Car Feature>> Ken Block, The Subaru, & The Sea

In most motorsports from around the world, the first attraction is the
cars and the technology behind them. Here is a car that needs no
introduction. This is a car that seemingly defies physics under the
hands of its driver. This is no infomercial, display of driving
prowess, or showmanship. This is a car that has been absolutely
overshadowed by something much greater than the actual car itself –the
driver, Ken Block.

I’m going to have to admit that I was not a fan of this car before I
was given the opportunity to shoot it. Seeing what magical things this
car can do from watching the infamous Gymkhana 1, 2 and the biblically
epic Top Gear segment was great. But, having grown up on seeing the
likes of Colin McRae or Richard Burns’ WRC Subarus or even the modern
day WRC Citroen of Sebastian Leob, Ken Block’s Gymkhana Subaru seemed
soulless in comparison.

But how was I wrong….

The Subaru may be powered by a built race boxer engine, but this man is where the true heart, power, and soul of the car lies.

At first glance, this car looks like a basically stock 2009 Subaru STI,
lowered with some wheels and a bunch of stickers thrown on. But this
car’s body is far, far from stock. Carbon fiber has been used in as
many places as possible to bring the weight of the car down. The roof
is carbon fiber, as with the hood and doors. The wing, wing mirrors,
dashboard and roof scoop are also made from carbon fiber! A lexan rear
window was also used. This build is as serious as it gets!

When I was asked by Rod to shoot this car with Ken Block, I immediately
thought of the Salton Sea in the south east part of California. I
apologize for a brief, and potentially boring, history lesson about the
Salton Sea. So, for those of you that aren’t familiar with the Salton
Sea, the sea used to be the place to go to in California for
vacation in the during the early part of the 1900s. The sea has three
rivers feeding it constantly, but there is no outlet for the water! So
over time, the sea became saltier and saltier as the water evaporated
and the minerals had no where to go. This resulted in most of the fish
population dying, and their bodies washing up on the shore. The dank
smell of hundreds upon hundreds of decaying fish permeates the air. As
the sea got saltier, tourist numbers plummeted, towns and business were
abandoned. Presently, the area of the Salton Sea is a mere skeleton of
what it was before. Blighted homes, cafes, and gas stations line the
surrounding area. And so the thought of the Salton Sea as a location to
shoot this car and Ken seemed like a perfect match –and really, it

Here’s Ken doing what he loves best along the shore the sea.

The weather during the day of the shoot was hovering around 108 degrees
Fahrenheit with a humidity of 45%. Imagine being in those temperatures
when you’re in a full dress suit! But oh how cool and collected Mr. Block looks
sitting on his car with that suit and those shades…

The flared STI fenders house a pair of custom Volk TE37s. I do love the highlighter yellow stripes…

Pure bad-assery.

Here’s Ken doing what he loves best –again. And yes, he did get sand on his suit!

I just love how the exterior body of the car looks basically stock. No
need for the panache and flare of a body kit! The loud, but well
designed livery, fills the job of adding the visual drama.

This is a SR5 2.6L race engine built and tuned by Crawford performance.
It is pushing roughly 650 horses to the four wheels! The neon yellow
tubes greatly improves the aesthetic quality of the, not so pretty,
boxer engine.

Ken Block’s office cubical is simple, modern, and is definitely
designed for maximum productivity! You need the best of office supplies
when you’re rocking out sideways most of the time. He sits at his desk
with a custom pair of Recaro carbon Kevlar bucket seats, and is
complimented by a pair of Willians seat belts. The computer in his
cubical is not a Dell or an HP, but a Motech M800 with digital dash

Ken Block’s cubical also comes with a built in jungle gym.

As I’ve said earlier, did not like how this car looked before. But as I
took more and more photographs of the car, it became apparent to me
that this a real cool car. The livery’s corporate in-your-faceness was my first
initial turn off to the car, but if you can somehow ignore it and just
look at from an aesthetic standpoint, it is fantastic. The color scheme
of the white, black, and highlighter yellow is a great reminder to
another great race car, the Formula1 2009 BrawnGP car.

The Salton Sea really is a barren wasteland. It reminds me greatly of the post-apocalyptic world of the Fallout videogames.

