The Project Car Salute

This was originally a post I made in the forums over at

I know we’ve all been there at one point; we hate our cars because it takes so much to turn it in to something that it’s not. We spend so much time, effort and money to replicate our favorite version Impreza, or make it our own, and all we get are headaches and empty bank accounts. The unexpected break downs, receiving the wrong parts, the bloody knuckles, the waiting for the container to arrive from Japan, the dirt and rust ridden undercarriage, the bolts that are so tight you’d swear someone welded them in place; it all takes a toll. Then there is the discouragement of those that bought faster, better engineered, newer Imprezas that always seem to pass us on the long straight at the track or squeeze out those extra tenths of a second while auto-crossing. “Those bastards! Once I swap my WRX/STI/RA motor I’ll be faster…”

We’ve all been there.

Some traded up because they’re sick of it or lost hope. One day it finally sunk in, despite the persistent resistance, “My RS/L/Brighton/Wagon/OBS is an inferior chassis.” Finally they succumb. “I’ll always love and miss my RS…,” they say, “…but a swap just wasn’t possible so I bought a WRX.” Threads like this pop up all the time and responses are mixed. Some look at it rationally and congratulate them on their new purchase while others label them as traitors, half joking but sometimes not. Despite the surprisingly successful “Fanboyism” thread there are still those that claim they’ll never sell, never leave the cult. They have pride that is easily mistaken as arrogance but they have the right! Their car paved the way for later models, for the WRC, made Subaru what it is today!

I am one of the forsaken.

The challenge and cost was too large for me. I wanted my car to be turbocharged. I wanted a stronger transmission. I wanted a quicker ratio steering rack. I wanted less compliant suspension bushings. I wanted larger sway bars. I wanted adjustable coilovers. The wants continued to build and so did the costs, to intimidating amounts. Then rationality set in. “Why should I spend all this money to make my intended econo-box as good as an STi?” That’s when my will was broken and hope was lost. That’s when I put my Impreza wagon up for sale.

Fast forward three months and there I am, a grin that looks to be splitting my face in half surfaces as I turn the key and start my new-to-me 2005 STi. The interior is ten times better! The sound of the exhaust is menacing! Good God, look at that hood scoop! It’s a sensory overload and I haven’t even let out the clutch and began moving. The initial drive signs the papers, finalizes the terms and agreement, stakes its claim; that face separating grin is here to stay. The ride is firm and tight like a car that is meant to be on a road course should feel. The handling is confidence inspiring to the point that I thought my chest was going to break the seat belt. Oh my, the power is orgasmic! “I’m glad I decided to upgrade.” I say, not knowing that I’d be sitting here three months later contemplating whether I should keep my beloved STi or go back to the will breaking, money draining, soul rending state of owning a project car that I thought was once a lost cause.

Everyone I talk to about this conundrum reacts the same way. “You just bought it!” “It’s everything you wanted!” “Tim, you make no sense.” I’ve heard it all before. The problem is that all the fun of the STi came too easily. I made a few phone calls and signed some paperwork and then it was all mine. That was it. I don’t appreciate the crisp steering as much as I would if I installed those Whiteline steering rack bushings myself. I’m not as proud of the instantaneous power as I would have been if I had spent hours upon hours merging wiring harnesses and finessing that beefy turbocharged 2.5L motor in to an empty engine bay. I don’t appreciate the years of engineering put in to this car, the time spent testing it off the beaten path as much as I should. I don’t appreciate the blood, sweat and tears put in to this car because they are not my own. As the saying goes, “Without the bitter the sweet ain’t as sweet.”

I am a DIY Guy that likes to do things the hard way.

I’ll end with a few encouraging words to those still struggling, those with their vision still vivid and full of hope. Don’t quit. Never stop. You are a unique breed that have band together here to share your knowledge, gather information, ask for help, and share your projects. Without you sites like this would diminish and the morale of the Subaru community surely would follow. You are the building blocks, the back bone of automotive enthusiasts and it should be known. You and your projects serve a higher purpose than only your personal enjoyment, they are inspiring. One day I will rejoin you with another project car of my own. Until then, I salute you.