QotW: What’s the best nostalgic for the Pacific Northwest?

I’ve just spent the Thanksgiving holiday driving through rural Oregon, along the Columbia Gorge, up to Portland and ultimately Seattle. It rained, heavily, non-stop the entire 900 miles. Everything from minivans to tractor trailers threw up walls of mist so thick it felt like Niagra Falls was emptying onto the windshield of my borrowed Civic. It was an alien planet of dampness compared to SoCal, and throughout it all I kept asking myself:

What’s the best nostalgic for the Pacific Northwest?

Oregon and Washington are ground zero for Subarus. Fuji Heavies are issued standard with your REI raincoat and reusable farmer’s market tote bag when you get your driver’s license. I saw Outbacks, Legacies and Imprezas galore, and more Loyales in one week than I’ve witnessed in all my years living in SoCal. And best of all for this squareback fiend, the wagon is the configuration of choice, outnumbering sedans by a ratio of four to one according to my unscientific polling.

That’s why if I had to live there I’d probably trade the JNC Cressida for a 1987.5 Subaru RX Coupe. With 115 turbocharged horses on tap and a mass of 2,200 pounds, it’s about the power-to-weight of an AE86 but has AWD to boot. Plus, it has was limited to a 2,600 production run, making it a rare beast. But is that the best whip for a climate of constant rain and mountains?

What say you, dear reader? As always, the most entertaining or inspiring comment by next Monday will receive a random toy. Click through to see the winner from last week’s question, “What are you most thankful for, car-wise?” 

The winner last week was Nathaniel, who wrote this heartwarming ode to his own steed, a Nissan 350Z, but could easily have been written about any car.

I’m thankful to simply have a car. It lets me get to where I want to go, takes me to school, to work, to my friends, to my family, allows me to travel to places I haven’t seen before, and meet all kinds of new people along the way. It’s amazing to think about travel before cars these days. The opportunity that cars give us is a true dispersion of culture. For me, it’s awesome just to think about the simple joys that the privilege of owning a car can bring. Cars have brought us a long way, and will only continue to take us further. That is what I am thankful for this year. I get to drive home to my family and spend the holidays with them, all thanks to a Nissan 350Z. How awesome is that?

Omedetou! Your prize from the JNC gashapon is a new 2013 Hot Wheels Kroger’s Mystery Pack Mazda RX-7!

Images courtesy of Subaru, Nissan.

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29 Responses to QotW: What’s the best nostalgic for the Pacific Northwest?

  1. |2ustrocket says:

    Washingtonian here; I daily a 280Z. AWD is for transplants.

  2. Nathaniel says:

    Thanks for the CotW guys! What an honor!

  3. Nathaniel says:

    But! (Oops!) It’s a 350Z, not a 350A guys 😉

  4. jivecom says:

    whatever car runs well enough to get you the hell out of the pacific northwest. i couldn’t leave that watery hellhole fast enough (i’m sure all the people who think portland is the only city in the world that’s “weird” probably want me gone anyway because i don’t wear knit caps and only ride bicycles with multiple ratios)

    • jivecom says:

      anyway the whole time i lived there I had an ’85 mazda 626 saloon. it did fine in the rain, but it had a sunroof that never ever worked the whole time i had it, so really it was just a gap in the roof that collected water. it had a top speed of just under 55 mph thanks to the hilariously short ratios of the 5 speed standard, so i really got through gas thanks to my 10mi commute to work at top speed on a 65mph highway. but that’s ok because the car was adorable and i miss it terribly

    • Komeuppance says:

      LMAO… down with the fixed gears!!

  5. Norman521 says:

    I blew a head gasket once in my Datsun 521 in one of those “niagra falls” situations. ironically enough it was because all the water leaked out. But its fixed now and its my daily. what makes it a good car for the Pacific Northwest? rain-gutters. Like |2ustrocket said “AWD is for transplants”

  6. Andrew says:

    Whatever you want as long as it doesn’t leak in the rain. It doesn’t snow often enough to justify AWD, unless you like everything else about the car too.

  7. ae86andkp61 says:

    I’ve lived in Oregon or Washington since 1988 and have been in Portland for the last 11 years. I’ve had one or more AE86 Corollas the entire time. With little rust, the Pacific Northwest is home to a lot of Japanese classics, and we don’t get much snow on the west side. East side is a bit snowier, but nothing like some other parts of the world. 98% of the Subarus around here are driven by non-enthusiasts. Nothing wrong with Subarus, but they aren’t the only solution. With apologies to roadster fans, I say any classic Japanese hardtop, sedan, wagon, or coupe is perfect for our corner of the world. Make mine a lightweight RWD coupe with a Toyota twincam and I will stay happy.

