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!

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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

1. LIKE A MIDGET WRESTLER, SUBARU OWNERS HAVE SOMETHING TO PROVE

2. HOWEVER ONCE DOMINANCE IS ESTABLISHED, THEY ARE HAPPY TO LEND A HELPING HAND

3. AND DESPITE POPULAR BELIEF, THEY ALWAYS TRY TO DEMONSTRATE THAT SIZE DOESN’T MATTER

4. EVEN THOUGH IT STILL SEEMS LIKE THEY ARE OVERCOMPENSATING FOR SOMETHING…

5. MAYBE IT’S BECAUSE THEY ALL WANT TO BE KEN BLOCK

6. OR AT LEAST AS SMOOTH AS THIS GUY

7. BUT MOST OF THEM JUST END UP BEING THIS GUY

8. STILL, THEIR EXHAUST NOTE ALONE IS ENOUGH TO DRAW THE LADIES

9. AND SOMETIMES EVEN THE DUDES

10. BUT IT’S STILL NOT INTIMIDATING ENOUGH TO SCARE AWAY THE MITSUBISHI OWNERS

11. AND WHILE MOST SUBARU OWNERS LOVE THE GREAT OUTDOORS

12. THEY HAVE NO PROBLEM DESTROYING THE ENVIRONMENT

13. HOWEVER AT THE END OF THE DAY, THEY ARE PROUD OF SUBARU’S JAPANESE HERITAGE

14. AND THEY TYPICALLY MAKE EXCELLENT ROLE MODELS

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

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Car Culture, Featured, History

6 Amazing Cars That Prove Prodrive Is Awesome

Generally associated with the world of rallying, Prodrive has recently revealed its latest motorsport project with the Renault WRX team. So, now seems like a good time to look over the illustrious past of this respected engineering firm.

The niche of developing bespoke vehicles for motorsport has been the forte of the British-based engineering firm Prodrive ever since the mid-1980s. At first tackling the world of rallying, the company soon branched out to circuit racing and with its expertise it wasn’t long before the biggest names in road car production sought Prodrive’s knowledge for tweaking even the most extreme of supercars. One example is the hydraulics within the active aero on the McLaren P1, with Prodrive developing the mechanisms for both the front and rear aero packages.

Often associated with many Rothmans-branded rally legends and multiple Subaru projects, Prodrive has asserted itself as a highly regarded advanced engineering firm that has built some of the most capable machinery ever to grace rally stages and race tracks. Having recently announced that the company is getting into bed with Renault by producing a 600bhp monster to compete World Rallycross, it doesn’t seem like Banbury-based Prodrive is slowing down.

Before the company’s latest project is unleashed, let’s take a stroll back down memory lane to highlight the all-time greats from the revered motorsport legends.

Subaru Impreza Group A

You can’t mention Prodrive without including the likes of Colin McRae, Richard Burns and Petter Solberg in the same breath, all of whom at some point drove a Group A Impreza to WRC success.

Prodrive’s relationship with Subaru started with the Legacy, before attention was switched to the Impreza. The 555-branded Impreza won its first event in 1994 at the hands of Carlos Sainz before taking the WRC contructor’s title in 1995. Further Prodrive Imprezas subsequently took the 2001 and 2003 constructor’s titles to add to the rally pedigree of the Subaru road cars.

Using a 2.0-litre flat-four boxer engine tuned to around 330bhp, the ‘555’ Group A car had the help of a VF15 RHB52 turbocharger which reached maximum boost (three bar) at just 2500rpm. Sporting a set of gold rims now synonymous with Subaru’s motorsport heritage, the first rallying Impreza was a quintessential piece of rally history, vastly orchestrated by the minds at Prodrive.

Ferrari 550 GTS

In 2001, Prodrive decided to turn its hand to track racing and that sports cars would be the perfect route in. Having purchased a standard road-going Ferrari 550 Maranello, the engineers set about race-prepping the Prancing Horse to form a GTS racing car. Running its own private race team, Prodrive used the Ferrari up until 2004, winning numerous races in the FIA GT and American Le Mans series.

The highlight of this escapade came in 2003 when the 550 raced to a class victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Very few engineering firms would have the talent or drive to take on such a challenge without a manufacturer’s backing, but the sheer excellence of workmanship invested in the Ferrari truly paid off for the firm, seeing as Aston Martin subsequently hired the outfit to head its own motorsport division soon after.

