Sunday, March 23, 2014

Iowaska Cruise #2

Last year, I combined two of my favorite asphalt-only cruise routes in Nebraska and Iowa on either side of the Missouri River into one gigantic route. It took almost two hours from start to finish, but it was nice to just hit the road and enjoy the company of fellow Subarus along some awesome twists and turns. Well, we did that route again... retracing that same route with our 2nd "Iowaska Cruise".

The event was held by the Nebraska Subaru Owners Club, but other Subaru groups in the area also joined us. Folks from the Midwest Association of Car Enthusiasts, the Iowa Subaru Club, and the Siouxland Subaru Club met up with us to start out the route. There were between 25-30 Subarus there as well as a misplaced BMW, Monte Carlo, and an SRT Jeep.

We met up at 2pm, rolled out half-an-hour later, and finished out the route around 5:30. Just a great day cruising some scenic roads alongside some great cars!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Opposites Attract

From Boston to Seattle, Subaru will be hosting the 2014 Performance Tour "Opposites Attract" for local salesmen and saleswomen to attend.  I will be among them, checking out the 2015 Subaru WRX, 2014 XV Crosstrek Hybrid, and 2015 Subaru WRX STI both in training and behind the wheel on a closed course.

The event I'll be attending will be held in the second week of April.  I'm not only a salesman for Subaru, but also an enthusiast at heart, so I'm pretty excited for the opportunity to drive the new WRX and WRX STI. A few weeks ago, the WRX made a quick stop at our dealership, so I was able to sit in it and see the car in-person for the first time.  We weren't allowed to drive it, so now I'm itching for the chance to feel the new manual gearbox in both the WRX and WRX STI.  I'm also interested to see how the CVT feels in this.

The event also features the Crosstrek Hybrid, which stopped by our dealership back in November of 2013.  Now, the Hybrid has been out on dealership lots since January and I've had a chance to drive it quite a bit.  Just last week I handed the keys of a Plasma Green Pearl Hybrid to a happy new owner, so I'm pretty familiar with it by now.  I'm interested to see if there's still more to learn about the Hybrid, but as of now, I don't see how it fits in with the other two.  The event is called "Opposites Attract" so obviously there's some kind of connection between the rally-bred WRX line and the greener XV Crosstrek Hybrid.  Either way, it should be a fun event and a nice break from the daily grind.

Monday, March 17, 2014


Well, the first one is in the books!  The 2000 Subaru Impreza 2.5 RS Coupe that we've been working on since September was able to compete in it's first Rallycross competition.  The Nebraska Region SCCA put on "In Like A Lamb - Rallycross Points #2" on March 16th and the project car wasn't just there to take pictures this time.  In February, it was slated to participate in Rallycross Points #1, but a scheduling conflict after the event was postponed caused us to miss it, so #2 was really this car's first.

It was a first time for a few other drivers and cars, too!  In the company of fellow Subarus, the RS joined a new WRX and a "Rex Box" (Forester w/WRX swap) on the dirt track.  All three of us were learning as we went, and as the day progressed, our times improved.  Wheel-time paid off as each car started to chip away at the clock, sometimes even beating out other seasoned veterans on a run or two.

There were some great competitors out on the track for this event.  Not only in their ability behind the wheel, but the invaluable experience and advice they gave to some of the newer guns.  It's just a constant reminder that it's not just the cars that get me hooked on this, but the great people involved with it that have been so helpful.  One of my friends nabbed this great photo of "Aki" in his Legacy BC7 starting out with the RS in the background on it's way off the course.  He's been really helpful answering my questions, giving me tips, and helping this oblivious driver figure some things out.  He also used to drive a GC4, which I did an article on earlier, so it's kind of neat to see his current BC7 in the foreground with a similar Impreza in the background.  He's also been working with Russ' Garage, who have been instrumental in helping this RS get back on it's feet, so it's nice to have that sort of camaraderie.

Friday, March 14, 2014

RS Revival - Derustification

As I've said plenty of times during this RS Revival project, the biggest issue is rust.  From the rear quarter panels to the guts of the suspension, harsh Nebraska winters and neglect could've easily brought this 14 year-old coupe to it's knees.  After months of on-going work with this Impreza, things are really coming together.  The suspension was replaced a few months back, but because of rusted-out portions in the control arms and cross member, things still weren't quite right.  This weekend's progress has done just that: finished the last of the adjustments to the suspension thanks to new-ish parts replacing the rusted-out old ones.

