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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


Discowagon’s Timeless STI

Who’s completely over SEMA this week? Lets get back to reality with a very clean STI on this Throwback Thursday.




The car owned by Discowagon, is yet another fine example of sticking to a formula that works. The Prodrive wheels and Varis lip are a perfect fit.




Cars like this will never go out of style.

Photos courtesy of luis3rd.

Two Sides Of The Subaru Coin

This week’s episode of /TUNED was pretty interesting and did a great job of showing the two very distinctive halves of the Subaru community.

First, there’s the Slammed Society GC8 complete with ruined fenders and Rota wheels because that’s what all HellaFlush Subarus rock. Props to the owner for doing a clean EJ25 swap, which is rendered useless because the car is bordering on undrivable. This car is pretty representative of where the Subaru community has been headed for the last 3 years.

On the other side of the spectrum, the second car is much more my speed and apparently Matt Farrah’s as well. The owner gets bonus points for the JDM EJ207 swap and seems to have an eye for quality parts – I didn’t know the Tomei made an exhaust for the GC8. This car is more along the lines of what many of us would hope to do with a GC8 build. The instant power and tuned suspension take full advantage of the car’s compact size.

This is why videos are fantastic because they tell the story you’re not seeing in photos. Perhaps the stance car looks more interesting in the NASIOC gallery, but which car do you think will put the bigger smile on your face behind the wheel? My thoughts exactly.

Video courtesy of /DRIVE.

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.


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.


The Smurf

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


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


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


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


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!


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.


A couple weeks ago, I said that I’ve been continually impressed, by some of the cars coming out of Canada lately. Jason’s GVB STi is one such car. This thing is money.

The GVB hasn’t proven to be as popular with the tuning scene, as some of the past iterations of the Impreza. I can’t see why, as the car has plenty of potential.

The Voltex wing fits the rear perfectly.

No matter which Impreza you’re looking at, the rear corner is always the car’s best angle. White on white is a tough combination to pull off properly, he’s done it.

Lots of great things going on in Canada right now. Hopefully Jason doesn’t mind me using his photos and make sure to visit his Flickr, for more shots of his STi.

Photos courtesy of Jason Hoang.

The Foz

I love a good looking Subaru Forester, especially in STi trim.

How rad is this car? I don’t think it’s an actual Forester STi. But it may be the 2.5 XT Limited, which came with the same turbocharged 2.5L as the Impreza STi. Crossover parts, like the V-Limited front lip and Brembo 4-pots, suit the car perfectly. Well done sir!

Photo courtesy of Silver_04_WRX_SC.


Love it or hate it, the hood scoop is what defines the look of a Subaru. It’s obviously not just a style thing and indeed serves a purpose. Traditionally, Subarus run top mount intercoolers. It allows for the least amount of turbo lag and is an efficient setup for the car, out of the factory. However, things become difficult when trying to run a larger turbo and in many cases, the TMIC won’t cut it.

Lots of Subaru owners (myself included) choose to run front mount intercoolers instead. While a larger core is hugely beneficial, there is a drawback: longer piping. The Blitz FMIC on my car features a maze of piping that runs up the left wheel well and underneath the block. This causes a lot of turbo lag and even my fairly small IHI VF34, doesn’t hit full boost until 4500rpm.

To combat this, many have chosen to run a rotated intake manifold.

For performance, it’s probably the most efficient setup with a FMIC and eliminates multiple feet of piping. This leaves more space in the engine bay and greatly reduces turbo lag. It’s a setup I’ve been considering for years and will eventually pursue, once my car is retired from daily duties.

It’s obviously not as easy as unbolting the intake manifold and rotating it. Custom piping will need to be fabricated and there will be fitment issues with the radiator. The Team Orange GDB (above) moved the car’s radiator to the trunk. So it’s not really the best solution for someone who’s concerned with reliability and ease of operation. But if you’re looking for the greatest amount of response coupled with the best cooling, it’s the only way to go.

For me aesthetics are also a consideration and you can’t deny that it greatly improves the look of the engine bay.

