Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Death of a Grinding Wheel

As I've been working on restoring the rear quarter panels on the RS Project Car, I noticed I'm going through these orange grinding wheels quite often!  The deeper I dig into this, the more rust I find... and the more I put these things to use!  Upon further inspection, the once-good drivers side has turned out to be almost as bad as the passenger side, so a good deal of cutting and grinding have gone into both sides to clear out the rust and junk that has collected over the years.  Many owners with older Subarus suffering from rear quarter panel rust may not realize just how far the rust spreads on these, as it's really only visible near the bumper line.  However, as these pictures show, it has extended all the way down to the bottom bumper clips and even into the wheel well.

The front end should be going back together before the weekend is here.  Then, on Saturday, new metal will start getting welded in.  If it takes longer than anticipated, there's additional time in the weeks to come.  Plus, they'll be getting repainted too, so it'll be a little longer before those are 100% squared away.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

RS Revival - The Good, the Bad, and the Rusted

A few friends stopped by to help tear apart the RS today.  Ironically, both are same-year Imprezas only in the Sedan and Wagon bodystyles... so we actually had all 3 types present!  Only trouble was that the Coupe was in pretty bad shape, so I managed to take a picture of one of the few bits that WASN'T torn apart before they left.  You can at least tell it's a coupe from the wing, right?

Today's work revolved around body issues.  We removed both bumpers and got a feel for just how much work the rear quarter panels were going to be.

It's bad.  Much worse than I had anticipated.  The rear passenger quarter panel was practically disintegrating as we took the bumper off.  Water had obviously been getting in here for quite a long time, as it managed to separate the fender well with the rear quarter panel from the top all the way down... and then some.

The other side actually isn't as bad, but both will certainly need new metal welded in.  There's some minor surface rust elsewhere on the bumpers (front and rear) so that's not a huge issue.  With the bumpers off, it means we can also finally repaint the front bumper too!  I had originally planned on nabbing some Fog Light covers to complete the "Version 6 STi" look, but all of a sudden, they seem scarce to come by online.  I may just skip that bit, as it's not crucial to have them.

It's gonna take a little more work than I had anticipated, but we've come this far so there's no use giving up now!

I'm working on the front and back of the car at the same time, but there's much less work to do up front.  As things progress, the car will eventually be completed from the front on backwards, but it'll be driveable this whole time.  Trips between my garage, the shop, and other places I'm getting help from are still possible, so it's nice not to need a tow!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Subaru wins at my Home

I've lived in Nebraska for awhile now, but I still consider my "home" where I grew up and where most of my family lives.  So when the RallyAmerica National Championship added the Mount Washington Climb to the Clouds event to their schedule, I got a little excited.  The Auto Road climbing to the peak of Mount Washington is home to one of the oldest motorspot events in the United States, but it also takes place in the heart of my childhood: New Hampshire.

Earlier, David Higgins set off through that winding road setting a record that would be tough to beat.  Travis Pastrana had set a record just before David... so both are now nipping at the heels of their previous success.  Mix in the fact that the record was set with a lighter, less restrictive class car... and this year's event made for a harrowing challenge to the returning record-holder.  Teams scaled the mountain all weekend making passes and attempts on this dangerous road, gaining points in this special round of the RallyAmerica series.  In the end, David somehow managed to beat his previous record to win the event and leave a new number to beat.  6 Minutes, 11.5 Seconds. This week's episode of Launch Control covers this event, but there's another win for Subaru Rally Team USA that hits home again!

The New England Forest Rally puts Subaru in my neck-of-the-woods and adds to their victorious tour of the area.  A 1st Place win for Higgins/Drew and a 2nd Place finish for Pastrana/Beavis secured more than just top points for the team.  This win mathematically locks Higgins as the RallyAmerica Champion for the 2014 season, as well as the Manufacturers Title for Subaru.

