the power goes away for the duration of the shift and then a lunge in the opposite direction, pushing you back into the seat when the power returns. Drake's shifts are lightning fast, and smooth when cruising, but even the fastest shifts he can do still result in a big shunt, which is actually a very fun thing. It adds to the excitement and brutality of the car.
That brings us to now, where he just dropped by as he was passing through and took me for a spin to get acquainted with the car. This car is savage. The feeling you get from the cockpit is not toned down. It's visceral. It's aimed in every way at being fast, aggressive and fun. Lots of fun. The winter tires that are currently equipped are nowhere near good enough to keep the power of the brakes under control. The squirm of the sidewalls on this car as its shear, brute braking force pulls you toward the dash is immense. This car's brutality is its most notable feature. If you're beginning to sense a theme, that's good - that "brutality" theme is the theme of the car, played out proudly like the overture of the Ride of the Valkyries.
In a previous article, I mentioned the brakes on the GT-R and said they were "good." They are. But, braking in the GT-R is relaxing compared to this car. The extra 40 centimeters (400 mm) of contact patch on the GT-R is like cheating in a video game. Sure, you're still playing the same game, but the GT-R's brakes can't kill you. The car is too poised, too perfect to ever be as raw and terrifying as this Impreza. That's not to say that the GT-R isn't the better car; for anyone who wants a GT car, the GT-R is the king. Its name implies that. But, if you want an exciting, lively and fun car, this is where you come.
The sound this car makes, in my eyes, comes across as thrilling but brash. It's loud, unique and full of attitude. I named the article after its unique external wastegate noise, very similar to an exceedingly angry rattlesnake, giving you your last warning.
We headed out to a loop of curvy roads through some farmland. The perpetual gravitational pull of this car isn't the true masterpiece. It's not the sort of car that will rearrange your internal organs nor cause your eyes to bleed. Cars barely need to be that fast. But, the way this car responds to the driver, always willing to listen to every input and maintain some composure while still maintaining its willingness to effortlessly slide when commanded to do so is more rewarding than any surgery-inducing madhouse of a car. The car simply glides into corners, and Drake knows exactly how to place the car in the corner to get the best performance out of it. The pair work in tandem very well.
From here on out, though, Drake's focus is shifting towards lap times and so forth. More power, less weight, wider, grippier tires, and bigger brakes await this car. Methanol injection will add power that the tires simply won't be able to handle. So, Drake will install some wider fender flares which are bespoke to the car (no universal fender flares for this car!) in order to accommodate wider tires. With those wider tires, Drake will be able to apply more brake pressure through the pedal without locking up, facilitating the installation of his Stoptech big brake kit. Then, he will strip the interior and install a rollcage... He needs one, with the power this car has, the tracks he visits and the speeds he reaches. That kinda explains a big portion of the decision not to use a shift boot... He just didn't bother, since it's all coming back out again anyways!
Finishing it all up will be some bespoke aerodynamic pieces. I extended my offer to help him design any DIY aerodynamic pieces that he may come to need. We'll have to see if he accepts my offer.
And, with owning a car which is half rat-rod, half race car, and wholly custom, there comes a certain freedom to do whatever you want without concern for what the outside world thinks. They might not get it. But, who cares? It's more fun this way! You can spend $100,000 on a factory supercar and have some fun. But, I believe that this route is much, much more rewarding. Great build and great find, Drake. I'm excited to see what you make of it.
Andrew Geier is an accomplished automotive enthusiast, with 15 years of automotive experience. At age 22, he created Melons' Better Driving in an effort to make people rethink the automotive world with insightful vision and articles about the future of the automotive culture and all of its subcultures, including motorsports. Seen in the site's background image, examining a road which was torn up by rally cars with his friends, his passion is clearly demonstrated by his excited pose.