Venture Spec C: Rally Heritage For The Highway

It’s been nicely over a 12 months since my preliminary Speedhunters Storage publish, the place I launched a few AE86s and this – my Subaru Impreza WRX STI Spec C.

Over that point rather a lot has occurred, however an equal quantity hasn’t. Life exterior of automobiles has been very busy, attempting to stability work priorities and a brand new addition to the household. I discover after I can spare a while, it turns into a way for escape and to reset, even cathartic at instances. Having a brand new venture automobile to work on is all the time an thrilling prospect too.

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Earlier than I get caught into what I’ve been as much as with my Subaru and what’s deliberate for the long run, I believed I’d begin with a little bit of background on the mannequin and my particular automobile.

Up till 2005, the WRX STI served because the Impreza Group N homologation mannequin, regardless of a Spec C variant being accessible for buy. That every one modified with the 2005 mannequin 12 months STI Spec C, the place extra dramatic revisions have been undertaken.

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Beginning with an STI base, the brand new Spec C was placed on a strict weight loss plan. Thinner glass, a thinner roof pores and skin and much less layers of paint, alongside an aluminium bonnet and boot lid and no underseal or sound deadening all contributed to a 70kg (154lb) weight reduction. The mannequin additionally obtained bigger wheel bearings and had its hubs modified to a 5×114.3 PCD, whereas elevated castor and a wider rear observe improved dealing with. I can’t neglect the final rally addition both: a pop-up roof vent.

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All of it sounds fairly good, proper?

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I knew I needed one, however now got here the problem of truly discovering one which ticked all the fitting containers. That’s simpler mentioned than completed contemplating the Spec C’s shortage, not to mention the truth that most have been become Group N rally automobiles or grime path or gymkhana automobiles, which is actually what they have been designed to be.

Following a couple of unsuccessful buying makes an attempt, the fitting automobile was ultimately received at a Japanese automobile public sale home. Following an arduous two month wait whereas it was shipped from Japan, the automobile – which up so far had lived its whole life in Fukuoka Prefecture – lastly arrived on the UK docks.

There’s all the time a level of uncertainty about what precisely you’ll get when shopping for a automobile sight unseen from any public sale home – mine being half a world away. We’ve all heard the horror tales of less-than-accurate public sale grading sheets and sub-standard restore work, however fortunately there have been no horrible surprises in retailer for me. The truth is, the Impreza was higher than I anticipated it to be. The timing belt had been lately modified and a stack of service receipts supported the Subaru’s total situation.

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Particularly, my automobile is a wide-track Subaru WRX STI Spec C 16-inch, which differs barely from the conventional (17-inch wheel) model. This was the mannequin devoted to gravel, and the specification it obtained mirrored that. Smaller brakes from the common WRX allowed 15-inch wheels to suit, ABS was eliminated alongside central locking, and the automobile got here fitted with the base-spec Impreza GX inside. There was little level for Subaru to specify the automobile with niceties when most purchasers can be gutting the within for a roll cage and racing tools.

To me, it was the best base for an fanatic automobile. Essentially the most pure, lightest model accessible, and uncommon with solely 103 made in 2005.

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I began with the inside, swapping out the manufacturing unit entrance seats with a pair of fixed-back Recaro Pole Positions. They’re excellent for preserving one from sliding round throughout spirited drives.

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Used JDM automobiles are infamous for have mountains of aftermarket wiring for TV/CD/MiniDisc/navigation head models and different equipment like digital toll assortment (ETC) readers. I changed this 2DIN Kenwood unit with a extra fashionable unit that options CarPlay.

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I all the time have some type of hearth extinguisher in my automobiles, however fortunately I’ve by no means had to make use of one in anger. It’s positively higher to have one and never want it, than want it and never have one. As a substitute of a cumbersome extinguisher, this time round I opted for an ultra-compact Hearth Security Stick mounted in straightforward attain from the driving force’s seat.

The actual fact my Spec C got here fitted with chunky snow tyres made it obvious the automobile was used year-round in Japan. Respectable 16-inch rubber could be laborious to come back by as of late, however the Dunlop SP SportMaxx RTs I’ve since fitted have confirmed their value as a effective summer time efficiency tyre.

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I then changed the entrance brake rotors, brake traces, pads and fluid. OE rotors and Venture Mu HC800+ pads have been deemed the fitting stability of cold and warm efficiency, noise and dirt.

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Extra upkeep adopted within the type of an engine oil change and changing the STI panel filter with a Ramair equal.

One factor the Spec C didn’t include – that may be good – are Xenon headlights. To provide the halogen models the greatest likelihood at casting first rate gentle, I gave them a sand and polish.

