A long time ago I bought a 2.5rs to be a winter car. I never imagined it would be such a fun car to drive. I decided that someday when I had more money I would build a really nice one. That time finally came a few years ago. I purchased a bone stock 98 2.5RS from South Carolina. It was a rust free, one owner, non accident car. It had ~150k miles on it. I spent weeks checking CL until I found the right one. I called the guy 15 minutes after he posted it, flew down there, and drove it home.
Living in Northern VT does have some benefits. Montreal Canada is a little over an hour away. They have a lot of import/chop shops there. After a few trips I was able to bring home some real JDM parts. (v5 wing, gc8 lip/bumper, jdm rear bumper, jdm spats, jdm turn signals, jdm grill, jdm headlights) I also purchased some Rally Armor mudflaps.
I found a good deal on an 06 WRX swap package in NJ. It was the complete motor, wiring, ecu, tubo, ecu, steering rack, crossmember, ps resevoir etc... that I would need for a swap. I didn't have a truck back then so I had to improvise. It was a lot of driving but worth it. Notice the redbull can.
I picked up a set of JDM v7 sti seats from canada to do a blue interior theme. I bought some blue microseude fabric from a vendor on rs25.com to redo the door panels.
It didn't take me long to put the motor in. I purchased a cheap ebay exhaust and some gc8 aluminum control arms while I was at it. The wiring on the other hand took me and a friend about a week. I had to merge the 98 2.5rs harness with the 06 wrx one. This was the most intensive wiring I've ever done. Looking back it wasn't too bad to do. The 06 has avcs wiring, an immobilizer, and a drive-by-wire pedal gas pedal.
The clutch on the 2.5RS transmission was not holding up well with the wrx motor. I didn't replace it when I put the motor in because I knew eventually I'd want to do an sti drivetrain. I found a good deal on CL for some 04 sti stuff. FOr $1k I got brembos, 04 hubs, 04 axles, a rear diff and sti front aluminum control arms. So now I got to sell the gc8 aluminum control arms I had just bought.
While looking for an 04 transmission, I came accross a really good deal on an 05 drivetrain that I couldn't pass up. The problem was that it was in South Carolina and I could only get it if I pulled it. My friend had sold his DSM motor though to a guy in Florida and was planning on shipping it down there. Instead we decided to go on a Road trip. We pulled the rear interior out of my 3000gt, loaded his dsm motor in the back, drove it to Florida, delivered the engine, drove to South Carolina, pulled the drivetrain out of a wrecked STI on jack stands, loaded it up in my 3000gt, and drove home to VT. We did this all in a 3 day weekend. I wish I took pics of everything in the back of the 3000gt. All I have is this photo. You can see how loaded up the car was. The seller let me take the STI carpet from the car as well.
Now that I had an 05 drivetrain I was able to sell the 04 hubs/axles I had bought. I kept the aluminum control arms, rear diff, and brembos. After some more saving I purchased ISC coilovers, and some 05 BBS rims. Here's a pic of my first ride with the new drivetrain.
The STI 6 speed transmission has DCCD (Driver Controlled Center Differential) that I wasn't utilizing. The stock DCCD is controlled via a complicated system that uses ABS sensor input. So I purchased an aftermarket DCCD pro system that utilizes a gyro sensor. It even has output wires so you can hook it to the stock dccd tree on the gauge cluster, and has hookups so you can use the stock STI DCCD switches on the center console. The jdm gc8 gauge clusters have the DCCD tree. I was able to remove it from a jdm cluster and install it in the back of my stock 98 gauge cluster. It already had a spot for it as the slot is already there to accomadate the automatic transmission tree. Also notice the jdm steering wheel I got from Canada.
I got good deal on an aluminum jdm hood from canada. The stock US ones are made of steel and a lot heavier. I picked up some new jdm bumper beams as well. I had previously hacked up my 98 beam in order to fit the 99-01 style bumper. I did this knowing it was only a temporary thing.
It wasn't long before I wanted the sti red gauges. I decided to keep the 2.5rs dash and retrofit an sti gauge cluster. Before buying and hacking up a $300 cluster I test fit a much cheaper wrx cluster. To make it physically fit I had to hack the mounting ears off the cluster. Then I had to notch and bend the mounting points on the underside of the dash.