Subaru Impreza P1

The cooking versions of the first generation Impreza have a place within many of our hearts and potentially the greatest variation was fettled by Prodrive. Known as the P1 (Prodrive One), this limited-edition rally car for the road was strictly a UK model with only 1000 examples built. Choosing the WRX Type R STI chassis due to its stiffer coupe layout, the suspension setup was tweaked to deal with the quality of British roads and power was also increased to a healthy 276bhp.

Built during an era when two British drivers won WRC titles behind the wheel of Prodrive-built rally cars, the P1 is a true B-road hero and has begun to appreciate in value due to its ties with the motorsport world. It also showed that Prodrive could easily turn its hand to road car tinkering, opening the door to some serious interest from other aspirational/jealous manufacturers.

Isle of Man TT Challenge 3 Subaru WRX STI

 

The Isle of Man record up until 2014 for a four-wheeled vehicle was set by a race-prepared Rover SD1 in 1992. Subaru decided this needed rectifying, and sent a mostly standard WRX STI around the road course. Safely beating that record, the company decided to call in Prodrive to produce a one-off time attack monster to have a pop even at the bike record.

Using a heavily modified 2.0-litre powertrain from Subaru’s WRC programme, the car developed 592bhp which when combined with active aero and a completely bespoke suspension setup made for a car that almost matched the suicidal speeds of the bikes. With rally driver Mark Higgins at the wheel, Prodrive’s creation managed an average speed of 128.73mph – an astonishing feat considering the bike record is 133.962mph.

Unfortunately, Subaru’s ‘lease’ at the TT has expired so it may be a while before we see Prodrive take on the mountain course again.

Aston Martin DBR9

 

After Prodrive’s Le Mans success with the 550 GTS, Aston Martin drafted the firm in to reassert the marque back to the top of sports car racing. Competing within the FIA GT1 category from 2005-2011, the DBR9 took its name from the successful DBR1 racer of the 1950s which won at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1959. This success was furthered by the DBR9 which took class victories at Le Mans in 2007 and 2008. Unlike many of the bespoke motorsport creations from Prodrive, the Aston retained the basic chassis and engine from the DB9 road car but used carbonfibre bodywork, front and rear diffusers and a large rear wing.

The 5.9-litre V12 was tuned to 600bhp which – when coupled with the 1100kg kerbweight – resulted in a 0-60mph time of just 3.4 seconds. 16 of these endurance racers were made and provided a platform for Aston Martin to develop its motorsport involvement, with the Vantage GTE furthering success on track as well as inspiring the latest generation of the company’s hardcore road cars like the Vantage GT8.

Alfa Romeo Brera S

After initial reviews suggested that the stunning Brera was a bit caught between being a sports car and a comfortable GT, the UK branch of Alfa Romeo decided that the V6-powered beaut needed to be shunted more toward the former. After gaining permission by Alfa HQ, Prodrive was given the job of moulding the Brera into something a more performance- focused.

And so spawned the creation of the Brera S (the S meaning ‘Speciale’), with a retuned chassis sporting new Eibach springs, Bilstein dampers and overall tweaks in geometry which brought the car on par with its contemporaries. Trumping its rivals tenfold in terms of styling but with a much improved drive, the Brera was finally the car it should have been from the factory.

Only 500 examples were produced and the Alfa should now make for an appreciating limited-edition future classic in the coming years. Like the P1, this is a Prodrive project ‘normals’ can actually buy.

What’s your personal Prodrive highlight? Do you agree with our list? Comment with your thoughts and suggestions below!

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1992-2000, 2001-2007, 2008-, Featured, History, Top 5

Our 5 Favorite WRX STI Models

Subaru Tecnica International (STI) began as the motorsports division for Subaru in 1988. Amidst growing success in the World Rally Championship (WRC), the first STI model emerged in 1994, and its rally-proven performance has influenced the Subaru lineup ever since. The first Subaru Impreza WRX STI had 10 more horsepower than the standard WRX, stiffer suspension, and better brakes. In the 20 years since then, STI models have remained true to the first car’s winning formula of affordability, durability and high performance. Now that Subaru is poised to launch the new 2015 Subaru WRX STI, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite rally-bred STIs over the years to honor the occasion.

1998 Subaru Impreza 22B STI

Widely known as the ultimate STI halo car, Subaru unleashed the Impreza 22B STI in 1998. It was intended to be a road-going version of the racer that won the 1997 FIA WRC title, Subaru’s third consecutive victory in the series. The year also intersected with the 40th anniversary of the Subaru brand.

