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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The intention of this thread is to talk about my experience of owning an OEM STi vs. all of the modified cars I've owned. It would also be nice to give new members a chance to consider keeping their cars unmodified for a longer period of time in order for them to weigh their choices to modify or not. Or, at least wait the car out to see what needs to be modified to meet their standards instead of wasting money on expensive parts prior to even taking ownership.

First, I'll start by listing the cars that I've owned, at least one of which is comical, and their modifications.

1992 Geo Storm (lol): Auto Zone Intake, muffler delete, a header that didn't fit right, and an ebay performance chip that pretty much just turned up the idle

2003 Nissan Sentra Spec V, molten silver: 35% tint, Nismo Cold Air Intake, Nismo shock/spring combo, Header, intake manifold spacer, throttle body spacer, crank pulley, Apexi World Sport 2 Exhaust. Then... Cheap black wheels with pealing paint, red painted brake calipers, rattle can tail light tint, HID's that would flicker on and off, VIS carbon fiber hood, every cheap stick on badge/factory debadge possible, Nismo short shifter, head unit, Sub-woofer that slid around in my trunk.

2009 Civic Si coupe, crystal pearl black: debadged, Absurd payment mod, 35% Window Tint, HFP dark bronze 17" wheels, HFP shock/spring combo, AEM intake, conservative HKS exhaust, yellow for light overlays. For as much as I did with it, this was probably the most tastefully modded car I owned.

2008 350z, dark blue: debadged, 35% tint, short antenna... I had this car for 11 months and got rid of it. It was a nice car, but I never drove it due to having my junk beater 2004 Hyundai Elantra. I got rid of it quickly and I ended up being more sad to ditch my Hyundai as a later trade, due to it being my wife's firs car. The Z never 'did it' for me, despite being a bucket list car.

2013 WRX Satin White Pearl: Nameless muffler delete, 35% tint, Cobb intake/AP, yellow fog light overlays

2015 STI: debadged, Cobb Intake/AP, Corsa cat back, Rally Armor mud flaps, 20% tint, RCE Yellow Springs, 265 (I think?) tires, work emotion bronze wheels 18x9.5. Springs/wheels/tires were a nightmare and it had slight rubbing. They and were removed less than two months later which allowed me to observe how much it ruined the driving dynamics just for aesthetic purposes that did almost nothing to satisfy me. But, they were only removed after such a short duration of time in order for Subaru to fix a pre-existing suspension issue which was never able to be resolved. I was credited $4,000 to a new Subaru, which hurt considering I wanted to keep my 15 WRB STi longer than any other car. It had always been my dream car.

Fast forward to a little less than a year ago I purchased my satin white pearl 2018 STi and dumped my defective 2015 STi at the dealership. They probably sold it to some poor sap without even trying to resolve the problem. Either way, I came to realize that when I had all of my previous cars and took the parts off prior to selling and trading, as such with the suspension from my 15, I realized how different the cars rode/drove and there was a little bit of a pleasant relief. Especially when it came to my 15 STi, which was modified almost immediately.

This time, I got all of the factory options that I wanted, right off the bat even prior to taking delivery. Recaro seat package, conservative and legal 35%, a front lip, the necessary STi short shifter, and rear carbon fiber trunk trim to liven up the rear and just a little. Cheesy, but I like the way it looks. I made a promise to myself to wait to mod the car and keep the warranty. This was largely due to keeping my amazing wife happy. She was the one who convinced me to get everything I wanted on the car straight from the factory in order to keep me satisfied, as opposed to getting another base like my 15 STi. I also wanted to try OEM on for size and a large portion probably had something to do with my nightmare suspension issues on my 15, and the fear of not being covered on warranty from my mods after the originally reported issue. I will say that a change I did get was a set of RA mud flaps with the practical purpose of protecting the paint. I'm not counting this.

*****CONTINUED ON NEXT POST BELOW*****
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
I've come to have a greater appreciation for this particular car in its stock form than any of my other modified cars. I immediately noticed, as I did with my 15 STi, that my 2018 STi was incredibly quiet in the beginning. However, after 7,000 miles it's broken in to the point where the exhaust has a nice moderate loudness growl, without giving my ears fatigue. Sound is a huge reason why I love the WRX/STi line. But, instead of putting a variety of parts that I thought made the car sound better, I found that Subaru did a pretty damned good job from the factory. in fact, I came to realize how much the other noise makers really deadened the more detailed sound of the UEL header EJ motor doing its job. Now that my hearing is attuned to this STi, I can hear the rumble of the exhaust that now doesn't drown out the sound of some turbo spool, a little gear/transmission whine that I've come to absolutely love, and even a slight hint of factory bypass valve sound. One of the best parts is that I have all of these things and meanwhile the car is a pleasure to drive on long highway trips. We took it on a ten hour drive to Florida and it was really comfortable and satisfying.

