brian_c_ahearn New Reader
11/9/22 9:57 p.m.

Welp, the time has come. I've always wanted to go rallying, and I've always wanted to do a build thread, so why not kill two birds. I bought a subaru, then I bought red mud flaps. What else is there to do really? 

My name is Brian, and I'm stoked to finally be  dipping a toe into the motorsports world. Years ago I distinctly remember reading multiple forum posts saying "if you want to get into motorsports, go to college and get a good job first." Sound advice to avoid disaster really, however after spending hours watching and re-watching Ryan Symancek's "My Life as a Rallyist", and listening to The Open Paddock Rallycast,  and studying Josh Hickey's BMW 318 build bible I think it's finally my turn get dusty. 

I've started recruiting pretty heavily for my rally team, so far I have my wife Katie who wants to flip burgers and drink beers at Park Expose and my daughter Pace who likes to smile. I also have a twin brother who will likely volunteer to sit in the silly seat when the time comes. 

I've driven the same e30 on and off for the past two decades (woof time flies), and took it rallycrossing with my wife Katie at a Tarheel Sports Car Club event in NC a few years back. They say that you shouldn't rally or race something you're sentimental about, which is the second piece of sound advice I've received. I think that one event led to some premature frame suspension mount failure, but that's a story for another time. I've wrenched on the car the whole time I've had it, but I'm by no means a professional mechanic nor fabricator. These are things I hope to improve, but for now I'll be camping with the Bolt-On-Boys. 

Neither my driving or mechanical skills are up to the task of buying a finished rally car and putting it sideways between trees in a few months, so I'll be taking the slower more "educational" route building my own. The goal is to eventually progress from rallycross to sprints to full fledged stage rally at a pace that works for me. I'll likely be visiting Team Oneil at some point. 

With that in mind, this week I sprung for a popular rally platform and picked up a 2007 Subaru Impreza 2.5i. I got lucky and found a rust free 5 speed with 120k on the clock that had the head gaskets and timing belt professionally done 5k miles ago. It even came with a good luck Magic the Gathering card from the previous owner. 

Here she is in all of her 15 year old glory, if you've never seen a stock Subaru before. 

I really was very well maintained, so I got lucky with a relatively short "Stage Zero" list of things planned, mainly just a fresh battery, fluids and plugs/wires. Clutch, brakes and CV's were recently done. The factory struts and springs seem like they'll be fine for me to get started, neither seem blown out or sagged. 

On to the more fun stuff, I've ordered up a set of the Rally Armor UR flaps and a set of General Arctic 12's (Only $101 each on Amazon!) to get going. I'm going to run the factory 16's pictured for now, with 205/55r16's. I'll likely also pick up Primitive Racing's front skid plate and rear diff skid plate for some extra piece of mind. 

That's it for this intro post! I live on Long Island, but it's a quick ferry ride across the Long Island Sound to the NER Region, so that's where I'll be racing. Their next event is a RallyX Dec 3rd in Mass, but more realistically I'll be up and ready for the start of the 2023 season. If you see my little family at an event please come say hi! 






irish44j (Forum Supporter)
irish44j (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
11/9/22 10:34 p.m.

Welcome to the club! You should definitely see about coming down to DC in the Spring for our combo rallsprint/rallycross weekend (date TBD). A bit of a hike from you, but we have some great Subarus (and a couple of the best stage drivers in them on the East Coast) run with us, plus of course all the e30s you've seen in my thread.  In any case, you're in good company with the NER group as well!

I'm also curious about the story for later regarding the suspension/frame failure (!!)

Side note: are those Euroweaves on the e30? 




If you're on FB, hit me up if you want (and/or Pitchblack Rally) and check out the Washington DC Rally, Rallycross, and Rallysprint page.

AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter)
AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter) UberDork
11/10/22 6:41 a.m.

I did something very similar about two years ago but I started with an 02.  You are going to have lots of fun.  

Kevin_Ahearn New Reader
11/10/22 5:21 p.m.

Future silly seat filling, twin brother checking in here - stoked to see you get the ball rolling on this and looking forward to putting in some wrench hours in the garage!  It's been a long time coming, but great to see one of our "projects" transition from an excel spreadsheet to an actual, tangible hunk of metal.    

Also very much looking forward to connecting with the GRM community both digitally and in person in the near future and learning from the collective wealth of knowledge.  With any luck it'll save us a few costly mistakes and maybe a fender or two. 

To answer your question irish44j, per twin-law (article 4, section 13)  in the event that one brother is running euroweaves on his e30, the other twin brother can not do so in good faith, and therefore is required to explore other wheel options... or buy a Subaru to build into a rally car. 

Edit: proof that dolly the sheep wasn't the only thing to come out of that cloning device


brian_c_ahearn New Reader
11/10/22 9:02 p.m.

Thanks Josh, that didn't take you too long to find a rally themed post laugh I'll definitely find and join the DC RallyX page on Facebook. I've been follow along on your instagram (I'm TheSaltyNomad) for a while. I'm very intrigued by a trip south to "warmer" weather in the spring. 

