Are 90s Subarus now too valuable to modify?

Are 90s Subarus now too valuable to modify?

With the oldest Subaru WRXs nearing 30 years old many people consider cars of Japan’s epic 1990 performance era collectable classics. like Skyline GT-Rs, Mazda FD RX-7s, JZA80 Supras, Honda NSXs and DC2 Integra Type Rs, whose values have all shot up in recent times.

So this raises the question of whether these cars, which we have all loved modifying through the years to suit our personal taste or to make them better to drive, should be preserved in factory-fresh condition as classic cars... or are we free to keep personalising them?

One car which has always had strong monetary value in Australia is the limited-edition STi coupe. Aussies got their first official taste of STi Impreza goodness when Subaru Australia brought 400 Version 5 2-door STi coupes in and sold them all in about 35-seconds. (Well it was actually 399 that made it due to rumours one fell off the boat!)

These were the hot sauce 206kW jobbies, up from the already-rapid 160kW WRX, although they were plauged early on with engine failures as somebody forgot to inform Subaru Japan we don't have 100RON fuel Down Under (thanks, Kevin!).

These were followed by 400 4dr Version 6 sedans in 2000, before the STi Impreza joined the WRX as a regular model in 2001 with the launch of the GD as a 2002 model Down Under. Today, mint condition, dead-stock examples of the Ver.5 and Ver.6 Aussie-delivered STis command a premium as so many were modified back in the day. 

We've already seen prices for the Australia-only Liberty RS Turbo bottom-out a few years ago and values for mint surviving examples of this rare early 90s beastie are climbing every year. And, given its rarity and position in Aussie performance car history it is easy to understand why.

But, as with many "classic cars" (especially stuff from the 1960s) they're not great to drive in stock trim today. The brakes are weak, handling soggy, nobody has cassettes to play in the crappy stereo, and 147kW doesn't feel rocketship fast like it did in 1993.  Some will argue this is all part of the charm of classics, but what if you could keep the 90s look but update how the car feels to drive? 

Will we see people modifying their 90s Japanese heroes in ways that can be reversed, similar to how some muscle car owners now strive to keep the original bones of the car so as not to hurt the value? Or should we just enjoy our cars however we damn well want?

Personally, I see nothing wrong with taking what Subaru gave us and making it bullet-proof. Let's face it, the beauty of Subarus is you can literally bolt a better drivetrain and handling package in, which is completely reversable!

If you're reading this chances are you're a fan of modifying cars, so you won't hold it against us if we turn the wick up on this 2 door STI and make it even more epic than when it left the factory! If you haven't seen the new episode, check it out here!





  • Kyle Soler

    I would say do stuff that is fairly easy to reverse. mainly focus on mods that make this car easier to live in (better head unit, maybe raise the suspension a bit, smaller wheels with slightly bigger sidewall etc).

  • Niki Dan Berthelsen

    Power ….. don’t increase the power in a way that it changes the “feel”.

  • Niki Dan Berthelsen

    Make it a challenge to only use “reversible” upgrades.
    Don’t increase the in a way that it changes the cars “feel”, work on the handling, the horrible alarm system, comfort (stereo, seats …. AirCon?) and maybe the detailing – maybe even make it more durable – re-galvanize parts?

  • K

    Eh, I believe it’s better to mod it than lose it to a crash because of poor handling, go ahead and upgrade and mod this thing to the rafters. Plus what is a car if you don’t mod it?

  • Jake don Moore

    As long as you make it yours, improve it and keep it tasteful, happy modifying ;) these cars are built to be modified and driven! Maaaaadddd

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