The 22B featured a 2.2-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine modified from the regular 2.0-liter STI powertrain, with power ramped up to 280 hp and 267 lb-ft of torque. Subaru made the track wider with new wheels and tires, added flared fenders and rocker sill extensions to the bodywork, and increased the inclination of the rear-wing’s main plane by 17 degrees to produce more aerodynamic downforce. A twin-plate ceramic-disc clutch and close-ratio gears in the transmission made effective use of the increased power to help the car record a seriously swift 4.3-second sprint from 0-60 mph. Power peaked at a lofty 6000 rpm, and the engine would happily rev to its 7900-rpm redline.

Although the engine was perhaps the most distinctive feature of the 22B STI, Subaru did not overlook the car’s handling dynamics. Upgraded rack-and-pinion steering with a quicker ratio and a specially tuned suspension with Bilstein dampers were also part of the rally-based package. Bob Hall of Wheels magazine in Australia remarked that “nobody was quite ready for [the 22B’s] adhesion and cornering competence. In dynamics alone, the 22B comes very close to matching the classic Porsche 928 for chassis balance. It’s really that good.” High praise, indeed.

While the Impreza 22B STI’s performance set the formula for future generations of the WRX STI, the car’s looks were just as influential. The shape itself grew out of Prodrive’s Impreza RS, but the now-iconic livery of Sonic Blue Mica paint and 17-inch gold BBS wheels came from the original 555-sponsored Impreza rally cars of the mid-1990s. The trademark hood scoop and cherry-red STI badge continue to be visual signatures of the WRX STI even today. Subaru built just 424 units of the Impreza 22B STI, with 400 for Japan and the remainder for the export market.

2000 Subaru Impreza S201 STI

In April 2000, Subaru launched a 300-car run of a model inspired by the Electra One concept car. Called the S201 STI, the car set itself apart from the conventional WRX STI with a recalibrated engine computer, more turbo boost, a higher-capacity air-to-air intercooler and a larger, free-flowing exhaust, all of which pushed output to 300 hp.

The S201 STI also stood out in a crowd thanks to its bold body kit. A new front fascia included a wide lower grille opening and a much deeper bumper. New side skirts and a bi-level rear wing further transformed the exterior, while the car’s cabin featured a titanium shift lever, aluminum pedals and blue interior trim. The STI boffins also fitted the car with a hood scoop, a limited-slip front differential, height-adjustable suspension, red brake calipers, and 17-inch forged-aluminum RAYS wheels.

Though sold only in small numbers, the S201 is quite distinctive and is a seriously memorable version of the WRX STI.

2001 Subaru Impreza WRX STI

Following the debut of the second-generation Impreza, the Subaru Impreza WRX STI launched in Japan in late 2000. The so-called “New Age” generation of STI proved to be quite popular worldwide, thanks to its excellent driving dynamics, standout looks, and everyday usability. It would also be the first STI to make it to U.S. shores, although when it arrived here in 2004, it had an engine different from the one with which the car had been introduced in Japan.

The second-gen Subaru Impreza WRX STI continued to use a 2.0-liter turbocharged boxer-four engine, but it featured a significant bump in power. Upgrades to the 2.0-liter four-cylinder included lightweight hollow camshafts, variable valve timing, and electronic throttle control, which together helped increase power and response lower in the rpm range to compensate for turbo lag. To cope with the heat of increased performance, the STI contained an intercooler 30 percent larger than the unit used in the standard WRX, and a larger hood scoop directed air to it.

When all was said and done, the STI engine developed 280 horsepower and 274 lb-ft of torque, an impressive step above the 250 hp and 245 lb-ft by the engine of the standard WRX. In keeping with the car’s rally-bred performance, a close-ratio, six-speed gearbox was available as an option. A computer-controlled center differential varied torque distribution to the front and rear wheels, while Brembo brakes delivered fade-free stopping power.

When the U.S. model of this car arrived, it featured a 2.5-liter boxer engine that made a burly 300 hp and 300 lb-ft of torque. This gave it the power to prevail over the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo, which brought only 271 hp to the table with its 2.0-liter, turbocharged inline-four engine. Added power aside, the STI was also the better, more tractable day-to-day road car. As we said in a comparison test between the STI and a Mitsubishi Evo, “[The STI] is arguably more complete than any race-bred road car in history, and its owner needs to make very few sacrifices to enjoy it.”

2005 Subaru Impreza Prodrive RB320

As the builders of Subaru’s competition cars for the FIA World Rally Championship, the engineers at Britain-based Prodrive knew their way around a fast Subie. These Prodrive-built Impreza racers eventually racked up three championships in the WRC with Colin McRae, Richard Burns, and Petter Solberg behind the wheel.

