1992-2000, Limited Editions

For $8,000, Could This 1999 Subaru Impreza RS Be Your Franken-Sti?

The seller of today’s Nice Price or Crack Pipe Subaru RS ends his ad with the plea to please not waste his time. I don’t think we’ll bother him at all deciding if his price for this Subie is RS-ting.

There was an odd atmosphere hanging over the discussion of yesterday’s manual-optioned 1999 BMW 528i Touring. On one hand it was a well-kitted longroof from a venerated marque that arguably was the literal melding of sport and utility, all seemingly well presented, warts and all. On the other hand, it was a new enough Bimmer to be appreciably complicated, and yet one that was old enough for those complications to very likely have, well, complications.

That all added up to a lack of certainty around its disposition, and in the end a frustratingly narrow 53 percent Nice Price win.

Still a win is a win, and in a similar apothegm it should be pointed out that a Subaru is a Subaru. It’s not every car maker that carves out so unique a niche as has that particular Japanese car maker, and then had ongoing success maintaining its carvery.

That’s been the case with Subaru, whose AWD and boxer engines have defined the marque for decades. Beloved by both flannel-wearers and rally wannbes alike, their cars have also gained a rep for their parts interchangeability, which leads us to today’s candidate, a heavily modded 1999 Impreza RS.

As a prime example of that plug and playability, this car started life as an RS Coupe with a 2.5-litre naturally aspirated four. That wasn’t all that bad a car straight out of the barn. Now it’s… well, it’s had things done to it. Perhaps the most notable of those is the 1996 EJ20G turbo motor now calling the car home. Those originally ran in the WRX where they made somewhere around 200-bhp depending on year and specific edition. The seller says the engine in the car has 90K on the clock.

There’s twice that amount on the body, however that same body has had it’s own share of upgrades, updates, body shapes, scoops and grates, all of which are on display for you to contemplate. I’m not going to delve into the details—hell, the seller won’t even do that, instead including the long list as a couple of iPhone screen shots from what are likely a previous seller’s ad.

 What we will discuss is the paint, which is appreciably new, but apparently not great. We should also address the aftermarket (ABW in front, VIS in back) fender flares wrapped around a set of gold Rotas. Those, along with various scoops and wings makes the car appreciably badass in its appearance.
We don’t get any shots of the interior, but the seller notes that it shows signs of the 199,000 miles that it has travelled. There’s a CEL on the dash, which the seller says is related to some cold starting issues he’s not interested in addressing. It also exhibits an airbag light as the quick release steering wheel lacks an airbag. The stock wheel with its airbag comes along with the car though. In fact, there are enough extra parts offered up with this Subie that the seller recommends binging another car just to haul them all home. No making two trips for you, buddy!
Other negative nancys include a trunk that doubles as a fish tank when it rains, a clutch master cylinder that hates its life, oil leaks (hey, it’s a Subaru), and coilovers that are—yep—so over.

Yeah, it’s a mad monster party of a car, but damn if it doesn’t look pretty sweet from 10-feet. Now imagine that sitting in your driveway, how much would you pay for that view? The asking price for the car, the parts and the problems is $8,000. Would you pay that much to get RS-ted?

You decide!

From: Jalopnik


2008-, News&Reviews

Don’t Expect an All-New Subaru WRX Until 2020

Despite Subaru completely overhauling the Impreza for 2017, it appears the WRX will stick around on its current platform for another few years. That’s the word from Motoring in Australia, who spoke with an senior engineer from Subaru about a WRX replacement. For those that can’t wait, the good news is that a WRX refresh is coming for 2018, which should carry the car for another few years.

It should be no surprise that a full WRX redesign is a few years off. Although the fourth generation Impreza was released in 2011, the current WRX has only been on sale since the 2015 model year. Given an average five-year cycle, we can most likely expect a redesign for 2020. It’s not clear how extensive the refresh will be or if the STI will finally drop the ancient EJ-series 2.5-liter turbochargedflat four engine for the more modern FA-series 2.0-liter turbocharged flat four engine found in the regular WRX.

