Twenty twenty-two is here, and I’m still thinking about the holidays with memories of what they used to be like with my extended family. I have only two first cousins, and though the oldest of the two was closer in age to my younger brother, he and I ended up being really close in adulthood. Nate and his wife, who is also an amazing person, photographer, and mother to their kids, had even come to visit me in Chicago on a few occasions before their kids arrived. One thing that bonded us from childhood was our love of cars. Even more so than with either of my two brothers, with whom I shared a plastic beach bucket full of Matchbox cars, it was Nate and I who really got into all things automotive.
All of those action shows from that period of the late-’70s through the mid-’80s shown either in reruns or in real-time would have him and me glued to the television and occasionally high-fiving each other. “CHiPs”, “Dukes Of Hazzard”, and “The A-Team” comprise just a partial list of the shows that got his and my vote when thumbing through the TV Guide in the combined kitchen and dining room of our grandparents’ farm house where there was a second, small, portable television set. Looking past the obvious, superficial differences in our appearances, with him being a towheaded White kid and me with my light brown skin, kinky hair, and ambiguously ethnic features, it was still clear he and I had much in common and really liked hanging out with each other. He and I have discussed as adults how neither one of us as kids thought a lot about how few people might have guessed we were related unless both in tow behind Grandma. We were simply cousins. It’s true that even today I think of him almost like my third brother.
Not my cousin’s car, but just like it. Edgewater, Chicago, Illinois. Wednesday, April 23, 2014.
Where cars are concerned, though, there later developed one major fork in the road in our already somewhat divergent paths: at some in point in adulthood, I noticed that he had developed an affinity for imports, and more specifically, for the Subaru brand. He remains a loyalist today. His first Subie was a silver 2001 Impreza 2.5 RS coupe – a car he cherished, babied, and make the hard choice to sacrifice when his family started to grow. Being completely honest, I was perplexed that the newfound object of his car brand fandom was a foreign make. This didn’t seem right to me, but he didn’t grow up in Flint as I had, or even in car-centric Michigan. He was as much an Ohioan as I was a Michigander, and I always suspected that it was the absence of the same “buy domestic” mindset that I was steeped in basically from birth that contributed to this.
Naturally, when a decades-long friend and I were going for a walk last month in her neighborhood and I saw this Subaru, I thought immediately of Nate. My friend politely ducked out of sight while I got these few snaps, as she knows the drill. A license plate search revealed that this example is a ’99 Impreza L, and is powered by 2.2L flat “boxer” four-cylinder engine with 142 horsepower. It was originally manufactured in Gunma, Japan, which is a prefecture (local entity) of Japan known primarily for its skiing and hot springs. This seems in direct contrast to many automotive manufacturing areas I’ve ever heard of, including there in the greater Detroit area. This particular car was made toward the end of the first Impreza’s production run which began in the fall of ’92. The second-generation cars would arrive for 2002. The Impreza has been in its fifth iteration since the 2017 model year.
Once again, one of my essays has drifted into personal territory instead of saying anything informative about the subject car, but many readers of my essays are used to this by now. I’ll close by saying that I realize my bond with my cousin had started to influence my taste in cars when I started paying more attention to JDM-specific models, especially as excellently photographed and written about by our own Tatra87. I thank both gentlemen for broadening my automotive palate. In this new year, may all of you in the Curbside community, regardless of the frequency of your readership or active participation in the comments, randomly stumble across more of the cars that make you smile, even if only by simple association with the people you care about. This one’s for you, Cuz.
(Detroit suburb) Royal Oak, Michigan.
Sunday, December 12, 2021.