Prodrive has also been behind numerous hot Subaru production models over the years, and in 2005, it brought to market the RB320, a specially prepared Subaru Impreza WRX STI. The high-performance RB320 had a Prodrive-engineered package for the boxer four-cylinder that produced 320 hp, plus an upgraded chassis setup for a lower ride height with Eibach springs and Bilstein dampers. All of this made for a truly special STI, not to mention an aggressive appearance thanks to its mesh grille and 18-inch black wheels.

Only 320 units of this high-performance car were built, and all were sold in Britain. The RB designation honored Richard Burns, who died of brain cancer in 2005 just four years after winning the WRC championship with Subaru and Prodrive.

2011 Subaru Cosworth Impreza CS400

Prodrive isn’t the only British racing company with links to Subaru, as Cosworth – the noted British builder of purebred racing engines – helped create the Cosworth Impreza CS400.

Cosworth had cast the aluminum blocks for Subaru’s rally engines, so it wasn’t too much of a stretch to prepare a total engine package. The turbocharged 2.5-liter boxer-four under the hood of the regular WRX STI was thoroughly upgraded with new crankshaft bearings, steel connecting rods, stout pistons with a lower compression ratio, new head gaskets and fortified head studs. These modifications helped the engine withstand increase boost from the new turbocharger, and the further addition of free-flowing intake and exhaust helped produce 395 hp and 398 lb-ft of torque, a bump of 90 hp and 103 lb-ft of torque over a U.S.-specification STI engine.

Cosworth also applied its magic touch to the WRX STI’s chassis. Eibach coil springs lowered the ride height by a half-inch, Bilstein dampers controlled the suspension action, and hard suspension bushings delivered sharper handling response. Heavy-duty, six-piston AP brake calipers produced stronger, crisper action from the front brake discs, and the 18-inch wheels were wrapped in super-sticky Michelin Pilot Sport 3 tires.

The Cosworth Impreza CS400 was never sold in North America, but Autocar got to sample the car in Britain. After the CS400 reached 100 km/hr (62 mph) in a scant 3.7 seconds and reached the end of a quarter-mile right on the back bumper of an Audi RS6, the magazine proclaimed this car to be “the fastest, most powerful and most expensive Subaru Impreza that’s ever been offered for sale in the UK.” Cosworth limited production to 75 cars — but had it not, the $83,000 asking price would likely have limited sales anyway.

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Featured, History, News&Reviews

Everything You Need to Know Before Buying a Subaru Impreza WRX STI

So you want a peanut eye or hawk eye WRX STI? Our buyer’s guide will give you an idea of what to look out for.

STI: three little letters that herald the off-beat rumbling of a turbocharged boxer engine and rally-bred performance. Well, unless STI stands for Sexually Transmitted Infection where you’re from. In that case, get ready for important bits of your anatomy to turn World Rally Blue and then drop off.

However, if the persistent burning you feel is that of a desire for hoodscoops, big spoilers, and gravel-flinging all-wheel-drive, then good news. While the first of Subaru’s homologation hot-rod were unobtainable for the first decade of production, the STI now has more than a decade’s history in the US.

If you’ve been thinking about buying one, you probably should. Go on, scratch that itch. No, not that itch. The metaphorical one. Here’s our guide to the affordable STI market.

What to look for

Initially available only as a sedan, the GD-chassis STI arrived in the US as a 2004 model to much fanfare. At the time, its combination of a 300hp 2.5L flat-four engine, massive rear wing, a driver-controlled central differential, Brembo brakes, and all-weather grip promptly set everyone’s pants on fire (again, metaphorically).

Finally, US rally fans eager to become a McRae or a Solberg or a Burns could bring their dream car home and park it in the driveway. Where somebody would promptly steal it.

The 2004 STI is appealing, and not just to owners. The originals came without immobilizers fitted, and with easily pried open frameless windows, is a favorite target for thieves. Further, be aware that the 2004 has a slightly different bolt pattern (5×100) than later STIs, which it shares with the WRX. If you happen to be looking at a car with the original BBS alloys, some nefarious WRX owner will probably try to steal those too. Get an aftermarket immobilizer and some wheel locks.

Steering rack bushings in the ’04 can develop some slop, and there is a tendency for the wheel bearings to go out if the car sees regular track use. The synchros for fifth and sixth gear are problematic.

