Introducing Project Bunta (Eurobeat Intensifies)
My Beginning

It was bound to happen sooner or later.

For the longest time, I’ve been a fan of the GC8 Subaru Impreza. I didn’t come from a family that had any real interest in cars, so the only real exposure I had to automotive culture growing up in the 1990s was through video games.

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When I was in middle school, I can remember my friend’s older brother driving a GC8 rally car in a racing game. At that time, I didn’t even know what a Subaru was, let alone a rally car, but there was something so cool about the Impreza, even in pixelated digital form.

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As time went on, I learnt more about Subaru’s four-wheel drive, flat-four turbo rally weapons and the legendary drivers who put them on the WRC map. And the more information I consumed, the more appealing the idea of one day owning a GC8 became. This year it became a reality.

Why Bunta?
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So why the name Project Bunta? Well, in order to tell you that, I have to take you back to the beginning of my ownership at the start of the year. The previous owner was a certain Stephan Papadakis, who you’ll most likely know as the mad genius behind Tanner Foust and Fredric Aasbø’s Formula Drift championship-winning drift cars, or going back a bit further, a sport compact drag racing legend.

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Stephan had bought the Subaru with the intention of turning it into a rally car during the 2016/2017 Formula Drift off-season, and then running it in some local events. But with Scion Racing’s transition to Toyota Racing and a new iM drift car to build, Stephan knew the GC8 wasn’t going to get a look in. Rather than let it waste away outside his shop, he sold it to me!

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After taking ownership of the GC8 (technically it’s a GM6 in the US, but I’ll continue to call it a GC8 for everyone else’s sake), I set about getting a few things fixed. There was a major cam seal leak, the timing belt was on its last legs, the steering rack was broken and the CV boots were torn. I’m no mechanic, so I took the car over to Tsukasa Gushi’s shop to have all the necessary repairs made.

If that last name sounds familiar it’s for good reason – Tsukasa is Ken Gushi’s dad. As the well-known story goes, when Ken was just 13 years old Tsukasa taught him how to drive – and ultimately drift – in the mountain roads of the San Gabriel Valley. If you didn’t make the connection by now, Ken is basically the US version of Takumi Fujiwara, and his dad is the US version of Bunta, the hero’s father, who of course drove a Subaru Impreza WRX STI Type R in the anime. There’s more to it than Initial D though…

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While talking to Tsukasa at the shop, I came to learn that he had previously owned my GC8. Crazy, I know!

After picking it up in Oregan, Tsukasa had planned to re-shell his 22B-style GC8, but that never happened. He sold it to a friend, who then unbeknownst to Tsukasa sold it to Stephan. I felt a bit like Sherlock Holmes slowly piecing together the back story, but now you know why I’ve decided to called it Project Bunta.

This Is It
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Moving onto the actual car, it’s a USDM 1998 Subaru Impreza 2.5RS, which means it runs a naturally aspirated 2.5-liter DOHC boxer engine. Those of you outside the US might be wondering why I didn’t go for a WRX, but the truth is, turbo Imprezas were only sold here after 2002 with the next generation platform. Don’t worry though, boost is definitely in this car’s future.

Back to the condition I picked it up in, despite its age and mileage (just under 200,000 clicks), the car was in reasonable condition. Inside, the only real problem was the carpet in the driver’s footwell, which had definitely seen better days.

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Everything from the updated radio to the A/C all worked well.

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With the exception of a few expected dents and scratches here and there, the exterior was in relatively good condition too. The trunk got flooded during the 2016/2017 El Niño wave of rain storms in Los Angeles, so I had to remove everything that got waterlogged, including the JDM-model tail lights that needed to be drained.

In terms of modifications, the car came with 4-1 equal-length headers and a brand-less exhaust that gives it a Honda-type sound (in a good way). It was also previously fitted with some no-name coilovers, which are average in the canyons and absolutely appalling everywhere else. There are times that my back aches after a long drive.

One big issue with the Impreza was that all four tires were a mismatch of different brands and tread patterns. And if that wasn’t bad enough, a couple of them were really showing their age with deep cracks on the sidewalls. They had to go.

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You might be wondering what the ultimate goal with this car is, now that it’s found its way into the SH Garage. Well, since the US-spec 2.5RS models only made 165hp straight out of the box, I eventually want to get my hands on an STI donor car for a full engine and driveline swap. This will probably happen later down the line, though.

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Right now, I’m just fixing and upgrading little things that will enhance my experience with the car, and I’ll go over what I’ve done so far in my next post.

