Subaru GC8 – The Ultimate Guide

Joe Terrell
09/20/202120th September, 2021
Filed under Car Guides

Best-known for its rally heritage, the Subaru GC8 continues to be an impressive choice in the present day. We check out what it has to offer in this guide.

subaru gc8


Introduction

The GC8 has an undisputable legacy in rally history, with arguably the best driver to ever grace the wheel of a rally car, Colin McRae, launching (literally) the chassis to fame.

But, it wasn’t just Colin McRae that had the opportunity to drive this incredible chassis, which saw it earn immense popularity on the JDM (Japanese Domestic Market.)

Many of you are left wondering – what is the GC8?

When understanding the different variations of a car model, things can get a little confusing, and the Subaru Impreza is no exception.

While the likes of the Impreza’s rival, the Mitsubishi Evo, make things a little clearer with their model numbers, it can all get a little confusing when it comes to the Impreza.

Although the GC8 is your typical “Meaneye”-style Impreza on the surface, it’s what’s underneath the body styling that makes the difference here.

We’re going to dive a little more into the history of the legendary Subaru Impreza to explain a little more.


Subaru GC8 History & Specs

The Subaru GC8 is the classic WRX Meaneye Subaru Impreza turbo sedan, often referred to as the “GC.”

Production of GC8 models began in 1992 and continued until the final examples rolled out of the showroom in 2000, building an incredible history along the way.

If you’re confused as to why it’s named the GC8, you’re certainly not alone.

Subaru uses a variety of different chassis codes for their various models, and the Impreza GC8 is broken down with the following:

  • G - Impreza
  • C - Sedan
  • 8 - EJ20 (2.0-liter boxer)

Other variations, such as ‘M’ for the two-door variant and ‘F’ for the Wagon, are also available. Likewise, a ‘6’ engine number also refers to the 2.5-liter EJ25 engine.

While many believe that the ‘C’ refers to four-door, this is incorrect since the Subaru Impreza 22 STi, is issued with the model code ‘GC8E2SD.’

All WRX models built between 1992 and 2000 have a chassis code that begins with ‘GC8’ regardless of whether they’re the two-or four-door sedans.

red time attack widebody aero

Coupe JDM versions also have the “GC” code but use the “GM” chassis code in the US.

There were many GC8 models to hit the market during the eight-year lifespan, so let’s take a look at the differences between each variation:

Subaru Impreza GC8A (11/92 - 09/93) - V1/Ver. I

When the GC8A hit the market in November 1992, it was a total gamechanger.

The JDM model provided 237 hp from the 2.0-liter boxer engine, with the AWD drivetrain featuring a viscous coupling center differential and a viscous rear limited-slip differential.

For the European market, the WRX was re-badged as the Impreza GT and the Impreza Turbo 2000 for the UK market, both of which came with slightly less power at 208 hp.

A lightweight, minimalist version known as the WRX Type RA was also available in Japan, built specifically for being pushed to its limits on the tarmac or the gravel.

The Type RA achieved its weight loss by reducing soundproofing, manual windows, a horn delete with a Nardi wheel, and air conditioning and ABS removal.

On a positive note, they included a closer-ratio gearbox, a more robust engine, which featured a fifth injector, and an intercooler water spray to reduce temperatures when being driven as intended.

Subaru Impreza GC8B (10/93 - 08/94) - V1/Ver. I (Cont.)

Subaru announced the update of the existing model in October 1993 (94 model year), which featured the same power with some minor updates, such as replacing the rear rotors from ventilated to solid disk.

1993 impreza l fortune auto coilovers avid1 av20 matte black

But the most significant update was introducing the “WRX STi version,” which Subaru began rolling out with just one hundred cars per month from February 94, featuring 247 hp and upgraded body styling.

There was also an STi version of the motorsport-based, lightweight Type RA variant, which achieved an impressive 271 hp and featured the Driver Controlled Center Differential (DCCD) for the first time.

Alongside this, the production also began for the 217 hp hatchback model.

Subaru Impreza GC8C (09/94 - 09/96) - V2/Ver. II

A variety of updates came with the Ver. II GC8C model, with the traditional WRX model getting a power upgrade to the highest yet at 256 hp.

Alongside this, they opted for more substantial (410mm) ventilated rotors all around, as well as bigger, 16” wheels.

red 1993 impreza subaru 4x4 stock air suspension watercooledind cr1 white

To celebrate Colin McRae’s tremendous success in the WRC with the G8C, the UK launched 200 limited edition-model “Series McRae” Turbo 2000 variants in June 1995, built by rally specialists Prodrive.

Based on the “Rally Blue” of the WRC car, along with gold alloys and McRae decals, there were 201 built since the Japanese opted to skip number 13, with the belief that it’s an unlucky number.

A minor upgrade was introduced for the 96 model year, which launched in January 96.

Alongside this, WRX V-Limited and WRX STi Version II V-Limited Edition models would once again celebrate the WRC success, with 1,000 WRX STi Version II V-Limited models and 555 WRX Type RA STi Version II V-limited models leaving the production line.

