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Happy 2014

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I wanted to start the year off properly and give the blog some attention. Between work, vacation and the holidays, I haven’t had much time to blog. Things are settling down though and normal service will be resumed. There have been some pending changes for A Class in the works for sometime and hopefully they can be realized in 2014. It’s funny, I always vow to do better with the blog at New Years so lets hope it actually happens!

Hope everyone is enjoying their holiday! Formula 1 starts in 73 days. In the meantime, watch one of the best car videos I’ve ever seen.

Video courtesy of Motorhead.

 

Subaru S203 In Hong Kong

With the Subaru STI tS Type RA debuting last week, it only made sense to have another look back at the STi S203.

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The S203 could be considered the ultimate version of the GDB STi. Where the Spec C was geared towards track use, the S203 was intended to be the perfect allrounder – a car that was just as good on the touge as it was on the weekday commute.

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Performance and style upgrades are found throughout the car including a carbon V-Limited front lip and forged BBS wheels.

An upgraded interior, beefed up suspension, STi performance tuned ECU and ball bearing turbo round out the S203 package.

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This particular S203 (315/555) was imported to Hong Kong by jal723, who previously owned another very nice STi that we’ll take a look at another day.

Today factory modified cars are all the rage. Subaru has always been very good at this type of car and the S203 is one of their finest examples. It’s an STi that checks all boxes in terms of looks and performance, to a point where all the owner has left to do is drive it.

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Since this car is there, I thought it interesting to mention that Hong Kong is one of the best places in the World for car watching. It’s the financial and cultural hub of Asia and the cars are representative of that. I’ve not been to another city where I’ve seen more exotics and properly nice Japanese cars – I’ve certainly not seen more GT-Rs anywhere else! Go to Japan for the tuning shops and motor sports, but for just walking around and stumbling across great stuff, Hong Kong is where it’s at.

Photos courtesy of jal723.

Thanks A Million

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I’m ashamed to say that this one totally went under the radar. A Class has officially reached over a million views, 1,030,000 to be more precise. It’s been a good 4 years and while 2013 hasn’t been the strongest for this site, I feel it’s a trend that’s affected every independently run blog in one form or another. It’s a challenge to stay ahead of the curve in an expansive social media landscape. I’d like to humbly offer my thanks to the loyal readers all these years. New friends were made and many a discussion had.

Here’s to the next million.

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It’s been 4 brilliant years. If you were to tell me about all the great people I’d meet along the way and just how much fun I’d have sharing my passion with the Internet, I wouldn’t have believed a word of it.

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In the winter of 2007 I started my first car blog, Pacific Style. I was traveling to Japan and wanted something to chronicle the experience. Pacific Style was fun and forced me to become much more involved with cars, especially JDM. However, after 8 months of doing the first blog I wanted a change. I wanted a more interesting name and a stronger content focus. On December 7, 2008 A Class was born. I always wanted A Class to be an automotive lifestyle blog. It was intended to tell the stories beyond the cars. It was about the people and the places and how the cars embodied both. Whether or not that’s been successful is, I suppose, up to the readers. One thing I’ve never lost sight of is staying true to my opinions. Everything has been from an enthusiasts perspective and has never been swayed by the politics of the industry. My mission has always been that of a storyteller. Anyone can grab photos from a Google image search. We’re all guilty, myself included, but good photos are only half of it. The content is in many ways more important because it’s what gives us all a voice.

The journey has been amazing and the support, unquestionably has been what’s kept me motivated. From a writer’s perspective nothing makes me happier than to hear how it’s impacted someone, whether good or bad. As we move into an age of instant gratification through 140 character Tweets and Instagram photo feeds, I hope that there remains a place for good stories and people who enjoy reading them.

2012 was a year heavily influenced by my passion for Formula 1 racing. The shift in focus may have turned away some of the more JDM-minded readers, but I think we all owe some of our passion to motor racing. It has a direct influence on the cars we drive daily and I’m grateful if my F1 commentary has sparked just a bit of interest in fans new and old. For a while I had become disenchanted with the tuning scene. It lost its way for long time. Wheel fitment became the dominant force and people lost sight of their passion for cars. We became obsessed with building for the sake of others. To roll with the pack is to stay under the radar and keep unwanted attention away. While the global economy continues to struggle, there does seem to be a light at the end of the tunnel. The Germans continue to put smiles on our faces with V8 and twin turbo monsters and lets not forget about our friends in Japan. The FR-S/BRZ has been a sensation worldwide and it may have just saved a dying industry. While Imprezas get softer and Evos fight off retirement, GT-Rs will eventually flood the used market and everyone can still get down with 240s. There’s a lot to look forward too and you can be sure that this blog will be around for it all. With nearly a million visitors and 1200 articles later, things are in many ways just getting started. So here’s to another 4 years and many more to follow! Thank you all so much for the support and the readership. Cheers.

-Chris

June Update

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.

Speak Out Against SOPA & PIPA

I don’t like to use A Class as a political forum, but this issue affects not only this blog, but the entire Internet.

The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA) are up for vote by the Senate, starting on January 24. If either of these pass, it could mean a massive shift in the way we communicate and share information. These bills allow for government censorship and would require US Internet service providers to monitor everything their users upload, download and share. This could severely affect all of the automotive, design, fashion and lifestyle blogs, you and I enjoy visiting on a daily basis.

Watch the video to learn more.

If you’re a reader of A Class, or any other blogs and websites that repost or borrow content, then please take a minute to sign the petition against SOPA and PIPA.

I Need This

I don’t own a Blu-ray player, but I think that’s about to change.

I’ve been a James Bond fanatic since I was a little kid. I own every movie on DVD, some of which I have two copies of. I’m an old school Connery fan (sans Diamonds Are Forever), but Daniel Craig has certainly earned his seat on the throne. Casino Royale could easily be in my top five.

It’s great to see his movies added to the complete collection and I’m really looking forward to Skyfall, later this year.

Video courtesy of tcfoxconnect.

D7000 Video Setup

Back in October I got a D7000 to replace my D80. It’s an amazing piece of kit, so smart that all I’m really there to do, is push the button. Put the D7000 into Professional mode and it does everything for you. It’s really no wonder why everyone’s a “photographer” these days. The ease of acquiring beautiful, high resolution images is more accessible than ever (like it or not).

My favorite feature of current digital cameras, is their ability to record HD video. Nowadays, even pocket-sized cameras can shoot in at least 720p, so it really opens up the taps for amateur and professional filmmakers a like. One of the things that kept me from getting the D90 was it’s inability to record stereo sound. It also had no microphone jack, so unless you were interested in making music videos exclusively, it was kind of pointless. Then Canon came out with the 5D Mark II and changed everything.

Luckily Nikon saw the error in their ways and for the D7000, they included an external microphone jack for stereo sound recording. If you’ve tried using the camera’s onboard mic, then you already know it’s pretty awful. Try autofocusing while recording and you’re greeted with the sound of a hundred mechanical parts shifting about.

That can be solved (for the most part), with a shotgun mic like the Rode Videomic Pro. Back in high school and college, I used to work with all kinds of Rode microphones and they were great.

I’ve always been very happy with their sound quality and durability.

The Videomic Pro has a compact design that’s ideal for DSLR setups. Obviously you’re going to want a boom pole for more serious shoots, but on the go, size is crucial. One of the other great things about this mic is that it weighs virtually nothing.

I can’t wait to take it out and use it for real. Who’s down to shoot some car videos?