The Middle

Part two of my car history spans the ownership of three cars and two motorcycles. All five of these vehicles possessed different configurations of four-cylinder motors, sparing two, which were polar opposites in character. The middle.

After I received the insurance payout from my provider, I needed to decide what car to replace the skyline with. I decided I was not going to buy another R32, so I researched a multitude of different vehicles in order to make my decision. While researching, the GC8 WRX STI's piqued my interest. I ended up using an import broker to aid me in the purchase of a 1997 Subaru Impreza WRX STI Type RA. With a 280 hp, flat four turbo motor, it was a huge performance increase over the skyline. The Type RA also had some trick pieces that the standard STI's did not include such as a closer ratio gearbox, tighter steering, automatic intercooler water-spray, and a Driver's Control Centre Differential (DCCD). DCCD allowed the driver to designate the amount of power going to the front and back with an option to lock the differential to a 50/50 power split which was great in snow.

After purchasing the car I waited over a month for it to get from Japan to Canada. I was extremely nervous about picking the car up at the dock. I wasn't even sure if the car would start, and when it did I was filled with excitement. The tires were bald and it was a wet day on the streets. The car was fighting to put the power down when the turbo kicked in. I took a wrong turn in an industrial area and put some power down during a u-turn, which resulted in a sweeping drift. The sensation of the AWD system pulling the car forwards as it slid sideways was incredible and I drove the car home grinning ear-to-ear. After a week, the car had fresh tires, a completed inspection and was insured. I drove this car for less than a year, but in that time never had one issue other than a leaky trunk. Though this car was better than my skyline in every quantifiable way, there was something missing and it never inspired me in the same way my skyline did. I was ready for something a little more exciting.

I was ready to purchase a motorcycle, but in order to do so the STI would have to go and a cheaper car would have to be purchased. I ended up trading the STI for a Mazda 3 and cash. I wanted a sport bike, but nothing too powerful, so I chose 1988 Honda VFR400R that had been imported from Japan already. The Mazda 3 had a cold-air intake and a manual transmission. I drove the crap out of it until I spun a crank bearing and offloaded the car cheap. Unlike the Mazda, the bike was brilliant.

The bike had a carbureted V4 engine that roared to 14,000rpm. It was a small motor but it made 59hp, plenty for my first bike. The bike also had the iconic Rothmans Racing livery. The retro-motorsport fan inside me was buzzing. I rode this bike daily during spring and the beginning of summer, even in the rain. It was cheap on gas and tons of fun; the perfect commuter. I carved mountain lines and leaned the bike over as far as I could. After only three months, I felt as if I had outgrown the power, it no longer felt fast. I sold the bike and upgraded to a 2004 Suzuki GSX-R600. 

The GSX-R was much faster, with nearly 100hp, and much louder. The bike had titanium headers off a GSX-R1000 and an M4 racing can that exited underfoot. The sound was magnificent and I'm sure my neighbours cringed every time I started the bike up. Wonderfully obnoxious, just like me. I'm sure it could have been heard from over a kilometre away at full chatter.

Video of a similar bike with same exhaust system.

I only kept this bike for a short while, realizing I couldn't afford a car and a motorcycle. It would be impractical to commute on the bike year-round and after I sold it I began driving a 2007 Volkswagen GLI. The GLI was my first vehicle with an automatic transmission. Being the newest vehicle I had owned, the suspension was tight and the stereo worked. I even had heated seats! Once the shine of the creature comforts wore off, I still had just over 200hp on tap, but the dual-clutch transmission left me bored on my commute. Though automatic transmissions can be convenient, they remove a large part of involvement; involvement I crave. In a car with around 200hp, I'm not too worried about the shift time and would have gladly had a slower 0-60 time for a little more fun. Suffice to say, it had to go. What it made room for could be my best car yet, with some painful teething.

To be continued...