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Wreaking Havoc in the Land of Beige

Hooniverse November 5, 2010 All Things Hoon 45 Comments
STI from behind a tree

Photo Credit: Istargazer/Albert Lynn on flickr

[Reader Andrew Simmons sent us this great tale of what happens when someone lets a total hoonmobile onto a Lexus lot – Ed]

Just visible above a stone wall, it caught my attention from the road below. A delicate arch of blue, darker than the autumn sky above it and more menacing than anything so graceful should be. The sign ahead said Lexus, but the wing proclaimed Subaru.

On impulse, I turned into the lot. I’d just come from the Aston Martin dealer down the road, who had, quite rightly but somewhat surprisingly, refused me a test drive in a V8 Vantage. I was on a supercar kick, having scored seat time in a pair of Ferraris and a highly modified 996 Turbo earlier in the month, but the siren song of Fuji Heavy Industry’s finest called out and drew me in.

It sat in the last row, impossibly wide and low, all gaping front-mount intercooler and flared arches, not remotely stock. Surrounded by ES350s it was evil, alien; a hammerhead shark in the kiddie pool. The cars on either side seemed to lean away from it, straining on their springs and parking brakes to escape.

I went inside to find a salesman, hoping they hadn’t seen me stash my beater Saturn behind a row of SUVs. I paused for a moment in the doorway as a gorgeous girl climbed out of an IS-F; my momentary and instant infatuation spoiled when she shook her head and pointed toward an RX400 hybrid.

Sometimes the briefest of hesitations makes all the difference.

The salesman who was headed toward me like a grinning piranha abruptly changed course, spotting an elderly man fascinated by a glorified Camry in a truly abysmal shade of tan pearl effect. A few minutes of aimless wandering located a dour-looking man in a dealership polo, who inquired as to what I was interested in.

“You have an STI.” Puzzled look.

“A Subaru. A blue one, used.”

The salesman confessed he was unaware of any such car in the inventory, but went to take a look in the records. A key was eventually located, and we proceeded back outside, where I pointed out the car.

“That looks… fast,” he said, skepticism immediately apparent in his face as he turned to me. “How did you find it?”

It was time for the clueless routine.

“I was looking for Subarus on Autotrader. I need something small, efficient, reliable, and four-wheel-drive.” This came out of my mouth as we rounded the back of the car, the artillery-piece exhaust clearly visible.

“This wasn’t what I was thinking of at first, but it’s cool-looking and the price is right.” I clasped my hand behind my back to hide their shaking. At that moment I wanted to drive this STI more than any Aston.

Several minutes of flagrant prevarication later, I was strapping myself into the driver’s seat. And I do mean strapping; the front seats were fixed-back Recaro buckets with four-point harnesses. The look on the salesman’s face as he clambered into the seat next to me was rapidly progressing from skepticism to outright alarm; I strapped faster, determined to be out of the lot and moving before he could change his mind.

When I twisted the key, car alarms went off. There’s nothing quite like the sound of a Subaru silenced only by its own turbo and a muffler the size of an Australian beer can. It’s primal, offbeat; gravel roads change course in a vain attempt to flee and snow prays for sun to return it to the safety of the skies.

As we rumbled out of the lot, I asked the salesman what the quickest car he’d been out in was.

Tree arch

“An IS350, I think,” he replied.

“This is going to be a little different.”

“Go right, and get on the freeway. We’ll take it down to the first exit and loop back.” I tried not to let my disappointment show. This car was the ultimate rally rocket, meant for assaulting back roads and terrorizing tracks, not the freeway cruise. Then we got to the ramp, and all hell broke loose.

I put my foot down in second, and instantly had to change up, the deafening warble interrupted by the simultaneous mad-kettle whistle of the blowoff valve and the howitzer thud of fuel dumping into the exhaust. Fire flickered in the mirror, then we were off again, two more gears gone instantly, into fifth as the ramp leveled out. The rush slacked enough to look at the speedometer- and then look again. One hundred and thirty-five. I eased off the gas and prayed the witness seated next to me wasn’t about to call every cop in western Pennsylvania. In the sudden quiet, I heard… laughter. It was tinged with hysteria, certainly, but laughter nonetheless.