  8. bert says:

    The “dump the Gatorade on the coach” quantities of rain we’ve had here recently, had me thinking of my old 86 MR2. I was cruising down the 5 in a torrential downpour in the thing, wondering just how visible I was to the Dodge with the Skyjacker lift, when around a corner in Everett, the entire southbound lanes were covered in water! The Dodge made a good show of it, but soon, he was up past his axles trying to wade past all the people climbing out their windows and trying to rescue the tow truck! Me, after a brief involuntary filling of my briefs, myself and my little Mr.2 with all of it’s anemic 2200lbs literally skipped across the pond like someone had thrown a rock. On the other side, I did a quick little 360, and motored on like a boss. I believe I made a DOT camera highlight on the local news that evening! I loved that car!!

  9. Rayson says:

    A Suzuki Alto Work would be a great car for those who live up north. Turbo + AWD + fuel economy in one package. I just simply love those tiny and aggressive looking Japanese kei cars and I have a soft spot on old Suzuki. Still trying to get my hand on a Swift GTi but couldn’t find the right one yet.

  10. john says:

    Based on their sheer ubiquity alone, it simply must be the Datsun 510 or 521… 🙂

  11. Nathaniel says:

    Okay so since I’m kinda new here… can someone help me out as far as this whole “Prize-winning” thing goes? Is it like a metaphorical pat on the back or a literal winning-of-the-prize? Oh and for this weeks QotW, I’m saying the Datsun 521. Can’t hardly beat that!

  12. Tyler says:

    I’m pretty comfortable dailying my AE86 around in any weather. Plus it looks great anywhere you go. Always a cool car.
    But I think the older mitsubishi Evolutions would be perfect for our emvironment.

  13. Inline6ness says:

    I’m so happy that this weeks QotW hit’s right where my heart is… Oregon. It’s always interesting to me when I hear about other peoples experiences when they visit the Pacific Northwest. I have to say I’m sorry that your experience was filled with turbo awd fanboys. There are two different kinds of people who drive Subarus here, hipsters that think a peppy turbo motor and awd make them WRC champs and hippies that drive 10 under everywhere they go. I myself am a Toyota fanatic and Oregon is definitely Toyota country. And I know there is a guy up in Washington that has an insane Toyota collection as well. But the best part about the Pacific Northwest is that is doesn’t matter where your brand loyalty is, it’s just the mass of vintage steel that still rolls down the road on a daily basis. And that you and your friends can drive 10 minutes from any city or town and find yourself blasting down a twisting rural road surrounded by the most beautiful scenery in the world. Life is simple here, just the way it was back when the cars we hold so near and dear to our hearts had that new car smell, instead of that vintage vinyl smell… but hey, I love that too.

  14. toy_yoda says:

    I learned to drive stick on a 1989 Mazda 323 hatch here in the PNW. So I have always had a desire to own a 1985 Mazda 323 GTX. Awd and awsome economy, easy to drive and turbo to boot! Some can be found competing in the grueling stages of Rally America held here every year. And they are getting pretty rare these days.

    So you can be an enthusiast AND be green at the same time!

  15. Tyler says:

    Honda S600, just to spite the weather.

  16. Komeuppance says:

    Anything with good tires and wiper motor powerful enough to keep up… haha. LSD for sideways action in slick conditions, and traction in the snow. That said my Starion gets down in almost all conditions.

  17. Komeuppance says:

    Oh yeah, forgot about the speed sensitive wipers of the Starion, extremely handy when using that LSD around corners in the rain. Even my wife’s new Infiniti doesn’t have that, sometimes it becomes tedious adjusting the intermittence haha.

  18. Greylopht says:

    Well, I did not live in OR, but Mendocino. And trust me it rains just as much as it does in Portland and there are still plenty of Redwoods. And I had a pretty fun little car there. 1980 Mitsu Galant Lambda (Aka Dodge Challanger) It was quite the hoot, not so great for 0 to 60 times, but once it was rolling over 45, it has gobs of torque (2.6 of course with the 5 speed) It did ok in the rain, but it would really want to kick the tail out on some of the tight roads like Orr Springs. I miss that thing greatly and had it for almost six years. Even with all the rain and salt air of living right on the coast it did not rust away. But at the same time all of my friends had first generation Accords and Datsun 521’s. Unfortunately it met it’s demise with a tourist motorhome that got away from the owner. I got a 1978 Subaru wagon after that, and oh boy one of the best machines for the area since my drive way was basically a muddy track tat never dried out.

