Project BRZ: Why I Bought the Subaru BRZ


Naming the Scion FR-S was AutoGuide‘s 2013 Car of the Year wasn’t enough for the enthusiasts in our building. Features Editor Sami Haj-Assaad bought one, and now it’s my turn to get its counterpart into the stable – the Subaru BRZ.

Why I bought the Subaru BRZ

Having been involved in the automotive industry for the last 15 years, I’ll be the first to admit that it takes quite a bit to get me excited. Like Sami, when the FT-86 Concept spilled out onto the Internet, my interest was piqued. I was fortunate enough to head to the 2010 Tokyo Auto Salon and got to see firsthand what Toyota and Subaru had in the works to bring the “sport” back to sports cars.

Recently, automakers have been focusing on the development of hybrids and electric cars to reduce emissions and boost mpg claims. Building a properly-tuned sports car from the factory isn’t exactly on the top of most automakers’ lists, so the product of Toyota and Subaru’s collaboration was highly anticipated for many automotive enthusiasts, myself included.

SEE ALSO: TGIF[R-S]: Why I bought the Scion FR-S

An Easier Decision

Unlike Sami, buying a Subaru BRZ was an easy choice for me to make. Each of my cars over the last 15 years has been modified. Having been the former West Coast Editor for Modified Magazine, I lived the custom car culture and dealt with it on a daily basis.modified-scion-tc

My previous project cars include a 1999 Honda Civic Si that sported one of the first LS/VTEC swaps, a 240SX with a Silvia S13 front end and SR20DET swap and a TRD supercharged Scion tC. But the highlight was an Acura Integra sedan that was actually featured in the 2006 SEMA Show with a right-hand drive conversion, K-Series swap and JDM front end. Needless to say, I have a passion for Japanese vehicles, but in 2007 I got my hands on a BMW 335i coupe that was also at the SEMA Show the same year.

In between several of my project cars, I satisfied my daily driving needs with a six-speed Infiniti G35 and a Lexus IS250 after my Scion tC was sold. Both cars had their strengths, but neither performed the way the BMW 335i did on the street. As nice as it was to drive the G35 and its fine blend of luxury and performance, the 335i simply trumped it in sheer fun. To quote BMW’s spin doctors, they’re “Ultimate Driving Machines.”

But then something startling happened – I got bored with cars. When my BMW 335i lease expired I went in a practical direction: choosing a Toyota Prius. Vowing that it would stay stock, I enjoyed its mpg goodness… for about a month. Let’s face it, if every car you’ve ever owned is customized, you’ll find a way to customize what you drive. prius

The Prius turned into a project car that almost seemed silly at the time. But with help from several partners, it sported a rare Aimgain body kit, coilovers from HKS, and a set of custom 3-piece Work Wheels Meister rims. It was a car that could raise eyebrows — mainly because it was a custom Prius. At the end of the day, though, it was still boring to drive. 

The Return of the Manual Transmission

The last vehicle I had owned sporting a manual transmission was my Scion tC, which I had sold in 2006. At that time, I vowed that it would take a lot, if ever, for me to purchase another vehicle with a manual transmission – Southern California traffic isn’t friendly to cars with a clutch pedal. Fast forward six years and the Subaru BRZ had me convinced to return to a manual. As Colum Wood says, it isn’t until you get behind the wheel of a manual-equipped 86 that it all clicks in your mind.

Built to be Modified

Now the main reason why we chose the BRZ is the belief that the vehicle was built to be modified. As great of a foundation as the Subaru BRZ and Scion FR-S are from the factory, the respective automakers had to make compromises to make it a proper vehicle sold off dealership lots. As a result, there’s room for improvement and I’m going to find every bit of it. integra

One step into the 2012 SEMA Show and it’s clear that the aftermarket has already embraced the 86 twins – in fact, Scion allowed several tuners to get their hands on the car before it was even released in order to take measurements and photos to start prototyping products. As soon as the cars hit the lot, owners had an assortment of aftermarket goodies to choose from.

The Goal

Don’t expect to see any over-the-top modifications on our project BRZ. We’ll be building this with the same mindset that the majority of BRZ and FR-S owners will have – I want to customize the car, but I don’t want to ruin any of what makes it so good either.

As a result, we’ll be outfitting the BRZ with functional, tasteful modifications, all of which will be affordable to everyday owners and could even be installed with basic mechanical know-how.

Widebody conversions and forced induction are both out of the question, but we’ll be working on ways to improve the factory’s flat-four performance through naturally aspirated modifications while enhancing the handling even more with a proper set of coilovers.

Of course, the wheels and tires will both change and the car will get a sleek carbon fiber lip kit from Chargespeed.

The end goal is to improve on the already great foundation Toyota and Subaru provide while allowing the car to remain a feasible daily driver.

Are we aiming to set records or take home trophies at the local SCCA event? Not really. We’re looking for ways to improve the BRZ without breaking the bank account with respectable modifications.

So stay tuned, the fun is just beginning as AutoGuide rolls out Project BRZ over the coming weeks.

GALLERY: 2013 Subaru BRZ Project Car


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