This week we review Gabe's Frankenstein ride that is no stranger to getting dirty
Gabe's car: 2002 Hugeye WRX (or maybe it’s a Bawkeye?)
Follow Gabe on Instagram: @gabe_s_weiss
Exterior: ‘07 STi front end swap; Gorilla Offroad Bar with skid plate, D-ring mounts, and Rigid Industries LEDs; rear diff skid plate; roof rack; Gorilla mud flaps; vinyl horsepowers.
Interior: WC Lathewerks shift knob with extension; Gorilla DIN aux switch panel; Recaro child seat
Engine and Drivetrain: Scoobiesport DP, STi Up, and an SPT catback, Cobb tuned.
Suspension: AGX struts with STi springs and 1” Gorilla spacers; Aluminum STi control arms with Whiteline ALK bushings.
Wheels/Tires: Summer: 17” Prodrive P1 with RS3; Winter: 16” OEM with Altimax; Rallyx: Method MR502 with gravel tires.
So tell us a little about yourself. What do you do for a living, and what sort of hobbies take up your time (if anything besides cars)?
I’m a data manager in a child welfare research office at Northwestern University. And for fun and a little cash on the side, I bake buns for Amazing Kale Burger.
I’m also the co-driver at Millsap Motorsports. We rally a 1996 Outback Sport in Open Light; a regional class in the Rally America Championship. We finished our first event this last May placing 3rd in class and 5th overall. The next events for us should be LSPR in the fall, followed by 100 Acre Wood next Spring. And if I’m not in the car, I’m either out taking pictures or crewing for friends who also rally.
What are some of your interests?
I like a lot of outdoor activities such as camping and cycling. And I do some activism work for social justice issues in the LGBTQ communities.
So what prompted you to do the Hawkeye front end swap?
I've had the front end swap for about a year now. In the middle of the night on Memorial Day weekend my car was hit by a drunk driver while it was parked. The driver side fender and bumper were ripped off and I had a nice little insurance check to play with. The front clip came up for sale soon after that and I decided to change it up a bit. I like lights, and hawkeye lights are better than bugeye lights, and it was a body style I always liked for the sedan. The car certainly has character now, and I like that it's a bit odd and stands out. The only downside has been the longer nose to the 07 design, which isn't as good off road. I figured that out after the swap, and I have to say I miss the bugeye, but I love the new front end.
How difficult was it to actually put the new front clip together?
The swap took a weekend to do. I found the hood, fenders, bumper, and headlights all together. So I just had to get the upper radiator support from the dealer. I couldn't have done it without Clayton. I drove down to Millsap Motorsports and had arranged to meet the seller of the body parts there. The front bumper beam had to be trimmed around the fog lights and the upper radiator support swapped out for the 06/7. That's what the hood and headlights line up with so it was the only welding needed. That was also fun, I had never done any welding before so Clayton set up the welder and helped prep everything, then let me fill in the spot welds we drilled out. After everything was fitted the only thing left was to match up all the wiring for the lights and I had a Hugeye. Or Bawkeye. I can't decide. Bawk is more fun to say but Hugs are awesome lol.
What got you into cars?
I got into cars in a very steady progression from Hot Wheels, to Team Associated RC buggys and HPI nitro touring cars, then buying a 1975 MG Midget - basically in between an RC car and a real car. I was always into classic cars growing up. I currently have a 1968 MGB GT slowly going through a restoration, and the WRX was what I bought to have a practical car other than the MG.
What are your future plans for the Subaru? I have to imagine that Rallyx beats it up pretty good?
Rallyx is tough on suspension, and mine is worn out. I’m going to replace the struts and install a bunch of bushings. I also have some rust to address. There’s nothing too exciting to plan here, just refreshing an old tired car. But I know it likes the treatment, and it keeps rewarding me with adventures.
What's your favorite thing about your car?
I’ve had this car for 12 years now, which is longer than I’ve been married and almost as long as I’ve been with my wife. I feel like this question is a trap… I love everything about my car :)
But seriously, I love how versatile it is. I commute to work in it, make daycare runs, autocross, rally-cross, TSD road rally, road trips and cruises, easily get to sketchy rally spectator spots, and more. It doesn’t care; it goes wherever regardless, like rally, which is awesome.
Why did you choose a Subaru?
A good friend of mine from high school came from a car collector family. They had a garage full of vintage Jaguars and the house was like a museum full of 1:43 scale car models. We raced RC cars and then started going to watch races at Road America. This was in the early 90's and the Paul Hogan Subaru Outback commercials were becoming popular. "you know, that's based on this awesome rally car", my friend told me. Then he gave me a French magazine covering this thing called Rallye. I was hooked. Then, some years later, I found myself with a totaled MG Midget and a check from my insurance company. I was working at a bakery, and a coworker had a 2002 WRX wagon. He drove me around to look at cars to replace the MG. I was looking at VWs, Audi, BMW... and not finding what I wanted, but getting many rides in his WRX. My wife and I lived behind the old Evanston Subaru at the time. I was walking my dog one night during this shopping/ride process and right in the front of the lot was a WRB WRX sedan, 2 years used, and in my price range. I went back the next day and it was mine.
What is the car like to drive?
It rattles, ticks, squeaks, and understeers. It’s a good Subaru :)
What was your inspiration or objective with this build?
I wanted a tough daily driver that could stand up to long road trips off the beaten path and can show up to a rallyx ready to play. I grew up watching Colin Mcrae and Richard Burns, so rally was always on my mind long before I was able to get a Subaru.
Any shout-outs to anyone who helped you along the way?
The Subaru rally community is great. I’ve made too many friends who’ve helped along the way to name them all. Many years ago I asked if Matt Conte wanted any help crewing for his rally team, and that was what started the addiction. Also Whiskey Throttle and Indiana Rallycross, Ben Newburn and his beard have always been there whenever needed, and of course Clayton Millsap - the master body man who did my front end swap and built our rally car from the ground up.