Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Oregon Trail Rally on Ep 2.4

The second season of "Launch Control" continues with coverage of the 2014 Oregon Trail Rally.  Episode 2.4 starts off with a look at the new STI for the Nürburgring coming up in June.  Higgins and Bucky are on hand to check out the new 2015 WRX STI at Laguna Seca.

At the rally, the episode chronicles the struggles Higgins battles through with a few early setbacks as well as the return of Jon Buffum to the team.  The competition between teammates is high as both Higgins and Pastrana are aiming for the top of the podium.  I remembered watching the results come in on RallyAmerica's site and couldn't really believe how things ended from the pace that had been set before.  Seeing the coverage that Formula Photographic managed for this episode tells the story we miss from the times posted for each stage.  I think that's what I enjoy most about this online series, and this latest installment is no different!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

RS Revival: June Bugs

Things are coming along with the Impreza 2.5 RS Coupe, although progress has slowed quite a bit.  To be fair, there were a lot of things to address that needed immediate attention when things started out.  Fixing the drivers-side window, the windshield and rust around the frame, and suspension were at the top of that list last fall.  Now, as the car has improved and even able to complete in local Rallycross events, there's two bigger items on the to-do list that the sights have been set on: body work and rebuilding the engine.  The idea is to at least have one of these addressed before June 15th for the "June Bug" Rallycross event.

When this car first changed hands last fall, it was obvious the body needed some TLC.  Looks weren't the primary concern when the rear quarter panel rust was getting bad enough to not even connect to the edges of the back bumper any longer.  There are large portions of rust on each rear quarter panel and along spots on the bottom of the side skirts, wheel wells, and doors that need to be addressed before they spread further.

The second part tackles the motor.  After learning of the engine problems from a compression test, it was decided that building the current motor would take a bit more work than we wanted, so a second 2.5 RS shortblock was sourced.  The "new" motor (which has 120k on it) will be built more for Rallycross and remain N/A instead of the more common STI or WRX swap these kinds of cars often see.  

The RS also has some new goodies on the way outside of these two big-ticket items.  There's a new front fender to replace the bent and rusted one that's on there now.  There are also a set of Gravel Tires to be mounted on 15x7 wheels that should make trips on dry dirt and rocks a LOT more fun!  The RS also gets used for general adventuring which often entails driving on gravel and dirt back roads when it's not being used for Rallycross.

Friday, May 16, 2014

2015 Legacy Info

The 2015 Subaru Legacy is starting off it's next generation of designs this summer, as well as celebrating 25 years of the Legacy name for Subaru.  According to Subaru of America, Pricing will be announced Friday, May 16th with production starting in June.  Because the new Legacy and Outback are built in the US (Lafayette, IN), it's likely that they'll start hitting dealership lots in late June/early July.  Wait times for ordered vehicles from the SAI Plant usually take between 3 and 6 weeks.  Ordering for the new Legacy will begin on May 19th for non-EyeSight vehicles and on  June 13th for everything else.

UPDATED:  Pricing information was released this afternoon.

Starting Prices
2015 Subaru Legacy 2.5i - $21,695
2015 Subaru Legacy 2.5i Premium - $23,495
2015 Subaru Legacy 2.5i Limited - $26,495
2015 Subaru Legacy 3.6R Limited - $29,595

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Parallel Pursuit

Launch Control's second season has a third episode out today!  Picking up the rest of the story from the Rally in the 100 Acre Wood earlier in the spring.  With the recent battle at the Oregon Trail Rally, it's interesting to be reminded that a little over a month ago, Higgins wasn't smiling quite as much.  The battles continue, and Launch Control continues to tell the story of rally that most people don't get to see.  You can sit on your computer and follow the stats through the rally, but coverage like this is wonderful to have when you're not able to actually BE at each event.

Click below for this week's episode!  Next one is out on May 28th!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Grown Up Imprezas?

It's a given these days.  New car designs keep getting "bigger and better".  I think McDonalds might have something to do with that, but regardless, it really struck me when I was getting this late-90s Impreza grille to a friend to swap onto his 2001 Outback Sport that he's Imprez-i-fying.  There's a 2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek grille in my office at work and I put the two together.  They're both about the same width, but everything else about the new grille is "bigger and better".

