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Heavy Metal Affliction - 2004 Subaru WRX STi WR1

John Schommer
Thursday, February 16, 2017

Whether it’s in the world of Forza or in the real world, the Subaru WRX STi has made a name for itself among car enthusiasts. Could it be the awesome sounding turbo-charged flat-four boxer engine? Maybe it’s the massive grip from the AWD system? The looks alone scream boy-racer and, of course, there’s that wing. Any of these elements are enough to appreciate the car; together they could make a fan of an import-hater with the turn of a key.


In this edition of Heavy Metal Affliction, we have a prime example of a very special STi. This is the WR1. It’s a limited edition model produced in 2004 to honor WRC great and 2003 WRC Champion Petter Solberg. As you might expect, it’s not just a couple of flashy badges and stickers that make this car really special.



There were only 500 WR1 models built (today’s car is #270). There are only about 375 left in existence because, sadly, many an over-enthusiastic owner found out the car was faster than they could handle. Of the 375 cars still out there, 86 are registered for off-road, leaving only 308 road-going WR1s in the world.


The car is owned by a friend of Dave Lacey – Gamertag DLTuning, the founder of Fast and Clean Racing (FACR). FACR has got Facebook pages full of fans of both Forza Motorsport 6 and Forza Horizon 3. As the name states, this is a group that appreciates skilled drivers who race with respect.


Its owner Stuart Pearson of England is a tire mechanic who could be labeled an adrenaline junkie with a taste for super cars, but not the budget. That said, in many ways the WR1 is a supercar. It can reach 60 mph in just over four seconds, and has a top speed (electronically limited) of 155 mph. In the handling department it takes someone with the driving skills of The Stig to get this thing off of the rails it rides on.



There’s lots to admire in Pearson’s WR1. For starters, the ECU has been factory tuned to deliver what, at the time, was the most powerful Impreza ever, with 320 rowdy and rumbling horsepower. Since that power is at its peak from 4,000 rpm up, it also has the close-ratio six-speed of the standard STi but has been forged for strength to handle the additional ponies.



The STi is known for amazing grip. However, at the limit, significant understeer has also been associated with the car. This happens despite the differential automatically delivering power to front and rear in a 50/50 ratio. The WR1 has a Driver's Control Central Differential (DCCD) button in the center console. Press it and the torque split is biased 46/64 to the rear wheels. Like “Drift Mode” of the Ford Focus RS, all of a sudden steering with the throttle is available and pushing the rear end out is easily accomplished.



While the 18-inch Speedline Prodrive Flow Forming (P-FF7) seven-spoke wheels wrapped in Pirelli P-Zero Rossos do look very pretty, their primary benefit is putting that power to the pavement and reducing unsprung weight. Similarly, the cars stance is 25mm lower than normal, giving it a great look. That drop in ride height is from the Prodrive uprated springs and bump stops that make the WR1 more nimble than your average WRX.



There are cosmetic details that make the WR1 stand out too but even these have been carefully thought out to enhance the driving experience. The WRC-style front bumper has a unique stainless steel wire mesh grill and has built in driving lights.


Inside you have anthracite suede-effect seats and a special shift knob to go with the WR1 embossed carpets. Perhaps most unique of all, inside is the numbered plate showing the cars production number. Outside the WR1 is finished in Ice Blue Metallic paint and its own distinctive emblems.



Pearson has added a pillar-mounted boost gauge, but has no other plans to modify this low production limited edition. At the time of this writing the car had 83,000 miles on the odometer and Pearson had just became a father. As a result, with its four doors, the WR1 will serve well as a family car that’s perfectly capable of grabbing speed when necessary.


A car like this really doesn’t need anything but to be well cared for and that seems to be handled since Pearson has been infatuated with the car since he set eyes on it. Until today you may not have even known this model existed. After today, you have one more reason to love and appreciate the Subaru WRX STi, in whatever flavor suits you best.