Rumors have been swirling for years of what else a full-redesign may encompass. The current model was rumored to have an electric turbocharger that obviously never appeared. There have been other rumors of a switch to a hybrid powertrain. While that may work when the WRX finally uses the updated Impreza platform, don’t expect to see hybrid power in the refreshed model. Subaru says the time it would take to engineer such a system would be too great to have it available for 2018. The new Impreza’s platform is designed to fit a hybrid system, so don’t rule out the possibility of a WRX hybrid.

Related Video:



Subaru’s Tribeca Successor Spied

The shape of the grille and flush mounted headlights on Subaru’s three-row crossover are in keeping with the design language shown on the next-generation XV subcompact crossover shown recently in Geneva and that will be sold in the U.S. as the Crosstrek. Photo credit: KGP PHOTOGRAPHY

Subaru’s second crack at a large three-row crossover will get its official debut next month as a concept at the New York International Auto Show. But new spy photos give the clearest look yet to the vehicle that will replace the discontinued and unloved Tribeca.

In terms of appearance, the new crossover — likely to be named Ascent — looks very conventional, which is understandable after the Tribeca disaster. You might remember that the original B9 Tribeca debuted with a strange looking and polarizing aperture in the center of its grille that likely hobbled sales.

The shape of the grille and flush mounted headlights are in keeping with the design language shown on the next-generation XV subcompact crossover shown recently in Geneva and that will be sold here as the Crosstrek.


Subaru’s U.S. sales have advanced nine straight years and the new crossover is expected to play a key role in maintaining the brand’s momentum.

At the Geneva show, Subaru CEO Yasuyuki Yoshinaga said he does not expect the new crossover to siphon a large percentage of sales from established vehicles, such as the Ford Explorer and Chevrolet Traverse. Yoshinaga said Subaru’s existing customers that are looking for a larger crossover, but who want to stay with the brand, will be the natural customer for the new vehicle.

No word yet on powertrains, but it is very likely that some version of Subaru’s largest engine, a 3.6-liter boxer six-cylinder, will be offered.


Featured, Modified & Tuning

One Fast Family – 2 WRX’s, 1 Goal…Speed

Recently we had the pleasure of meeting a really cool husband and wife, both owners of new Subaru WRX. Awesome people deserve awesome rides, and this couple came to the right place. Both were very knowledgeable and knew exactly what they were looking to do and what they were hoping to achieve. New WRX, low miles, stock, looking for a little more out of their vehicle, one name came to mind…COBB. We ended up going COBB Stage II on both vehicles. Here are some photos of both cars before we started the builds.

We installed the following on BOTH of these gorgeous rides…

COBB Big SF Intake w/ Airbox
COBB Resonated J-Pipe
COBB AcessPORT (Stage II ECU Flash)
TurboXS Cat-Back Titanium Tip Exhaust System
WedsSport SA-72R Wheels
Check out the differences between the stock exhaust that comes on these cars and the aftermarket TurboXS we installed. Not only are these exhaust systems sexy, they produce a really nice sound while cutting down on in-cabin drone.

Here’s a look at the COBB Big SF Intake System that we installed on both vehicles.

And just like that, all the performance upgrades were complete. Next step was getting rid of the sunken in stock wheels that come on the new WRX. We happened to have the perfect matching set of WedsSport SA-72R in stock, it was almost meant to be! One set black and gunmetal, the other black and blue to match their cars! Check out the wheels below…

The calipers on the Gunmetal WRX were also painted in Brembo Red to give the wheels some extra pop.

Overall we couldn’t be more pleased with the outcome of BOTH of these awesome rides. Both husband and wife both left with a MUCH faster, and better looking car. More than deserving of their new and improved rides, enjoy guys! I will say it again, these were awesome people and look forward to seeing them back at the shop! Check out some pictures of their cars after the upgrades were completed…

If you have any questions about anything you see here or anywhere else on the blog feel free to give us a call or stop by the shop! We can be reached at (561)395-5700 or you can just stop by, we are located at 980 N Dixie Highway in Boca Raton FL. Our hours of operation are Monday through Friday 10 A.M. until 6:30 P.M. and Saturday 12 P.M. until 4:30 P.M.