The Front Suspension is all squared away.  New bushings, Aluminium Control Arms, it's in good shape.  The rear suspension was frozen and unsafe, so we removed the rust-eaten rear cross member at the source of it.  Then we sandblasted and refinished a donor cross member, refinished the control arms, and bolted it back up.  It might be tough to tell from the photo to the left, but the big shiny black part is the new one.  It's actually not from an RS, but out oa 2002 Subaru WRX Wagon.  As it turns out, it bolted right up to our 2000 Impreza 2.5 RS Coupe.

We also added some protection to our work, putting in some Primitive Racing skid plates.  There's a 3/16" aluminium rear differential skid plate and a 1/8" aluminium front skid plate.  With this car's first Rallycross event approaching, we thought it'd be best add protection where it was needed most.  Paul Eklund's armor is well-known in the rally world, so it's great to have his company's name on the underbelly of this little monster.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Touchdown, WRX!

Today, a 2015 Subaru WRX Limited from the "Land of Lincoln" showed up at our dealership.  World Rally Blue Pearl, Harman Kardon audio, push-button start, leather interior, the works.  While we weren't allowed to drive it, I'll be headed to Minnesota in April for an event with Subaru to get behind the wheel.  It was quite the tease to have a WRX in the flesh but not be able to get behind the wheel and feel the changes in the car, but sitting in it already makes this feel like more than it's Impreza cousin.

I own a 2012 Subaru Impreza 2.0i Hatchback, so things obviously felt at home for me.  Dimensions are bolt-for-bolt identical to the current 4th Generation Impreza, but the WRX changes the feel of that right off the bat with it's sport-designed seats and steering wheel.  The D-Shaped wheel feels great and the seats hug the driver like the older models.  The new seats have adjustable headrests, comfortable bolsters, and the leather models even have a power seat... unlike the Impreza and Crosstrek siblings.

This car's presence, especially from the front-end, is much meaner than before.  It takes cues from other Subaru WRXs before it, which I appreciate.  The WRX logo on the fender with the vent behind the front wheel is obviously from the previous generation WRX.  The front headlights are wider, more aggressive, and remind me of the 1st Generation Impreza.  Actually, I see quite a bit of that first rally car in the new design, which is something I noticed when the spy photos first started coming in.  The rear-end design originally was one of my least-favorite parts about it, but the LED tail lights in person and the presence this car has from behind... it comes together much better than I had thought.  There is a "Wide-body" look to this car that, while not quite as loud as previous designs, is sleeker than you'd expect.  It sort of jumps out in certain angles and lights, which I enjoyed about the BRZ design when I first saw it in person.  Critics can point out lookalikes all day with the Evo-esque headlamps and the Civic-like windows but honestly... none of that bothers me.  To me, in person, this car is it's own design.

Inside, the Harman Kardon sound system was better than I expected.  The current Legacy and Outback sound alright, but the new Forester somehow sounded better.  I had high hopes for the WRX as a result of that, so I can say now that I've messed with it that the HK Audio is a winner in this car.  It's paired with the same Navigation unit seen in the Impreza, Forester, Crosstrek, and BRZ, so you've got full range of EQ settings for it, too.  The electronic boost gauge on top of the dash was a nice touch, too.

There will be more to come in the following months, including my impression of this and the STI variant from behind the wheel.  Should be a fun season!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014


If I've ever got the time to spare, I'll take my Hatchback or my RS out for a little exploring.  Given the nature of each vehicle, I usually take the '12 Impreza out in search of nice scenic asphalt roads winding through a hillside.  On the flip-side of that, I'll drag the '00 2.5 RS out to go find some Stage-Rally-worthy roads on some back-country gravel and minimum maintenance dirt.  Last weekend certainly called for some nitty gritty RS adventuring, especially considering that I'm trying to keep the salt and grime off my newer car which my Fiance will be borrowing for a few days this week when she travels for some rehearsals about an hour each way.

It isn't hard to find gravel roads in rural Nebraska... but it IS difficult to find ones that aren't straight as an arrow.  I've found the best way to find 'em is to look for valleys that have thick tree cover.  Then look to see if the straight-as-an-arrow road looks to be swallowed up by it.  If it looks like the road's path has been altered on the other side of the valley, chances are, there's a few turns to make the exploration worth your while.  It's not fool-proof, but last weekend this simple tactic proved to be quite the winner for me.  Not only did I discover a neat little bridge with some turns nestled in some trees, but the road was pure-dirt.  I'll take a dirt road over a gravel road ANY day of the week, but the trouble with dirt roads is that they're often straight and often rutted from trucks going through when they were wet.

