Japanese Classic: Subaru B4 “Blitzen”

Subaru B4 Blitzen

A couple of weeks ago, Jim Brophy visited the lemon lot at Yokota Airbase and provided a good overview of the kinds of cars that are often purchased by American military members assigned to Japan. In an odd coincidence, I had been working on a similar article and, the day before Jim’s article appeared, had visited the lemon lot at the Yokosuka Navy base where I had taken an astonishingly similar set of photos! As further proof that great minds think alike, Jim’s article even included a car I was going to profile, a Subaru B4 Legacy sedan. Now it’s my turn and, naturally, I’ve decided to try and one-up him.

Subaru B4 Blitzen2

Today’s Japanese curbside classic is the Subaru B4 “Blitzen,” a limited edition twin-turbo grand tourer sold outside of the United States between 2001 and 2003. Wikipedia tells me the Blitzen was designed in conjunction with Porsche Design, an industrial design company founded by the grandson of famed 911 designer Ferdinand Porsche that generally styles products like eyewear, time pieces and household electronics. Porsche Design was responsible for the car’s interior, body kit and wheels – although the latter have since been replaced with a set of Oz racing wheels on this particular car – while the mechanics were left to Subaru.

Subaru B4 Blitzen 2

The Blitzen is powered by a 16 valve, 2.0 liter flat-four engine that, through the magic of intercooled, sequential “twin” turbos, is good for about 280 horsepower. The power is sent through either a six speed manual gear box or, as is the case of this car, a short-geared, sequential “sportshift” automatic and routed to all four wheels via Subaru’s traditional viscous, limited-slip center coupling.

Subaru B4 Blitzen3

B4 Blitzens were offered as both four-door sedans and station wagons and came in just four colors: black, white, silver and red. Although technically a “limited edition,” I quickly managed to locate two B4 Blitzen sedans in my own neighborhood and photographed the car presented here after securing the permission of its deservedly proud owner less than a week after I started looking.

Subaru b4 Blitzen 4

Up close and in-person, this car is a thing a beauty. As a family guy with young kids who is currently consigned to a mini-van, I look forward to the day that I can return to something smaller and sportier. The practicality of this car, its four doors and mid-size cabin, combined with Subaru’s sporting pedigree and a brilliant red paint job that reminds me of the “graphic red” on my ’88 Turbo Shadow, positively grabs my attention and fires my imagination. While these will undoubtedly be old and rare by the time I am able to downsize, I note that Subaru attached the Blitzen name to a bright red concept car shown at the Tokyo Auto Salon last year. If we are lucky, they’ll put it into production and the legend will live on.