That exit was coming up fast. I started to brake, and my passenger waved me on.

“We’ll get off at the next exit and go back through the hills. I know a road…”

He didn’t know the road. That much became apparent as we spent the next hour trying to find our way back. Not that it worried me- I was having the time of my life, blasting through a seemingly endless tree-lined rollercoaster, trailing a vortex of leaves and road debris, the absurd power and miraculous AWD system flinging the car from corner to corner and yanking it around. The salesman was, strangely, completely relaxed, chatting intermittently over the bellow of the exhaust.

Suddenly the journey was over, a blind downhill right spilling out onto the parkway the dealership was on. As I parked the Subaru with a final angry crackle and puff of smoke, my passenger exhaled audibly and, with total sincerity, uttered the strangest sentence I’ve ever heard.

“I had no idea cars could do that.”

I went back the next day, totally hooked, despite the fact that it’s almost impossible to get two drives in the same car. The receptionist, informed me, with total disinterest, that the salesman had returned his ES350 that morning in exchange for the STI, and was currently taking the rest of the day off to enjoy his new car.

Image Credits (1,2): “istargazer“, aka Albert Lynn on flickr

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  • joshuman

    I love a good story with a happy ending.

    Also the phrase "Gravel roads change course in a vain attempt to flee and snow prays for sun to return it to the safety of the skies" should be written tactfully someplace inside every STI. Maybe on the cover of the owner's manual?

    • Get the Dramatic Trailer Voiceover Guy to read it for the next Subie ad campaign.

      • PFG

        Sadly, the great Don LaFontaine went off to the big voiceover booth in the sky two years ago. Instead, imagine the sentence as read by Dame Judi Dench. Good, right?

        • Alff

          With all due respect to Dame Dench's considerable talents, it takes a male voice to own that phrase. I'm imagining Boris Karloff.

    • joshuman

      I have not yet mastered the Gimp and only have Photoshop at home so you'll just have to use your imagination. Place some text on a curve following the road. Pay attention to the vanishing point. The top one for gravel. The bottom for snow. Send it off to the printer and viola, you have a poster to sell to all the Subaru clubs.
      <img src="http://www.rallybuzz.com/wp-content/uploads/John-Barrowman-Sweet-Lamb-3.jpg&quot; width=500>
      <img src="http://formulaphoto.typepad.com/.a/6a00d83456107869e20105361a030f970c-800wi"&gt;

  • Andrew: Excellent story. Thanks for sharing it with we Hoons. and thanks for getting a beige car off the road!

  • Number_Six

    Preach it, brother!

  • Manic_King

    Here we could use some classic Grave-Rob's story how this blue Subaru destroyed car salesman's comfy, if mundane life, through devilish influence oozing from every go-faster part bolted to her blue body. Probably downward spiral for poor guy from day 1 with Subbie…..

    • discontinuuity

      I'm picturing a "Fight Club" style descent into madness, along with the development of an underground rally racing club and a band of hybrid-smashing vigilantes.

      • dead_elvis

        There may well be something wrong with me, but I first read the end of your comment as "band of hybrid-smashing vaginas".

        Was it wrong that I was simultaneously hopeful & scared?

  • infini4

    A Lexus Salesman Saved by the Power of Christ and the Lord, I mean Subaru and the Lust of Speed.

    • name_too_long

      We have another Hoonitarian convert!

      • discontinuuity

        Someone's been to the Living Waters Church of Subaru Beauty of All Wheel Drive Tent Revival.

  • Great story…thanks for sharing.

    A year ago, I had a 2010 STI parked next to a BMW M3 sedan outside my office… and the keys to both of them. I ended up taking the STI home that night… I love that car.

  • MrHowser

    A buddy bought a theft-recovery '04 STI from the insurance company for $2900, plus a few grand to the greedy son of a gun who found it, but couldn't afford it, as a "finder's fee." It was short wheels and a wing, but everything else was there. Cops figure the hoodlums parked it out in the field, and loosened all the parts for easy Craigslisting.

    Anyway, once he'd pieced it back together, we took a spin. That might be the most fun I've had on four wheels. Much more raw than the BMW 545 or the B5 S4 I borrowed from my uncle.

