As the antithesis to drifting, an all-wheel-drive Impreza is pretty much perfect. And when Perry Feighan felt his life required a little more grip, this modified Subaru Impreza Blobeye was the clear solution…
The Subaru Impreza is a lot of things. A rally icon, a B-road hooligan, an appreciating modern classic, a practical family car that’s also a ballistic weapon. One thing it isn’t however, is a drift car. That’s not to say it hasn’t been done, there are a few drifters out there who’ve converted Scoobs to RWD and gone out to run the wall and drop a few jaws, but it’s fair to say that this revered Japanese everyday-hero has almost always been chalked up as ‘grip’ rather than ‘slip’ on the performance ledger.
In this particular case, the Impreza has taken on yet another function: a soothing tonic, a mopping cloth for the fevered brow, a rewire for a fused brain. Because when the black dog on Perry Feighan’s shoulder started barking at him that drifting was a no-no, despite having an S14 parked outside and being neck-deep in the tyre-atomising scene, that’s not a voice one can ignore – and the perky three-box Subaru offered the ideal solution.
“I used to have a drift car as part of a group called Slipwheel,” Perry explains. “We would drift at least once a month, and even started doing little vlogs and videos as part of our journey. However, at some point my anxiety disorder decided to target drifting as a trigger for me, turning a sport I lived and breathed into a strain mentally – to the point where even seeing the car at the side of the house would give me this wave of anxiety. I just had to give it up and sell the S14.
“Imprezas have been in my family for so many years,” he continues, “and out of all my dad’s builds, the blobeye was my favourite. So after the S14 went I immediately went out to buy this Impreza, almost as my own slice of nostalgia. Every time I sat in it I felt good, it was such a nice transition from feeling horrendous to feeling joy… just by swapping out the car.”
It’s amazing how the brain can shift from the rational to the irrational and back with such unsettling ease, and how emotions can be as anchored in inanimate things as they can by people, memories, or good old chemistry. Suffice it to say that something needed to change, and the Impreza was the answer. It was more than just a car, it was a splash of novocaine for a troubled soul.
This isn’t to say that any old Impreza would do, of course. Perry’s a hardcore petrolhead through-and-through, and his automotive history plainly demonstrates that he’s never been one to align himself with one particular brand or genre – he appreciates cool cars, that’s as focused as it needs to be, and the number of Fast Car features he’s enjoyed before suggests that he’s pretty bloody good at putting them together too. Regular readers may well remember his VW Polo among others, and he’s flitted from style to style and scene to scene like some sort of hyperactive honeybee, spreading the pollen of success wherever he lands.
When he started building himself an Impreza, then, we could tell it was going to be special. “A good friend, Matt, happened to be selling this car just at the time I was selling mine, and I knew I had to take it off his hands,” Perry recalls. “When I got it, it was pretty much an STI replica – seats, bumpers, spats, the works. This wasn’t really my flavour though, as I prefer not to make cars look like something they aren’t. It’s like having an EcoBoost with a full ST kit.” Fair enough really, and so he set about de-STi-ing the blobeye and pondering how to reimagine it in his own inimitable style.
The STI interior was the first thing to go, being swapped with a friendly chap who just so happened to have the correct interior for Perry’s car (who presumably was pretty chuffed with the deal), and the next job was to sort out the XXR wheels. There was nothing wrong with them per se, but they were finished in a distinctly questionable black-and-gold combo; whipping them off and having them refinished in a far more pleasing white immediately made a huge difference to the overall aesthetic, so Perry was already well on his way to victory.
“The front bumper was the next thing that had to go,” he says. “It was full of STI bits, with a hawkeye splitter. So I swapped it out for a Chargespeed bumper, and worked with my friend Chris Hill to draw out and make up a custom splitter out of ABS plastic, which came out fantastic! To add to that, I popped some Chargespeed sideskirts on there and reused the skirt extensions from when I got the car, to make the look follow the car round. And one hurdle I had was that I knew I wanted an aero-style mirror, but the WRC ones looked crap and so did the common M3-style – they were never going near my car, so I looked at the GKTech Ganador replicas from Australia. I picked up a set of M3 mirror base plates on eBay, having spotted that the mounting edge looked very similar. I threw away the M3 mirror and the S13 base plate from the GKTechs and bolted what I had left together. Worked a charm!”