Patience Is A Virtue

We are on a constant social evolution. Technology has enabled us to receive information within seconds of an event taking place. Social networking and blogging are our new conversational outlets. Media as a whole, has become more stimulating to the senses. Everything is working to grab our attention and take hold. It’s an exciting time and everyone wants a part of it, but what’s the catch?

Our attention spans have weakened. Information comes so quickly, we expect everything to follow suit. Waiting is unacceptable, we want it now. This mentality has infiltrated every facet of our society.

Patience is a virtue possessed by few. We expect to receive everything immediately, so why would it be any different with regards to our cars? Why would anyone want to spend time saving their money or waiting months for parts to arrive?

This entire post spawned from an e-mail I got last week. V has been a longtime reader of A Class and wanted to share some pictures he took, of his friend Chris’ Subaru. Naturally, I wanted to know more. The following day I was in touch with Chris, a guy I’ve never met personally, but always admired for his beautifully constructed STi.

The philosophy behind Chris’ STi is simple, quality over quantity. After discussing some of his inspirations, it’s become pretty clear that we share a lot of the same sentiments, about our cars and the industry as a whole. I decided to ask Chris what motivated him to choose authentic, over knockoff.

My selection for authentic parts is largely rooted in the respect that I have for the industry, not just the scene. You see knockoff parts hurt the companies that invest into proper R&D, not “mass replication”. This naturally will impact the availability of parts that are available to the “scene/tuning community”. As simple as this logic is; it has proven to be exceedingly difficult for some Subaru owners to comprehend, it appears there’s only a handful that get it.

Chris approached modifying his STi with the idea that parts produced by the same manufacturer, are designed to work together.

Years ago you’d see all kinds of these builds. Guys would pick a manufacturer like HKS or Greddy and style their whole car from the company’s catalogue. How often do you see that these days? The knockoff companies we’re always talking about, certainly aren’t optimizing any of their products to work with one another.

Chris has chosen to use only the best on his STi. Apart from the obvious array of Voltex pieces, he’s running nearly everything ARC produced for the GDB Impreza. His most recent collaborator is Tomei, with whom he’s working directly.

In February, I wrote Down In Flames. It’s been the most read post I’ve ever done, since A Class started in 2008. In it, I discussed the state of things and how the “complete car” was a dying breed. Chris’ STi is the answer to that discussion. His car is everything I said cars are not today. He has taken the time to not only style the car beautifully, but to approach his build with the integrity we see so little of these days.

He’s achieved this by having patience. The patience to enjoy the car in it’s current state. Ask any car guy, no matter the level of his build, he’s never done; the car will never be finished. A project car is something that takes on a life of it’s own. It transcends the realm of being an inanimate object and becomes something we care for and cherish, as if it were a living, breathing organism. So if our cars are never finished, how can we do them the disservice of rushing their evolution? How can we be so impatient that we’re willing to sacrifice quality, to achieve immediate satisfaction?

It’s not the final destination, but the journey we take to get there. Chris is someone who understands that.

The list of parts and brands are some of the best Japan has to offer. Rather than trying to go through and discuss all of them, Chris sent me his most recently updated mods list, check it out.

If this isn’t a shining example of a complete car, I’m not really sure what is. His approach and style should serve as an inspiration to everyone who modifies cars or is interested in starting.

I’ll have owned my STi for 4 years on November 5, 2011 and I’m proud to know that taking my time has enabled me to create something different. As I had mentioned before… this wasn’t an eBay sourced build, or a car built in a year. I’ve made it a point to research each component and target the premier tuning companies to work with. You’ve got to see how each component will impact the car as a whole, not just a portion of the car. I genuinely hope that my car will serve as an inspiration to some and a motivation for others to do it right.

As you may have guessed, the car is far from finished. The installation of his Voltex Type 5V rear wing and a Tomei ARMS-7960 turbo are just some of the good things to come.

Sometimes I forget how great the automative community can be. The opportunity for 3 Subaru owners to come together and be so excited about one car is something pretty special. I’d like to thank V for supporting A Class and introducing me to Chris. He’s also provided all of the fantastic photos so make sure to visit his Flickr to see the rest. Finally a big thanks to Chris Walker, a Subaru owner who should be admired by all for his passion to do things right. He’s the real voice behind this feature.

Photos courtesy of yeloh474.