First off, let me thank you guys for being an incredible resource for info on these cars. I've learned quite a bit just browsing these forums.
I'm looking into possibly getting an 02-03 WRX by the end of the year (still waffling between the WRX and a MazdaSpeed Miata), and I'm looking for a car that I can drive daily, but is still capable of having fun on the mountain roads. I'll be looking into a bunch of suspension junk, but what I'm really concerned about is power mods, mostly because I live in CA and smog law sucks here. Basically, my question is this:
How far can I go without making the car unsmoggable? Or rather, what can be reversed every 2 years so that the vehicle would pass smog?
From the research I've done so far, one of the first things I'd like to do is get an aftermarket up pipe, to get rid of the catalytic converter. Doesn't this instantly make my car fail CA smog? Won't they notice a cat missing? Exhaust seems like it wouldn't be too hard to swap on and off every two years, but up pipes are a pain, aren't they?
The plan is up pipe, downpipe, midpipe, catback, engine management, maybe intercooler. That's all. A nice sound, a bit more power, nothing too crazy. Turbo back can be swapped relatively easily, I don't think an intercooler will give me smog problems, right?
Anyone in CA have any advice to beating the smog issues?