My more religious followers (a list of which consists solely of my wife and my brother) may read that title and say “Hey, Bill, where did you learn to count! You skipped the third car!” The simple response to that is that my purchase, ownership, and sale of this car occurred while the third car was still in my possession.
Car four came about when I overheard our sales manager having a conversation with another co-worker. That co-worker’s nephew was getting ready to move across the country and wanted to sell his car before he left. This isn’t an entirely uncommon conversation so I didn’t think much of it until the details of the car started to emerge. This is Vermont, so, obviously we’re talking about a Subaru. When the asking price came about I almost immediately raised my hand - I’m in. I begged for permission from my wife in a “I know you won’t like what I want to do, but, thank you for letting me do it anyway” fashion.
I’ve learned some lessons from the previous cars. First - have it checked out. The owner met me at work and we put it up on the lift, then I took it for a drive. Everything seemed fine. Next, research and questions: We know a thing or two about Subaru’s here in the Green Mountain State. First and foremost is the head gasket: It’s less of an issue on the WRX’s, so I’m not going to worry about it. Timing belt and related: hasn’t been done - but, at the asking price, that’s okay. Exhaust was billed as “a little loud” - which in WRX parlance means that it’ll only wake the dead inside a 150’ radius rather than the 300’ one. He said he still had the original and would include it, so I would be able do something about that too. The summer tires are shot, but the winter tires were mounted and ready to go (it was February after all). There are some other things here and there, and it does have 105k miles on it, but it’s still a 2011 WRX for $9,000 - I’m sure it’ll be okay. Pretty sure. Please?
Step one: Get the car inspected. This is no longer easy to do in Vermont. When the catalytic converter is in the passenger seat and the tire pressure sensors attached to the wheels in the trunk instead of the ones mounted on the car, it makes it even harder. Ohh yeah, and the tires on the wheels with the sensors are what one might call “in pieces”. So the car stayed put until the new tires were mounted. When they arrived we added rear pads and rotors to the mix as well since they were, while not “in pieces” like the tires, definitely “past due”. With the new tires and brakes installed the car gets a nice shiny new sticker and the super sticky summer tires were then promptly removed because, well, it was still February...in Vermont.
Step two: Preventative Maintenance: The car then goes to another shop who more regularly services Subarus. The timing belt is replaced and at the same time we did a fresh oil change, water pump, serpentine belt, pulleys, and spark plugs. It also received a little TLC in the form of a front bumper cover repair and a few paint chips were taken care of.
Step three: Shut it up. It’s not the loudest Subaru in town - or even on my street - but it drones on the highway and I would like to be able to drive it to my in-laws house without being embarrassed. So, something needed to be done. The previous owner had put a full Invidia turbo-back, catless exhaust system on it, a cold air intake and then had it tuned by a shop in Lake Placid, NY. When it came time to quiet it down, I decided to go with the same shop since they had a good reputation and knew the car already. We decided that in order to keep most of the additional power the car was making, quiet it down, AND make it legal, to go with a Cobb catted downpipe and then use the OEM exhaust from there back. With all that completed, the car was tuned to compensate for the new exhaust. It was now putting out 266hp and 308tq at the wheels. This was a decrease of 10hp and 2tq. As a guy who has to at least occasionally come across as quiet and respectful, the difference in noise was worth the small change in power. On the plus side, the power comes on extremely strong at very low revs. There is some lag, but, after a mere moment the turbo is spooled up and then the car pulls away like it’s being shot from an air cannon. In any gear, at any time, you just put your foot down and it’ll feel like anything without a Mclaren badge will be left in the dust. Just ask my father-in-law. He went for one short ride in it and I don’t think he’ll ever mock a 4-cylinder car again. Also, the cabin air filter was a tad dirty, so, they got that out of the way too
Step four: Now that all the important stuff was done, it was down to all the little shit. This added up to a coil to stop it from sputtering and bucking any time you came even remotely close to the throttle. This problem thought that the best time to manifest itself was the day before I’m due to take the car all the way to Lake Placid to have it tuned. Nice. Then all of the swaybar bushings were replaced to stop it clunking away over every little bump and the front wipers were replaced so that one could see out the windshield in inclement weather, such as the kind we have in Vermont in Spring!
