For the second part of this Air Lift Performance series, we’re going to look at not just an icon on air, but an icon of our world, full stop.
The Subaru Impreza isn’t a car that needs any introduction, or even justification, but it is one that’s lived quite an unusual life.
From its heady Group A and WRC rallying days in the 1990s, the Impreza was the literal king of the hill. Three times constructor champions and three driver championships with 47 overall victories on the world stage for Subaru as a whole.
As we rolled through the 2000s, the Subaru World Rally Team began its decline before withdrawing from the WRC in 2008, citing the financial downturn along with having achieved their sporting and marketing goals as their reasons. It’s hard to argue that SWRT didn’t leave their mark on the sport, despite lean later years.
For so many of us then, there’s almost certainly a golden age of Impreza, which seems to span this timeframe.
It’s no surprise then that the Impreza name still retains its reputation all these years later, and it’s rare to attend a show or meet where you don’t hear that distinctive flat-four burble at some stage.
It remains a versatile platform as well, seemingly well suited to everything from daily driving, to show car, to all-out track car.
There are few better examples I can think of that have successfully made the jump from street car, to show car, to championship-winning race car than Cody Miles‘ Impreza STI.
The car and its owner aren’t strangers to these pages, as we’ve documented Cody’s adventures numerous times over the years as he took his Air Lift Performance-equipped Subaru to multiple victories across the United States.
To have watched the STI progress from the above, as a mildly stripped street car with a half cage to its current evolution as a fully fledged race car has been most enjoyable for even the casual spectator. Who doesn’t dream of winning races in their daily?
For Cody, he never set out to prove anything; he was just competing with what he had: a bagged STI.
Cody explained to us how his love for Subaru started at a young age.
“As for why I chose a Subaru, I think it just comes down to a childhood dream of mine. I remember being in 7th grade, and having my school binders covered in pictures of modified Subarus that I had cut out from magazines like Super Street, Import Tuner and PAS.”
“Anytime I got stuck going to the grocery store with my mom as a kid, the first thing I’d do is run to the magazine section, snatch up all the import mags, find somewhere to sit and just soak it all up.”
“Looking at these cars was one thing, but the first time I heard the horizontally-opposed four-banger cruise by on the street, it was game over for me. I had to figure out a way to get one as soon as I was old enough.”
“Another reason I fell in love with these cars is because of rally racing. I grew up surrounded by dirt, so my hobbies included nothing but off-road activities. I liked the look of import cars specifically, but I couldn’t really relate as a kid because trucks and dirt bikes just made more sense. However, seeing photos and videos of STIs ripping through the dirt and launching off jumps at speeds that just shouldn’t be possible really struck something inside me.”
“So, fast forward many years, and I managed to find myself in a position where I could dump out my bank account and attain one. Within three hours of owning it, the engine was destroyed, just like my financial status, and the research had begun to improve on what Subaru had started.”
“As most of you know, I daily drove this car with no intention of it being the full silly monster that it is today. I drove it to work for years, many times parking it in sketchy areas praying that it would be there when I come back out. I was basically Lil Bow Wow from Tokyo Drift, walking into work every morning holding my steering wheel, as I didn’t feel safe leaving it in the car.”
“The mods came over time as the car was still being used as my sole means of transportation. My routine was basically as follows: Order parts on Monday, hope they arrive by the weekend, tear the car apart Saturday morning, go as fast as I could and have it back together Sunday night, take it for a quick test, then sleep well knowing it would at least get me to work come Monday morning. It sounds hilarious I know, but there was a driving force inside me that I didn’t question; I just went with.”
“Being that air suspension could provide all of the improvements I was after without losing the practicality I needed for daily duties, it was a no-brainer.”
“Then as things evolved, the car slowly became more and more out of hand until its priority had changed from getting me to work, to winning races. The suspension setup from Air Lift Performance managed to roll with the punches and grow with the vehicle and its expectations without skipping a beat. I wouldn’t hesitate to choose this suspension all over again.”
What many people are not aware of is that Cody wasn’t sponsored by Air Lift Performance in these early days. In fact, he didn’t come to their attention for a couple of years.
What even less people realise is that just like when he first put his Subaru on air, Cody still uses an off-the-shelf Performance 3H kit.
There’s no specially-adapted dampers or modified control system software; it’s the same kit that anyone – Cody’s competitors included – can buy.
While the 2020 race season has been interrupted due to COVID-19, Cody took 5th in class at Super Lap Battle COTA in February, and a class and overall victory at a recent OnGrid event at Thunderhill Raceway, despite not having 5th gear.
I’m not sure if it’s just something inside that has me rooting for the underdog, or the fact that instead of sitting around and talking about doing things Cody is actually out there putting rubber on the ground trying to go faster and faster, but I don’t think I’ll ever tire of watching him progress.
From stock daily to a 598hp at the wheels, fully-built time attack machine on air suspension, it as much about the Subaru platform as it is Cody’s commitment to racing and developing both his own skills and the car.
It’s fitting then to wrap this up by continuing Cody’s The Fast And The Furious simile as he personifies that saying of “It’s not how you stand by your car, it’s how you race your car.”
Additional Photography by Ryan Stewart & Subaru
This story was brought to you in association with Air Lift Performance, an official Speedhunters Supplier