Archive for GC8

Identity Crisis: The Subaru Impreza

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 01.05.2014 by aclasschris

The current GVB STI really isn’t a good looking car. When it was first revealed I thought, “give it some time and it will age well”. It hasn’t. In fact it will probably be remembered as one of the least memorable Subarus ever and judging by the 2015 WRX, it’s only going to get worse.

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I email back and forth with my buddy Earl a lot and we often discuss the current state of Subaru, where the brand has been and where it’s headed. Not too long ago he sent me this article from The Truth About Cars. It primarily discusses the way automotive manufacturers are continually using less interesting power plants in their cars and the way competing brands are offering more similar products. One of the article’s more interesting points discusses the way manufacturers are using their brand’s heritage to sell cars and how that will become more important as time goes on.

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Take Subaru for example. They haven’t really raced in years. After pulling out of the WRC in 2008, the Impreza doesn’t have the motor sports tie-in it once did. As a result, Subaru have shifted the car’s focus and rather than building a road-going rally car, they’ve designed the Impreza to be more comfortable and more “luxurious” to compete with the Europeans. The change in direction can’t solely be blamed for its weight gain and stubborn styling. Heightened crash and pedestrian safety regulations are also a major factor. The interesting thing to consider is that the Europeans have to deal with the same kinds of regulations, but they’ve still managed to produce very good looking cars. In fact, 2014 is set to be a stellar year for European car design – the BMW M3, Alfa Romeo 4C, Volkswagen Golf GTI and the absolutely stunning Jaguar F-Type Coupe to name a few. There’s also a new golden age of hyper cars emerging with LaFerrari, McLaren’s P1, the Porsche 918 Spyder and anything Pagani are building at the moment. Consider that and Subaru, who had their best sales year in 2013 are sort of missing the mark.

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But wait, what about the WRX Concept you say? Well that was indeed a very good looking car and shows what Subaru are capable of building, but for whatever reason they’ve decided that the upcoming WRX is good enough. This harks back to the idea of manufactures selling heritage. As a consumer, when you buy the 2015 WRX, you’re buying over 20 years of rallying history and you’re buying a car that was “inspired” by the WRX Concept. In the eyes of the manufacturer it becomes more about everything tied to the car, rather than the car itself.

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You may remember when Subaru first debuted the 2015 WRX, they began producing special videos about past iterations of the Impreza, including the 22B. These were not only intended to showcase some truly great moments in the brand’s history, but to assure the consumer, “yes, this is where we came from and this is what you’re buying into”. While it’s nice in theory, the whole idea falls flat and instead leaves us wishing we could somehow buy a 22B, rather than the current, boring and frankly ugly new WRX.

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Rather than stepping back and recognizing the 22B as their peak, Subaru should be striving to outdo it. Since the WRX has become so similar to the STI, why not make the latter even more outlandish? As of 2015 all you’ll really be getting from buying an STI over the WRX are some big brakes, more aggressive bumpers and lots of badges. Subaru should give it the premium quality and performance it’s price tag warrants. Instead of doing a limited production, JDM-only tS Type RA, make that the standard STI! If they’re trying to emulate the 22B, why not make the new car a coupe, give it more horsepower and then it can truly compete with the M, AMG and S models of the world.

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The Impreza lineup has become complacent and it’s all for the simple fact that it has no competition. Not only is the Mitsubishi Evo extinct, but the brand itself may be in a few years time. The Impreza occupies a place in the Japanese market where it has no competition, so why would Subaru feel the need to actually put that WRX Concept into production? They’re doing just enough to keep enthusiasts on the hook and nothing more. I just hope we don’t see the STIs of the future suffer the same fate as their Mitsubishi counterparts.

Two Sides Of The Subaru Coin

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 10.19.2013 by aclasschris

This week’s episode of /TUNED was pretty interesting and did a great job of showing the two very distinctive halves of the Subaru community.

