Tag Archives: Subaru

Mind Over Motor Podcast – How We Got Interested in Cars


Why I don’t think the Japanese “Get” the American Performance Market At All


Various media outlets have been reporting headlines along the lines of “Subaru Adds More Power to the STI!!!” But in reality, it’s just 5hp which changes absolutely nothing. It does, however, raise a larger issue I’ve had with Japanese automakers seeming to lack a basic understanding of the American market’s constant need for improvements.

Honestly, I say Subaru can go screw themselves until they make some real and meaningful improvements to the STI. They’re over a decade late on a real power bump for this car. My 04 STI was a Porsche 911 killer when it came out, and now an STI will lose to a V6 Camry on a highway pull. Even though the STI hasn’t changed much at all, somehow it’s nowhere near the same caliber of car it once was.

I don’t think the Japanese really understand the idea of growth in the performance market because they’ve made the exact same mistake with many other models over the years. They always seem to make a great product to start, but then they leave it the same for 10-15 years and finally kill it because it’s not selling and they wonder why…

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New Perspectives: Looking back at my 2016

2016 has been many things great, and many things horrible for many people, but it sure as hell hasn’t been dull. I am no exception. A lot has happened to me this year, both relating to cars and this blog, as well as in my life in general.

Relating to Mind Over Motor, I’ve gotten to drive some fabulous cars this year, everything from the Alfa Romeo 4C, to the BMW i8, to some others I haven’t shared yet. The car shows we went to this year were superb as well, and I was able to capture some truly stunning machines on camera. In terms of car events, 2016 has been nothing short of incredible.

Somehow, though, I have found myself struggling with this blog a little this year. It’s not from lack of content, but more from me wanting to take it in a new direction. My life has changed a lot since starting this blog back in college, and it needs to grow as I grow in life. So I’m looking for that next step to take with Mind Over Motor, and I’ll be honest, I haven’t figured it out quite yet. But bear with me because I do still love doing this, and stopping isn’t on the menu.

Life has been changing a lot for me this year. On the positive, I’ve moved in with my girlfriend, Gab, and things are going great. It’s been a big change, and there was some anxiety in the process, but it’s definitely been a positive thing for both of us. We’re building a life together, and its very exciting!

Also of major note, I landed a new job last spring. It’s in the automotive field, for a company that I’ve admired for a long time, and it puts my car knowledge to good use every single day. I finally feel like my days are filled with a purposeful career, rather than just a whatever job.

Both of these major life changes have been great for me in so many ways, but naturally, they’ve also meant I have less time to really focus on Mind Over Motor… at least with the approach I have been using since the beginning. That’s why I feel it’s time to implement some adaptive changes in 2017.

In my own car situation, I bought two Miatas this year. The first was Al’s 1993 Miata, which I sold after a enjoying it for a few months. The second was Ace, my 2014 Miata Club Edition. I also experienced my first accident this year. 4 days after buying Ace, some lady decided to turn left when she shouldn’t have, and we were both very lucky to have been okay. Ace wasn’t totaled, and after about a month of repairs, I had him back in my driveway. This summer and fall, I took many wonderful trips in Ace, enjoying every bit of sunshine I could. The peak was our trip up to Lime Rock during Labor Day weekend, top down the entire way up and back. Much fun has been had, and there’s a lot more to come.

As for my daily driver, I’ve still got my 2012 Volkswagen CC, which continues to swoon me while getting 30 MPG cruising at high speed. It’s one hell of a daily commuter, but it’s also up for an expensive 80,000 mile DSG service, so I’m not looking forward to that.

Now for an update on my beloved 2004 Subaru WRX STI. It’s firmly a third car at this point, and with 130,000 fun miles on it, you can imagine how it may need some work. Right now it needs an alternator, the steering rack needs to be replaced, and there’s a couple of leaks I need to check out. I’m also not sure about at least one of the wheel bearings. It’s a blast to drive, but it’s being driven less and less. I still adore the car, but a lot of me is considering selling it sometime this year. I’ve promised myself I won’t make that decision until I’ve taken it for another fun drive, though. It’s easy to want to get rid of a car you haven’t driven in a few months, but I know for my own closure that I’d have to feel the same way after that drive for selling it to really feel right. I have a plan if I decide to keep it, but I do admit it’d surely make things easier to let it go. So we’ll see…