These events tease the fact that I've still never had the pleasure of driving a Subaru in New England before.  Memories of my parents driving my sister and I through Franconia Notch to see the Old Man of the Mountain, going hiking through the mountains, taking a quick swim in a cold stream of runoff water, and watching the cars drive up Mt Washington as we ascended it by means of the Cog Railway, they're all wonderful times.  I can't help but think that now, with my newfound love in Subaru, that visiting those familiar mountains would be an awesome combination.  Not even to race or anything competitive, but just to take those roads places I haven't found yet.  These cars just bring out the adventurer in me, so it'd be fun to put those two bits together.  Maybe I'll even manage to drive up the Auto Road that Pastrana and Higgins battled on!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Christmas STIs ordered in July

Working at a Subaru Dealership, I am asked on a daily basis "Do you have any 2015 WRXs or STIs?"  At this rate, I should have a rehearsed response for this, as it'll likely be the same until the 2016 models come out.  Why?  Because this vehicle is in such high demand that every inbound rally-bred unit is a customer-ordered vehicle now.  As of this post, eight AWD Rocketships will find their way to our dealership and go to their respective homes... but those won't all be here tomorrow.  Some of these orders were placed in June or July and they aren't expected to arrive until November and December.

Customers often ask to "look at one", but there's a better chance of seeing one out on the road than at a dealership right now.  The closest one to Omaha (where I work) is in Wichita, KS.  It's the ONLY one in a 5-state area (NE, IA, SD, MO, SD).  This varies from region to region, but WRX demand has always been high... and there never seems to be enough allocated to dealerships to keep up.  And yet, all you read are great articles and reviews and head-to-head competitions in magazines and online.  With all that exciting information, demand has never been higher for this car... but there's little-to-no information out there regarding how difficult it is to get these cars.  Diehard fans and new interests alike come in droves to dealerships hoping to roll off the lot with these cars who are quickly disappointed to find that they're nearly half a year out-of-reach.

With demand still high and orders getting placed every week, it's only a matter of time before Subaru puts a stop to orders for the 2015 model.  If a car ordered in July will be here in December, it's likely that the cutoff point will be in October at the latest, as orders taken past that point would already be into the 2016 model year.  This means that prospective owners will have a tough time between Fall of 2014 and Spring of 2015 finding either the WRX or WRX STI as they won't be able to order one and all of the inbound units are sold orders from the summer.

On the flip-side, if you're a 2015 WRX or WRX STI owner and you're not as attached to your car as you thought you'd be, you can probably make every penny you spent on your car BACK by privately selling it now... and then some.  Of course, every owner I've talked with absolutely loves their car, so I doubt that will be happening much!

No hatchback model?  "Looks like an Evo X"?  It doesn't seem to be negatively effecting the demand for the latest WRX.

Monday, July 21, 2014

"The Subaru Wave"

When I first got my Subaru in 2012, I was immediately told by fellow enthusiasts to wave at other Subarus on the road.  The "Subaru Wave" seemed like a great random act of camaraderie between all owners, especially to someone new like I was.  Shortly thereafter, I learned that not all Subaru owners wave back... or even notice!  Unless I was at a meet or I personally knew the owner of that car, the "Subaru Wave" seemed like more of an ideal than something that was actually practiced.

Nearly every forum, website, blog, subreddit, or social media outlet for Subaru enthusiasts has a handful of "I waved to a (insert name and detailed description of a Subaru) and didn't get a wave back!" posts noting this.  There are entire threads on NASIOC devoted to "The Subaru Wave".  From detailed rules about how to wave to general complaints that no-one waves back, it seems like there's an awful lot of owners who at least know about the wave, but likely have given up due to the growing lack of reception from fellow owners.

Aside from enthusiasts in WRXs and STIs, there's not many owners who know, or even care to know, about this gesture.  It's not the end of the world, but really just part of what happens with a growing brand like Subaru, as things are no longer like they were with the tight-knit community before.  You can still find this camraderie at Subaru meets and events, but there's something special about getting a wave, still.  It happens when you're out and about on a bland commute to work that you've driven at the same time every day for eons.  Then a random '02 WRX Sedan rolls up that you don't recognize to throw you a wave.  In moments like that, "The Subaru Wave" has somehow managed to retain it's charm... that it's not something you get every day.  It becomes a sign of the enthusiast who hasn't forgotten.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Pint-Sized Viking Warrior

IMG_2594Earlier this year, I reported on a special run of HPI Racing Micro RS4 RC Cars of Sverre Isachsen's and Bucky Lasek's 2013 GRC cars.  Well, one has arrived at my doorstep (finally!) so I had to take it out and get some pictures of this fun little car!  I went for Sverre's car simply because A: he won more events last year and B: I'm a sucker for Blue.

