First thing I did was to test fit the ride height to see how much lowering was needed. So I cut off all the chassis parts and assembled them temporarily in place using blu-tac!
Since this is a gravel version, I was expecting the ride height to be high.. but not this high!! I was shocked to discover it needed so much lowering as it means much more work! Lesson learned for next time... get a tarmac version WRC kit, not a gravel!! Rims and tires seen above are the ones I'm planning to use and come from another Tamiya WRC kit
Here's the culprit of such a high ride height! Lowering this will be easy by simply chopping that long arm off and re-join the suspensions. However modifying the control arms to a new position will take much more work and time. Let's go...
First thing to do is take out the knife and start cutting to get the Impreza to sit right!
These are all the steps to get the shock absorbers lower! Cutting, drilling and joining!
With the suspensions cut short, everything around them had to sit at a higher position. First thing I did was to cut off the lower part of the engine from the engine bay
Then, I needed to lower the rear control arms mounting points. I first cut a hole where the original position was, then using styrene I constructed new positions for these to rest onto. Another piece of styrene was added next to the engine for new mounting points
Above, all work on these new points is completed. Just some further smoothing required
All that remained was to mount the suspensions and control arms in their new higher positions and check the front ride height. It's the height I was aiming for, so off to the rear!
For the rear I began with the suspensions where these were shortened by 2mm
Then, it was time to lower the whole differential assembly by 2mm to match with the shorter shock absorbers. This was achieved by cutting 2mm off the top of the structure beneath the differential, seen in grey above as before (inset) and after
Everything was re-assembled and now the body sits where I wanted it to be.. perfect!
Here I thought that I was finished from the chassis modifications.. but I wasn't! Having a higher front and rear set-ups, meant the drive shaft will now sit higher too and this came in contact with the tunnel floor! So this had to be cut out and a new one built higher!
I began by first making two straight pieces of styrene on top of the old tunnel to achieve the new required height, as seen above
Then I placed a flat piece of styrene to cover the hole cut earlier. This will be detailed further at a later stage. I have also sanded down almost all of the original interior items mounting points, as these will be replaced or relocated. You can also see that the driver seat brackets were completely removed as the Impreza will be converted to a RHD!
Finally, this is how the underbody looks now. The front part was lowered to avoid the gearbox touching with the floor. Also the gearbox pin lenght was adjusted. In the middle, the new tunnel can be seen in its new height, making enough clearence for the drive shaft
Next work was the exhaust. The Impreza already comes with a straight pipe, so that's great! However the back silencer needed replacement and for this I chose an HKS unit from Scale Model Works. I have a review on these exhausts which can be seen here
On the back side I cut the original silencer off and added two different diameter plastic rods. The transparent one above is the same diameter as the HKS inlet to facilitate installing it. On the front side, I had to add an extension to the exhaust pipe as this became too short due to the re-location of the engine at a higher position
The rear bumper also had to be slightly sanded down around the exhaust hole due to the larger diameter exhaust. All that remained was to test fit the whole exhaust in place
The bumper hole diameter also had to be increased due to the larger exhaust tip. I really like the way the exhaust looks from behind, these SMW exhausts are very realistic
Next job was a brakes upgrade. For this, I chose the 15mm Photo-Etch disc brakes from ScaleLab_24 and AP Racing Calipers from Hobby Design
First thing to do is put the photo-etch disc brakes together, by first cutting the front and rear flat parts, then the grills and finally attach everything together
Then it was time to make them more realistic. First I attached the discs on a sanding stone using double sided tape, then slowly scratched the surface to achieve that worn look
Finally, here's a comparison of the kit disc brakes and my newly finished combination
With all the chassis work sorted, it was time to start working on the interior, beginning with the dash. The original supplied with the kit was great for a track car, however it was a Left Hand drive and I couldn't keep it like that since I was after that JDM look. So after a chat with a local friend, I was the owner of a new Fujimi Impreza dash that was Right Hand drive.. Thank You Gilles! Time to modify this, beginning by cutting off the bottom part
Then I opened all the dash vents to simulate these has been removed, making it a more race-spec dash. Then I found a piece of 3mm styrene to build a 3-gauge pod
Then I constructed the 3-gauge center pod, using a piece of styrene for the bottom and also a piece of transparent wire heat-shrink to simulate the gauges covers
Next job was to cut a hole in the top middle part of the dash to allow the gauge pod to sit into. Then, I realized that the new dash was shorter than the original and there will be a larger distance between the seat and the dash. This was due to a longer rear part on the original, so I began by cutting out both rear sections of the dashboards
Finally, the rear part from the original was glued to the new dash, achieving the same length as the original dash. This was then smoothed and the new dash called done!
