Chris Dunbar's 2006 STi has 24-carat gold-plated HRE wheels. We'll give you a second to let that sink in. Whether or not it was intentional, giving these forged beauts the Midas touch was the perfect way to sum up the essence of this Impreza – serious performance in a sweet candy shell.
Creating an automobile of this distinction takes vision, planning and an uncompromising attitude. But more than anything, it takes some seriously deep pockets – Chris estimates the cost of this build to be upwards of $110,000.
We first spotted this hard-to-miss Scooby under the Falken tent at Irwindale Speedway back in October. Even with the excitement of Formula Drift and a whole parking lot full of racecars and immaculate show cars, it stood out like a supermodel in a sea of cows. When we ran into it a second time at SEMA, we came to our senses and tracked down Chris, who agreed to let us shoot the car at Subaru of Las Vegas.
The exterior of the STi, with its lustrous Corvette ZR-1 Jetstream Blue paint, is the first thing you notice. SoCal's Mobworks did the color change and designed a custom wide body for the car. Under the hood, the factory rain tray was removed and the firewall was pushed back four inches until it was flush with the windshield. A completely new sheet metal firewall was fabbed up and shaved, along with the tubs for the inner fenders, which were necessary to clear the foot-wide wheels. Mobworks also shaved the trunk for a smooth, clean look.
Zero/Sports provided a full Time Attack kit and Seibon supplied the carbon fiber hood, trunk and front fenders. Aerocatch recessed latches keep the new hood and trunk secure. A carbon fiber roof was sourced from L'aunsport and Chris also picked up a set of APR's carbon fiber side mirrors. The rear diffuser is a custom aluminum piece and the tail lights are from a 2004-2005 STi. Even the windshield wipers have been upgraded with JDM blades from Syms. An air jack system from AP/Brando allows Chris to easily raise and lower the car without damaging the body kit.
As mentioned above, the gilded 18x12” wheels are a set of forged, 3-piece HRE 590R models with a +30 mm front and +25 mm rear offset. Ridiculously wide, 315/30R18 Falken Azenis RT615K competition rubber provides the grip, and a set of Kics R40 lugs secure the wheels to the hubs.
Behind all this bling is something even more baller – an $8600 MOV'IT brake kit with billet calipers. The super-lightweight calipers (6-piston front, 4-piston rear) grip 2-piece, 380 mm carbon-ceramic rotors at all four corners. Custom stainless braided lines and ceramic pads ensure consistent stops.
Stance GR+ Pro three-way-adjustable, monotube coilovers with remote reservoirs and pillowball mounts were selected for handling duties. Chris then installed polished JDM STi control arms, a Prodrive billet strut bar and Unabomber's Sexy Rear End Kit. Whiteline also provided a plethora of upgrades – 27 mm adjustable front and rear sway bars, an anti-lift kit, a bump steer kit and a full suspension bushing kit. Kartboy's front and rear end links and rear differential bushings were picked to complete the suspension.
The keystone of this build is a high-performance Cosworth EJ257 long block with a billet crankshaft, fully balanced and blueprinted up to 10,500 rpm. The heads are ported, polished and loaded with 278/280 cams and oversized (+1 mm) valves to further improve breathing – the intake side are stainless steel and the exhaust side are sodium-filled inconel. Titanium springs and retainers allow the valve train to withstand higher revolutions.
Chris installed a harmonic dampener from AR Fabrication to reduce torsional vibration and a Kartboy Engine Pitch Mount to stabilize the flat-four. A Power Enterprises Kevlar timing belt and Cosworth billet timing belt guide prevent the motor from self-destructing, while a Cosworth high-volume oil pump keeps everything properly lubricated. P&L stainless braided power steering and AVCS lines provide additional durability and a Crawford air/oil separator removes any oil vapor from the crankcase. Chris also chose to employ a Process West oil cooler setup for even more robustness. All the factory rubber hoses were upgraded with silicone replacements from FUKU Works, Mishimoto and Samco.
