GDA

The Journey, Not The Destination

It’s not about the destination, but the journey we take to get there. No truer words could be said about Chris Fontecchio’s 2006 WRX Limited.

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Something has been happening the last few years in the Subaru community. What was once bought solely for a lack of other options has now taken on a legendary status amongst Impreza owners. The GDA was the first iteration of the WRX to be sold in America and for many, the car’s love-hate looks were a point of heated debate. Now however, the car has aged like a fine wine and the bugeye has become one of the most sought after Imprezas. As newer models have gotten chunkier and more cumbersome, the aggressive rally styling of the GDA has put it in the discussion of becoming a future classic. The thought of owning a bugeye is easy enough, but finding one that hasn’t been used and abused is another matter entirely.

What if you didn’t need to find one though, what if you just built your own? That’s exactly what Chris set out to do.

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What started life as a daily driven 2006 WRX Limited has become a track car in the making and the passion project of an owner who does things the old school way. By day, Chris is an engine tech and he’s put all of his knowledge and skill to use building the car himself.

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It’s hard work and the drive to produce a truly unique Impreza that has seen Chris’ car with 2 engine builds and a complete JDM bugeye front end conversion.

What we have here could be the ideal GD Impreza – bugeye looks with an updated interior and all the benefits of a built (2006) STI EJ257.

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Under the hood lies an EFI Logics tuned EJ257 short block with 255 heads and 257 cams. A Garrett GTX3076R aids the car in achieving 341 whp and 326 tq at 19 psi.

The attention to detail on Chris’ Impreza is truly stunning and the selection of parts even more so. It’s a conversation we’ve had time and time again on ACLASS and in this age of knockoffs, taking the time to source the real deal deserves proper admiration.

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For now the interior remains fully intact with some upgrades including a very plush Prova alcantara steering wheel which Chris calls the best mod, hands down. The alcantara trimmed, full interior may eventually give way to a roll cage as the car takes on more track day duties.

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As nice as the interior is, it’s the exterior that really sets off this Impreza’s looks. The car has been repainted with 3 coats of European WRB for a shine that’s a slightly darker than standard. To protect the new paint job, Chris has had 70% of the exterior wrapped in clear bra to prevent rock chips. Up front an STI V2 front lip has been custom molded to be seamless, while JDM side spats round off the new look. At the back, a Do-Luck carbon trunk adds subtle sportiness.

It’s the kind of exterior I love because it’s a car that truly appeals to enthusiasts. To the untrained eye, Chris’ Impreza could be just another sports sedan, but to those who know, the car is full of details waiting to be discovered.

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So where does the journey go from here? It continues forever of course. Chris will never sell the car and probably never finish it. The exterior is on pause for now while he focuses on power and handling. Despite it’s flawless condition, this is a car that gets used both on the street and at the track.

I’m always going on about the complete build – a car that perfectly blends looks with performance because one cannot exist without the other. Chris continues to succeed with this in a way few other Subaru owners are. This is a project both old and new Subaru owners can be excited about for many years to come because like wine, it will only keep getting better with age.

A big thank you to Chris Fontecchio for reaching out over Instagram and sharing his car with me! Check out the comments section for the full parts list.

Photos courtesy of Serg Rangel.

Subarus Of Instagram

My apologies for the lack of updates lately. It’s been a very busy few weeks at work, but as things settle down and the Formula 1 season gets underway, I should have a lot of new topics to discuss. Blogs seem to have taken a backseat to Instagram lately and there are certainly lots of great cars to be found on there. Here a couple Subarus I’ve been meaning to post for a while.

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@twelveam’s GDB sporting an all-black theme. I believe the car has gotten some wide fenders installed on the front since this photo was taken. Definitely one of the better looking Bay Area Subarus.

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@ih8vermont’s GDB with a bugeye front end swap and some aggressive NT03s.

Hit me up on Instagram @aclass which has been getting a lot more updates than the blog and as usual, thanks for the support!

Photos courtesy of twelveam, ih8vermont & 247 Media.

Bay Area Bugeye

Here’s something you don’t see everyday, a nicely built bugeye WRX.

I really like this build and it reminds me of many of the cars I used to lust for about 10 years ago. When it comes to bugeyes there are few better options than the STI V2 front lip and a set of JDM projector headlamps.

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This car looks to have all sorts of interesting parts, including the Ganador side mirrors and discontinued ARC intercooler.