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In the meantime though, I’d love to hear your thoughts on which direction I should take with the build. Sound off with you ideas in the comments section below.

Louis Yio
louis@speedhunters.com
Instagram: lusciousy

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119 comments

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1
Jay Soh Tsu Chung

I would suggest a similar build like Dino's R34: modernize the car with choice OEM-style parts and all.

2

YES! This would be in my top 5 if he takes that direction.

3

Go full on rally spare parts on it! Make it into a real gc8 with metal fender flares and all. Good luck with the project. First thing it needs is the BUNTA custom lisence plate! ~-^

4

That's the goal! I've already gone ahead and sourced some OEM and OEM-style parts that I'll go into detail about in the next update.

5

That's great man. Looking forward to see what you get up to.
Don't forget to make it look great. Performance is one thing, but making it eye-candy for yourself can be more important than it may seem. It's a really great motivator when you love how it looks and when others compliment you for it.
Good luck bud!

6

Body work is in the near future for the car to make it that much hotter. The car looks great now, but with a little work, it'll be irresistible.

How did that saying go, again?
"If you aren't looking back at your car every time you park it, you bought the wrong car."

7

Some KWs and a new set of wheels would be a great start! and maybe an LED conversion, interior refresh and paint detailing (or heck, put a cool livery like the Trailhunter!)

8

The Bens from G&G mentioned to me you were a Subaru guy, I'm stoked to see an RS! Make it fun and reliable. And maybe an ej207 that likes to rev.

9

Tell them I said what's up! I saw them at Gridlife just two weeks ago.

I'd definitely consider the ej207 but with the 255 and the 257, along with all the different configurations, I have to carefully narrow down the right one for me.

10

Reminds me of the old days I had my GC8 WRX... I'd go for some basic OEM modifications like STI Seats, Bumper and some paint on those skirts. Shouldn't be too expensive at all. Source some UK spec STI gauges (cause mph) and keep it simple. Good luck!

11

Ohhh! I actually didn't know the UK-spec gauges were in mph. I've only been looking at the JDM STI ones.

12

Some countrys have them, not many. Prodrive P1 clusters are the holy grail for GC's but will not work with a 98. 98 RS's are a one year car that dont share parts with 93-97 or 99-01. The engine, trans, and chassis wire harness are different than any other year. They share parts with version 4 WRX/STI over seas, so the clusters on ebay that no one buys fit this, very few are in MPH. It'll be a nice project if they do it right, its easy to go afoul with these with dumb trends in the car scene recently.

13

Perfect new car! I have a 2001 RS coupe that i did a full 2004 STI drivetrain/engine/dash swap. Subarus are like legos, nearly anything can be swapped in.

14

I had a '99 RS coupe with comple '04 STI everything as well. I kept it mostly stock from the outside, with the exception of JDM red/clear tails, the APS 3.5" exhaust and the Brembos and BBS, of course.

To the untrained eye, it was a plain bowl of oatmeal (until I started it at least haha). I also had a stock location APS SR55 turbo with fueling to match, so it made some respectable jam on 93 pump gas.

Interior-wise, I ran OEM S2000 seats, which mounted lower than OEM STI seats and, in black leather, looked more the part, in my inconsequential opinion.

To this day, it is the one car I regret selling.

15

That's the car I'm trying to hunt down at the moment. More 2005 though, but those run for so much more than the 04 because of the various upgrades.

16

Doesn't sound like it's practical and easy to drive at the moment.

17

I slapped some tires on it so it's actually fun right now, haha. And the coilovers are bearable. I just can't have a big meal before driving it.

18

Put a 2.2L in it and then turdbo that engine. :)

19

\D:/ the jealousy is so real and I so want to help TTwTT

20

Time to put a LS1 in it. :D

21

Okay!

But you have to take all the punches from all the angry Subaru fans who will soon find out about our evil plan to drop the LS in.

22

I have no problem with that. All I have to say is that the head gaskets will last longer and that will shut them up.

23

LOL, I was going to jokingly suggest that too!

24

for the love of god don't lol
If anything I'd like to see something that would make Frankenstein's monster scratch his head.

25

Ok, Louis, now you have to do it. Someone said not to. :D

26

@lucas

Super stoked you guys are doing a GC8 project. A properly built GC8 is a fun, relatively headache-free project to go through and of course a rewarding drive at the end of the day. If I were you I would start with:

Fully built EJ207
iWire Harness Merge
6 speed swap (and rear end for you as well due to the mismatching tire concern)
Piece together the original interior
Find an RS front bumper (not sure why this RS came with an L bumper)
Higher end suspension of your choice (Feal, KW, etc.)

