Japanese car companies have long been renowned for making exceedingly efficient, excellently engineered and unquestionably reliable motorized conveyances.
But for as long as this reputation of unparalleled durability has been around, so has the stigma of dullness and lack of driving pleasure. One brand that seems to have consistently bucked this trend is Subaru, which continues to produce cars with “burbly” sounding boxer engines and all-wheel-drive. This is also the company that, throughout its history, has blessed the world with everything from delightfully odd cars like the BRAT pick-up truck to rally legends like the Impreza WRX STI.
Indeed, compared to its more mainstream Japanese rivals, Subaru positions itself as a more niche brand in the Philippines that caters to drivers who want something different. And this is why Subaru Society president Eric Valera loves them.
“Most of their models are turbocharged, which means they have very good performance,” he said. “They are also fairly easy to upgrade and exciting to drive. Indeed, even if you’re stuck in traffic, your temper eases behind the wheel of a Subaru.”
215 official members nationwide
Valera said the club started on September 8, 2010 with around 30 members. He said they all knew each other very well beforehand because they had been members of another car club. Today, Subaru Society has 215 official members and over 1,000 unofficial members in its Facebook group.
Valera said becoming an official member of the club can be done either through referral or through joining the Facebook group. Although there are no membership fees, he said the club is very stringent in choosing official members, requiring them to not only own a Subaru (which include gray-market ones), but also requiring them to be members of the Facebook group for at least three months and to participate in at least three eyeballs (or EBs) and/or fun runs.
“We do this to get to know them personally,” he said. “This is so we can find out that they want to become a full-fledged member for the companionship and not for the discounts and perks that they can get.”
Valera said official members are issued car stickers and membership cards. He said the latter gives members a 10 -percent discount on parts and labor at all Motor Image Philippines Inc. showrooms. However, he said official members aren’t required to go to Motor Image to have their cars fixed or tuned.
Sunday coffee for six years straight
Valera said Motor Image also takes part in many of the club’s activities, including its annual outreach program. He said the club has gone to orphanages in Subic, Clark and Silang in Cavite.
“It’s a two-in-one activity,” he said. “You not only get to drive far to enjoy the car, but also help less fortunate children. It’s really like a fun run, also.”
Valera said the group is very fond of fun runs, with members inviting each other to go out of town for even for simple things like testing a new exhaust system. But perhaps the most notable activity the club does is its weekly coffee EB at UCC Vienna Cafe in Corinthian Hills, Quezon City.
“For every Sunday since the club started, there have always been Subaru Society members hanging out there from 9:30 p.m. onwards,” he said.
Motor sports streak
Since Subaru Society is a car club that drives performance cars, Valera said they also do occasional track days to push their cars to the absolute limit. In fact, he said the club is renowned for its performance-driving skills, having been defending champions of the Sunshine TV Auto Rally five years in a row.
“We also drove for Mini when the brand debuted in 2012 because [Autohub president] Willy Tee Ten knew a lot of our members,” he said. “Although we drove for Mini, the Subaru group was our sister team. We never abandoned each other.”
This year, Valera said the group plans to have its anniversary celebration in September, as well as hold its seventh outreach program in November. He also said the group plans to continue its motor sports activities.
“Subaru Society is a group of individuals who are passionate about their cars, but it’s more than just a car group,” he said. “We’ve progressed from just talking about cars to becoming close friends. Whether it’s celebrating a life achievement or mourning a family tragedy, we have and will always be there for each other.”