Source: Velocity Factor


Car Culture, History, Limited Editions, Top 5

Five Reasons You Need To Buy A Subaru Impreza 2.5 RS Right Now

Subaru’s Impreza line of cars was perhaps its greatest triumph. It allowed the company to forget about the SVX and Justy in the North American market and offer a car with more versatility than a Swiss army knife. One of its best kept secrets is the little gem known as the ’98-’01 2.5 RS. Here are a few simple reasons you should own one.

5. It’s rare.

The GC8 generation Impreza 2.5 RS isn’t a rare car by regular production car standards, it’s more rare than some exotic supercars. I’ll give you a quick example: The most popular Ferrari in the late ’90s and early ’00s was the Ferrari 360. In its 5-year run, over 16,000 cars were made. Subaru, on the other hand, produced just over 14,000 examples of the 2.5 RS in its 4-year run, including both 4-door and 2-door variants. That means that if you’re driving a 2.5 RS and get into a fender bender with Doug DeMuro, you’re more likely to find his front bumper in a junkyard than your rear bumper.

This rarity only increases as time goes on, because unlike a Ferrari, a Subaru Impreza isn’t a priceless heirloom that gets passed down from hard-working parent to entitled trust fund baby. It’s a cheap daily driver for the vast majority of its owner base, which means that it gets totaled by newbie drivers in numbers that GM would describe as “concerning”. For this reason, it’s one of the rarest 90’s Japanese cars on the used car market in good condition, although even finding a rough example is a bit of a challenge.

A decent unit would set you back around $5000, with the “unicorns” (read: doesn’t exist) going for nearly twice that, although cars that are one check engine light away from the junkyard can be had for less than $2000, but they’d likely require more reconditioning than the car is worth. Try to find one on Ebay, I dare you.

4. It’s the most “Subaru” looking car ever made.

If you asked anyone born in the early ’90s to describe a Subaru, they would likely show you a picture of the GC Impreza WRC rally car. Either that, or describe something that can be driven comfortably in crocs.

The GC Impreza is the car that gave Subaru a firm grip on not only professional motorsport, but the entry-level car market. It defined the brand, and no car since then has been able to capture the initial wonder and inherent Subaru-ness present in the simple, yet iconic lines of the GC chassis.

The 2.5 RS’s rally-inspired front end, with its huge fog lights, enormous hood scoop and wide-mouth opening is, in this writer’s opinion, one of the best looking of any car ever made in the last 2 decades. Although the RS didn’t get the wide fender wheel arches that the 22B WRX STi in Japan got, there are plenty of aftermarket manufacturers that offer kits that transform your pretty run-of-the-mill Subaru into a unadulterated knockout.

3. Its All Wheel Drive system is fantastic.

Before torque vectoring and electronic differentials were all the rage, Subaru came up with an ingenious solution to make a car go around a corner without understeering hilariously into something fortunate, or seriously into something unfortunate. Their system was called Symmetrical All-Wheel-Drive. Without becoming too technical (you can read about that here), it means that the torque coming from the engine is split evenly between front and rear axles, where a traditional system would give either the front or rear a significant bias. The drivetrain was also placed in the physical center of the car, giving the car’s handling more predictability than 35-year marriage.

In the 2.5 RS, this means that the car won’t hesitate to get you home in a snowstorm, light flood, or those surprise rally stages that happen from time when no one’s looking.

2. It’s Versatile.

At the very base of the 2.5 RS is an economy car that’s made for many hundreds of thousands of miles, through tough seasons exposed to the elements. It’s made for baby seats, melted crayons, and the occasional drink spill. It can do a cross-country trip at a moment’s notice, and doesn’t mind driving all the way back because you forgot your Kenny G collection. You can likely fix it on a 2-figure budget, and rebuild it on a 3-figure budget. Its parts are easily accessible and the aftermarket support rivals anything made for popular Toyotas, Hondas, or Nissans. With the right suspension and tire setup, it can give you an experience that requires a chiropractor afterwards, all while returning just shy of 30 miles per gallon and having the ability to make one hell of an awesome and iconic exhaust note.

It’s the darling of nearly every type of motorsport, from autocross to the loud new kid on the block – drifting:

It’s embraced by the oddball stance kids, 1/4 mile racers, and car show presenters. Odds are, if you can do it in a car, the Subaru 2.5 RS is the car to do it.

