An Untypical Subaru Impreza STI
Blue Car, No Gold Wheels?

In regard to the title above, ‘typical’ will obviously depend where on this floating rock you call home.

In this part of the world, I’ve grown up looking at countless cars that were no doubt inspired by the likes of Colin McRae, Richard Burns et al. I’ve literally no issue with this; McRae in particular was and remains my motorsport hero, but it is nice to see someone take a different approach. This particular car has already enjoyed a great life of love and care, its previous incarnation featured Subaru’s famous mica blue hue and Work XD9 wheels. It was never a car that I thought needed an overhaul, but its owner obviously decided otherwise.

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It took a while for me to actually realise that it was the same car; only after a quick check of the license plate against an old photo did I make the connection. The Impreza’s transformation has been substantial, but its owner, Thomas Lacey, has retained the things from before that worked, then added to them.

Although Thomas considers the STI a show car first and foremost, it still has a pretty serious bite to its bark. In the current state of tune it’s running around 410hp and 490lb-ft, with anti-lag and launch control having also been mapped. It’s far from shy.

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It’s immediately obvious that the Subaru sits low, but Thomas has retained its drivability by upgrading to Air Lift Performance’s 3H setup so he can enjoy the best of both worlds. It sits on a set of bespoke Work Seeker FX wheels, with the centres having been colour co-ordinated with other details on the car such as the intercooler piping and the air tank which is mounted in the boot.

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The car is originally a 2003 V Limited STI JDM model that was imported to Ireland many years ago. As such, Thomas was able to start with lots of the nice JDM features, such as the front lip which he’s since added a splitter and some canards to. Behind the grill is a Perrins front-mount intercooler.

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The rear features a custom rear diffuser, a de-locked boot lid, a big-ass wing and an STI upper rear window spoiler.

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The Works, which measure 18×11-inches with an offset of -22, were a challenge to fit. The original arches beneath the overfenders had to be modified and flared to ensure the wheels would fit correctly. It’s a very aggressive setup, but anything less on this particular car would fall short, I think.

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It’s the little things that I found the most fascinating, like the rear door window vents, which are something I’d not seen before. The addition of these small details are what separate proper builds from cookie-cutter ones. It takes knowledge and perseverance to seek out these parts that one might not even realise exists. They require a genuine passion.

The interior has been suitably upgraded, if anything to match the theme on the exterior. A pair of Bride seats, Takata harnesses, a custom bolt-in cage and a deep-dish OMP wheel all feature inside.

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The boot install is simple while maintaining maximum cargo space, so the Impreza remains useful in that regard. The custom-coloured tank, two compressors and Air Lift Performance’s compact but potent 3H manifold are mounted at the back.

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Creating a show car from an Impreza STI will no doubt ruffle some feathers, but said ruffling isn’t intentional or even warranted. It’s still a 400+hp car with suspension that is perfectly capable of fast road and track driving. It’s nothing more than a wheel and tyre change away from a complete transformation back into a performance car, too, so it’s the best of both worlds.

Often though, it’s just plain nice to see something that’s a little bit different from the norm.

Paddy McGrath
Instagram: pmcgphotos
Twitter: pmcgphotos

Cutting Room Floor
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Shame about the tyres, but otherwise, pretty cool.


I'm not really in the loop but I believe the roof and window vents create a very nice air flow and can pressure the cabin. All whilst having the windows completely up and conforming to race regulations.
Pretty cool :)


Those window vents are made by Visual Autowerks in America, I saw a competition on FB where the most commented car got them developed. An "SG forester" later and we have this...


At $190/pair with screen, and for very little material cost, those are HUGE profit. Textured black HDPE of that thickness is approx $2/sqft for a 4x8 foot sheet, plus some cheap screen and a few cheap rivets, and a little time on a CNC router. So a few dollars of material, and some machine time, and some assembly time.


I think I can Homedepot DIY that for my car from those pics. Thanks for the info!


As a Subaru owner, and someone who loves Subarus of all types - McRae rally inspired or bagged frame layers; this is too all over the place for me.
For as wide as those flares make it, you don't need such a low series tire, stretched that much - esp being on air, even if this is the "show set" of wheels.
Cutting that front flare to make room for the canards, and completely negating the back half makes it look like an after-thought, and incomplete.
Also, the window vents can be purchased off some Instagram vendors, I think you get a free windshield banner and vape pen.
It looks like quality work and quality parts, great color, and certainly more punch than my STi; but the execution is just a bit off to me.


He didn't cut the flares to fit the canards. Those are Karlon flares for the 06-07 sti but he put them on a 04-05.


Yeah but the stretched tyres are like that for more tuck when it's slammed. It's just part of 'the look'.
But with the push of a button you can get all that functionality back and a clean ride height. Would probably look silly with all the wheel gap and super stretched tyres, so the proper wheels go on.

Wish Paddy was able to get a photo like that too. So we don't have to imagine it.

That being said, I'd be just as critical too and completely agree with your comment if it wasn't on air and stuck permanently like this. Would be a waste of an STI. But it can jump from showcar mode to performance mode so it's alright.


Haha I'm aware it's on bags, I mentioned it in my post?
And that all depends on your definition of "clean ride height".
Again, you can still achieve the slammed/bagged show car look, but with the flares you don't have to put bicycle tires on to have clearance - in fact it makes the ride height look worse, unless you've accommodated the chassis to roll at a low height as well.


