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Soobie for Show

A Subaru show car that churns out plenty of power and turns plenty of heads!

Words by Michael Knowling, Pix by Julian Edgar

Click on pics to view larger images

At a glance...

  • 1999 Subaru Impreza WRX show car
  • Rebuilt 2.0 litre making 300+ kilowatts at the wheels
  • Custom interior
  • Custom paint and body mods
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John Iacobucci likes to share his cars. No, he won’t hand you the keys to enter a burnout competition but he will let you share the viewing pleasure that his extensively modified Subaru provides.

This is John’s third show car – and it’s an absolute ripper.

“My second show car was a white WRX that I gave tiger stripes and did some engine work on. That was a great car – it was the motivation for me to buy this car and go all the way,” says John.

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John is a man who knows exactly how to get it in the shortest possible time. True to form, it has taken just 6 months to transform this ’99 WRX from a stocker into a 300+ kilowatts at the wheels trophy stealer. Given its short gestation, it’s no surprise that John hit the car with body, interior and engine mods at the same time.

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John says he passed up on a US-spec STi 2.5 litre engine because he wanted to disprove the knockers who reckon you can’t get 300+kW at the wheels out of a 2.0 litre. As such, the standard 2.0 litre EJ20 has been rebuilt by G-Tech to include Aries forged pistons which are strong enough to make big power at high boost levels. The DOHC heads are untouched and the standard camshafts are kept.

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The power push comes largely from a big GReddy T67 ball-bearing turbo teamed with a Blitz 47mm external wastegate. The turbo and ‘gate are mounted on a Drift tubular manifold which is heat wrapped from flange to flange. A custom dump pipe merges turbine and wastegate gas flow into a Blitz 3 inch exhaust.

On the intake side, John relies on a Blitz pod filter and a Blitz front-mount air-to-air intercooler with custom mandrel bent plumbing. Boost pressure from the big T67 is currently limited to 25 psi using a Blitz electronic controller (which, at the time of photography, was set-up in tandem with a pneumatic bleed).

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Controlling fuel and ignition is a MicroTech LT8 programmable computer with an in-built MAP sensor. The LT8 fires a set of 700cc injectors, which are installed together with custom rails, a FSC regulator and FSC ‘700hp’ in-tank pump. The ignition is stock.

A surprise power hit comes courtesy of a nitrous system that can be tuned to deliver a 50 – 80hp shot. John triggers the nitrous using an arming switch wired in series with a hidden momentary switch. We’re told there’s no need to use the nitrous off the line because the turbo spools up fine without any assistance.

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When John wants to make a fast getaway he gives the tuned EJ20 a big rev and sidesteps a clutch that he describes as “extra, extra, extra, extra heavy duty”. In other words, it’s bloody strong! For the time being, the standard 5-speed gearbox is being used but John expects he’ll soon need a dog box.

John is yet to make a quarter mile appearance but says he’s hoping for a high 10 or low 11 second pass. This seems pretty reasonable given the car has slogged out 304kW at the wheels on a 4WD Dyno Dynamics chassis dyno. This was achieved with 25 psi boost, a conservative ‘street tune’ and nitrous.

So that’s the engine and driveline make-up – what else does this show car have up its sleeve?

Well, let’s start with the body.

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While the engine was being built, John had 5 Star Panels strip off the original dark blue paint, massage out any dings and hose on some custom paint. The colour is based on the Ford XR Citric Acid with a little something extra to make it glow. Whatever that something is, it sure works!

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Aside from the new colour, John has added a carbon fibre bonnet, STi high-rise wing, JetSpeed front lip (which is moulded into the original front bumper), clear lens taillights and clear indicators. Oh, and there’s plenty of sticker-work in appreciation of the sponsors who have helped during the project.

Wheel choice is paramount in the show scene (you’d be a laughing stock if you rolled up on yesterday’s wheels) so John uses current-fashion Advantec 18 x 7.5s painted white and wearing 215/35 Falkens. These fill the guards nicely thanks to King super low springs.

The interior is particularly innovative.

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John went off the beaten track when he had a set of SAAS seats fitted front and rear. These seats are intended for front seat installation and, as you might imagine, there was a lot of time and effort invested trying to mount them in the rear at a suitable height and angle. And if you’re looking for a rear centre armrest you can use the big nitrous tank – just don’t go twiddling any knobs... John has also trimmed the door inserts and centre console lid in the same blue fabric used in the SAAS seats – a nice touch.

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The interior is completed with a triple gauge pod containing an AutoMeter air-fuel ratio, oil pressure and nitrous pressure gauge. At the time of writing, a big audio system was yet to be installed. The new system will use Philips components and provide plenty of kick without adding excess weight.

When we caught up with John and his WRX the car had been on the road for just 3 weeks. Inevitably, there are some small jobs yet to be completed but once they’re done, John will be hitting the show scene in a big way. And he won’t rest there. He’s already thinking about pulling the motor out for some heavy-duty strengthening, big cams, more boost and extra nitrous. The goal has now been changed to 350kW at the wheels running the standard 2.0 litre capacity - y-eah!


G-Tech Performance
+61 3 9305 2888

John would like to thank Darren and the crew from G-Tech, Autobahn Sunbury and all of the other sponsors – Drift, SAAS, 5 Star Panels, Glenroy Exhaust, Mothers, Raine Graphics and Philips.

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