What Was I Driving Nearly 20 Years Ago?

As with everything in life we often look back at yesteryear and it was only a couple of days ago I was sitting in the chair at the barbers and chatting away with the young 19 year old cutting my hair. 

He is the next generation of petrolheads. The first question he asked was “do you like cars”, to which I replied “yes”. His answer was a huge smile and the word “sick” which I now know means he wasn’t about to throw up on my head but was overjoyed I shared his passion. 

We got talking about cars more and more as my haircut progressed and it was clear to see he had a huge admiration for Japanese cars which he asked if I had ever owned one?

I have and it was one of the cars I remember well and cherished my time with. I still look at them from time to time in the classifieds and think should I have another? 

The car in question is the Subaru Impreza WRX in what is known as the “classic” shape.  Mine was a 1994 (L) saloon in red, originally designed for the Japanese domestic market (JDM) and imported to the UK around 1997. 

There were a couple of reasons I wanted an import and I can assure you it wasn’t for the insurance premium!! 

They were better equipped than their UK counterparts. BHP was increased over a UK spec, it had climate control that was not available in the UK at the time and other little touches such as a rear wiper (through the glass), aluminium bonnet along with some other creature comforts that have escaped me over the years. 

I knew the car also which I think when looking at performance vehicles does help. The owner before me was a mechanic and a colleague of mine. The vehicle was exceptionally well looked after by him and it had produced little to no faults in his ownership experience.

Back in 2001, everyone pining for a Subaru was focused on blue with gold wheels and I wanted something a little different to everyone else. I also happen to love a red car so this was perfect for me!

Eventually my colleague and friend said he was thinking of selling his car, I gave some interest to this and really started to consider buying the vehicle. A big concern for me was I was 21 years old and with most friends driving 1.3 Vauxhall Nova’s and moaning about insurance costs was I going to be able to afford to insure a 2.0 turbo, imported vehicle? 

As with most things in my life I went ahead and purchased the car for the sum of £6000  with an “it will be ok” attitude, leaving any later concern over insurance for another day. 

When it was dropped off at my house (or parents house as it was back then) it looked amazing! It had gold 16” Speedline wheels on it which I later had sprayed white. 

A large rear spoiler was present on the boot lid as you’d expect of this vehicle type and big bucket seats that filled the cabin gloriously. 

It had a couple of other bits fitted such as a top of the range (for the time) Clifford alarm with remote start and remote switch off.  An aftermarket dump valve was also fitted to the vehicles. 

The boot lid had the “Subaru” badge across the centre which wasn’t usually applied to imported WRX models. 

The sill covers had additional caps at each end which was a rare sight then and even rarer today! 

To tackle the insurance I had to install what was a fairly new device back then but is very common today in performance cars and that was a tracker. With this device being quite new on the market it cost £1,500 to buy and install which is a lot compared with today’s prices. 

With the tracker installed I could now get a policy through Tesco, this was the same price as the tracker which wasn’t great for my wallet but I was 21 years old and road legal with a 265bhp Subaru Impreza! 

The car was pretty for its time and being early 2000’s the cars were extremely well known from the world rally stages it was winning frequently under the driving of Colin McRae. 

It drove fantastically. The local Suffolk back roads were made for this car. It was fast paced getting from one corner to the next, steering was tight and the power planted through the 4WD system which provided fantastic grip when you needed it most. A great car for all weather driving too. Multiple hours of fun were had in every weather condition thrown at me.

It wasn’t overly pleasant when above 100mph (on private roads of course), the pillarless doors would see dramatic wind noise to the cabin and I was also told that the bonnet scoop at this pace was not effective and pushing air over the intercooler located on top of the engine rather than in to it.

It would get noticed everywhere, I wont lie in that the exhaust noise also had a lot to do with that bit. These cars sound phenomenal. The four cylinder boxer engine has its own distinctive sound. 

Whilst in my possession I changed a few things and a few things happened. 

The exhaust was upgraded further to give more noise and better flow.

I installed my own stereo into it to provide every young man’s wish of window shattering basslines.  At one point I even installed a fully operational desktop PC! 

A second set of wheels was purchased and these were simply swapped as and when my mood changed. 

No mechanical breakdown occurred during my ownership, I took the car all over the country. I enjoyed meeting with other Subaru enthusiasts local to me. 

I replaced the battery and serviced the car regularly during my ownership and it behaved perfectly. 

During my time with it I went to Australia for six months and left it in the care of my parents, my dad worked around 25 miles away at the time and would take it once or twice a week to work with him. 

After the first time he did this I remember him telling me how “bloody quick” it was and I could see his smile from ten thousand miles away. 

One negative of the ownership was someone attempted to break in to the car, they did not succeed but did damage some paintwork on the drivers door which I had to have rectified. As a daily driver this left me cautious of where I’d leave it where as before I had not considered this. 

All in all it was a really good experience and one I would love to re-live today. 

There was a couple of hairy moments over my time with it, as with any fast car it presents risks and young drivers take risks through in-experience and sometimes this doesn’t end as hoped.

I won’t go into my particular moments as whilst I might be 40 later this year, my dad reads these blogs! 

There are loads of stories I could tell regarding this car, any friends reading this I am sure will have their own memories too.

For me, it was a lovely car to own at a reasonably young age even more so considering I didn’t pass my test until the age of 20. 

The car was driven to an inch of its life for the majority of my time with it, eventually I decided to follow my dream of owning a BMW M3 E36 Coupe and the Subaru made way for this after a fun and action packed two and a half years together. 

Would I have another? You bet I would….. 

Peace and Love

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