Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Winter Mode: Hyper Blue STI

Sure, I've got two Subarus so I could technically leave my STI in the garage all winter... but what's the fun in that?  As such, I've upgraded my winter wheels for this season and I'm pretty stoked with how things turned out with this setup.  I've got Method 501 Rally Wheels with Michelin Pilot Super Sports for the summer and now Method 502 Rally Wheels with General Altimax Arctic winter tires for the snowy winter months!

While my summer wheels are 18s, these are 17s.  I figured more sidewall wouldn't be a bad idea and they clear my Brembo brake calipers perfectly.  The dimensions are 17x8 with +38 Offset so these Method Rally Wheels fill out the wheel wells nicely.  These include a hub ring for Subaru fitment (56.1mm hubs) just like the other Method 501s I have for summer.

The General Arctic Altimax winter tires have served me well before on other cars, so I lucked out when I found a set that had hardly been used.  This tire and wheel combo will not only serve me well in the wintertime with the STI, but also be a great set to use when I play in the dirt with the NRSCCA Rallycross program.  I plan on using this car more for racing in the coming season but I didn't want to scale down my brake calipers to fit 15" rally wheels and tires.  Winter tires seem to do well in rallycross competition, so we'll see how these do!

Overall I'm really happy with the setup and how it looks!  Now we just need some snow to play in and some rallycross events to enjoy!



Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Why did Subaru stop making the Baja? - Video

Since I purchased my '06 Baja Turbo last month, I've been getting all kinds of questions about it.  Some people didn't know Subaru built this thing in the first plac, but the majority of the questions ask "Why don't they make the Subaru Baja anymore?"  I kind of assumed it just didn't sell well, but I wanted to know more myself.

After some digging, I found a laundry list of things plaguing the Baja's lifespan from start to finish.  It was interesting enough to me to learn how things played out that I wanted to share it, so here's an explanation of how things went for the short life of the Subaru Baja.  Feel free to chime in if I missed anything!

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Baja Blast: First Fixins


I've had this '06 Baja Turbo long enough to put plates on it, so I've been fixin things as I go.  Getting it safe, running right, and cleaned up has been my priority before I start having fun with modifications.  Right off the bat, there were 3 things that needed to get tackled.

Even before I could start to fix a few mechanical problems, this Baja needed a bath inside and out!  Years of dirt and grime caked the interior and exterior.  A good scrubbing and power wash got most of the outside done, but inside was a different story.  Carpet treatment, an air system flush and two "Chlorine bombs" got the cabin air breathable while the dash, door cards, and seats got the scrubbing of their life.  I wish I had taken a photo of the interior before I started, but it took me a whole two days to get it looking like this.

To be safe to drive around town the tires, brake pads, and brake rotors needed to be changed next.  While we had the wheels off to change out rotors and pads, I swapped on a set of 2016 Subaru Crosstrek wheels with winter tires on 'em.  They look great and will get me through the snowy months ahead!  Some of the bolts on the brake calipers were rusted stuck so we had to use some heat to break 'em free.  After new brake fluid and OEM Rotors and Pads, the Baja can now stop all 3,600 lbs of itself easily.

Now that the Baja can stop and I can breathe in it, the last major bit to tackle was under the hood.  It didn't take long to notice the radiator was starting to leak.  Signs of coolant sprayed under the hood tipped me off at first, but it became obvious that the problem was worsening quickly when the temperature spiked after a simple 15 minute trip.  We replaced the leaky radiator along with the upper and lower coolant hoses with OEM Subaru parts and filled it up with fresh coolant.  Haven't seen an issue since!

It's not the most exciting work, but it's important to get it running right before I start digging in with modifications and changes.  The suspension still needs work, but instead of straight replacing it, I'm considering a lift kit of sorts.  Now that the basics are taken care of, I can actually start planning that stuff out.  Stay tuned!

Friday, October 27, 2017

RS Finds a New Home

Sometimes when you buy a car you think "Man, I'm gonna keep this forever and never let it go".  That was the case for my 1999 Subaru Impreza 2.5 RS.  I remember picking it up in Detroit Lakes Minnesota after it had made the 22-hour journey from Washington State by way of Tino Fortunato and his All Fours Rally Team and thinking that very thing.  One year later and the story has changed all over again, but I think it's the right move.

A few weeks ago, the Subaru Stars aligned in a very odd way.  A good friend of mine had been in an accident with his older Legacy and insurance had totaled it.  He was looking for a car to replace it and I knew of a 2006 Subaru Baja Turbo that had just been traded in to the Subaru retailer that I work at.  When I mentioned it to him, he said "if I were to buy anything from ya, I'd want that RS."  That got me thinking.