As usual, there are a few little tricks and nuances here and there with the conversion so feel free to reach out for help!

Excited to keep reading!

27

That is a '98 RS bumper. The bigger fogs didn't come till '99. Anyway, I had this exact year ('98s are also DOHC) and paint color and I tore up STX in it out here in Colorado. The WRXs, when they came out, couldn't touch me on the autox course (torque). Never bust a tranny either. I miss mine.

28

You'll always be happier without a turbo IMO. Unless you manage to build something that is low boost or has some incredible linear power curve, you're going to spend most of your time driving waiting for the boot to hit.

29

I've got a hybrid build (STi short block and 2.0 wrx heads) with a TD04. I make about 270whp but the spool time is ridiculous, almost like driving a small displacement V8!

30

Get rid of the engine. Now. I have a Legacy Outback that blew it's head gasket, and so did my neighbor, so on. The 2.5 DOHC of the late nineties are plagued by head gasket failure.

Do it now so you can also have a turbo GC8 in the US

31

Maybe I'll just drop a trusty LS into the car to avoid the issue altogether.... /s haha

32

As rare and desirable as these gems are getting you would seriously be ruining the car by putting some lame ass common as dirt Chevy lump

33

My 02 legacy: hg failure, my 08 outback: hg failure, my girl's 06 legacy: hg failure. There seems to be a pattern lol. A very expensive pattern.

34

Wow can't wait for this build I'm in the same process of restoring one too....

35

Jeez, with that ownership history.... talk about some pedigree. Looking forward to the project, always liked these cars.

36

22b project bunta ? great choice for a base project car btw

38

Louis, not sure if you have yet, but join up on RS25.com. We have literally the best, most knowledgeable people regarding these cars all cooped up in one place, its a real solid group of people and years and years worth of info on these, its definitely worth a look. Good luck with it, welcome to the club. And remember, friends dont let friends stance RS's.

-Bansheeboy11

39

I've been a member of rs25 since 2011 when I came really close to picking up a gc8 as a broke college student looking for a cool daily with a $3k budget. Been an active lurker since.

I have the famous 'Aggressive Fitment' thread bookmarked on my computer to make sure I keep it performance oriented, haha!!

40

There's an older gentleman in the neighborhood who has one of these; f****n mint. I"m pretty sure he only got it cause it's tiny with 2 doors though XD.

Should be an awesome project car!

41

The fact that it's a 2-door was one of the reasons why I loved it so much when I first saw them.

42

now we are talking, very inspiring. we all have our fare share on automotive industry. meet smaug my pride and joy

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44

Welcome to the family! Between myself, my girlfriend and my friends, we have seven. Four of which are at my house! Just completely swapped a very rusty cars motor, trans and everything else into a showroom clean 98 shell.

45

Stance it

46

Forget about everything else, keep it N/A and build a 6 cylinder boxer engine.
That will make it really special :)

47

Maybe I should drop a 911 flat6 into it. Which mad genius can make this happen?

48

That's what I'm thinking. A "GC" 2.5 RS is a pipe dream project car of mine (I only say pipe dream because there are SO many cars I want to build), and I'd swap in the SVX engine to see what can be accomplished with an EG33 all-motor.

49

There was an SVX-swapped Suby on The Smoking Tire, actually. Can't remember if it was in an Impreza, though.

50

Go for it! Do something that few others have done, it would be amazing to have a 8k+ rpm flat 6 boxer on that 2 door Impreza body. Put some 22b fenders on it and you will break the internet :D

52

First thing you need to do is ditch that equal length header and get an unequal length one. The subaru rumble is lost on a EL header and if you're not going to be fast you should at least make the right noises.
Check out my EJ257, 6MT, brembo RS on my Instagram account for inspiration if you like. I'm not making it up when I say it's one of the cleanest converted RS's in North America. Right down to the proper STI roof skin with no sunroof. I've been messing with these cars for more than a decade so let me know if you have any questions, I'm happy to help.

53

I actually like the EL headers. It has a unique sound. Really loud, but nice.

54

It'd sound nice with UEL's...I like the exhaust note....

55

I have a Brullen equal length header, love the sound. I'm also told that you lose a slight amount of power with UEL headers. These cars need all the power they can get...

56

Or to the contrary, if you're one of us that really don't like the Subaru boxer exhaust weirdness, keep the header and try to make that sound angry and high revving.

