We all know and love the Scion FR-S/Subaru BRZ: the affordable, lightweight, balanced, reliable, and tunable hoonmobile for the masses. I've followed this car since its infancy, as I know many of us have and its production manifestation is a truly great car. But for me, it's more than that. This is my story about the FR-S, my dad, and how something as seemingly material as a car can have a much deeper impact on a person.
If you could, allow me to bore you with a short backstory. My mom recently decided to leave my dad out of the blue after 30 seemingly happy years of marriage. I'm their only child, and have managed to keep a good relationship with both parents. This summer we moved out of our old house, my mom bought a house and my dad rented an apartment as a transitional place to live while he searched for a house.
Needless to say, my dad wasn't the happiest guy for a while. He went from living a typical suburban family life to living alone in an apartment with his son there occasionally. At this point, I was able to change his life for the better, with the help of you fine folks of the Oppo community.
My dad is not what we'd call a car enthusiast by any stretch of the term. He'll listen to me ramble on about cars and watch F1 or Top Gear with me on occasion but that's about it. He's not the kind of guy who spends his Sunday afternoons behind the wheel, carving through the bevy of country roads shaped by the property lines of picturesque Kentucky horse farms. He drove a 2000 Honda Accord with a slush box up until the end of the summer, so there really wasn't any reason for him to like driving.
Then his good ol Accord up and decided it didn't want to go into fourth gear anymore. Considering its age and mileage, Dad decided it was time to consider buying a replacement. He enlisted my help since I know the industry fairly well. At the beginning of his search, I wasn't too optimistic. I know my dad better than anyone and figured he would once again go down the frankly ignorant path of buying a car as an appliance. I just wanted to make sure he picked a goodish one.
My bleak outlook on the hunt was changed when he declared, "I think I want a stick." He enjoys manual transmissions and likes to drive mine on occasion. This excited me, and we began to sift through cars.com in search of the rare find that is a low-mileage, boring car with a manual. Dad always liked Altima coupes for some peculiar reason. It seemed every time we'd see one he'd point it out and comment on how good they look. I don't think they're bad looking cars, but they're definitely not head-turners. Luckily for me, and for him in the long run, trying to find an Altima coupe with a stick is about as worthwhile as hunting for Bigfoot. So he turned his attention to small cars. He wouldn't bat an eye at any hatches I recommended he look at, and I had to steer him away from current-gen Jettas. Then his focus turned to Civic Sis and other well-appointed small cars.
That's when I knew it was time to strike. He didn't need a big car, useable back seats, four doors or any infotainment bullshit. All he needs from a car is reliability and enough room to hold his beloved golf clubs and rank-ass rain gear in the trunk. So I told him about the Toyobarus and showed him one, only to hear him say, "that's a little too flashy for me Hoss."
I figured it was worth a shot, but I knew there was no way he'd actually buy one. After thinking about it, I threw in the towel and began looking at more economy cars. This was my dad after all, a man who strives to go unnoticed. A car that even looks fast would draw unwanted attention. Then one day I came home from work and we started talking about the car search. He said, "I took a look at those BRZs, they're really not too bad." At this point, I smelled blood. Persuasion and communication are a couple of my strong suits, but without any evidence that a Toyobaru is a feasible daily driver, I had nothing in my arsenal. That's when I turned to you fine citizens of Oppoland, asking for reasons the FR-S is a totally competent DD. My post was met with a multitude of helpful responses and thanks to you all, I was able to get him to test-drive a FR-S.
My plan was to go to the Toyota dealership with him and test-drive the FR-S, then head to the Honda dealer to test-drive a Civic Si. I figured he would drive the FR-S, and if it's half of what it's cracked up to be, he'd get behind the wheel of the Civic and find it boring. Riding in the FR-S was a blast, Dad was a new man behind the wheel of that car. The combination of visible concentration and joy he wore on his face as he drove along that country road was all I needed to see he was a convert. He finally understood why our community exists; he realized driving doesn't have to be a chore, and that in the right car, the best part of a trip is the journey. The salesmen let me get behind the wheel some and I was blown away. I've driven a fair number of cars for my age, and the FR-S was more exciting, direct and composed than any of them. After that test-drive, I made sure Dad understood what a special car the Toyobaru is.
After the test-drive, we hopped in my Civic and went down to the Honda dealer where my parents bought their past two cars. We walked up to a Civic Si with a manual and I looked at Dad and asked, "So, should we grab a salesman?" He looked at me with a fair bit of disgust on his face and said, "I'm not driving that." Confused, I asked why, to which he answered, "It's ugly. There's no break where the hood meets the windshield. It looks like a fucking minivan." So on that bombshell and an evil grin beaming across my face, we left the dealer.
That next week we discussed the car search some more and Dad eliminated all the other cars he was looking at from his list. It had come down to the FR-S. Despite a valiant effort on his behalf to find an excuse not to get one, he couldn't find a good reason the FR-S shouldn't be his next car. The following weekend, we went back to the Toyota dealer to get the trade appraised and start working on a deal. Long story short, Dad was able to take the car home that day.
As we pulled off the lot, I looked over at my dad behind the wheel of his FR-S. He sat there, smiling like a clown, clearly unable to believe his son, with the help of a random group of gear heads on the internet got him to buy a sports car. The smile was contagious and I felt that I had not just convinced my dad to buy a sports car, but introduced him to a whole new world. A world where every turn is a chance to get sideways, road trips are enjoyable, commutes are time trials and country roads are racetracks. Instead of heading back to the apartment, I followed him in my car as he drove to the river down one of the better driving roads in the area. When he stopped to turn around, I got out of my car and walked up to him. With his face wearing that huge smile once again I asked:
"So, do you get it now?"
All he said was, "Yeah, I do."