Subaru Impreza GC8D (09/96-09/97) - V3/Ver. III

September 96 saw new styling for the WRX alongside power gains, meaning it could now push out 276 hp in stock form with a weight of just 1,250 kg.

There were many rumors that the actual horsepower figures for the new upgrade were actually nearer 295 hp.

However, due to the well-known Japanese “gentleman’s agreement” at the time, many manufacturers reported lower numbers.

blue 1997 impreza bc racing coilovers xxr 527 anthracite

At the same time, Prodrive was working on a coupe version of the WRX, named the “WRX Type R.” Prodrive opted for the two-door coupe over the sedan due to the stiffer and lighter chassis, and it was essentially a two-door “WRX Type RA.”

10,000 Type R models would reach production on an order-only basis, featuring additional benefits such as DCCD, close-gear ratios from an uprated gearbox, and weight savings from reduced sound insulation.

A WRX Type R V-limited model was also released, and a WRX Type RA sedan, both distinguished by their roof vents alongside several other changes.

Subaru UK released a Turbo 2000 “Catalunya” model to the market in March 1997, once again with a 200-car roll out, excluding the “unlucky” number thirteen.

Subaru Impreza GC8E (09/97-08/98) - V4/Ver. IV

In 1998, Subaru launched the most exciting update yet, and a car that would later achieve legendary status - the Subaru Impreza 22B STi.

With a factory widebody, Subaru produced the two-door coupe between March and August to celebrate their 40th anniversary, alongside their third consecutive manufacturer’s title in the WRC.

Just 400 22B’s were available for the Japanese market, all of which supposedly sold out within 48 hours, although there are many claims that it took as little as 30 minutes.

Needless to say, it certainly would’ve been a good investment!

Alongside the 400 JDM models, an additional 24 were built for export markets, with 16 headed to the UK, 5 for Australia, and 3 prototypes.

With an EJ22G engine, these officially produced 276 hp, with the fender flared widebody adding 80mm to the width alongside many unique and highly desirable body panels alongside 17” wheels.

The 22B has continued to be the most desirable of all Impreza’s in the present day and also became Bunta Fujiwara’s touge choice in the hugely popular Initial D series.

While the spotlight was on the 22B, there were updates to the European models, including forged pistons and an updated interior.

A Turbo 2000 “Terzo” model was also released in April 1998, with 333 cars sporting the infamous blue with gold alloy wheel paint scheme to celebrate yet another WRC title.

Subaru Impreza GC8F (09/98-09/99) - V5/Ver. V

Minimal amendments were made for the stock WRX GC8F variant.

A positive upgrade was that the torque output rose from 242 ft/lb to 250, but at the same time, the overall weight increased to 1,300 kg.

The “Boxer Phase 2” engine was introduced for the STI model, featuring the same power with an improved layout, alongside a facelift to match the rest of the range.

A WRX Type RA STi Ver. V also hit the market, with 1,000 total cars built, with a four-month wait.

There were upgrades to the UK models, with a limited edition “RB5” model, which saw 444 Turbo 2000’s in gray celebrate the arrival of Richard Burns to the WRC team, with an optional Prodrive suspension upgrade.

Prodrive also got its hands on the standard Turbo 2000 model in 1999, updating the suspension, body kit, wheels, interior, optional ECU, and decals, and branding it the “Prodrive WR Sport.”

Subaru Impreza GC8G (09/99-09/2000) - V6/Ver. VI

The G8GC was the final model for the WRX G8C line, which reached the market in September 1999.

Some minor exterior updates include newly designed wheels and color-coded handles and mirrors.

Intermittent wipers and remote central locking were added bonuses. However, the power output remained the same.

engine bay 2000 impreza subaru rs raceland coilovers konig hypergram gunmetal

The final rollout of limited edition models saw 1,000 WRX STi Type R coupe Version 6 Limited, 2,000 WRX STi Version 6 Limited, 2,000 WRX STi RA Version 6 Limited, and 500 WRX STi Version 6 Limited models.

A final “S201” WRX STi was also released in 2000, with a final production of 300, with the highest output to date, excluded from the gentleman’s agreement at 300 hp. The S201 features almost every part from the STi range, including a full suspension setup and a full body kit complete with aggressive aero.

In Europe, the GT model received upgrades, such as the Phase 2 engine, with 215 hp and STi upgrades, such as uprated brakes, 16-inch alloy wheels, and the STi 4 high-level wing on the sedan.

In addition, uprated suspension and STi-style bucket seats were also included.

Prodrive also built the last of many limited edition models, this time with 1,000 two-door cars in Sonic Blue, named the “WRX P1.”

The WRX P1 was the only coupe version of the WRX STi GC chassis to opt for ABS instead of DCCD, and it was provided with 276 hp along with suspension best-suited for its British natural habitat.

silver 2001 impreza subaru rs fortune auto coilovers enkei rpf1

Optional extras included Recaro seats, 18-inch wheels, a custom P1 backbox, and four-piston front brakes.

