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Swapping a Ferrari V8 Into Your Subaru Rally Car Is One Way to Fix Head Gaskets

May 28, 2023May 28, 2023

Using a Ferrari California 4.5-liter flat-plane V8 engine and a lot of custom fabrication, this Subaru WRX STI is a monster built for competition.



Good engine swaps are a delicate art. Sure, you can LS swap everything and make it better, but homogenizing the creativity of an engine swap takes away a bit of the fun. With Subarus specifically, it's tough to do creative engine swaps and retain the all-wheel-drive. Sam Albert of Dirtfish took that book and threw it out the window with a rally-ready Ferrari swapped blobeye WRX STI.

It was something of a fun project for Albert to make the Ferrari-powered Subaru, which took a few years from start to finish. It started as a late pandemic project, with Albert buying the engine from a supercar dismantler for "just over $11,000." While it is a 4.5-liter Ferrari V8, it is not a 458 Italia engine. It's actually a Ferrari California engine, which explains how it was so affordable. And according to Albert that cost is comparable to a fully built EJ25 engine that would normally exist in the Subaru's engine bay.

And he figured out how to fit it over a couple years and lots of prototyping. For the swap, he maintained the Subaru all-wheel-drive system and gearbox meaning he had to adapt the Ferrari engine to the Subaru six-speed transmission. A consequence of this is the engine having to poke out far beyond the front axle due the Subaru method of driving the front wheels from the gearbox. The short boxer engine normally allows this to work well but the Ferrari V8 would only fit with modifications to the hood.

The end results is something completely unique and crazy. It sounds amazing and looks balanced and fun to drive. Somehow, Albert maintained the stock weight distribution with a rear-mounted radiator and entered the car in the Olympus Rally to shake it down. It did break, but it will come back stronger and ready to compete in more actual rallies. Godspeed.