Love: It’s What Makes a Subaru MY Subaru

I will start this post off by saying that yes, this is shameless pandering on some level.  But nothing I’m about to say about my car isn’t completely true (and anyone who has ever heard me wax on and on about my nearly eighteen-year-old car can confirm the validity of the sentiments hereafter).

My parents purchased our 1997 Subaru Impreza Brighton (2-door, green) at the end of the model year, just prior to the unfortunate exploding of our faithful 1987 Volvo 240DL station wagon.  The car was my mother’s, then my father’s after the Volvo’s demise (Mom got a 1999 Honda CRV that she still drives).  When I finally got my learner’s and then my license in 2003, the Subaru became mine.

Early 2014 (or: the Year I (Finally) Learned To Park Backwards). Look at that pretty Impreza (covered in salt)!

Early 2014 (or: the Year I (Finally) Learned To Park Backwards). Look at that pretty Impreza (covered in salt)!

Her name is Nigel.  Yes, her.  My roommate M. was there when she was finally named.  I really wish I had noted how many miles she had on her when I got her.  Definitely over 100,000.  Probably closer to 110,000 because that’s when her last timing belt went on until recently.  She currently stands at 214,000 well-earned miles.

There is a bond that comes from your first car, whether you like the car or not.  My brother’s first car, my cousin’s Passat, met an early demise due to rapidly falling snow, and I’m pretty sure my brother is still mourning its loss.  I wasn’t around for my partner’s first car, but the first car I knew him with, a purple (yes, purple) Honda, was one of my great loves (though, I’m pretty sure, he would have purposely wrecked that car to collect the insurance money if it had been worth it).

So many times different people have told me to junk this car.  The vinyl is starting to tear, I’ve had to put about 1500 bucks into her this year alone (all general maintenance stuff i’d have to do on a 5-6 year old car, too, I would add), and I’m sure she’s not as safe as a brand-new car.  But I love her, and like the love of Joni Mitchell, true love lasts a lifetime.

Clearly she needs new paint (and a bath)...

Clearly she needed new paint (and a bath)…

So now that she’s just hit 200,000, and I get ever closer to 30, I find myself getting nostalgic.  In an attempt to channel that nostalgia in some meaningful way, my goal this summer is to drive my love across the country to San Jose, to spend the summer with my partner writing (finishing?) my dissertation:

Roughly 2800 miles.  The first half I have places to stop (J. and Aunt T., you’ve been warned).  After that it gets murky.  If you live along this route, and I don’t know it (and you want to see me), please respond.  Or if you want me to pick you up and you want to come along, I can promise Haribo and music.  All in all, it’ll be about 6000 miles before I return to the East Coast just in time for my 30th birthday.

In an ideal world, some of the people who have taken the many East Coast road trips I’ve been on (Boston to Atlanta, Savannah to Orlando, North Carolina to Ohio to Boston) would be there for stints of the drive.  And in a really ideal world, Nigel won’t blow up from the stress (notice I’m taking the southern route).

In the most amazing world ever, Subaru would make an epic commercial out of the experience.  They’ve done it before, focusing on families and the lived, loved experience of owning a Subaru.  Why not make one about a (nearly) vintage car still on the road?

My father, in what I can only hope is my 30th (and 40th…) birthday present (it’s on the internet now, Dad, so it must be true), has taken care of having most of her current wears and tears replaced or shined up.  She’s even had her headlights realigned, so now she can see properly.  Add to that a new axle, new hubcap covers, and a paint job to cover with new bumper stickers.  Heck, with the amount he’s done, there’s probably a new primary buffer panel and port compression coil (with functioning catalyzer) in there somewhere (seriously, thanks again, Dad).  In addition to all of the repairs Dad did, I have replaced the head gasket and the steering column wiring.  I also splurged for cruise control and new window cranks.  I’m waiting on the last couple stickers to put on the trunk (It’s a Subaru Nothing at the moment), and then I’ll post photos.  According to my mechanics at the wonderful Shelor Motor Mile, what I’m doing is actually “restoring” this car, not “repairing” it.  Who knew?

