The Eagle

~ by Chris #16 Demaras ~

Daniel got his WRX this. The car has been in and out of 5 different shops (mechanic, body shop, electronics, exhaust, detailing) over the last 90 days. Daniel paid for the car and did as much of the work as he could personally. I was glad to see the smile on his face when he finally turned that key and drove off. I’ve been waiting for this since I was 17.

When I first got my license, my dad gave me my big sister’s old car and sent me out to work for the family business. I was glad to have the freedom and mobility the car provided suburban, teenage me. And the job paid good money. But the car was so…boring.

It was beige. The interior was the colour of a double-double coffee. I wanted flash! So with the money I earned from my job, I began customizing the 1989 Eagle Vista (a re-badged Mitsubishi Colt). First it was things I could do myself, like sanding down the chrome trim and painting it flat black. Blacked out tail lights, tinted windows and fog lights.. Then a spoiler from an BMW M3 and a front air dam from the Japan-only Colt Turbo. Later, 5-spoke aluminum wheels and Pirelli tires. A Blaupunkt CD player in the dashboard and three Rodek amplifiers pushed power to the four 12″ subwoofers in the trunk. The speaker box weighed the rear end down so much, I had to install spring spacers to get the ride height back to ‘normal‘.

Those first coupe of years with that car impacted my approach to car ownership ever since. I’ve always modified, customized and personalized my cars. I’ve never bought a car and just been happy enough to leave it stock.

If I just had something cool when I was 16 or 17, I might never have been this way. Even now I have a lifted truck and a slammed sports coupe. Nothing stock. So, when Daniel got his license last year, I wanted to make sure he didn’t have a double-double coffee coloured econobox.

Final Detail

It took almost 100 days from test drive to pickup from the final repair shop…but the Bugeye is ready . Chris visited this afternoon right after the detailing was completed to clean up the interior. Daniel will visit this afternoon to pop the new BBS centre caps on and drive off in his first car.

In The Booth

Completion of the WRX’s restoration is so close now. This week, the bugeye was rolled into the Devilbiss paint booth for a coat of World Rally Blue.

Daniel was excited to venture Into the paint booth to see the body up close. All the rust is gone, new panels installed … it looks like a car again. One more layer of clear cost and final assembly begins on Monday.

It’s been a three month process; locating, purchasing, repairing and repainting. Daniel did whatever work he could, then took the car to several shops where skilled workers have made the bugeye road-worthy again.

On Air

While the restoration of Daniel’s Subaru WRX continues, the customization of Chris’ Subaru SVX is approaching completion. In mid-March, the 1992 SVX made the trip up the mountain to NV Auto where Miguel and the Hamilton crew started transforming Demaras’ retro Japanese GT car into something unique; the first SVX on air in Canada.

The AirLift Performance series air-suspension kit being installed in the ’92 SVX is actually designed for the ’02 – ’07 WRX, but there’s significant similarities between the two vehicles that make it a good starting point, if not a perfect fit. The 2.5 gallon, raw aluminum air tank fits nicely in the trunk, with room for the compressor next to it.

The suspension system uses an air strut with a threaded body and bag-over-style. The monotube struts have 30 position damping adjustment allowing the ride to be fine tuned from smooth to a stiff performance feel. The 3H air management system uses ride-height sensors to allow different ride-heights to be pre-programmed, improving vehicle flexibility.

More updates from NV Auto coming soon…

Primed and Ready

Restoration of Daniel’s Subaru WRX continues in the body shop this week. All the rust has been removed, new sheet metal has been welded in, and all the major body work is complete.

The car is now in primer, with inspection for imperfections taking place under the bright lights of the Global Finishing Solutions final ‘ultra prep’ zone.

Next step…the paint booth for a pearlescent coat of World Rally Blue.

$394,278 Subaru

A Subaru Impreza 22B STi just sold on Bring a Trailer for a staggering USD $312,555 (that’s $394,278 Canadian dollars).

The 22B is one of the rarest and most sought-after Subaru models in the world. As the dashboard plate confirms, this is car number 156 of 400 sold in Japan. Subaru produced the widebody coupe between March 1998 and August 1998. The 22B was used to commemorate Subaru’s 40th anniversary and their third World Rally Championship title. Upon release, all 400 Japanese units sold out in 30 minutes.

There’s no comparing a common ’03 Bugeye WRX to the famed 22B. But seeing this price tag makes spending $5,000 to repair Daniel’s $5,000 car a little easier to live with.

Next Generation

Daniel and Michelle grew up around cars. Their grandfather Bill had two Subaru XTs and two Foresters, mom Alice had a 2nd gen Impreza then a 3rd gen WRX, and dad Chris has had his Subaru SVX for nearly a decade, often taking his kids to car shows in it.

It makes sense that Daniel’s first car would be a Subaru WRX. Now 17, Daniel helped in locating, purchasing and even restoring some parts on the 2003 model.

Daniel delivered to the body shop a set of ‘twisted’ style side skirts to replace the damaged originals. They’re in good shape, no cracks, but they’ll get a fresh coat of paint too. The skirts came off an STi in Japan, then through a JDM parts shop in Virginia called J-Spec Auto Sports, and finally to Demaras Racing in Toronto. It’ll be such a subtle modification using OEM parts that most people wouldn’t even notice.

The WRX is still in pieces, and a long way from the paint booth. But looking closely at the Bugeye reveals that the Subie-Saver patch panels have been welded in to the rear fenders, and a brand new OEM front fender finally made it onto a car after waiting 17 years in a warehouse.

And Michelle? She’s too young to drive, but is quite interested in the 1976 Corvette parked next to Daniel’s car.

Rust Free 22B

As restoration of the ’03 Bugeye WRX continues , one begins to wonder if starting with a car in better condition was a stronger plan. Like this 1998 Subaru Impreza 22B with only 40,000 km on the clock. With a week to go in the auction, the car is already at $195,000 Canadian dollars.

Bring-A-Trailer lists it as number 156 of the 400 ever built. The car has been in Japan since new, but was imported to California last year under the “show or display” exemption. World Rally Blue, turbocharged 2.2L flat-four, all wheel drive and a five-speed manual gearbox. And did we mention it’s rust free!

More Body Work

Progress isn’t pretty.

A never-installed OEM fender for the front right corner. Replacement JDM bumpers with aerodynamic enhancements. Subie-Savers patch panels for the rear fender arches and rocker panels. That’s really only half the story. As mentioned in a previous post, there isn’t a straight panel on this car. It’s had a rough life.

Updates coming soon…

Back at the Body Shop

The ’03 Bugeye is up on the hoist at the body shop. The car has come so far since that test drive in February. Now in excellent mechanical condition, plated and insured, it’s almost ready to his the road.

Except for the fact that there isn’t a single straight panel on the car! The wax-crayon circles on the doors, fenders hood and trunk identify every dent and sing on the body. Tony at Scarboro Subaru found a new-old-stock OEM fender to replace the rusted out aftermarket one on the car now, while Japan Direct supplied the replacement front and read bumpers. But this car is going to need a lot of hours to make it beautiful again.

Stock, unmodified 2003 WRXs are quite rare in 2021. It’s not just the age of the car that makes them hard to find. It’s that so many have been thrashed and crashed, the number of cars left is dwindling. Some might say that this WRX was not a good candidate for refinishing, being in such rough shape. But the body shop has experience repairing vehicles that there simply aren’t parts for. Sometimes the only way to fix it is to bring out the hammer and dolly and start working the sheet metal.

Or get one of those classics around the shop to teach the WRX the restoration trick from 1983’s Christine.