When I was at Subaru Summer Solstice in San Diego last weekend I saw a huge mix of builds, from near stock dailies to lifted Outbacks to super-slammed show cars. While I enjoyed checking out the attendees rides as I relaxed and chowed down on a food truck lunch, I have to admit that I left with a bit of a bad taste in my mouth.
Before I go on, I want to be clear that I’m not sandbagging this community or any individual’s car. What I’m about to say applies to nearly every decent size meet I’ve been to in California. This is nothing against Subarus, or this meet, which was very well-organized and a lot of fun.
I also want to start out by saying that there was a healthy mix of genuinely cool and tastefully modified cars, which most of my photos reflect. But there was another side to the event, as there are with most large meets of this nature.
Finding myself in a sea of Subarus, there were plenty of knock-off wheels and builds that just weren’t quite cohesive. For the most part I didn’t bother taking photos of them and instead pointed my camera at stuff that looked nice, which there was plenty of.
But personal taste aside, you have to draw the line somewhere. A little attention to detail goes a long way. Shouldn’t we be taking pride in our hard work, our hobby?
I’m sure we’ve all heard or at least seen online the ‘Respect All Builds’ mantra, but is that the right attitude? I totally understand wanting to be inclusive, because that’s what car culture is about. But at the same time, plenty of groups are super exclusive.
So what’s the right balance?
Keep It Real
I don’t know the answer to this, but I know a good place to start is real wheels. I totally understand that they’re relatively expensive, but there are plenty of genuine, quality wheels that are entirely affordable, especially when you consider the cars they’re going on.
If you’re pressed for cash — which, believe me, I understand all too much — you can often snatch high-quality, genuine parts for a good price used. And best of all, authentic parts hold their value so you can always get a good bit of your money back if you resell them for an upgrade.
The same goes with aero, steering wheels, seats and so on. While many reps aren’t outright dangerous like they used to be, there’s no replacement for original design and well-engineered, function-first parts.
On that note, it’s worth mentioning that I had a replica seat and super-cheap Kosei K1s, which were poached from a parts car, on my Miata. But I needed something quick on short notice (mostly to check fitment and ensure I wouldn’t crack my skull on the roll bar) and I’ve since picked up a used Momo fixed back to replace the questionable fiberglass bucket.
So don’t think I’m sandbagging anyone, because I’ve been there myself. And the Subaru in the lead image of this story was, besides the questionable wheels, a nice right-hand drive car that I imagine makes for a really fun daily. But, as something that costs significantly more than a Miata and finds itself parked at a show, the expectation is, by default, a little bit higher.
But really, nitpicking someone’s choices isn’t the point of a car show. It’s about kicking back, meeting up with friends, and having a good time. If seeing aero that doesn’t really work is enough to ruin your day, you’re probably doing it wrong.
Loads of cool cars did show up for Subaru Summer Solstice and I don’t want to take away from that.
There’s something to be said for a car that’s built with a goal in mind and the sky is the limit when it comes to the Subaru aftermarket. Aired out or lifted, there were definitely at least a few cars here that anyone could gravitate towards. And again, it was a well-organized event at a great venue, and all I saw were people having a good time.
But is there such a thing as going too far, or not far enough? Is ‘Respect All Builds’ the answer? Personally (and in the opinion of most of my friends), hard work, time, and dedication towards a build is what should be respected when it comes to any car. These things will take you much further than raw cash will any day.
Plan your build from start to finish, or at least some reasonable, cohesive mid-point. Check on forums (remember those?) and search for the right setup. Don’t just throw the catalog at your car; go the extra mile and make the car community proud. That’s just me, though. What really matters is what’s the balance for you.
So, what do you make of the ‘Respect All Builds’ philosophy?
Trevor Yale Ryan