Project Bunta: All The Small Things

About two weeks ago, I introduced you guys to my new money pit, otherwise known as Project Bunta.

At the end of that post, I asked for your thoughts on how I should approach this project, and the response was quite overwhelming. You guys had all sorts of  ideas, from bodywork and cosmetic touches to engine and mechanical choices. I read all the remarks and spent a good amount of time chatting with some of you as well, so thanks to everyone who took the time to comment.


I’ve owned Bunta – a USDM 1998 Subaru Impreza 2.5RS – for about nine months now. In that time, all the important repair work and maintenance was taken care of at Tsukasa Gushi’s workshop, and I’ve made a few upgrades to simply enhance the driving experience. It’s the latter that I want to share with you today.


After getting my car back from Gushi-san, the first thing I did was pick up a set of brand new Toyo R1R tires. The tires that had come on the car were well past their use-by dates; they were all pretty much down to the wear indicators, and one even had major cracks in its sidewalls. To make matters worse, they were all different; one was a Bridgestone, one was a Nankang, another was a Kumho, and the final tire wasn’t branded at all.


The R1R is Toyo’s top high performance summer street tire, sitting just below the road-legal R888 competition tire. Since fitting, I’ve put a few hundred miles on the new tires around the city and through the canyons north of Los Angeles, They’ve performed really well so far, even in the wet which really surprised me. It’ll be interesting to see how they wear.


As soon as the R1Rs were on, the brakes were given an overhaul, too. While they were working adequately, I just couldn’t see them holding up for fast road and track use, which is ultimately what the car’s destined for.


One of my friends suggested that I go all-in with a BBK (big brake kit), but I figured that would be overkill at this stage (remember, the car is still naturally aspirated). Instead, I opted for a package that would retain the factory calipers, but upgrade everything else. The StopTech Sport Kit included a set of PosiQuiet semi-metallic pads, slotted rotors, and steel-braided brake lines.


I could have got this kit with drilled rotors, but I went with the slotted option after reading discussions on the NASIOC (North American Impreza Owners Club) forum.

Whilst drilled rotors are better at dissipating gasses thanks to the holes in the surface, they are also more prone to cracking. It’s perfectly normal to get crazing and cracking on the surface of a brake disc, you’ll see this on just about any track or race car you come across. Drilled rotors allow these cracks to join up, like a dot-to-dot, eventually requiring replacement. I’d never really thought about it before, but this is why you usually see endurance cars with slotted rotors. Slotted rotors are more resistant to cracks, so hopefully I will get some longer life from them. Not that I’m likely to work the rotors hard enough to get to that stage, but it’s nice to have this covered.


Fitting the new steel-braided brake lines gave me an opportunity to also replace the brake fluid. Once again, I was guided by recommendations on the NASIOC forum, and picked up a 1L container of ATE Type 200. With a DOT4 rating, this racing brake fluid has a much higher boiling point than the conventional consumer stuff, meaning that the fluid will continue to perform to a higher temperature.


After the upgrade was complete, I took Bunta to San Gabriel Canyon Road to bed the brakes in; there is a 1/4-mile-long stretch of road near the end of the canyon that’s perfect for this sort of thing. Although there are various ways to bed brakes, I followed StopTech’s online guide.

A few days later, I took the car up Angeles Crest Highway for a little shakedown run. I immediately noticed how much better the PosiQuiet pads were biting on the rotors, and stopping power was also substantially improved over the stock setup. Thanks to the new fluid, it took a solid 15 or so minutes of hard driving before I noticed any sign of reduced performance – and then it was only very slight. I’m definitely happy with the brakes as they are now.


Of all the modifications I’ve made so far though, the most bang for buck has come from the Speedhunters sticker I added to my rear windshield. The sparkles in the letters add 3hp on top of the 5hp from the sticker itself, so that’s a whopping 8hp increase. Fact!


One thing I didn’t like about the interior was how bland it looked. I mean, just look at it!


The stock 2.5RS front seats, while very comfortable, provided absolutely no lateral support for spirited driving, so I went ahead and picked up a pair of JDM STI Version 6 front seats from JDM California Motors, a local Los Angeles importer of all things JDM.


