SACRILICIOUS!

Japanese Performance - - WHAT’S IN - WORDS: DANIEL BE­VIS PICS: DAN SHER­WOOD

Purists be­ware as 500bhp Impreza P1 gets slammed on air ride sus­pen­sion!

Some cars are un­touch­able. Or so peo­ple would have you be­lieve. That’s what makes it so much fun when you see some of the out­ra­geously mis­chievous builds that have been do­ing the rounds in re­cent years, like the Bent­ley

Con­ti­nen­tal GT that’s been turned into a tube-framed drag­ster, Rayvern Hy­draulics’ body­dropped Volk­swa­gen Amarok, that S-body Nis­san with the BMW E46 nose grafted to it…some peo­ple just like to shake things up. Build cars just for the hell of it, em­brace the hate, no f**ks given. And that’s pretty much the re­cep­tion that Gary Krakow’s Impreza re­ceives when he rolls up at shows and airs it out.

Yep, you heard. It’s a gen­uine P1, and it’s run­ning air-ride. In the in­fa­mously nit­picky world of Sub­aru en­thu­si­asts, this is tan­ta­mount to draw­ing a mous­tache on the Mona Lisa. ‘Sacri­le­gious!’ they cry, chok­ing on their own rage. But we dis­agree. We’re more in­clined to take the view of Homer Simp­son, peel­ing the waf­fle from the ceil­ing that he’s been pray­ing to like a god, and start­ing to nib­ble on it. ‘I know I shouldn’t eat thee,’ he says, ‘but…mmm, sacri-licious!’

So why are peo­ple so an­noyed about this idea? Well, to un­der­stand where the swells of rage are rolling in from, it’s im­por­tant to un­der­stand just what a revered and iconic thing the Impreza P1 is. This was the sec­ond spe­cial-edi­tion Impreza to be launched in 1999, the first be­ing the much-ad­mired RB5 – a four-door cel­e­bra­tion of Richard Burns join­ing the works rally team. The P1, with no­tably fewer doors, was more of a Pro­drive project than a Sub­aru one; Pro­drive be­ing the out­fit who de­vel­oped the cars for the smoky cru­cible of World Rally Cham­pi­onship ad­ven­tures, when they put their name to a car it re­ally means some­thing. Cel­e­brat­ing an era when two Bri­tish driv­ers took Im­prezas to rally vic­tory – Richard Burns and Colin Mcrae – it was em­i­nently fit­ting that a Bri­tish tun­ing firm should de­velop this fac­tory-sanc­tioned model vari­ant. It came with unique body ad­denda, an­thracite OZ Rac­ing al­loys, and a far more ag­gres­sive throt­tle re­sponse than the stan­dard Turbo model. The P1 ran 20mm lower on Eibach springs, mix­ing Turbo ARBS with STI shocks, and Pro­drive of­fered a big Al­con brake up­grade into the bar­gain. This, then, was the first two-door Impreza of­fi­cially on sale in the UK (aside from the hen’s-teeth 22B, of course), which could run from 0–62mph in 4.7 sec­onds and go on to 155mph. It’s a bona fide propo­si­tion for in­vestors and col­lec­tors to­day, and en­thu­si­as­tic driv­ers are climb­ing over each other to get their hands on the few that re­main.

And then Gary pulls up with his heav­ily mod­i­fied ex­am­ple, bel­liger­ently rolling on gangsta wheels and air-ride. You can see why the rally-jack­ets are an­noyed.

But life’s too short for all that non­sense. You only live once, right? You’ve got to make your­self happy, build your car for you, that’s the true path to en­light­en­ment. Other peo­ple’s opin­ions are sel­dom worth the spit­tle they sail out on.

‘I’ve al­ways been heav­ily into cars, from a very young age,’ Gary ex­plains. ‘My first car was a Vaux­hall Cal­i­bra that I mod­i­fied;

‘YOU’VE RU­INED THAT.’ A PHRASE PEO­PLE SOME­TIMES SAY WHEN THEY SEE MOD­I­FIED EX­AM­PLES OF RARE CARS. TH­ESE PEO­PLE NEED TO FIND OUT THE FULL STORY BE­FORE THEY JUDGE, THOUGH, AS GARY KRAKOW’S P1 DEMON­STRATES…

in fact I mod­ded it to such an ex­tent that it ended up be­ing fea­tured in To­tal Vaux­hall mag­a­zine, it was the first Cal­i­bra to have Lambo doors.’ Crikey. That is a strong start.