Regarding the suspension failure, I think rust and being a NY car is ultimately to blame, but I'm sure the RallyX didn't help. After the event I was driving around Norfolk (where I lived at the time) and noticed that my exhaust was scraping on bumps that it didn't used to. I figured (read:hoped) that my exhaust hangars had let go, but to my horror the right rear spring had collapsed the rear frame rail. It looks like the fuel vent hose that runs through that area was trapping water for years, creating a nice big pocket of rust. So it turns out I was scraping because my rear spring was trying to join me in the passenger compartment. I've kept the car because it's mechanically sound, TBD what will become of it (re-shell vs buy a welder and learn). 

Kev is right, alas since he has euroweaves I can't. Rules are rules. 

Thanks for the welcome Anthony! 

irish44j (Forum Supporter)
irish44j (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
11/10/22 11:07 p.m.

lol - honestly, I spend most of my time on GRM in the build section and there are so many good rally builds here, my eyes instantly see them in the index page haha. Ah yeah, that damn fuel vent hose cover is a rust-trapper indeed. My current e30 project was swiss cheese under there lol.  IDK if you've followed my *other* e30 build (over the past year), but it's all the e30 rust remediation/repair that you'd ever want lol.

2. to your brother - nice weaves. When I bought my e30 rally car for $900 (?), I got home and found a set of euroweaves in the trunk :) They're not as nice as yours, but still love the look.

3. y'all gonna get confusing lol. And if one of you isn't driving well at a rally, you can swap places and nobody will ever know :)

4. I grew up in Norfolk (late 80s - early 90s) a block from Norfolk Yacht Club on Hampton Blvd. Still love that area!

brian_c_ahearn New Reader
11/24/22 9:39 a.m.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! 

Oh man, what are the odds Josh! We lived in West Ghent for 8 years just down the road. My wife and I miss the area so much, but having our baby close to family is important as well. While I was down there I was always hoping to join you guys for a RallyX with my E30 but I could never get the timing to work out with my work schedule at the time. 

A few little odds and ends to report on the car. I dropped it off at Performance Auto Solutions (a subaru specialty shop near me) to have the center diff bearings redone. The viscous coupler is working fine, but the factory bearings were shot after 120k. They did a great job, and were a pleasure to work with if anyone on the island needs a subaru shop. 

I also had a chance to refresh/polish the headlights, both an improvement cosmetically and in sending light down the road at night. Here's a shot with the passenger side done but drivers yet to be completed for comparison. I used the Mother's kit with the little blue powerball drill attachment. Way better than doing it by hand in my experience. 

I also had a chance to install the Rally Armor UR mud flaps, simple job. We'll see how they hold up with the plastic attachment clips, I may have to upgrade to rivnuts in the future. I'm assuming that's what some of you guys do? 

When I got the car the blower motor only worked on setting 4. The blower motor resistor that arrived from Rock Auto unfortunately isn't the correct part, so I'll have to wait for the right one to come to fix that. To be fair, I probably ordered the wrong part. 

Lastly my tires arrived! They were missing their 4th friend on delivery day, but it rolled in a few days late. I guess it came from a different warehouse. 

Gobble gobble!

AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter)
AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter) UberDork
11/24/22 10:44 a.m.

The rally armor mudflaps I ran on my GD RS held up fine for two years and about 12 events or so.  I wouldn't worry about them at all.  I just followed the instructions and used the supplied hardware, no issues. 

brian_c_ahearn New Reader
11/24/22 2:05 p.m.

Good to hear Anthony, thanks! Did you run the Primitive skidplate? 

irish44j (Forum Supporter)
irish44j (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
11/24/22 9:41 p.m.

Good move on having the shop do the center bearings. My center diff on my 09 actually crapped out around 150k and we DIY'd all-day job, on a lift, being helped by a buddy who has done a ton of them. What a hassle. 

The urethane RA flaps hold up well, I had them on my DD WRX for 180k miles or more.... but honestly they don't really stop much gravel/mud spray because they're pretty floppy (but they look great). I use some stiffer polypropelene flaps cut out from some huge big rig mudflaps. Basically, something like this, I cut all four of mine out of one of these:

Yeah, I hung out in West Ghent a lot, over on Graydon and Princess Anne....I went to Maury HS so had a lot of friends down there. Played tennis all the time at those courts down near Orapax Inn restaraunt. Related note: we knew the road through the train yards that cut back to Larchmont via Lambert's Point and may or may not have done that road at excessive (and unsafe) speeds  in my 1970 Triumph GT6 a few times in the middle of the night lol. 

Looking back at Google Earth, man....that would be an epic tarmac rally course running between all the freight trains :)

brian_c_ahearn New Reader
1/29/23 3:42 p.m.

I'm back! Josh I always thought the same thing walking and riding my bike around the train yards back there. Plenty of space for a course. What a small world! My wife and I miss West Ghent immensly, but being by family with our little one makes sense for now. 

Good to know about the center bearings. Unfortunately I'm now getting puffs of blue smoke on startup, seems like the valves seals are going. It doesn't do it under load, just on startup so I'm hopeful that it's not a ring problem. It seems like it's still making all 140whp. The smoke is triggering a CEL light as well. The joys of used car ownership I guess. 