Because Japanese people drive from the wrong side of the car (and also drive on the wrong side of the road), the JDM passenger seat (US driver side seat) was in mint condition. The same can’t really be said about the JDM driver seat, but I’m totally fine with that. Most importantly, the new seats definitely do their job in keeping you planted.


Next, I picked up an STI Version 7 Momo steering wheel. Side note: you can see my new wheels to the left of the image. Who wants to take a guess at what I went for?


Even though the Momo wheel came from an Impreza, it looked totally out of place with the rest of my interior, so I picked up a matching Momo Airleather shift knob.

After installing the shift knob, it sat a little too high and just didn’t really look right. The solution? An adjustable Cobb short shifter. I’d been meaning to get a short shifter for a while, but now I had a proper reason to fit one.


However, there was an problem: Given the new shifter was a lot shorter in height, it didn’t clear the OEM rubber shifter boot. As much as I liked the factory accordion-style boot, I had to swap it out, so I went ahead and ordered a leather shifter boot online. It smells like one of those expensive leather purses so it’s probably the real deal.


I also bought a floor mat for $5 to cover up the ugly ripped carpet.


That’s pretty much it with the interior as there’s nothing else I need right now. I will likely pick up better seats and a harness once I start to run some local time attack events, but that won’t be happening for a while.


Under the hood, it’s a bit of a mess. The engine bay could definitely do with a clean, and I’ll get around to it eventually. Hopefully I’ll have an STI turbo motor sitting in here soon…


In my next update, I’ll be delving into the handling – one aspect of the car that really needs work. A previous owner had fitted Megan coilovers, but they’re absolutely shot; my back still hurts from the drive up Angeles Crest Highway to this sunset spot. That was a 45 mile roundtrip of me being bounced up and down on my seat with even the slightest bump in the road, so you can imagine how sketchy things get when you take corners at speed. I can’t wait to make some huge improvements here.


Aside from the suspension upgrade, I have an updated front bumper to make Bunta more like the car it’ll eventually become – an ‘RSTI’ – and minor bodywork and paint is also on the list. But more on all that in my next project update.

Louis Yio
Instagram: lusciousy



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Great work! Sounds eerily similar to my own 2.5l project. 9 months, Cheap price, new brakes, nice interior and exterior touch up before getting a nice boost in power this winter.


You will be jumping on the boost game a bit earlier than me but there is a small chance that we're twins. Maybe.


What a great post man! Cant wait for the update.


very interesting and inspiring project.


Hey man, I absolutely love your car, super clean looking! I'm already looking forward to the next update


Thanks, man!


Great work Man!)
Can I suggest an idea?
Not long is ago, i have a nice chat 'bout todays cars from super famous tuners. In a few words, they are souless in some kind, - reciept is simple:
1000+ hp under hood, Rocket Bunny\Liberty Walk exterior, stripped interior and "Voi la" - giper car is ready!
But, try to remember Mine's 34, Kidsheart 34 (both coupe and sedan), REsuper G FD3S, they were absolute tuning cars (for me)!
So, try to keep some charachter of your auto)
Waiting for update!


If I've learned anything from Initial D (haha), it's that power doesn't equate to winning. And I actually quite like the body lines of the car but If it were to ever go widebody, it'll most likely end up with a 22b-type look, rather than the overfender look.


Yeah, that's cool, I really love to hear that! waiting for update!)


Keep doing what you're doing cause it's turning out beautifully. Don't forget to get that boxer rumble soon, it's the most distinct and satisfying sound from a Subaru.


Are the new wheels an OE Subaru item from a later model WRX?


Can't give out any hints!


Look like either version 7 STI wheels or the 17" Euro Bugeye WRX wheels. Guessing the former


Subaru are the masters at bland interior. I used to call it utilitarian, like a vW's interior, but after owning my stupid 08 outback for a few years I've learned what bland is. Bland means you can't replace anything, and you get nothing in return for that. At least you easily replaced your seats, steering wheel, and probably most importantly new audio equipment. My shit's dash would need to be fully replaced just to put an upgraded deck in there. Took me $80 and a screwdriver with my 02Legacy, but would take a $400+ dash replacement from Japan + $80 + a screwdriver: nope. /rant

Embrace your bland interior, it's a blank sheet of paper and there are no rules. Good luck lol


As much as I love seeing the glossy, amazingly detailed cars SpeedHunters covers, seeing a relatively affordable, attainable project car like this makes me so happy. This might rival Paddies GTI as my favorite one of the Hunter gangs projects!


