There’s only a handful of cars that were made for the buyers with “fun” being up front. There’s plenty of examples where the car is designed for the buyer’s comfort, like the AMC Pacer innovating the idea that it’s all about interior creature comforts like space, visibility, and such. Then of course you got the Mercedes’, BMWs and Audis that are designed for comfort all the while being nippy. You got things designed specifically to be as Gran Turismo-esque as possible like the Nissan GT-R. Then you got things like old grand touring coupes that were designed for long stretches of road, they were fast, they were bouncy and all around just kind of fun. But that still isn’t the type of fun we’re discussing here, it’s the type of fun that you only get as a twenty-something year old, pulling the handbrake with every turn in your starter car like a old degenerate Buick Regal or a VW Golf Mk3… Stomping the pedal into the floorboards and getting the slightest bit of ass peeling out. The kind of fun that basically meant you were destroying the thing you were driving, but you didn’t care cause you were having a Goddamn blast.
And that all somewhat started in 1983 as the Toyota Corolla and Sprinter Trueno AE86, one of the last rear wheel drive Corollas before they went nearly exclusively FWD, it somewhat accidentally became a racing and drifting legend. It had literally all the checkboxes filled in on all the important fronts. It had great power to weight, it had excellent engines that even by themselves without any tune-ups were nothing short of epic and it was generally just a light-weight sports coupe that somehow excelled at everything it did. It got turned into a rally car for Group A rally, it dominated the 1986 European Touring Car Championship, beating all the legends like the Mercedes 190E, BMW M6, Merkur XR4Ti, Volvo 240 Turbo and so on, it was and still is a drifting legend in both anime and real life, being seen as the grand-daddy of it all, the wise elder where it all began – and it never got a true direct follow up since it’s discontinuation in 1987.
Until 2007, when Toyota showed a concept car that had direct heritage to the AE86 with the same similar set-up. Normal, ordinary interior, nothing wild. Light weight yet very powerful for its size engine block. Rear wheel drive with the power balance shifted to the rear. Low weight all around on the car. That recipe. At first though it was a hybrid V6 block and it was sort of destined to be yet another concept that would attract a lot of attention for a year and just be forgotten about the next, until in 2008 when Subaru decided to want to partner up on this on one(after the lead designer had asked them to, which was first rejected by Toyota’s peers cause of Subaru’s reputation with AWD cars, not necessarily RWD) – keep in mind, this is like Chrysler coming in to GM’s offices to offer help on improving the Camaro. A four cylinder boxer engine was designed by Subaru and they improved upon one of their already tight-as-hell chassis and gearbox from a Impreza to build the newly improved FT-86 concept.
In 2010 the final concept was announced in Tokyo, and boy did it get some hype and the hype train kept rolling through those years with the styling being changed every four months cause while the innards were settled upon, Subaru chassis, gearbox, simple interior with lots of plastics but still enough modern day necessities, flat 4 cylinder boxer engine by Subaru with Toyota’s DS-4 injection system to create an all around quick and nippy little engine. It wasn’t until literal months before the final go ahead that the last and most accurate concept was shown; the Subaru BRZ. Around the world since late 2011, there’s several editions of what largely is the same car but just under a very complicated licensing deal where both Toyota and Subaru would get some slice of the pie; Toyota’s 86 was destined for the Asian market, Subaru’s BRZ(Boxer engine, RWD and Zenith) for Europe and other territories and the Scion FR-S(Front engine, RWD – Sport) for the North American and Canadian markets.
And to say the least, it was welcomed quite well. It brought back the boyish joy of just spinning out your car whenever you wanted but that could still behave when necessary. It wasn’t super fast, it wasn’t the quickest to 60MPH and it wasn’t the most luxurious but the car did get the sticker of approval for “most fun” without a doubt. And Asian kit makers did jump on this boat with some finesse, both Tamiya and Aoshima produced a full detail kit(which is unusual to say the least, engines are usually considered a luxury on their kits) and they might be so similar that I’m not even sure they’re not a same joint-venture, but I figured I’d go with the Tamiya kit just because I generally trust Tamiya to be 100% the best of the bunch.
And it’s a fantastic, fantastic kit like usual by Tamiya on all but one fronts! Holy shit it happened, I found a complaint that was for once on Tamiya’s – if you’re gonna pre-decorate your kits, as you’re known to do, do it at least decently well. It’s not even blue, it’s some off navy blue that’s closer to purple than it is to blue. But as it says above there, it wasn’t anything a little Skoda Race Blue and some store-shelf metallic blue couldn’t fix. Then decided, y’know what this need? One buffed as all hell clear coat – and I think after the fourth coat it was plenty. The rest of the kit that isn’t the weird blue, is either in black, chrome in silver and it’s of a decent enough shade to not need any painting to be done(as I did for the sake of short-cutting on the engine block a little). It comes with a set of window masks, lots of decals and a hell of a set of wheels. Tamiya, along with Aoshima and Fujimi – still kings of wheels and tires, no contest. Really tight fitting and very well detailed Michelin Pilot SX MXX3 tires and unlike damn near any Revell and AMT kit to date; friggin’ fit and go onto the model with the least amount of effort.
It’s also a nice and complicated kit that as usual goes together with some force but ends up looking excellent. Plus as I mentioned before, for a change – a whole engine! The 4U-GSE engine is replicated with a fair amount of detail, albeit a five piece construction. Literally just the half engine block, a set of manifolds, intakes and the engine strut – that’s about it. The reservoirs and all are all one piece and what isn’t a slab or a single piece is already molded onto the body or the chassis. But fine, who cares – it’s an Asian kit with a engine and that makes me happy by default. And they also didn’t half-ass it given the engine bay looks accurate enough like the real deal(unlike MPC kits of yore where it’s wheel wells and engine block with some reservoirs awkwardly slapped on top).
The only two issues I had were part due to the fact that I skimped on this kit. I bought it on the cheap from an Australian retailer that said this box was opened before for a promotional pictures or something in that vein and may have been “shuffled about some”. Well, while nearly nothing was damaged in the end, it did get some damage done to it. For instance, the fender indicators are missing entirely, the left headlight was snapped into pieces and given you have to force the headlamp bezel into place with the plastic glass in front, it made getting a three piece headlamp in there in one piece impossible, the loose piece fell through the bumper and is now lost to the confined space of the grille. And the little metal transfers were stuck to all sorts of random places in the plastic, all I recovered was the “B” of “BRZ” and the mirror pieces, plus randomly one Subaru badge. Believe there’s meant to be a Subaru script as well but… yeah that’s gone.
Given it’s such a beautiful kit and knowing how good Tamiya kits are I decided y’know what, stop being such a cheap asshole and actually get the kits brand new no matter the age. So I did! I got the Opel Astra DTM, the Subaru Ayclone, the Honda S2000 and a couple more coming up down the line some time. Maybe one day I’ll reinvest in a model or a used kit to steal the headlight and the fender indicators from so I can complete this beauty, truly.
’12 Subaru BRZ specifications:
Kit: “The Sports Car” series, No.324
Skill Level: N/A
Molded in: Navy Blue and Black