I've been asked this question a couple of times while owning my Subaru. People have asked me what is so special about my car, and why I enjoy driving my old WRX. Every time someone asks me, the answer is the same - because I love how analog it is.

Now, a lot of what I do in my life revolves around doing it in the digital world. Without computers and the devices that people use on a daily basis, I honestly wouldn't have much of a real career, but when you live in a world of virtualized everything, it's easy to get lost in what's absolute. Emails, social media, and even this website puts up a vale of digitialism that surrounds everything that we seemingly do today. You're more likely to meet and interact with someone online before you meet someone in person and shake their hand. You're more likely to drive a new car that's now partially controlled by computers than you are by one that is not. And that's not too say that is necessarily a bad thing, but me personally? I like to step away from the keyboard from time to time (looking at memes all day gets tiring).

That leads me to my car. I like my 2004 WRX for the reason that it is pretty much entirely an analog experience, and it's also not overly complicated. When I'm behind the wheel of it, there's very little electronics that gets in the way of enjoying the one thing that I love doing most - driving. And while I'm thankful for a lot car related electronic advancements over the years, I simply don't want too much of it in my car where it doesn't matter. I like that my car is an escape from the digital life that I live most of the time, and it's one thing that I own that I can't simply control with just a mouse, or a few taps of my fingers. It's a reminder that every day when I turn the key, that there is more to this world than just starting at a phone or a computer screen.

The beauty of having an older car is that it still has a lot of components that are connected mechanically, rather than electronically. For example, the throttle linkage is an actual steel cable instead of a sensor and some extra wiring. My steering wheel is connected to an actual shaft, and subsequently the steering rack, so I feel every little vibration and movement in the wheel. Mechanical differentials are used instead of an electronic torque vectoring system, and analog vacuum gauges are present instead of flashy digital screens. All of these things give you minute feedback that I think is paramount in knowing what the car is doing too, especially when the car is being driven at it's limit. My car has my full attention when I'm driving it, and I don't just get a feeling of blah and numbness when I'm driving around. It's loud. It vibrates. It gives me tingles in my pants. In a way, it makes me feel alive. A car is a machine, not a computer. Shouldn't it be put together like one?

The mechanical aspect of the car adds to the driving experience in a way that I can only describe with this analogy. When you go into a casino and sit down at a slot machine, how many people opt to pull down on the big red lever to spin the wheel instead of aimlessly pushing a button? I think a lot of people want that physical connection, that subconscious attachment and fulfillment from physically yanking down on that sucker and hoping you hit it big. Sure the light up button is easier and probably faster to press, but I'll be dammed if isn't more gratifying than getting your whole arm into it. Same thing applies when I'm shifting gears with my manual transmission. Each gear change is a physical operation that I do with pretty much my entire body, and it's way more involved that just flipping a paddle or slapping a stick. Subconsciously, I'm in that casino winning big, even if does mean that I'll get there slower (queue the money shift jokes).

I think all of this also offers a more rewarding experience too. There's this physical connection that you get with the machine as you're rowing through the gears, taking turns, and listening to Sammy Hagar singing about how he can't drive 55. Sitting in an appliance disguised as a car has no reward, and it has no excitement. I'll get into what gives a car a soul another time, but to me, these are things that gives a car character, and I think that's important. It's what separates a race car from a Camry, and it's what terrifies me about the future of cars.

Cars today are different because they have to be different. Safety regulations and fuel economy restrictions mostly dictate that, and all of these things add weight and force manufactures to design a car around them. Subaru won't ever be able to make another car like mine again because of that, and I think that also makes it kind of special. Does that mean that today's cars are shit? I'd argue no (some of them are actually kind of nice), but I'd also argue that the feelings and the experience that a 2004 WRX and a 2017 WRX give you would be different. I just happen to prefer the flavor of the older models. Regular Car Reviews pretty much covers my feelings and opinions about this sort of thing in one of their latest reviews about the Honda Civic EH2. If you haven't had a chance to view it yet, I'd highly encourage it:

We're at a point now where there aren't a lot of cars left that still offer that simplistic and analog element to it anymore. The Toyobaru twins and the Miata are probably one of the last shining examples of simplicity and creating a raw driving experience, but that is why I think older Subarus (and maybe just older cars in general) are still quite popular. In my opinion, they're also easier to work on too. Usually parts are cheaper, and the car community knows of all of a vehicle's pitfalls, and how to address them. After doing a motor swap in my car last year, and then helping do one in a 2009 WRX a few months later, it really opened my eyes to just how much more wiring and what I call "unnecessary parts" (air pumps for example) have made their way into cars now. It was in that moment that I realized that I am slowly becoming Walt Kowalski hoarding a Grand Torino because they "don't make 'em like they used to".