I've been thinking the same, especially since this is a car I'm actually considering building in the future. I think this will be the first SH project car I follow every update on.


Man, look at those old rotors.

Can't you just hear audiophiles pontificating about the warmth of vinyl?


Haha, it would be interesting to see what sweet music comes out of setting one of those discs on a turn table!


Probably Something in the Way by Nirvana

Those brakes were something in the way of me and stopping power.


Really nice progress! That car is getting many awesomeness points with every upgrade.


Such fond memories of my RSTI. Mine was a black '99 coupe with all the trimmings from an '04 STI. Nice job with the JDM red/clear tails, I would argue those along with the '99+ bumper are the two greatest aesthetic mods you can make.

If you can find them, the '04 STI 5x100 BBS in gold really look the business, especially if you get the STI Brembos to match. When you are ready for the swap, iWire is the jam for a plug-and-play merged harness.


Funny, the JDM taillights actually came with the car when I purchased it! They were filled with water when I got the car and they have very very minor cracks but hey, JDM taillights!

I've seen the 04 wheels go on sale on NASIOC here and there but they're usually not in the condition that I'd like them in. The one time I did manage to see a solid set, they were already sold.

iWire is somewhat local to me so I'll definitely be making a pit stop with them for my wiring needs when the eventual swap comes along.


Ah that's right, I remember you mentioning that in the intro article. You can find them on eBay from time to time, and you can still get them brand new from a few dealerships here in the States that cater to enthusiasts. I got mine from Chaplin's aka Subaru Genuine Parts.

Even the silver '04 BBS go for a hefty price, and you can always have them powdercoated to your liking. I kept my RSTI as visually muted as possible, since it made all variety of obnoxious or excellent noise, depending whom you asked. The gold BBS were a tip of the hat to those who knew.

The iWire harnesses and services are excellent, East Coast Swappers are good too, but not local to you. Your best bet if you want to build an RSTI is to buy a complete, totaled car so you can scavenge everything and anything you may need for the swap. Will save you a lot of time and headaches in the long run.

Lastly, get on the RS25 forums if haven't already, they are a lot more informative and model-specific than NASIOC.


I'm currently scouring websites like Copart to get a salvaged STI.

I love RS25 and it's like an encyclopedia for all things gc8. Been a member for about 7 years now. The issue I see is that there isn't as much interaction on their forums. I check it for direct answers but I still use Nasioc for discussions, because of it's activity.


Good point about traffic at RS25 vs NASIOC, sheer volume is definitely a plus in the terms of engagement. I was on RS25 all the time when I still had my car. The guy I sold it to still has it, maybe I will buy it back someday.

When you are ready to pull the trigger on the RSTI, you should visit the guys at Yimi Sport, they build some serious time attack machines and really know their stuff. Might even make for a cool shop spotlight or feature for the website!


Just a heads up, you'll need more aggressive brake pads if you ever decide to actually track it. PosiQuiets are great for the street but they're not as good as something like Hawk HP+ which is probably the most aggressive street pad you can get. NA has nothing to do with how much braking power you need.


Track-oriented pads are definitely something that I'm looking at right now. I've read about many people swapping their pads specifically during track weekends so I'm thinking about picking a set for that purpose. Since I am spending a lot of time with the car driving through normal city streets, I can't see myself running track pads 24/7, which will probably lower my rotor life, create more brake dust, be louder, and wear faster than my PosiQuiets.


Someone REALLY likes naked mem jogging.


Always the fight to get the car up to standard ready for modding is the longest.
It is WORTH it though, especially when you put in a set of decent dampers or suspension.. KW V1 / V2 or V3 would transform this car.

Did the same thing on my BMW 330i Touring and was so worth the outlay. Just a sneeky peak of mine


ever thought about upgrading the sound system? (if it's a daily that is)


I've been thinking about it more and more lately. The car is really loud the the sound system isn't the best. It's not something that's currently sitting high on the list of things I want done in the car at the moment though. Maybe after the swap.


