Wednesday, February 26, 2014

SnoBarus under $25k

Kelly Blue Book published an article recently with the 10 best AWD vehicles on the market for under $25,000 and it's no surprise that the top 5 are dominated by Subaru.  Not only that, but I have close friends and relatives who all own these vehicles, so it's good to know the people I care about will be safe this winter.  With snow in the forecast again for this coming weekend, their Subarus will be battling through the white stuff without burning a hole in their wallets.

Among the Top 10 listed, the XV Crosstrek, Legacy, Impreza, Outback, and Forester all made the cut above other AWD competitors.  Don't get me wrong.  The CX-5, Juke, CR-V, they're all good vehicles too.  However, I think it's more than coincidence that the Top 5 all have Subaru's Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive at their core.

Friday, February 21, 2014

2015 WRX STI Spotted!

A truck carrying new 2015 Subaru WRX STIs was spotted by a local fan in Omaha and shared on the Subaru Enthusiasts (Nebraska) Facebook page.  It's likely that these cars are on their way to a pre-launch event for Subaru.  Because the cars weren't covered, as they would be for delivery to a dealer for stock, they are probably used for the reviews that have been suddenly popping up on sites like DrivingSports, Jalopnik, and other notable sources.  They're also being used for Ride-and-Drive and Breakaway events that are held for training and education for local dealerships.

Ordering for the new WRX and WRX STI opened up last week, so a late-March/early-April release seems imminent.  I will be attending the Breakaway event on April 9th for the '15 WRX and WRX STI, so I'm curious to see if the cars reach dealerships in my area before then.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Testing with Travis

With the Rally in the 100 Acre Wood coming up this weekend (February 21st), Subaru of America and Vermont SportsCar have brought back RallyAmerica Champion Travis Pastrana to the high-speed gravel roads in Missouri in a WRX STI.  Subaru Rally Team USA is now back to a 2-car team with David Higgins and Craig Drew in the #75 car and Travis Pastrana and Chrissie Beavis in the #199 car.

Travis has been testing earlier this week with his new co-driver in their rally-bred Subaru near Salem, Missouri.  In a recent interview, Travis pointed out that he'll be focusing on adjusting to the new speeds rally cars are attaining in this sport and keep the car on the road to log the miles so he can be competitive by the end of the year.  I had originally thought that he'd be running this rally with the new 2015 Subaru WRX, but the latest photos from their testing show a Cherry Blossom Red livery on a familiar 2014 WRX STI Hatchback.

Chrissie Beavis is a fantastic co-driver, probably known best for her recent work with Rockstar Rally driver Tanner Foust, and should be an excellent fit for Travis in the Subaru.  While there will certainly be time for adjusting to eachother as they weave their way through Missouri's backroads, I'm personally excited to see how this duo perform in the 2014 RallyAmerica season!

New Project Pages

Figured I'd update the blog a little and add two pages for easier access to some on-going projects.  The first link is for the RS Revival, with chronologically listed links to it's progress.  I always find it fun to retrace the steps projects like this have gone through, so I thought having a link with all that info was in order.  The second link is for my Impreza Project.  I get a lot of questions on forums about what I've done with this 4th Generation base-model hatchback as it continues to change.  It should be a good reference for those curious about what has been done to go through and be able to quickly find the answers they need.

RS Revival
Impreza Project

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Frozen February!

This month has certainly been kind to my All-Wheel Drive family!  12 days into February and there's not been a day when there hasn't been snow on the ground!  While we really haven't gotten dumped on, it's nice to be reminded of how great these cars are for "bad" weather.  My 2012 Subaru Impreza 2.0i has been rock-solid all winter and it's a constant reminder that two years ago I picked the right car.  The weather here in Nebraska can be unpredictable, but my Impreza always takes care of me.

Sure, sometimes I'm a hoonigan and go out and play in the snow.  Having the grip and confidence that AWD gives you for everyday driving, even in a base-model entry-level hatchback, is valuable to me and the people I care about.  I know my mom will safely get to school to teach those screaming middle-schoolers.  I know my dad will have EyeSight keeping tabs on the other horrible drivers out there.  I know my fiance will be able to navigate out of her apartment complex without a struggle.  February has certainly made us all appreciate that.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Mini GRC!