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It was at this level that, by pure likelihood, I bumped into an proprietor of a white GDB WRX STI whereas out for a drive one afternoon.

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Parking the automobiles collectively, the STI was visually extra aggressive, however I’ve grown keen on my Spec C’s understated appears to be like. It’s sort of a ‘if you recognize, you recognize’ factor.

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Regardless of having no intentions of driving the automobile over winter when British roads are coated with salt, the shortage of beneath seal and seam sealer necessitated some type of safety.

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After many hours of cleansing and encapsulating any floor rust, the underside and any cavities have been sprayed with Dynax-S50 anti-corrosion wax. That is by no means a enjoyable job, as a giant share of the coating finally ends up protecting you as an alternative of the automobile.

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The entire above work was completed in step with my unique plan for the Impreza – to get it to normal, then use it, work out the place upgrades are wanted, and slowly develop it to be a extra succesful and gratifying automobile. Utilizing it was a major focus, and I took the Subaru on every little thing from brief drives to multi-day highway journeys.

Right here within the UK we’re fairly lucky to have an abundance of fine roads. Among the highway surfaces aren’t nice, however for essentially the most half it doesn’t detract from the general expertise.

The Welsh countryside particularly has numerous roads that carry a excessive diploma of enjoyment, however there’s a disclaimer to this all: Pragmatism and being respectful means extra of us can get pleasure from them. The Evo Triangle – a well-known three-road loop – has, over the previous couple of years, been overrun by lovers who’ve much less consideration for the native neighborhood than they need to have. Unsurprisingly, this has resulted in an elevated police presence, extra irate residents, and even common pace cameras on some roads. Rant over.


Fortunately although, there are a lot of roads extra off the crushed path to be loved. North Wales for a couple of days with pals in a Porsche 911 GT3 and Aston Martin Vantage V8 was vastly gratifying. The additional floor clearance and narrower width of the Subaru was positively useful down a number of the roads.

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I like preserving my automobiles clear, and a comparatively new technique of cleansing we’ve all seen getting used of late is dry ice blasting. Eager to see the advantages for myself, a session was booked with Tom, aka TheBlastSmith, to clear the engine bay.

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This sort of blasting is way much less aggressive than vapour or media blasting. As a media, dry ice pellets evaporate immediately upon impacting the floor they’re directed at, the one residue left behind being grime on the ground to comb up afterwards. An enormous diesel-powered compressor supplies Tom’s blaster with round 300 cubic ft per minute of compressed air (for reference, a standard store compressor supplies round 15cfm) to shoot the dry ice out the nozzle at over 100psi.

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Tom defined that the more serious the automobile is to start out with, the larger the distinction and subsequently the extra spectacular the outcomes. It’s laborious to convey in photographs simply what a distinction it made in my Subaru’s engine bay, and I don’t assume these outcomes may have been achieved by scrubbing and brushing. Within the area of just some hours, the dry ice managed to get oil and grime out of even the tightest areas. Dry ice blasting generally is a expensive course of, however as a one-off, I feel it’s completely value it. The engine bay is again to close new.

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Profiting from the 2023 UK summer time, I made one other journey to Wales, this time a one-day affair with my pal Rob in his Renault Mégane RS. Each automobiles have comparable energy and weight, which meant we may maintain a reasonably regular tempo.

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This a part of Wales affords gorgeous vistas and no scarcity of photograph alternatives. However being one of many hottest days throughout a freak heatwave, my engine oil acquired fairly heat. Peaking at 130°C (266°F) in high-load, low-speed conditions was a bit greater than I’d have preferred, so an exterior oil cooler is certainly on the playing cards.

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Many a bug met their destiny on the journey which necessitated a radical post-drive clear. When you could have white wheels and aggressive brake pads there’s some further work to be completed.

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The spirited driving additionally referred to as for a brake calliper refresh. Utilizing compressed air and blocking three pistons at a time, it was a very simple course of to pop the pistons out to resume the seals earlier than bleeding once more. The passenger facet entrance hub had additionally began to rumble, so a brand new OE one was fitted.

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For these of us within the Northern Hemisphere, gritted roads and miserable climate are upon us but once more. Whereas I’ve grand plans for the automobile – suspension, bigger brakes (which is able to necessitate a bigger wheel/tyre package deal) and a dyno session to get the automobile mapped for UK gas – these will all are available time and certain after numerous hours of analysis. I don’t wish to make the automobile undriveable for any size of time.

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I can attest to this with my AE86, which has sat for a complete of 12 years; 5 in my possession. The rebuild course of is nicely underway and the shell is presently being repaired and painted. However that’s a narrative for subsequent time…

Chaydon Ford
Instagram: chaycore

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