The Subaru BRZ RA Racing is a Japan-only edition of the BRZ that is designed to compete in the Japanese 8Beat 86/BRZ one-make spec racing series. It comes with a factory rollcage, 4-point Takata harnesses, air-oil cooler, no trunk interior trim, no radio or sound system, unpainted door handles, 16” steel wheels, and no underbody panels. The idea is you’d replace much of these parts yourself in order to build a race car to compete in the racing series.
This is the OEM badge that appeared on the 2018 Subaru WRX Type RA edition, of which only 500 were made. The STI’s Type RA suffix stands for Record Attempt, in reference to the highly modified WRX STI Type RA NBR that Subaru used to set a lap record at the Nürburgring Nordschleifes for a sedan at 6”57s. This was also the very same vehicle Mark Higgins drove at the Isle of Man TT course and set the record at 17”35s. Japanese manufacturers love badging of this type, and famously the Nissan Skyline team badged their GT-R R34 with a “V-Spec II Nur” emblem to mark their achievements at the Ring.
The “Type RA” in Subaru parlance means the raw form, usually lighter more than anything else. The production 2018 STI type RA got 5 more horsepower, slightly shorter 3rd gear ratio, inverted Bilstein front struts, carbon fiber roof and rear wing and 19” wheels with 245/35R19s and put the car on a tiny diet losing only 53lbs off the regular 2018 STI, which is still a beast at nearly 3,380lbs. For all that reduction, they still add nearly $12,000 to the price tag, pumping the monster up to the $50k pricetag. We’ve truly entered the age of postmodernism when the marketing team advertises “reduced” features and actually adds to the pricetag. Fat-free, gluten-free, and free-range, but you’ll pay extra for it.
I am more interested in referencing the 2002 WRX STi Spec-C Type RA, which stood for “Rally Applicant”. This car was stripped of all luxuries: sound system, air con, power windows & locks, trunk trim, airbags, underbody coating all in the name of weight reduction. It was 116lbs lighter than a base model WRX. It had a cool roof vent and a quicker steering ratio. It had hand-ported heads that flowed far better (note: when building the engine for the RASpec Impreza, I found a set of Spec-C heads, and they were my favorite part of that build.) It produced more power and yet remained affordable because it was stripped down.
In 2020, legally, Subaru can’t sell a production vehicle without air bags, and supply chains dictate costs, which means that power windows are actually cheaper than roll-up windows because the entire product line uses the same motors. Part sharing at scale as large as Subaru means part sharing savings make it cheaper than deploying roll-up windows in a small-scale production run as well as keeping spare-parts on hand for repairs and service. Air conditioning has become a marketing necessity, as have power door locks. ABS brakes are also legally required to pass local safety standards along with standard shoulder seatbelts.
If we want a truely lightweight track-oriented weapon like the 2002 WRX STI Spec-C Type RA, we’ll need to build it ourselves… or really, deconstruct the cars we have, in order to make one.
On my car, the RA badge is a reference to that first 2002 WRX STi Spec-C Type RA, the purest and most raw form of the WRX. Oh, and I almost forgot, it stands for a reference to the driver, me, “Type Ron A.” 😏