From The Track To The Beach & Everything In Between
Facelift & Bodywork

It’s been a while since I brought you all a proper update on my 1998 Subaru Impreza 2.5RS (GC8), but in the midst of the racing off-season I finally managed to put aside some time to bring you up to speed.

This is a big one, encompassing every upgrade I’ve made to Project Bunta since October last year.


In my last post, I covered off the installation of my new ST Suspensions XTA coilovers, and later in this one I’ll go into detail about how they’ve been performing both on and off the track.


But first, we need to talk about Bunta’s facelift.


While overall I really liked the way my car looked as a ’98 2.5RS, the front end bothered me a little; it just didn’t look aggressive enough for my tastes. I spent a few weeks looking online for a new bumper, and around August I found an importer out of Fresno, California, who was selling a used STI Version 4 front bumper from a JDM donor car. It came with working turn signals and fog lights, and was insanely cheap, the latter being a reflection of some previous damage. I decided to pick it up anyways.


As I’d need to have the STI bumper repaired and painted to match the rest of the car, I figured I’d add a front lip too, and I found what I was looking for in the Chargespeed catalog. It turned out that I didn’t even need to pay to have it shipped to me either; the guy from Chargespeed was in town for business the day after I ordered it and was able to drop it off.


Fast forward to October when my friend’s dad offered me a bro-deal on the new bumper install, along with bodywork and paint for the entire car. He was moving out of his shop the next week and figured he’d be able to squeeze in one more respray before then.

The JDM STI bumper doesn’t fit over the ’98 front bumper beam, but as I wasn’t keen on switching to the flimsy JDM equivalent, I ordered a USDM 1999-2001 2.5RS beam which would do the job nicely. Subaru still makes new parts for many of its older models and you can order them online and pick them up from almost any official Subaru dealership.


As you can see, my GC8 was littered with small dents all over the car and a few randoms spots of rust, so my friend’s dad went to work on it.


He spent a few days pulling the dents, removing the rust and filling gaps.


I got my first glimpse at how it was going to look when he began test-fitting the front bumper. I really couldn’t contain my excitement at this point; Bunta was finally starting to look like the car I’ve wanted it to be.


A day later, all the surfaces were smoothed out and the preparation for primer and paint had begun.


I wasn’t there when the car was painted as I was busy on official photographer duties at Red Bull GRC, San Pedro, but it was resprayed in the same paint color it left the factory 20 years ago – Black Mica Pearl.

It’s kind of hard to show in the photos, but the color really sparkles in the sunlight, something I’d never seen before from the original paint because it had dulled so much. These pictures were taken before any wet sanding had taken place, so the paint looks a bit choppy.


I really liked the way the car looked without any badges on it, so I’ve decided to leave it like this.


I was told to let the paint settle, so for the next few weeks it sat untouched in my garage. But it’s not like I could have taken the car out even if I wanted to, because at this time I was just too backed up with work.

Hitting The Track

Back in July I had picked up a set of imported JDM STI Version 7 wheels from someone I met off the NASIOC forums, and in the time since they had sat in my garage waiting for tires.


Right after the SEMA Show in November, I picked up a set of Yokohama’s new Advan A052s.


This high performance summer tire has a UTQG rating of 200 – perfect given my plans to play around at a few Global Time Attack events in the Street AWD class.


As I mentioned in the previous update, I had the tires fitted and the wheels aligned straight after having the ST XTA coilovers installed. The same day, I drove Bunta up to Grange Motor Circuit in Apple Valley, California.


I arrived at Grange at around 1:00pm, which gave me about three hours of track time before it closed. Originally, this 1km-long circuit was designed and built with karting in mind, but as it’s wide enough for cars to thrash on it’s become a very popular spot for grassroots drifting and drivers like me who want to hone their skills. Most of the turns are pretty tight and technical, and as such there isn’t much shifting involved. Most people attack the circuit in 2nd gear with 3rd used on the front straight and sometimes on the back straight. You could think of it as a big autocross course.


I really wanted to test the performance of the STA XTA coilovers and the grip of the new A052 tires in a road course environment.


