Most automotive enthusiasts that live and breathe project cars don't maintain a lifelong commitment to any specific chassis. Sure, there's the occasional story of the builder that held on to their car beyond a handful of years but more often than not, cars are sold and replaced with new builds to tinker with. For Josue "Sway" Santiago, he's had a few different cars come and go but his 2006 Subaru WRX STI is here to stay.
After 15 years of ownership and having gone through multiple phases, the Sway and Subie relationship is stronger than ever. In a seemingly constant state of change, the owner says that although this is what he would consider the car's final form, he admits that things are set to change in the near future as more parts continue to stockpile at his home in preparation. Gm Flexplate
When Sway purchased his STI in 2007, he'd already been busy with modifying a Forester XT Limited. He'd later started making changes to the WRX, but they were always relatively mild, with constant wheel swaps and OEM optional body additions. "I had about seven different trunk set ups - from wingless to winged, with three different wing types to choose from," he adds.
Before the next version of this STI is completed, much of its current, aggressive aesthetic can be attributed to the Voltex widebody aero that's widened all four corners and brought the car's outline closer to the pavement. The beloved "hawkeye" front end received a noticeable makeover with the Voltex Street bumper and lower lip now in place with its large grill opening offering plenty of airflow to the front-mount intercooler set up. You can add another wing option to Sway's resume with the Type 2v currently perched over the rear deck alongside a Varis carbon fiber roof blade.
Those curvaceous over fenders add 40mm of clearance that allow for 18x10.5 +18 Volk ZE40 and 295/30 Toyo Proxes R888R to fit comfortably. There's enough clearance for a bit more wheel and tire but Sway wanted the option of dropping the car all the way down via his Airlift Performance suspension and 3P/3H air management system backed by a five-gallon tank, without interference.
Much more than just an "up and down" affair, this STI is outfitted with a series of suspension changes to help its back-and-forth ability, as well. Whiteline's front and rear sway bars, roll center bump steer kit, and JDM STI lower control arms underneath, and a Carbing shock tower brace and JSpeed roll cage up top.
What was once a blue interior has been swapped out for black surfaces but the OEM seats didn't make the grade and were traded for a set of Bride Japan Zeta III buckets. The factory steering wheel and shift knob joined the original seats and a Personal woodgrain wheel was installed with a WC Lathewerks titanium shift knob. Atop the dash swap you'll find a trio of gauges housed in a Zero Sports bezel that, along with a few choice dash pieces, has been flocked.
During the 15-year relationship, Sway's added various performance upgrades to help squeeze more power but at one point, he decided to fully upgrade the bottom end. Out came the engine, it's block fitted with Cosworth pistons and Rallispec H-beam rods, all secured with ARP hardware. The stronger internals were brought in to help keep up with an increase of boost afforded by a Forced Performance Red Turbo. Grimmspeed's TGV deletes and EWG up-pipe were bolted on, as were Agency Power unequal-length headers, a Cobb down pipe, and complete HKS exhaust.
Delivering enough fuel is a set of ID1300s mounted to Injector Dynamics' top-feed fuel rail conversion fed by a Deatschwerks fuel pump. With a 4 BAR MAP sensor on board and tuning through Cobb's Accessport, this STI street car produces a safe and reliable 418hp with 400 lb-ft of torque. That power is put to the ground through an Exedy twin disc, and engine and drivetrain movement is kept in check with Torque Solutions' mounts and a Kartboy rear differential bushing. It's the sort of combination that allows Sway to drive it just like any other STI through traffic and city streets, then unleash when the time is right and experience a far more useable torque band and substantial pulling power on demand.
In addition to his Subaru, Sway also puts time into a BMW M340i that's been given some performance and suspension upgrades and is currently sitting through a Covid-induced painfully long wait for new wheels from overseas. That car might stick around for a while but there's no doubt his STI is here to stay. After fifteen years and multiple phases, not to mention a growing parts collection that has yet to be installed, this long-term relationship is rock solid.
Engine Torque Solutions mounts; Cosworth 8.2:1 pistons; Rallispec custom American 4340 H-beam rods; ARP head studs; Forced Performance RED TURBO w/84mm inlet/10cm exhaust housing; OEM upper intake manifold w/Grimmspeed TGV deletes, EWG up-pipe; Treadstone front mount intercooler core; APS intercooler piping; TiAL Q blow-off valve; AEM intake air temp sensor; Omnipower 4 Bar MAP sensor, speed density conversion; Agency Power unequal-length headers; Cobb Tuning downpipe, Access Port V3; HKS carbon TI catback; TiAL 44mm external wastegate; Deatschwerks 300lph fuel pump; Russel E85 fuel filter; Injector Dynamics 1,300cc injectors, top feed conversion rails; Aeromotive A1000 fuel pressure regulator; Goodridge AN fittings; deleted factory fuel dampers; Koyorad radiator
Drivetrain Exedy twin disc; Beatrush pitch mount; Torque Solutions transmission mount; Kartboy rear differential bushing, short shifter
Suspension Airlift Performance air suspension, 3P/3H air management system, 5 gallon tank, dual compressor; Whiteline front/rear sway bars, rear sway bar mount kit, roll center/bump steer kit; Carbing shock tower brace; Cusco Type 2 lower arm brace; JSpeed roll cage; 2003 JDM STI lower control arms
Braking StopTech sloted rotors; Hawk street pads
Wheels & Tires Volk Racing ZE40 18x10.5 +18; Toyo Proxes R888R 295/30
Exterior Voltex Racing widebody aero kit, Type 2v carbon fiber spoiler, STI wing delete plate; Varis carbon fiber roof blade; Spec C roof vent; JDM STI rain guards, rear glass, rear wiper
Interior Bride Japan Edition Zeta 3; Takata Pro long harness; Key!s Racing deep cone steering wheel; Personal Woody classic steering wheel; Works Bell quick-release; WC LatheWerks titanium shift knob, reverse lockout ring; Defi BF Series boost, fuel pressure, EGT gauges; AEM wideband gauge; HKS turbo timer
Lsa Harmonic Balancer Thank You Thanks to my good friends for helping me along the years Erin Cabildo, Ernesto Guappo, Tony Estiler, Chris Rivera, Big thanks to my best Friend Joe Tobias for letting do most of my work at your place whether it was the install of air suspension to the major work of doing the wide body in 1 weekend but always for being there. Major thanks to the guys at Crownspeed Lab (Calvin, Sean, Bryant, Vince) for helping source most of my stuff.