It all started on April 11th of 2006. I was browsing the headlines of the auto news online like I do pretty much everyday, curious as to what was going on. If I'm lucky, I might hear about a new product unveiling from one of the big automakers or see some spyshots of a top-secret sports car, etc. That day, however, would show me the most exciting thing I had ever seen on those sites (and this still holds true today).
The article showed a hand rendering of a little blue roadster with an aggressive front and many intakes, scoops, and vents. The headline read: "Britain's AMS1: Sube Gear with Sexy Body". This was enough to catch my attention, as I had become a big fan of Subarus in the recent
...It started when my dad was looking for a sporty car after having caught the bug in a rental manual V6 mustang convertible on a vacation to Arizona. Low on power when compared to a V8, granted, but the car's stick brought back memories of some of the most fun cars he had driven, including a first generation MR2, an old go-cart-like Honda Civic, and even some of his old cars in Australia.
For his next car, he wanted something sporty and in a manual. I suggested a few cars, including "a Subaru WRX", which I had been hearing good reviews about (this was in early 2001, and the WRX had just hit U.S. shores for the first time). Then next time I talked to my dad, he had traded in for a new 2002 Sedona Red Pearl Impreza WRX. He stated that one test drive had instantly brought back those same memories of those fun cars.
He still has the car (which is saying something for him, considering the frequency that he seems to trade in for new cars), it is currently modified to about 280hp, and it has 100,000 miles on it with only a failed strut in all of those miles. He and I have both grown very attached to it; this was our first true impression of how fun and reliable a Subaru could be. Our extended family now has no less than ten Subarus; this includes (or has included) four WRX's and two STi's...
...I began reading the article to see what it was all about. It went on
to describe a car that would use a last generation Subaru Impreza powertrain
(including the AWD and turbocharged flat-four). It would replace the old
Subaru body with a lightweight, monocoque, sports-car body (weighing in at about
2000lbs). It was being created to not only be a track terror, but also an
every day driver. The car was code-named the AMS1, and the company behind
it was called Adrenaline Motorsport. The article had just described my
...For the last decade or so, I had been looking for a fun car to claim as my
own. In the late nineties, I began to find an interest in cars. It
started off with trucks (after taking my truck up in the mountains and going
off-road every day for a summer) and then began to spread to include sports
cars. I had found a little-known but apparently fast little car from
Toyota. It was apparently a competitor to the (second generation) Nissan
300ZX that my parents used to have.
It had a large spoiler on most models,
and sported a sequential twin turbo 3.0L inline six mated to a rear-wheel drive
setup via a 6-speed manual or 4-speed auto. It was called a Toyota Supra,
or something like that. At the time, I had a soft spot for
Toyotas, having had many reliable ones in the family (not the least of which was
my truck). So, a relatively unknown, Corvette-rivaling, Toyota sports car
seemed very appealing to me. I did a bunch of research on them. The
biggest complaint that owners seemed to have was the fact that nobody knew what
they were and thus were often mistaken for second-generation Mitsubishi
The problem was that I was still in college, and not at a good point to get
my own car. But as fate would have it, getting this "Supra" car would not
be in the cards anyways. I remember the Internet forum post about a new
movie that would "star" the Toyota Supra...Fast and The Furious or something.
Everybody got excited that their car would be known.
And for better or worse, the fourth generation Toyota Supra--after having
been discontinued in the States by Toyota due to ever decreasing sales--would
finally be "truly" introduced to the U.S. by a film that would make the Supra a
very well-known, expensive, and sought-after car. Though it was still
fast, it was now very well known (in case you couldn't tell, I prefer the cars
that make people wonder what they are) and much more expensive than I felt it
was worth. And thus ended my love affair with my little "secret" Toyota.
After that, I learned to enjoy my dad's WRX and then my cousin's torquey STi.
They proved to be reliable, quick, easily and efficiently modifiable, and most
of all: fun. I also learned to love the AWD, as I disliked wasting power
by spinning tires, etc. A macho American muscle car burn-out fan I am not.
I'd rather get propelled forward.
I also grew a love for a different type of vehicle. This one, also, had
existed for a long time outside the U.S. but had just recently reached the
shores of my country. It was light enough to make a Miata look like an
SUV, would be relatively rare and styled well (in my opinion), and also had a
relatively reliable Japanese Toyota/Yamaha engine. It was the Lotus Elise.
I realized that "adding lightness" to a car would yield many more benefits that
just adding horsepower. Where adding horsepower would make a car faster
(keeping traction, gearing, etc. the same), making a car lighter would make it
faster, handle better, and even get better fuel mileage (if that was important).
The Elise did all these things and was about as fast as a Corvette despite
having only 190hp.
So I had two vastly different cars: one was a sedan-based, turbocharged, AWD
rally car derivation; the other was a peaky, naturally aspirated, rear-wheel
drive exotic. Both had strengths and weaknesses. I loved the STi for
its torque (well, for a turbocharged four cylinder) and AWD bite, but the
Impreza chassis was getting heavier every year, and though I liked the looks of
the 2004/2005 Impreza, the 2006/2007 Imprezas are not what I'd consider pretty
enough to spend my money on. I also preferred at least a coupe, if not a
sports car body. And I would never get used to that wing.
on the other hand, looked great, was fairly fast, and could handle like no
other, but even as light as it was, I wasn't crazy about the peaky nature of the
1.8L inline four or the RWD (again, I know what the Elise was made for, but I
like my AWD). Some places (like ForcedFed.com) offered turbos to boost the
power of the Toyota engine, but I wasn't too crazy about boosting the
high-compression, high-revving 1.8L Toyota engine, and therefore power wasn't
all that great...Even the new, Lotus-released Exige S only had about 220+ hp,
which--even despite the lightness of the Lotus--didn't excite me (at least not
as much as the added price premium should have).
Now I had a good job and could choose what I wanted to get...if only I could
decide, or--better yet--find a car that had it all....
...And there it was, my perfect car: the light, AWD, AMS1 roadster. The
AMS1 was a light (not just current-day light, which could be anything from
2500-3000lbs considering the ever-increasing heft of today's cars, but Lotus
Elise 2000lbs light, which is all the more impressive considering the AWD and
convertible nature of the car), AWD, turbocharged car built on a reliable
powertrain. I wanted to get more details immediately...So I emailed
Adrenaline Motorsport for details...
Next page: Anticipation