When I bought my 2016 WRX STI two years ago, I've pretty much had two of the same kind of car.  Both my 2.5 RS and my STI were manual transmission sports cars, neither of which my wife could drive.  Neither really worked well to go run errands with or load stuff into and, if I ever needed to steal my wife's Forester to pick up something too big for my cars, she'd be stuck at home with two cars she couldn't drive.  So when he asked about buying my RS, things started to make sense.  Adding an automatic Baja to our Subaru family would still be fun to drive but be more practical to work with.  Plus, of the short list of people I would ever trust this gem-of-a RS with, he'd be one of them.

While I loved driving the RS everywhere, I knew it was the right thing to do and that he was the right person to own it.  We figured stuff out pretty easily and, after I had fixed a few things I hadn't had time to tackle yet, he brought the family over to take it home.  It made me proud that my mentor and friend was so excited to get into a Impreza RS like the one he had owned before, and even more proud to know that maybe the next generation will get to enjoy this Subaru classic.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Meet the Baja Blast!

I recently found a 2006 Subaru Baja Turbo that was in need of some TLC.  With the body in good shape, an accident-free title, and an affordable price, I managed to make it mine.  This one is an Automatic with a 2.5 liter Turbocharged Boxer and 114,000 miles on the clock.  The interior was really dirty and the drivers seat leather was torn, but after some serious cleaning, I got it back in good shape.  It needs some mechanical love but will be great once it's all caught up.  To get it, I had to sell my 1999 Subaru Impreza 2.5 RS Coupe, but it went to a good home and I'm excited to now have a fun AND functional car.  

There's a laundry-list of things I need to repair and replace to get it running right.  The brake pads, brake rotors, shocks, suspension bushings, and endlinks were all pretty shot so I've been going through those to fix em.  As with any vehicle that has lived it's life in Nebraska, the salted winter roads have not been kind to these components and some of the bolts have been troublesome to remove.  Still, I've been making good progress with these items and should have it riding right pretty soon.

Once I'm done getting the "Baja Blast" up to speed, I'll hopefully have a better idea of which direction to go with this in terms of modifications.  I think I've at least settled on the idea of not going any lower than stock ride-height, as I do like the 8.4 inches of Ground Clearance on this.  I've never had a tall Subaru before, so the idea of going off-road and having fun where my 2016 WRX STI can't go.  Light bars, lift kits, knobby tires, there's a lot to consider in this realm.  

It's nice having two different spectrums of Subaru-ness at my disposal.  The WRX STI is great on pavement and has a good time on dirt for Rallycross.  Plus I get my manual transmission fix with it and a good amount of power.  The Baja is a Blast in it's own way, giving me good ground clearance and hauling capacity while still delivering fun with it's turbocharged engine.  I feel like it's a good mix and look forward to enjoying both ends of the spectrum with these two.


Sunday, September 3, 2017

Driving Music - Soundtrack of Speed

Long before I was hooked on Subarus, I was hooked on Music.  As such, whenever I have a long stretch of fun roads ahead, having a "soundtrack" to go along with it has been a must.  Especially after watching motoring shows, having the right tunes is key for my personal driving enjoyment.  Over several years my music library has been steadily growing and I've managed to make a few playlists of different genres of music to fit my mood every time I go out for a spin.  As I prepare to head north for the final round of the ARA National Championship, my trusty iPod is loaded up with the music that drives me.  Below are a few samples of what I listen to when I'm on the road!

Saturday, September 2, 2017

ARA - Onwards and Upwards

The newly formed American Rally Association just finished up their inaugural 2017 season at the Ojibwe Forests Rally.  6 National Championship events built a short, yet exciting season for the upstart ARA.  With a down-to-the-line championship between the #199 Subaru of Travis Pastrana and co-driver Robbie Durant and the #75 Subaru of David Higgins and co-driver Craig Drew finishing out the rollercoaster season, the ARA certainly had highlights throughout the season to talk about.

Instead of resting on their laurels of the past season, the ARA went onwards and upwards just one day after the last event of the season, outlining plans for expansion of their National Championship for 2018 as well as the addition of Regional Rally events on the eastern and western coast of the United States.  In total, the National Championship for the American Rally Association will feature 7 races.  5 of the events we already know from the 2017 rally.  The 6th will add the Idaho Rally in September, and a 7th will be announced at a later date.  Here's the 2018 ARA Calendar as it sits currently.

National Championship

  • Oregon Trail Rally April 20th - 22nd
  • Olympus Rally May May 19th -20th
  • STPR June 1st -2nd
  • New England Forest Rally July 20th - 21th
  • Ojibwe Forests Rally August 24th - 25th
  • Idaho Rally Sept 14th - 15th
  • 7th Event TBA


Junior Championship

  • Oregon Trail Rally April 20th - 22nd
  • Olympus Rally May May 19th -20th
  • STPR June 1st -2nd
  • New England Forest Rally July 20th - 21th
  • Ojibwe Forests Rally August 24th - 25th


Keep an eye out for future announcements as the 2018 Season Approaches!