A twin-scroll manifold and up pipe from the metallurgical masters at Full-Race supply exhaust to a twin-scroll Garrett GT4088R ball-bearing turbocharger. Dual 44 mm V-band wastegates from TiAL maintain consistent boost pressures. An obscenely large, four-inch downpipe routes post-turbo exhaust into a one-off, titanium system by Full-Race, also four inches. A Burns Stainless titanium muffler provides the finishing touch.
As if this wasn't enough, because it never is, Chris installed a $2,600 Corsa Veloce Track Version rotated intake manifold and billet fuel rail setup – the only one in the United States. This manifold allows for the significantly shorter intake plumbing found in the Process West V-Mount intercooler/radiator system. Paired with two Spal radiator fans, this high-efficiency cooling system effectively sheds the waste heat of 600 hp, keeping temperatures right where they should be. Another unique feature on this car is the prototype drive-by-wire throttle body from Hypertech – Chris tells us it's the only one in existence. Between shifts, a custom Process West TiAL Q bypass valve purges the intake pipes.
Handling ignition and fueling is an AEM EMS tuned by Tim Bailey, founder and president of Cobb Tuning / Surgeline. Twin Bosch 044 external fuel pumps and a Walbro 255 in-tank pump supply fuel from a TurboXS surge tank to 2,200-cc injectors from Injector Dynamics. An Aeromotive regulator keeps the fuel pressure steady at all times, while NGK iridium plugs provide the spark. After a mild break-in tune, the STi put down 540 whp at 20 psi on pump gas.
Replacing the factory 6-speed is a custom Andrewtech transmission with PPG helical gearsets (1-4), upgraded synchros and a billet shift selector. A Kartboy short-throw shifter with bushings allows Chris to change gears with a flick of his wrist. Ensuring the power makes it to the wheels is a Carbonetics twin-plate clutch and flywheel combo. The Driveshaft Shop's Stage 5 front and rear axles found their way onto the car, as did a carbon fiber driveshaft from ACPT. What drivetrain would complete without some Cusco parts? Chris chose a 1-way front and 1.5-way rear limited-slip differential for even more asphalt-shredding traction.
As expected, the interior of this STi is just as sick as the rest of the car. For starters, the headliner, A, B and C pillars are all suede, as well as the Key!s steering wheel, which is mounted with a flip-up Works Bell GTC ball lock system. Chris did all the flocking on the dash and console himself, and everywhere else you look there is (surprise!) more carbon fiber – Arai Motorsports door panels, WRC floor pans and a rear firewall, parcel shelf and seat delete from Rallytech.com. A NASA-approved SPEC eight-point chromoly roll cage with door bars and additional gusseting keeps everyone safe while stiffening up the chassis.
The front seats have been replaced with a set of –you guessed it – carbon fiber Bride Vorga II buckets in the "Gradation” color scheme. Takata racing harnesses keep Chris and his passenger firmly planted in the comfy seats. Zero/Sports shifter and e-brake boots further spruce up the cabin, and a JDM gauge cluster houses Prosport boost, EGT and oil pressure gauges. AEM's UEGO wideband gauge clearly displays the lambda reading, while a Turbosmart Eboost2 controller lets Chris dial in the boost pressure.
For audio and in-car entertainment, a Sony XAV70BT head unit with LCD rearview mirror monitor and camera was installed. A five-channel SS5 amplifier, three 15-inch 1508SC subwoofers and four component speaker sets from Digital Designs were selected to provide the high-fidelity Chris was looking for. An Optima yellow top battery guarantees there will always be enough juice to power the electronics.
So what's next for Chris? As we speak, the car is being parted out to fund his next endeavor – a 2009 Nissan GT-R build. As he explained it, "There comes a point in a show car's life when you cannot do anything else and you get bored with the platform. I've accomplished everything I set out to with this car and it's been through three build phases.” We're just glad we got the chance to check this truly one-of-a-kind Subaru before it was too late.