Having said all that, the ’04 is the rawest and lightest of the bunch, with a definitive rear-bias to the default torque split (35/65). Subaru USA keeps a pristine example in their collection. Maybe try stealing that one? Wait, I didn’t say that.

The later 2005 model looks much the same as the ’04 (Subaru enthusiasts call these years “peanut-eye”), but comes with the 5×114.3 bolt pattern that would extend over the next decade, that all-important immobilizer, and a revised interior. It’s a little heavier than the ’04, but otherwise identical.

For 2006, Subaru switched up grille to something resembling an upside-down Alfa-Romeo, and moved the torque split further forward to 41/59 front to rear. The 2006s also have unique aluminum front control arms, offering bragging rights more than an actual performance enhancement. Specific issues only really apply to the easily-replaced liquid-filled motor mounts. Some Subaru fans consider the ’06 to be the best year for both the STI and the WRX.

Last of the GD-chassis cars, updates for 2007 included taller ratios for gears 2, 3, and 4. It’s also the only year with a proper seat pass-through, and had changes to the wastegate actuator and ECU. The latter may have caused some hesitation issues under acceleration; a later reflash seems to have cured the issue.

As part of a last hurrah before the changeover to the GR-chassis hatchback, Subaru also released a more “grown-up” version of the STI called the Limited. As the name suggests, these are fairly rare, with around 800 sold in the US. Each one ditched the big wing for a discreet lip spoiler, got a leather interior in place of the cartoonish blue, and was fitted with more sound-deadening material. Consider it the Touring edition of STIs.

What to avoid:

Generally speaking, the first STI is a tough machine, built for the gravel rally stage and capable of withstanding abuse. However, there are any amount of horror stories about what happens when one has had enough.

A bad first impression isn’t the end of the world. Subaru paint was apparently applied by the good people at Crayola, and is highly susceptible to chipping, fading, and scratches. The body panels pick up a dent from just looking at them too long, so spots and ripples aren’t necessarily accident damage, just Subaru cellulite. Something to watch for is the paint on the Brembo brakes; if discolored by heat, it’s likely the car’s been on the track.

The STI is also a very noisy car to drive. All Subarus more than three years old develop rattles–it can sound like there’s a mariachi band fighting a rattlesnake in the dashboard. Add in a loud transmission and little sound deadening material and you might go a little deaf.

However, there are things to listen for on any test drive. First, almost all STIs can suffer from the rear struts clunking over bumps. This issue can be resolved with disassembly and lubrication, but it’s a pain. Of greater worry is any actual grinding coming from the transmission. A little clutch judder is normal, and the gearbox can be notchy, especially when cold.

You should, of course, have any car you’re considering for purchase inspected by a reputable mechanic. In particular, you may want to have a compression and leakdown test done as the STI is very susceptible to knocking (either from bad fuel or a poor tune).

A note on modifications:

If you can find and purchase a clean, relatively unmodified STI, then do so. The combination of a huge and varied aftermarket and mod-enthusiastic owners has resulted in many cars which have been questionably tuned. Always remember than almost any modification from factory, regardless of cost, devalues a car.

Having said that, commonly found upgrade parts from reputable tuners like Cobb and Perrin are probably fine, as are a host of aftermarket wheels. If the STI you’re considering has a blow-off valve fitted, it should set off your Fast & Furious Danger to Manifold alarm, as the owner has made their car run badly just to make the pssscht noise. If you’re looking at a car that has been lowered until it scrapes, run away before the owner spills any Monster Energy Drink on you.

If the car appears factory but you have your suspicions, there are clues to look for. For instance, the heatshield covering the factory turbocharger is a bit of a bear to put back on, so if it’s missing, the car may have had at least an aftermarket downpipe.

Community:

Not that long ago, all Subaru owners tended to wave to each other, just like motorcyclists. They still do in some parts of the country, and you might certainly get the nod from a fellow STI owner.

Forum websites like NASIOC have a great depth of knowledge to be sifted through carefully. With such a large community, there’s as much wrong information out there as right. Local forums are also a great way to get out and enjoy your STI with others, as Subaru owners seem to be a gregarious lot, always up for a cruise or rallycross session.

Meet up online, test the waters, get an STI. But in a good way.

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Featured, History, News&Reviews, Top 10

Top 10 Coolest Automotive Logos

Every car company has its own logo and, like the vehicles they build, some are better than others.Just take a gander at Toyota’s top-heavy oval emblem. Despite its simplicity, this symbol isn’t terribly inspiring, nor is the winged-arrow insignia plastered on Skodas. Talk about weird! Like these examples, the GMC logo is nothing more than a trio of consonants. How boring! It’s never going to win any graphic design awards.