Along with all of this, I now appreciate my 2018 STi's driving dynamics in its factory form. It helps that I don't push the car hard often and I never race. I don't care if another car is faster. That's their prerogative. With that in mind, I don't care about making my car 'faster.' I don't need violent acceleration and I find just as much enjoyment taking some country back road turns and within responsible near speed-limit speeds. Doing this, I merely enjoy riding out the revs to 4-5 thousand RPM's, at 30-40% throttle, and just feeling the car as it settles in and lets you know just how planted it is. Sport mode is just fine and when I want to feel slightly more thrilled I click over to sport plus. It satisfies me to know that I'm driving this work of art exactly how the manufacturer I've come to love wanted it to look and drive. This was derived from countless hours of research and their perceived perfection at an affordable cost. If I want to responsibly drive the car a little fast and get into the throttle, I don't feel like a noise making juvenile giving others the idea that I'm out to impress anyone who cares. (I'm not saying this is exclusively the case for people who modify cars.)

I think the mid-cycle refresh has done this car well in terms of being easier to live with a more aggressive, yet still factory appearance. I experience a certain appreciation in keeping this car in factory form, right down to all of the original badges, which hadn't been obtained with previous cars in the past. Within this community keeping this car virtually 'bone stock' is about as unique as it actually gets. Not only that, but as a thirty-three year old law enforcement officer it makes my big winged aggressive looking car feel a little less juvenile. But, I refuse to make the false promise of keeping the car as it is now. I'm a realist and I know that desires change.

As for right now and in the foreseeable future, I'm completely pleased and content with keeping my long-time dream car exactly as I have it now. A lot of this ownership pride also came with me being able to drive the car off of the lot completely paid for, vs. taking a year or so for me to do so. This car has always been the definition of 'mine' from the first minute I hit the push button start and drove it off of Subaru's dealership lot. It's almost as if I don't want to ruin this car that I was so proud to originally receive just as it was. It's insanely cheesy, but driving the car now is the same as it was that joyful first moment I clicked into first gear, tapped the throttle, and feathered the clutch pedal toward me on the warm spring day with the soul mate sitting next to me helps me retain those first pleasures.

I'm completely at ease knowing that I have four more years of care free warranty coverage. I even plan on giving in to the recommended service packages to keep the car up to speed on maintenance with no effort of my own. If my temperamental EJ motor decides to give out, the most inconvenience I'll have is taking the thirty minute drive to my closest dealership and having to settle for a rental car, free of cost, for a couple weeks. Subaru has to have my back for the next several years and I intend on giving them absolutely no ammunition to fight any claims.

I still have my cobb AP/SF Intake just in case I change my mind one day. I couldn't swallow selling these items for pennies on the dollar knowing that there may come a day where I'll be eager to install them. But for now, I plan on having them collect a lot of dust.

I've also been forcing myself to treat this car as a belonging. I take care of it and try to keep it clean. But, I don't sweat over it when there are times, such as the past few months, where it's either too cold to wash it or it's pointless because of impending weather. The car was sealed before the winter, and I plan on doing so once a year. It's mostly garaged, so I have convinced myself that a good wash with quality products is just fine. I take a reasonable amount of care not to swirl the paint and I spray it down with a quality wax/sealer which leaves me with nearly an unnoticeable cleanliness and clean look as the countless hours I've spent cleaning my cars in the past. This car will get dings and scratches. It may even be wrecked. However, there's no need for me to sweat over such a superficial belonging. As for now she sits covered in filth in my dirty garage, consequential of winter.

I often fantasize how joyful it would be to hand this car off to some excited young man who has always dreamed of having a boxer rumbling STi. I can picture myself in those shoes as a young man finally able to save up enough for my dream car and finding one such as mine. Unmolested, one owner, adult driven, and well taken care of with every bit of documented routine service record the original owner ever received. Primed for me to put my own stamp on it if I choose to do so. Giving someone a chance at that rare find and watching their satisfaction.

I know I spent a lot of time to talk about myself and my personal experience of car ownership. I wanted to express to other people how much satisfaction you can get out of taking advantage of a formula provided by the manufacturer. Specifically in our case, cars that are already intended on giving a higher level of driving experience for driving enthusiasts. I also wanted to express how much more grounded I feel by making this ownership joyful with not being over-caring. I'm thankful for the busted knuckles, the learned lesson of over priced/credit card debt building car parts arriving at my door, the small amount of experience that helped me gain my (very) basic automotive understanding, the frustration of rounding/snapping/cross threading bolts, and the teenage version of me that filled with excitement at the sound of my muffler deleted Geo Storm that lead me right where I am today.

As for those who have yet to, or never have a desire to be where I am today, keep doing your thing. Just don't blow your Ffcking motor. (or your wallet)

Cheers
 

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I stayed stock for a heck of a lot longer on this vehicle than anything I have ever driven. I will keep 90% stock as I replace worn out parts through the life of the car.

