Wild, Wild West

4/7/2017

Version 14.1

Justin Lafferty shows love for his home state of Wyoming with his WRX STi.

Discipline, honor, loyalty: Serving as a Marine is often a life-shaping event for those who enlist, but, for Justin Lafferty, joining the Corps would also lead to his love for Subaru. The Wyoming native caught the Subaru mod bug back in 2000 when he was stationed in Okinawa. At the time, he was driving a Nissan Skyline – but what really caught his eye was his platoon mate’s GC8. “The fact that I thought his Subaru was crazy fast and I was driving a Nissan Skyline should tell you how impressive his GC8 was,” says Lafferty.

Former Marine Justin Lafferty and his 2005 Subaru WRX STi.
Lafferty found the WRX STi to be the perfect car for his extensive mods.

Fast-forward 12 years and he is the proud owner of a one-off, 470-hp 2005 WRX STi. “For me, the idea of modifying is all about pushing the envelope,” he says. And, according to him, there’s no better car than a Subaru to pursue this passion. “I have some friends who modify German vehicles, but they’re crazy expensive and they don’t have the reliability and daily drivability of a Subaru.”

For me, the idea of modifying is all about pushing the envelope.

While Lafferty says Subaru “gives you the perfect canvas to explore performance driving without breaking the bank,” it still took a dedicated team of enthusiasts to bring his mods to life. “If it weren’t for our local Subaru retailer, White’s Mountain Subaru, and Joseph Tipton, a senior master technician there, I definitely couldn’t have done it,” says Lafferty, the manager of Mountain Sports, a bike shop in Casper, Wyoming. After hours, White’s Mountain Subaru lets Simply Subie club members go back and work on their cars. “It really creates a sense of passion for the brand and, most importantly, makes it possible to complete our mods,” says Lafferty. 

Laferty describes his Rex's wrap as "urban camouflage."
From a distance, you see purple shades and lime-green wheels – up close, skulls and a raised fist.

Making a big first impression on the Rex? Its standout wrap. A tribute to Lafferty’s home state of Wyoming, it was designed by one of his best friends, Trevor Wroble, of Desh Graphics. “A lot of people don’t even know Wyoming is a state,” Lafferty says. “So the 307 that you see on the side of the car is our area code – it’s the same area code no matter where you live in Wyoming.” Also noticeable is a purple raised fist, signifying the evolution of the sports car industry. “Back up 30 years and people were into GTOs and Chevelles; then in the 1990s it was Hondas and Eclipses; now it’s all about the Subie.” 

If you look close enough, you’ll also see a slightly edgier theme in the car’s design – a variety of subtle skulls. “The car is almost a rolling illusion,” says Lafferty. “It poses as soft and fluffy, and then when you look closer you see the skulls and notice the giant hood scoop. The closer you look, the more you realize this isn’t a car you want to mess with!”

The closer you look, the more you realize this isn’t a car you want to mess with!

For tuning, Lafferty turned to Soulless Performance’s Travis Cooke. Cooke’s mods include an AEM 320 fuel pump, AEM fuel pressure regulator, ID1000 injectors, Eagle rods and JE Pistons, TVG delete, a Cavalli Stage 3 Turbo, COBB ST Intake, Gimmick Motorsports front-mounted intercooler, Tomei unequal length header and up pipe, ACT clutch and a Kartboy short-throw shifter – to name a few! Lafferty’s brother, Brent Ramsey, also custom-fabricated a one-off through-flow dual exhaust, which means this is one wickedly loud Subie. “Let’s just say cold starts are pretty epic,” says Lafferty.

White's Mountain Subaru Senior Master Technician Joseph Tipton and Technician Jeff Deluna helped push the WRX STi to 470 horsepower.
White's Mountain Subaru Senior Master Technician Joseph Tipton and Technician Jeff Deluna helped push the WRX STi to 470 horsepower.

No journey is without its challenges, and one of Lafferty’s biggest was undoing a few mod attempts made by the previous owner. “We had to tear a lot of that stuff off to get it ready,” he says. Budgeting also required some thought, but, for Lafferty, following his dream of working in a field he loves makes it all worth it. “When I chose my passion as my occupation, I knew I wouldn’t be making crazy money, so I have to be pretty careful with what I take on so I can complete [the WRX] to the performance level I want to achieve,” he says.

Not surprisingly, Lafferty’s WRX STi has a roof rack that gets near-constant use. “Depending on the season, you’ll always see one of my bikes on the roof,” he says. “In the winter it’s my cargo box with my board so I’m always ready for the freshest powder.” With Subaru All-Wheel Drive (AWD) and dedicated winter treads, this WRX STi is as unstoppable as the Marine who built it.

Have or know of a great Subie mod? Let us know at: drpermag@subaru.com

All Subaru vehicles sold by Subaru of America are designed and built for normal driving conditions. The Subaru Limited Warranty, as well as the Subaru Added Security program, may exclude damage or failure resulting from modifications or participation in competition or racing events. See the Subaru Warranty and Maintenance booklet for further details.

Lafferty swaps out dedicated sets of tires and rims in harsh weather.
Lafferty swaps out dedicated sets of tires and rims in harsh weather. Photo: Trevor Wroble with Desh productions