57

Love to see a GC8 w/ a FA20 from a 15+ WRX and basic bolt ons. ;)

58

Has that ever been done?

59

https://www.facebook.com/iWireWiringServices/videos/1611452442218345/

Funny you should ask. iWire is working to make this a viable swap.

60

Damn, I almost thought you went with a 4runner. Larry said you wanted one, but this is still a damn cool car regardless.

61

I have enough space for a 4runner on my driveway. Maybe in the future.

62

I would love to see that. Especially a curvy-boxy 00+ 4runner. Would like to see one day you Larry and Keith all meet up and offroad the whole day and write about it.

63

That would be a crazy story! FJ60 + FJ Cruiser + 4Runner overland expedition

#yotanation

64

You bet it is. It definitely needs to happen sometime.

65

This is going to be fun to watch, Louis!

66

Thanks Ben!

67

Hands down one of my all time favourite chassis'. I've owned 3 of them over the years. A 2.2LTS sedan, 2.5RS sedan , and 2.2L Brighton Wagon. Fell in love with them watching WRC on Speed Channel in the early 2000's. My favourite memory is Richard Burns clinching the 2001 WRc title on the very last race of the year. Super excited to see some progress!

68

OE-inspired and a Resto Mod approach would be nice. IMO, since it is project Bunta, a fresh coat of Subaru Blue would be cool as well.

69

I've been going back and forth on the idea of painting it blue but then it'll just blend in with all the other Subarus. It's rare that I see a black GC8.

70

As an avid owner of a GC6 (RS Sedan) I'm thrilled to see this build and its future! There is a huge group of 32,000 worldwide fans on facebook via Subaru Impreza GC8 Owners Club. I would start there, I've found very interesting parts and love seeing what people do with them all around the globe. I'm more of a fan of OEM+ styling myself. I have been slowly replacing everything with new old stock parts. A fair warning - stuff is slowing becoming No Longer Available for these cars! Anyways, jump on that Facebook group, get on RS25.com if you haven't already, and have fun!

71

I wasn't aware of that Facebook group, actually! I'm an avid member of RS25 and Nasioc though.

72

I almost forgot, you'll need this: https://importbible.com/shop/air-fresheners/smoking-bunta-air-freshener - Don't worry its orange scent, not tofu and cigarettes.

73

I didn't even know I wanted this. Gonna order like 10 of them right now.

74

I actually went with a 4 door 2.2 and going RS with Prodrive bits with type RA mixed in as well. It's been a headache (rust) but a fun project to work on with my dad and way cheaper than my Z. I would keep it somewhat period correct with tasteful mods of course.

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75

Now that car is hawt

76

Thanks. :). I just did my JDM smooth rear bumper with spats recently. Still got my sideskirts and front lips sitting in the garage waiting.

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77

These are fun little cars! Excited to see what you do with it. Here is my swapped GC8 (gm2 technically but who cares)

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78

I had a 4 door last 2005 and I totally regret selling the car. Nowadays its hard to find here a nice and clean wrx gc8 body let alone in original left hand drive configuration (most imported cars from japan that came here are converted from right hand to left hand drive). Im'm excited on your build keep us updated! On a side note i'm also building a subaru right now only its a SH forester which I like to swap everything STi!

79

Oooooo!! Forester STI builds are always eye-catching, more so than the Impreza sometimes.

80

Just in time for a last minute Speedhunters SEMA build...

If it were me personally, since it's not a legit STI 22B I would just build it into a time attack monster and track the hell out of it.

81

RWD conversion + Supercharged EZ30 + Fender flares + steelies and drift it like you stole it ! :)

82

This isn't such a bad idea. Maybe if I buy another GC8...

83

Go for that OEM look, but improve on the weaker parts. So as you already said a STI drivetrain swap. But please, keep the stock bodylines. No overfenders! It will look amazing with only a small drop and a good set of wheels. Oh, and paint the plastic parts black as well. Make it a suitable canyon carver which works for everyday use.

Or go for the full rally-look. Which is just better.

84

Bunta had a totally different car, other than that, this one is lovely.

85

Same same, but different. Close enough.

86

This is awesome, welcome to the GC8 world. If I could suggest some advice it'd be upgrade your swaybar immediately and replace all your bushings with polyurethane (it really transforms the entire car). And keep an eye on that quarter panel, they love to rust. Pick up a version 6 front bumper too. Good luck! Here's

87

The rear quarter panel on my left side has a bit of rust already. Gonna get that fixed when I do all the bodywork soon.