The car’s also wearing an 8-piece flare kit from Karlton Style, which gives it real presence, along with a set of those iconic vortex generators along the roof edge – and he hasn’t totally binned off the idea of STI styling, keeping the high-rise boot spoiler and oversize bonnet scoop simply because they’re off-the-charts badass bits of design. He’s also chased after STI-like levels of power; exceeding them in fact, by bolting a TD05-16G turbo and STI top-mount intercooler to that wubba-wubba-wubbaing flat-four. The boxer’s packing increased fuelling courtesy of 565cc injectors and Walbro 255 fuel pump, while the lungs have been expanded by virtue of a Pipercross Pro-R panel filter and a Milltek 3-inch non-resonated stainless system with Japspeed decat. The cherry on the cake is a RaceDynamix remap, which serves up a hot-to-trot 332bhp.
Perry’s put a lot of thought into maximising the potential of the chassis in order to deploy all of this rally car grunt too, with the addition of BC coilovers, a Whiteline anti-lift kit and roll centre correction kit, and the mighty Brembo brakes from the STI, complete with MTec discs and Goodridge braided lines. A comprehensive makeover, turning this blobeye into a proper road weapon.
“One of the common remarks I hear is ‘I hate Imprezas, but this one really works’,” he grins. “I think this is because not a lot of Subaru owners mess with bodykits. It’s usually the same three colours and every one’s an STI rep.” Like so many times before, Perry’s trodden his own path here with the core aim to be to build the car his way rather than seek other people’s approval; after all, this car is therapy, it needs to tick all of his own boxes.
Somewhat unusually – and perhaps even uniquely – our shoot takes place while the car’s being sold, the new owner impatiently tapping their toes and waiting to take delivery of their new pride-and-joy as we bugger about with lenses and light reflectors and whatnot. So how has this happened, after the car represented such a revivifying mental salve?
“Throughout my many years building up cars, I’ve spent them shoulder-to-shoulder with my best buddy Tom Shaw,” Perry explains. “We’ve been from static show cars, to aired-out show cars, to drifters, and beyond. Our latest move, and where we feel we belong, is in classic Americans. Spending a lot of time at Santa Pod watching drag racing, you really can’t help but fall in love with the old Yank tanks; my dream has always been a Ford Galaxie, and I’m finally in a position to start the project – a ’64 Sedan in Sunshine Yellow.” So there you have it. The vital and essential lesson here is that you’ve got to do what feels right. You only live once. Drive yourself happy. This Impreza was a necessary means of change for Perry, transitioning him from one life chapter to another, and now it exists as a snapshot in time, preserved in amber; it’ll undoubtedly change again with its new owner (indeed, it almost certainly already has), but the car you see spread across these pages will resonate through the ages. Why? Because it’s not just a car. It’s a route to salvation.
TECH SPEC: SUBARU IMPREZA
Karlton Flares style 8-piece bodykit, STI bonnet scoop, STI rear spoiler, wing stabilisers, M2 Motorsport vortex generators, ARP carbon fibre rear recess, carbon B-pillars, Chargespeed sideskirts with custom extensions, Chargespeed front bumper with custom splitter, debadged boot, mirror window tints, Smilefactory sunstrip, replica Ganador mirrors
2.0-litre flat-four, TD05-16G turbo, STI top-mount intercooler, 565cc injectors, Walbro 255 fuel pump, Milltek 3in non-resonated stainless exhaust system, Japspeed decat up and down pipes, Pipercross Pro-R panel filter, atmospheric blow-off valve, 3-port boost solenoid, 42mm alloy radiator, silicone hoses, 5-speed manual, RaceDynamix remap: 332bhp, 302 lb.ft
10x18in XXR 557 wheels, 265/35 Nankang NS-2R tyres, H&R (front) and Direnza (rear) hubcentric spacers, extended studs, BC Racing coilovers, Whiteline anti-lift kit, Whiteline roll centre correction kit, STi Brembo front calipers, MTec dimpled/grooved discs, Goodridge braided lines
Hawkeye steering wheel, carbon fibre gearknob, touchscreen DVD headunit, Pioneer component speakers, R-Spec digital stepper boost gauge
Words Joe Partridge Photography Jules Truss