The Right Choice
Updated: Oct 5
Steven Goelman - 2017 Subaru WRX - BASE
Gear heads never forget their first car. Mine was a 1968 Oldsmobile Cutlass S boasting a 350 small block and 3 speed automatic transmission. This bench seat beast was an awesome example of a first car. It roared, it rumbled, it was loud and fun. But for my long time accomplice in everything petrol, Steven's first car was much more utilitarian. How utilitarian you might ask? It was the Orange County House Mom Special known colloquially as a 1994 Nissan Quest. With it’s custom license plate titled KIDNFUN, it was predictably unique with its Aquamarine Metallic paint and Dolphin Grey leather. As a high school student, rocking a minivan didn't really provide the cool. But this didn’t stop Steven from doing what (nearly) every overzealous teen does with their first vehicle; receive their first speeding ticket. In my 1968 Olds my crime was hitting 45mph in a 35mph zone. For Steve in his ‘94 Quest it was 108mph on the 5 South Freeway marked for 65mph.
Cars number two and three for Steve were a Honda Accord and a Honda CRZ. It was just before the Accord purchase when I bought my second car, a 2006 Subaru WRX. All hyped up with turbo fever I tried to talk Steve into getting a WRX too. He proceeded to crash one on a test drive and purchase a Honda instead. Well, flash past those purchasing errors (in my extremely biased opinion) ten years and he finally smartened up and purchased a 2017 WRX. With one year and nine months of routinely replacing worn out items with performance options, tuning when necessary, and obsessively focusing on detailed modifications, his now 36,000 mile WRX met me in one of my favorite Southern California locations.
This location is a go-to for many reasons. It provides me with twisty roads, water, dirt, mountains to climb, and epic scenery that pulls you out of the cookie cutter structures of Orange County. But, my favorite reason for this local callback is the echo. Now, I personally like flat engines. I’ve owned a WRX and a Boxster, and pretty much only photograph and write about flat engine vehicles. I like the way they sound and the way they handle. I’m a fan of the brands that lean in to the flat engine designs. I love the way they look and perform. This photoshoot holds no exception to my personal interests.
When photographing Subarus, nature is pretty much required to play a part. But since this stereotypical hipy-dipy platform is just as synonymous with the BRAAP as it is with Eugene, Oregon I feel like the first major set up of the day should reflect both. The photograph above could have easily been snapped with a single exposure on a 50mm lens but I like to make things complicated. This shot, just like every other in this blog post, was taken with a 90mm prime on my Fujifilm XH-1. Being a crop sensor camera means this 90mm lens is the equivalent of 137mm on a full frame sensor system. All these numbers simply mean I make things difficult for myself to get this unique composure.
There are fewer things I enjoy in this world more than an automobile caught in motion. Be it a modified sand rail thrashing the dunes of Glamis (light bulb), a grid car built by passion and a disdain for normal driving habits, or a daily driver smashing through the elements, movement is king. Now, I’m no Akira Kurosawa and these pictures definitely do not contend with Seven Samurai (a must watch) but in this next composition I wanted to show this Subaru in it’s best state, in motion.
Keeping suit with the theme of motion, I wanted to incorporate the final element to round out this photo series; DIRT. Dirt is something a Subaru is comfortable with. It shows experience and can even be a catalyst for a story. Cue the list of rally wins…
On second thought, no. Its 47 in fifteen years. 47 wins from when they entered WRC competition 1993 to 2008 kicking out an average of 3 per year before pulling out of WRC in 2008 officially killing my inner child. But I digress...
Dirt also looks great when four spinning wheels throw it into the air so Steve and I drove over to another location (closed off and undisclosed for safety reasons) to run amuck around this little oval track. In this Larry Chen inspired snap I wanted to embrace the history of the brand that I have long admired. I wanted to show the DNA of the flat four that first started my obsession with all things horizontally opposed, and embrace the dirt. Unfortunately you can’t see his face in this shot, but I assure you Steve was grinning from ear to ear. It was at this point he solidified that he made the right choice in finally purchasing a Subaru WRX.