Wednesday, January 13, 2016

2-week Garage Queen

All I could think about when I got behind the wheel of my first Subaru was "I get to be a rally car driver now!"  And while you would hardly think a base-model Impreza Hatchback with a CVT would be able to do that, or not be the best candidate to do so, the mere thought of it made me smile ear-to-ear.  However, when I approached the first gravel road this then-new 2012 econbox had ever seen... I got cold feet.  A brand new car getting dirty, dinged up, and driven to the limits didn't seem like a good idea.

I drove the car for about a month or so before I worked up the courage to go adventuring on some back roads.  When I finally did "pop the cherry" on my Hatchback, there was no turning back after that.  I continued to seek out turn-laden gravel roads and S-Turns in the dirt with it.  Even after I purchased my '00 Impreza Coupe rallycross project car, which was admittedly more fun than my traction control nannies in the '12 Impreza, I still managed to go have fun on my local Welsh rally stages.  It seemed the "garage queen" bug would never hit me again.

Fast forward 3 years from then to October of 2015.  I was holding off replacing my beloved Hatchback until Subaru made one in a turbocharged format again.  My exact criteria for replacing my adventuremobile was another hatchback, for it to be a WRX instead of a WRX STI so the ride quality and gas mileage would be better with the new FA20 DIT, and for it to be silver so as to not attract trouble.  So what did I do?  I went weak at the knees for a 2016 Subaru WRX STI Series.HyperBlue.  Sedan, not a hatch.  Dinosaur EJ25 under the hood instead of the new FA20.  Bright "Grabber Polestar" blue.  Not only did I break every rule I had just made about replacing my hatchback... but I was faced with a bigger problem: being a garage queen.

For those who don't know, a Garage Queen is a rarely driven car that is in mint or near mint condition, is only driven in fair weather (no rain/snow), and is kept in the garage.  With only 700 Series.Hyper Blue WRX STIs in existence in the United States (that's only 14 per state), it's a bit of a rare bird.  Couple that with summer performance tires limiting this car right off the showroom, and it's hard NOT to think about this being a garage queen.  So that's what I started to do.  When it rained, or snowed, or was too cold out for the factory summer tires, or when there was any sort of chemical deicing treatment on the roads, this bluebaru remained in my garage.  I simply drove my Rallycross car when conditions were too threatening to the well-being of this piece of Subaru history.
From December 23rd to January 7th, it remained in the garage.  Then I picked up some used BBS wheels, mounted all-season tires to 'em, fixed some urethane mudflaps, and rolled it out onto Nebraska's Winter Roads laden with ice, snow, and salt.  I had a few people say "I thought it was supposed to be a garage queen".  I can't do it.  Not completely, at least!  I'll still wash it and take care of it and worry about parking locations and freak out if there's hail in the forecast... but Subaru Tecnica International didn't go through the trouble of tuning this WRX for it to be a museum piece.  I've never been able to even purchase a Hot Wheels toy car without being driven to madness by trying to keep it "Mint in Box".  It has to be taken out and played with, even if just for a moment.  This one, this WRX STI, needs to be driven and enjoyed.

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