Yesterday, I fulfilled a dream I've had for over a decade: own a Subaru Impreza STI.
As many all-wheel-driven, boxer fans know, it's incredibly difficult to find a low-mileage, non-abused example of this car (it is after all, meant to be driven hard at the autocross and on rally stages). I'd test-driven a few examples here in Georgia, but they had been modified, unmodified before selling, and then the dealers were claiming "mint" or "bone stock" cars when obvious changes had been made with no benefit to me. Shenanigans. I will have none of it. (As a side note, I've playfully thrown around the idea of opening a garage that takes horribly modified cars and restores them to a reasonable condition).
I found two cars worth looking at, one with 22,000 miles in Birmingham, AL and the other with 19,000 in Hickory, NC. The Birmingham car sold over the weekend before I could make it over to inspect it. So rather than going to the lake and drinking in memory of our fallen soldiers, sailors, Marines, and airmen, I high-tailed it to North Carolina to claim my stake in the Subaru kingdom.
In addition to hooning cars, I also enjoy flying. To my advantage, my father-in-law is an airline pilot and runs a light-sport aviation business out of McCollum Field (KRYY). Rather than make the drive in holiday traffic, we hopped in the FAO4 Peregrine, a Rotax-powered light sport with the official LSA transcontinental speed record and flew over the foothills of the Appalachian Trail and many of Georgia's resevoirs. My only regret is not bringing along a decent camera to get pics of the exposed granite faces of Appalachia.
Landing at Hickory Regional (KHKY), we were greeted with this sight.
In concert with the NASCAR race at Charlotte, Goodyear was flying employees around in one of their blimps. I think it was Spirit of Innovation. That bus is for the large ground crew. Most remarkable is the launch angle, easily 30 degrees nose high (almost generating translational lift), rather than floating straight up. The attached picture is the blimp coming in for a landing.
Earlier in the day, I'd called the dealer to ensure the car was in stock. The salesman told me yes, but that a guy was coming in to look at it today. Yeah, sure. At the dealership, it was the usual smiles and handshakes, shmoozing and fooseball. The employees were all younger guys playing fooseball. (There weren't any other customers around, so I can't really blame them. However, the Navy vet in me thinks there had to be some metal to polish or online sales to update. Whatever.)
The inspection and test drive went remarkably well. I could not find a single thing wrong with this car, other than the annoying layer of schmutz dealers coat the cars with in order to make it look shiny. Hands down, it was the cleanest example I've ever seen. I didn't mind letting the salesman know it either. (He knew I was coming from Atlanta and that I was genuinely interested in the car anyways. There's no point to BS-ing about it.) We haggled over the price, and I probably paid a bit too much; but I will driving the bolts off this car with plans to put a lot of miles on it (and when it's too haggard for the street...gut it and rebuild for rally!)
The drive back was great: blues and classic rock, the sunset, and the Smoky Mountains. I managed to make it to the Georgia border doing the speed limit (passed fifteen cops driving from south of the city to the airfield earlier in the day) only due to the satisfaction of the situation. That also made the drive back last a painfully long time. Once I hit the Tugaloo River, I flowed with traffic at a more brisk pace. Highlight of passing through Atlanta, other than the city being lit up at night, was the Ural T (with sidecar) that I followed for a few miles.
Please pardon the bug guts, I haven't had a chance to wash and wax it.
That being said, does anyone want to buy a Ducati Monster?