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Richard Hammond’s monstrous Subaru Impreza

As some of you might have already seen on our socials, we’ve been cooking up a bit of a storm with our friends from DriveTribe.


Richard Hammond’s 2003 Subaru Impreza WRX STI V-Limited, featured in the “A Scandi Flick” episode of Amazon Prime’s The Grand Tour was subsequently purchased by Hammond himself. The car, now affectionately known as ‘Martin’, due to Jeremy Clarkson’s ‘tampering’ of the iconic Martini Racing livery survived the Scandinavian Arctic Circle adventure. It has since undergone some serious restoration work. The challenge Hammond set for Mike Fernie, presenter of the DriveTribe YouTube Channel was to turn Martin into a 500bhp monster, no pressure then…


Although the Blobeye WRX STI suffered some damages during filming, including the infamous dent on the bonnet, bumper damages, and fallen-off bits, the extent of the damage wasn’t as severe as one might’ve expected. The headlights required a bit of restoration, and there were areas with rust that need treatment.

Now the challenge was set, the plan was to restore and upgrade the JDM import into an OEM+ monster! The engine went to a Subaru repair specialist in the UK, Pole Position, to maximise its performance, and the upgraded exhaust system & turbocharger came to Zircotec to be treated with our best in market thermal barrier ceramic coating and metallic encapsulated heat shielding solutions. Our heat management technologies are proven to improve performance, extend part durability, as well as protect vulnerable components within the engine bay from excess heat damage. Richard opted for our Performance Graphite™ finish for the manifold, downpipe and up-pipe; and our detachable ZircoFlex® SHIELD in Performance Yellow Gold™ for the turbo housing to match with the Subaru’s iconic gold alloy wheels!

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Our Performance Graphite™ exhaust ceramic coating can significantly lower exhaust surface temperatures, aiding the reduction of inlet charge and fluid system temperatures, this in turn increases gas speed, potentially improving power and torque. Performance Graphite™ is capable of withstanding up to 900°C, as well as reducing surface temperatures by up to 33%.

Martin’s turbo housing isn’t a conventional Subaru turbocharger as it connects to the wastegate, we designed a bespoke heat shielding solution for it. ZircoFlex® SHIELD is our bespoke encapsulated insulation system, this patented solution provides an increase in performance over traditional insulation systems by incorporating Zircotec’s ThermoHold® based ceramic coatings. Our ZircoFlex® SHIELD is capable of use in direct contact to heat sources up to 1,000°C and can lower engine bay and inlet charge temperatures which increases engine power and torque. This technology has previously been tested with a well-known UK tuning garage – it had proved to provide an additional 9hp at 7000rpm and 17lbft at 3000rpm when the ZircoFlex® SHIELD detachable heat shield is installed compared to without. It can also reduce surface temperatures by up to 85%.

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We can’t wait to these parts installed onto Martin, further protecting the engine bay from unwanted heat damage, adding to its aesthetic as well as improving its performance!

Get in touch with us to find out more about our ceramic coatings and heat shielding solutions!