The cluster fit but there were gaps on the bottom corners that the bezel would not cover. To correct this I fiberglassed the corners of the plastic bezel so that they would hide the gap. I also had to heat and pull the middle part of the bezel up so that it wouldn't hide the tachometer.
Once I knew it fit and that I'd be happy with it, I bought an sti gauge cluster w/ wiring pigtails to modify. There were only about 20 wires to merge to make it work correctly. Here's a spreadsheet showing the mapping I used: GaugeClusterWiring.xlsx
I wanted some center gauges so I purchased the map pack bezel cover. This is a factory part that replaces the center dash lid. I had to modify it with a dremel so that it was wide enough to fit a 52mm gauge. Then I used a thick vinyl mudflap I cut up to serve as a backing plate.
Since I was on an interior kick, I wanted a black headliner. I used some black duplicolor vinyl and carpet paint to spray my headliner and visors gloss black. It worked really well and 5 years later still looks just as good with no chipping.
I found a good deal on a low mileage VF43 turbo (off an 05-07 sti). I purchased it to replace my wrx turbo. I installed some heat wrap and a shield while I was at it.
After daily driving this multi-colored car for a few years I was excited for paint. My friend Garett Holler painted it. I had him remove the side trim pieces that run along the middle of the doors and shave the antenna. I also picked up a bakemono hoodscoop for the car and some ebay foglight covers.
After paint, I decided it was time to do some suspension work. I went with eibach front and rear sway bars, perrin stout mounts, and kartboy endlinks. I als installed a bump steer kit, a rollcaster kit, and poly bushings underneath. I replaced my ebay exhaust with a nice HKS carbon fiber one too.
I fixed a few other things that were bugging me as well. I charged the A/C, installed an sti top mount intercooler, and a 2.2 legacy turbo aluminum radiator with jdm fans. I needed to use jdm fas as the US ones were too thick and wouldn't fit
One of the last modifications I did to this car was replace the rubber accordion shift boot. They don't exactly make a shift boot that fits an rs center console and sti shifter so I made my own. I also sewed together an ebrake boot. While doing it I put in a kartboy short shifter.
The jdm gc8 steering wheel was nice, but I liked the 05-06 US sti one better. I ended up finding a jdm GD RA steering wheel which is identical to the USDM one, but without the hole cut in the side of it for cruise control. Since my car doesn't have cruise control it was perfect
I installed some polk 6.5 component speakers, a jl10w3v3 sub, and an alpine amp as the stock speakers were not the greatest.
Overall I am very happy with my 2.5rs. It was a fun build and it's one of the best handling cars I've ever drove. I've owned it for almost 7 years now. It won 2012 Ride of the Year on www.NewEnglandSubarus.com and best GC at Wicked Big Meet. I no longer daily drive the vehicle but do pull it out every now and then. I just did some maintenance to it. I installed a new Gates timing belt kit and some 850cc DW injectors so I can get a little more out of my turbo. I had to redo the door covers too as the microsuede I bought before faded badly over time. I used real alcantar fabric this time so it should last a long time. Here are some more pictures of the car.
It's been a while since I've gave an update on my subaru. Here it is in it's latest state. I fixed a bunch of little things lately. I had the brembos rebuilt and powdercoated, new rotors, fixed the gauge cluster wiring so that it dims just like the sti does, swapped out my broken rs clockspring to the sti one, installed an Invidia dp, rebuilt the ISC coilovers and went with SWIFT springs, removed the leaky Koyo radiator and went with the Mishimoto one, and installed JDM trunk torsion springs. The JDM springs are thicker to deal with the heaver wing. I also restored my sunroof track and drip pan so that it works like new. Right now I'm trying out different lips. The JDM lip I have doesn't sit as low as I would like it. So I'm trying out a CF P1 lip. I like this lip, but think it would look better blue. I also have a rare orciari lip that I bought damaged. I'm in the process of fixing that to try out too.
I had the car tuned and dyno'd at VEMS. It made 288HP and 335 ft/lbs of torque. The car is exactly where I want it performance wise. It's reliable, snappy, and handles really well.