Everyone dreams of their dream, money no object fleet. Honestly though? Even accounting for the fact they're very much real-world cars my all-Japanese car pairing of imported Forester and Eunos Roadster (we'll ignore The Dirty Polo for now) continues to tick every box.
Let's catch up on the Forester though. Long-time readers will be aware of this car and my love for it. Having originally intended to 'go full Harrogate' and track down a UK Forester Turbo (complete with two-tone paint and Essence d'wet Labrador) I got a little... sidetracked in the PH classifieds. Ignoring the fact I overspent by a factor of two the man maths has stood me pretty well too. Go on, indulge me...
First up the six-speed gearbox in the STI (UK cars have a five-speed) means I can cruise at motorway speeds without waking the turbo. OK, it's still a 2.5-litre engine and hardly frugal. But even with bike racks permanently in place I can tickle 30mpg on a run and even a more spirited cross-country pace only drops to the mid- to low 20s. That's way better than the old MY95 Impreza WRX wagon I used to run and just about tenable - closing my eyes and dreaming of the Clubcard points as it slurps another tankful of Momentum 99 is my coping mechanism. VED almost exactly half the £555 it would cost to tax an equivalent UK-spec 2.5 XT Turbo helps, too. Then there's the fact I could sell it now for pretty much what I paid for it three years ago.
So much for the financial self-justification. It's more about the emotional bond, and I confess that is yet to wane. Just the other day I was pottering about, Hayward & Scott enhanced burble rumbling away and thinking "god, I love this car!" Sometimes I catch sight of Mrs Trent heading off as I walk my daughter to nursery and grin at how cool it looks among the rest of the school run traffic. And with bikes onboard it is literally, the definition of Sports Utility Vehicle, as I enjoyed recently on an early morning run into North Wales. I'll admit I was happier on that occasion the bike was stashed inside and not clinging on for dear life to the Thule racks on the roof.
Back to reality though; what's it costing to run? I had to do discs and pads all round on top of an annual service recently and that saw the final bill nudge into four figures. Apparently the Brembos are notorious for seized mounting bolts too and, sod's law, seven out of the eight came out fine, leaving one that had to be drilled and tapped. The Pagid pads that went in squealed for a while at low speeds but seem to have calmed down now and the extra braking power (and bling) is another welcome upgrade over a UK-spec Forester Turbo. I've had to do a couple of drop links too, but these count as consumables on Subarus. There's probably a new cambelt in the not too distant, so I'll have to brace myself for that. But other than that I'll readily take the nod of approval and "good car, that" my local Subaru specialist Richard Henry Motorsport signed off with last time I picked it up.
And an even better one now, following a visit to Litchfield as part of my travels. Back in the day most of the Forester STIs in the country came through them and they were the go-to guys for hot Subarus. Fashion has moved on, and with it the business, and I was there to drive the GT-R LM20 Track Edition. Before I could get near their latest lunatic Nissan I had to navigate a crowd of enthusiastic Litchfield guys, who swarmed round the Forester and enthused about how it was their favourite from the Subaru era. They even dusted off their old map and, after a quick run on the rolling road, 280hp became 306hp. More to come if I want it, I'm promised. But that's a pretty healthy figure and, though it's hardly my style, I take satisfaction in the idea my boxy old Subaru could give the Golf R massive a run for their money.
It could use a bit of a tidy up, mind. There are bubbles of corrosion appearing on the alloys and the soft Subaru paint is suffering under the combined assault of bird crap and sap that showers from the trees outside my house. That was bad enough, the ding in the roof from a falling branch insult to injury. A mobile dent guy worked his magic on it, which was a relief. And an Autoglym Headlight Restoration Kit did a sterling job of refreshing my cloudy headlight. Following advice I've sealed it with Chemical Guys Jet Seal to keep it looking crystal clear.
While I can currently enjoy the lifestyle dream of days out on bikes with the family there's no escaping space is getting a little tight. And as little bikes start getting bigger it may be time to consider my next move. Reluctantly this may well be the twilight of my ownership of this car but, if that's the case, I'm going to make damned sure I eke it out as long as possible. And enjoy every damned minute.
Car: 2005 Subaru Forester STI (JDM import model)
Run by: Dan Trent/the long suffering Mrs Trent
Bought: December 2015
Mileage: 122,843km (at purchase)
Purchase price: £9,500
Last month at a glance: Tired paintwork may need addressing soon. Wait, I said that two years ago...
Dan scores himself one of his all-time dream cars
Living the Subaru lifestyle dream
Dan versus JDM wind deflectors (with a little help from Sticky Stuff Remover)
JDM habit runs deep in the Trent family, which could prove costly
New exhaust brings the noise!
Getting a grip with some fresh rubber