A very weird thing began happening in the late 1990s.
See, since the dawn of the automobile, American gearheads have generally lusted over a very specific type of car. It was fast, and stylish, and had a certain air of danger or adventure to it. And with a very few exceptions, it had two doors.
Then, roughly around the late ’90s, something shifted. It grew out of the import tuner scene, and Sport Compact Car, and Gran Turismo, and the Fast & Furious franchise—all of which introduced American gearheads to the JDM high-performance delights that most of us had never heard of before. Including the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo and the Subaru WRX.
(Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on November 6, 2015, when the car you see here was first offered for sale in Boston. Now, it’s back up for sale, this time at a dealership in Manchester, NH. We’re republishing this story because, well, this car is still great, and I don’t care why you think otherwise.)
Yes, they were great—fast, sharp, subtle, and infinitely moddable. Their rallying success brought enviable motorsports pedigree, and they excelled in everything that the traditional American muscle car lacked: handling, efficiency, convenience, and cops-won’t-look-twice inconspicuousness.
But they kicked off a slightly unsettling era, one that hasn’t ended yet, where hormone-raging teenagers find themselves swirly-eyed over, basically, gussied-up economy sedans. This phenomenon is probably more puzzling to your granddad than Twitter.
That brings us to this Subaru WRX STI droptop that’s for sale on Craigslist in Boston. Which, I think, is practically the perfect automobile.
See, it’s got everything that makes the STI (and the WRX and the Evo) great: family-friendly convenience, all-weather capability, sneaky-fast power, and the efficiency and power potential of a turbocharged four-cylinder with massive aftermarket support.
And it adds the one thing that is so painfully lacking in every other WRX out there: Flair.
See, as exciting as a WRX can be, it’ll never give you the pure joy that you’ll get from a convertible. There’s just something amazing about the sensation of wind in your hair, sun on your face, and nothing interrupting your view of the open sky above. It’s nonsensical whimsy, the same sort that drives us to buy motorcycles and unreliable old British roadsters when a Prius would be a much more sensible way of getting to work.
But a drop-top WRX? That fixes everything.
You’ve got the subtlety of a sedan-based performance car. You’ve got the capability of a drivetrain and chassis honed through years of success in rallying. You’ve got a back seat for junior, and a trunk that can actually hold stuff. And you’ve got breeze in your ears and bugs in your teeth. If you wanted all of these traits in your garage, you’d need at least two parking spots.
Yes, I know. The chassis rigidity probably suffers noticeably compared to a tin-top WRX. Yes, I know, the top probably leaks and squeaks—this looks like a Newport Convertible Engineering conversion, and while we’re unfamiliar with the quality of that company’s work, it is very hard to whack the roof off a factory hardtop and maintain factory rigidity and weather-tightness.
Still. I defy you to name one single vehicle that accomplishes all the duties a (theoretical, properly engineered, crash tested, OEM-quality) drop-top WRX could handle. If you can only have one car, and you need both a family hauler and a convertible grin-maker, you can’t beat this.
Sadly, the sellers of this Boston example don’t seem to realize this. “My husband LOVES this car unfortunately for him with the arrival of our new baby he’s going to be driving a minivan! #FamilyLife,” the listing reads.
Let their loss be your gain. Because whoever ends up buying this will truly have the perfect car.