1. WRX/STi Engine swaps

The stock 2.5 engine, in both the single cam and dual cam versions weren’t bad powerplants by any means, putting out a max of 165 horsepower, but they were overshadowed in every conceivable way by the WRX and STi turbo variants, which are to this day, some of the most sought after engines in all of tuning culture. Subaru’s ingenious method of making nearly all of their drivetrain parts interchangeable make the STi/WRX a no-brainer for anyone that wants to transform their 2.5 RS into something that will have the BRZ owner frantically running back to the dealership for a refund. There are tons of tutorials and hundreds of possible combinations of engine mods for a variety of budgets and styles, culminating in a car that can give you neck-snapping grip and more usable power than anything offered by Subaru today.

It’s a diamond in the rough, and if you can find one, get it, because it certainly won’t be around for long. What are you waiting for? Go get one!


Motorsports, News&Reviews

Subaru And Sport – Where The Know-How Comes From

Few car makers rival Subaru’s motorsport heritage. Nowadays, its expertise can be seen in every one of its production vehicles.

Think of the greats of world rallying: Colin McRae. Ari Vatanen. Richard Burns. Petter Solberg.

Now picture them in their vehicles, helmet on and steering wheel clutched in gloved hands. Is the car you’re visualising bright blue? Thought so.

Every one of these legends drove for the Subaru team and notched up their biggest career successes while racing under the manufacturer’s banner.

There was Colin McRae’s drivers’ championship victory in 1995, which coincided with Subaru’s first manufacturers’ title.

It scored two more straight works championships in the following years, with McRae consistently finishing in the drivers’ top two.

In 2001 Burns steered Subaru to a second drivers’ championship, with Norway’s Solberg doing it again two years later.

Subaru’s dominance of world rallying lives long in the mind of enthusiasts, and the legacy of that period of high achievement is enjoyed by everyone who drives its production cars today. Why?

Because each one features technology that was honed in the pressured environment of competitive motorsport.

Winning technology

Consider Subaru’s unique Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive (SAWD) system. This is a feature of all of its world-beating rally cars, including the Legacy RS of the early 1990s and the much-admired Impreza 555 in which McRae became world champion.

Proven in the heat of competition, the setup sits at the heart of every model (except the BRZ sports coupe) in Subaru’s current line-up. It’s why vehicles like the Outback, Forester and XV deliver such a reassuring drive.

The SAWD works by driving every wheel, in contrast to the part-time four-wheel drive configurations favoured on many SUVs.

It then tweaks the precise power delivery in response to conditions, redirecting it from a wheel if slip is detected to facilitate a constant grip on the surface below.

As well as delivering astonishing road holding, SAWD translates to enviable go-anywhere ability, especially when allied to the enhanced ground clearance of the Forester, Outback and XV.

Whether you’re a rural dweller who traverses tricky country lanes in all weathers, a boating or caravan enthusiast in need of a tow car, or a lover of adventurous pursuits who needs a practical car to access out-of-the-way places, Subaru’s all-terrain credentials make the task of getting from A to B immeasurably more straightforward.

Crash resistance

Even better, the brand is regularly recognised for the safety of its vehicles, which is perhaps unsurprising when you consider its motorsport heritage.

The fact that the Forester, Outback and XV all received a maximum five stars in Euro NCAP crash tests enhances the sense of putting yourself and your passengers in good hands. These cars really are made of strong stuff.

It is not hard to see why so many motorsport greats signed up with Subaru during its World Rally Championship glory days. If you’re at the top of your game, you want to drive the very best.

And while the average motorist may not have the astonishing behind-the-wheel nous of a McRae or a Vatanen, it is reassuring to know that, in some small way, you are part of the same legend. The modern Subaru is the heir to their success.

What is ‘Subaru Sense’?

Subaru’s unique approach to engineering underpins everything they do. They put capability, safety and reliability before anything else – always have, always will. In this series for The Telegraph and Subaru, adventurous people talk about the vehicles and technologies that make sense to them.