Those of you who are still awake may still have questions, such as, did you like the car?
The answer, to be honest, was not exactly. I mean, the performance was awesome - easily the quickest and grippiest car I’ve ever owned. In our final drive my wife and I measured a 0-60 time of about 4.5 seconds. In a hard-to-launch AWD car, that’s not too shabby. Someone with more skill could’ve knocked a couple beats off that! I’m sure, also, that it would’ve been a beast in the snow and the headroom was imprez-ive (see what I did there??). The other thing that was kind of interesting was “The Wave”. It seems that, whether you’re in the same parking lot or across the median, WRX drivers all wave at each other. It’s not like a princess wave or one of those inflatable flailing tubes, just a little lift-a-couple-fingers-off-the-steering-wheel-bro type waves. Made me feel like I was in a special club! The RX-8 didn’t do that - though, that may be more due to the fact that there are precisely four of them in the state and we were so stunned at seeing another one we forgot to acknowledge its existence. The downside to the wave is that it’s a Subaru in Vermont, in order to wave at every one of them, just lift two fingers off the wheel and leave them up - otherwise you are bound to miss one or two.
On the downside, the ride isn’t very nice, the seats aren’t comfortable, the dash is plasticky and boring, the steering is too quick on the highway and loses some feel somewhere between the tires and your hands. The armrest in the center console is too low and there’s not much room in the back. The shifter feels weirdly tall for what’s supposed to be a sports car...and not many cars still used a 5 speed in 2011 - certainly not cars with sporting pretensions. Though, to be fair on the 5-speed, with the low-end grunt of this car once that turbo has spooled up, shorter gearing wasn’t really needed.
Even the standard radio was terrible. Though, that may just be a matter of Subaru knowing its target audience will promptly tear out anything they put in and add as many subwoofers and amps as will squeeze into the trunk.
After a couple thousand miles and after it had a clean bill of health, I came to the conclusion that I wasn’t enjoying the car that much and my wife hated it. It didn’t help that it required premium fuel at a rate of about 20mpg on an 88 mile daily commute. I decided it was time to move on. After putting it for sale on our lot for a couple weeks, one of our wholesalers took a shine to it and offered me a number for it. I know that with time and patience I could’ve got more out of it, but, sometimes, you just take what’s available and be happy with it! I mean, I sold it for more than I had into it, and I didn’t have to deal with pre-purchase inspections, whining afterwards about any little thing that popped up. It was signed for, paid for, and that was it!
This was about 4 months ago, and, to be honest, the only thing I really miss is being able to put my foot down and laugh at whatever used to be next to me.
Here’s how all the numbers stacked up in the end:
Purchase Price: $9,700.70
Summer tires, inspection, rear pads/rotors: $654.66
Timing Belt, Water Pump, Thermostat, Pulleys, Serp Belt, Oil Change: $878.44
Front bumper repair, painted and hood chips painted: $275.00
Tire re-balance and #3 Ignition Coil: $297.15
Cobb Downpipe, Exhaust replacement, Re-tune and Cabin Air Filter: $1,241.03
Front Windshield Wipers: $22.20
Front and Rear Swaybar Bushings: $123.85
Sold Catless Downpipe: -$150.00
Sold OEM Downpipe: -$100.00
Sold Cat-Back Exhaust: -$300.00
Total Invested: $12,643.03
Sold For: $14,000.00
Mileage Driven: 2,710
Cost per mile: +$.50/mi
Finally one in the positive!!! But, for those keeping track, I broke even on the Audi and the RX-8 was a very large negative number, so, I still have some un-digging to do to get out of the hole! And wait until you see how the Volvo stacked up!! That one should be up soon. Though, in my world, “soon” equates to like two months.