The XTAs are a street-oriented coilover, and in some aspects that showed through on track. But I can’t deny how amazingly well the car handled given that this suspension provides a really comfortable ride on the street.


As they come, the coilovers are set up quite soft, and I decided to leave them that way while I familiarized myself with the car’s newfound handling and grip around the track.


I’ll definitely increase the rebound force for stability next time I’m on the track, and I’m also thinking about upgrading my sway bars. Before I do the latter though, I really want to get a proper feel for the coilovers as I know there’s a lot more in them.


The Advan A052 tires were seriously impressive as well, both in how quiet they were during my hour and a half drive up to the track, and with how much grip they provided after coming up to temperature at Grange. My corner exit speed has improved dramatically; I can now basically throttle down knowing that the tires will hold the grip.


I ended the day running a 1:11 lap in the track’s clockwise configuration, but feel like I should be able to dip below 1:10 with some more practice and some suspension fine tuning. But the way the XTAs are set up right out of the box can’t be faulted for street-spec coilovers.

The track went cold right around sunset, so I took the opportunity to snap some shots with my camera.


In terms of wear, the Advans didn’t seem to lose too much rubber, but having arrived quite late I didn’t do too many laps. I guess time will tell how they hold up, but so far so good.


I don’t have a photo of it, but the battery in Bunta died while I was parked at my local Ralph’s supermarket a few days after the track day at Grange. I didn’t expect it to happen seeing as I keep it charged up all the time, but I guess the battery just became too old.


A new battery was a necessity, so I took the opportunity to make another upgrade. This time I went for an Optima Batteries Red Top.


I’m very lucky too, because upon inspection my original battery tie-down hadn’t even been securing the battery properly.


I picked up some new clamps from a local Subaru dealer and installed the new Red Top 34 into Bunta’s engine bay.


I also picked up a new positive cable since my original one couldn’t reach.


In December, I made another purchase, although not specifically for my Impreza. My friend has a QuickJack BL-5000SLX that he uses to lift up his Subaru Legacy GT and Forester, and after seeing the convenience and time savings it offers him, I decided that needed one too.


These jacks are offered for various vehicle weights, starting with a 3,500lb model and running up to an 7,000lb model. I talked with a QuickJack representative via the company’s website chatbox before settling on the 5000SLX (5,000lb) model. The 3500SLX would have sufficed with the GC8, but now that I’ve been fiddling with the project car here and there, my parents have been calling me and asking me to work on their Audi A6 as well. The setup takes about 15 minutes, then you’re basically ready to go.


The hydraulic setup is quite nice and keeps things pretty simple. You can set the height up to around a foot and a half, making it easy to work on anything underneath the car.


That night, I went right to work installing new StopTech Sport brake pads up front.


While the Centric Posi Quiet pads I had fitted were nice on the street, at Grange they fell a bit short.


So far the new StopTech pads up front have been excellent, but I’ve resisted swapping out the Posi Quiet rears until I’ve done a bit more testing as there’s a chance they’ll suffice.

While I was at my local auto parts store to pick up hydraulic fluid for the QuickJack, I also grabbed a bottle of differential fluid. I definitely should have changed the diff fluids when I first picked the car up as it has over 200,000 miles on the clock.


That same day, I also wanted to adjust my coilovers; the rears were sitting a bit high and the fronts needed a some negative camber.

There are two safety locking positions on the 5000SLX and the first one offered enough clearance for what I needed.


ST Suspensions provides a spanner wrench with its coilovers, and after a quick measurement I lowered the rear about half an inch.


I’ll see how it goes with that but I’ll probably drop it another half inch soon. I really like the height that it’s sitting at right now though.

Hitting The Streets

The next morning, I drove up to Newcomb’s Ranch to get a feel for the lowered rear end and the added camber up front. With more tire contact patch on the road through the corners, the car felt amazing as I cruised through the canyons that lead to the restaurant. At this moment in time I really wanted to punch myself in the face for not adjusting it while I was at Grange.


In terms of stiffness, the car felt perfect.


Bunta really shined on its way down the mountain, too. While I obviously wasn’t pushing it as I was on public roads, everything seemed to click really well; the car felt right at home in the canyons.