There were gravel roads leading up to this dirt portion with a nice S-Turn, a tight one-lane bridge going over a creek, and then back out to some more gravel turns before things straightened back out to the same old same old. I found this patch of fun just west of Weeping Water, NE.  It's about a 40 minute drive away from where I live, so it's not exactly the most accessible set of roads to visit.  I've found some fun gravel and asphalt roads closer to home before, but it's good to branch out and find stuff outside my normal search radius.

I may never get a chance to go back and visit these roads, but it's always fun discovering something new.  March 15th will mark two years being behind the wheel of a Subaru for me.  In that short time, I've managed to find over 200 miles worth of fun scenic routes, many of which I've led cruises full of Subarus through.  When I first discover these roads, it's quite the thrill waiting to see what's over the next hill or what's around the next bend.  Then, once I've plotted a good route through it, it's rewarding to share that experience with other drivers who are anxious to maneuver their cars through these roads just as I was.

WRX STI vs "StickBomb"

What do you get when you build an RC car like the Nurburgring WRX STI and race it around a track against a chain of exploding popsicle sticks surrounded by awesome film equipment?  Well, you'll just have to watch this spectacle of Toy-Story-esque adrenaline.  There's also a video on how they made the "WRX STI vs StickBomb" video, too.

On the one hand, it appears the folks in Japan have too much time on their hands.  On the other, you can't argue how cool this video was and admire the work put into it.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Why the RS?

It's no secret.  I haven't really been a "car guy" for a long time... or at least I didn't really know what made 'em tick before.  I liked cars, driving, looking at cool designs, going to auto shows, that sorta stuff.  I didn't really know how things worked, what things felt like when they didn't work, and how to fix those things, and that's a big reason why I really find working on this 2000 Subaru Impreza 2.5 RS Coupe quite the adventure.

My car ownership history is quite short for time I've spent behind the wheel.  My first car as a '92 Aerostar that was vantastic.  Then I drove that off a cliff and got a '97 4Runner with rear-wheel drive, so it was more of a 2Runner.  Soon after, gas prices punched us in the gut so I sold that and got my dad's '00 Celica, which was quite fun... but impractical for all the stuff I wanted to do.  Some extensive research, some influence from fellow friends who owned Subarus, and a quick trip to a local dealership landed me in a '12 Impreza.  I've had the Subaru fever ever since with no signs of it letting up.

The Impreza satisfied my adventurous side, exploring local parks, roads, and sort-of- roads... but with it being brand new, there wasn't a lot of things to wrench on.  I was getting increasingly interested in learning my way around the mechanical side of Subarus (and cars in general), so diving in to this needy RS has really wound up being a great experience so far.  Sure the car needs a lot, but there's an abundance of resources that I've tapped into online and within the local community here in Omaha.

Enthusiast forums like NASIOC, Dirty Impreza, and RS25 have been infinitely helpful so far with finding answers as well as being a great source for used parts.  I also think what has helped the RS platform be so much fun is that there's a lot of potential for the car and lots of improvements that can be made for it.  From suspension to swaps to different motorsport setups, the 1st Generation Impreza is quite the versatile car.  This design has been out since 1993 and they finally switched over to the 2nd Generation Impreza in 2002, so there's nearly a decade worth of parts out there for this car.  Plus, Subarus are like Legos, so many parts before and after this car was made are interchangeable and make for easy modifications.

It's also at a good point in it's life as a car, as they're cheap enough to attain for folks starting out.  There are a lot of rally teams that use the GC and GF chassis, and for good reason.  Every time I look at the roster for an upcoming Rally-America series, there's a handful of 1st Generation Imprezas among the ranks.  Fetela Rally Team, River Valley Rally Team, and a handful of others have been throwing dirt and gravel with these cars.  For a design that's 20 years old, it's a testament to the rally-bred nature of this car and the great potential it has.  Potential that I personally appreciate and enjoy tapping into with this project!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

All in the Family

I have an Impreza.  My mom has an Outback.  My dad has a Forester.  My Fiance has an Outback Sedan.  Her dad has a Legacy.  Now her mom has a Forester!  Clearly, Subaru Fever has been making the rounds with my family, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

On the one hand, yes... I happen to work in sales at Stan Olsen Subaru.  It's my job to hook people up with a great deal on my favorite cars and SUVs.  On the other, even if I didn't work for Subaru, I'd still be flying a flag for 'em.  They're affordable, reliable, and uncompromisingly safe to drive.  So when it comes to taking care of the people I love, it's gotta be a Subaru.

It's a 2011 Subaru Forester 2.5X Premium in Satin White Pearl with 63k on it.  Looks brand-new, all up-to-date on it's service, and it's ready for more adventures!  I could not have been more proud watching her drive off with this great find.  One of these days, I've gotta assemble everyone for a "Family Photo"!