Me & My Car

Subie fangirl

Investment research trainee Lim Sze Hui bought the Subaru Impreza WRX for $80,000.
Investment research trainee Lim Sze Hui bought the Subaru Impreza WRX for $80,000.PHOTOS: TONY TAN

First-generation Subaru Impreza WRXes are rare here. The car, which made a name for itself by winning several international rallies, was produced in the 1990s.

Women owners of the macho model are even rarer. One of them is 23-year-old Lim Sze Hui, who also owns a second-generation WRX.

Ms Lim's love of cars started in childhood. Her father was a used-car dealer and she would spend hours by his side as he drove a variety of cars around.

After she obtained her driving licence at age 18 in 2015, it took just one week before she got bored driving the family car - a 2012 Toyota Camry.

"I wanted something smaller and more powerful. I remembered my dad's 2008 Impreza WRX and the signature rumble from its Boxer engine," the investment research trainee at a foreign bank recalls.

The fact that it was "fast and handled well" made it even more appealing.

With blessings from her father, who is also her co-financier, Ms Lim bought her first car a few weeks after passing her driving test. It was a second-generation WRX, first registered in 2007.

She was thrilled with it, but deep down, the car she really wanted was a GC8 WRX, which was part of the model's first generation.

"I really like driving my 'Hawk Eye'," she says, referring to the shape of the car's headlights. "But the GC8 appealed to me as it was the original WRX."

Also, the self-confessed anime fan pointed out with pride that in the cult 2005 film Initial D, the father of the protagonist drove one.

As luck would have it, one of Ms Lim's friends chanced upon a GC8 WRX - purportedly the only one remaining in Singapore - for sale in July this year.

"My friend told me the car was unmodified, well maintained, had a mileage of around 77,000km and was registered in my birth year - 1997," she says. "I went to view it immediately and bought it for around $80,000 after seeing how pristine it was."

She was surprised by how well it handled. "It has been such a joy to drive. It feels almost new despite being 23 years old," she says.

"The chassis is light, the turbo spools quickly and it is really fast."

She points out that the variant is a Japanese domestic model with 280hp (versus 208hp for the export variant of the time).

"It is swifter than my other WRX," she notes, referring to her 250hp second-generation car. "I alternate between both cars daily."

Ms Lim intends to keep the GC8 WRX in its original state as far as possible. "This way, you experience the car in the manner its creators want you to," she says.

Still, she had to replace the exhaust muffler with an aftermarket unit "as it was rusted at a few internal spots".

She intends to renew the car's certificate of entitlement when it expires in 2027 - unless she can find her dream WRX, a GC8 WRX Type R STi with Prodrive rally suspension. "Then I will take that car on a long road trip, which will include some off-road rallying."


PHOTOS: TONY TAN

  • What's in the boot?

  • • An original exhaust muffler (which Ms Lim is trying to get fixed)

    • A boost controller from her other WRX, which she is contemplating installing in this car

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 28, 2020, with the headline 'Subie fangirl'. Subscribe