T-WRX and the Bal­main ban­dits

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Welcome -

THE re­newal of the Subaru WRX trig­gers mem­o­ries.

It seems only yes­ter­day that the late and great Pos­sum Bourne (whose given name was Peter) flung me through the forests in Can­berra in his per­sonal WRX toy. The blue beastie was fully tweaked for the World Rally Cham­pi­onship and some­one had ob­vi­ously spent a lot of time and money to en­sure it could defy the laws of physics and com­mon sense.

I lived, Pos­sum laughed, and the trees stepped back to en­sure they were not caught up in the side­ways crazi­ness.

But there was crazi­ness of an­other kind with the very first WRX I drove as a road tester.

This one was a plain James four-door sedan with white body­work that was as vis­ually im­pres­sive as a Toy­ota Corolla. I was liv­ing in the in­ner-Syd­ney crush of Bal­main at the time and parked the car close by the front door be­fore set­ting the bin out for the gar­bos.

Morn­ing came with a clat­ter and a bang so I re­trieved the bin, but there was no sign of the WRX. I won­dered if I had mis­placed it while park­ing but my ini­tial con­fu­sion was quickly over­taken by a walk to the po­lice sta­tion and an em­bar­rassed call to the head hon­cho at Subaru Aus­tralia.

It was the first WRX that had been stolen by en­ter­pris­ing crim­i­nals but the sce­nario was to be re­peated many times be­fore Subaru fit­ted en­gine im­mo­bilis­ers. The Im­preza’s ridicu­lously ba­sic an­titheft pack­age was easy prey for fast­car fans want­ing more than a Satur­day night drift part­ner.

The po­lice found it easy to track the miss­ing WRX on se­cu­rity cam­eras — it starred in a se­ries of stick-ups that needed the get­away zap on tap from the tur­bocharged pocket rocket. But thanks to its bor­ingly ba­sic body­work, it be­came in­vis­i­ble on the Syd­ney streetscape.

The WRX lived at large for more than a week un­til the sim­plest thing, a flat tyre from driv­ing over a kerb, forced the thieves to aban­don it. There was no last­ing dam­age but it ob­vi­ously made an im­pact.

In fol­low­ing months, WRXs be­came the car of choice for ram raiders and ser­vice sta­tion rob­bers across the coun­try. They, like Pos­sum, could see that Subaru had hit on a win­ning for­mula for fast-car fun, feed­ing af­ford­able turbo power to all cor­ners of the car to in­ject Porsche per­for­mance into a sub­ur­ban shop­ping trol­ley.

But there was a fi­nal twist in the tale of the way­ward WRX, as the po­lice foren­sic crew dis­cov­ered a sur­pris­ing piece of loot on the pas­sen­ger floor. It was a nicely pre­served three­penny piece, which had some­how been cap­tured by the crim­i­nals more than 30 years af­ter it had served its time as le­gal ten­der.

PAUL GOVER CHIEF RE­PORTER paul.gover@cars­guide.com.au

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