Last fall, Subaru opened up ordering for these 1/18th scale Micro RS4 RC replicas of the #81 Bucky Lasek and #11 Sverre Isachsen Subaru PUMA Global Rallycross Team Subaru Impreza WRX STI! Built by HPI Racing, these little cars are highly detailed and feature full time 4WD ready to run chassis and 2.4 GHz radio system. HPI used to offer a 2004 WRX STI sedan body for this size (which has been discontinued) so it's good to have a Subaru back in the lineup.

Popular driver/rival Ken Block also has his Hoonigan Rally Car already in the lineup in multiple formats, so it'd be neat to race the Subarus up against other Global RallyCross opponents!  Ken's car is available to the public to purchase in both the Micro and Touring sizes whereas the PUMA Global Rallycross Team cars are only available in the Micro size through special order (for now).

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Winter Storm Nika

Week after week, the snowstorms missed Omaha... but not yesterday!  Nearly half a foot of blowy white stuff invaded the area, leaving most motorists frustrated and annoyed.  However, a few of us with All-Wheel Drive managed to make a fun evening out of it!

Fellow Subaru owners got together and planned to meet at a few local wide-open parking lots to play in.  We took turns throwing the snow around with our cars, took some photos, and stayed warm inside our cabins.  The wind chill was pretty unbearable, so when you tried to talk to another driver, usually you rolled your window down a crack and pulled up next to 'em.  Photography was tough with all the blowing snow and the freezing temperatures killing battery life.  Night shots were especially tricky with blowing snow making it tough to hold even a tripod still for long-exposure shots.  I managed to get a few decent ones, but there were other guys with cameras out there that looked like they might've gotten some nice shots.

Today, Omaha is cleaning up from yesterday.  I'm glad we were able to have our fun when we did, as most of it will be cleared by the evening.  It's a Wednesday, so I've still got the NSOC's Weekly Meet to look forward to.  We'll be sharing stories of what we did yesterday the whole night!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

RS Revival - Kouki Headlights

One of the recurring themes in this 2.5 RS project car is replacing broken / beat up parts with newer or even upgraded parts.  KYB Struts, Aluminium Control Arms, JDM STi Version 2 interior, they all were a step higher than the part that was previously in there.  The same can be said when the headlights were replaced today.  The originals, while the glass was still intact, had broken clips and housings.  They were all held in either by zip-ties or witchcraft until they were replaced with JDM Kouki glass headlights and clear corner markers. 

I actually figured the glass headlights would be just like the OEM ones, but they're a little different.  They've even got "SUBARU" printed in the glass on the front, for optimal light projection, of course.

They were installed as the snow was starting to fall here in Omaha, so it'll be nice to have things together as it hoons about later tonight after we've had a few inches.  The new lights bolt up just fine and look great!  Haven't tried 'em out at night yet to see if there's any noticeable difference.  The rest of the body might still not be in the best of shape, but piece by piece this RS is starting to look a little better.  ...and DRIVE a little better, too!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Gravelhog Day

That rodent told us we're in for a longer winter, so we went out and tore up some snow & gravel before Superbowl Sunday's kickoff.  We had a '99 RS from Sioux City, a '96 Legacy Wagon that belongs to a technician where I work, and the RS Project car out hooning about for several hours of fun.  Due to the recent snow, dust levels were relatively low, so instead of running the event like a Stage Rally like we had before, we just left some space between the cars and did it together.

Previously I had the RS up on jack stands working on it's suspension and making repairs to the drivers-side fender... but I really wanted to spin this thing around the gravel.  So I buttoned it up with some Zip-ties (as evidenced by my crude temporary fix for the corner light) and went to go join the other two at our meeting spot.

After the Legacy left, the '99 RS stuck around a little longer so we found more roads to hoon around on.  Had a great time drifting corners and watching the black RS in my rearview mirror handle things in a similar fashion (many times, better than I).  He made his way back to Iowa afterwards and I took some back roads back home, plotting courses for the next run of gravel roads I'd like to hit.  It's funny, as I seem to be running out of good asphalt routes, there's somehow an abundance of great Gravel routes I've been finding!  Should be a fun summer of cruises for both rally enthusiasts and garage queens alike.