Not many peo­ple can boast that their first car was a fea­ture car and, while Lambo doors have passed out of fash­ion th­ese days, you’ve got to ad­mire the lack of fear in rolling up his sleeves and mak­ing rad­i­cal changes.

‘I’d also al­ways wanteda P1,’ he con­tin­ues, get­ting down to brass tacks. ‘Six years ago I fi­nally de­cided to bite the bul­let and ful­fil the dream. I had to travel up and down the coun­try for weeks try­ing to find the right one! But when I even­tu­ally came across this one, I found it to be straight and orig­i­nal, in good, clean con­di­tion.’

So that was that, then? A dream ful­filled, a box ticked, the endof the story? Er, no, not quite. You see, while Gary was enor­mously happy with his pur­chase, and thor­oughly en­joy­ing rac­ing about in the limited-edi­tion Sub­aru he’d al­ways cov­eted, things came to a crash­ing halt in a very lit­eral sense.

‘Around five months ago, the car was very close to be­ing a write-off,’ he gri­maces. ‘Some­one crashed into the rear quar­ter and the boot – I was dev­as­tated! It took quite a lot of search­ing to track down a gen­uine rear quar­ter panel to re­pair it, andi even­tu­ally lo­cated one in Hun­gary and had to have it shipped over… I couldn’t miss out on it, it was one of only two left in ex­is­tence!’

By this point, un­der­stand­ably, Gary had grown rather at­tached to his P1, andthe shock of nearly los­ing it must have trig­gered some­thing primal and rad­i­cal deep down in his sub­con­scious. He was all of a sud­den gripped by a tena­cious and ir­re­press­ible de­sire to turn the car into some­thing dif­fer­ent, some­thing mould-break­ing, a real mid­dlefin­ger to the fickle whims of fate. The cos­mos had tried to de­stroy his Impreza, and he cer­tainly wasn’t go­ing to take any of that sort of non­sense; he in­tended to throw the very con­cept of fate right back in the face of the uni­verse it­self by build­ing a P1 like no other.

A P1 to turn heads. The first P1 in Europe to run air-ride.

When you view the thought process from that an­gle, it does make rather more sense, does it not? Nat­u­rally the car had to be bent back into the cor­rect shape first of course, andthe qual­ity of the curves and shut­lines is a true tes­ta­ment to what a fab­u­lous job has been done, with Jeff Dragon lay­ing down that iconic blue paint – you’d never guess it had taken a size­able clout in the rear, would you? And with every­thing straight­ened and re­aligned, it was time to tweak the nips of fate and get those bags down. Gary opted for a cus­tom Air­REX sys­tem with dou­ble bags and full cam­ber adjustability, and while he had the thing apart he took the op­por­tu­nity to re­new

‘IT’S THE FIRST P1 IN EUROPE TO RUN AIR RIDE SUS­PEN­SION’

all the bushes with stur­dier polyurethane items. ‘It took end­less hours and money to get it to the picture I had in my mind,’ he says, but it was worth all the heartache, right? See­ing the two-door aired out on the floor seems glo­ri­ously ob­scene – a look which is ex­po­nen­tially ac­cen­tu­ated by those chunky 19in Bola wheels. It’s a new de­sign for 2017, the B11, and the way they tuck into the arches is sub­lime. They also do a pretty stel­lar job of show­ing off those tasty brakes!