While I haven't tried it out on any dirt, this car is impressively quick on concrete.  On top of that, it's surprisingly durable, especially considering my n00b-tastic RC driving skills.

From what I can tell, the Subaru/Puma partnership for their GRC team has switched over to purely a Subaru-sponsored team for the 2014 season, so it's nice to have a little slice of Zombie Cat history before they split up.  I only wish they made more of these WRX STI bodies.  They are featured on HPI Racing's website, but as far as I can tell, these aren't available for public purchase.  I managed to nab mine through a limited run offered through Subaru, so I'm pretty happy I did!

This car is really fun to drive and there's tune-up parts to modify the chassis, too.  I'll probably just keep it stock and tool around with it at local Subaru meets.

Hopefully these aren't the last of the Subaru designs for HPI, as it'd be great to see the new '15 design or even other variations of this design to drive alongside with!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

'15 Legacy and Outback Details

The next generation of the Subaru Legacy and Outback are making their way onto dealership lots this summer and there have been some subtle differences I've enjoyed noticing between them.  Below are attached photos of all three 2015 Subaru Legacy trim levels including the 2.5i, Premium, and Limited.  The changes are similar on the Legacy's sister: the Outback.  I was fortunate enough to line all three Legacy models up in the same color: Ice Silver Metallic, so the changes are more obvious to identify.  The easiest external giveaways to spot are as such:

2.5i (Base Model) - Black Grille, no fog lights, black side mirrors, hubcaps on 17" Steel Wheels
2.5i Premium - Matte Silver Grille, no fog lights, Body-colored Side Mirrors, 17" Alloy Wheels
2.5i/3.6R Limited - Matte Silver Grille, fog lights, Side Mirror Markers, 18" Alloy Wheels


More pictures of these three can be found in this Flickr Album> 2015 Subaru Legacy / Outback

IMG_2513I also took some photos comparing the 2014 and 2015 Outback, both in Venetian Red Pearl, to outline the differences.  There are obvious changes, but these photos are lined up so the subtle adjustments can be more noticeable.  Pictures of the front and rear end, side, and wheels illustrate where body lines have shifted but also how the overall shape has remained mostly the same.

Again, those photos can be found in this album>  2015 Subaru Legacy / Outback

At first, I wasn't sure what I'd think of these changes to the Outback and Legacy.  After seeing these in person, and seeing them alongside their predecessors, I'm becoming quite fond of the changes.  Much like the new WRX design, I think seeing these models in person is important to get a feel for them.  Not everyone will like the adjustments in the design, but you can't please everyone!  However, the general reception I've seen from customers who have looked at them here on our lot are impressed not only with how they look, but how they feel out on the road.  It's another great step forward for Subaru in my opinion.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Addressing the Holiness

Maybe it's ironic that someone who goes by the name of "The Reverend" is working on a Holy car.  Holes in the rear quarter panels, in the floor, and just general rust problems on the car make any religious joke easy.

To start working on the good, the bad has to come out first.  I removed the carpet and started going through the car to clean up pretty much every bit I could.  I was worried that the rust problems weren't just limited to that spot on the inside.  It was also possible that they could have made their way to essential parts of the unibody, but it appears to be limited to this one spot in the floor and then the other bits of the body panels.  Plans to patch-weld in new metal are in the works and soon they'll be repaired, recoated and repainted.

In the meantime, I've managed to use an old license plate as a makeshift cover for the hole on the inside.  The duct tape seal around it isn't the most glamorous fix, but it gets the job done until repairs can be made.