Before you begin, if you haven’t already done so, please read THIS INTRODUCTION (click). Also, I would like for you to refrain from posting links to this project elsewhere on the internet, especially if your goal is to badmouth it. If you do not like what you are seeing then simply click the little red X in the corner of your browser and move on: life is too short to dwell on negativity.
- PHASE 1 – SANJI 賛辞 (TRIBUTE) 06/2003~2007
Being the hardcore rally fan since my teens, it was not long after buying the car that I wanted my car to look like the Subaru WRC cars. This was the very beginning of my project. I did the entire design myself with MS Paint then brought the plans to my graphics guy. I had replaced the usual “Subaru six stars” in favor of the more classic “555” tobacco sponsor livery. No, I don’t smoke and find it a disgusting habit! It was to tribute Subaru’s heyday in rallying. I went “stage 2” somewhere in 2005 and really got the modding bug. When it starts, it doesn’t stop, right? It was a time when I was doing what most modders do: slap the car with expensive bolt-ons. I admit that I was a bit of a ricer in the late 90’s but who wasn’t back then? 2006 brought the purchase of my most expensive parts to date.
- “555” Rally Tribute
- “Stage 2” Setup
- “High” FMIC Build
- WRC Spoiler, Hood Vent, & Roof Scoop
- estimated hours worked on this phase: 150
- estimated parts & material cost on this phase: $5,000
By then, my itch to return to my dream of rallying was grand, things were going great, and my outlook at life was very positive and enthusiastic. I expected to have the car professionally built and live the dream before my thirties. Lest I knew this ambition would soon almost entirely collapse…
- PHASE 2 – HENKAN 変換 (TRANSFORMATION) 2008~07/2012
The first two years were full of hardships both in my career and in my personal life. I didn’t have the resources to even drive the car so I stored it in the garage. However, I still couldn’t shake my weird recurrent vision of a 2-door “22B”-inspired GD STi. I started experimenting with MS Paint by using a side picture of the car. Meanwhile, I also started to strip down the car as much as I could to save weight since that was free of charge!
In early 2009, I met my fiancée. My beacon of light. Her degenerative condition a dream-smasher. Yet, I regret nothing and I have made peace with my decision. After all, her well-being is more important than my own futile material ambitions. If anything she gave me the strength to take matters in my own hands. So I started to seriously consider the actual feasibility of my recurring dream instead of just contemplating it endlessly. It started out simply as a 2-door design but then I figured that going for a shorter wheelbase (ala Group B Audi Sport quattro) would make it easier to get the overall shape and it would be a better car for my driving style.
Since I simply could no longer “buy” my dream any more, I went out, collected important information, and educated myself on what I needed to know to begin this amazing adventure on my own. This boost of self-confidence was a huge step forward for me. I had no prior experience other than basic car maintenance but my will to learn and see this project through got the sparks flying very quickly. After all, I already had a decently equipped garage left over from my father. The brunt of my short wheelbase project was done mostly in the winters of 2010 trough 2012.
Meanwhile, I’ve also had a bit of a harder time with my finances and a got close scrape with bankruptcy. The project wasn’t much to blame for this. However, the recession itself was hard on everyone. People buying less stuff meant that there was less trucking contracts to be had and companies were fighting for the scraps. My truck spent a lot of time parked in the driveway. This was a period of uncertainty which made me take hard decisions. If the downtime had anything positive is that I was able to work many consecutive weeks on my car project. Dealing with a major lack of proper budget was a real challenge though. After all, I had big ambitions for the car but with no real means to do it. I had to compromise much on what I could and could not do, including how I would be able to get the appropriate results.
After 3 years and approximately 900 hours of labor my hard work was rewarded: “Wabi~Sabi” was officially born. Unbeknownst to me at the time, the journey had actually just begun!
- The Short Wheelbase (6.1″ middle section chop)
- WRC Inspired Widebody
- 10 Point Rollcage
- Side Exhausts
- V-Mount Radiator / Intercooler Setup
- Adjustable Suspension Components
- New Wheels & Tires
- estimated hours worked on this phase: 900
- estimated parts & material cost on this phase: $3,000
Preliminary track testing showed promise for Wabi~Sabi but everything was short lived: I had major engine trouble. All these hours of work and the car was down for the count mere weeks after the completion. Meanwhile, I still had to get grips with the online fame the project had given me. It was not my intention and it was disturbing at times.
