This Astonishingly Loud Subaru WRX STI Rally Car, Powered by a Ferrari V8, Roars

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By Car Brand Experts

Subarus are often criticized for their flat-four boxer engines, known to be challenging to maintain, somewhat unreliable, and lacking the performance capabilities that would typically match their low center of gravity. Instead of opting for the conventional Honda K-series engine swap, a determined rally driver with a 2004 Subaru Impreza WRX STI has taken a more unconventional route by installing a potent Ferrari California flat-plane-crank V8.

This striking STI, powered by the Prancing Horse, is in the making by the skilled American rally competitor and Dirtfish trainer Sam Albert. Albert divulged that he acquired the 2004 STI brand new for road use and transformed it into a rally machine back in 2010, kickstarting a racing journey that led to triumph in the North American Rally Cup in 2018, albeit in a different vehicle.

With over a decade dedicated to the sport, Albert felt the urge “to explore new horizons” beyond the familiar 2.5-liter turbo EJ25 flat-four engine. Upon reviewing the regulations for the American Rally Association’s Open 4WD class, he uncovered that naturally aspirated engines had a displacement limitation of 4.5 liters. A brief investigation showcased the most potent NA engine of this capacity to be the F136 V8 found in the Ferrari 458, generating an impressive 562 horsepower.

Although the F136 engine surpassed Albert’s budget, it’s part of a diverse family of engines with more economical alternatives, including cross-plane versions employed in Maseratis and notably the flat-plane 4.3-liter powerplant from the California model. Delivering 483 horsepower and 372 pound-feet of torque, it offered enhanced power, a broader power band, and superior drivability compared to the turbocharged 2.5-liter it was intended to replace, justifying the torque trade-off.

“I believe this setup will offer a more pleasurable driving experience, potentially a slight enhancement in performance if my calculations are accurate, and produce an extraordinary sound amidst the forest,” Albert shared. “There was also some inspiration drawn from Andy Burton and his Peugeot Cosworth, which was eventually barred from competition following its exceptional performance.”

Albert personally executed the entire engine swap, encompassing the design of a bespoke flywheel and adapter plate to connect it to his car’s six-speed sequential manual transmission. Moreover, the V8 reportedly enhances the weight distribution by approximately 1% compared to the stock engine. Coupled with adjustments to the suspension geometry, Albert is optimistic about the car’s inaugural competitive appearance at Washington’s Olympus Rally in April.

Whether the Ferrari-powered STI emerges victorious or not, it’s likely to stand out as the most melodious car at one of the most breathtaking rallies on the planet. Besides, the opportunity to unleash its power through the wilderness of the Pacific Northwest will be a triumph in itself.

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