Fortunately, there are still plenty of vehicular brands with elegant and classy logos with interesting backstories. Here’s a list of our 10 favorite.

10. Mitsubishi

We start with a troubled Japanese automaker. In North America at least, Mitsubishi has been struggling for decades, hobbled by questionable quality and a limited range of substandard products. Currently, it doesn’t even offer a midsize sedan, which would compete in a huge segment of the market. Still, in spite of its poor showroom performance, the company does have an appealing logo, one that’s graphically simple and very clean. Mitsu means three in Japanese, while hishi means water chestnut and denotes a diamond shape, so the logo is the literal translation of the Mitsubishi name, which means “three diamonds.”

9. Aston Martin

Another one of the coolest automotive logos out there belongs to Aston Martin. Sure, this British brand builds some killer products, but its emblem is genuinely nifty, comprised of stylized wings, stretched wide with the text of its name nestled neatly in the center. Curiously, the automaker has carried this motif through to the rear end of some models, where the tail lights mimic the logo’s feather.

8. Citroën

Not only does Citroën deserve an award for sporting an umlauted letter in its name, but it’s also worthy of praise for having an appealing logo. Yes, this French automaker’s double-chevron moniker is not only graphically pleasing but also rooted in history. The emblem is a stylized version of a herringbone gear, a design that cancels out the axial thrust found in normal helically cut gears. Supposedly, company founder André Citroën spotted this clever innovation while in Poland. Apparently, he liked it enough to use it as the logo for the company that bears his name.

7. Subaru

Subaru is best known for its rally-racing heritage and unique devotion to all-wheel drive, but in addition to all of this, it also has a pretty neat logo. Do you know what the firm’s twinkling emblem represents? Well, if you’re an amateur astronomer, you might have a clue, if not, you’ll still probably enjoy this tidbit of info. The company’s logo actually represents the Pleiades star cluster, which is found in the Taurus constellation. Why this particular group of stars? Subaru is the Japanese word for a group of stars found in the constellation.

6. Volkswagen

For those of you who aren’t familiar, the history of Volkswagen is rather dark, and we’re not referring to all the soot from its recent diesel-emissions scandal. The people’s car brand directly traces its roots back to Nazi Germany. In the mid-1930s, Hitler wanted an affordable car that could mobilize the Reich’s population. Ultimately, the company’s Beetle would do this, even if it didn’t hit its stride until well after the Second World War ended. Anyhow, despite its troubled past, Volkswagen has one of the coolest, most graphically pleasing emblems of any automaker. It’s comprised of a capital “V” perched atop a large “W,” with everything circumscribed neatly by a circle. It’s clean, elegant and still cool all these years later.

SEE ALSO: Top 10 Subaru’s Of All Time

5. Mazda

Next up, another Japanese automaker. Rendered in shiny chrome, Mazda’s logo is both simple and intriguing. Clearly, it’s a stylized “M,” but this motif also bears more than a passing resemblance to a blooming tulip. Additionally, those with a keen eye and vivid imagination might notice a soaring bird with its wings spread wide. What do you see in this automotive Rorschach test?

4. Porsche

Porsche is one of the most coveted brands in the car world. Whether it’s the iconic 911 or Macan crossover, their Panamera sedan or lithe Cayman coupe, this firm’s sporty products are lusted after by enthusiasts around the globe. Given the high esteem it’sheld in, the company deserves a suitably regal logo, which is exactly what it has. Curiously, the Porsche emblem is a hybrid of sorts, with city of Stuttgart’s coat of arms plunked in the center of a field borrowed from the heraldic symbol for the Kingdom of Württemberg. Makes sense, right? We didn’t think so. In any event, just enjoy the cool logo and inspiring vehicles.

3. Alfa Romeo

Another automaker with a seriously beautiful emblem is Alfa Romeo. Just like Porsche’s, it’s comprised of various heraldic symbols. The prominent red cross represents the city of Milan, this prestigious automaker’s birthplace. As for the crowned serpent, it stands for the House of Visconti, a noble Italian family. How neat is that? Owning an Alfa Romeo is kind of like being friends with royalty… sort of.

2. Audi

One of the most elegant automotive logos of all time belongs to Audi, though due to the brand’s tumultuous history, it’s one of the most difficult to explain. In short, this firm’s emblem is comprised of four interlocking rings, one for each brand that formed the now-defunct company Auto Union, which is the direct predecessor to the Audi marque we know today. The companies represented in this beautifully rendered logo include Horch, Wanderer, DKW and Audi. It’s a difficult story to explain, but the result is one of our favorite logos.