People expect more from their cars now, and electronics have been able to give it to them in a cheaper and easier way than ever before. More functionality, more comfort, and less headaches - you'd be hard pressed to find anyone who wouldn't want that in their car. Whether or not it's what you want out of a vehicle though, is entirely up to you. Me personally, I own two cars so that I can enjoy the best of both worlds. Yes, I know that's cheating, but I never said you couldn't!


I think I speak for a lot of people when I say that the love and fascination for the automobile started with my dad. Well, not my dad, but a father figure of your own. My dad has been a GM mechanic for almost the past 30 years, and it'd be near impossible to avoid feeling some sort of way about cars when it's been a part of my entire life. Spending time with him in the shop is like a normal occurrence, just like if you'd go out and get lunch with a friend.

Having a mechanic that you know and trust is one of those people in your life that you should just have in your phone book. Right up there with a good doctor, lawyer, and a handyman of some kind. Needless to say, I have been very fortunate that my dad has filled that role for me. From helping me find my first car, to doing maintenance and some modifications, and even helping me again when it came time to selling them, dad has always been there helping guide the way. The older I get, the more I look back and realize how much he has done for me too, and it's something that I don't take for granted, nor can I thank him enough for.

That being said, I think my dad enjoys all of it. Not just because I'm his son and there's kind of this moral obligation to love me and make sure that I turn out OK, but because working on his own car (or one of the other family cars) allows him to "loosen up". What I mean by that is instead of following endless amounts of procedures and legwork that GM mandates to diagnose and fix a car, all options to fix something are usually on the table when he knows belongs to me . We don't have to worry about warranty work, making sure it's perfect for the customer, or using brand new parts every time. It just needs to be functional, and much like myself (and my hero Clark Griswold), my dad hates spending money on something that he doesn't have to, so he sure as hell isn't going to let my own car nickel and dime me either. With his vast knowledge of practically every GM vehicle made in the last 40+ years, it's a way for him to get creative and break away from the book time for a little bit too.

A great example of this is my 2004 Chevrolet Impala. Before it was my car, it was a customer's car that my dad knew the owner of and worked on whenever it came into the shop. When the owner of the car traded it in, my dad was certain to take it off his hands and my brother bought it. It was a good running car for him, and my brother sold it to me two years ago after he moved into the city and no longer needed it. Once I bought it, the usual used car maintenance items started. New tires all around were put on (for a nice discount too thanks to my dad), new brakes were fitted, and fluids were changed. The car was 10 years old, but it had less than 100k miles, and I had every intention of driving this Impala until the car get totaled some day.

Except, that actually happened.

Last year I was rear ended so hard that the frame was bent from the impact. The Impala was written off by my insurance, but there was so much life still left in it that my dad couldn't see it go to a junkyard, and neither could I. It took some convincing on his part, but I bought the car back for less than $200 and repair work started. After-hours in his shop became a game of "how cheaply can we fix this?". From taking a sawzall to cut up the rear bumper so that it wouldn't rub up against the rear tires, to using a jack and a hoist together to try and bend the frame back into position, we did what we could to get the car road worthy again, regardless of how bad it looked. Kicking the fenders back out from the trunk to hide some of the ugliness, gluing the gas filler neck in place, and torching and bending the exhaust to make it sit right was just part of a usual Tuesday fix. We'd laugh at our craftsmanship not because it was ugly (we knew it was), but because it worked, and most of the time it was a free fix! Working in the industry for so long, my dad has also accumulated a large collection (actually an entire toolbox full) of used, but still good parts. We make fun of my dad's used parts emporium, but we've raided this parts bin on multiple occasions - spare horns, switches, and even wheel bearings. His toolbox of parts is so well known that even some of the other mechanics in the shop ask him for some spare parts for their own personal cars when they need something.


I still own the Impala, and now the car runs and drives perfectly. I wouldn't hesitate to drive it across the country today if you asked me to. When it comes to stuff like this, my dad enjoys spending the time doing things himself. Sure, spending 10 hours on a car that is essentially worth $200 might not make financial sense, but for him it makes him happy, and what else would he spend his time doing? Sitting at home watching TV? He'd rather mend something, have a sense of personal accomplishment, and spend some time with his son and shoot the breeze. I can't say that I'd do it any differently.

