I purchased my Subaru BRZ back in August of 2013 and I haven’t written much about it. I’ve been driving it so much I haven’t had the time to put my thoughts down about the car. After ten months of ownership, I can say I’m still as in love with the car as I was the when I drove it off the lot. It’s by no means a perfect car (more on this in a future post), but it does give me a huge grin every time I get in it.
So without further ado, here’s the story of how I ended up with my Subaru BRZ.
A plan in motion
Living in sunny California, Subaru’s aren’t very popular. This means dealerships sell and receive a lot less inventory than in states where Subaru’s 4WD is a necessity. That meant the BRZ was going for an average of $5,000 over MSRP.
I called around to all the local Northern California Subaru dealerships and every one of them quoted me prices with that mark up. The dealerships were also extremely pushy, trying to sell me a car instead of finding out what I was looking for first.
On a whim, I emailed Clint for a quote on a base BRZ. He responded that he didn’t have any base models available but would give me a good deal on the loaded Limited model. The price I got was too good to pass up and I immediately put a deposit down on the car.
He was patient and communicative, which was crucial since I was buying out of state. I had the option to ship the car to California or pick it up from the dealership. A few weeks later, I was on a plane with my uncle to pick up the car in Colorado.
Long journey home
At the dealership, I didn’t know what to expect since it was my first car purchase, let alone one out of state. Having watched my parents and other family members deal with car sales people in the past prepared me for battle. Luckily, buying from Heuberger was a painless experience.
Upon arrival, I was introduced to the staff and given a tour of the impressive facilities. Heuberger Motors is the largest Subaru dealer in the nation and they have the stock to prove it. Rows and rows of Subarus line the hills behind the dealership. If they don’t have a car in stock, they can get it for you quickly. The staff was extremely friendly and made me wish I was a local so I could have my car serviced there.
After about 30 minutes of signing papers and taking silly photos with Clint and the car, I was off. I should mention that the BRZ is my first manual transmission car, making me extremely nervous to be driving a brand new car 1,400 miles home. I didn’t stall it getting out of the lot, but boy did I stall it a bunch that first day. I stalled on city streets. I stalled on the highway, causing a mini-traffic jam. I stalled going slowly in parking lots. I was going to have to learn and learn fast.
My uncle Luke was there for back up and did half of the driving. I can’t thank him enough for taking time off and helping me bring my BRZ home. He was the one who taught me to drive a manual when I was 20 years old. 5 years later, I had lost the muscle memory of operating a clutch but I was remembering quickly.
Both my uncle and I expected the BRZ’s ride to be harsh and unforgiving since it’s a sports car but we were pleasantly surprised. The car is stiff, but not punishing. He owned a Honda S2000 AP2 previously, which was a bit stiffer and would have definitely been less comfortable on a long road trip like this.
Although much of the drive through Colorado, Utah, and Nevada was straight roads, we did encounter the occasional curve. This gave us the opportunity to push the car to see if it lived up to the hype.
Handling is wonderfully neutral and progressive. There’s a bit of understeer when you go too hot into a corner, which is easily overcome with some throttle. When the car lets go, its slides are predictable. This is the perfect car for beginners learning to drive a stick and for understanding the dynamics of rear wheel drive cars.
Steering is heavy and quick, making turn-in sharp and predictable. See the corner, brake, turn in, and throttle out. Everything was confidence inspiring and predictable. I expected the car to be tail happy since it has skinny 215 section ties from a Prius but it just gripped. You have to be pushing pretty hard through corners to get this car loose. In normal driving, the BRZ grips well, even in the wet.
There are three levels of traction control: full on, VSC Sport, and full off. VSC Sport is interesting as it allows just a little bit of a slide before saying, “Whoa there, buddy. Settle down now.” Even with traction control fully on, it’s unobtrusive in everyday, spirited driving.
The mod bug
Buying a Subaru BRZ or Scion FR-S is dangerous. Not because the car’s dangerous (it’s actually quite safe) but because you’ll be blowing money fast on parts. The aftermarket support for the FT86 twins is incredible.
Looking for more power? There are tons of superchargers and turbochargers with tunes for them. Even the smallest cosmetic items can be found for these cars to make it exactly how you want it.
I see a lot of BRZs and FR-Ses on the road now and each one is completely different. Each owner can modify their car the way he or she wants. You can turn your car into an outlandish wide-body racer with a Rocket Bunny kit or keep it looking as OEM as possible like mine. These cars are a blank canvas.
Here’s what I’ve done to my car so far:
UPDATE: Since it’s difficult to keep this post up to date with my latest mods, check out my Wheelwell page instead for a full list of parts.
- WC Lathe Werks stainless steel shift knob in gunmetal
- Diode Dynamics LEDs for the entire interior, side markers, and rear license plate
- Grimmspeed license plate relocator
- Grimmspeed master cylinder brace
- APEXi drop-in air filter
- Motul Gear 300 for transmission and differential
- JDM exhaust tips from Japanparts.com
- JDM clear sidemarkers
- Perrin 4″ Shorty antenna
- Ferodo DS2500 brake pads
- Lamin-X yellow fog light covers
These mods provide subtle changes to the car but it makes it how I imagine it should have been. Most importantly, it makes the car my own.
More than a car
Most drivers on the road just want to get from point A to point B. When you buy a sports car, what you want is to have fun get there. On that front, the BRZ really delivers.
With the BRZ, I find myself constantly looking for new roads to explore. I’m really glad I got the BRZ because there are so many beautiful mountain roads in the East Bay that I would have never found if I was still driving my Civic.
The BRZ challenges me to be a better driver and to go explore. Every new road I find makes me appreciate the BRZ more for encouraging exploration and for being a hell of a lot of fun to drive.
I may have just started driving a manual transmission car but I’m already learning to rev match downshift and heel and toe downshift. These techniques aren’t necessary for driving on the street, they sure are if you want to go fast on a winding road.
The BRZ also came with a car culture that I didn’t realize I would be part of. Many BRZ and FR-S owners will throw peace signs or wave if they see you on the road. People are passionate about the twins and have formed a close community on a forums. There are meets, drives, and other events on the 86DRIVE site if you’re interested in meeting other owners. The people I’ve met are super friendly and have well organized drives.
I haven’t done much to the car but that’s because it’s perfect for what I want out of it. It’s a good daily driver and capable in the canyons. I haven’t gone to a track day or autocross event yet but I would like to. For that, I’ll be looking into stainless steel brake lines, brake fluid, front strut tower bar, lighter wheels, and stickier tires. Maybe even an oil cooler since the BRZ’s FA20 engine gets super hot.
For now, I’m happy with the BRZ and will modify it when I’m not happy with something. The stock exhaust is pretty quiet so that may be the next big change on the car. Don’t worry, I’m not going to bolt on some big, obnoxious fart cans.
Ten months with the BRZ and I still in love with it. Every day I come home, open the garage, and smile. On bad days, I’ll get in the BRZ and drive my favorite backroad to cheer myself up.
Every weekend, all I want is clutch in, press the Start button, and hear the engine bark to life.