Atte Taivainen’s interest in cars began at an early age. He grew up in the countryside in eastern Finland, where there was plenty of room to play and play with toys. This led Atte to learn how to repair and perform various maintenance jobs himself.

Atte purchased this two-door 1998 Subaru Impreza WRX STI Type R in late 2017. This powerful 4WD coupe promises smiles and power slides on snowy Finnish winter roads. This is Atte’s third Subaru, and he decided to give it a major performance and visual overhaul for his original Winter Strike you, or at least, like you done Before these cars became more valuable – I’m not sure how many were used as goons…


The original plan was to simply source and install a widebody kit for the GC8. The replica STI 22B fenders looked promising, but then Atte set his sights on a wider kit – the WRC version. This replica kit will make the car 50mm wider on each side, so Atte also needs a fatter wheel and tire combination to fill in the fenders. A set of used 18×7.5″ SSR Professor SP1 3Ps provided their centers and a new wide lip and barrel were ordered to bring them up to the required specs.

While testing the fit didn’t match Atte’s expectations, a big decision was made: the kit was cut into pieces and stretched with fiberglass until each side measured +100mm. The remodel took months, but Atte machined it to perfection before installing the fiberglass panels.


Suspension is next on the list, and on this side of the build, Atte installed BC Racing custom shocks with shorter shocks for the low ride height and improved handling he wanted.

Since the WRC fender archlines are 50mm higher than standard to accommodate the gravel-spec suspension travel, everything on the chassis had to align accordingly with the fully adjustable arms that were also fitted. The wheels are straight with minimal camber and the semi-slick tires provide maximum grip.

Now that his Subaru was seated, Art turned his attention back to the bodywork. Atte’s friend Jussi Svenn sorted out and prepared for the minor damage that had accumulated on the snow-covered tracks of the Finnish winter. But this is just the beginning.

The hood lost its signature hood intake after the intercooler was moved to the front of the engine bay, and the slightly revised front bumper received an air ram intake to deliver fresh air to the filter, bumper There’s a new front lip at the bottom — all of which are custom of course.

Next, the rear bumper was modified to allow the exhaust – a full custom 2.5-inch stainless steel system fabricated by Antti at Luisu’s Garage – to exit the center of the car.


Atte was still figuring out the color the night before the Subaru was due in the paint shop. Ultimately, he settled on an understated mocha latte brown for the exterior, with a mint green for the engine bay to match the Project Mµ brakes. Anything else in the engine bay that can be painted matte black is.

While he was working on all the bodywork, Atte handed over the Subaru’s running gear to someone Keit trusted at Keitmotorsport, who was tasked with rebuilding it. The process starts with the transmission, where the 6-speed DCCD (Driver Control Center Differential) gearbox is given a basic overhaul before mating with a 6-pad sintered clutch to ensure it can handle the new level of power. The DCCD allows for in-cabin adjustment of the center differential lock, which Atte says is handy on the track.


The EJ20 CDB engine has been rebuilt to handle the high compression from high revs and more boost. The cylinders are drilled to accommodate new Mahle 2618 forged pistons, which are ARP 2000 bolted to Manley H-beam connecting rods. Fitting the new nitrided 79mm cranks required relocating and modifying the end bearings (one of the full line in ACL’s Race catalog) to accommodate the configuration. Finally, the newer STI Version 5 cylinder head is secured to the cylinder block with ARP studs, sandwiching an RCM 1.5mm head gasket.

The end result is a 2.1-liter boxer ready for action.


There’s plenty of action thanks to a modified Holset Super HX40 turbocharger, but also boost control from a KKD 60mm wastegate and charge cooling provided by a custom front intercooler. AN8 Teflon fuel lines are used to deliver ethanol from the Walbro 450lph fuel pump to the 1,500cc injectors.

Tuned via the Autronic engine management system, the EJ produces 450whp and over 600Nm of torque, which Atte says is a good amount for street and track use.


Inside, Atte installed the front half of a Cusco roll cage and custom-built the rear, making the Subaru a strictly two-seater. It didn’t peel back to the metal as you might expect. Atte had been working on car audio before he started modifying cars himself, so a decent sound system was always in the plans.


Interior panels and seats are wrapped in dark brown Alcantara with a bespoke silver-stitched diamond pattern. When you look closely, you’ll notice that each diamond has an even number of stitches, and that the lines start and end in the same pinhole. This is not an easy task.

Inside, you’ll also find TAKATA Racing seat belts and a QSP steering wheel on Sparco quick release hubs.

The aforementioned sound system is built around an Alpine CDE-178BT head unit with a DD Audio 5-channel amplifier to boost the signal. The door cards are custom built and house 3-way powered Ground Zero Competition 6.5-inch midrange speakers, while the tweeters are mounted on the front pillars of the roll cage with their wiring concealed in ductwork. For the all-important bass, Atte ran an 8-inch DD Audio 608 subwoofer in a 20-liter reflex enclosure.


The finished product for 2019 looks like this. Atte named the car “SubieMonster”, Sesame Street –Inspirational graphic features 22 cookies per side in homage to STI 22B. Yes, Atte loves cookies.


As you’ve noticed, Subaru looks a little different now.

During the long 2020-2021 Covid winter in Finland, Atte was bitten by the carbon aramid bug. He decided to take the molds off of his modified WRC replica kit and recreate them in Kevlar. The mold making process requires a lot of fiberglass and the right type of epoxy to make sure they are strong enough. Atte then carefully prepares and waxes the Kevlar in the molds before infusing them under vacuum. This procedure is for the front fenders, rear fenders, hood and side skirts. A new Kevlar rear diffuser was also custom built, along with new side splitters, front canards and mirror housings.

Art removed as much excess metal as possible from the body before installing a new lightweight carbon fiber Kevlar kit, resulting in an estimated 150 kg (330 lb) drop in the car’s overall weight.


One of the standout aspects of the exterior is the mount at the back. Atte sourced a WRC Prodrive S6/P2000 wing, the same version used on Petter Solberg’s 2000 Impreza WRC car. That blends nicely with the race look of this tarmac spec.


Atte has been driving his Subaru on multiple summer track days since “finishing” the car for the second time. The engine has proven to be reliable, and with the reduced weight, lap times are faster.


That is Last summer. Atte said the build will always be evolving, and his Subaru is currently back under the knife during the cold winter months. We’ll just have to wait and see what 2023 brings to SubieMonster…

Vladimir Lyadov
Instagram: wheelsbywovka

Special thanks to Henry Kempinen For details and text entry.

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