First week back on the road was a rainy one, but the new wheels look ace.
Photo: Jordan Bezugly

After a long and snowy winter in Canadaland, I am free from the shackles of my trusty beigemobile-now-beater Camry and my BRZ is finally out of hibernation!

I took last week off from work as a sanity break. I figured I could use the opportunity to pull the car out of storage and get a few goodies put on it that I received over the winter break as well. This was a good idea.

Ever since I wrapped the car last year, I’ve been looking for a set of gold wheels to accent the gold colour. I considered plastidipping or powder coating the factory wheels; but by the time you go to the trouble of doing that, it’s almost worth buying a nicer, aftermarket set. Plus, since I am now storing the car for the winter months, it meant that if I keep my OEM wheels on crappy spare tires to store the car on, I can keep my summer tires warm in the house and sell my winter set that I no longer needed.

mmmmm... JDM wheel goodness

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I initially found these Gram Lights 57C’s at a price much higher than what I wanted to pay. Eventually however, the seller and I worked out a solid deal and I walked away with them for a song. They were in excellent shape: recently powder coated in the original gold finish and had all new set of all the original stickers from Rays to boot.

Perhaps the best part was that they came with a set of old Falkens mounted: I now had crappy tires to put on my OEM wheels to have rollers for storage, while the still-in-good-shape OEM rubber could get swapped onto these new wheels. I originally was looking for a more aggressive fitting set of wheels (17x9 +35-40), but I’m a sucker for JDM wheels over all else. these in 17x7.5 +48 meant the car wouldn’t look out of place at stock height.

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The other item I had on my list over the winter had to get checked off: dealing with the torque dip. The ACE A350 4-2-1 EL header is considered the best header for the FT86 platform. It sounds great, is made well, and provides very impressive gains, most notably in the midrange, where it has a fairly significant advantage in torque compared to 4-1 EL (good peak gains, but most still have a torque dip present) and UEL header designs (good peak gains and no torque dip, but not quite as much midrange torque). Unfortunately, it is ludicrously expensive compared to quality UEL header options (Tomei, Gruppe-S, JDL) that can provide 90% the results for half the money. Problem is, I did not want a UEL header on my car. On 4WD Subaru’s I’m all for the UEL burble, but to me, that sound does not fit the character of the BRZ, being a unique offering within Subaru’s lineup.

I had the self control not to unwrap it until it was time to install it... 4 months after this photo.

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Lucky for me, JDL’s new 4-2-1 Long Tube EL header released just before Black Friday. Being a long tube 4-2-1 EL design like the ACE A350, it offered great peak gains, and great sound while having the most torque out of any header design. However, it was much more reasonably priced that the ACE, even with a Cerakote finish to help reduce the heat being radiated from the header into the engine bay. I jumped at the opportunity and picked one up, and had it wait in the box until winter had passed.

So damm pretty...

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Well, of course the time had come, so I had the header installed by Touge Tuning and tuned by Sasha at OnPoint Tuning. You may recognize Sasha as the tuning guru from Speed Academy who also built an insanely fast electric Lotus Evora and a 530+ WHP N/A VQ 350Z race car. He’s known as one of the best tuners in Canada for Subaru’s and otherwise, bar none.

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After tuning my car with the new header, he said that it’s one of the highest HP NA BRZ’s he’s ever had on his dyno. Car pulls strong right to redline and the torque dip is all but gone. These numbers are with the stock overpipe and front pipe still in place, on Petro 94 octane.

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For reference, stock BRZ’s/86's have typically made anywhere from 140 to 155hp on Sasha’s dyno whereas on most other dynos, they’ll put down around 165-170whp. Sasha noted that with the stock header and OEM tune, my car would have probably landed at the 155-160whp mark, noting that it was “a very healthy motor”. By my math where the stock 2017 BRZ makes 205hp and 151 lbft of torque, my car now makes 231 whp and 186 lbft of torque at the crank. Not too shabby at all.

As for sound comparisons, here’s my Invidia R400 catback with the stock header:

And now the JDL setup:

Definitely louder when you’re giving it the beans, but while cruising, it remains just as quiet as before (which is to say, almost stock levels of quiet which is where the R400 excels).

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EDIT: Here’s some more sound clips, with a lav mic mounted on the rear bumper.

How does it feel? Well, the car feels completely transformed. I was never one to complain about the power of the Toyobaru twins, but the extra power along with the linearity of the power band without the dip is truly, truly life changing; the car feels so much faster now. If you have a BRZ/86 and have been on the fence about doing this, do it. You won’t regret it.

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So um. Yeah. Think that’s everything for now! Feels great to be driving this thing again.