Lastly, on a personal level, 2016 saw the passing of both of my grandmothers, just a few weeks apart from one another. I’ve been very fortunate not to have lost anyone that close to me in the first 26 years of my life (other than my dog, Peaches, RIP baby girl), but the 27th saw the odds begin to add up. It’s okay, I’m generally someone who’s at peace with the impermanence of life, but it’s mostly hard seeing those around me have such a difficult time. In the end of the day though, it’s natural, and nothing lasts forever. That’s why we all must make it a point to take the time to enjoy life in the here and now, even when we are so focused on the future. In my accident, if I had been hit a little further back, right in my driver side door, I very well could have been killed. I realize, looking back, that I wouldn’t have even known what had happened. I would’ve been at the pearly gates, confused.

I think, more than anything, 2016 has given me a lot of new perspectives on life. Overall, it’s been a pretty positive year for me. It’s been a rough road in many ways, but I feel like I’m going in a great direction. I’m ready for what 2017 has to offer.

And would you look at that! I made it through the whole 2016 recap without even mentioning the circus we called an election…

-Nick Walker

Friendly’s Old Bridge Meet, March 5 2016

1966 Chrysler Newport
I don’t go to nighttime car meets that often, only because I’m not a big part of the scene in my local area. Luckily, it seems that the scene is more noticable south of my area than it is near where I live, and the Old Bridge car guys organized a great meet right by a good friend’s house. This meet had a little bit of everything, from a restored 1966 Chrysler Newport to a Buick Grand National, to a Hellcat, to a pair of very loud (and rather fun) old ex-police Crown Vics. Much fun was had, even though I couldn’t get dinner at Friendly’s due to the line and the fact that the Old Bridge PD shut it down after about 3 hours. I’ll definitely show up to the next event, and hopefully the Miata’s top will be replaced after the rear window exploded. Enjoy the short selection of photos from the event.

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Subaru BRZ, Scion FR-S, and Toyota GT86 FA20 Tuning and Modification Guide

Stanced Scion FRS First Class FitmentThe Subaru BRZ, Scion FR-S, and Toyota GT86 are all basically the same car underneath. A popular fun machine at an affordable price is an appealing thing, and they’ve sold pretty well.

Most car enthusiasts will wind up wanting to modify and upgrade their cars, tailoring its experience for their own personal tastes. There are many ways to go about modifying a Toyobaru 86 variant. This is my own take and advice on the best way to go about modifying the car intelligently and cost-effectively.

Feel free to agree or disagree in the comments…

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Exotic Supercar Sounds from the Radnor Hunt Concours

We all know that no exotic car show is complete without some V12s echoing over the countryside as people leave the event. Luckily we were much obliged this year at the Radnor Hunt Concours d’Elegance. Everything from a V10 Lexus LFA to a straight pipe V12 Lamborghini Murcielago opened the taps as they left the show.

We were there with our cameras ready!

Turn your speakers up and enjoy!


Subaru Highlights From First Class Fitment

First Class Fitment Subaru STI GR Stanced

Many different makes of cars were represented at First Class Fitment this year, but Subarus are near and dear to my heart. As a WRX STI owner for the last 9 years, I enjoy being a part of the Subaru community, and I never miss doing the “Subie Wave.”

While my own car is not stanced, I do enjoy how Imprezas and Foresters looked when they’re done up right. These photos are my are my favorite Subarus from the show this year.



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Highlights From First Class Fitment 2015: Part 1

First Class Fitment Volkswagen Mk1 Golf Slammed

First Class Fitment is a stance/modified car show held at the Airport in Princeton, NJ every fall. People come from all over the region, bringing nicely done rides of all sorts. The event is mostly stanced cars, as you might expect, but there are a few other gems sprinkled in for good measure.

This year was quite good. Lots of really well built cars with interesting details. That’s one thing I love about modified car shows, each car has so much personality. They’d all stand out parked on the street alone, but the ones that catch my eye at the show are always extra cool.

I took quite a lot of photos at the event, so there is much more to come. Enjoy the first gallery!

