Jimmy Pelizzari and his co-driver Kate Stevens are lately again from the Lake Superior Efficiency Rally, their first outing in a brand new automotive. They completed, however not in addition to they’re used to, having risen by the ARA ranks from novices struggling in a cool however snakebit Mazda 323 GTX to common podium finishers in a GC 2.5RS. It was a shakedown in a brand new automotive, and a few little new automotive points held them again. The brand new automotive was a 2002 Subaru WRX they’d simply completed constructing. Earlier than it was hurtling down a rally stage, it was the nicest Bugeye I’ve seen in years.
A couple of months in the past Jimmy texted me: “I feel I’m gonna get a Bugeye.” In my head, I assumed Bugeye Sprite. I requested him what he needed to do with it, and he mentioned “take it rallying.” Jimmy is a tall, broad midwestern kind, big by race driver requirements. I briefly imagined him making an attempt to make traction in deep snow at 15 miles an hour in an previous British sports activities automotive, helmet totally happy with the windscreen, and turned again to no matter I used to be doing. A pair hours later, it dawned on me that he meant a Bugeye WRX.
A Bugeye WRX made much more sense, however he was already deeply invested in his present automotive, and the cussed moron in me puzzled why he’d determined to maneuver on. Over a brief interval, Jimmy developed the JDM STI-swapped GC 2.5 RS into one thing succesful successful ARA occasions, nevertheless it was a bit of tough when he purchased it and after years of rally use, he says it was drained:
“We accomplished round 22 rallies with it in and round Michigan. Our greatest performances had been at our native SnoDrift rally the place we’ve received the regional rally since 2019. When the automotive was non-turbo (NA4WD class), we had been the quickest at school with some nice competitors which feels fairly good. The NA engine with the fitting gearing is the automotive to have on the low grip circumstances at SnoDrift. You carry a lot extra velocity into, by and out of turns with out the restrictor we’ve to run with the turbo. It’s additionally a lot simpler to maintain traction and never over energy the tires.”
Since shifting to the turbo engine, we’ve had good stage occasions nevertheless it coincided with broader points. Which is generally why I made a decision to maneuver to the brand new GD chassis to place cash right into a long run venture.
The GC was an excellent automotive however after our final SnoDrift I made a decision to maneuver to a brand new chassis. The rust was turning into a much bigger and larger issue – we’d changed the gas tank, the exhaust was drained and flopping round and aesthetically it’d grow to be a bit worn. It’s an excellent little automotive and hopefully has a number of extra rallies in it for somebody new to the game however in the end if I used to be going to maintain placing assets (time and $$$$$) into rallying I needed one thing that will final.
I’ve additionally needed a Bugeye since I used to be 14. So that will have been an element within the automotive I purchased.
Stage rally is a brutal factor to do to a automotive. Even with underbody safety, it doesn’t take many occasions earlier than the fixed sand-blast abrasion of stones and filth convert management arms, brake calipers and nearly all the pieces else into metallic mud. There was rust, too:
It was a Michigan automotive which is a pleasant method of claiming method too rusty to place cash into. Whereas it didn’t appear too unhealthy at first as soon as the rust would plague us a few occasions leading to an all new gasoline tank. There’s nothing like being parked subsequent to Ken Block on the rally begin solely to have a pal let me know there was a lake of gasoline below my automotive.
It’s actually surprising how briskly huge structural components of a rally automotive get decreased to nothing. Simply because the automotive started to point out its potential it was time to start out considering of one thing else.
That one thing else was this pristine Bugeye. When it rolled into my store for the primary time, gave it a glance and instantly began making a half-assed effort to speak Jimmy out of stripping it. I instructed we set up his JDM motor within the engine bay and listing it on BaT, then use the proceeds for a good higher rally automotive construct. I can’t be alone in believing that these automobiles have a future as collectibles, and this one, regardless of displaying excessive mileage appeared worthy of preservation.
There was a solitary dent within the floorpan, and the driving force’s seat may have used a bit of extra cushion, however that was about it. The paint was good, and authentic Monroneys had been included. The powertrain was unmodified, and there wasn’t a speck of rust to be discovered wherever. The engine did have 330,000 or so miles on it and was leaking oil fairly closely, however aside from that, it was like I mentioned, the nicest Bugeye I’ve seen since they had been newish. However we began tearing it down anyway.
There can’t be too many Bugeye WRXs in this type of form. As we all know, the lifecycle of a quick Subaru is fraught with danger. Like a mom duckling, Subaru needed to have numerous little Bugeye infants for a handful to outlive to maturity. Fortunately, that’s the case. In 2002, 22,910 WRX hatchlings discovered houses within the US after a much-hyped launch. Certainly a dozen or so had been babied by their house owners and at the moment are awaiting their activate BaT. Certainly there are some house owners who made the traditional dumb man transfer of by no means driving their automotive within the hope that it might grow to be a blue chip collectible. (Sorry, misplaced observe of the duck metaphor.) I requested Jimmy if he felt any regrets, that is his reply:
It was (nonetheless is!) a lovely automotive. A single proprietor, 300,000 (!) mile authentic engine, zero rust, zero meals eaten in it, no vape Subaru. The earlier proprietor in Alabama had purchased it new and had religiously maintained it. I used up my factors and flew right down to drive it again to Michigan. For certain, there have been a pair moments when it had the rally engine, trans and diff with the complete inside the place I considered retaining it that method. I’d all the time needed a blue bugeye from once I was about 14 however I’ve needed a rally automotive since I used to be about 11.
It solely takes about 5 seconds on stage to by no means remorse a factor. There’s nothing like driving a rally automotive at velocity by the timber and that’s saying nothing concerning the unbelievable neighborhood that helps you and your odd pastime. 50mph by the timber makes 150mph on a straightaway someplace really feel like a grocery run. There are greater than sufficient rally or safari tribute automobiles on the market on the highway and to stay it on an public sale website would have felt fallacious. The unique proprietor really suspected that I deliberate to tear it aside. After I instructed him it was going to be a effectively constructed rally automotive he mentioned one thing to the impact of “Hell Ya, i’m glad you’re really going to do one thing with it”.
I don’t suppose Jimmy was below any type of obligation to maintain this factor from being floor away on varied fireplace roads across the Midwest, nevertheless it did really feel bizarre watching such a pleasant automotive come aside. The flip aspect of that in fact, it’s that each automotive’s highest calling is to die as a successful race automotive.
You possibly can click on by the photographs beneath and get a way for the scope of the venture. Jimmy, Kate and some pals did all the pieces however the chassis/cage work, and since it began off so good, it ought to show to be an excellent rally automotive for them within the longterm.
What do you suppose? Ought to this factor be enduring a protracted PDR session and getting prepped for BaT, or is it higher off spitting gravel?