Celebrating 30 YEARS OF STI
KNOCKOUT PUNCH, RALLY PEDIGREE AND AN EPIC SOUND – IT’S TIME TO CHAMPION STI WITH THREE OF ITS BEST BOXERS
MAKING ANYTHING work for you for three decades is never going to be easy (ask Mrs M). And the motor industry is no different. Oh sure, you could crank out four-wheeled cannonfodder for the same period of time without much trouble, but to actually stay right at the front of the development and engineering curve for that length of time is a major win. And even with the financial squeeze of recent times, you’d have to say that’s more or less what Subaru’s skunkworks arm, Subaru Tecnica International (STi to you and me) has managed.
Thanks to multiple WRC victories, a handful of world championships and even record-breaking runs, we tend to think of STi as the birthplace of Subaru’s competition aspirations. Actually, it wasn’t and the first time a worksbacked Suby turned a wheel in timed anger was, in fact, right here in Australia when the factory entered a Leone (remember them?) in the 1972 Southern Cross Rally. But Subaru could see the sense in having a dedicated race shop which could be used to spin off exciting, profitable road cars for the masses, so in 1988, STi was established.
This concept, in itself, was not exactly rocket science; Subaru would have been watching the activities of other performance divisions including AMG and BMW’s M (and maybe even HSV) and could see that a standalone operation was a beaut way to build a brand image and some street cred. These days, anybody with any hope of separating punters from a little bit more of their hard-earned money has a performance arm, but back in 1988 it was still a big leap for a conservative Japanese operation.
Which is not to say the other major Japanese factories hadn’t worked out the same for themselves, and by the time STi hit the headlines, Toyota had been operating its TRD outfit since 1976, Mitsubishi established Ralliart in 1983 and Nismo had been a force in motorsport since its establishment in 1984. But even though it was a while coming, it’s probably the STi franchise that has had the best cut-through in Australia.
That’s largely because Subaru has been good enough to give we antipodeans a fair suck of the sauce bottle. While the best and brightest models from the other Japanese carmakers often didn’t make it down here (you don’t think Peter Williamson’s class-winning 1981 Bathurst Celica was the fastest thing across the mountain with the Corona engine from Aussie-spec Celicas, do you?) Subaru has tried its best to give us lot and not just a small taste of a rich crop. No, we haven’t been privy to all of STi’s hits, but by the same token, there isn’t a rev-head kid who doesn’t know what a WRX STi represents.
So for us at MOTOR, the idea of celebrating three decades of tear-arse Subies was a no-brainer. And the trio we’ve picked out to sample are absolutely representative of the type of lateral thinking that is a central part of the magic of any performance car. Oh, and we got to drive them.
FOR US AT MOTOR, THE IDEA OF CELEBRATING THREE DECADES OF TEAR-ARSE SUBIES WAS A NO-BRAINER
MAIN Thank you to the owners who were generous enough to let Morley (they’re also game) behind the wheel for a spin. It doesn’t get much better than this for true STi fans