Subaru has been making cars for more than 60 years. The combination of Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive and Subaru’s famous Boxer engine form the basis of a range of technologies designed to give you the ultimate confidence on (and off) the road.


Limited Editions, News&Reviews, Top 5

5 Cars I Wish I’d Never Sold

The ones I shouldn’t have let get away

I’m the type of person who looks forward, not back, in life. I don’t struggle with an attachment to material possessions. When I sell something, I usually have a “don’t let the door hit you in the ass on your way out” attitude and move on. But there are a handful of automobiles I’ve owned that I miss and I’d love to have back in my garage.

1986 Audi 5000CS Turbo Quattro

An Audi 200 Turbo Quattro won the 1987 Safari rally outright, the first time an all-wheel-drive vehicle finished on the top step of the podium at the grueling African event. Being a rally nut, when a close friend’s father decided to sell his 1986 Audi 5000CS Turbo Quattro (the U.S. version of the 200) in the early 1990s, I couldn’t say no to the opportunity.

I loved that big Audi. The off-beat five-cylinder engine had a glorious soundtrack and the addition of the optional factory Fuchs 15-by-7-inch forged wheels shod with sticky Yokohama AVS Intermediate tires meant summer dry and wet grip was enormous. For winter duty, I fitted a set of Pirelli winter tires to the stock 15-by-6-inch wheels. I felt like rally god Hannu Mikkola as I dominated the snow-covered roads of Michigan in the Audi sedan, tapping the ABS off button to fully disable the antilock brakes for maximum left-foot braking fun.

There was one particularly snowy day when a friend’s pickup couldn’t make it up a steep hill, but a flick of the rotary switch in the 5000 locked the center and rear differentials, allowing the seemingly feeble German sports sedan to claw its way effortlessly to the top. When the snow melted and the Fuchs were bolted back on, I saw nearly 140 mph on the speedometer more than once. The Audi 5000CS Turbo Quattro was a jack of all trades sedan, and I loved it.

2002 and 2003 Mini Cooper S

I put a $500 deposit down at two Mini dealerships in Chicago before there were even Mini dealerships in the U.S. Logic told me the two biggest BMW stores in the Windy City would get the Mini franchise, and I was right. As such, I secured one the first Mini Cooper S models to land in North America in the spring of 2002. What a fantastic car.

The characterful supercharged engine and slick, six-speed manual gearbox worked brilliantly together. Its large, 17-inch wheels with run-flat tires gave an extremely harsh ride, but the wonderful steering and overall grip compensated. I felt like a rock star around Grand Rapids, Michigan.

It’s easy to forget just what a crazy concept the Mini was for the U.S. some 15 years ago. It caused both enthusiasts and the car clueless to stop me for a chat about my British hatchback. I sold that first red with a white roof 2002 Mini Cooper S for a profit in the fall of 2002 and ordered a silver 2003 with a black roof to my exact OCD specs. I also binned the standard run-flat tires for more conventional performance rubber, improving the ride quality and overall handling tremendously. That second Mini stuck around for a year or so, until I decided it was time to return to my all-wheel-drive rally routes.

2002 Subaru Impreza WRX

The WRX was my first Japanese car. I was a tried and true Euro snob until I began to realize that most Audi products had become too big, heavy, and expensive for proper winter thrashing duties. I found a lightly used, adult-owned WRX just before the snow arrived in late 2003: silver exterior, five-speed manual gearbox sans the tacky rear wing. A set of Dunlop SP Winter Sport M3 performance winter tires quickly took their place on the stock 16-inch wheels, and the slippery-road fun quickly began.

The gearbox was positive, the seats fit me perfectly, and the engine made great power — well, as long as you kept at least 3,000 rpm on the tachometer. I’d jump railroad tracks and anything else I could find, but I couldn’t seem to exhaust the extensive suspension travel. A trick modification to the ratcheting mechanism on the handbrake made low-speed turns and general hooliganism easy and the all-wheel-drive system with a limited-slip center and rear differential helped WRX be far less understeer prone than my previous Audi models. The WRX was also the last car I’ve owned that lacked stability control. I’m a huge fan of the brilliant safety feature, but there is something to be said about the top-spec car control that’s needed to drive a car lacking ESP quickly in the snow.

