How much does it cost to build a rally car?

How much does it cost to build a WRX rally car?

This year I’ve been asked at least 20 times: “How much does it cost to build a rally car?” To be honest in the past I’ve hesitated posting about it because there are a LOT of variables. Now however I think now it’s time to peel back the layers and get stuck into it.

Caveats – rally car build budget

A few things before I start answering the “how much does it cost to build a rally car?” question. First of all I’m talking about the Subaru Impreza WRX because that’s where most people have been asking. Also the WRX is easy to find info/parts and as we build a lot of them I have a few upgrades worth mentioning.

This post relates to cars manufactured up to the 1999 mark. The standard will be to Motorsport Australia/AASA/AMSAG state championship level. National level and any car manufactured after the year 2000 need a few more parts. This is because of an oddity in the rules regarding additional fire extinguisher requirements. So to remove the complication and expense, I won’t mention it here.

I’m not adding any labour components to the costs. All parts mentioned are bolt on. Some parts are a requirement in the rules and some of them are recommended upgrades. In this how much does it cost to build a rally car post, I haven’t included an exhaustive list either. I’ve covered the basics and a few other bits and pieces that I think you may need.

It’s also beyond the scope of this article to cover the purchase price of the car or any of the major mechanicals. I’m quoting prices that were correct at the time of writing and all brand new. Most of the prices have been sourced online so you can find them for yourself as well. I’ll run from most expensive to least expensive and prices are in AUD.

Where to invest the most cash

OK. Let’s get under way with how much does it cost to build a rally car. Now whenever anybody builds a car the first thing I say is to spend as much money as you can on safety and handling. Therefore your roll cage and your suspension should be the two most expensive parts of the car.

Topping the rally car build budget

Kicking off with the suspension, you need something that works well and is reliable. You don’t want to have failures or to have to keep rebuilding or replacing it. You can buy gravel rally suspension anywhere from $3k to well over $20k a set. I’m going middle-of-the-road with remote canister 50mm, STD suspension that we sell. A set of four, complete and ready to bolt in will cost around $5,300. Contact Us for more info

We sell the STD remote canister gravel rally suspension. It is the most expensive item on our rally car build budget.


Next in our rally car build budget is the single most important piece of safety equipment. The roll cage. It doesn’t matter now whether you’re building to state level or national level the roll cage standards are all the same. A bolt in roll cage that meets the standards is around $4,400 That price excludes freight.

A full bolt in roll cage to the current standards costs $4400.

Somwhere to sit

Whilst we’re talking safety, you’re going to need a set of race seats. They’re roughly about $750 each which works out to about $1,500 for a pair. That’s for standard width, non winged seats. Wider and/or winged seats will cost you extra.

A pair of race seats is a must when building a rally car.

Wheels over brakes

 With the WRX there is a bit of a quirk when it comes to the wheels. Any car manufactured up to about early 98 you can get away with the 15-inch factory wheels. After that that you need to get a set of wheels that fit over the 4 pot front brakes and can handle 15-inch gravel tyres. Therefore a set of five of the correct wheels will cost you about $850.

Holding you in

 Next on the rally car build budget is a set of decent race harnesses. The rules say you’ve got to use six-point harnesses and everybody has to wear a frontal head restraint too. So a set of compliant harnesses are going to cost you around $730. Currently as part of a deal you can get a rally kit which includes; harnesses, a helmet hammock, a spare wheel tie-down, a map pocket and some tow straps.

6 point race harnesses, tow straps, spare wheel tie down and map pocket. This is an ideal addition to the rally car build budget.

 As everything in this rally car build is bolt on, it means that you’ll need some sort of adapter frame to allow you to bolt your seat rails and seats in. AGI make such frames for the WRX and they work out the $680 for a pair.

 At this point in the rally car build budget I’m also going to put in a line for incidentals. I’m going to say $500. Why is that, what will it cover? Things like harness plates as you’re going to need a couple of those. There’s probably going to be some electrical wiring and connectors, cable ties, maybe some paint for the interior etc. It will quickly add up.

Protecting the car

A sump guard is an absolute must for gravel rallying. Going with the bolt on theme, we make our own sump guards for $330 and they bolt straight onto the GC8 WRX. Contact Us for more info

Recommended upgrades

Now for the first of our recommended upgrades in our rally car build budget. Yes you can go racing on standard brake pads however I wouldn’t recommend it. Best thing to do is upgrade at least the front pads. That way you’ll have peace of mind that when you put your foot on the brake the car is going to stop. A set of uprated front brake pads will cost around $185.

 Back to our list of must-haves and whilst you’ve got the seats and seat frames, you’re going to need some seat rails to get it all fitted in the car. Two sets of seat rails are going to set you back $180.

Another item on the recommended upgrade list is to replace all the factory rubber brake lines with braided stainless steel. Factor rubber lines get weak over time and have been known to fail in rallies. A set of four braided stainless lines will cost you about $178.

The critical link – fuel pump

One of the critical upgrades on our rally car build budget is the fuel pump. For the sake of reliability, definitely fit an upgraded fuel pump to the car. We fit TI Automotive (Walbro) pumps to all cars. They’re currently on sale and will cost $132.

 Another upgrade for longevity and reliability is a braided clutch line. The factory rubber line that is fitted to the clutch slave cylinder often gives trouble. If you blow one, you’ve got to pull the intercooler off to replace, it so why not do it while you’ve got the car in pieces during the build? It’s cheap insurance for $130.

 One of the cheaper items in our rally car build budget however relatively expensive for what they are is a set of mud flaps. These are required for the rules and roughly they’re going to cost $127.

Something else required in the rules is a turbo restrictor. Generally speaking it’s a piece of machined aluminium that’s fitted to the front of the turbo. It could range anywhere from $100 to $250 however for the sake of this discussion let’s call it $100.

Putting out the fire

Probably the cheapest safety item to meet the rules is the fire extinguisher. Generally we fit two one-kilo dry chemical powder extinguishers. You can buy them from your local auto parts store and they are around $30 each so a total of $60.

Down to the last thing on the rally car build budget and the cheapest. The factory hoses to the intercooler are not very reliable. They do crack and split with age and heat. Therefore if you’ve got the intercooler off while you’re doing the clutch line then it’s worth doing a silicone hose upgrade as well. A set off EBay will cost you about $50.

What is the total cost?

 Well that’s more or less the spending done to get a basic rally car together. That is not the end of the story though and I’ll cover that in a sec. Where does that leave us with the dollars and cents? Well our rally car build budget is up to about $15,500 worth of parts.

The total cost for a rally car build budget is $15,508 in June 2020

Not finished yet!

So what else is going to chew up the cash? For a start I only quoted on five wheels and the reality is you probably need about eight wheels to do it properly. You also need tires as well. You’re also going to need; an intercom, some sort of rally computer and probably additional lights.

Additional underbody protection is worth fitting to a gravel rally car.

If you’ve got additional lights out front of the car you’re also going to need a map reading light in the car for the co-driver. Earlier I talked about the sump guard however depending where you live you may need additional underbody protection. Western Australia has very abrasive gravel and extra protection under the car is definitely worthwhile. The fuel tank and rear arms cop a right pounding without shielding. Another worthwhile addition is a roof vent.

Need Help?

We can of course help with part of or a total build of a rally car. We also supply and fit individual parts, including manufacturing our own sump guards. Please contact us if you’d like any more information.

Hopefully I have answered “How much does it cost to build a rally car?” I’ve talked about the WRX however in a lot of regards it doesn’t matter what kind of car you build. Each car has its own quirks and will need additional bits and pieces however the base costs are pretty much the same.

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