The Salton Sea is excruciatingly hot during the day, but as the sun
ducked behind the mountains, the temperature started to slightly drop,
and the colors of the late afternoon started to show. After a day in
the blistering sun, with the smell of decay, and flies hovering around
your every move, the sea showed its beauty –and so did Ken Block’s

Block’s gymkhana car and it’s twin rally car will definitely go down in
motorsport history as an all time great. Will it be remembered as
warmly as the Lancia Stratos, Ford’s RS200, the 555 Impreza Rally cars,
or the Gruppe-B monsters? It may or may not. But as of right now, this
is a car and driver that has rocketed far beyond 15 minutes of fame and
straight into stardom.

-Linhbergh Nguyen



DC Shoes

Ken Block #43

Crawford Performance

The Salton Sea

Special July AWD Features

Complete Spec List:

Custom built by the Crawford / Skunkworks team

Engine / Engine bay:
– CP SR5 2.65L race engine
– CP billet 84mm stroker crankshaft
– Pauter billet Long rods, CP spec
– J/E forged pistons, CP spec
– Subaru “Gold” STI rod bearings
– Subaru STI main bearings
– Subaru STI piston rings
– Subaru STI head gaskets
– Subaru STI 10mm oil pump
– Subaru STI camshafts
– Subaru STI intake manifold
– CP High flow water pump
– CP Race prepped cylinder heads
– CP Fuel rails with stainless steel lines
– CP rotated twin scroll turbo kit with Garrett ball bearing turbo
– Subaru twin scroll headers
– ARP head studs, CP spec
– Tial 44 wastegate
– CP cold air intake
– K/N air filter
– CP front mount intercooler
– CP Air oil separator
– CP Fuel swirl pot
– CP Radiator tank
– CP custom radiator
– CP oil cooler
– CP stainless steel exhaust with dual CP Megaphones
– Bosch fuel pump and fuel injectors
– E85 fuel

– Tein Super Racing Coilovers, custom valved for Gymkhana
– Tein springs
– Cusco swaybars
– CP custom front hubs
– CP custom tie rods
– CP custom front A arms
– CP alignment and setup

– 2009 Subaru STI
– CP carbon fiber roof, 7lbs
– CP carbon fiber hood
– FIA legal roll cage supplied by Vermont Sports Car
– STI carbon fiber roof scoop
– STI front lip
– Prodrive carbon fiber wing
– Prodrive carbon fiber OEM wing cover
– Prodrive carbon fiber dash
– Syms carbon fiber mirrors
– Syms carbon fiber door panels
– Recaro carbon / kevlar seats, customized for Ken Block
– CP Lexan rear window
– Willans seat belts
– Sparco steering wheel
– Tinted windows
– Stickers by RallyGrafix
– Paint by Patrick Flynn’s Auto Body

Drive train:
– KAPS six speed dog box
– STI short through shifter
– Exedy triple carbon clutch
– Driveshaft Shop aluminum driveshaft
– Driveshaft Shop high performance axels
– Volk TE37 wheels with custom paint
– Carbonetic front and rear carbon differentals
– BFGoodrich KDW “Smokey” tires
– Motul tranny and differential fluids

– Motec M800 ECU
– Motec SDL digital dash display
– Motec SDC center diff controller
– Motec PDM power distribution module
– Motec Knock detection system
– Motec custom wiring harness for entire car
– Motec 5 bar MAP sensor
– Engine tuning by CP
– Kenwood two way radio system
– Odyssey battery

– Brembo Gran Turismo six piston monobloc front
– Brembo Gran Turismo four piston rear
– STI brake bias controller
– Prodrive / STI hydraulic hand brake
– STI brake booster delete
– Stainless steel brake lines and fittings
– Motul RBF 600 brake fluid



Comments are closed.


by Oldest
by Best by Newest by Oldest

Amazing photography, is there actually somebody in the sea in the second to last picture?


great feature. Block is the man!!!


I love the photographs! :)


Great feature on 2 great characters. Both the car and the driving are equally as impressive.


All this pics are amazing!!! The first one and the last one in wallpaper!!!

Linbergh and Block rule!!


I absolutely love Ken and the car. Can we please get some wallpapers out of this? The first wide shot or the one of him walking away from the car would suit my screen perfectly :P


Linhbergh Nguyen & Ken Block.... ohhh!! what a combination. All the photos are automotive hardcore porn...