2008 BMW 328i

When I departed my full-time duties at Automobile magazine in 2009, I needed a car. Rotating through various BMW press cars enlightened me to their overall dynamic brilliance. Yes, the German company has lost the plot to a certain degree as of late, but the E90 3 Series was a fantastic car in sedan form.

I picked up a slightly used 2008 BMW 328i to serve as my new daily driver. Of course, it had a six-speed manual gearbox, rear-wheel drive, and the sport package. The combination of run-flat tires and stiff suspension wasn’t perfect for Michigan’s crumbling roads, but at least the 328i came with 17-inch wheels versus the larger and heavier 18-inch setup. BMW’s naturally aspirated inline-six made great power and was smooth, smooth, smooth. It was also frugal, returning more than 30 mpg on 80-mph highway runs. I loved the buttery, meaty steering and the overall chassis balance. The heated seats were quick to warm my bottom on a cold winter’s morning and a set of winter tires combined with nicely judged stability control made the 328i an excellent vehicle for the coldest season of the year.

I vividly remember driving along an empty stretch of arrow-straight highway in Northern Michigan one particularly gorgeous summer’s evening with my mother-in-law riding shotgun. Eager to get home to my wife — and away from my mother-in-law — I scooted the BMW sedan up to an indicated 150 mph. It was rock solid, and I recall my passenger only piping up to ask why the wind noise seemed to have grown louder during the high-speed dash. I spent extended time in a couple of facelifted E90s, but none had the pace or overall feel of the lightly optioned 328i. When the present F30 3 Series hit the market, I quickly secured some seat time. I was disappointed. Sure, it rode better, had more torque, and offered a nice bump in interior space, but something was lost. Let’s hope BMW remembers the E90 when the next 3 Series hits the market.

2013 Scion FR-S

I sold the Scion FR-S to get a new Ford Focus RS in the spring of 2016. Now I want the FR-S back. Yes, the 350 hp, all-wheel-drive hatchback affixed with Blue Oval badges is faster and more practical, but I miss the purity and simplicity of the rear-wheel drive Japanese coupe.

I don’t do a ton of road trips in my personal car. Those are usually left for my wife’s car or various press cars. My drive to the office is short and not super exciting. The FR-S made each and every journey a pleasure. It’s not a fast car, but the lack of outright pace allows you to more regularly wring-out the engine and drive the FR-S hard without attracting the attention of Johnny Law. The low-grip Michelin summer tires and approachable chassis dynamics add to the entertaining package. A set of 16-inch steel wheels and winter tires along with aftermarket seat heaters made the Scion an impressive companion in the snow — and huge fun.

I also loved the seats, something that can’t be said for the overly bolstered Recaro setup in the Focus RS. The FR-S was also frugal on fuel. Again, not the case with the Ford. Sure, the Japanese 2+2 coupe is loud on the highway and rather basic inside, but I can live with that considering all the positives that come along with the under-$30K package. Plus, it rides better than the ultra-stiff Focus RS.

I don’t think automotive enthusiasts fully realize just how diluted modern cars have become. As more buttons and switches for various drive modes are added, something is lost. Spending time in a car like the FR-S (called the Toyota 86 for 2017) or its twin, the Subaru BRZ, clearly reminds you of this fact. Porsche seems to understand this with cars like the Cayman GT4 and 911 R, but they are expensive. My hope is that more car companies get on board offering simplistic automobiles, preferably at a reasonable price. In the meantime, I’ve missed the FR-S so much that I recently placed an order for a 2017 Toyota 86. I can’t wait for its arrival, and I hope the subtle improvements translate to an even better car for my needs in the real world.


History, News&Reviews

14 Things You Need to Know About Subaru Owners

With winter around the corner it can only mean one thing – the dormant Subaru owner will be coming out of hibernation. Here are 14 facts that can help you prepare yourself in the event that you cross one of their paths:

MUST SEE: Five Steps to Making More Power in Your Subaru WRX















MUST SEE: 6 Things You Didn’t Know About Subaru



How Can We Make Auto Racing an Olympic Sport? Subaru Has an Idea

Bobsleds don’t have rearview mirrors. Turns out, Subarus about to run down bobsled tracks don’t need them.

