Subaru RB320

Whenever possible here at TMC we aim to take the opinions of the cars owners, mix them with our own and then try and see if we can take the car to a location that isn’t necessarily where you might have seen it before. Some of the forthcoming cars and locations that we have for you are going to range from literally cheesy through to downright mind blowing but every now and again, the owner will lead us somewhere no matter how original we want to be.

Case in point, Wales.

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As locations go, Wales has masses of them. Granted, we like to mock the natives as having a passion for farm animals or the fact that in Cardiff its as easy to get off with one of the local girls as it is to purchase a bag of chips. Frequent ‘chip alley’ and you can pretty well use the latter to get the former, but I digress. Wales is a beautiful outcrop of nature that we can dip in and out of as we wish. Apart from if you want to get into it via the M4 in which case you pay to get in but it’s free to leave. If only we had that choice in Dartford.

Now, from a motoring perspective, there is almost an unwritten law that states, as a lover of cars, you must pass your driving test in whatever part of the United Kingdom you reside and, if you have ever purchased a car magazine, you then must pop your cherry by heading to the ‘Evo Triangle’, nestled behind the main road heading into Betws-Y-Coed.

This ribbon of asphalt is draped in such a way as to be a great and rewarding road that also happens to be photogenic as well as a hoot to ride on. Automotive equivalent of that Cardiff lass. Problem is, we thought it might be a little too obvious a choice for us to head to and so we’ve been spending a lot of time getting access to all manner of exotic locations such as an abandoned copper mine through to a brand new empty hotel that we can drive through before it opens.

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But the owner of this articles missive happened to have a request. At the tender age of forty and having owned all manner of cars from eBay snotters through to Ferrari’s and Lamborghini’s, we were contacted and asked if we would take the car and its owner for his first visit. Not only to Wales but also to the triangle. When we asked which car he may take he stated that he would bring two. We could swing by and drive one and he would bring the other.

‘Are you sure we can’t persuade you to take the cars to the docks where we have some nice cranes and warehouses to play with?’ we asked. The reply; ‘Maybe another time but I’ve read that the weather forecast looks good so I want to go to Wales.’

OK. We didn’t put up much of an argument but that’s because of the car that we would get to drive there and back. And that’s not the car we’re focusing on here, as that will deserve its own feature at a later date. No, the car he wanted to take was his Subaru RB320. We meanwhile would have to make do with his Mitsubishi EVO IV Tommi Makkinen. Oh woe is us. Two great rallying names aligned across different marques from different eras. This would prove quite an interesting day.

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Meeting up in the midlands and having a chat, coffee and quick walk around some of the other toys he owns, (where we did find one or two that we are taking to the docks) we then headed off. Apart from the usual M6/M54 drudge, the drive from Telford to Snowdonia is actually a very pleasant affair. While riding along with the Subaru following, the miles ticked along really quickly until we finally arrived at our first stop to park up and make a quick plan of where we were going to go.

Now, the first thing that I must state is that weather forecasting in almost every country around the world, is pathetic. The only exception is Singapore. And that’s because apart from the occasional passing shower in that country, it will be thirty-three degrees, sunny with a slight haze. The chance of getting a forecast that means Snowdonia would be sunny is quite the challenge. The other thing that you can’t guarantee is that you will not have the summit of this mountain shrouded in cloud. I’ve hiked it. I’ve driven around it and past it. At one point, I climbed it and felt the summit rather than see it so to have been told that it would be sunny? Well, we’d see.

Turns out, as you will see from these pictures, that it happened to be the sunniest, clearest, most windless day I’ve ever had up there. In short, it was a miracle. ‘Told you’ stated the owner with a smile so bright that it made me think he was the sunshine not that orb in the sky.

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‘You don’t know how lucky we are to have it like this’ I stated ‘so before we jinx it, lets go for a sighting ride.’ With that, we piled into the RB320 and headed out to familiarise him with the route.

Didn’t take long. His smile was not only starting to look like his head would flip in half along with the snorts of laughter and the divers boot on his right foot starting to appear. After a quick drive around clockwise and anti-clockwise we pulled up back with the Mitsubishi for a chat about it.

‘This is one of the best days of my life’ we were told. ‘I can’t believe I’ve never been here before, it’s such an amazing place.’ Much as we’d wanted to go somewhere different, it is a great driving road.

‘The photographers’ got a few ideas of where he’d like to take some shots if you’d be up for it?’ All we got back was that smile. A quick visit to the car wash just outside of town and we were off into the hills. Following the radio calls that roads were clear, the photographer making sure he’d climbed to the right places and giving the all clear, the car was happily driven around by the smile (as he will now be known) until everyone was satisfied that we were done. So, how did the Subaru cope with the place?

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Honestly? It’s a capable car but it belies an issue that seems to affect a lot of cars these days. It’s middle-aged spread. Earlier Subaru’s were honed, focused and alive. This is a bit wallowy, with lazy reactions to some of the sharper corners and doesn’t give you great feedback as to what’s going on beneath you. It has some nice visual proportions but it needs to go on a diet first and foremost. If we can liken it to a sports race bike, its as though someone took that then put fat tyres and a comfy saddle on it. If it’s uncomfortable then it probably means it’s focused to do the job you want. I fear that this is more comfortable to drive here and home again but it’s not the right car for the triangle.

So what of the other car that came here at the same time? How did that fare?

You will have to wait for the next article on that but I will say this. There was a very good reason for the smile to go home bigger than ever.