From the size of the badge to the gratuitous amount of chrome, it's interesting to see how Subarus have changed in a decade or two.  All-Wheel Drive became standard in 1997.  Their first 7 Passenger vehicle came out in 2005.  Continuously Variable Transmissions with better fuel economy made their debut in the Legacy and Outback in 2010.  Then the CVT made it to the Impreza in 2012, Crosstrek in 2013, and Forester in 2014.  Bluetooth became standard in all models in 2013.  All meeting the growing expectations for a needy customer base.  There's folks on both sides of the fence about all these new gizmos and flux capacitors making their way into new cars these days, but it's still got a Boxer Engine behind that badge and the same reliable company people have come to trust.  Sure my 2012 Base Model Impreza has WAY more going on than a 1993 Impreza L, but it's all Subaru and it's all good.

Friday, May 9, 2014

STI Lip Kit for 2015 WRX & WRX STI

In early April, I got my first look at the new 4th Generation WRX and WRX STI.  On-hand, they also had a WRX loaded up with every accessory you could get for the car, including something I haven't seen available yet: the STI Lip Kit.  It's a 3-part deal, with a black lip added to the front bumper, side skirts, and rear bumper, all with a tiny silver emblem with that iconic "STI" logo printed in Cherry Blossom Red.  It added that extra bit of "oomph" to the design that really gave it some more road presence.

I've yet to see another WRX out there with these parts on it, so I looked into things a little more.  The Parts Brochure for the 2015 WRX and WRX STI lists them as such.  I also added MSRP prices on them.

STI Under Spoiler - Front (E2410VA000) - $399.00
STI Under Spoiler - Side (E2610VA000) - $499.00
STI Under Spoiler - Rear Quarter (E5610VA000) - $335.00
Total: $1,233.00

Now, obviously these parts are a bit pricey.  Putting that coveted STI logo on anything pretty much doubles it's price tag.  However, there's not much markup in these.  Both local dealerships that I called and were only listing these parts with a $20-$40 discount at most.  The dealer cost isn't too far off from MSRP.

Presently, if you're ordering a WRX from a dealer, they do not have the option to add these parts on from the factory.  This may change, but as of this post (May 2014), that's what it's like now.  Unlike most parts, like the Performance Exhaust, these can only be ordered as parts through a dealer and then added on later.  I'm not sure why this is, although I would imagine there might be a risk of damaging these parts being loaded on and off of transports.  Pictures and part numbers are listed below of each part.

Thursday, May 8, 2014 I made one instead!

The new 2015 WRX is a fantastic leap forward for the iconic rally-bred Subaru... but if there's one thing fans have been missing, it's the option for a Hatchback.  Since the WRX hit US soil in 2002, there has been an option to have this great car in either a 4-Door Sedan format or a 5-Door Hatchback/Wagon format.  Even in 2008 when the STI was only offered in a Hatchback, you could still get a sedan WRX.  However, with 2015... some of the WRX faithful were a bit saddened to see their beloved Hatchback option go away.

There have been renderings and rumors and all sorts of "They'll never make it again" or "They'll have it again in like two years or something" babblings that have been swirling around the new whip.  I'm among the hopeful fans that Subaru will bring back the 5-Door option for those who want an Anti-Mullet.  Party in the Front.  Business in the Back.

Well, that's where my Impreza Project comes in handy.  Since I purchased it in 2012, I've been "WRX-tifying" it with bits and pieces.  From 2011+ WRX wheels to the quad-tip exhaust, it's mostly been aesthetic changes with a few tweaks to suspension so far.  At the time, no-one expected Subaru to axe the Hatchback, so it really was sort of a "I-can't-afford a WRX"project for me.  I had entertained the idea of trading it in for a real WRX by the time the new ones came out... but with that option gone, the project really has more of a purpose now.

