Someday I want to buy a GC8 and build something like the RCM Gobstopper.
One of my all time favorites and still competing after all these years.
Photo courtesy of Rich Sams.
I communicate pretty regularly with a number of veteran Subaru owners – guys who have been in the game for upwards of a decade. One thing we all seem to agree on is that the community is dead. It’s a harsh statement but one that’s undeniably true. I base my views primarily on the parts market or lack thereof. It’s become harder than ever to buy new parts for the various iterations of the Impreza, especially the GC and GD. If you’re trying to do the JDM thing, good luck.
As more Japanese companies pull out of the US, it’s a grim reminder that people have moved into other cars or out of the community entirely. The BRZ was a nice blip on the radar, especially for those seeking more aggressive wheel options for the unrelenting 5×100 bolt pattern. However the BRZ has in no way captured the market or the interests of Subaru aficionados, quite the same way the FR-S has.
The Impreza has become dated and with Subaru out of the WRC, it’s tuned variants are becoming increasingly irrelevant in this new era of paddle-shifters and energy recovery systems. Someday we can only hope that the Impreza will share a similar affinity to classics like the Hakosuka and S30 Z. In the meantime, I only see the car’s popularity dwindling.
It’s a grim outlook, but in many ways an optimistic one because I still love my WRX as much as I did the day I got it in 2005. It’s a car that’s gotten so far under my skin that I may never be able to part ways with it. In the meantime there are still exciting Imprezas out there – granted their harder to find, but they still exist. There’s also the exciting news of the WRX Concept and Subaru’s desire to continually produce AWD rally-inspired cars. Maybe someday we’ll see a return to the Impreza’s former glory in the WRC. For now we hold onto the memories.
A few weeks ago, I posted about the UK-only STi RB5. The car is essentially an upgraded GC8, in honor of Richard Burns’s return to the SWRT.
The other day I came across this lightly modded example.
Judging by that sheet of paper on the rear window, this car was for sale at some point.
It’s easy to understand why so many consider the GC8, to be Subaru’s best iteration of the Impreza. I mean look at the thing! Even by today’s standards, it’s a thing of beauty; with so much character. The RB5′s biggest selling point, has to be that pristine shade of Steel Blue Mica.
The European and Japanese markets are no strangers to special edition versions of cars. Nearly every manufacturer offers various trim and performance packages, for specific markets. The US has never been a market, that gets much attention in this area. Foreign auto manufacturers perceive us, as daft corn farmers, who wouldn’t appreciate the subtle differences, of a limited production model. That’s not to say our own government isn’t to blame as well. We’ve always forced foreign auto manufactures, to make special tweaks to their vehicles, to meet our anal emissions and safety regulations.
The UK on the other hand is the complete opposite. They’ve been getting the good stuff for years, especially when it comes to Subarus. It’s one of the brand’s biggest markets and as a result, a slew of special edition models and performance packages, have been sold there. 1999 marked the return of Richard Burns, to the Subaru World Rally Team and to commemorate the occasion, they released the Impreza STi RB5. The “RB” of course being Burns’s initials and 5, his starting number.
The original brochure photo.
The RB5 started life as a standard UK-type, Subaru Impreza STi and was then given a facelift by Prodrive. The standard trim is mostly looks, including a special coat of Steel Blue Mica paint. The car is dressed in special edition RB5 decals, with blue alcantara bathing the interior trim.
The RB5 features a unique set of Speedline 6-spoke wheels and Pirelli P Zero tires. A Prodrive short shifter and suspension, rounds out the package.
The WR Sport Performance Package, was also available, as an optional extra and included a larger STi rear wing, upgraded intercooler piping, a Prodrive exhaust and tuned ECU.
Some of you may be rolling your eyes at this point and thinking “big deal”.
I like this car because it’s something different, a departure from the norm. In an age where everyone’s car looks the same, it’s all about the details. The RB5 commemorates one of Subaru’s all time great WRC drivers, Richard Burns, who died much too soon.
I love people’s passions and hobbies. Who chooses to buy this car, over a standard Impreza and why? These are the kinds of stories that really intrigue me. I’m a lover of all things Subaru and very envious of the UK market, who have always gotten the cream of the crop, after Japan. Steel Blue Mica is a fantastic color, wouldn’t you say?
Photos courtesy of Steve Coulter Performance Cars.
First off, apologies for the lack of updates the last couple of months. I’ve been averaging about 2-3 new posts a week, which is way down from the usual daily updates. Despite that, people are still flocking to the blog, so I must be doing something right!
I’ve been pretty caught up with Formula 1 coverage lately. There’s been some great discussion on the last couple of races. If you’re feeling out of the loop, check out the comments sections of the last few races.
Despite the Formula 1 obsession, I’m still very much into Subarus. My good friend picked up an STi a couple months ago. He’s new to Subarus, so it’s been great helping him out with his car. It’s hard when your friends pick up the same car as you. I can’t help but be “overly” opinionated on what he does with it.