Simply awesum shots from Linhbergh Nguyen just as usual!

4th last shot for desktop, please (the one with red sky and headlights turned on). Loving the mood of it -never-defeated champ riding home late hours using public roads after winning the battle!


YEAH!! good job lihn once again! Is the Salton Sea open for everyone still I wonder :\


Great article. You should have linked to that youtube video that details the building process of the car. It's at


Rally car + man in suit = doesn't fit at all. This is not a James Bond car!


Last pic = duh wallpaper!


Best. Feature. Evaaar. [/Comic book guy]


amazing driver, amazing car, and amazing photographs!


Great shots as usual ! wow


Cool write up. But sadly, the images are uninspiring and the concept... For a lack of a better word, corny. I was expecting more... Oh well.


Wallpaper please.......awesome feature too...


Kebn Block's a Legned, and so are Subaru Impreza's.....winning Combo!!!


AWESOME !! Lin, you did it again !


i'm about to cry.... these pictures are amazing...


"this is a car and driver that has rocketed far beyond 15 minutes of fame and straight into stardom."

Too bad it cant rocket itself and its driver into a successful rally season against opponents who are driving cars that are prepared to a similar level.


Hooooooooly crap. Linh, you're amazing. Have we ever had a feature where all the pictures were made into one epic desktop pack? No? I think this is it.


Great feature! I've been waiting for it.


Ken Block is my hero. Period. (Really, the only American driver that I look up to, even though his rally career is young and unimpressive.) Man still looks great for being 41 AND only been racing for four years or so. Gives this 21 year old some hope of a future chance to drive and drive well. :) Amazing pictures, kudos!


86-2rbo: They're photography buddies of mine that came with me to assist with the shoot. They've given me full permission. Don't worry!

Mike: I'd love to hear some your ideas to somehow make this shoot much more spectacular in your eyes. I'm always open for suggestions and new ideas. I'm no master photographer that everyone makes me out to be...

Everyone else, thanks for your comments! I appreciate it. Wallpapers will be coming soon!


Great coverage, Linh.


Wow, Linhbergh you outdid yourself!


Another flabbergasting artical Linhbergh Nguyen. I am astonished that you guys actually got to interview Ken Block considering he is an actual celebrity. You guys never cease to amaze me. The only site I make popcorn for.


Great feature! And beautiful photography and location, well done.


I love Monster M-80.


Is anyone else surpised that this car doesn't have a full fire suppression system?


This car looks seriously stunning, and never in my life I thought I'd say this is one of the most impressive GRB Impreza I've seen. Ken looks like a true badass in his suit uh!

Just I don't like the color combo in the engine bay; might be better :D


Great article, car and driver, but im sorry, you cant compare a one off performance car to the likes of the legendary European rally monsters that was Group B.

For Ken Block to gain any real rallying credibility he really needs to go to Europe and fight with the big boys.


fantastic coverage as usual from linh. ^_^

desktop of the 15th pic pls. ^_^


yeah. im a jack @$$.

eat me!


this car is amazing....was hanging to see a video of this tear it up on the sand..but the shots are good enough.



so many of those pics need to be desktops!!!



nxride and stray are right. sure hes a good driver but he isnt even comparable to group b drivers, hes only a legend to little rich kids that went out and bought an sti cuz they saw his infomercials. he needs to go to wrc so he falls off that high horse


if ken block is so great then how come he dosnt race in wrc? i think that this car and ken block are nothing at all compared to group b rally, i think its a shame you would even compare him to group b rally and i bet have of ken block fans dont even know what group b rally was




There needs to be some wallpapers from this shoot! Great photography i reckon.


Best Cover Ever!- good job, very detailed GREAT Pics.


I think this is a great Impreza but it nothing compared to the Prodrive built WRC Impreza that used by the Subaru World Rally Team, Some things that set the WRC car apart are the $30,000 gear box and a 2.0 engine that outputs 300bhp and 400 ft/lbs or torque. Very cool Impreza though.


Amazing shoot and write up, stunning.


Ken Block is a clown, period ! I've never seen a true-rally driver seeking for more media coverage than Ken Block !

For those of you that think that Ken Block is the sh!t, get over yourself.

