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1998 Subaru Impreza 2.5RS Coupe - GC Great

Dave Mann's '98 Impreza is perhaps the greatest street-legal GC8 on the planet, combining time attack function with an aggressive, unique style.

By David Pratte, Photography by Amee Reehal

When you think of the GC8 Subaru Impreza, chances are the first images that come to mind are the awesome WRC machines piloted by rallying gods like Colin McRae and Richard Burns. Or if you're more into time attack than rally, perhaps it's images of fender-flared and big-winged monsters like GST's, Top Speed's or Zen Performance's Unlimited class Imprezas that call your screen saver home.

For Dave Mann of Kelowna, British Columbia, his influences come from the dirt and the pavement. "It started for me out of a love for WRC. I had never really been into cars for the majority of my teen years-instead, I raced downhill mountain bikes at a high level. Naturally, rally was something I took a liking to, as it's very similar to downhill racing in some ways [loose surface and racing against the clock]. That, along with the fact that we were constantly shuttling on gravel roads in the mountains, drew me to Subaru."

In 2002, when Subaru brought the WRX to the North American market, Dave knew he had to have one. But because he was barely old enough to drive at the time (he's now 23 years old and about to graduate from college with a degree in finance), it wasn't until 2005 that he sold his '91 Toyota pickup truck and found a used '02 WRX that fit his budget. "That's when I started to get into the modding scene. It started off light, but as most people know, the obsession grew fast. Within a year I had the car set up with all the basics, plus an upgraded turbo and fuel system, having done all the work myself. It was a great learning process, but I was hooked and wanted to do something bigger and better. I wanted to do a classic ('98-01) body style with a complete swap."

Dave's stars aligned when his local Subaru dealer informed him that they had a Rally Blue Pearl GC8 with a blown motor on the lot. He immediately sold his WRX and picked up the '98 rolling chassis and began researching the challenging JDM STI engine and transmission swap.

"After many phone calls, I finally sourced my swap from Andre at out of Blainville, Quebec. Once the complete JDM Version 7 WRX STI engine and Spec-C 6-speed transmission arrived, my friends and I completed the install over the winter months, and by the summer of 2007 the car was on the road. At this point, it was basically stock with the exception of the new engine and transmission."

It was around this time that Dave developed an interest in time attack. So rather than building his GC8 to slide sideways through the dirt, his objective was to turn his Impreza into a low-budget time attack special and aggressive street car. This meant gutting the interior and having Alsek Industries fabricate a CARS-spec (Canadian Association of Rallysport) eight-point rollcage, as well as developing some functional aerodynamic aids to go along with the usual power-adders and suspension modifications.

"One thing that is really important to me about this car is that it is 95 percent self-built. I have not had a shop do anything to the car except for the ECU tuning and cage work. Everything else I did myself, with the help of my friends." One of the more distinctive modifications to Dave's Impreza is the Limit Factory rear diffuser, a custom one-off item built by this small local fabrication shop. Installing it meant cutting a big hole in the trunk floor as well as the rear bumper cover, but Dave's never been one to shy away from adventurous mods like this, which not only look wild but more importantly should significantly improve rear downforce. The Do-Luck side skirts are also both functional and quite rare (especially on a GC8), complemented nicely by the Seibon carbon-fiber hood and front lip. The rest of the exterior is all JDM Version 6, from the STI foglight covers to the front grille and rear spoiler.

By David Pratte
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