Sadly, this would be the last of the much-loved GC8 Impreza’s, as Subaru prepared to roll out their Second-generation GD/GG Impreza models known as the “Bugeye” before the “Blobeye” and “Hawkeye” facelifts later followed.


Subaru GC8 Mods, Upgrades & Tuning

Given its legendary motorsport pedigree, it’ll come as no surprise that many GC8 owners are keen to unleash the untapped potential that these incredible cars have to offer.

If you’re looking to buy a GC8 on the used car market, the chances are that you’ll find more tuned ones than stock.

subaru 555 rally car jump goodwood off road

Bolt-on mods

The first step to tuning will always be bolt-on mods, such as an exhaust and intake, along with a front-mount intercooler to get maximum efficiency from both the engine and turbo.

To ensure you’re making the most of these upgrades, rather than harming the engine, an ECU alongside a remap from a specialist tuner will ensure optimal performance.

Cranking up the power

If you wish to go beyond the bolt-on mods, you’ll need to consider taking things to the next level.

While turbo upgrades are readily available, you’ll want to ensure that you have the correct fueling and cooling mods to keep everything under control.

From there, substantial upgrades such as stroker kits and forged internals will also need to become a consideration, but the costs will undoubtedly start racking up quickly!

Given that the gearboxes and clutches on the GC8 aren’t known for being the strongest, you may also need to factor drivetrain upgrades into your budget.

Styling mods

There’s certainly no shortage when it comes to styling mods for the GC8, and there are upgrades for just about every part imaginable.

Since you’ll have the likes of the 22B, the various rally models, and the STi upgrades to consider, you’ll soon have yourself a rather long shopping list!

Thankfully, several companies produce aftermarket parts and upgrades, many of which are in carbon fiber, which means you don’t have to wait for the insanely rare 22B parts to surface with an eye-watering price tag to match.

Using JDM taillights and headlights are often common upgrades, and many owners also opt for wide body kits to replicate the holy grail variants.

Suspension

For suspension, coilovers will be the best choice for the street and the track.

Whether you’re looking to produced a stanced or slammed GC8 or make the most of the impressive handling that this incredible chassis has to offer, we do not doubt that coilovers will be the perfect solution.

Wheels & Brakes

The usual choice when it comes to upgrading the wheels on your GC8 will be either 17 or 18” rims.

Given the AWD drivetrain, fitting bigger wheels can cause niggles and issues, which we’d obviously rather avoid, so try to match the current rolling radius with your new wheel/tire combo.


Drifted Subaru GC8’s

While the AWD drivetrain doesn’t make the Impreza GC8 a commonly-seen car when it comes to being thrown sideways, we’re delighted to say that several builds have broken the norm.

First up is this incredible Toyota 2JZ-swapped GC8. Talk about a match made in heaven!

Check out this video where Italian drive Massimo Checchin pushes it to the limit:

If you’re a lover of all things Subaru, you have to check out this collection of Scooby’s at Japan’s Nikko Circuit:

If that’s not enough content, how about this French drift team, who were lucky enough to get their hands on the classic Team Orange Impreza:

How could we include GC8 videos without showing the 555 WRC car in its natural habitat? Enjoy the flat-4 pops, bangs, and rumbles once again:


Conclusion

There’s no real argument that the Subaru GC8 is one of the most impressive cars of all time, and if anyone wishes to question that, you can kindly point them in the direction of Subaru’s Group A WRC domination.

Colin McRae made for the ultimate pilot and the perfect match for the GC8, where he certainly wasn’t afraid to show off the car’s true capabilities.

Not only did the GC8 earn Subaru its most successful years in the WRC, but it also birthed a JDM legend - the Subaru Impreza 22B.

Recently, the most expensive 22B to date was listed, at an eye-watering $370,000.

Sure, it may have only had 270 miles on the clock, but despite the insane price tag in the window, that would later be replaced with a ‘SOLD’ sign.

When it comes to the more affordable models, they certainly don’t disappoint either.

grey race car pan speed impreza

With the GC8 on the market for almost eight years, Subaru refined the car to perfection, and with some variations reaching up to 300 hp, they’re certainly going to provide heaps of fun even in stock form.

If you wish to get the best out of your GC8, then there’s a comprehensive selection of aftermarket parts for just about everything you can imagine.

Whether you wish to build a 22B replica or make the most out of what the turbocharged 2.0L boxer engine has to offer, the GC8 has something to offer for everyone, and it comes as no surprise that it’s earned itself an enormous fanbase over the years.

So, there we have it! We hope that we’ve covered everything you could want to know about the Subaru GC8 in this guide.

Thank you for reading our Subaru GC8 guide.

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Photography credits

We thank the following entities for the use of their photography in this article:

author avatar Written by Joe Terrell Drifted.com founder, motoring journalist and all-round car enthusiast. Read more about Joe and the Drifted team on our about us page.

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