I sent this picture into Subaru Drive Magazine. They want to do a story on it.
Here is what I wrote up: We'll see what they end up putting in the magazine:
The attached picture shows my son Ansel at 1 year old inside our family 1998 (purchased November 1997) Legacy Brighton Wagon and then recently as a 17 year old driving his first car. This Legacy has kept my family of four safe for the past 19 years and will now guide my son to college.
Recently married, my wife and I were driving my little pickup truck from Blacksburg, VA on the back roads of West Virginia to Snowshoe Mountain for a mountain bike weekend. The first rains of the year are always dangerous on the oil covered roads especially at night. We slid off the road pin-balling from tree to tree and but thankfully walked away unharmed, though our bikes didn’t fare so well. Unbeknownst to us, my wife was pregnant with the little boy shown in the car, Ansel.
In looking for our next vehicle, safety was foremost in our mind after what just happened to us and learning that wife was pregnant. As a young couple just out of school, affordability was also a necessity. Our active lifestyle and living in an area varied weather led us to Subaru. The utility of station wagon appealed to us and the Legacy Wagon was the perfect choice. The 1998 model year included a Brighton version which was the absolute base model. It had manual windows, manual door locks, 5 speed transmission and had a big empty spot in the dash where the tachometer would normally be as in the more upscale L model.
When Ansel was born the Legacy took us everywhere, from hikes, to 12 hour trips to Upstate New York to see family. Many times we popped open the hatch and changed diapers off the side of the road or in rest stops.
My wife moved on to an SUV, with the luxury of automatic windows and locks (though now she is back in the Subaru family with a 2014 Forester). The Legacy became my vehicle. I was captivated with the mod/tuner culture of Subaru WRXs and loved the fact that Subaru’s are the Lego’s of the car world where parts from one will fit on another. I learned that the base models, like the Brighton are coveted because they are so much lighter than ones with motorized windows and door locks. My dream then and my dream now is to have an STI engine and transmission swap put into it. I was able to take advantage of the trickle down from WRX aftermarket parts and put on front and rear sway bars, KYB struts, H&R Springs, WRX seats and WRX wheels. While the car doesn’t have a lot of power, it handles on rails.
I moved onto a unicorn 2005 Legacy GT 5MT Wagon and we thought about selling the 98 Legacy, but thankfully didn’t. When my son turned 16 he got his permit and we taught him how to drive in the Forester. When he was ready, I taught him how to drive stick and when comfortable turned the keys to the 98 Brighton to him with 145,000 miles on the odometer. He loves he car, and likes the uniqueness of it compared to his friends. These days, very few young people know how to drive manual and he likes that we went through the pain of learning.
I am going to teach him how to change the oil and change a flat tire. He’s realizing the costs associated with owning a vehicle and is getting his first job this summer to pay for gas, insurance, … and prom expenses. He washes the car, vacuums the inside and is as proud of it as I was when we got it. It has a rust spot on that right rear panel under the gas cap, like every other Subaru of this vintage. The head gasket leaks a little, but otherwise it runs great will certainly run for many more years. We live in Upstate New York now and an all wheel drive Subaru with dedicated studless snow tires is unstoppable.
He will be going to college next year and we are confident the Legacy will guide him safely. We’ll probably go through this one more time with my younger son who is currently 15. They both know that I get it back when they move onto other cars. Maybe I’ll be able to do that STI swap afterall, that is unless Subaru of America answers my other dream and releases the Levorg 5speed Turbo Wagon in the States.