My Subaru ownership history started back in 2005 when I purchased a '00 2.5RS.
This is the first car I really got in to autox with. I was an active member in the Western Texas SCCA region for two seasons and enjoyed the hell out of it. I improved exponentially and made some good friends along the way. I later sold it to a good friend of mine after deciding to enlist in the military. Fast forward to '07 and hop over the pond to Germany, where I bought my second Subaru, a Euro-spec '96 GL wagon A.K.A. The Radio Flyer.
TRF was my daily driver right up until I imported a US-spec '05 STi.
Owning an STi and living less than two hours away from the Nurburgring had its perks
I ended up selling both a year or so later with impending orders to return state-side, then I started looking online for another Subaru that would be my DD...
I found a white '94 AWD L with a manual transmission (lightest AWD Impreza ever made with a curb weight of ~2,500lbs.) on Autotrader at a used car dealership local to my parents.
I had a friend (a rotary loving, AE86 driving mechanic to put it nicely) look the car over and although he's rough around the edges he checked out. Yes, my Impreza is a he. Let me explain...
I love older cars. Not a particular manufacturer or niche, just as long as they're old. I also form emotional and tangible bonds with cars, as silly as that sounds. I like to think that cars have souls and emotions although I know they don't. I can't get in touch with said inanimate qualities until the car has proven itself, hence the reason my old GL had a nick name and neither my RS nor STi did.
Sure, they were great cars and never let me down, but they never did anything amazing or lead me on an adventure. The Radio Flyer took me to my first WRC event and I slept in the back of that wagon for three nights while I soaked up the Impreza's roots. The STi took me around the Nurburgring dozens of times and over 150 mph on an unrestricted section of an Autobahn but, in all honesty, it felt pretty standard. Hermes proved his worth over a two-and-a-half day death march from Northern Nevada to Missouri, a 1,800 mile excursion made ten times more horrible by one of Subaru's nifty weight-saving ideas; no air conditioning. That's right, I spent over 24 hours piloting a beat-up Impreza through the deserts of Nevada, Utah, and Colorado straight through the humid region of hell, balls deep in sweat, literally. To make things even more interesting my mechanic friend didn't approve of the road trip due to reliability concerns after discovering low compression in the stock EJ18 that had already covered 222,000 miles. We proved him wrong and I couldn't have been more proud
So, marking the event of this car proving its worth as well as my longest solo road trip he received the name Hermes, the protector of travelers.
Here are a few random pictures from the trip:
Day 1: 0600, ready to depart my parent's house in Carson City Nevada.
Nevada's seemingly endless desert
Somewhere in Utah, post nap and first major stop.
Then I didn't care to stop in Colorado or Kansas because it was so damn hot. No matter, we made it with zero problems.
Only a few of you really know me, so I’m going to fill the rest of you in on something. I’m incredibly indecisive when it comes to cars. I have a medulla badidea but acting upon it takes great strength on my part. I recently sold my project Spec E30 which leaves me with Hermes as my one and only car. Watching the E30 fade off in to the distance on the back of some guy’s trailer brought this crystallizing moment where I decided I’m going to act on behalf of my non-conventional judgment and try out some of these ideas I had when I first bought Hermes.
First up, the Colin Chapman treatment, or at least phase one of it.
Colin Chapman was the founder of Lotus, one of, if not the coolest car manufacturers to date. His philosophy was simple and perfectly summed up in this timeless quote of his, “Simplify and add lightness.” Sure he also said “Any car which holds together for a whole race is too heavy". But his team also went on to win the Indianapolis 500, seven Formula One constructors’ titles, and six drivers’ championships all in a matter of 16 years. If that’s not impressive, what I’m attempting here won’t woo you one bit.
As I mentioned in the intro to my member’s journal, Hermes weighed 2,500 lbs from the factory, which is the lightest AWD Impreza to date. He has power nothing, no fancy traction control, no 27 speaker sound system, he’s a true featherweight. (He’s not a bantamweight because the early FWD models were lighter, and technically Imprezas, but we all know better…) So, we’re already off to a good start in the weight department. As you can see, I’ve already installed an early JDM version bumper skin, and as most of you know, the USDM bumper beam cannot be used with this skin. The USDM bumper beam is really heavy and with good reason. I did away with it knowing well and good the risk I was taking. I wish I would have weighed it before junking it, but there are numbers floating around the forums of the USDM bumper beam weighing around 40 lbs, whereas its’ JDM counterpart weighs a scant 7 lbs.
Since this is my daily driver and will continue to be a street car I have to make it tolerable to drive. However, I needed to drop a significant amount of weight. A combination of a weight loss, a gross interior, and common forum hear-say led me to a no-cost weight reduction exercise; stripping the interior. I drove a stripped BMW E30 for a while and it really wasn’t that bad, especially when I had music to drown out the increase in road noise, so I knew what I was getting myself in to. Since I started in the afternoon and I wasn’t literally ripping the interior out I only go about ¾ of the interior removed. Basically, from the front seats to the rear bumper is now stripped. For comparison’s sake I took decibel readings before and after at both idle and 60 mph on a rough road. The results may surprise you...
I used an iPhone application called Decibel for a sound measuring tool. The iPhone's mic maxes out at 105 dB but I'm concerned with the average, which is the center number that appears lighter than the others.
Full interior at idle: 61 dB
Full interior at 60 mph: 85 dB
3/4 stripped interior at idle: 61 dB
3/4 stripped interior at 60 mph: 87 dB
For visual reference, the interior looks like this...
After testing I went to weigh my car again with a half tank of gas (about 42 lbs.) and Hermes now weighs 2,530 lbs wet.
The sound deadening was removed, and a grey interior conversion began.