But that’s only one of the modifications made to the Subaru WRX STI prepped by rally specialists Prodrive to race down the mecca for bobsledders in St. Moritz, Switzerland. The others? A reinforced front and rear frame, 8-millimeter studded tires outlawed by rally racing’s governing body, beefed up suspension parts that can withstand G forces meant for jet fighters, and a pilot equipped with an Alps-sized set of…never mind.

It’s hard to understate what the bobsled track in St. Moritz means to the winter Olympic sport. It’s the oldest and only “natural” course that’s ever hosted the Olympics. It’s carved out of the ground and was the first bobsled course in history. Minders groom the course at night and shape nearly 100 years of earth around the track. It’s feels like it’s alive.

The St. Moritz bobsled track is the spiritual home for bobsled racing. Running a souped-up STI down the course is like jumping a monster truck over the 18th green at St. Andrews.

Well, then. It sounds like we have a double dare.

Watch this

The stunt may be part of a larger push that Subaru is making over the next few years. Tired of hearing that the Impreza is just a watered-down WRX, Subaru may be making space between the Impreza and the WRX and the WRX STI. The typical cadence of the WRX following the Impreza from which its based has been pushed further apart for greater chronological and philosophical separation.

Nonetheless, the WRX STI that’s about to make this run looks fairly stock from 50 feet away—apart from some welded bits, those studded tires, and bolted-on bumpers that Prodrive provided in a hurry.

Rally and stunt driver Mark Higgins raised his hand to make the run, and he’s familiar with the car already; he used the same car to set a record for a production car in a lap around the Isle of Man in 2014. He set another record around the Isle of Man in 2016 later in a different car built by ProDrive, and Higgins isn’t shy about expressing his desire to set an overall record in the future—he hails from the small island between Britain and Ireland.

Higgins once slid a prototype Aston Martin DB10 around the Vatican City for the James Bond movie “Spectre,” but the prospect of running a Subaru around a banked, 180-degree turn appropriately named “Horseshoe” at a nearly vertical angle to the ground had him placing his odds at 50/50 just before the stunt.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen, really,” he said.

Centrifugal physical force would prefer that Higgins’ car end up somewhere over the wall, scattered into the trees and turned into confetti for the penultimate corner, named Martineau, right before the finish straight. If he’s too slow, he’ll end up on his side, roughly 11 turns before Martineau—somewhere in the middle of the Horseshoe—and in desperate need of a tow.

His entry speed should be somewhere above 40 mph, but below 60 mph. Entry into the corner will immediately scrub about 5 mph from his speed—not to mention the impact and physical forces that could cause him to temporarily blackout.

“I’ll have a sore neck tomorrow, that’s for sure,” said Higgins.

Hold my beer

Bad ideas should die at birth, but zombies always attract attention.

Ian Richardson is a British bobsledder who started formulating the plan a few years ago and found a couple willing participants to initially sign on to his admittedly dangerous idea of sending a car down a bobsled track. Those eventually balked at the cost, or lacked the intestinal fortitude to get the mayor of St. Moritz, the bobsled club, and common sense to simultaneously sign off at the same time to make it happen.

“When you have some ears, people say ‘We can do that.’ But when they look at it, they immediately say, ‘How in the bloody hell will it work?'” Richardson said.

Subaru signed on in January with all the necessary elements. Widening the track by a foot-and-a-half to accommodate the car seemed easy compared to the paperwork, inspections, and demands needed for it to work. For example, Higgins’ car couldn’t exceed a decibel limit imposed by the town, as if ear drums were the only thing at risk.

“I think it’s fair to say that this is the first time in living memory someone has even tried anything like this,” Richardson said.

Coincidentally, Richardson was a brakeman as a bobsledder, but his job for the last three years has been to add speed to his plan to send a car down St. Moritz, easily one of the fastest tracks in the world. The track is so fast because it’s cold, he said, but warmer weather delayed the Horseshoe run until the last afternoon of the last day for filming.