The AP/SF being my only major mod, and I really plan on doing a fuel system upgrade to get right of the known GR fuel issues.

Thanks for this reminder of how much fun these cars are when kept just the way they rolled out of the plant.
 

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So I went against some of the opinions and advice I have heard about modding my wrx, with the excuse that I’m young and can afford to do it now so I might as well. I know my car will be fun and I hope it will last me a while. If I were to own a newer nice car I would probably enjoy the stock machine rather than mod it. And how was did the 350z compare to the STI?
 

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Zach this is the best owner experience write-up I've seen in ages.
 

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Kudos!! Very nice writeup and clearly you've got a lot of background in the mod department. Before I bought my STI, I owned a Nissan Xterra that I heavily modded and loved it. When I started to consider getting a WRX/STI, I noticed used ones were mostly modded up with a laundry list of "upgrades" and the seller wanted every single penny put into the car. After seeing too many like that, I bought mine new and other than a few aesthetic changes, it's stock under the wrapper. I've toyed with the idea of more hp, louder exhaust, stiffer suspension, etc., but decided to leave it like Mr. Subaru designed it. I simply don't think it needs anything else if you asked me. But for those who like turning a wrench, more power to you! That can be loads of fun in and of itself and very rewarding.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
Thanks, guys.

So I went against some of the opinions and advice I have heard about modding my wrx, with the excuse that I’m young and can afford to do it now so I might as well. I know my car will be fun and I hope it will last me a while. If I were to own a newer nice car I would probably enjoy the stock machine rather than mod it. And how was did the 350z compare to the STI?
I get where you're coming from. I do not think that modding is exclusively a young man's game and I obviously understand your desire to do so. But, I totally understand you being younger and your desire to experiment. Even if you abandon driving enthusiast cars as a whole in the future, or lose the modding bug, it's a safe bet you won't regret any of your previously modded cars. I don't regret my past experiences... Except financially...

Honestly, my 350z really wasn't all that bad of a car. One thing I remember about it was that the motor and linear power it delivered felt fantastic. The shifter and clutch felt numb, which is ironic considering I owned a Civic Si. Mine had the late model HR (high rev) motor that made a little more power and revved slightly higher. it sounded decent, too. But, for whatever reason it never felt like it had much personality, or at least it didn't have what I thought I would enjoy. I had a premium model with leather interior and extras, but it seemed like as it had just as hard of a time feeling luxurious as it did feeling sporty. It was 'ok,' but it was far from my favorite flavor. It also wasn't practical at all and even for an averaged size guy (5'10 / 170) it was uncomfortable to get in and out of. I also realized that owning a car I didn't drive everyday was a buzz kill. It was difficult to use frequently and even when my wife and I purchased a small propane fryer we found out that we couldn't fit the box in the hatch... She rode 45 minutes home with it crammed into the passenger seat on her lap.

It's really hard to explain exactly why I didn't care for it more, but I just didn't. However, I wish I would have kept it a little longer. Despite the 350z being a bucket list car, I think I made the poor choice to jump into a lower cost used 350z, instead of holding out and saving up more money for a higher priced 2013 WRX. In contrast, I immediately fell in love with my 2013 WRX. I never looked back.

Ironically, as soon as we paid our 13 WRX off my wife and I went to the St. Louis auto show, walked around the corner, and saw a beautiful brand new 2015 STi in the Subaru area. It was the right time in our lives where we could afford to buy my dream car and this is the one I wanted. I foolishly called my WRX salesman and ordered one on the way home. I'd still have it today, had it not had the suspension/stearing ghost. But, I actually like my 18 STi and the small improvements made exponentially better than my 2015.
 

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I came to the same conclusion when I sold my bugeye in 2006. I didn't have a large number of mods on it, but it just took way too long to bring back to stock. I then kept my spec B stock until I sold it last year. I didn't miss modding that one, but the itch is starting to come back since I got the STi last year.

"Luckily" I'm leasing this one, so modding it would force me into purchasing it. I'd really rather get to make the purchase vs turn in decision after we find out what the next design is going to be. That being said, I love driving this one stock every day.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
2 and a half years in and I'm finally starting to get the itch. I still have my Cobb intake and AP downstairs. I've accidentally... stumbled upon... hundreds... of exhaust clips over the past few months and the sound of Invidia r400 is calling to me.
 

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This was a balanced and well written piece. Bravo, indeed. I am firmly in the buy the car you want, the way you want it and let it be that way. The comfort of factory warranty is something that I've grown to appreciate. Boosted engines can go bump in the night for little or no reason.

The other side of this is that manufacturers have real engineers and spend real money to develop these cars. They may actually know what they are doing.

P.S. Not sure what year your 350Z was, but my 2004 Touring Roadster had the very bad and well known habit of eating front tires like they were candy at Halloween.
 
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