I'm not sure how far I'll take it.  I know the next bit will be adding these LED tail lights off of an XV Crosstrek Hybrid.  A full swap for powertrain would be nice... but I'll need to get more miles out of the econobox motor and transmission before I consider that.  The idea is to keep MAKING it the car Subaru shouldn't have done away with until one of two things happens.  The first, is that I swap in a Turbocharged Boxer 4 and a 6-Speed Manual Transmission.  The second, obviously, is Subaru beats me to it and brings back the Hatch.  With any luck, this project will trigger Murphy's Law and jinx the hatchback WRXback into existence.  Until then, it's full steam ahead with my pretend one!

Check out the progress of this Impreza in this Flickr Album.  You can also see a full list of all the modifications made to this so far on the Build Page.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Fast Cars can be Safe

Want to live dangerously... but don't want to pay with your life when something goes horribly wrong?  Increase your chances of survival with the new 2015 Subaru WRX!  Yes, as it turns out, Subaru's rally-bred 4-door has received top marks not only from petrol-heads, but also from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
"In testing, the 2015 Subaru WRX earned a “good” rating in all of the IIHS' crash tests, including moderate overlap front, side, roof strength, and head restraint tests, as well as the difficult small overlap front evaluation. As standard safety equipment, the WRX gets seven airbags, including a driver’s knee airbag. More rigid sport seats with whiplash-reducing headrests, along with a stiffer and stronger uni-body chassis are also standard. Subaru claims the roof has a crush rating four times the vehicle’s curb weight."
This car, though no longer in name, is still an Impreza at it's roots.  Sharing a similar design with the 2012 Impreza, I'm not surprised that the WRX managed a Top Safety Pick from the IIHS.  On the one hand, it's tough to see that beautiful Galaxy Blue Pearl WRX all smashed up.  On the other, it's good to know you stand a good chance of walking away from a serious wreck... so you can replace it with a new WRX.  It's not just a quick car in it's segment.  This grown-up sportscar can keep you and your precious cargo safer than ever.

22B & Nakajima?

I'll admit, I'm a bit obsessive sometimes when it comes to analyzing designs... like my favorite Subaru of all time: the 22B.  Recently, this car was at the FedExField for The Mid-Atlantic All-Subaru Shootout and Showoff, so I immediately donned it as my desktop wallpaper at work for the day.  After cleaning the puddle of drool on my keyboard up, I got to thinking about what makes the 22B special.  The wide-body fenders, that STI wing, the Cherry Blossom Red logo in the grille, and then I thought "man, those fog light covers are pretty cool."  I started to think about their distinctive shape.  For a detail nut, things like "" are interesting to read up on... and I remembered this quote from their page.
"...the engineers’ passion for monozukuri (“the art of manufacturing”) and their idealism do not change so easily. Subaru cars, now and in the past, have been produced from this passion of our engineers. It’s the spirit of our predecessors who pioneered the way toward the originality with their passion for better products which makes today’s Subaru shine as one-of-a-kind in the industry."

Subaru only built 424 of the iconic 22Bs and it was designed to commemorate Subaru's 40th Anniversary as well as the third consecutive manufacturers' title for Subaru in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC).  As a celebration car...  it didn't seem too far fetched to me when I thought "those fog light covers sort of look like the Nakajima logo".  For those who don't know, Nakajima Aircraft Company was one of the 5 companies that were integrated into one company: Fuji Heavy Industries.  The Subaru logo is symbolic of those 5 companies (the 5 small stars) coming together in "unity", which is what the Pleiades Star Cluster represents.  So, to me, it makes perfect sense to see part of their aviation heritage with Nakajima become part of something as simple as a fog light cover on this iconic car.  The top, lower left, and lower right protrusions of the cover line up with the aircraft positions in the Nakajima Aircraft logo to form a sort of triangular-looking circle.

It wouldn't surprise me if these were legitimate design choices, though I have yet to find any sort of specific writing  or proof about the 22B and any connection it may have to one of the companies that made up FHI.  Regardless, there's no denying this is a fantastic machine that has built quite a following over the years.  I still see cues in the newer vehicles from the 22B... and for good reason.  Ask just about any Subaru Enthusiast what their favorite design is, and nearly everyone will at least include this car among the best (if not their favorite).  Every car review, walk-around, and opinion article out there will celebrate this car just as it celebrated Subaru's 40 years of automotive production.