The Phoenix Force

Author: Michael Vernon :: Photography: William Tanna

Update!! Tim has installed a set of Electric Green powder-coated STi Brembos. The color combo is staggering and amazingly cohesive.


A car show is a glorified meet and greet punctuated by the sheen of fresh wax jobs and the shine of barely used wheels. Big bass electronica fills the venue accented by local models bringing more attention to specific cars. Positioning for the spotlight is never an easy thing. The public’s opinion weighs heavily on the mind, the glitz and glamour rip shadowy figures to the front and center. A dizzying amount of attention and respect is given and taken within a span of five minutes. It’s the perfect set up for those to show off their hard work and monetary spending.

There is something unusual. Hesitation.

With an exalting rumble, a sleeper car rolls through the crowd. The hot lights caress the bodywork, providing a spectrum of the familiar World Rally Blue of Subaru’s color palette. The familiar exhaust note drones as it searches for its spot with its friends. There is something unusual. Hesitation. As if the driver does not want to be among the attention-seekers. A reserved space has the Subaru’s name written all over it. In between a red WRX wagon with gold wheels and a stealth black STi, Smokescreen waits for its driver to emerge. The driver side door opens, a foot appears and the driver’s aura explodes, taking out the lights, a hush looms over the immediate area. Tim the Magician has arrived.

The Magician. The nickname was bestowed upon Tim Watt due to his uncanny ability to touch a car and diagnose automobile problems without having to take it apart. It’s partially why he is an invaluable asset to his employer at All Wheel Drive in Kirkland, Washington. Another is his undying passion for Subaru and the boxer engine. Provided that every car enthusiast has their victory story; Smokescreen, Tim’s 2005 WRX, has gone through the seventh circle of Hell and then lived to tell the its own tale. It is not unique that he demolished it at the track nor is it completely out of the ordinary that he rebuilt it. The differentiating factor is that Tim had a whole community behind him through the whole process.

The ultimate challenge of Tim’s talent was provided throughout the whole of 2009. Smokescreen had won the annual West Coast Subaru Show for best model year 2004-2005 Impreza. It did not exude a crazy offset of wheels nor did it catch the hellaflush bug. Orange wheels, a lowered chassis with obligatory swaybars and a will to be driven to the brink of detonation, the first representation of Tim’s character was really only skin deep. It did not show Tim’s true passion: to drive with no fear. In this form, Tim was provided the opportunity to test and hone his driving skills on one of the Northwest’s premier weekend warrior tracks, Pacific Raceways. Suffice to say, there was nothing to stop Murphy from applying his law on that fateful day.

Tim reconstructed Smokescreen into a machine worthy of the name “transformer.”

The postulation is evident as to how Tim could have avoided destroying his car. He did not apply the acceleration pedal and instead opted for the brake. It’s as simple as that. With multiple points of body damage and a bruised ego, Tim’s calm and silent demeanor did not waver. The life-altering decision took five seconds to conclude. He pursued a path with less tread. He kept the wrecked Smokescreen.

What lays before you is the best 1980s montage of hardwork, endless energy, and difficult lessons learned. For two years, Tim reconstructed Smokescreen into a machine worthy of the name “transformer.” A majority of the body panels were pounded back into shape by Tim’s hand. When he needed professional expertise with the body and paint, Tim turned to Complete Customs in Woodinville, Washington. With some stylish touches such as the STi rear arches, rear bumper, side skirts, and front bumper with splitters, Smokescreen also received some much needed engine work. The go-fast goodies include the standard full TGV delete, a bigger VF-34 turbo with 560 injectors coupled with a Deutchworks DW200 Fuel Pump. A hybrid boost control, an intake airtemperature relocation and STi top mount round out the additions. In true Northwest fashion, Dominic Acia of fame in Marysville, Washington provided his skills in dialing in the perfect tune. At 339hp @6000rpm and 325lbft @4800rpm, Tim can make a beeline for his destination and keep his feet on the ground.

The speeds Smokescreen could achieve were not the only detail that Tim focused on. Subarus from the factory come panel-to-panel painted and a door or front panel or rear bumper can be a shade different from the rest of the car. Complete Customs did a full repaint using Subaru’s World Rally Blue but this time as one process. The results are impressive to the say the least. The path of least resistance was chosen to set the paint off. Track-proven ISC adjustable coilovers were purchased to drop the frame on a set of Sparco Assetto Gara’s. In a defunct 18×8 Bright Silver wrapped in forgiving Potenza RE760 Sport P225/40R18, Tim’s homage to Smokescreen Mark 1 is beautiful and poetic.

He allows his own abilities to determine the course.

While Tim continues the automotive tradition of building on a factory design language, he has still managed to retain the core values of Subaru. Smokescreen is an alluring example of a tuner vehicle whose capacity for vicissitude and marvel is only matched by Tim’s need to explore the depth of his commitment. In this way, Smokescreen continues to induce the blatant disregard for being a showstopper. Tim does not look to its predecessor for guidance. Instead, he allows his own abilities to determine the course. And it’s exciting to think about where it goes from here.

Tim’s Mod List:

Engine Related Body/Exterior Related
Invidia Turbo-Back Exhaust Primitive Racing Front & Rear Skid Plates
Grimm Speed Up-Pipe 20% Tint by Jays Tint Shop
STi Top Mount Red Rally Armor Flaps
Hybrid Boost Control Shaved Rear Emblems
Deutchworks dw200 fuelpump Forty7 H1 HID Light Bulbs
IAT Relocate STI Front Bumper with Splitters
560cc Injectors HELLA Horns
VF-34 Turbo LED Corner Markers & Turn Signals
Silicon Turbo Inlet Custom JDM Tail Light Mod
Full TGV Delete Cleared Headlights
SPT Short Ram Intake Spec C JDM Rally Vent
Perrin Lightweight Crank Pulley Limited STi Trunk Lip
COBB Access Port 2.0 Replica V-limited Front Lip
Dom Tuned at Maxwell Power STi Side Skirts
Group N Engine and Transmission Mounts STi Rear Bumper and Fender Flares
Sickspeed Engine dress up bolt/washer kit  
Suspension Related Interior Related
Perrin Front Sway Bar Color Changed Gauge cluster
Perrin Rear Sway Bar LED Dome Light
Front and Rear Strut Bars Dyna Mat doors & trunk
Perrin Positive Steering Response System Pioneer DD Touch Screen Nav Unit
Rear Diff Lockdown and bushings Boston Front Door Separates
Whiteline Roll Center Kit 12″ JBL Sub w/ 4 channel Kicker Amp
ISC Coil Over’s Short Shifter
Sparco Assetto Garas 18×8 Bright Silver Subaru All Weather Mats
Potenza RE760 Sport P225/40R18 A Pillar Gauge pod
Professional Alignment Performed By Myself Plasti Dipped Pillar Trims
Stoptech stage 2 brake kit  
Perrin Front Shift Bushings  
STi Spec C Front Lower Control Arms  

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