- PHASE 3 – SAISEI 再生 (REBIRTH) 08/2012~04/2014
I swallowed the defeat and took charge in correcting the situation by rebuilding my engine. I had no experience in such things but if the previous phase of my project had taught me anything is that I can if my will is strong enough. It was then that I first considered adding my creativity to the mechanical parts of the car. Thus, took the opportunity to design a totally new low mount turbo and rear radiator setup. Wabi~Sabi was slowly metamorphosing into something different with less and less parts being left untouched.
- Engine Rebuild
- Custom 20G Turbo Setup (YangYin)
- Rear Mounted Radiator Build
- estimated hours worked on this phase: 200
- estimated parts & material cost on this phase: $2,000
Unfortunately, the early design of the rear radiator system would be plagued with overheating issues at the track. While the grip and handling was very good, I would never quite “connect” with the car nor fully enjoy myself on asphalt circuits. Wabi~Sabi was celebrating her 10th anniversary and yet things felt wrong inside of me. A feeling of that my current build was not what I had set out for all these years ago. I had brushed those feelings aside for the time being. I then set out on another important project: to build my own trailer to haul the car to the racetracks!
Near the end of the hauler trailer project, I suffered a devastating herniated disc in my lower back that set me back nearly two months. Unbeknownst to me at the time, this event most likely damaged some nerves which would complicate things later. While I was recovering, I decided to create my own blog/website as the better way of exposing my projects, thoughts, and passions. Health-wise, I got a little better so I was able to finish the trailer and turn my gaze yet again on Wabi~Sabi.
The cheap 20G turbo I had used in my engine rebuild didn’t last long due to a bad initial design on the oil return line. I was able to source a stock turbocharger, put it back in, and fix the issue. The dyno tune numbers turned out to be very disappointing but I was finally able to use the car without limitations. The first track tests were encouraging but not without recurring overheating problems. This led to a complete redesign of my rear radiator system while I was battling further health issues. Still, I soldiered on and managed to fully test the car on the track once more.
- PHASE 4 A&B – MOKUTEKI 目的 (PURPOSE) 05/2014~02/2016
Afterwards, I came to the personal realization that trying to make a “night fighter” mixed street setup for my car was not what I should have done to begin with. I had decided to do this because of the latter driving habits I had before starting the short wheelbase project (I was doing midnight runs hooning around the industrial park). However, rallying has always been my true love and driving passion. Why I shied away from my original dream is a mystery I cannot solve. I guess that I was afraid that it’d open old wounds of my past greater ambitions. I’ve realized that precious efforts and money was thus squandered sidetracking. Yet, I still made the decision to abandon all those previous investments in favor of realizing my true dream of building a rally car… but with a huge twist! Since I wouldn’t be competing, why settle on something generic and boring?
As part of me is still stuck in the 80’s, I realized that an STi was never the car that I should have bought, but it was way past the point of no return and could no longer sell the car (it had very little commercial value). I delved deeper into my nostalgia and started writing about the beloved Group B cars of my youth. The articles soon became the most popular section of my blog! My nostalgia gave me the drive to reborn Wabi~Sabi once again into something different, with Group B spirit!
Things started out with a much controversial part of my project (PHASE 4A). Although I really loved the raw early Group B look, this is where the project lost much following. No matter, my dream, my car, my prerogative. 2 winter tests (late January + February) resulted in much small issues to be fixed but overall produced promising results. This was the first time that Wabi~Sabi ever saw snow. She performed well but not perfect. A minimalist early Group B build would not do after all… more was needed!
