Why? Why a Subaru? That was the question I was most asked during the period when I got the car. I always answer – why not? This is no ordinary Subaru, the one that we bought was the S202, Spec C. Only 400 were made. We have an official yet private group just for “Subaru Impreza WRX STi S202” Owners Group. To join, you need to take pic of the S202 badge and the VIN plate just for verification before one could join.
As you are all aware of, value of JDM cars has soared recently. Let’s not talk about your standard run of the mill rides, we are talking about limited / special editions and iconic JDMs, i.e. GTRs, JZA80 Supras, NSXs, and so on. I personally believe the 4 bangers categories for the JDM is severely underrated. The S2000s, EVOs and STIs all deserve a better, higher value. Why? Just get behind the steering wheel of a well-maintained unit and it will be self-explanatory. The rawness of it, the ‘techless’ assisted drives gives you the real sense of ‘what’s going on’ and it’s just you and your car challenging the bends, curves and what not ahead of you.
What makes the Subaru Impreza WRX STI S202 so special? As extracted from Wikipedia, This car is an S-series Impreza actually based on the featherweight Type RA Spec C, where RA stands for “Rally Applicant.” It’s rather special and still considered the most radical and extreme factory-built STi (Subaru Tecnica International) to date. Let me repeat – THE MOST RADICAL AND EXTREME BUILT STI to date!!
And, apparently, Petter Solberg, Subaru driver and winner of Rally GB at that time, reckons that of all the roadgoing Imprezas he’s driven, the S202 feels MOST LIKE HIS actual WRC race competition car!!
All of the suspension and powertrain parts included STi parts from the STi part catalogue. The interior included special edition STi seats with red STi logo stitching. A smaller, lightweight air-cond compressor was fitted to save weight. The S202 had a production run of 400 units for the Japanese domestic market and was sold-out in a mere two weeks. TWO SHORT FREAKING WEEKS!!!!!
Individually numbered badges for each car is located under the ashtray. Even when the S202 was sold with electric windows and air-cond intact, the car weighed a full 140 kg (309 lb) less than the stock STi at 1330kg (fairly lightweight considering this is a car with an AWD layout) and put out 316bhp (320hp). To add on, most of the folks out there thinks the GC8 is lightweight at 1250kg but that’s with the lighter 5 speed gearbox. However, if we mod a 6 speed box in a GC8, the weight is maybe closer if not more than the s202. On top of that, without thick heavy carpets, with a lightweight aluminum hood, thinner door skins and cards, thinner glass windows, special fitted lightweight STi parts to replace the lower arms and a lightweight alternator.
Unique to the S202 are the pink STi lateral links. The brake rotors were gas slotted. The steering rack was swapped out to one with an uprated ratio. With the S202 STi model, they also re-did some of the internals too. Polybdenuem coated pistons were used to lower friction together with hollow intake valves. The AWD-system consists of a Suretrac diff upfront and mechanical diff at the rear. The wheels were STi labeled Rays Volk alloys. The exterior featured an adjustable carbon-fiber GT-style wing at the back (of which only 400 were produced) and a manually operated roof vent – rally car style. Less known to the non S-Series enthusiasts, the S202 came with many other rally-use parts such as steel braided brake lines, 12 liter intercooler tank at the back, and an additional anti-surge fuel tank to name a few.
To compare to other S series, the later S models specifically the S203 and S204 were heavier as they were not based on the Spec C chassis, whilst the S202 emphasized on reducing weight as it was based on the Type RA Spec C. Strictly based on specs, the S202 was the first radical Type RA Spec C. The other model that was produced later based on the Spec C was the Spec C Type RA-R. Of late, the rare S202 has become a collectors’ car especially among enthusiasts.
Now, that’s the end of wikifreakingpedia (** Some of the above 4 paragraphs’ contents were taken from Wikipedia***). To add on to what we know so far on the S202 but was never published. Did you know, the knuckles on these S202 were actually hand lightened that’s why they don’t have any part number? Yes, that’s true. On top of that, it is the first ever mass production WRX STi that had more than 280PS.
Also, the S202 uses the STi’s stiffer version of bushes, on top of that, again, also there is not a parts catalogue for the s202 suspension as it was all done by hand. To increase castor in the front, STi engineers extended the rear arm bush pin and pressed the front bush in off centre to move the arm forward, if you ever have the chance to look at the front hub knuckles you will see they are a lot less chunky then the standard hubs. STi S202 engineers / designers tried to shave as much corner weight as possible off these to help them corner better, also the lightweight brake discs
Let’s go back to this particular unit – the 383/400. This particular unit was obtained from a dude who had just purchased it less than a month, loved it to the max but had issues keeping it as his family did not like the car. I think the word “hate” would be an understatement but hey, if it’s so negative, let’s not use the word. Putting that aside, I personally felt that the car could have been restored to the next level. When I took the car out for the first round of the test drive, I felt mechanically the car is not too bad. Throttle response, suspension mounts, engine mounts were all quite solid. So, we bought it and it became one of the shop projects.