In more fun news, codriver Kevin made an appearance over the holidays to help install the Primitive Racing skidplate. 

I still haven't been able to make my first RallyX event with the car yet. I do shift-work, so I'm not off every weekend by default (I need to request in advance), but unfortunately their schedule hasn't been published yet. Patience is key! 

Professor_Brap (Forum Supporter)
Professor_Brap (Forum Supporter) UberDork
1/29/23 3:49 p.m.

Watching for what looks like is gonna be good times! 

AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter)
AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter) UberDork
1/29/23 7:38 p.m.

Yes!  Must rallycross!  It is a lifechangibg thing you must try!

brian_c_ahearn New Reader
3/4/23 9:03 a.m.

All right! Got the car back from the shop a few weeks ago. Working with Performance Auto Solutions has been a great experience. Blue smoke on startup and all sorts of oil leaks have been solved.

Next on the list for me is a CEL with P0420 code. I had a few hours before a winter storm rolled in, so why not fire up the wrenching music and start taking the car apart. It may need a new front cat, but I figured I'd start by replacing the O2 sensors. They checked out fine by both voltage and OHM, but for all I know they're still original. Although you can get to the rear sensor from the engine bay, I couldn't get it loose and there was no way I could get a torch down there without lighting the car on fire. So up went the car, down came the exhaust and out came the ol' Bernzomatic (gotta love the name). 


If you're wondering why I pulled the mid section too, I didn't have the extension I needed to get to the top flange nut where the cat meets the mid section. 

After some swearing and grunting (according to my wife, I think I blacked out), the little bastard came out. Thankfully the threads weren't bungled, and the new one went in without a hitch and it all went back together without any parts left over. 

It "snowed" here last week, about 2 inches of wet slop but it was my first time driving a Subaru on true snow tires. I'm accustomed to an e30 on all seasons or a 2 door Tacoma, so the traction was mind blowing. We have one dirt road in my town still, about two miles long. Naturally I did a few 1AM shakedown passes on my way home from work.

jfryjfry SuperDork
3/4/23 9:11 a.m.

Glad you got it part - old exhaust fasteners can be the worst.  And on a vehicle from the lands of white stuff I'm sure it's even worse!

brian_c_ahearn New Reader
3/4/23 11:19 a.m.

Same! I made sure that once it was off the car to zip those flange nuts off and on while I had easy access. I won't be surprised if next week I'm putting a cat in it, might as well make that job a little less annoying. Now to drive 50 miles to see what the CEL does...

AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter)
AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter) UberDork
3/4/23 1:28 p.m.

I see you skillfully employed the thermal wrench as well.  I always put anti seize on bolts like that in case I ever need to remove them again.

brian_c_ahearn New Reader
3/5/23 8:46 p.m.

The most feel good update so far: the sensors did the trick and the CEL is cleared! <knocks on wood>

Looking forward to moving on to the rally fun. Josh, it looks like I have the weekend off for your 4/16 event at Summit Point! I don't know if Katie and my daughter will be joining or not, since it may be a bit chilly in WV for an 8 month old to camp. Are campgrounds even open that early in the season, or do I need to find a National Forest to squat in?

brian_c_ahearn New Reader
3/21/23 9:32 p.m.

Co-driver Kevin was in town for the week, so we had to chip away at the car for at least a few minutes. When I bought the front skidplate from Primitive Racing they had a great deal running on the rear diff skidplate as well, so I figured why not. I hadn't gotten around to mounting it, so that was our task for the afternoon. Overall not a bad job, broke out my MAP gas friend to warm things up a bit since access was tough without dropping the exhaust and the last thing I wanted was a snapped bolt. 6 fasteners later, and some finagling and it went on no problem. I've been very impressed by the Primitive Racing quality thus far, highly recommend for ease of install, but I haven't bounced either off of a solid object (yet). 

I also ordered a set of summer performance tires to use for spirited commuting, AutoX and getting to and from RallyX events. They should be arriving from Tire Rack mounted and balanced tomorrow, I'll get a post up when I mount them. My local AutoX club on Long Island has an event this weekend, that I may try to get to as a shakedown before RallyX in April.

Brett_Murphy (Agent of Chaos)
Brett_Murphy (Agent of Chaos) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
3/22/23 3:18 p.m.

The 3/8 Primitive diff plates are strong enough to use to jack up the car. My front one has a few battle scars from some non-rallycross events where it helped keep things functional.

brian_c_ahearn New Reader
3/22/23 8:54 p.m.

New boot goofin' today! Tarmac setup arrived in a big brown truck, and I'm stoked on it so far. I went with Sparco Terra 17x7.5 +48 in Rally Gold wrapped in Michelin Pilot Sport 4S in 225/45ZR-17.  

I think they look great on the car, and based on a quick shakedown drive even better. As I mentioned above I was looking for a jack of all trades warm weather tire, and from what I've read the Pilot Sport 4S should fit the bill well. This was also my first time changing wheels with the Milwaulkee 1/2" Mid Torque, and it was a dream compared to the old manual lug wrench. One time and I'm spoiled, I can't imagine going back now.

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