Fuji Heavy Illness: Meet Subaru’s Most Avid Collector

Fuji Heavy Illness: Meet Subaru’s Most Avid Collector

If you happen to had been to consider social media, the archetypal automobile collector ought to be a chiselled, brilliantly-tanned entrepreneur with enamel so shiny solely the Giant Hadron Collider might precisely measure the sunshine they emit.

Most of those characters are normally discovered on the extra unbearable finish of the character scale. However worse but, this angle provides little or no perception into their precise ardour for vehicles. As an alternative functioning extra as a peacocking train to showcase their wealth.


Which is what makes this explicit assortment all of the extra endearing. It’s not positioned in a tax haven, somewhat the outskirts of Tokyo. However not some onsen-clad retreat full of panpipes and geisha women both. It’s truly a carpark below certainly one of Yokohama’s many practice stations, accessed by 1000’s of commuters each single day. Hardly the venue for one of many world’s largest Subaru collections…


Time to fulfill Akira Yokoyama – also called Mr. Boxer – who suffers from what he describes as Fuji Heavy Illness. And no, this isn’t the aftermath of one other Fukushima-esque meltdown. It’s a nod in direction of Fuji Heavy Industries, mum or dad firm of Subaru earlier than it was renamed in 2017, and the one automobile maker Yokoyama-san will entertain in his pursuit of most happiness.


Mr. Boxer isn’t simply gathering all forms of Impreza, both. He did that again in 2014, earlier than promoting off all however 4 and beginning once more. “I like the Impreza, however I needed to expertise the fashions earlier than its creation to raised perceive its historical past,” he provides. And since then, each Subaru constructed for the reason that firm’s inception in 1953 has turn out to be a goal.


That’s one thing simpler mentioned than achieved with a model like Subaru. They might not be famend for producing ultra-expensive vehicles, however Subaru are hardly famed for his or her collectability when you look previous fashions just like the 22B, S201 and Spec C. And should you’ve obtained bundles of money, it’s comparatively simple to vacuum these fashions up. Much less so a 4×4 BRAT which hasn’t rusted into the earth.


Yokoyama-san doesn’t match the standard automobile collector mould. Except for arriving in a Subaru jacket, his look and manner provides little or no away to what he has stashed right here in Yokohama. You’ll find him on social media, however you’ll by no means see a selfie or his life exterior this assortment. And don’t anticipate a reply to any direct messages, both.


“Many individuals ask if the Subarus are on the market, or if they will make a YouTube video on them,” Yokoyama-san explains. “However I’m not fascinated by both. For that is my ardour, my obsession for a few years. It’s not to realize followers or turn out to be seen. However I do take pleasure in assembly different Subaru lovers due to it.”


Ironic then, that his first look exterior of Japan ought to be on the pages of Speedhunters. And that’s all because of our previous pal Junya Matsushita who satisfied Yokoyama-san to showcase his assortment on a worldwide scale. However what flip of occasions results in a person stashing 50 Subarus in a shared automobile park, and why selected Subaru within the first place?


“It began after I purchased a Nissan Bluebird,” proclaims Yokoyama-san, which could simply be the curveball of the century. “It was my first automobile, and after just a few years I needed to interchange it with one thing extra sporty. And in 1993 I purchased my first Subaru – a GF8 Impreza Sport Wagon. Its efficiency and practicality impressed me a lot, I knew I needed to have one other as I obtained older.”


In fact, it was the unmistakable sound of the Impreza’s flat-four engine – mixed with unequal-length manifolds – which left Yokoyama-san hooked. To at the present time, it nonetheless stays one of the crucial distinctive engine notes of any manufacturing automobile, particularly when paired with the whoosh of a HKS blow-off valve between gear shifts.


“I owned that first Impreza for a very long time,” provides Yokoyama-san. “It did every little thing I wanted. Each winter, I might go snowboarding and the Impreza’s four-wheel-drive system was made for mountain routes. However after seven years I modified to a Subaru Legacy Touring Wagon [BH5] as a result of the Impreza had many miles, and I preferred the additional house supplied by the Legacy with related efficiency. However 2003 is when the obsession actually began.”


The turning level for Yokoyama-san concerned convincing his spouse to make use of the Legacy wagon he’d beforehand cherished, thus permitting him to go and purchase one other Subaru – a 2003 ‘Blob-Eye’ Impreza WRX STI. This plan labored so effectively that it continued all the best way into 2007, with Yokoyama-san handing down every automobile leaving the door large open to go and purchase the most recent model as a substitute.

Glad spouse, comfortable life.


Naturally, Yokoyama-san determined to push this revelation even additional by bringing residence a 22B in 2007 whereas costs had been nonetheless pretty regular. “It was lighter and quicker than any Subaru I owned beforehand!” exclaims Yokoyama-san. “The GC8 look is timeless, particularly when in coupe type, and the wide-body appears to be like very motorsport. It drove so totally different to different GC8s; it left me questioning what are all the opposite Imprezas I haven’t owned like? The 22B could be very particular, however I needed to strive the entire different variations too. And that’s when the gathering obtained out of hand…”


Throughout the subsequent few years, Yokoyama-san added all the best hits to his assortment – S201, S202, S203 and RA-R. The S204 adopted in 2011 together with a GC8 Kind R, Legacy RS-RA and Leone AG6 RX II. Not solely was his assortment ticking off Imprezas, however it’d additionally unfold to these earlier fashions predating it too.


“In 2014, I ended gathering after I obtained to round 45 vehicles and I offered all however 4 of them,” he provides. “It was getting slightly loopy. I assumed by promoting all of them, it might treatment me of the Fuji Heavy Illness. However this can be a illness that has no treatment, and 9 years later I’ve obtained much more vehicles than earlier than!”


That’s as a result of Yokoyama-san now not needed to simply perceive the Impreza’s historical past; he needed to go far past this bloodline and all the best way again to Subaru’s inception – gathering key fashions together with the FF-1 from 1969 and the Leone Property from 1978.


Yokoyama-san hardly turned his again on the Impreza together with his present assortment that includes no fewer than 17 GC8 fashions in addition to later variations together with the S206 from 2011 and even a GK2 from 2022 to make sure he hasn’t forgot concerning the very newest technology.

So, what subsequent for Yokoyama-san’s assortment?


“Not too long ago I began the gathering of WRC and competitors vehicles,” he explains. “I solely have 4 to this point – a 1992 Legacy, two 1994 Imprezas and a ’95 mannequin pushed by Colin McRae [these cars are stored elsewhere and not to be confused with the replicas above]. The temptation is all the time there to seek out extra fascinating vehicles, however I don’t assume the gathering will develop anymore from this level.”


In response to Yokoyama-san, his focus has now shifted away from gathering and extra on sustaining. That’s no simple activity with a handful of vehicles, not to mention 50. However he’s adamant they have to be road-legal and drivable all yr spherical, even when which means promoting just a few within the course of.

On paper that sounds smart, however don’t neglect what occurred 9 years in the past the final time Yokoyama-san had slightly filter…


“Like I mentioned, there isn’t any treatment for this illness,” he chuckles. “Generally you simply have to take slightly drugs to make the signs higher, however it can all the time come again someday…”

Mark Riccioni
Instagram: mark_scenemedia
Twitter: markriccioni

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