First, there’s the Slammed Society GC8 complete with ruined fenders and Rota wheels because that’s what all HellaFlush Subarus rock. Props to the owner for doing a clean EJ25 swap, which is rendered useless because the car is bordering on undrivable. This car is pretty representative of where the Subaru community has been headed for the last 3 years.

On the other side of the spectrum, the second car is much more my speed and apparently Matt Farrah’s as well. The owner gets bonus points for the JDM EJ207 swap and seems to have an eye for quality parts – I didn’t know the Tomei made an exhaust for the GC8. This car is more along the lines of what many of us would hope to do with a GC8 build. The instant power and tuned suspension take full advantage of the car’s compact size.

This is why videos are fantastic because they tell the story you’re not seeing in photos. Perhaps the stance car looks more interesting in the NASIOC gallery, but which car do you think will put the bigger smile on your face behind the wheel? My thoughts exactly.

Video courtesy of /DRIVE.

ZERO/SPORTS Anniversary Festival

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 06.16.2013 by aclasschris

It doesn’t seem like too long ago that we were watching the demise of ZERO/SPORTS. Back in 2011 the company filed for Chapter 11 – a time when it was the thing to do if you were part of the Japanese tuning industry. After some modest Tokyo Auto Salon appearances, the company appears to have found new life with the Subaru BRZ. Back in April, ZERO/SPORTS hosted a special Anniversary Festival at the company’s tuning facilities.

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Apart from the usual festivities which included food vendors and dyno pulls for customers, 3 generations of the brand’s famed demo cars made appearances.

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As you’re likely to find with most of Japan’s larger automotive brands, ZERO/SPORTS has an impressive retail, tuning and maintenance facility called ZEROMAX. The space allows customers to get a closer look at the company’s products and meet with consultants to discuss the various tuning options available.

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Out back, customers were invited to put their cars on the dyno.

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ZERO/SPORTS has always been known for their work with the Subaru Impreza. At one point they had the most dominant STi around Tsukuba Circuit. Today the brand’s attention has shifted towards a more street-tuned approach with their latest project the CZS Impreza.

While the CZS Type ZERO aero adds a certain elegance to the current crop of Imprezas, the brand will always be most famous for their GDB Time Attack car.

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Also on hand, the BTZ007R2 GC8 demo car.

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They just don’t make them like this anymore.

In recent years the future of Japanese tuning has looked at times bleak. However it’s great to see brands like ZERO/SPORTS carrying on. With their impressive retail and tuning facility ZEROMAX and a firm grip on the BRZ market, bankruptcy is hopefully a thing of the past.

Photos courtesy of ZERO/SPORTS.

RCM Gobstopper In Action

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on 05.14.2013 by aclasschris

Someday I want to buy a GC8 and build something like the RCM Gobstopper.

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One of my all time favorites and still competing after all these years.

Photo courtesy of Rich Sams.

Days Gone By

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 05.04.2013 by aclasschris

I communicate pretty regularly with a number of veteran Subaru owners – guys who have been in the game for upwards of a decade. One thing we all seem to agree on is that the community is dead. It’s a harsh statement but one that’s undeniably true. I base my views primarily on the parts market or lack thereof. It’s become harder than ever to buy new parts for the various iterations of the Impreza, especially the GC and GD. If you’re trying to do the JDM thing, good luck.

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As more Japanese companies pull out of the US, it’s a grim reminder that people have moved into other cars or out of the community entirely. The BRZ was a nice blip on the radar, especially for those seeking more aggressive wheel options for the unrelenting 5×100 bolt pattern. However the BRZ has in no way captured the market or the interests of Subaru aficionados, quite the same way the FR-S has.

The Impreza has become dated and with Subaru out of the WRC, it’s tuned variants are becoming increasingly irrelevant in this new era of paddle-shifters and energy recovery systems. Someday we can only hope that the Impreza will share a similar affinity to classics like the Hakosuka and S30 Z. In the meantime, I only see the car’s popularity dwindling.