A few days later, my automotive video friends from the East Coast, Gears and Gasoline (who made a video on Larry last year), were in town and wanted to scout some locations.


Because I live about five minutes from downtown Los Angeles, I figured I’d help them out. I took them through Lower Grand, the 2nd Street tunnel, 4th Street Bridge, Chinatown, and a few other DTLA spots.


I’m thoroughly surprised with how well the ST XTAs are handling downtown and the rest of LA’s pothole-infested roads. In the few months that I’ve had them, I’ve put more miles on the GC8 than in my actual daily.


I also took the opportunity to take my car out to Ventura, a county north west of Los Angeles about an hour and a half away, for a Subaru meet that was happening out there.


I don’t take Bunta out much and had only been to one other Subaru meet a few years back (before I owned the car), so I wanted to really see what the local community had in terms of cars and setups.


There was a pretty wide selection of cars present, from off-road prepped Foresters to this fully gutted, 600hp GC8.


The meet was organized by an Instagram page called Subiewerks555 which contains nothing but awesome photos and videos of Subarus.


The drive back was down California’s iconic Pacific Coast Highway.

Since fitting the ST XTA coilovers, I’ve logged about 3,000 miles on the car. I really should be driving my daily a lot more, but the GC8 is starting to be more and more fun to drive on a daily basis.

Next up, the hunt for my STI donor car…

Louis Yio
Instagram: lusciousy



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The new front bumper really improves the look of the car, keep up the quality work.


a feature on those lifting jacks maybe :)


The more I read about Bunta, the more I kick myself to get going on my EvoX. I really need to just bite the bullet and get on with it. Keep it up I love reading about your project car.


If you browse the classifieds and forums, you can find a good one for less than $5000


"While I obviously wasn’t pushing it as I was on public roads": You can't name the project "Bunta" and go easy on the canyon roads.
The color is good but seeing the front before and after painting I'm totally convinced that the black color "eats" some details.
That 200 000 miles was shocking, the car doesn't look with much used even in the first post before any updates.
Good luck with the upcoming updates, hope it'll be soon.


As I was making my way down the mountain from Newcombs, I saw a few hundred s2000's on their way up the mountain. Not wanting to cause problems with the uphill traffic, I kept it safe. As I approached the base, I saw a few police officers fly up the road, along with two firetrucks and ambulance. I came to learn that one of the s2000's had fallen off the road. From what I know, the driver is in a coma. The canyons are a great place to have fun but the track is where I'll push the car.


This whole project is all a farce. “Kudos” and stuff to the author for his spirit, but this is a very common “life” with ppl that decide to go for it. He will over-reason and enjoy geeking out about “all the small things” which will make do the majority of the “good times”, but at the end of the “Bunta” age for the author, it will be reduced to scrap - either by use or abuse... and he’ll be wise to “use” this “fame” to his financial advantage because it will be the only thing that can justify all this “early-productive-age” money.

Reality is I’ve use too many “quotes” to explain the point because ppl just love rushing in where the wise avoid. Bunta is a fictional character, so let’s hope author uses the car to live rather than to die or worse, cause stupid accidents. Let’s face it: this sort of enthusiasm is seen on any street, anywhere, and the azzhat drivers ruin the entire fundamental.


hope he'll get well soon, no one deserves it.
Sometimes it's tempting to push it very hard on canyons and you'll get surprised by a small surface change that happened due to lack of maintenance, weather, a spill,.. I faced that problem and i was lucky enough to pass it with no damages (even minor), now i just "stretch" it a little (sure you do it sometimes)

Sure closed roads/tracks are safer and will keep public safe also.
Keep it safe, there is nothing to prove.


The rear is screaming for a diffuser.


Love the article, also loving the progress on bunta, if you're looking for bushings i would suggest hardrace started using them on my wrx and had them on my ek and loved the quality and wasnt up for poly. Still looking forward to more updates on this,happy to see some subaru content keep up the awesome work !


The previous owner gave me sti control arm bushings when I bought the car. I'll look into hardrace if the STI ones start to show some wear.


Looks amazing and great quality updates in the parts department too. Now I REALLY want a GC8!