SEE ALSO: Subaru’s 15 Fastest Cars of All Time

1. BMW

Finally, we come to BMW. Unquestionably, this fabled German luxury car maker has one of the nicest insignias in the automotive world. Its circular emblem represents several things. First, the blue-and-white motif is a stand in for the Bavarian flag. Remember, the firm is headquartered in Munich, the capital of this German federal state. Only a decade after its creation did it also gain an association with the aircraft propeller from an aircraft engine magazine with the roundel overlaid in front of a stylized aircraft propeller, one blurred by rotating at a high rate of speed. This is a nod to the high-flying engines they began building in the 1920s. For its graphic simplicity, overall elegance and rich history, you can’t beat the BMW roundel.

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Featured, History, Motorsports, WRC

Ex-Solberg & McRae 2007 Rally Subaru Impreza is For Sale

You can own this unique WRC Subaru driven by 2 world champions for just £159,500 (around $231,000).

This particular 2007 Subaru WRX STI is right now for sale at RallySales.com and is said it was driven by Petter Solberg and Colin McRae. The car was driven by Petter Solberg at numerous World Rally Championship events on that year’s rally calendar, while the great Colin McRae drove it at the 2007 Goodwood Festival of Speed, in one of his last public appearance shortly before his tragic death. The seller says the car was completely rebuilt, both the body and the engine included. It received a new 2.0-liter turbo boxer engine, limited to 300 hp in order to meet FIA WRC restrictions.

 

Ex-Solberg & McRae 2007 Subaru WRX STI -03Inside, a new seats and harnesses have been fitted as well as a new fire extinguishers. Other highlights include a new clutch, rebuilt Reiger Racing suspension components, stripped and fully checked gearbox, new hubs, uprights and new brake discs and pads. Described as being in “showroom condition”, the car comes with FIA Gold Technical Passport log.


The car was sold by a dealership based in Northern Ireland, and current owner has driven it only 350 kilometers (217 miles) since completion.

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Featured, History, Top 10

Top 5 Weirdest Subarus of All Time

Subaru is well known as an automaker that marches to the beat of its own drum.

Even in the midst of a modern “manstreamification,” most of the brand’s vehicles still have standard full-time all-wheel drive and all of them come with a boxer-style engine.

SEE ALSO: 10 of The Rarest Subarus Ever

But back in the day, before corporate interests really took over, Subaru was allowed to be weird. Bizarre sports coupes, oddly shaped SUVs and after-thought seat installations weren’t too obscure for the car producing arm of Fuji Heavy Industries. Here are five of the strangest Subarus in history:

5. Subaru 360

Available from the late 1950s until the early 1970s, the Subaru 360 was a micro city car. This alone isn’t overly strange, but many of the details on the 360 were. The passenger doors were rear hinged and there was a floor-mounted fuel lever that eliminated the need for a fuel pump since the gasoline was gravity fed.


Sitting in the rear of the car was a two-stroke, two-cylinder engine that displaced just 356 cc. That is what gave the 360 its name, referring to the 360 cc tax credit class of cars. Later, the term 360 would take on a secondary meaning as the tail-happy handling characteristics of the car had a lot of owners spinning out in their 360s.

4. Subaru Bighorn

The Isuzu Trooper may be the most rebadged automobile in history. At one point or another, versions of the Trooper were sold by Acura, Chevrolet, Holden, Honda, Opel, SsangYong, Vauxhall and, yes, Subaru.

Called the Bighorn, Subaru sold the rebadged Trooper from 1988 until 1993 in Japan only. Even though the Trooper would undergo a redesign in 1991, the Subaru Bighorn would soldier on with the first-generation architecture until it was discontinued. The only power plant available was a 2.8-liter turbo diesel.

SEE ALSO: Top 10 Subaru’s Of All Time

3. Subaru Alcyone SVX

The Subaru Alcyone SVX was an unusual car in many ways. The overall styling featured some unique elements, highlighted by the window within a window design. This was said to improve wind buffeting at highway speeds, but made drive-thrus a nightmare.

Under the hood sat a horizontally opposed six-cylinder engine measuring 3.3-liters in displacement. It sent 230 hp to all four wheels through a four-speed automatic transmission. A front-wheel drive version did briefly appear in North America and Japanese customers could opt of optional four-wheel steering.