Again, I can't break into someones car and air it up for a photo :)


Yeah, this comment x1000 - this isn't what WRX's were made for.


Just looks like every WRX in the USA. Big power + lack of function. Very well done I'm sure, but, meh.


The only thing that irks me is the stretched tyres. I have no problem with anything else.


It would only take a spare set of wheels with fat tyres to transform the car towards function. It's not a deal breaker for me.


Not trying to be a dick, but the opposite of typical is atypical. You should probably change the title of the article.

Now I'm trying to be a dick, that car is not some 16 year old's riced out honda civic. Show that car some respect, take those rubber bands you call tires off and put some real rubber on her.

Other than tires, looks great. Good job.


Untypical is also, the rarer, opposite of typical. In saying that, it was edited into the title after I submitted it.


Just a show car, a pretend race car, specious mimicking of things used in competition and the only test for such a creation is how it comes across visually. I obviously don't get it.


Correct, you don't.


As an 03 WRX owner I was interested in this car when Paddy highlighted it in the earlier post. Honestly, I'm not very impressed. It's has a mean look, 100% no doubt. Yet, where it packs over 400 HP, has a custom diffuser little things like the overfenders not matching the panel gaps/lines annoys me. What if you have to take the front bumper of?
It's a nice build, don't get me wrong, especially with the V Limited parts. And I can't comprehend why everybody hates the stretched tires so much. A lot, and I mean a awful lot of showcars have this and nobody complains about that. Thomas, if you read all the comments, don't question yourself. Let everyone shout about your car, it's a nice example. You did well. I'm jealous, I envy you, I want your car. Very well thought out package.

Does anyone have pictures of the old setup? Can't recall this car and I would like to.


This looks well finished but, as others have said, the final product is too scattershot for my tastes. I personally detest slammed Subaru's, but this car at least retains enough sensibilities to still "be" a proper Subaru: but then to put it on stretched tyres?

As a side note, as cool as it is to see built Scoobs, its a shame that a relatively rare JDM model got hacked up for this!


I think rare is a strong word, they were mass produced production cars.


If I recall correctly there were only 555 2003 V-Limited STi's produced so, versus the number of regular STi's that year, I personally consider that as rare!


Why is everyone hating on the car, I LOVE THE CAR. The execution is amazing the car looks aggressive and it does a good job of being a show car. If the owner is reading this he/she should know that at least one person likes it.


It does seems nice but to be honest it's pretty typical if you look on instagram, bolt on overfenders a few nice touches and not that powerful really. I prefer a more custom look with practical ride height and more power.


First sentence in the story :) It's definitely not typical around these parts.


"a custom bolt-in cage"

"It’s nothing more than a wheel and tyre change away from a complete transformation back into a performance car, too, so it’s the best of both worlds."

just my opinion but your wrong.. bolt in cages are not welcome at any of tracks where i am. Ive been told from the safety stewards that there are 2 main reasons the first being a false sense of confidence that bolt in cages offer the driver and the second being that bolt in cages create more objects inside the car that can impale the occupants. taking one look at the top of the b pillar i would have to agree on that one.

So the question remains, why do people bolt in cages? i don't know, my running theory is that they want to be able to return the vehicle to stock.. which given the modifications to the fenders in this case seems a bit silly to me and is a major detractor from the overall appeal of this vehicle.

The way i see it there are two kinds of car builds, those who think they might sell their car some day and thus try to make sure that it can be returned to stock and those who are not afraid or ashamed to crab a saws-all or angle grinder and truly make their car their own creation. I prefer the second kind and give even more props to the people who start with a base car that is considered rare.


You raise good points, and you've touched on one in particular which is why I'd never run a bolt-in cage in my own car. Thomas did emphasise that the cage was more for show than anything, so you make of that what you will.


The word is atypical.

This style is done to death on every single jdm released since the early 80s and half of the German cars. Actually any car that you can find for a few k, someone has done exactly this stuff over and over again. Neat and we'll done but completely ordinary... this site is virtually dedicated to this exact style.

So I guess the word is typical.


If you didn't resort to such extreme hyperbole, you could have made a decent point. "every single jdm released since the early 80s" and "this site is virtually dedicated to this exact style" are both silly statements.




"Show car". Show car with racing wheel, bucket seats, full cage, and spoiler


i find it amusing how the use of untypical as an atypical antonym for typical is wholly lost on at least two of the commentators.
oh, ye of little faith. Paddy is no rookie wordsmith.

also. whilst stretched tires are not ideal for performance, they can still get the job done.
this article has one seriously sensitive set of comments.


Damn I really dont want to seem like im hating; Thumbs up to the owner, but I swear I've seen about a dozen or so EVOs and STIs at Wekfest (NJ) last year with the same build formula.

Edit: I realized that this is not from the USA, so maybe it is something thats never been seen at that particular show yet!


I'm suprised this article has caused so much conflict and conjecture!

A car, any car is simply a blank canvas for an artist to work upon. Each artist is different (not always so in the car scene perhaps) and can interperet their vision upon the subject as they see fit. I don't like all art and I guess that's true of many of the commenters on here but such is life.

I can appreciate the workmanship of this build for being the show car that it is. Nice coverage Paddy.