Forget the fads, trends and whatever the trolls on Instagram are telling you to do. If you want to know what a badass car looks like, look no further. You won’t find any bright colors, flashy parts or stretched tires. This murdered-out Subie is all about performance with a built motor, tight chassis and a stance that’s designed to go, not show!
We tracked down this buff STI to the Bay Area. It’s taken the owner Matthew Tomczek six years to get his project where it is today. And from our interview with him, we realized he believes strongly in one rule: performance over looks.
He got his feet wet in the scene shortly after high school with a ’97 Honda Civic. Geared up with the usual bolt-ons, he became addicted to autocross. But after a few years, he had to put his love for cars on hold as he relocated to downtown San Francisco—not exactly the most welcoming place to own a modified car (think potholes, steep hills and hard-to-find parking). Matt sensibly picked up a sport bike for his daily commutes. It took a couple more years to go by until Matt met his wife, which in turn required him to drive something with passenger seats. And what better choice than an all-wheel-drive, track-ready sedan like the STI, a car that he’s idolized for years since his days of playing Gran Turismo.
Matt kicked off the six-year project by tackling the turbocharged flat-four. Keeping the motor and intercooler stock at first, he added a few bolt-ons and had the car tuned for E85. He told us by simply switching from 91-octane to the ethanol fuel blend, the car made 100hp and 100 lb-ft of torque more on the dyno! Impressive numbers but the increase in power and regular abuse ultimately pushed the limits of the motor too far. The piston ringlands eventually gave way and cracked. Matt did his research and learned it was a common problem for modified STIs so he wasn’t discouraged. Instead, it only made him more determined to build a stronger and faster Subaru. With the motor pulled apart, he decided to go balls out by rebuilding the bottom-end with CP pistons and Manley rods. More boost and fuel was added with a larger Element Tuning turbo, 2000cc injectors, a new fuel pump plus a meaty front-mount intercooler.
Unfortunately, Matt discovered later the shop he trusted the engine build to didn’t have their shit together. So when his Subie got back on the road, it never ran smooth and catastrophe struck again when the cylinder walls cracked. For the second time, the motor had to be torn apart. Matt didn’t want to mess around anymore and called the help of reputable shops Race Engine Development to resleave the block while Rob’s Auto Machine and RBMS Autocare ensured the rest of the engine would be properly assembled, balanced and blueprinted. GST Motorsports took care of the final tune and the 2.5-liter threw down a respectable 422whp and 457 lb-ft of torque—plenty of power for the streets if you ask us.
Matt also brought the drivetrain and chassis up to speed at the same time. The six-speed manual received a grippier RPS clutch and ACT lightweight flywheel. Stiffer engine and tranny mounts, plus new steering and rear diff bushings ensured a more positive driving feel.
As for the suspension, only the best parts were installed on all four corners—TEIN Flex coilovers. The new coils allowed Matt to adjust damping force from the driver seat for either his daily commute to work or for weekends at the track. Plenty of bracing stiffened up the chassis including a Cobb rear sway bar, Cusco strut bars, plus a lower H- and rear V-braces.
Since Matt was an autocross fiend, the widest wheels and tires were high on his priority list to get the most traction. He originally ran an aggressive set of Rotas, but stepped up to wider Enkei RPF1s after installing the fender flares. In time, everybody and their mother with a Subaru started picking up RPF1s so he switched to something a little different, yet still lightweight and evil-looking—18x10.5" Advan RG-Ds.
He couldn’t stop there as he drew up plans to make the exterior pop. Keeping everything motorsport-inspired, he fitted a Chargespeed body kit, plus a Seibon front lip, rear wing, canards and a rear diffuser—most of which was made of carbon.
The interior’s game was also stepped up with Bride seats, Sparco harnesses with harness bar and Arai Motorsport carbon door cards—something Matt was very proud of because they’re the only set in the States.
We’ll admit Matt’s WRX isn’t the anything innovative in today’s scene, nor is it going to win any awards or break any track records; but on the real, it’s got the whole package and shows us that an aggressive all-black and track-themed project car never gets old.
2007 Subaru WRX STI
Owner Matthew Tomczek
Location Oakland, CA
Occupation production manager
Power 422whp; 457 lb-ft of torque on E85 tune
Engine 2.5 liter flat-four with Element Tuning GT52 turbo; 2000cc Injector Dynamics injectors; CP 100mm pistons; ACL rod bearings; Manley I-beam rods; Darton Big Boy sleeves; LIC Motorsports adjustable idler pulleys; Killer B oil pickup, alternator cover and radiator shroud; ARP head studs; Perrin 2.4" turbo inlet and 4-bar MAP sensor; Turbo XS front-mount intercooler; TiAL 50mm blow-off valve; EQ TGV deletes, baffled air/oil catch can, blow-through-MAF setup and air pump block-off plates; 3" short-ram intake; Aeromotive fuel pump; Golan in-line fuel filter; Tomei EL headers and titanium exhaust; Invidia cat-less downpipe; Cosworth billet timing belt guide; Koyo radiator; JDM battery tie down; TEIN hood dampers
Drivetrain RPS Street Max clutch; ACT Street Lite flywheel; Karboy short shifter and shifter bushing kits; STI Group N engine and transmission mounts; Whiteline steering rack and rear differential bushings; Beatrush pitch stop mount; Cusco master cylinder brace
Engine Management Cobb Tuning AP v2.0; Hallman manual boost controller
Footwork & Chassis TEIN Flex coilovers and EDFC; Cobb Tuning rear sway bar; Karboy rear end-links; Cusco front and rear strut bars, lower H-brace and rear V-brace; Ingalls rear camber bolts
Brakes Girodisc slotted rotors and titanium brake shims; Hawk HP-Plus pads
Wheels & Tires 18x10.5" +15 Advan RG-D wheels; 295/30 R18 Hankook Ventus Evo tires; 5mm spacers; ARP extended wheel studs
Exterior Chargespeed Bottomline 2 carbon kit; Seibon carbon front lip; Carbing carbon-fiber rear plate housing; Perrin wing stiffies; Ravspec carbon rear window wing; Karlton fender flares; HKS/Kansai carbon rear diffuser; APR carbon GT mirrors and canards; headlight housings painted black; L’aunsport carbon B- and C-pillar garnish
Interior Bride Brix II seats, rails and rear seat; Arai Motorsport carbon door cards; custom carbon door sills; Werkshop carbon center console and vent rings; JDM hazard button; Sparco 3" four-point harnesses and harness bar; Prosport boost and oil pressure gauges; Innovative Motorsports wideband AFR; BLOX Iridium shift knob; JPM Coachworks alcantara shift boot; DAMD steering wheel; Pioneer AVH-P8400BH head unit; 5.25" two-way Polk speakers
Thanks You Karlton Lew and the Wolfpack crew; Mert and JoJo at RBMS Autocare; Mike at GST Motorsports; Andy at Werkshop; Rishie at AutoRnD; my wife Julie for being so patient with me on this project.