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

Motor (Australia) - - THE ANNIVERSARY. SUBARU TECNICA INTERNATIONAL - BY DAVID MOR­LEY + PICS ALAS­TAIR BROOK

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

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