I’m interested to learn more so if anyone reading knows the owner, let me know in the comments. I see a Speed Element sticker on the windshield – shop car? Great build and happy to see people are still doing things the good old-fashioned way!

Photo courtesy of 247 Media.

Euro-Style Bugeye

The Europeans have always been known for their unique approach to modifying Subarus. While Americans were obsessed with everything JDM, the European’s interests lied in rallying – the Impreza’s roots. The rally style has become synonymous with European-built Subarus and it’s one of my favorite approaches to modifying the car.

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While this particular GDA isn’t European, it certainly looks the part. Prodrive used to run the SWRT and they’re well represented throughout this car. Really nice build and a style that I wish we saw more of today.

Photo courtesy of iNfEk.

Twin-Turbo GDA

There have been quite a few twin-turbo Impreza builds over the years, most notably the Original Runduce GDB. However this may be the first time I’ve seen it done on a bugeye.

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The front bumper merely serves as a cover from the elements, as most of it has been gutted out to accommodate two vertically mounted intercoolers and intake filters. The turbos occupy the spaces where the car’s fog lights would normally be.

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The twin-turbo setup has been very neatly executed, leaving plenty of room in the engine bay for the upgraded fuel system.

It’s not often, but every once in a while you’ll come across a Subaru owner who’s doing something unique.

Photos courtesy of namehtcire.

Days Gone By

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.

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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.

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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.

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Simplicity Is Beauty

Gus Dizon’s WRX is no stranger to this blog and has been spotted on more than one occasion. What I’ve always loved about this car was its simplicity.

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While many aim to build the ultimate weekend warrior, Gus’ WRX is the car you’d want to drive everyday.

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So many GDA owners strive to mimic the appearance of a JDM STi (myself included), however this is a WRX that’s comfortable in its own skin. It’s not trying too hard, it’s playing to its strengths.

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The looks are aggressive, but in a more sensible way. Rather than bottoming out the suspension and running massive amounts of camber, Gus’ WRX maintains drivability. The subtle hints are still  there with Brembo brakes and meaty tires.

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It wasn’t so long ago that automotive journalists panned the GDA for it’s looks. Opinions have shifted in more recent years and like a fine wine, the Bugeye has gotten better with age. Projector headlights should’ve come as standard on every GDA.

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I was disappointed to hear that Gus decided to sell his WRX recently and hopefully it’s gone to a good home.

Some readers may wonder why I put such an emphasis on featuring daily driven Subarus and builds that weren’t created to grace the covers of tuning magazines. The reason is pretty simple: it’s about educating the current generation of Subaru owners on how the community has evolved. Hopefully some will use cars like Gus’ as inspiration for their own builds.

Photos courtesy of Gus Dizon.

Frayz’s V7 STi

UK Impreza owners have always had a special eye for tuning. The popularity of rallying and motor sports in general has had a heavy influence on the way they style their cars. It’s an approach I wish we saw more of in the US.

Frayz’s V7 STi has been around for as long as I can remember and the car has gone through a pretty extensive rebuild in the last couple of years. I’d recommend checking out his build thread if you have time.

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The execution of this Impreza is something pretty special. No aspect of the car has been left untouched and the attention to detail immense. In many respects the car alludes to some of the special edition Impreza models we’ve seen from shops like Prodrive.

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While many criticize the organized chaos that is a Suabru engine bay, there is beauty to be found here. The careful color coordination and selection of only the finest parts speaks to this car’s purpose of blending high performance with ultimate streetability.

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The same philosophy holds true in the interior.

Anyone can build a car that looks great sitting in their garage. It’s a different story entirely to build something that not only looks great but can also take whatever abuse its owner throws at it.

Photos courtesy of Frayz.

The Smurf

There’s just so much right about this 2002 WRX from Mann Engineering.

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What started life as a street driven WRX has now become a full fledged track racer.

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Some of the build’s many highlights include the 18×8 Speedline Corse Turinis and AP Racing 6-pot brake kit.

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The relatively stock looking engine bay does well to disguise the fully built 2.5L Cosworth monster lurking beneath the hood.

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The all business interior perfectly blends track and street. I love when roll cages are incorporated with a car’s stock dash and trim. Fantastic!

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The Smurf’s exterior features your usual blend of JDM STi touches with an enormous APR GTC-300 wing.

It’s funny how my tastes in modifying have changed so much over the years. This is what I lust over these days. Do yourself a favor and check out more of this awesome build on Mann’s website!

Photos courtesy of Mann Engineering.