I’ll be writing a few more posts in the next couple days.  One will most definitely be a request for music suggestions and/or playlists.  Once the last touches are on the car, I’ll post a gallery of photos.  And I will definitely be GoPro-ing and live-tweeting the trip as I go.  Wish me luck!

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10 responses to “Love: It’s What Makes a Subaru MY Subaru

  1. Mike Jordan

    Sorry Hon; couldn’t afford the primary buffer panel and port compression coil, but was able to install a reconditioned flux capacitor.
    L/Dad

  2. Meena Mehta

    I love this!

  3. There is a romance about the open road, and I think it’s an experience that is distinctly American. Everyone should be so lucky to have the opportunity that people like us have had–literally driving from one ocean to another across the widest part of a continent. Doing it solo was a sort of spiritual experience for me (I had a lot of time for soul-searching), and I highly recommend taking the time to have those long, difficult conversations with yourself.

    You’ve probably seen the vlogumentary I produced when I did the drive from Atlanta (not quite as many miles, but close). Betty did a fantastic job despite her shredded ragtop, but I lost one speaker along the way (the other went out several months later), and she’s been given a new lease on life here in southern California!

    Some things I will note along your route:

    The volunteers at the welcome centre in Salisaw, OK were warm and obliging. Oklahoma City is located about 1/4 mile from the sun. Stop in Shamrock, TX and visit “Luigi’s Casa Della Tires”. There’s a Starbucks located next to the Walmart off I-40 in Amarillo with a pretty cool night crew (if they’re still there). Bugs Bunny was right about Albuquerque. Stop at the Continental Divide and breathe the air for a few minutes. Don’t stop in Flagstaff. Mind the potholes on the western side of the AZ Divide. Guns are okay to bring into CA, but you’d better not have any fruits or veggies! Your last chance for Dunkin Donuts is at the Greyhound depot in Barstow. The rest of the route you should know pretty well 🙂

    P.S.: Paul Van Dyk makes for one of the best nighttime driving companions, too!

    • I actually have *not* seen the vlogumentary. Send it my way!

      S. let me borrow his GoPro – I’m thinking of doing a timelapse from my dash of the whole trip… Need to figure out how do that effectively given GP hard drive space. I also have like a day to figure it out. Suggestions are welcome.

      There’s Dunkin in SoCal now, or had you forgotten 😉

      • Yes, there are Dunkins in SoCal, but I have a Yum Yum next door. I was just pointing out that “last chance” opportunity for you before you turn north.

        The Great American Road Trip is a vlogumentary in six parts: http://airbornesurfer.com/2011/10/the-great-american-road-trip-part-1/

        Also, speaking of timelapse, I recycled some footage: http://airbornesurfer.com/2012/01/coast-to-coast-in-ten-minutes/

        TImelapse shouldn’t need too much space on the GP, but you could take a few minutes to download everything when you inevitably stop for gas, food, or lodging. I would only hit the interesting scenery, though, instead of a true timelapse; unless you were doing it for art’s sake, there’s not going to be much to see when the sun goes down.

      • I don’t plan to drive much after sundown. I’m an early morning driver. Hate driving in the dark if I don’t have to.

        I’ll check out the vid. Thanks for the link!

  4. Yes, there are Dunkins in SoCal, but I have a Yum Yum next door. I was just pointing out that “last chance” opportunity for you before you turn north.

    The Great American Road Trip is a vlogumentary in six parts: http://airbornesurfer.com/2011/10/the-great-american-road-trip-part-1/

    Also, speaking of timelapse, I recycled some footage: http://airbornesurfer.com/2012/01/coast-to-coast-in-ten-minutes/

    TImelapse shouldn’t need too much space on the GP, but you could take a few minutes to download everything when you inevitably stop for gas, food, or lodging. I would only hit the interesting scenery, though, instead of a true timelapse; unless you were doing it for art’s sake, there’s not going to be much to see when the sun goes down.

  5. Pingback: Road Trip 2015 Entry 1: Car Upgrades and Music Requests | Holly Jordan

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