I just finished a couple Throwback Thursdays posts in advance. I’ve slacked the last couple weeks, so look out for those. I’m also interested in doing some more car features. I get a lot of e-mails from people who really seem to enjoy them. If you’re a Subaru owner (or not) and are interested in getting onto the blog. Send me an e-mail!
I can’t believe it’s already June! This year has been flying by and it’s been interesting to see the change in things. Wekfest is happening as we speak and I couldn’t be bothered to go. The car show thing is really on a different level these days. Whatever happened to hanging out in parking lots chatting about your engine bays?
Anyway, keep an eye out for more updates and as always, your support is appreciated!
Photo courtesy of Matt Woods Photography.
If there’s one event in Japan where you’re likely to find the best from Subaru and Mitsubishi, it has to be Hyper Meeting.
Hyper Meeting has been going on since 2002 and is a mainstay for tuning shops, wanting to showcase their latest offerings, for the Impreza and Evolution models. Tsukuba Circuit plays host and features vendor booths, drifting demos and time attack events, for both privateers and tuning shops a like. As with most things Subaru-related on A Class, we’re going to take a trip down memory lane. Lets be honest, things where just better back in the day; in this case 2003.
While rally builds tend to be more popular in Europe, Japan has also been known to keep the tradition alive. WRC replicas are a common sight at Hyper Meeting and L’AUNSPORT is well known, for their WRC-style body kits. I say style very loosely because the word tends to refer to cheap replicas, but that isn’t the case here. L’AUNSPORT are some of the best in the business and offer full carbon aero kits for the entire Impreza lineup. Naturally the bugeye looks the best in WRC trim.
A GDB WRC replica and the C-West GDA demo car. I’ve never been a fan of the C-West headlight covers or that front grill, but the bumper has grown on me over the years.
Engine bay from the BOZZ Speed GDB, easily one of my favorite Imprezas ever. To the right is the Toyama K-One Spec-C Impreza. The car was primarily used for Gymkhana.
The long forgotten Aqua GDB. Unfortunately Aqua is no longer around; another casualty in the war against knock offs. Prova however, is still alive and well. Above is their Super Taikyu front bumper, on the shop’s GDB demo car.
Engine bays of the Stillway GDB and the Shinonome Super Autobacs BE5 Legacy.
It’s impossible to have a conversation about Imprezas and Time Attack, without mentioning Zero/Sports. Next to JUN they’re probably the most well known of all the Japanese Subaru tuners. They’ve been a fixture at Hyper Meeting since the beginning. Their BTZ201 GDA hit the track, while a demo car displaying their latest front bumper (circa 2003), stays at the booth. The bumper would eventually be fitted to Zero/Sports’ BTZ301-R; a car which would end up having a slew of mechanical problems, including a blown transmission at Tsukuba Super Battle.
For me, the greatest GDA of them all. JUN’s Super Lemon Impreza, the brainchild of Mr. Koyama himself. My long standing obsession with this car runs deep. It’s considered one of the greats and not just by Subaru standards. I believe the car’s best time around Tsukuba was 56:59.5, which put it in the same territory as the Cyber Evo and some of the more recent RX-7s. I believe the car was sold to a private owner and last I heard, it was being stored in a shipping container in the Caribbean. Maybe one day it will resurface because that’s a terrible fate, for such an important car.
This year’s Hyper Meeting is being held in a little over 2 weeks, on April 8. I’m excited to see the turnout, but can almost guarantee none of the cars above will be in attendance. While most of the focus will be on Imprezas and Evos, I’ve got a feeling a few BRZs may turn up as well.
The Garage KM1 GC8. I love this car.
Garage KM1 is now hiring, visit their website and apply. You can finally live out that dream of being a JDM grease monkey.
Photo courtesy of KM1 Sports.
Here’s a car you never see anymore, the Mature GC8 Impreza.
I’ve always liked this car a lot. The Mature GC8 is a little over the top by today’s standards, but that’s kind of why this car is appealing. Most tuning shops aren’t even building demo cars like this anymore.
When it comes to the GC8 and exterior styling, I’m all about OEM. But as far as aftermarket kits go, Mature produces one of the best. Their front and rear bumpers look particularly good on this car. I’m not really feeling those RacingHart wheels though.
Photos courtesy of Nihon Car & Bike.
I’m not going to bother going into the specifics of why this car is great. You should just know by looking at it.
This is really the quintessential Subaru Impreza. It’s a GC8, which most people still consider to be the best Impreza chassis of them all. It has a 22b kit (sans wing), which most people still consider to be the best Impreza variant ever produced. It’s World Rally Blue on gold wheels, which most people consider to be the most essential color combination on a Subaru.
I guess I’ve just explained why this car exemplifies perfection. I’m also 90% sure it drove by me in LA, last week.