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Posted by Glenn Rowswell on 12th May 2020

Straight outta Bangkok, this wide-arch Impreza perfectly mixes snorting power with beauty queen looks, all wrapped up in sensuous Ruby Red…

Tuesday’s child, as the old nursery rhyme goes, is full of grace. That sounds about right, doesn’t it? The Ruby Red Impreza we’ve found lurking in the shadows in downtown Bangkok couldn’t be a Monday’s child – it’s more striking than it is ‘fair of face’. Scanning through the rest of the age-old rhyme, it’s not full of woe, and we wouldn’t say it has far to go… no, full of grace describes this lipstick-hued Scoob pretty smartly.

It’s not a word often applied to modified cars, is it? Not with a straight face, anyway. Yes, there used to be lots of cars in the scene back in the ’90s proudly wearing stickers that said ‘Pace, grace, and serious bass’, but it always felt that the word had been chosen simply because it rhymed rather than because it actually meant anything. But the logic is starting to tumble into place with Jitpaphat Phutsorn’s widebody creation. Imprezas, traditionally speaking, are robust and hard-as-nails tools built for bouncing through gravelly forests and across deserts, none of which is a particularly graceful pursuit. But this? As it airs out and lets its skirts settle around it like a nineteenth century lady-of-the-manor beside her perfectly manicured tennis lawn, it really does exude an air of gracefulness. A perfectly crafted Ruby Tuesday.

This isn’t to say that Jitpaphat’s creation is entirely without edge, however. What he’s achieved here is to take a well-known and established silhouette and effectively turn it into a sort of life-size Hot Wheels racer, all caricaturistic proportions and deliberately jarring juxtapositions. The Impreza hatchback now wears an incredibly wide bodykit from AZC, its seam-bustingly vast arches just about containing the massive wheels beneath. They’re OZ Futura splits, as you may well have noticed, and measure an impressive 9.75×18-inches at the front, and an inch wider at the rear. Couple this with a bespoke air-ride setup from Airsus and you’ve got a bootylicious miscreant that stances itself like an absolute hero.

All of this is a brilliant counterpoint to the very ethos of the Impreza hatchback, as this was a car that really annoyed a lot of people when it first arrived. The cult of the Impreza had reached a full-on, frothy fever pitch in the late 1990s and through into the new millennium, with the Subaru vs. Mitsubishi gravel wars raging with ever-increasing ferocity. Every fresh variant of the Impreza seemed to ramp the insanity up a level – cleverer tech, more versatile and adjustable chassis, spiraling power levels, seemingly unfathomable specific-output figures, it was nuts. If it was painted World Rally Blue and had gold Speedlines, you knew it was a thing you shouldn’t mess with at the traffic lights or, more to the point, down a twisty B-road. The ballistic three-box saloon reinforced the everyman aspiration of having a sensible family car that was actually a rally car underneath, and the buying public couldn’t get enough.

…and then one day, without any particular warning, Subaru decided to yoink the rug sharply out from beneath everybody’s feet by announcing that the new-for-2007 Impreza would be a hatchback. And everyone said ‘Oh. What, really…?’ while pulling a face like a baby who’s just accidentally licked some vinegar. The Impreza hatch was, in short, not totally what the public wanted. But underdogs often make the best project bases and, while the world’s moved on a bit and we’ve sort of got used to the idea of a hatchback Impreza, there’s still something deliciously naughty about altering its very essence and reinventing it as a stance queen.

Don’t go thinking it’s all show and no go, however. In this particular guise, the Thai-spec Impreza runs an EJ20 motor – that’s the 2.0-litre flat-four found in countless big-power Imprezas (and Legacys, and Foresters…), and Jitpaphat certainly hasn’t left it stock. These engines are always a bit weird to look at, their boxer configuration doesn’t make for the most logical engine bay view, but poke through the spaghetti and you’ll spot a shiny billet turbo in there, a TD05 20G with the iconic HKS mushroom filter hanging off the end along with a HKS BOV. The startling effects of all this have been augmented by a set of CP forged pistons, and a full custom stainless exhaust system; power is as yet untested, but we can safely assume that it’s more than enough to silence the haters.

He’s pretty keen to keep an eye on how it’s behaving too. There was a time back in the early 2000s when auxiliary gauges were one of the most important elements of any build, and this car channels that old-school spirit with gusto, bringing in a full suite of cutting-edge instrumentation from Defi. Lined up along the dash top are a trio of BF gauges monitoring oil pressure, oil temp and water temp, while next to them sits a Defi Advance ZD. This OLED screen is configurable for a number of readouts including speed, exhaust temperature, fuel pressure and all sorts.

And sitting dead-ahead of the driver is a Defi Sports Display F dash, which shows data from the OBD-II, has a G-meter and gyro sensor, can be a speedo and a boost gauge, and a load of other stuff. So basically whatever Jitpaphat wants readings of, he can see them in front of himself, or over there, or even further over there… the luxury of choice, eh? And all the while he’s hugged by purposeful Recaro CS seats, arguably the best chairs in the business, with the rear bench stripped out so the full majesty of the air install is right there behind for maximum involvement.

In essence, this Impreza is a fusion of form and function. Air-ride is perfect for Bangkok as, while there’s been decent government investment in road-building and resurfacing, it’s still a fact of daily life that’ll you’ll come across potholes you could swim in. And form – well, the aesthetic treatment here is very much on-trend with the builds we’ve been seeing coming out of Thailand recently; widebodies are massive over there (culturally and, of course, literally), with Thai tuning outfits keen to craft their own interpretations of the Liberty Walk and Rocket Bunny vibes we see ricocheting around the rest of the global scene.

And, Slathering it all in Ruby Red, in that funky-fresh wrap from scene supremos Take A Wrap? A masterstroke. It’s the colour of passion, soul, vividity. Take it from the Rolling Stones: ‘Catch your dreams before they slip away… lose your dreams and you will lose your mind’. That’s the essence of Ruby Tuesday – Jitpaphat’s built an everyday show-stopper that acts as a mirror for his own dreams. Full of grace, with some serious pace.


Ruby Red wrap, AZC widebody kit inc. front lip, sideskirts and rear skirts.

EJ20 2.0-litre flat-four, TD05 20G billet turbo, HKS BOV, CP pistons, custom exhaust system, HKS induction, 5-speed trans with LSD, OS Giken twin-plate clutch.
9.75×18” -27 (front) and 10.75×18” -40 (rear) OZ Futura wheels, STI Brembo brakes, Airsus/Silver air-ride, camber arms.

Recaro Sportster CS seats in Alcantara, Defi Sports Display F dash, Defi Advance ZD display, Defi BF gauges, GReddy Profec boost controller.

“Thanks to AZC Original, Take A Wrap, and Serialone Photography.”

Words Joe Partridge Photography SerialOne