When I bought my Subaru, he was upset because for the first time, there was a car in his driveway that he didn't know how to fix, and in some way, I think it marked the start of my independence too. I chose my WRX because GM didn't offer anything comparable, and for me, it was one of those cars that I just had to have. I don't regret my decision, and over my time, I think my dad has warmed up a little bit to the idea of me owning it too. A man who would rather have a big block under the hood instead of a turbocharged two liter, he's loaned me a hand when I asked him for it, even if it looks like he's doing long division in his head anytime he looks at how my car is laid out and put together. In the end, cars are still all nuts and bolts regardless of who makes it, and I know my dad's love for me and the automobile transcends make and model too. I've been incredibly fortunate to have my old man show me the ropes when it comes to cars, and without him, I probably wouldn't be the person that I am today.


I came across a quote the other day, that when I read it, it rang so true that I just had to share it:

A car is more than top speed, acceleration and looks. It is a hub of life experiences, culture and personality.

This is probably one of the truest statements that I've ever read about anything car related. I'll be the first to say that there aren't a lot of people like us out there who eat, sleep and breathe cars, but the few of us out there that do will probably agree with that statement 100%.

And that statement has probably led you to join this group somehow. Car culture, while small, is full of some incredibly enthusiastic people. Whether it be about repping the brand they love, a specific model that's their favorite, or maybe an activity that someone likes doing in their car, like that one time you parked your Pontiac at a really deserted spot with a girl, late at night, just the two of you, under the stars when you were 17, nervous and pimply faced, and getting some smooches in (fellas, please tell me you know what I'm talking about here). Car culture as a whole is one of the best experiences I've ever had the pleasure to be around. The people that I've met, the places that I've gone and the things that I've seen would not have been possible without getting into a Subaru that one day many years ago. I've gained life long friends because of it, learned not to be afraid of cars when the hood is open, and discovered great roads and cool rally events that I may never have had the chance to do. This four-wheeled "hub" is way more than just a way to go from point A to B - it's everything in-between! And the best part is, the more that I've been apart of this culture, the more that I want to give back and share it with everyone that I know!

Cars aren't supposed to be about drama - they're supposed to be an escape from it. Groups like this give way to bigger things. It's about like-minded people coming together and enjoying everything that car culture has to offer. Meets, cruises, track days, BBQ...the list is endless. Heck, even people helping out when someone else breaks down on the side of the road. Cars offer us a little moment in time to put the hassles of life aside and enjoy something that we all hold really dear to our hearts, and I think that's what it's all about.

Well that, and the smooches too.


I would like to welcome you to another new segment that we are introducing for Chitown Subarus called "Behind the Wheel". This is not going to be a column that gets published on a regular basis like YOHB, but rather one for us to talk about a vast amount of current automotive affairs, whether it is Subaru related or not. Consider this the editors corner of the website.

Before I get ahead of myself, I should probably give you a little background. My name is Nick, and I've been a car enthusiast for practically my entire life, and a Subaru owner for a little more than 6 years. My father has been a mechanic for his entire life, and I'm proof that the apple does not fall far from the tree. From color-changing Hot-wheels, to Power Wheels with oversized batteries in them that would spin the rear plastic tires on them so much they would split in half, to go karts that taught me how fun it is to be sideways on 4 wheels, and to now actually full sized cars that I do cool things with like "stance" and neon under-glow (I'm kidding). As far as my other accolades, I got an A in English class a couple of times, and my mom always put my good test scores on the fridge, so I'd like to think that I'm fairly qualified to write freely for this website.

Yours truly...

Yours truly...

Breaking away from the AA meeting introduction, I'd like to prepare readers for what lies ahead. As I mentioned before, this column is about what I see happening in the automotive culture that we know and love so much. I'll also be speaking on anything else that pertains to cars as well, like perhaps events that I think people will relate with, car related stories (about myself or others), or feelings or emotions that resonates within all of us in some way. My goal is to create discussion, and if I'm lucky, give you something interesting to read while you're using the bathroom at work. I'll be honest, and open, and I hope that it makes for some good reading. If there's enough interest, I'd even love to field questions from our members in a "Dear Abby" style about maybe specifics on certain car parts, how things work under your hood, or any good crock pot recipes you'd like to share with me. I'm particularly fond of Italian food.

Keep your eyes peeled for more stuff coming your way, and let us know if there is something that stands out to you that you would like to see here! If you are interested in contributing to this portion of the website with your own thoughts and experiences, please contact us!