When we took the car in on the first day, the first item on the itinerary was dis-assembly. We took a part the fenders, bumpers and whatever that can be removed. We saw rusts starting to creep in. We immediately addressed those areas. Grinded off the rusts, applied treatment and re-assembling it. A pillar, B pillars, bumper areas, undercarriage was all treated and assembled back.
As for the works done in the engine bay, one of the key ‘insults’ that was thrown at us was that (we honestly did not know about this..lol) the top mount intercooler was mounted DIRECTLY onto the exhaust manifold. I mean, that’s like u wanna cool things down but you mount your I/C to the hottest spot possible. Oxymoron. There were tonnes of rusts, dirt, grease and grime on the engine bay. Took us 2 full weeks to restore and detail it to what we thought was optimal.
Gearbox was leaking oil and so was the rear differential. We had that sorted out and replaced with one of our choice of oil – Penrite from Ausoil Malaysia. Special thanks to Daniel Lim for personally recommending and picking the choice of grade (psst bro, in words of famous leeches, can sponsor ya?..lol).
The car’s mechanical stuffs had a few issues here and there. Had 2 rounds of ‘tow trucking’ experiences with it. It’s an inevitable process when you go into the rabbit hole of vehicle restoration. First round was due to clogged fuel filter and injectors (both replaced) and the second round was due to throttle and airflow sensors. All of which has been rectified and replaced.
We added a few new stuffs into the car. Firstly, the ZERO SPORT intake – this is to replace the ridiculously fabricated intake pipe. Then, the ZERO SPORT Top Mount intercooler air splitter, which apart from awesome looks, plays its part well while still retaining my stock intercooler water spray jet nozzles.
It took us awhile but after much looking, we managed to find the original stock S202 oil cooler. It costed us a bomb FYI and it is just for the dang cooler, no hoses, no adaptors – nothing! For originality, we got not much of a choice but going for it. The seller was kind enough to throw in extras – a piece of the oil cooler mounting. LOL
Exterior wise, we did a 7 steps paint correction and applied a 5 layers high silica concentration coating. Not only did it look like a mirror finish, it looks like the car is constantly wet, just the way most guys like it. *ahem*. The bumper we placed a layer of Paint Protection Film by Teckwrap.
We did the headlamp restoration in-house. We initially wanted to do CF hydrographics instead of ‘black’ smoking the interior of the headlamps but due to time and resource constraints, we just went for the black background and added an LED strip as DRL. Not to many’s tastes but well, it is what it is. We protected it with a layer of premium PPF headlamp wrap as well.
There were still a ton of things that we did to the car but I doubt we could cover it in a mere few pages of a magazine. The parts list covers majority of it. To those who don’t know or cant differentiate because they’ve never driven these type of cars, the S202 is the most RAW of all the S model STIs. I have the S203 parked in my house. It’s filled with sound proofing, comfort and great aesthetics but this S202 comes with a roof air scoop for God sakes! How much more raw can one go from here? This car is nothing short of excellence. It’s a keeper (unless of course, if a right price is offered…..)
Max Power: 320ps
1. Converted Twin scroll turbo set up (faster spooling)
2. T-Back Sports Grill
3. NGK Iridium Plugs
4. Alcantara full steering wrap
5. GReddy Boost Controller
6. Apexi Turbo Timer
7. Apexi Boost Meter
8. ZERO SPORT Intake
9. ZERO SPORT Top Mount Intercooler Splitter Air Dam
10. Fully custom front DRL Headlamp Kit
11. Teckwrap PPF – Front bumper, Headlamps and Side Mirrors
12. TACSYSTEMS 90% High Silica content Coating (5 Layers)
13. HKS Open Pod Suction Kit
14. COSMO High Powered Ignition Coils
15. GAB fully adjustable Suspension System
16. Work Emotions T7 17×8 wheels
17. Valeno Semi Slicks 245/40/17
18. Brembo 4 Pot Front Brakes / Brembo 2 Pot Rear Brakes
19. Hydrographics Carbon Fibre – Side Mirrors
20. Nakamichi 2 Din Player
21. M7 BOV
22. Tial External Wastegates
23. Billion Thermal Exhaust Wrap
24. GReddy Cooling Plates
25. Penrite Pro Gear 75W/90 Gear Oil
26. Penrite 10W/60 Competition Engine Oil
27. BC Garage’s Enthusiasts Car Restoration / Rust Treatment Package.
BC’s family for not rejecting the car, BC Garage’s restoration works, Luke for departing with it at such a great price, Kok Leong for helping me pick up the loose ends, SPV for sorting out the gremlins, Boss Performance Sunway for the rebuild on parts, SubaruPartsWC (Wai Chung) for your reliable supply of parts, Ausoil Malaysia for Penrite Oil, Ian Khong for your tech advises, Wallace Lee for his knowledge on S202, Alidagang.my for online source for car parts and number plates and finally, Hypertune for featuring this old lady.
Words: Bryan Chin
Photos: Dennis Lor & Kenny Yeoh