There are lots of tuned Subaru Imprezas out there, so it’s difficult to stand out. Kev Cham’s approach is to just go totally nuts – and push the very limits of logic itself…
You don’t have to be a professor in psychology to deduce that the key touchpoints of your childhood inform the adult you grow up to be. If you had an outdoorsy upbringing, always climbing trees and splashing about in rivers, you’re more likely to end up working for the Environment Agency than the kids who spent all their time playing Cool Spot and Zool, who’ll now be designing apps on Brick Lane.
Sometimes these childhood influences manifest themselves in less than subtle ways, and we reckon it’s pretty safe to assume that when Kev Cham was at school, he was the kid with the luminous Stabilo Boss highlighters in his pencil case. Those lurid shades clearly made their, err… mark on his affections. For it’s that very shade of luminous green we find splashed throughout his Impreza – not just a colour similar to it, but that exact Stabilo Boss green.
Now, on any other car you might expect a dazzling platter of luminous highlights to be the standout talking point, but this quirky Subaru isn’t just any other car. In fact, it’s one of the most comprehensively modded motors on the scene today – hence its justly deserved spot on our cover this month. Kev’s left no stone unturned in his quest for uniqueness, leaving us with a car which offers not one but many headline-grabbing features: you could talk to your mates about ‘that chrome blue Impreza’, or ‘that bagged Impreza on the WORK rims’, or ‘that Impreza with the colossal rear wing and the flamethrower’ and there’s a decent chance that they’d know which car you were talking about. This outstanding machine sparkles like a jewel in the modern Fast Car scene. And given the rich quality of builds out
there right now, that’s no mean feat.
“I’ve modded cars ever since I had my very first one, a Renault Clio,” Kev explains. “In fact, that was featured in Fast Car back in the day and I’ve had quite a few since then. Numerous Imprezas, including a rare 1996 Type RA that I still miss today. I also currently have a 400bhp Nissan Pulsar GTI-R with some cool mods, including a front-exiting exhaust and massive brakes. But I’ve had some pretty revolting cars too – the worst being a Rover Metro! I have always had a passion for cars, even from an early age when I would push Matchbox cars around my parents’ front room or play Ridge Racer on the PlayStation.”
There’s an inherent passion in the way Kev talks about cars and car-related issues. There’s never any question of which side his bread is buttered – he’s a petrolhead through and through. He’d probably get on pretty well with most of you.
So, what is it about Imprezas in particular that seems to be flicking his switch? “Well, I’ve always loved the offbeat rumble of a boxer engine,” he grins. And we’re not talking about the old-school pop-poppop of a Beetle flat-four here. This passion is fuelled by that distinctively burbley sound that Subaru’s EJ-series engines make. If you know, you know.
“It’s so distinctive,” he grins. “Ask any Subaru owner, they’ll tell you. So anyway, this car – I found it for sale online, on PistonHeads I think, and I just fell in love with it on the test-drive. I part-exchanged my Audi TT for it, which was a godsend, and the car was totally standard when I bought it – aside, that is, from a set of massive mudflaps. Honestly, they were like doormats, they got taken off as soon as I got home!”
Kev didn’t waste any time tearing into the project either. The plan had already been forming in his head, and he was champing at the bit to get going and paint his personality in broad strokes all over his newly-acquired rally saloon. “It all started with buying a new set of alloys, and after many hours and money spent you end up with this,” he shrugs, evidently a little shellshocked by just how far things have come. Oh, but what a journey it’s been! So where do we start? There’s just so much to cover!
Let’s begin with that iconic boxer engine. Kev’s feisty flat-four now rocks fully forged internals and an MD3210T turbo, along with a proper anti-lag system and flame-throwers (wired into the ECU) through his dual side-exit exhausts. There’s a Mocal oil cooler strapped to his Cusco strut brace, uprated fuelling, beefed-up cooling, and the top-mount intercooler’s been replaced with a larger and more efficient front-mount. All of this trickery (and much, much more) equates to a solid 425bhp, which is more than enough to blow the cobwebs away.
Chassis-wise, we’re looking at an Air Lift V2 air-ride suspension system, with a square setup of 11.5×18-inch WORK Emotion CR-2P wheels in custom metalflake paint. You’ll spot a set of sodding great Porsche brakes peeping out all round, again finished in luminous highlighter-pen green.
The exterior? That’s angry as all hell, with 60mm-wider arches at each corner covering up those fat new rims. There’s all manner of aero aids and custom carbon-fibre accoutrements, and the Spec C roof vent is a respectful nod to the model’s competition prowess. Rather less respectful but nonetheless hilariously awesome is that manga-esque rear wing and, of course, the staggering chrome wrap, which draws spectators at shows like bees to the proverbial honey pot.
If you’ve gone this far with a build, you can’t sideline the interior. No danger of that here, as Kev’s thrown in a full 12-point rollcage and flocked pretty much everything possible, before bolting in a pair of custom Bride seats and liberally sprinkling the place with handy gauges. It really is a polymath, this car. It can do everything, and nothing’s been ignored.