2. Subaru Brat

Small pickup trucks were hot in the late 1970s and Subaru wanted in on the action. More of a car with an open bed rather than a purpose built pickup truck, the Brat sat two people up front in the cabin. But this meant the Brat would have been susceptible to the so-called American chicken tax that puts a 25% tariff on imported light trucks.

SEE ALSO: Subaru’s 15 Fastest Cars of All Time

To circumvent this, Subaru bolted two rearward facing plastic chairs in the bed of the truck. A safety nightmare, passengers heads actually bobbed around higher than the Brat’s roofline, so keeping the truck sunny-side up was more important than ever.

1. Subaru XT

Before there was the SVX, there was the angular Subaru XT. With a fairly conventional for its time wedge shape, the back window was a wraparound design set at a fairly steep rake. Power came from a choice of horizontally opposed engines, a 1.8-liter in naturally aspirated or turbocharged flavors as well as a 2.7-liter six-cylinder.


The XT came equipped with some interesting and advanced equipment for its time. A single wiper blade, retractable door handles, adjustable suspension, headlight washers, push-button all-wheel drive, digital gauge cluster and hill holder could all be equipped to the XT.

But the most unusual feature had to be the XT’s steering wheel. To apparently resemble a jet fighter cockpit, the wheel only had one vertical and one horizontal support bar. This gave it an unusual asymmetrical appearance and took some getting used to when operating.

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Automobiles, Car Technology, Featured, History

6 Things You Didn’t Know About Subaru

Subaru has a tremendous following among car enthusiasts. Selling cars with superior horsepower, excellent handling and low cost has given Subaru a phenomenal cult following. If you don’t believe that, ask any owner of one of these vehicles. They’re unlike any other car on the road for more than just those few reasons.

It’s car fans’ supreme love of the Subaru that sets the vehicles apart, but what else makes a Subaru a Subaru? Here are six fun facts about the brand and the cars.

1. Always a boxer engine


The innovative boxer engine has been the core of every Subaru model for the past 45 years. It’s a fundamental of the brand. Unlike a typical engine, the boxer engine is equipped with horizontal thrusting pistons, which allow the engine output to move directly into the transmission. The flat design allows for a lower center of gravity, which means better responsiveness and control. Better yet, in the event of a front-end collision, the flatter engine is designed to move under the passenger compartment, making it much safer than typical engine models.

2. Made for symmetrical all-wheel drive


While AWD is a luxury in some cars, every Subaru is made to be an AWD vehicle straight from the get-go. And while other cars offer the drive option, nobody does it like Subaru. That’s because Subaru vehicles are the only cars on the market with symmetrical all-wheel drive. This system allows a peerless balance of power to all four wheels while power from the engine moves in one simple straight line through the transmission and to the drive train such that both sides are symmetrical. Symmetrical AWD means better traction, balance and control. Not to mention, Subaru drivers tend to worry a lot less about driving through snow drifts during the unpredictable New England winters.

3. A rally racing legend

With so much focus on AWD and performance, it’s no wonder Subaru is one of the better known names in the world of rally racing. Subaru vehicles have been tearing down the dirt raceway for decades. In fact, Subaru has claimed 47 manufacturer wins in the World Rally Championships since 1973, according to Motorsports Etc.

RELATED: 10 of The Rarest Subarus Ever

4. Shooting for the stars

The six stars in the Subaru logo are a reference to the Taurus constellation, which is particularly easy to spot in the night sky above Japan, according to Business Insider. Moreover, the name of Taurus in Japanese is Subaru. The particular six-star cluster is called Pleiades.

5. The best cars in America?

Subaru vehicles don’t just have a reputation for high-performance driving and tearing up dirt roads. The brand’s vehicles have been called some of the most reliable, safe and value-packed choices in the American car market. Here are just some of the distinctions Subaru has achieved.

According to Fortune Magazine, Consumer Reports ranked Subaru above Mercedes-Benz, BMW and every other manufacturer in performance, comfort, reliability and utility. The organization said Subaru makes some of the best cars in America.
While some manufacturers have just one vehicle with a Highway Safety Top Safety Pick Award, every model vehicle in Subaru’s arsenal has the award.
Fortune Magazine also reported that ALG named Subaru as the industry leader in retained value when it comes to popular car brands.

6. Built to last

If you’re looking for a car that will deliver for years to come, there’s no option better than a Subaru. That’s because the boxer engine helps reduce vibration, which helps the car run more efficiently and smoothly. That can help boost the lifespan of the vehicle, too. According to the car manufacturing company, 96 percent of Subarus built within the last 12 years can still be found on the road to this day.

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