True Impreza fans tend to shy away from overly-styled rides, and for good reason – there’s no need to change what’s already a superb-looking car. Instead, we’d recommend that unless you’re the proud owner of a later-spec model, you upgrade your vehicle to a V5 (Version 5) or V6 spec. Between 1996 and 1997 the Classic was face-lifted, so owners of early models often upgrade their cars to match the later iterations. Deeper front grilles, crystal headlights and indicators and higher-level rear spoilers are all common but great-looking mods. Consider a P1 front splitter if you want to create an aggressive-looking front-end, or look at some of the composite splitters and spoilers from Seibon if you’re more of a carbon junkie. Just bear in mind the standard STi aluminium bonnet is lighter than most carbon items! The car pictured has a front-mounted intercooler, so the bonnet scoop has been reversed to dissipate heat, rather than suck air in to the intercooler.
2. ENGINE TUNING
The EJ20 2.0ltr unit in the STi is a great base for further tuning and has proven itself at the highest levels of motorsport over the years. In terms of building a capable daily driver, there’s no real benefit to be had from upgrading the bottom end at this sort of power level – it comes with forged internals as standard, a higher rev limit than the UK models and will be happy kicking out 400bhp if it’s mapped properly. We’d advise you to fit a higher-flowing RCM oil pump as your first priority, as this is a part that commonly leads to engine failure. To achieve 400bhp, you should be looking at upgrading to a TD05-20G, MD321H or GT2871r turbo, all of which are capable of doing the desired figures. On top of that, you’ll also be looking at bigger injectors, an upgraded fuel pump, adjustable fuel pressure regulator, front-mounted intercooler, tubular headers and a full decat exhaust system from the likes of Hayward & Scott, Scoobysport, HKS or RCM. There are various ECUs and boost controllers on the market, but we’d advise that you take it to a mapping specialist such as Zen Performance to get the car dialled in. The clutch will also need upgrading to handle the power, so check out items from Exedy or OS Giken. Elsewhere, it’s worth fitting a lightweight flywheel while you’re there!
As with the exterior, there’s no real benefit in making drastic changes to the interior if your car is used daily, but it’s worth considering upgrading to match the spec of the later model Imprezas. Pre-1997 Classics came with a different dash to later cars, but the main change we’d make is to fit some late-model STi seats. It’s worth fitting some aftermarket gauges to keep an eye on the important bits – in particular oil pressure and temperature, and water temperature. There are various triple-gauge mounting kits available for the centre of the dash, which enable you to fit the gauges of your choice. A KnockLink meter is another Impreza favourite worth considering to monitor for harmful detonation. Aside from that – fit a tidy double DIN headunit and some upgraded component speakers and you’ve done all you need to do.
4. SUSPENSION & HANDLING
There are a plethora of suspension upgrade choices available for the Classic, designed for anything from the daily commuter right through to the dedicated track car. But for a daily-driven car that needs to retain some degree of comfort, we’d recommend Tein’s Type Flex coilovers with adjustable top mounts. They provide a firm but supple ride and create a car that can be driven in the real world, especially where your Impreza excels – on B-roads and country lanes. If you’re looking at doing the occasional trackday in addition, consider a slightly firmer set-up from the likes of AST, or for the ultimate in WRC-derived suspension porn, Exe-tc is the way forward. But expect to pay for it! It’s also worth looking into the range of Whiteline suspension components you can buy for your Classic – anything from uprated anti-roll bars through to anti-lift kits, heavy duty drop links and bump-steer kits. These elements will further enhance the suspension set- up of your car, but wouldn’t be absolutely critical on a daily driver.
5. WHEELS & BRAKES
It’s generally accepted that on a Classic, a 17in wheel is the limit if you want to retain the car’s nimble characteristics and great point-to-point abilities. If you choose 17in rims with good clearance, you’ll have space to upgrade to later-model Brembo four-pots from a newer Impreza, or a 330mm AP six-pot kit, which will provide you with eyeball-wrenching stopping power. We’d recommend a super- lightweight classy wheel, such as OZ Ultraleggeras.