I know the feeling of driving the project car everyday. I have an S14 with coilovers, bilt ons, and fixed back Recaros that i track and autocross and a daily/ tow vehicle chevy 2500. I really only drive the 2500 if the 240 is down or during the winter lol. My thought it that i might as well drive it as much as possible becuase if something happens i have my daily haha


Don't STI swap it! The 2.5 is a stout motor and deserves to be tuned as it is.


I still have plans for the 2.5 :)


Bet you a KZ kart is faster than a P1 around Grange Louis lol!


Please tell me you have plans to put a bigger STi wing or even a rallycross wing. Please, it looks like it's begging for one tbh. like this one


NEVER!!! Unless I can find a Seibon or Prodrive one for cheap on eBay.


Come on dude, the one I linked was in good condition and is somewaht cheap, and it's big too. Genuine part as well.


And it'd chunky/hideous! I like me some spoilers but that's not a nice one.


As much i love all the over the top cars and builds on this page, its so refreshing and fun to read through such a "down to earth" build feature. Hoping for more updates soon.


funny how you use Sing Tao Daily as masking tape


Work while catching up on current events!


Bro this is like my all time dream car! I love how the body work just flows together, rad build man! How much did this puppy cost all together?


This is the type of article that I love and need more of! Detailed write up with great photos, that's why I keep coming back to SH (and rock stickers on my wagon)


I know thats not your goal but think about some SPEEDHUNTER decals on the front window maybe for the rear too. For a day 1´s it´s a realy nice possibility. Hope we´ll see you soon Bunta ^^


Think this has been mentioned before, but for an inexpensive brake upgrade swap to the WRX pad bracket and 02-07 WRX rotors up front, with the "H6" (3rd gen Legacy) pad bracket and rotors in the rear. Larger rotors and a slightly more rearward brake bias are never a bad thing.

Unless the '98 RS had a different pad type (Which they might have, come to think of it as that's the odd-year car), you should be able to reuse your old pads a well. The calipers themselves will swap over, they'll just be pushed out further by the pad brackets.

This setup was great on my '00 2.5RS back in the day with a set of stainless steel brake lines and a master cylinder brace.


I initially went with Stoptech sport rotors with Posi Quiet pads as one of my first upgrades to the car. The PQ pads are great but are OEM replacements so I decided to upgrade the front pads to the sports. I don't think Stoptech makes rear sport pads for the 98 because, like you said, it was an odd year. I'm pretty happy with the way they perform at the moment and will probably just wait til the STI swap and just run the bigger brake setup from that.


When you added the camber in you inadvertently gave some toe out as well, which helps a bit with these cars for turn in and reducing understeer. But you will have to keep an eye on it to make sure its not wearing the tires excessively.


Love that this a ±modest and attainable feature / project car.



1) Buy wrecked GD sti
2) Swap entire engine+drivetrain
3) Profit


Wish we had it easier with getting parts and people who would help me because of their pasion for cars and not for the money,Being a car guy in Namibia isn’t the easiest thing especially when the Subaru dealer doesn’t even hold survice parts for me and no buddies to share the Subaru passion with.

Richard Clayderman

It looks like [friend's dad] did a lovely job on the bodywork.


i don't see anything particularly interesting about this car. i m not knocking it down cause it is not a high dollar build or anything like that, but there are a lot of unique out of the box cars on many different budgets that don't get a single feature in speedhunters yet ive seen at least four on this car..i guess ur own car is the best car to the owner. Again, not trying to be disrespectful or anything, maybe its just not my taste.


i don't see anything particularly interesting about this car. i m not knocking it down cause it is not a high dollar build or anything like that, but there are a lot of unique out of the box cars on many different budgets that don't get a single feature in speedhunters yet ive seen at least four on this car..i guess ur own car is the best car to the owner. Again, not trying to be disrespectful or anything, maybe its just not my taste.


This isn't one of our car features or spotlight features. This is a project car update, which follows the personal cars of the editors and contributors.

Gabriel Ronquillo

I'm all about this build. I know it says this isn't your daily driver, but this is exactly how I'd piece one together. Looking forward to the progression of this thing, especially after reading about your GTA Street Class goals.


really great update and project car