  • Awesome story. So ah…did you actually end up buying anything or was it just a month of enjoying different cars?

  • Alff

    I found my Lego GT on a VW lot, tucked amidst Jettas and new Beetles. Their salesperson was equally well informed. He's lucky he didn't accompany me on my test drive.

  • name_too_long

    Congratulations Andrew, you are, to my knowledge, the first officially documented Hoonitarian Hooniversalist Evangelist.

    I, for one, thank you for spreading the gospel truth that cars need not be boring appliances and illustrating that even those who have committed the most egregious offenses against our people (Lexus ES drivers) can be saved.

    On a mostly unrelated note, more Hooniverse articles need the phrase "Wreaking Havoc" in the headline.

    • dead_elvis

      "Wreaking Havoc"

      This needs to be its own Hoontastic category. Granted, it is inherent in general Hooning, but at the very least, it should be a tag.

      Pretty please, with the aroma of spent Castrol on top?

  • JayP

    I'm so close to turning back to a Scoobie driver. I know driving another one would put me over the edge.

    Ever seen the movie "Used Cars"? Lucky you didn't send 'beige Lexus" into a cardiac unit.

  • tenbeers

    I've had more fun behind the wheel in my 11 months as a Subaru owner than I had in 21 years of driving prior. Apart from a used GTO or something along those lines, I can't think of a better grins per dollar car.

  • dustin_driver

    This made me smile. A lot. Thanks for the story!

  • DeadinSideInc

    Win and awesome.

    Y'all asked what we wanted to see on the site – this fits the bill in a most excellent manner. Kudos to the author and our evil overlords for posting it.

    • Agreed. This is exactly what I wanted to read. Amaz0rz!

  • Man, that was like a free ride. Great story, and well written. I love this kind of thing.

  • RadioFlyer

    Jiminey Christmas… that was one of the best written stories I've read in quite some time. Fantasmic!

    BTW, what kind of salesman has never hooned a vehicle?! I get the fact that he's selling Lexi, but geez… he musn't have been selling cars for very long. My uncle owned a used car lot. When he test drove cars from the auction that he was thinking about bidding on, he taught me to drive that thing as close to it's limits as possible. It's then when you'll find most of it's quirks and faults. That man (my uncle) was an absolute nut. Love him.

  • Daniel C. Richmond

    Well, that was lovely. I'm going to go smile at my WRX and head up to bed. Thanks much.

  • When I worked for BMW, as soon as we put something meaty on the forecourt you could guarantee a line of joyriders.

    One of them was about twenty, he had an E36 325i with a few choice add-ons nailed to it, somewhere on the line between enhancement and ruinment. He was quite proud of his car and was keen to tell me that it had been fitted with an M3 engine, I didn't ask for any proof, a few douchebag alarm bells were ringing.

    He was after a test-drive of an M5, coincidentally we had an indianapolis blue example outside; my managers personal car. At that point I couldn't care less whether he was a genuine customer or not, any opportunity for a quasi-legitimate hoon in an M5 is worth taking in my book.

    • Protocol on test drives is that the exec drives first and then hands over the controls half way through, and after all is up to temperature. After five minutes threading through the city and onto the road the rev-limiter had moved round the dial and I engaged P500, manual, tcs off and planted the throttle. Signalling my intentions with a light drift on a roundabout, I pushed hard into three figures and then back down for the next roundabout and onto the dual carriageway. The approach road is a constant radius curve so I dropped a gear, the back stepped out and I held it for a few hundered yards, before flicking the wheel to pitch the car onto the final roundabout, then coming to a halt by the side of the road and unbuckling my harness. Silence.

      "Your turn".

      • His eyes were glazed over at this point, he struggled to find the door release, at one point pressing the window button in error. He clambered into the drivers seat, adjusted the seat right forward so he had some chance of reaching the pedals and then awkwardly started the car, desperate not to ask me how to actually achieve this. He eventually found the start button on the side of the steering column and the V10 exploded into life, literally; he was standing on the pedal.

        "How do I put it in manual?"

        "No, you don't want to do that, you've not driven this before."