  19. Jin says:

    1988 Toyota Celica All-Trac. Oh What a Feeling!

  20. DKPDX says:

    For sure there are a bunch of Subarus my favorite being the early 90s Legacy wagons. I’d say for second place it’s a toss up between Datsun 710s and Toyota Previas at least living in SE Portland that’s what I see fairly regularly. It’s a great place for old cars from any country of origin.

  21. AndyB says:

    Whats with all this crap against AWDs?! You don’t have to be a “transplant” to enjoy the capabilities of power to all four corners. Unlike all you flat-landers down in Portland/Salem (or Cali for that matter), it does snow enough to require AWD/4WD if you live near Mt. Hood like I have all my life. I cant tell you how many times my ’91 Legacy Wagon has gotten me to places unreachable by the average FWD sedan, or delivered me safely to and from Gov. Camp when I worked up there. Granted, my 1984 Celica Supra Mk2 is doing just fine in this non-stop downpour that is a typical Oregon winter. But if Gresham freezes solid again, like it did in 2008 if I remember the year correctly, I’ll probly be rallying the wagon again.

  22. Cherry X1R says:

    I am gonna be a little different. I hope it’s old enough to be nostalgic I think it is. my nomination for the best vehicle for the northwest is the first gen Nissan pathfinder. I have a 1990 2 door 6cyl 5 speed that I have named “sandra” and its gotten me out of some rough spots i’ll tell you what. one time I was coming home from some errands and a fresh snow had just happened the day before. I don’t remember exactly why but I had cut through a parking lot of a local hotel and the exit had not been plowed out yet. well, like any 4 wheeler we tend to think our 4wd can conquer the world, so I gunned it and tried to plow through a wall of snow that thanks to the street plow had compacted into a nice bank that reached up to my hood. at first I said Im gonna make it, im gonna make it because at the top, the wall only looked a few feet thick, but at the bottom I did not notice that the snow had actually been deeper than I had foreseen. so I rode up on to the snow and lost speed and then finally I hit the wall of snow and stopped. now here’s the part where everybody is like ” HAHA u r stupid, you got stuck because u thought your truck could plow through walls..HAHA!!”. yes it was stupid and I admit that now, everybody has their stupid moments and this was a big brain fart, but what happened next was what astounded me. at first I was like $#(% @!))^@ *&$!# ^%@!&, but then I got out into a couple feet of snow and started digging behind the rear tires, the pavement was only an inch or two below. by this time some friendly folks had come out to help and they even shoveled a path behind my tires while I dug. one fellow 4 wheeler even stopped by to assist, he said he could tug me out if I had a tow strap, but alas I had just bought the truck the month before, and had not acquired my gear that any 4 wheeler should have in an emergency. so finally after a little digging I got back in the truck and shifted into reverse and rocked it a couple times and then…… FREEEDOM!!!! AAAAAAAAAA the angels were singging, horns a honking and the helpers cheering. I was free from the snow and It was thanks in a large part to the kind folks that came out to help me but it was also in part to the trucks amazing 4wd, only the rear wheels were by pavement and I still got out. had it been my blazer I would have been stuck there and forced to call a tow, I was in a similar situation in deep snow with my blazer and that time the blazer did not fair as well as the Nissan, but that’s a story for another time. after I was out I had thanked the helpers kindly and told them i would send them some money, but they refused the cash., they just came out to help out of the kindness of their hearts. one guy asked If I could drive him across the street and I greatly obliged. I have faith that if my truck was a little weightier and I was going faster I would have busted through that snow bank with ease but I don’t wanna test the theory again. I also know that there are more capable trucks out there and if I was piloting a ford f 250 with a power stroke I would have annihilated that wall of snow, but for how small my truck is and it’s weight I thought what it did was a feat only a few trucks can muster much less on severely depleted tread all terrains. there have been other times it got me out of other jams, like fording a flooded street, where cars had no chance my trusty pathy glided right through that street with ease with the water up to the bottom of my doors and with no suspension or body lift mind you. and a few times after I got a tow strap I would see some people stuck in the snow while on errands and I would tow them out. and it’s stability has even saved my life a couple times. the reason why it would be good for the pacific northwest is that come rain, snow, or shine it will always have your back and get you through the wildest of weather and take you places you never thought you could go with a vehicle, and while no car or truck is invincible it’s pretty damn near close. It has over 220,000 miles on it now and it shows no signs of stopping any time soon. I feel it’s a very loyal and reliable machine if taken care of properly. I cannot imagine my life with out that truck, It is an extension of me and I will keep it forever, It’s my trusty not rusty steed and me and her will always ride off into the sunset together.

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