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2008 Subaru Impreza STI (GRB) - Full Transparency

Alan Miller's STI is a window into what a Subie build should be

Text By Damon Young, Photography by Evoked Photography

There's a chance you might recognize this car. The owner, Alan Miller, became an overnight celebrity for his brilliant invention known to the world as "the clear hood phenomenon." A staple in the Subaru community, everyone has come to know and love the STI with the clear hood. Some have even gone so far as to request more information, wondering how they too can own a clear hood for their Subie. Unfortunately, we're here to burst some bubbles with this feature: The legend of the clear hood is nothing more than a photographer's tomfoolery. But even though the hood isn't really translucent, one thing is crystal clear: Alan has built one heck of a Subaru.

The all-wheel-drive fixation began for Alan with his first car, a '98 Subaru Legacy. He began to cut his automotive teeth by tinkering with the boxer engine and dreaming of one day being able to afford the Holy Grail for Subie-heads, the coveted STI. Alan eventually saved up enough cash to jump ship from the Legacy into a more powerful '05 WRX, and finally landed with his dream ride that you see here today, an '08 Subaru STI. Even though his WRX made over 300 hp, the new hot hatch was a completely different animal. "I'm just going to put an exhaust on it; this thing's great," Alan recalls telling himself shortly after buying the car. We don't need to tell you that he didn't exactly stick to the plan.

The exhaust installation came and went, but Alan was really enjoying his new toy. It was only a matter of time before he began to modify other aspects of the car. "With all of the Subarus I've owned, I was never into the track, shows, or autocross. I liked modifying cars for myself. With my STI, I wanted a fun daily that I wouldn't ever get sick of driving. Semi-low, semi-quick on the street," he explains. Alan quickly decided to install a larger turbo and had the car tuned by a close friend, Chris from EFI Logics. He added a Charge Speed BottomLine carbon-fiber lip kit, Seibon carbon fenders, and a carbon roof spoiler to spice up the exterior a bit. With a little more power than stock on tap and the looks to back it up, Alan did his best to be content with his mildly (but far more extensively than originally planned) modified car.

Unfortunately, as is often the case with the finicky boxer engine, the car began to have issues. The head gaskets on the engine were on the way out, but fortunately everything else seemed to be intact. Alan took the car to Chris and the team at EFI Logics to have them replaced. Always one to come up with ideas and try to persuade Alan to further modify the car, Chris convinced him to build the engine while everything was apart. A number of components were ordered to beef up the EJ25, including a full EFI Logics Stage 2 long-block and supporting fuel modifications. A GrimmSpeed thermal manifold spacer and electronic boost control system were added to keep the airflow in check.

A short time after the car went into the shop, Alan awoke to the phone call that no one wants to hear. There had been a bad accident and Chris didn't make it. Alan's world was shattered. His best friend and partner in crime throughout his car's build had been taken too soon, and he contemplated throwing in the towel and giving up on the build completely. "I would pay for the work performed and just sell the car as is as well as the parts on order. I no longer had any interest in this build," he thought. Before reaching out to the team at EFI, a couple of Alan's friends convinced him to see the build through. They told him that Chris would have wanted it that way, and as much as he struggled with guilt, he knew that they were right.

The team at EFI came together and soldiered on despite the loss of their leader. The result is a seriously powerful and sentimental boxer motor that brings a smile to Alan's face, reminding him of his friend each time the key is turned. Power comes from a Garrett GT3076 turbocharger, supplied by Injector Dynamics 1,300cc fuel injectors. A slew of Perrin goodies help the engine breathe, including a rotated downpipe, a pair of EL headers, and a massive front-mount intercooler. When all was said and done, the car put down an impressive 482 whp and 502 lb-ft of torque at 26 psi on the EFI Logics Mustang dyno. One thing is for sure, this is one street Subie you don't want to meet at a red light.

Alan did a great job turning the cockpit of the STI into an office worthy of any driver. A Cusco six-point chromoly rollcage adds some color and rigidity to the chassis, flanked by a pair of classic Bride Stradia Maziora edition reclinable seats and signature green Takata four-point harnesses. The factory steering wheel and airbag have been tossed in favor of a Personal Grinta 350mm steering wheel fastened securely to a Works Bell Rapfix II quick release and Splash short hub. A Defi boost gauge sits prominently on the dash to display just how much boost the hamster under the hood cranks out.

Though it might be a street car, don't think that the suspension has been left untouched. A set of trick ISC N1 coilovers and rear control arms bring the car's height down considerably, but not too far to make it impossible to drive on the street. A number of suspension braces from Cusco were installed to stiffen things up, while Cusco front and rear sway bars keep this Impreza flatter than a pancake in the twisties. But the thing that really makes this Subaru shine is the set of wheels bolted to all of those suspension goodies. A massive set of 18x10 SSR Professor SP1 rollers in a brilliant spectrum silver finish contrast nicely with the car's dark gray hue in bright sunlight. Project Mu B-Force brake pads are paired with SCR brake rotors on all four corners to give the Subie some serious stopping power.

While the circumstances of this build may have been far from ideal, it's very commendable to see that Alan was able to stick with it and honor his friend Chris' legacy by completing the build. By thinking carefully about each modification and doing his research, Alan is left with a dream STI that most of us would love to drive every day. While it may be more than capable of winning its share of shows and track competitions, Alan's car has turned out to be exactly what he wanted it to be: his.

By Damon Young
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