Then it was time for some scratch-building! Referring to photos of real items, I made a Motec ECU and Display together with a BuddyClub battery and bracket. These were made from extra pieces of resin I had left over from the FD2 Civic build and styrene
I also scratch-built a racing gear lever using metal wire, resin, styrene and wire insulation. As for the hand-brake, I decided to use the original Tamiya one however this was modified
The original kit pedal box received some new styrene pedals to make it more detailed, while the enclosure received some cutting and sanding to make it more track-car friendly!
Next job was the fuel system where I took the original WRC automatic fire extinguisher and modified it to look like a swirl pot. Then I also made a new fuel pump and filler hose
The rear parcel shelf was detailed further by opening all the holes, making it more realistic and also allowing the fuel system to be seen through the bigger holes
Some details like the window winder handles, were removed from the original door cards to make the interior more track-car focused. The rear door handles were covered
Last modification was done to the Hobby Design calipers to make them narrower since these were much wider than the photo-etch disc brakes. These were first cut in half, the extra sanded off and then both parts re-joined together
Finally, with all the chassis and interior modifications carried out, all the pieces were cleaned from any mold lines present and attached to the sticks, ready for primer!
All parts were then airbrushed with Kapci 2K automotive primer
The main chassis and interior parts were first to receive their final colour, and this is an automotive 2K pure white, which dries hard and gloss without need for clear
The seat, dash and steering were airbrushed with ZP Textured paint to make them look more realistic with a 'suede' look
As for the chassis control items, it looks like I raided the Cusco catalog as all items were airbrushed in metallic blue!
Then I started masking and once done I airbrushed several parts and pieces in satin black
Once the black was dry, more masking was done and other parts airbrushed in aluminium, chrome and gun-metal grey
More airbrushing and detailing was done wherever required, like these suspensions which were colored according to real Cusco ones available for the Impreza
Once all items were detailed as necessary, everything was ready for final assembly. The chassis received some custom silver tape beneath the gearbox and drive shaft
Here's the all finished chassis. It is still missing the brakes as these will be attached later
With the chassis finished, it was time to continue working on the interior, beginning with the door cards where these were covered with Scale Motorsport carbon fiber decals. The seat back was covered with carbon kevlar decal. Both were then airbrushed with 2K clear
Recaro decals from Hobby Design were added to the seat while the black part was airbrushed with flat clear to achieve a more realistic look
The dash was next. This was finished off with Hobby Design decals for the gauges and Defi sticker, together with some custom switches to one side. Carbon decal was also used to blank the original instrument cluster area
I also printed some custom decals for the Motec ECU and display together with the battery
All the parts were detailed accordingly and then everything was ready for assembly
The interior floor was slightly weathered and is ready for assembly, just like both doors
First thing I assembled was the custom fuel system using 0.8 and 1mm Top Studio braided lines and resin hose joints. Braided lines were also added to the handbrake to make it even more realistic. Then the custom gear lever and hand brake set-ups were attached, together with the standard switch system where I also added some wiring. Then, I began placing the ECU, battery and extinguisher on the floor to choose a set-up
This is the set-up I went for, thanks to Mark for the idea! Battery and ECU were also wired to create a more realistic look. Dash installed temporarily to show how they'll look overall
With the seat and roll-cage installed in place, I could start installing the harness using T2M green strand, Scale_Lab24 photo-etch and custom Takata decals
Next job is to assemble the dash and the last pieces of the interior and call it done, so keep watching this space for more updates!