Short-Wheelbase Subaru GD WRX STi (Wabi~Sabi)

Subaru GD WRX STi Empattement Court (Wabi~Sabi)

Based on a 2004 Subaru Impreza WRX STi, I built this very special project without prior experience, in my basic home garage and on a very limited budget. Expressing in a true way the mantra of “wabi~sabi” (which means that nothing needs be perfect to achieve one’s vision and that through flaws or change can also be seen beauty or improvement – for an explanatory video CLICK HERE).

You will find here a quick rundown of this vast project that used to include hundred of pages of details and build pictures originally posted on the forum IWSTI in 2012. To say that it took the Subaru world by storm would be an understatement!

In June of 2003, I purchased the car brand new and was the first to own an STi in my region. Not long after, the project started life as a simple WRC tribute car (phase 1) with a bunch of bolt-ons.

Then, from 2008 to 2012, it underwent a complete transformation into a short wheelbased 2-door “what if the GD had a 22B version?” tribute build (phase 2). 6.1 inches were removed from the middle section (similarly to the Audi Sport quattro) among various other body modifications.

The iconic picture that says it all!

From 2012 to 2014, after battling through some engine related issues, the car started to undergo various other modifications such as moving the radiator to the rear of the car, a new fully custom low mount turbo setup, and performing further weight reductions, slowly metamorphosing it into a dedicated race car (phase 3).

RRS’ “Wabi~Sabi” Project (phase 2.5)

In late 2014, my love for the Golden Era of rallying came back in a tidalwave of emotion and nostalgia, hence I decided to go back to my rally roots and experimented in transforming the car into a Group B tribute (phase 4). It even made me create what is now the best online source of information on Group B, the website, spanning near 200 pages of everything I know. I’ve also been published in many auto magazines of renown; Motor Sport, Octane, and more! Plus doing real ground work to further aid in preserving Group B history.

Back to the Wabi~Sabi project, I took inspiration from multiple Group B cars and tried to implement as much features as he could into the quite different and more modern Subaru Impreza bodywork. As such, the rear trunk section was shaved off 8.1 inches to help achieve a more diminutive size typical of the smaller purpose-built Group B cars such as the Peugeot 205 T16. The rear bumper was deleted and replaced with large mudflaps to evoke the down-to-business look of the Lancia Rallye 037 and Delta S4. The rear spoiler was subsequently raised in a similar fashion to the Citroën BX 4TC.

RRS’ “Wabi~Sabi” Project (phase 4A)

In 2015, in the spirit of the “evolution” of the latter Group B cars, the car underwent more modifications pertaining to adding maximum downforce. As such, the nose of the car was reduced by 4.1 inches similarly to the Mitsubishi Starion 4WD. This brought the overall length of the car 18.3 inches shorter than a regular Impreza body, which would officially put the car into the “supermini / sub-compact / B-segment” class.

Inspired by one of the most iconic aero package of the Group B era, I decided to implement features similar to the Pikes Peak version of the Audi Sport quattro S1. That meant creating a front spoiler setup and enlarging the rear spoiler to match. The result is an astounding blend of old and modern styling which gives Group B a tribute in the most earnest way.

RRS’ “Wabi~Sabi” Project (phase 4B)
RRS’ “Wabi~Sabi” Project (phase 4B)
RRS “Wabi~Sabi” Project / Size Difference vs Stock STi

Preliminary winter testing of the project wielded very positive results. Besides it not being a powerhouse, the car turned out to be exceedingly fast and easy to drive – being about 2 seconds per kilometre faster than a much better equipped and motorised Open-4WD class Subaru STi rally car of the same generation.

Still, I was not content with the current progress of the build, even though I estimate the time taken to get this far was 1500+ hours. I therefore planned to push the envelope further by replacing the monocoque chassis with a custom-built spaceframe. By doing so, it would turn the car into a silhouette racer quite similarly to the purpose-built Group B rally legends. I went as far as creating a rough rear clamshell out of the bodywork but then my inspiration for this car simply fell apart, realising that I needed to start fresh with genuine 1980’s steel – the 53B RS-Turbo “Gruppe B” project. Thus, the ultimate version of Wabi~Sabi therefore shall forever only exist on paper:

RRS’ “Wabi~Sabi” Project (phase 5 – concept)

Below are some specs and below that are the original “Build Story” videos. You can also check out many winter tests and other projects videos on my YouTube Channel.


Group/ClassExperiment / Tribute Build Prototype
Project YearsPhase 1 (2003~2007)
Phase 2 (2008~2012)
Phase 3 (2013~2014)
Phase 4 (2015)
Phase 5 (aborted)
TypeEJ257, H-4, DOHC 16v, gasfront-longitudinal
Displacement2457 cc 
Compression ratio8.2:1
Output Power – Torque335 HP @ 5,200 rpm362 lb-ft @ 3,800 rpm
Materialsblock: aluminiumcylinder head: aluminium
Aspiration & InjectionTurbocharger (low front mounted)
Air/Air Intercooler
boost: 17 psi
Ignitionelectronic firing order 1 – 3 – 2 – 4
Lubrication systemwet sump with 1 oil cooler 
Cooling systemwater-cooled, rear mounted
Typefour-wheel drive (AWD)6-speed manual gearbox
Gearbox ratios1st: 3.636
2nd: 2.375
3rd: 1.761
4th: 1.346
5th: 0.971
6th: 0.756
Longitudinal, Shortened Driveshaft
Differential ratios3.90Dual Limited Slip w/ Standalone Driver Controlled Center Differential (DCCD)
ClutchDry Single Plate / 600 lb-ft capacity
TypeGD Impreza chassis shortened 6.1″ middle, 8.1″ rear, 4.1″ front, (18.3″ total), with roll-cage, custom widebody aluminum and fiberglass panels, polycarbonate side windows, roof vane and cooling ducts, large WRC S9-type fiberglass rear spoiler (extended), louvered fiberglass hood/bonnet (shortened), front aluminum bumper and large spoiler, fully flat underside skidplate system.
Front suspensionIndependent, Macpherson 16-way adjustable struts, Coil Springs, optional adjustable sway bar.
Rear suspensionIndependent, Dual Lateral Links, Trailing Arms, Coil Springs, 16-way adjustable struts, optional adjustable sway bar.
Steering systemrack and pinion, hydraulic power assistance with cooler12.0:1 (2 turns lock to lock)

Brembo 4 piston calipers with 326 mm slotted & vented rotors (tarmac)

Subaru 4 piston calipers with 294 mm slotted & vented rotors (gravel/snow)


Brembo 2 piston calipers with 316 mm slotted & vented rotors (tarmac)

Subaru 2 piston calipers with 290 mm STi gravel vented rotors (gravel/snow)
Optional vacuum assistance, adjustable F/R ratio, hydraulic vertical handbrake
body length: 153.0 inches / 3885 mm
full length (with aero package): 162.5 inches / 4125 mm
width: 73.0 inches / 1855 mmheight: 56.7 inches / 1440 mm
wheelbase: 93.9 inches / 2385 mmfront track: 62.0 inches / 1575 mmrear track: 61.8 inches / 1570 mm
Rims – TiresTarmac:

DDR3 wheels18×9″ / F: ET+28 R: ET+15


WRC Subaru spec gravel wheels15×7″ / ET+5

255/35ZR18 UHP BFG


195/65R15 snow tires
Dry/Unladen Weight1215 kg / 2,680 lbBias: F52.9 / R47.1 %
Weight/power3.6 kg/HP (8.0 lb/HP)
Fuel tank60 litres
Drag coefficient


A fun pause…

Back to work!