Continue reading Highlights From First Class Fitment 2015: Part 1

Carlos Lago puts the new Miata against the BRZ. What will win?

The BRZ and the new Miata are similar in that they are both bona-fide sports cars for less than the cost of a well-optioned Toyota Camry. They’re also both blessed with four cylinders, rear-wheel-drive, and a sporting chassis with good build quality. Carlos Lago takes both of them to the streets in this episode of Head 2 Head. Notable as well is that this was Carlos’s last film work with Motor Trend–he’s outdone himself. Then, he hands the narration off to Randy Pobst. Take 25 minutes on your lunch break, and watch this–but listen to what both have to say. I’m revealing nothing. I still want to drive both back-to-back myself, but this taught me a lot of what the ND has to offer against the BRZ.

-Albert S. Davis

My Subaru Scare, Something Many Enthusiasts Will Go Through

Subaru STI Glow

I just got my Subaru STI back from the shop last weekend, after spending $1,300 fixing a few parts that had worn out over the years… such is life when you drive a car with nearly 130,000 miles on it. It was running strong, and all seemed right in the world, until all of a sudden it lost all power during a light, half-throttle pull, and the dashboard lit up.

The motor began missfiring and the CEL was blinking. I got to a spot where I could pull over and I checked the code. It was a missfire on cylinder 4, specifically, often a death sentence for the EJ25 motor. I had heard nightmare after nightmare about it from other Subaru people and now it was happening to me!

A cloud of dread seemed to hang over my very existence, and I completed the drive home with a sort of “Well, I guess this is it” sort of gloom. My best mechanical friend in the world, and my most prized posession, was fatally stricken, and there wasn’t anything I could do but accept it.

Now, yes, a busted motor can be fixed, but it is pretty damn expensive, especially for a young fellow like me just starting out my career. Typically fixing an STI motor, with stock parts, will run you about $3-4,000, but it can be $6-8,000 or more with upgraded parts. Having just spent $1,300 on it, fixing it soon was out of the question, and financially it would have been stupid to even try that at this point.

My realistic course of action was to sell the car for what I could, and use that money to buy a Miata. Then I’d save up, pay off my Volkswagen CC in a year or two, and replace it with another fast car that would really be the STI’s successor…. first world problems, I know.

I literally felt the same way I had felt when my dog, Peaches, died a few years back. I know my Subaru is an “inanimate object”, but when you’re a car enthusiast, there are some cars that seem to take on a very real personality, a companion of sorts. My STI was my first car, back when I was 16, and I’ve owned it more than 8 years since. We’ve been through a lot together, and it is basically ingrained in my indentity at this point.

You can ask my girlfriend, on Wednesday night I was legitimately depressed, and obsessed with trying to figure out what to do.

But this story has a happy ending, and it boldly shows off one of my biggest personal flaws. I always seem to assume the absolute worst, and I put blinders on that  stop me from seeing other, less serious possibilities. It is a flaw that has caused me a lot of angst over the years, and surely something I need to continue to work on.

When I got the call from the mechanic yesterday, I was overjoyed to hear that it was only a bad coil pack, an easy fix. He said the spark plug from cylinder 4 looked good and that cylinder 3 had missfired when he switched the coil pack. Relieved does not even begin to describe my mood after that call.

So this story was just one big false alarm, but it is a scenario that many other car enthusiasts will identify with. Like anything else you can love, cars will often bring as much angst as they bring joy. There is much I can learn from what happened this week, but the biggest thing I learned was how much I really do love my Subaru STI, even after 8 years with it. That is why we enthusiasts buy the cars we buy, and spend the obscene money we do to keep them going. Our cars are like our close friends/companions, much in the same way as a dog or a horse.

Obviously I would’ve just gotten another fun car, but it felt more like losing a friend at the time, rather than some cold piece of property. If anything, I got to realize my deep passion for cars this week. And it came at a time when I really needed such a reminder in the midst of the chaos of everyday life.

To anyone else who finds themselves in a situation like this, just stay calm, don’t assume things, and do some research. Begin with the simplest explanations first, before considering the more serious problems. Also be open-minded, because you will learn a lot more from dealing with the situation, rather than obsessing over how screwed you are. That’s something I clearly needed to learn again, hopefully this time it’ll stick.

-Nick Walker