It was 2001; the summer of The Fast and the Furious. I had a fairly fresh driving license and a monopoly on the family Hyundai, but instead of mounting underglow [although tempting at the teenage-time], somehow I left the movie more interested to discover what double clutching was really for. I had never heard of Auto-X. Never ‘wrenched’ more than an air filter. “Danger to Manifold”? – I didn’t even get the joke.
I wasn’t interested in putting 6-foot tribal-robot stickers on my car in the same way that I was not interested in plumbing up NOS and going straight for under 10 seconds. I had been captivated by another form of driving. I had become convinced that rally drivers were the ultimate drivers. Sure, they don’t hit the same speeds as F1, and sure they have a co-pilot literally telling them what they need to do – but the trees, cliffs, and mixed surfaces make the stakes seem so high, and their reactive driving skills seem so transferable to the real world.
I had decided that rally was the ultimate drive. And Subaru was making a rally car for the streets!
If I had been a bit older – or nay, just a little bit connected to the car community – I would have known this was not the first time Subaru had cross-bred it’s special stage cars with the sales floor. All through the 90’s the 2.5RS was bringing rally fashion to the streets with it’s big scoop and hood vents, along with as-big-as-your-face-sized fog lights. But the WRX badge was as absent from the North American market as turbos [and a HP rating that started with a 2] were absent under those hood scoops.
The Fast and the Furious has grown to be Universal Pictures biggest franchise because they captured the attention of a multi-generational, multi-demographic following. And that summer, Subaru did the same thing. The release of the WRX in North America created an icon for the USDM that bound Subaru’s past and future. In my opinion the Bugeye WRX is the most iconic car that Subaru ever made.
The 2005 STi might be the best USDM model.
The GC chassis might be why they are known for WRC championships.
The SVX might have been Subaru’s most memorably ‘wackadoodle’ release.
But I’m saying that the 2002 WRX was The One car that allowed people to focus all of their Subaru love onto a single point. It represented Subaru’s heritage of quirkiness and ability. It celebrated their success overseas and heralded a new era of daily driving joy in North America. It creates a chain that unites the feelings of Leone and BC Legacy enthusiasts with the enjoyment of a 2008 hatchback. It is a Singularity that contains the very essence of Subaru. It is The One to rule them all, and BIND them!
Or maybe I was just really impressionable as a teenager…
I saw that commercial in the summer of 2001, and I spent the next 13 years in a state of constant desire.
Couldn’t say why it took me so long, but I finally got The One car I’ve always wanted.