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It’s a grim outlook, but in many ways an optimistic one because I still love my WRX as much as I did the day I got it in 2005. It’s a car that’s gotten so far under my skin that I may never be able to part ways with it. In the meantime there are still exciting Imprezas out there – granted their harder to find, but they still exist. There’s also the exciting news of the WRX Concept and Subaru’s desire to continually produce AWD rally-inspired cars. Maybe someday we’ll see a return to the Impreza’s former glory in the WRC. For now we hold onto the memories.

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McRae ’97

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on 02.08.2013 by aclasschris

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The good old days.

Revisit: Subaru STi RB5

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on 07.13.2012 by aclasschris

A few weeks ago, I posted about the UK-only STi RB5. The car is essentially an upgraded GC8, in honor of Richard Burns’s return to the SWRT.

The other day I came across this lightly modded example.

Judging by that sheet of paper on the rear window, this car was for sale at some point.

It’s easy to understand why so many consider the GC8, to be Subaru’s best iteration of the Impreza. I mean look at the thing! Even by today’s standards, it’s a thing of beauty; with so much character. The RB5′s biggest selling point, has to be that pristine shade of Steel Blue Mica.

Throwback Thursdays: Subaru Impreza STi RB5

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on 06.21.2012 by aclasschris

The European and Japanese markets are no strangers to special edition versions of cars. Nearly every manufacturer offers various trim and performance packages, for specific markets. The US has never been a market, that gets much attention in this area. Foreign auto manufacturers perceive us, as daft corn farmers, who wouldn’t appreciate the subtle differences, of a limited production model. That’s not to say our own government isn’t to blame as well. We’ve always forced foreign auto manufactures, to make special tweaks to their vehicles, to meet our anal emissions and safety regulations.

The UK on the other hand is the complete opposite. They’ve been getting the good stuff for years, especially when it comes to Subarus. It’s one of the brand’s biggest markets and as a result, a slew of special edition models and performance packages, have been sold there. 1999 marked the return of Richard Burns, to the Subaru World Rally Team and to commemorate the occasion, they released the Impreza STi RB5. The “RB” of course being Burns’s initials and 5, his starting number.

The original brochure photo.

The RB5 started life as a standard UK-type, Subaru Impreza STi and was then given a facelift by Prodrive. The standard trim is mostly looks, including a special coat of Steel Blue Mica paint. The car is dressed in special edition RB5 decals, with blue alcantara bathing the interior trim.

The RB5 features a unique set of Speedline 6-spoke wheels and Pirelli P Zero tires. A Prodrive short shifter and suspension, rounds out the package.

The WR Sport Performance Package, was also available, as an optional extra and included a larger STi rear wing, upgraded intercooler piping, a Prodrive exhaust and tuned ECU.

Some of you may be rolling your eyes at this point and thinking “big deal”.

I like this car because it’s something different, a departure from the norm. In an age where everyone’s car looks the same, it’s all about the details. The RB5 commemorates one of Subaru’s all time great WRC drivers, Richard Burns, who died much too soon.

I love people’s passions and hobbies. Who chooses to buy this car, over a standard Impreza and why? These are the kinds of stories that really intrigue me. I’m a lover of all things Subaru and very envious of the UK market, who have always gotten the cream of the crop, after Japan. Steel Blue Mica is a fantastic color, wouldn’t you say?

Photos courtesy of Steve Coulter Performance Cars.

June Update

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on 06.02.2012 by aclasschris

First off, apologies for the lack of updates the last couple of months. I’ve been averaging about 2-3 new posts a week, which is way down from the usual daily updates. Despite that, people are still flocking to the blog, so I must be doing something right!

I’ve been pretty caught up with Formula 1 coverage lately. There’s been some great discussion on the last couple of races. If you’re feeling out of the loop, check out the comments sections of the last few races.

