Can You Drive a Subaru WRX Rally Car on the Road?

Seeing a full-blown race car on the street will never get old. Either blasting by on the freeway or idling in traffic, they always stand out amongst the other commuter vehicles on the road. It is not entirely legal for most race cars to have them on the street. Many race cars need to be registered and have the proper lighting or the proper safety equipment to be able to do so. But for a race car that is actually required to drive on public roads, such as a Subaru rally car, does this mean you could drive one every day?

Is a Subaru WRX a rally car?

Starting in the early 1990s, Subaru took their standard Impreza model and added a turbocharged engine. The turbocharged version of the Impreza was dubbed WRX, which stands for World Rally eXperimental. The Subaru WRX dominated the World Rally Championship (WRC) by winning three consecutive manufacturers’ titles. Several other successful wins, including class wins in the 24-hour Nurburgring race, cemented the Subaru WRX as a rally icon.

With WRC cars needing to be homologated, you can buy a street car that is 75% of the way toward being a race car. Subaru even offered an STI (Subaru Technica International) variant of the WRX, giving it even more racecar goodies. Unfortunately, since Subaru stopped competing as an official constructor in WRC around 2008, the road cars lost some of that race car flair. Although the newer cars have been tamed a bit, this doesn’t stop people from buying the old versions and living out their rally racing dreams.

Building a 2004 Subaru WRX to compete in rally

2004 Subaru WRX Rally Car interior
2004 Subaru WRX Rally Car | Braden Carlson, Motorbiscuit

Even with 75% of the work done for you, building a Subaru WRX to compete in actual stage rally racing is no small task. However, Taylor Jessee took it upon himself to take his standard road car WRX and turn it into an American Rally Association (ARA) legal rally car. Starting with a stock 2004 Subaru WRX, Taylor began the modifications with a complete JDM STI drivetrain swap. The swap includes a 6-speed transmission with adjustable de-coupling center diff (DCCD). This transmission upgrade allows for smoother shifting, better acceleration, and adjusting where to send the power based on road conditions.

Taylor added a rally spec weld-in cage kit to make the car legal and keep it safe. The interior is finished with OMP seats, a Sparco steering wheel, an in-helmet communication system, an ARA logbook, and other standard certification items. The car is stock, other than the necessary rally items and the transmission swap. For his class, Taylor must run a 30mm restrictor plate in the intake that keeps his Subaru WRX around 160 horsepower. After he completes his next race, he will be able to move up in restrictor size and make around 200 horsepower.

Can you drive a rally car on the street?

2004 Subaru WRX Rally Car side
2004 Subaru WRX Rally Car | Braden Carlson, Motorbiscuit
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Can You Drift a Subaru WRX?

After competing in Show-Me Rally and Southern Ohio Forest Rally, Taylor is now waiting for his next race. We all know having a car sit around is no fun, so why not take it for a drive? Most people would be hesitant to take their race car out on the street for fear of being pulled over. But for ARA-legal rally cars, they must be completely law-abiding. ARA technical rules list that each vehicle must have functioning horns, windshield wipers, all exterior lighting, exhaust system, and catalytic converter (if required by state).

The cars drive on public roadways at certain stages and during travel between the locations. Hence why they need to be entirely road legal. As you can see in the video above, Taylor and Braden had fun in the rally-ready Subaru WRX and then took it on the street to grab some food without an issue. Does everyone have access to an ARA legal rally car? No. But if you were to convert one of the only vehicles you have so you could race on the weekend and work through the week, take solace in knowing you won’t get a laundry list of a ticket for taking it on the road.