88

This is awesome, welcome to the GC8 world. If I could suggest some advice it'd be upgrade your swaybar immediately and replace all your bushings with polyurethane (it really transforms the entire car). And keep an eye on that quarter panel, they love to rust. Pick up a version 6 front bumper too. Good luck! Here's my money pit haha

89

This is awesome, welcome to the GC8 world. If I could suggest some advice it'd be upgrade your swaybar immediately and replace all your bushings with polyurethane (it really transforms the entire car). And keep an eye on that quarter panel, they love to rust. Pick up a version 6 front bumper too. Good luck! Here's my money pit haha ( sorry for the double post)

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90

I forgot to share a pic of my moneypit. Speedhunters sticker is on the back window :)

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91

Black and gold. Mmmmmm, delicious

92

MOOG & Marty it like Gramps - NA is cray cray.

And theeeennnnn... 1st gen 4runner in your driveway because; topless = spring break everyday

93

To think there's one of these selling for $500 on Craigslist. :(

94

This car is begging for F1 Lotus John Player Special golden stripes.

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95

Wich direction you sould take? Say no more:

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96

of course if you don't wanna change the colour of the car,a black and gold version of this livery would be dope as well :)

97

Oh. My. God. Black and Gold 555!

98

So stoked that speedhunters now has a gc8 project. I have Gc8 that is a budget built daily and I love it. Can't wait to see what you do!

100

I really like that v4 bumper!

101

Build a touge racer to slay the canyons. Get that wide body WRC kit. wrap some Fiften52 Formula TR's in Toyo R888.

102

I REALLY don’t like Subies without the burbling sound. Without it they lose a (big) part of their character. Unequal length headers forever, even if they aren’t the best in torque-power.

103
John-Martin Johansen

Your GC8 looks great! Allways wanted a coupe, but in Norway they are hard to get. So i bought a 4 door for 3 weeks ago :)

Really looking forward to do mods to it. :)

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104

Since boost is in the future, I'd be cautious about the EJ255 and EJ257. They are notorious for ringland and/or rod bearing failure. If you don't want to go through the process of beefing up the internals, the V7 EJ207 comes stock with forged internals. The WRX transmission is known as the "glass" transmission, but the 6-spd STi transmission is solid. As for suspension, I think you might know some people over at KW that can help you in that department. And lastly, for exterior/interior, Prodrive is the way to go. Good luck and will be looking forward to seeing the progress!

105

I'd love to get my hands on the Prodrive Sparco Sport Seats but they are so unobtainable, at least here in the states, that I'm pretty lose to giving up on finding them.

106

You could always keep an eye out for the Prodrive Recaros from the WR Sport models in the UK...took me a long time, but I found it. Matching backseat as well.

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107
Matthew Everingham

Nice one Louis! Allyou need to do now is drop a Barra with a high mount in it. ;)

108
Matthew Everingham

p.s. You've inspired today's work tunes.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8B4guKLlbVU

109

RUNNING IN THE 90'S!!!!!

110

The main thing is to install a transmission with DCCD)

111

Always stick to the gold wheels, classic Subaru. The history of Project Bunta is definitely a very fitting name, love it!

112

Paint it blue

113

NEVER!!!!!!!

114

If it's your daily, don't swap it. I have a swapped Impreza as well as a RS and as a daily, the RS is more fun to drive. Yeah, boost is addictive, I daily a FXT but that's only because the woman has the OBS with the 5 sp and loves driving it too much.

115

I have a 2013 Impreza hatchback as my daily driver. Damn, I love that thing.

116

Jelaous about your US Coupes. These are poping-up sometimes in europe, but price is at the same level as our "european WRX"- GT.

not mentioning about RS engine- great swap in place of our 2.0 (115/125HP)

I was dreaming about RS based Type-r replica but "my life went wrong". I stuck with my rusty wagon, hurts me everytime to watch...
But I still love it. Bulletproof.

Cheers!

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117

If I get another 1st Gen Impreza, it'll definitely be a wagon variant. There are a few crazy sleeper builds I've seen since they definitely fly under the radar. Saw a guy on the forums selling one for $20k.

118

creo que deberias de poner las llantas speedline..el aleron alto y el parachoques frontal del RA
y un motor turbo...debe ser turbo

119

I had to Google translate this, haha

I'm not too big a fan of the STI Speedlines. The STI Rays and newer STI BBS wheels appeal to me a little more.

And regarding the turbo, yes it'll definitely see boost.

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