        "No, it's fine, how do you do it?"

        I did it for him and he pulled away, suprisingly gently, and then he floored it. I thought he would. The revs climbed up to 8000 and stayed there; he had missed a gear. He furiously yanked on the paddles and went up through two gears, then another. The engine bogged down and I made a lunge towards the gear selector, forcing it into automatic. He said nothing.

        • He was driving fast, and badly. He took far too much speed into an empty roundabout turning the M5 into an ungainly, understeering mess. before over-correcting and sending the car slewing violently sideways. I had had enough.

          "Turn left here." The customer oliged. The road took us to a dead, only about a hundred yards further. "Just pull up there". He did. "Ok, I'm going to drive us back to the showroom, I'm ending the test-drive here."


          "Because you're going to kill us or the car, whichever happens first."

          "I was just driving it properly. It's an M5"

          "You weren't. You can't. I don't know what your driving is usually like, but you don't drive like that in one of our cars."

          • "But you did. You showed me."

            "Yes, but BMW have trained me. I can. You can't. I drive these things all week to show them to people in the market. Are you in the market?"

            "Not yet."

            "I thought so. So you just wanted to drive an M5 then?"

            "Well, yes. I might want to buy one."

            I drove us back to the showroom, slowly and conservatively and parked next to his old E36, now slightly sad and pathetic looking next to the sixty grand E90. We both got out of the car and I walked back towards the door.

            "Ok, you've had your test drive. Go and tell your mates. If you want to buy one you can come back, make an appointment. But it won't be with me."

            • I returned to my desk and the bothersome daily routine, suddenly realising I had to get my mobile phone from the M5. So I went back outside. The guy was still there, talking on his mobile phone, and I overheard him;

              "Yeah, it was alright, but my M3 is faster…."

              Sorry about the multiple posts. I just wanted to share my story.

              • om_nom_de_plume

                what a tosser!

                • Actually we were both tossers. Mad props to Andrew and my "customer" for having the balls to do what we all want to and go from dealer to dealer smoking their cars.

                  Also, I've just noticed how many typos there are in my hastily written story. I'm supposed to be working…

                  • JayP

                    While waiting for service at the Jeep shop, trained in on a used S2000 in the lot. They were just out and surprised to see one as used already.

                    Salesman was a young guy and determined to talk about himself instead of selling the car. But I managed to get in. With him driving, tore down the highway. Radio was as loud as it could go. I didn't know strip clubs had their own channel.

                    He never revved above 4k driving down the highway. We were going too fast for the conditions still.

                    Pull over at a station, I get into the driver's seat.
                    "First thing first. Turn this crap music off."

                    On the frontage road I got the feeling for the throttle and brake.

                    Traffic cleared, 2nd gear to redline. That was great. That engine feels like a turbo when run right.
                    Salesboy looked concerned I'd run it to redline.
                    "That's the VTEC kicking in."

                    Managed a few twisties, toe-heels. About 6/10ths. Some tire squeal, no real oversteer. Never out of control.

                    Back at the dealer, my truck was ready. Saleskid said to "park it". Never even got my phone number.

                    Tosser (and part time DE Instructor)

                    • Yep. Quite often, in car sales, there are sometimes tossers on both sides of the desk! I was a horriffic, cocky gobshite when I started out. It's a phase you pass through quite quickly.

  • ruckus racing

    shared this story on a couple subaru forums, NASIOC and RS25. even the common rude internet troll had to give props. very well written.

    • Thanks for sharing with a crew that'll hopefully appreciate it.

      Since Andrew was cool enough to share it with us, I don't really care, but as a general courtesy/guideline if you could not copy/paste a complete post to another site, that'd be appreciated. Like, if that were a whole review, I'd be a little peeved. Thanks.

  • SSurfer321

    What a fantastic story. Thank you. This made my week 🙂

  • ptmeyer84

    Thanks for reminding me why I started reading this site in the first place! You won't find another story quite like this one anywhere in the blogosphere.

  • Lotte


    I don't have anything to add, just a big kudos to you!

  • Wow. That was awesome. Excellent job.

  • ErikT

    Great story, great writing.