A practice run pinballed Higgins’ car and knocked out a wall just before the entry into Horseshoe corner. Instead of carrying speed around the course, Higgins would have to roll slowly into the corner, cross his fingers, then hammer the throttle harder than a rusty nail. Neon dots along the wall indicated his ideal line around the bend, but even he visualized that the run up the side of the wall could be dicey.

“My biggest concern was speed around the corner to get the shot,” he said.

As the car approached the entry of the corner, a flurry of speed preceded a spray of snow. The front passenger-side rail dug deeply into the ice wall around Horseshoe and scoured the wall near his marks.

Compression in the shocks dug in the studded tires so deeply that the track was being irrigated at 45 mph. As Higgins rocketed around the corner, he dipped into the center of the track before careening up the wall. His exit line left the car in a position that was unlikely to right itself before the track flattened out.

Thankfully, a wall that had been extended from the corner was built precisely for when luck runs out and talent takes over. Higgins and his Subaru exited the final corner with two wheels on terra firma, teetering helplessly toward finishing the run on the driver’s side door. As the roof mashed toward the right side of the wall, Higgins righted the ship onto all four wheels to finish the corner, shiny side up, and cheers belting through the radio.


“I always knew I’d be a passenger on the exit, because it comes off quite sharp,” he said. “If we rattled down the side, it’s OK. When the car has been built like it has, I have all the confidence in the world I’d be OK.”

Meet Mark Higgins, the only man who thought throwing a Subaru-turned-bobsled down a legendary run would turn out OK.



Car Culture

Rally Cross Cars That Are Not A Subaru

Will It Rally?

Rally cross cars are cool.  Plain and simple.  A friend of mine is selling a 2005 Subaru Impreza 2.5RS with a manual transmission (non-turbo).  And according to SubaruWRX.ORG– Every Car Enthuasist Needs Drive an Impreza.  And I’ve always wanted to get into rally cross and thought the Impreza 2.5RS would be a great introduction into the sport. 

Our main man Justin Hughes is our resident rally expert.  He’s done all sorts of cool things. Even wrote a great article on how to get into rally cross on the cheap!

Rallying On A Budget, An Oxymoron?

Well honestly you can rally in pretty much any car.  Front-wheel, rear-wheel, all-wheel drive it doesn’t really matter.  The only thing that will not allow you to race is if it you car has a high center of gravity.  Other then that it’s wide open, and people will rally cross pretty much whatever car they have. My goal today is to outline other cars that you might not have thought about but still would be great as a rally cross contender.

The $5000 Rally Cross Car

You can buy a rally cross car for cheap.  Heck, most rally cross cars cost $1,000 because their owners know it’s going to get destroyed.  But I figured a $1,000 car is the new $5,000 car. So here are a couple different rally cars that you can get on the cheap that aren’t Subaru Imprezas:

  1.  1991-1994 Nissan Sentra SE-R: My favorite car, and first car.  The Nissan Sentra SE-R is the enthusiast car that no enthusiast knows about and let’s keep it that way.  It came from the factory with a 2.0-liter engine that loved to rev, a limited-slip differential, and an extremely well balanced chassis set-up.
  2. 2002-2004 Ford Focus SVT:  Lightweight, manual transmission, Cosworth tuned 2.0-liter engine, and a sport suspension make it a perfect rally cross candidate.
  3. 1994-2001 Acura Integra GS-R: A high-revving 1.8-liter engine, and a car so well-known that it was the most stolen car for a long time make the GS-R a classic.  It’s chassis is very tunable, there are parts galore in the aftermarket.
  4. Any Volvo, seriously: If you go to any rally cross you are going to find a Volvo from the 80s because they are built proof reliable, and great in the snow.
  5.  1985-1991 Mazda RX-7 or 1989-1997 Mazda Miata: Surprised? So was I, but rear-wheel drive makes everything more fun! And driving a Mazda Miata or RX-7 on a rally cross course is about as much fun that you can have with your clothes on.  Both have great sport tuned suspension and engines that love to rev. And both will put you close to the top of the rear-wheel drive class.

Who’s coming with me?

There are many other options but the above are a few good ones to start with.  Washington D.C has a great rally cross chapter , check out their Facebook page here.   Now, is anyone selling a Volvo rally car?

Volvo goodness.