“Hurdles? Oh yes, there have been plenty of those,” he recalls with a grimace. “A number of times I have wanted to give up – but never did! Perhaps the most embarrassing moment was when I bought a new set of alloy wheels from Japan, and they just didn’t fi t over the Porsche brake callipers. That was a nightmare and probably the most disappointing episode of the project. I did manage to sell them on, thank God!”
And so, after all of this work – and there has been a hell of a lot of work – is Kev making the car pay for itself by running it down to the shops at every opportunity and airing it out in the work car park every day? “Er, no,” he laughs. “No way do I use this car daily! I drive it at weekends, and I take it to a lot of shows. It’s been getting some unbelievable reactions. I tend to look at the people’s faces when they see the car, and if they smile, I think ‘Yes, I know I have built the right car’. Sad, I know, but life’s about being happy and if I can create smiles it means the car has done its job! This even happens in traffic, and the number of thumbs-ups I get is great, and people saying ‘Nice car, mate’. Even bikers like it so I must be doing something right!”
When we ask about Kev’s plans for the car, his response is typically upbeat: “I’m just planning on enjoying it,” he says. “There may be a few subtle changes over the winter, but I haven’t planned anything radical. That said, you never know what’s coming next – in summer 2018 it may even be the first chrome blue Subaru speedboat…”
There you are folks, you heard it here first. Best get out to the shows this year and enjoy Kev’s sparkling creation before it goes sub-aqua. Given the bonkers level of innovation and fresh ideas throughout this build, we certainly wouldn’t put anything past him.
TECH SPEC SUBARU IMPREZA
Chrome Blue wrap; +60mm wide arches with polished bolts; custom front bumper with Chargespeed foglight ducts; carbon-fibre canards; custom splitters, debadged front grille; Hella horns painted in Stabilo Boss luminous green; custom headlights with projectors and painted inserts in black; carbon-fibre vented and scooped bonnet; smoked indicators; Japanese carbon-fibre racing wing mirrors; Chargespeed side-skirt extensions; custom rally Spec C roof vent; rear window vents from USA; rear upper window spoiler; custom black exhaust surrounds with matching bolts; Battle Aero rear wing with custom wires and bar; flushed boot with Spec D rear spoiler; JDM rear LED lights – handmade with custom indicator sweeping; rear diffuser with corner extensions.
EJ20 flat-four, fully forged with nitrided crank, MD3210T turbo; American-made hard-pipe with big ram filter; reverse inlet manifold with quicker spool-up; Mocal oil cooler custom-made to fi t on Cusco front strut brace with custom braided oil lines; anti-lag, custom dual side-exit exhausts via boot – with dual flame-thrower mapped into ECU; HKS dump valve; polished oil catch can; Mishimoto radiator; Forge polished header tank, painted inlet manifold in Porsche Miami Blue; stainless steel pulleys; front mount intercooler with pipes painted in Stabilo Boss luminous green; RCM parallel fuel rails; upgraded injectors; fuel pressure regulator; 3-bar map sensor; polished alternator; polished washer bottle; polished expansion tank and fuse box cover; LED lighting to illuminate engine bay; 6-speed manual gearbox with ACT clutch and lightened flywheel; CAE short-shift 425bhp @ 1.8 bar.
11.5x18in ET-10 WORK Emotion CR-2P StanceNation Edition wheels with custom metalflake paint; 245/45 Yokohama Advans; 8-pot (front) and 6-pot (rear) Porsche callipers in Stabilo Boss luminous green; 360mm front discs; 330mm rear discs; stainless braided brake hoses; Air Lift V2 suspension; Cusco front and rear strut braces; Whiteline front and rear anti-roll bars.
Flocked dash (including glovebox and centre console); 12-point Cusco rollcage painted Stabilo Boss luminous green; 6 Defi amber sweeping digital gauges with custom centre pod; centre air vents removed and replaced with 3 gauges in custom pod; custom inlet temperature gauge; Innovate air/fuel ratio digital gauge; STi amber sweeping gauge (from 2006 STi model); jet fighter-style steering wheel; NRG snap-off boss; CAE shifter with blue knob; custom STi gear surround; Bride Low Max fixed bucket seats with glitter painted rears; flocked doorcards including window switches – with Bride inserts; flocked C-pillar trims; Bride carpet mats; Alpine entertainment system with Carlson door speakers; wide rear-view mirror; twin blue-painted NOS bottles on custom stand; dual fuel pumps with custom braided fuel lines; custom aluminium gloss black boot floor with polished centre; painted and custom-fitted air tank with tyre inflator attachment; Air Lift manifold on show with rerouted wiring; painted fi re extinguisher with custom bracket; twin compressors with custom air filters.
Jondy Burke – he put so many hours into the car and deserves so much credit for it; Andy, Jack and Danny at Richard Henry Motorsport – who looked after the mechanical side and have always been a big help; Maj and Saj at Xtreme Wraps – wrapping the car wasn’t easy and they worked until midnight a few nights, I cannot thank them enough; James at Bag House Customs – installed air suspension and custom-made the boot, a very thorough guy. Buck Street Garage – Abid and the boys, thank you; family and friends who have either made a brew or been on their hands and knees helping out. Thank you all.
Words Dan Bevis Photos Chris Wallbank