Real rally drivers (or any professional driver for that matter), don't need so much coverage; let that alone a fruitcake engine bay like Block's STi.

In motorsports #'s and only #'s count...and Ken Block got nothing.

Ken Block in NOT a talented driver, he's a filthy rich-business man that has enough funds to race rally, that's all.

I would LOVE to see Ken Block in a real WRC competing against REAL rally say his ass would get whopped would be an understatement.

This clown should go back to sell his shoes already.


I liked the older Gymkhana Subaru better than this one. What happed to that older Subaru anyways? Did Crawford or Ken sell the older Gymkhana Subaru?


I liked the older Gymkhana Subaru better than this one. What happed to that older Subaru anyways? Did Crawford or Ken sell the older Gymkhana Subaru?


Stunning photography.

Bring on the haters! INTERNETZOR WARZ! Grow up people,

Block is the co-owner of DC and from a media background, hands down to man for a brilliant marketing concept.

It's clear this guy loves to have fun, and has utilised the marketing oppertunity after the success of the first gymkhana video! People who think he's a tallentless tool, i say go back to you pc at your desk in your bedroom and look at what your doing!

Rant over lol!



Amazing photoset! Like wow! I appreciate the Impreza the more I look at it. I just love the interior - or lack of one also! Fallout 3 is good haha ;)


Better photography than in many magazines! Great stuff.

A rival mechanic told me Block's (rally) car is worth around $250,000. His cars are all highly modified. Subaru Rally Team Canada's cars are able to still fit stock parts in a pinch. Not Block's.

Crawford performance deserves a Speedhunters feature all to themselves I think . . .


Chris Cummins is pretty much correct. Ken Block certainly has various talents, but rally-wise, he is a rich dude with good marketing skills having some fun. Which is fair enough. He rallied in NZ for a while & couldnt match the best of the part-timers there, so talk of needing to prove anything against any WRC pro's is a bit daft. The car is nice enough, but to compare it to pedigree'd rally classics is also a bit on the screwy side...


DC edition te37s???????


i wish i could have gone with you! i love the business attire throwback to the matt powers article. ;)


I am French and I love Ken Block.He is a very good driver and his Subaru is great.(i Speak englisha little)^^.


one word.... WALLPAPER


Ken Block is of the best drivers in the world!! Love the pics and write up. Great photography!


only Lihnberg could get Ken in a suit , and then stick him in a barren wasteland of dirt , and make him look so good.


Lindbergh's photos are always great. I'm a huge fan of his work. As for Ken - he makes good shoes and enjoys his driving. Why hate? He's hardly setting the world on fire as a rally driver, but then he's no slouch either. He's bringing a smile to a lot of faces with these videos though as he's a great entertainer.

It would be cool to see a feature on all his Subarus - the Camo STIs for the Gumball, the white pin striped one lap car (my favourite) and the later ones.


Why do people say he is the best driver in the world. The guys that see Ken Block sucks had it right. I am not hating but it is what it is. Ken Block is not a good rally driver and his gymkhana skills do not prove anything if he can't use those skills in a real rally. He even said it himself that he can't keep up with the pwrc drivers. When people think of Rally and Subaru, people should be thinking of Colin McRae, Richard Burns and Petter Solberg amongst 100 other real Rally drivers, not Ken. The botton line is Rally drivers are on a diffrent level from anybody else Ken just doen't have it yet. DOn't mean to offend anybody, just laying down some facts. Awesome pictures though!


Just an FYI for any that is not aware of it...

The Impreza that was on the Top Gear Segment with Ricky Carmichael is not the same one as this GYMK2 car. It is the one he uses in Rally America and has around 320-380hp (depending on the restrictor) and runs on gravel tires. The front end is different as well. The rally car has the optional sports grill and no V-limited chin spoiler, while the GYMK2 still has the stock grill/mustache and the chin spoiler. It also has around 560whp and is set up for Tarmac.

I'm sure Mr. Block's not the best driver around, but I bet my left nut he's better than any of the haters posting here. Put someone like Burns/McRae/Solberg in the GYMK2 car and I think it could hang with the rest of the Group B cars of the 1980's. Heck it even looks like a Group B rally car! (Lancia Delta Integrale' anyone?)


[View:] Check out this video of Ken Block's WRC spec Ford