SUBARU IMPREZA STi SPEC C LTD 2003
Serious Muscle in a Quiet Suit
I remember the first time I saw an Impreza STi Spec C (one of the GDB body cars). It was a summer evening at a parking area off the Tomei Expressway here in Japan. I was in my MR2 coming back from a lovely long driving holiday down to Kyushu. (That was a good run!) A few spaces over from where I was parked was this very new-looking Impreza in light green metallic. There was a guy and a girl inside, the interior light was on and they just seemed to be sitting there with the engine on. The exhaust note at idle was a deep, rhythmical thrumming; it kind of went into your ears and down into your belly. A really nice feeling it had, yes indeed! I guess that the two of them were just sitting there drinking it in: the sound, the car, the feeling of power. A few years later, when I bought my own used WRX STi (GC body type), I used to do that, too: Just sit in the machine with the engine running so I could enjoy the sound of the 300ps flat four EJ20 powerplant.
That STi Spec C there in the parking area was not only nice to listen to, he was nice to look at, too: Muscular but understated, like a weight lifter wearing a modest suit that does nothing to hide the muscle underneath. Cool. Check out our photos. Look at how the fenders, front and rear, just bulge out gently, like muscle under a well-fitting dress shirt of the finest linen. Look at the top-mounted intake for the air-to-air intercooler: That’s one big scoop! (Necessary for the big intercooler itself that you can see there in the engine room photo.)
STi Spec C Specs
Let’s have a look at just a few specifications, shall we? Yes, let’s shall.
Subaru’s flat-four, 1,994cc, EJ20 came in a wide variety of states of tune, but all we are interested in here is what you’ll get if you import an STi Spec C from us here in Japan…..You’ll get a lot. Starting with torque; you are looking at 40.2kg/m coming in at 4,400rpm. Now that peak torque is at a slightly higher rpm than you would expect from some other Japanese stock turbo cars, like my old Celica GT4 with its 3S-GTE, or like some of the well-known four cylinder turbo drift cars that Toyota and Nissan are noted for. (For more info on the used Japanese drift cars that are available for import from Japan, have a look elsewhere on our site here, here, here, and here, and on our blog here.)
But the Subaru EJ20 is a very free-revving engine, partly due to the better inherent secondary balance of the flat four engine layout vs the inline four. When I first test drove my 1996 WRX STi (Version III) that was one of the first things that I noticed: the free-revving, high response. Delightful!
All that torque translates into very serious power, and although official figures at the time were always capped at 280ps, we can be pretty sure in saying that the EJ20 in an STi Spec C is producing comfortably more than that (try 320ps / 316hp and you won’t be far wrong). And the car weighs only 1,370kgs (3,020lbs), so we’ve got top Ferrari levels of power to weight and torque to weight, 4.3:1 and 34:1 respectively.
So we can say that this supercar’s high output, turbo-charged flat-four EJ20 engine puts out a lot of power (a lot!), and Subaru’s proven AWD system puts all of that power to the road via the six-speed transmission. This is a very serious car, for very serious performance drivers only. There is no place for a poser behind the wheel of an STi Spec C. Another plus: These rare homologation specials are noted not just for their speed, power, handling, and braking, but also for their excellent build quality and long service lives. Our customer in the U.K is going to be a happy guy when he gets this baby on the road, and even happier that he has a like new driver’s seat loaded in the rear, and a free BONUS rear wing in the trunk!!
If you are looking to import a top end used supercar from Japan that is well-built and well-priced, put the STi Spec C Ltd right at the top of your list. If you are going to import your used Impreza to the UK or Canada or the EU, that is not problem at all now (time of writing: January 2021). For the guys who want to import an STi to the USA or Australia, you can now, under the easy import rules for 25 year-old used cars, import the earlier Impreza WRX STi Version I, II, or III. Mine was an STi Version III and he was absolutely first rate. He was almost identical to this really nice Version IV that we wrote about here.
These GC chassis cars are 70kgs (155lbs) lighter than the Spec C and they have five speed transmissions. Sometimes, and for obvious reasons, they are referred to as the “Hawk Eye” Impreza, as opposed to the “Blob Eye” Impreza like our red GDB chassis guy here.
My Version III was quicker than stink (sub 5 when launched brutally) and I can attest that the Subaru All Wheel Drive system is reliable and well built. The only things that I would point out for guys buying a used mid-1990s Impreza (be it WRX or WRX STi) is that you make sure to keep the bleeder valves on the brakes clean and well oiled with a bit of a shot of WD40 once in a while, especially if you live in a place where salt is used on the roads. If neglected, those little bleeder valves can rust and seize and they are a pain to unstuck. It can even mean a whole new caliper! So get down there, Guys, and squirt your WD40. And watch the power steering fluid cooler pipe, too. There is a lot of heat in that engine bay because these STi engines are so high output. That cooler pipe (sitting there in front of the main radiator at the top) is exposed to crap from the road, and mine ended up leaking and had to be replaced. So a word to the wise: Catch that potential problem early.
Otherwise, no major problems on my rocket. Gosh that car was fast!
Yep, “Impreza” plus “WRX” plus “STi” equals “FAST.” Contact us at Japan Car Direct and we’ll help you work out the formula to import your used STi from Japan.