It would ar­guably be an ex­er­cise in crass­ness to throw rims and air-ride at a stock car (even one as racy as a P1) and just leave it at that. But fear not, as Gary’s spent more than a lit­tle time tin­ker­ing un­der the bon­net, too. ‘I car­ried out all the me­chan­i­cal work my­self,’ he ex­plains. ‘It was mapped by Gra­ham Duncan, rolling-roaded at PK Mo­tor­sport.’ And the spec is re­ally quite im­pres­sive: the build cen­tres around a 2.5-litre block, with myr­iad port­ing and pol­ish­ing, fast road cams, CP pis­tons and Man­ley rods, a thor­oughly re­worked fu­elling sys­tem, and a cun­ning ECU that runs var­i­ous maps for any given driv­ing sce­nario – track, street, strip, you name it. Just to add to the vis­ual drama of it all, the ex­haust rocks a mighty flamer kit, which is a handy bit of theatre when part of your map­ping in­cludes anti-lag and launch con­trol. This, then, is a very se­ri­ous build in­deed. So when ade­noidal geeks tap Gary on the shoul­der and say ‘Er, I don’t be­lieve you should have done that…’ he’s able to toast their polyester turn-ups with his mighty pipe. C’mon now, it’s all a bit of fun. Se­ri­ous fun, but fun none­the­less.

Gary’s not done with the per­for­mance an­gle ei­ther. ‘The fu­ture plan is to build it up with a real mon­ster engine,’ he grins, with a twin­kle in his eye. And there’s a very clear rea­son why he’s so de­ter­mined to per­se­vere with this mighty build, no mat­ter what na­ture may throw at it. No, it’s not sim­ply that it’s the car he’s al­ways dreamed of, or that it’s the car he res­cued from near-obliv­ion – it’s some­thing even more per­sonal. ‘The rea­son this car means so much to me, and why I wanted to build it back up, was be­cause my son, Tay­lor, was born in the car. I de­liv­ered him my­self, right there in the P1.’

Emo­tional ties don’t come any beefier than that, do they? One day Gary in­tends to pass the car down to his son, to com­plete the ouroboros cir­cle of life and let him drive around in the very venue that first brought him into this world. But be­fore that, haters be damned, Gary’s got a few years in which to en­joy his po­lar­is­ing cre­ation. Sacri­lege? What­ever. It’s the car he wants it to be, and that’s ex­actly what it needs to be.

RID­ING ON AIR IT’S EASY TO KNOCK AIR-RIDE AND SAY IT’S NO GOOD FOR PER­FOR­MANCE DRIV­ING, BUT THIS IS AC­TU­ALLY AN AN­TI­QUATED VIEW­POINT – MODERN BAGS CAN BE EVERY BIT AS EF­FEC­TIVE IN THE

TWISTIES AS TRA­DI­TIONAL STEEL SPRINGS. AIR­REX DAMPERS ARE THREADED AND CLICKADJUSTABLE JUST LIKE REG­U­LAR COILOVERS, TO PER­FECTLY SET THE DAMP­ING CHAR­AC­TER­IS­TICS, WHILE THE BAGS ARE SPECIF­I­CALLY EN­GI­NEERED TO ACT IN THE WAY YOU’D EX­PECT FAST-ROAD AND TRACK SUS­PEN­SION TO DO. SO IN THE CASE OF THIS CAR, THERE’S NO COM­PRO­MISE – IT’S SIM­PLY A MODERN AL­TER­NA­TIVE

THE OTHER TWO-DOOR IMPREZA? THE P1 IS CON­SID­ERED AN ICON BY MANY, BUT THERE WERE A NUM­BER OF OTHER TWODOOR IM­PREZAS – CHIEF AMONG WHICH WAS THE LEG­ENDARY 22B. RE­LEASED IN 1998, THIS FEA­TURED A 2.2-LITRE MO­TOR, AG­GRES­SIVELY BLISTERED ARCHES, AND MAS­SIVELY IM­PROVED TORQUE. 400 EX­AM­PLES WERE BUILT FOR THE JA­PANESE MAR­KET (ALL OF WHICH SOLD WITHIN 48 HOURS), WITH AN­OTHER 24 BUILT FOR EX­PORT MAR­KETS, 16 OF WHICH WERE FOR THE UK. TH­ESE UK-MAR­KET CARS WERE FUR­THER TWEAKED BY PRO­DRIVE, WITH LONGER GEAR RA­TIOS AND DIF­FER­ENT LIGHTS. FOR COL­LEC­TORS, THE TWO-DOOR SPE­CIALS ARE PROPER HOLY GRAIL CARS

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.