- The Purpose (Rat Rally Build)
- Rally Preparations (Brakes, Wheels, etc)
- Weight Reduction Regimen
- Rear Mounted Radiator Build “2.0”
- “14.2” (Group B Inspiration / 8.1″ Rear Overhang Chop)
- estimated hours worked on this phase: 250
- estimated parts & material cost on this phase: $2,500
Not long after in March, my health took a turn for the worse. I had been feeling off for a few months beforehand. After a horrid hospital stay, lots of tests, and no answers to my ailments was frustrating. It would later be diagnosed as neural issues with fibromyalgia. 2 very bad months later, things were slowly improving. Hopefully, that would continue! Even if I would be unknowingly dying from something, the project gave me the drive to continue soldiering on. In the spring, while feeling sick, I fabricated a new rear diffuser and my own lexan rally windows. I was being very serious about it going forward.
Working in summer was a decent change. This particular time used to be my testing season. Thankfully, we had a cooler season which helped keep the garage cool for this fat pig not to sweat too much. This should save much of the heating bills I used to have while working in winter which could in turn be re-invested into the project instead. Work on PHASE 4B was finished in late September but I chose to unveil it only at Halloween for fun. It was to be my overall visual representation of a Group B GD STi.
- Fully Flat Underside Skidplate System
- “18.3” (“Supermini” Inspired / 4.1″ Front Overhang Chop)
- Group B & Pikes Peak Inspired Aero Package
- estimated hours worked on this phase: 100
- estimated parts & material cost on this phase: $1,000
I could not stop staring at it. I had a lot of expectation for the form to actually have much function too. By then, only the most hardcore followers of the project would continue on, which is fine by me. I actually like it better this way.
Winter would take a long time to show which gave me the opportunity to fabricate a long desired modification to my trailer: the sliding tarp system. I wanted to do this to protect the car from the nasty winter road elements and from dangerous prying eyes on the highway (which sometimes resulted in hazardous situations).
Then, on the very last day of 2015, winter finally came to Québec and I went to the snow test track. I instantly crushed my previous year’s lap time by about 6 seconds. Then again a week later by 4 seconds more! That is an unbelievably huge margin. A vindication for my aero design, driving skills, and hard work.
And further validation came when I was able to compare the car with an actual Open 4WD class 2004 STi, to which Wabi~Sabi was about 2 secs per kilometer faster while being much under-powered compared to the other car:
(LEFT: Open 4WD STi – RIGHT: Wabi~Sabi)
- PHASE 5 – KYUKYOKU 究極 (ULTIMATE) 03/2016~04/2016
Here I am, nearly 13 years and 1600 hours of work in, and the project is still not over! This phase should have been the final evolution of the chassis and would have implemented partial spaceframe construction, clamshells, and some other revisions.
After much debate with myself, this phase was cancelled and replaced with a combined project involving my VW Scirocco. I know, it also means throwing away basically nearly 1000 hours of bodywork and chassis mods that I’ve already performed. Personally, I don’t see it as a waste but as a journey of learning bodywork and mechanics. Besides, I had warned long ago that this would probably happen and that very little of the STi that was would actually ever remain. In that aspect, the project personifies even more deeply the mantra of “wabi~sabi”: impermanence and change. Again, while some may see this decision as decay, a spiral of destruction of a car that was once coveted by many, I rather see it as an opportunity for the ultimate expression (test) of my skills and overall vision.
- PHASE 5B – GRUPPE B (GROUP B) 04/2016~current
The intention with the “Gruppe B” project does not actually change from the original “Wabi~Sabi”. The bodywork / theme plan remains the same as making a replica wouldn’t exemplify nor would it truly respect the originals. I’d much rather tribute the “spirit” of Group B by creating my own unique design that will, in my opinion, represent the emotion of the era and throw me back in the ’80s every time I look at it.
Meanwhile, I got hugely sidetracked into expanding my “Group B encyclopedia” and decided to make a dedicated website: The Rally Group B Shrine. That alone has sapped countless hours of my free time but has since became the pride of my nostalgia.
TOTALS THUS FAR:
- PROJECT YEARS: 13
- PROJECT HOURS: 1600* (estimate)
- PARTS, TOOLS, & MATERIAL COST: $13,500* (approx)
*these figures do not represent the actual time or cost of building the car up to the latest iteration (which would be less time/money if I started over from scratch) but represents the totals of every build/phase of the car put together.
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