Show Us More of What You Got - The Cars of SubieShowoff 2021
With the amount of coverage and things to talk about the first SubieShowoff in a year, I felt it wasn’t enough to write about everything in one go. While I had a lot to talk about over the background and story behind the event, I wasn’t able to give as much attention to the cars themselves; aside from picking a few photos Asher took around the show.
After all, SubieShowoff is all about showing the best of what Hawaii’s Subaru scene has to offer. It would be missing the point entirely, if we didn’t go further in depth in discussing the range of build styles and types of Subarus that were present at this year’s show.
So, that’s exactly what I’ve done. I’ve split up our SubieShowoff coverage into two parts. Last week you got to know more about the event itself. This week: we’re going to focus more on the cars themselves!
Plus, I felt that discussing the types of builds, modification culture, and general trends in the scene involving Subarus was worth its own dedicated feature. More so when you are talking about the Hawaii car scene in general, where Subarus have been a go-to platform in the modern day.
The VA gen of the WRX and WRX STI being a favorite among the crowds, next to the BRZ/GT86; both pre and post facelift models.
With the diverse range of models within the Subaru family, the event draws plenty of various selections from the range.
So much so, that there are plenty of categories the show splits all entrants under.
If you’re wondering exactly how many categories, here’s a list of all the categories cars are judged by. I’d imagine it keeps growing with each and every edition of SubieShowoff.
Probably one of the highlights of Subaru ownership is the endless possibilities or routes you can take with whatever model you have that rocks the oval Pleiades emblem. Just because all of the range comes standard with AWD (sans the BRZ and a few rebadged engineering models), doesn’t mean you are limited to modifying your Subaru to be oriented to tackle rally trails and the off-road.
In fact, a Subaru can just be as capable not tackling gravel and rally stages, as if it were paying tribute to its rallying pedigree and roots.
As events like SubieShowoff remind you, it isn’t all just WRXs/STIs and BRZs that can serve as great platforms to modify. My good friend Nolan Suzuki and his BL9 Legacy is one of many outlier modified Subarus, serving as one of many prime examples of this.
Since our last feature on Nolan’s Legacy, he’s done quite a bit to it in the past year or so. Upgrading the internals of his EJ swap and respraying the engine bay to a more eye-striking red are the most obvious changes you can notice. He’s probably got more planned further down the line.
I have to admit, I have a soft spot for Foresters; just like I do have for many other cars I will happily list off of. This Forester owned by Weston Lee in fact, won the prestigious ‘Best of Show’ for 2021.
And after all: Subaru and the wagon bodystyle/platform are almost synonymous with each other. It makes for a great case for building something that can be capable on the road, driven hard, take on tough terrain, and be able to serve as a practical family car: all in one package.
Thanks to the 25 year rule on importing cars not originally sold in the American market, more so than ever showing up to shows like SubieShowoff, are Subaru models that have been imported from Japan. Right-hand-drive, all registered and legal to drive in the state of Hawaii. It’s led to the presence of many unique and obscure models you probably never knew were sold by Subaru. Much like this Subaru Sambar ‘Kei-truck’, with a rather unique exhaust system that shouts its presence.
Definitely one direction that a lot of builds have been taking ever so more recently is the ‘stance fitment’ style of modification. As event founder David comments: “Stance has been gaining popularity over the years. This year's event showcased some very unique builds, and I’m looking forward to seeing what trends will come out in future shows.”
Stance - especially full-on ‘battlestance’ or tucked fitment is still marmite within the community and general observers. You either like it or you hate it, it goes both ways.
Personally: I wouldn’t be able to live with an absurd amount of negative camber and ultra-low profile tires on my car. The roads here in Hong Kong are bad as they are already; I don’t need to ruin my back even more just to look cool.
But while many are going for the stance route - inspired no doubt by the many Subarus in the Japan car scene that have made this trending, aim to look the part riding low; on air or on static suspension, there are still many Subaru enthusiasts going for the full ‘function’; aka the performance route.
Or you could be like Shayne Javier, and incorporate both tuning styles in one car. This STI can do it all.
"This year's event showcased some very unique builds, and I’m looking forward to seeing what trends will come out in future shows."
But stance setups to get attention from 'hotbois' aside, there is more to modified Subarus than that.
After all, it's hard not to forget that Subarus were designed to be more capable than the usual slew of sedans, hatchbacks, wagons, and SUVs. That includes models that don’t even carry the ‘STI’ badge; the roots of rally are in every car’s DNA, even in the subtlest components.
The Crosstrek and Outbacks for one, may be your typical family crossovers. But there is a strong cult following to make them into overlander, off-road focused and capable machines. This Crosstrek overland build definitely gets my approval, especially in limited edition ‘Series Grey’ colors. Alongside the ‘iClub [Impreza Club]’of Hawaii, recently a new group called ‘Off-Road Subies 808’ has formed: specifically for owners of Subarus that have been modified to take on the sandy beaches or muddy trails in the hills.
And no off-road/overland build is complete with a lift-kit, and an assortment of outdoorsy-adventure equipment. Not uncommon to see one of these with a roof rack, canopy setup, fuel tanks, and a winch.
As you saw on the flier for the first part of our feature: Fully-built motors were definitely a trend noticeable at this year's show. The EJ motor has always been a tuner favorite: with plenty of parts and aftermarket support that continues to remain strong for those wanting a bit more power than what comes out of the box.
Even with the demise of the EJ motor as Subaru shifts to more modernised and efficient technologies, I don’t think the aftermarket support for it will be going away any time soon.
Don’t think the latest gen of Subaru engines aren’t capable of being modified though: the FA series has also been getting a lot of attention from the usual brands. COBB Performance, ‘GoFastBits’, GReddy etc. This BRZ Series Blue owned by my friend Sam is a textbook example of what parts are out there to make your Subaru more capable under the hood. Currently sporting a Cosworth supercharger, Sam doesn't just do these mods for show. In fact since 2019, he has been participating in the local SCCA Autocross circuit with this car.
And of course, being a full-blown otaku and itasha enthusiast, I have to show my appreciation for the few Subaru itasha cars that were present at SubieShowoff. These two in particular, I am very familiar with.
Garrett and Brandey’s ‘Rem WRX’ (Yes, go ahead and make all the Subaru jokes you want, dweebs) still sporting the Ver.2 wrap. Aside from a few more stickers and an aggressive front splitter with canards, it still looks the same as I remember it from my last cruise on the island.
You can't forget the 'culture' if you have one of these cars too.
I haven’t seen Arwen’s ‘ZeroTwo’ Impreza Wagon in awhile though. Fittingly in pink, with the matching character-inspired custom plate to boot. Subarus are also a crowd favorite for itasha liveries as much as they are for performance enhancing-parts. Or as I like to think: proof you don’t need to be fast to get the crowd’s attention: you can still turn heads running on a stock engine.
All in all, while SubieShowoff is primarily limited to putting the spotlight solely on Subarus, the variety keeps things interesting; as you get to see what everyone has done to their Subaru to make it theirs. Whether it be for show, the track, the street, or out in the wilderness.
Hope you enjoyed this extra look at some of the cars that made it out to SubieShowoff 2021! It will definitely be interesting to see what next year’s SubieShowoff will bring, especially with the new BRZ and WRX on their way to the market. Who knows what the Subaru scene will do with them?
Asher Uchiyama (@asheruchiyama)