Subaru Tuner Stephanie Apgar Polishes her Gem of a Legacy
Stephanie Apgar is on her fifth Subaru – a modified 1991 Subaru Legacy Turbo Sport sedan – and she’s still in college. From playing video games as a teen, to running in autocrosses and upgrading turbochargers on her vehicles, her growing enthusiasm for Subaru now seems like it was inevitable. While Apgar has a nicely modified 2004 WRX, she absolutely lights up when you ask about her first-generation Legacy. “My ’91 Legacy is my little gem,” she says. This is a very special 25-year-old Subaru. We’ll let Stephanie explain.
Polishing the Gem
“I bought the ’91 Legacy with a blown 5th gear – I don’t know how someone does that – so I sourced a ’95 2.5RS close-ratio 5-speed and installed it. I’ve also added a TD05 turbocharger, new top-mount intercooler, ’04 WRX STI suspension, JDM headlights, and, really, a whole body kit with aero parts. I guess I’ve touched it in a lot of different ways.” With all that work on her “gem,” you might think her daily driver WRX would be bone stock, but that doesn’t seem to be in her DNA. “The WRX, well, it’s hard not to do some mods to it,” she explains. “It’s a Stage II tune, with full STI suspension components, including trailing arms and bushings, plus aftermarket struts and springs.”
So how did this young college student – she’s a senior on her way to a teaching degree from Montclair State University in New Jersey – become such a hands-on Subaru fan? She definitely had some early influences. “My stepdad was always into vehicles and driving when I was younger,” Apgar says. “He got a new ’04 WRX, a WR Blue Pearl 5-Door, and I just fell in love with it.” While that vehicle never made the familial journey as a hand-me-down, it sparked her passion. Trying to share that enthusiasm during her middle school and high school years, however, wasn’t easy.
“In high school, it was a bit frustrating,” she explains. “It was a matter of trying to talk to other kids – mostly guys – who were into vehicles.” While these initial forays into a male-dominated hobby didn’t always work out for Apgar, changing times, online forums for the hobby, and the right person coming along at the right time ultimately solved all that.
Getting in the Game
Before she got her license, Stephanie had at least one outlet for her budding enthusiasm – video games. “I was really into Need for Speed – Underground 2,” she laughs, “Once I was old enough, I got an ’02 Outback with an automatic transmission.” The Outback proved to be a good choice for a young driver, and over time, Apgar grew to love that vehicle and its All-Wheel Drive system.
Her second Subaru took things a bit further. “When I was 19 years old, I bought a ’94 Legacy Wagon with a 5-speed manual and about 220,000 miles on it,” she recalls. The vehicle needed a new head gasket but, rather than dampening her spirits, the mechanical challenge fanned them. “The Subaru Haynes Repair Manual became my best friend!” she says. “Yes, it was daunting, but after I got that job done, I wasn’t afraid of doing anything on a vehicle.”
Meeting the Family
The previous owner of the Legacy Wagon recognized her interest in vehicles, and suggested that she simply “show up” at some local meets. That first meeting with other Subaru enthusiasts, as well as her hands-on experience with first-generation Legacy models, started a trend that continues today. Modifying her WRX, she says, is easy because there’s so much help and parts sources available.
Joining the Clubs
When she’s working on her ’91 Legacy, Stephanie takes her WRX to track days and autocrosses whenever she can, especially at nearby MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, with events sanctioned by MotorSports Northeast. “They’re not as strict as the SCCA (Sports Car Club of America),” she says, “so you can have fun along with some competition without going overboard.” She’s also a member of a number of clubs in the New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut areas. “I’m more active in some than in others, like SLOW (Subie Love of Westchester), and I just joined Garden State Subies here in New Jersey, so I’m all over the place.”
The Road Ahead
While she’s building up her “gem” of a Legacy, Stephanie continues to upgrade her ’04 WRX. “I want to get a twin-scroll turbo, bigger injectors, and a new fuel pump, maybe a tune, and upgraded brakes,” she explains. “I’m also hoping that by next summer, I’ll have installed new brakes and suspension components in my ’91 Legacy so I can take it to those venues, too.” Looking beyond her current two-Subaru stable, Stephanie admits to daydreaming about owning a bunch of “old-school Subies, like maybe an XT6.”
Her ultimate road trip is being planning for next summer, after graduation. “I’m dying to go to Colorado,” she enthuses. “I hike and I like the outdoors, and the landscape there is just unreal. You don’t have to go to another country to see great mountains and drive on intense roads.” Looking to the future, Stephanie says that her love for modified Subaru models will always stay with her. “I’m in college to be a teacher, and I’m almost there, but this will definitely still be my hobby. And who knows? I like to have a lot of tools on my belt. You just never know where you’ll be in a few years.”