You thinking of going something basic like stereo and speakers, or like a full package with amps and subs and tweeters and all that?


I'd probably just keep it simple with simply pick up a newer stereo and better speakers.


Anyone notice the rotors were installed the wrong direction?


The way the slots face on the rotor itself don't dictate which side of the car it has to be on. It all comes down to the vanes of the vents. Mine are directional which means they are specific to each side. Straight vented rotors can go on either side.


Depends which way the vanes in the rotors go. If they're straight it doesn't really matter.


Japanese drive on the right side of the car, literally and figuratively.



I've been waiting for this comment.


Looks like a good start!

Brakes make such a difference and were the first things I did to my R53 Mini, opting for the popular path of second gen cooper S calipers and discs.

I also read up a lot on drilled discs for track, but opted for Brembo discs which have the holes cast in so should stand up better to resisting cracking.


So is Bunta and Nine gonna have a square off one of these days for the books?

My father has a turbo STI engine sitting in his garage to "eventually" slip into his Outback wagon, but I'm tempted to tell him to sell it to ya, haha. Really love the touches you've done so far, can't wait to see what happens next!


Project Nine would probably win right now, haha. Can't underestimate the power of Team Emperor...

Until that new engine drops into the gc8.


Great update! If i could guess which wheels you got, i’d say 04 STI BBS Wheels.


Nope!!!! But close.


Damn lol by the way you gotta get a bunta air freshener from importbible, your Bunta’s not complete without one


Awesome progress Lucas.

Is that the stock spec for the Posi-Quiets or did you do the bolt-on upgrade of WRX front + H6 rear?


Who is Lucas?

They are a stock spec as of right now. I see no real need to upgrade until I do the STI swap, at which time I'll have to change them anyways.


AH shoot sorry Louis, my mistake. My mind drifted a bit.

Not a bad plan, that gives you time to build a full BBK!


Are you a member of the GC8 owners club on Facebook? It's the most active community by far for the chassis.

I'm an admin on there.


There are a few, which one specifically?

I only follow a few public pages but it would be nice to join an active group.


The Subaru Impreza GC8 Owners Club, 32k members.


Ahh, cool!

I just joined.


I'm on a similar project, just did the suspension and brake lines last month with prodrive p1 reproduction spring and kyb agx struts. It's a very good suspension for the street (DD & canyons). Hit me up if u want to check my car up, it's still on stockish drivetrain. I'm located around ontario, CA.


Let me see some photos of the car! It's always great to see.


08/05/2016 picture, I am having problem uploading from phone.




Why STI? its what everyone else has and does the same thing to. why not an H-6 swap or something else in the same manufacturer... obviously price but still


Here's my '98 - sold her about 12 years ago. No headgasket issues and no tranny issues. Rallispec intake, Sparco Torino seats, Sparco wheel, Speedlines, 22B wing, and PSS9 coilovers. To this day I run EBC Reds in all my cars and they work fine for canyons, time trials, and autox.


remove the sunroof and cover the hole with cf


Hey Congrats man! I too just picke dup a gc8 subi but I got the jdm variant. excited to see your progress!


I see you have already tested the car and found a significant HP increase with the sticker.
Try to add your name and you blood type to the quarter window, alternate solution for the same amount of power you get from turbo.

Paulo Kaneko Ysobe

Nice car !
Unfortunately we do not have this type of Impreza in Brazil :(


Lovely car! Would be a great project so I'm gonna stay tuned!

Just a quick question though. What light bulb are you using for your set of reflector headlights? How's their performance in the dark?



So keen to see how this build turns out! I myself have a 1998 Subaru Wrx here in Australia. It was a cheap first car I brought off my aunt and I love it! Yes, admittedly it does need a little work but its my baby. I'm currently in the process of designing some door cards for mine and having them CNC cut (mine have kinda fallen apart...) I'll be sure to post a few photos in the comments next post haha.


Love the car. I have a 98 turbo wagon. I wanted to swap to a newer wrx Momo wheel. Question I have is, when you swap them out does the air bag functional or just there to keep the wheel complete?