Despite the Formula 1 obsession, I’m still very much into Subarus. My good friend picked up an STi a couple months ago. He’s new to Subarus, so it’s been great helping him out with his car. It’s hard when your friends pick up the same car as you. I can’t help but be “overly” opinionated on what he does with it.

I just finished a couple Throwback Thursdays posts in advance. I’ve slacked the last couple weeks, so look out for those. I’m also interested in doing some more car features. I get a lot of e-mails from people who really seem to enjoy them. If you’re a Subaru owner (or not) and are interested in getting onto the blog. Send me an e-mail!

I can’t believe it’s already June! This year has been flying by and it’s been interesting to see the change in things. Wekfest is happening as we speak and I couldn’t be bothered to go. The car show thing is really on a different level these days. Whatever happened to hanging out in parking lots chatting about your engine bays?

Anyway, keep an eye out for more updates and as always, your support is appreciated!

Photo courtesy of Matt Woods Photography.

Hyper Meeting 2003

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 03.22.2012 by aclasschris

If there’s one event in Japan where you’re likely to find the best from Subaru and Mitsubishi, it has to be Hyper Meeting.

Hyper Meeting has been going on since 2002 and is a mainstay for tuning shops, wanting to showcase their latest offerings, for the Impreza and Evolution models. Tsukuba Circuit plays host and features vendor booths, drifting demos and time attack events, for both privateers and tuning shops a like. As with most things Subaru-related on A Class, we’re going to take a trip down memory lane. Lets be honest, things where just better back in the day; in this case 2003.

While rally builds tend to be more popular in Europe, Japan has also been known to keep the tradition alive. WRC replicas are a common sight at Hyper Meeting and L’AUNSPORT is well known, for their WRC-style body kits. I say style very loosely because the word tends to refer to cheap replicas, but that isn’t the case here. L’AUNSPORT are some of the best in the business and offer full carbon aero kits for the entire Impreza lineup. Naturally the bugeye looks the best in WRC trim.

A GDB WRC replica and the C-West GDA demo car. I’ve never been a fan of the C-West headlight covers or that front grill, but the bumper has grown on me over the years.

Engine bay from the BOZZ Speed GDB, easily one of my favorite Imprezas ever. To the right is the Toyama K-One Spec-C Impreza. The car was primarily used for Gymkhana.

The long forgotten Aqua GDB. Unfortunately Aqua is no longer around; another casualty in the war against knock offs. Prova however, is still alive and well. Above is their Super Taikyu front bumper, on the shop’s GDB demo car.

Engine bays of the Stillway GDB and the Shinonome Super Autobacs BE5 Legacy.

It’s impossible to have a conversation about Imprezas and Time Attack, without mentioning Zero/Sports. Next to JUN they’re probably the most well known of all the Japanese Subaru tuners. They’ve been a fixture at Hyper Meeting since the beginning. Their BTZ201 GDA hit the track, while a demo car displaying their latest front bumper (circa 2003), stays at the booth. The bumper would eventually be fitted to Zero/Sports’ BTZ301-R; a car which would end up having a slew of mechanical problems, including a blown transmission at Tsukuba Super Battle.

For me, the greatest GDA of them all. JUN’s Super Lemon Impreza, the brainchild of Mr. Koyama himself. My long standing obsession with this car runs deep. It’s considered one of the greats and not just by Subaru standards. I believe the car’s best time around Tsukuba was 56:59.5, which put it in the same territory as the Cyber Evo and some of the more recent RX-7s. I believe the car was sold to a private owner and last I heard, it was being stored in a shipping container in the Caribbean. Maybe one day it will resurface because that’s a terrible fate, for such an important car.

This year’s Hyper Meeting is being held in a little over 2 weeks, on April 8. I’m excited to see the turnout, but can almost guarantee none of the cars above will be in attendance. While most of the focus will be on Imprezas and Evos, I’ve got a feeling a few BRZs may turn up as well.

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