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STI Gallery - Mitaka, Tokyo, Japan

The STI Gallery – Mitaka, Tokyo, Japan

Written by: The Modfather

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Time to read 6 min

Earlier this year the Subimods team embarked on what some would say could be the ultimate fantasy trip for the most dedicated Subaru enthusiast. Entering the New Year brought forth an opportunity to visit STI Gallery located at the home of Subaru Tecnica International in the city of Mitaka, within the metropolis of Tokyo, Japan. Our media team was fortunate to capture much of this visit on video to bring our customers closer to our experience and share some of what we saw as we toured the facility. At first glance, unknowing visitors and non-car enthusiasts alike may assume the facility only contains offices and a standard Subaru dealership, which houses a selection of the newest, models openly available for sampling.

Visitors will notice that this ground floor dealership is organized and modern and staffed by sharp Subaru employees that would be glad to make you their newest customer. The newest models are proudly on display reflecting a rich timeline of successful automotive design, engineering innovation, iconic motorsport performance, and, undoubtedly, a fierce customer loyalty that the average consumer may take for granted. Subaru enthusiasts from around the world may know about this location and have plans to visit themselves one day. No matter what their level of interest, we can confirm that they will find much more than they expected or hope for in a simple museum visit.

A Small Room with Big Success

Entering with a passion for the brand, the aware enthusiast may already know that their real treasures and eye candy will not be found within the showroom’s space, but quietly lives on the second floor in a uniquely coveted museum and gallery. The STI Gallery overlooks the dealership below acting like a protective spirit watching kindly and expelling an invisible energy of success throughout the atmosphere. The museum gallery is small but truly awe-inspiring as it gives visitors a very close look at some of the brand’s most impressive and historic achievements in the automotive world. 

The STI Gallery was born in 2009 and has grown to showcase a wide collection of Subaru’s significant historic artifacts, particularly a sampling of its most renowned vehicles including the Impreza WRC models that participated in the World Rally Championship, as well as the exclusive Impreza 22B STI. In early 2019, the Gallery received an update to compile additional exhibits such as the trophies earned by STI in its motorsports endeavors, a comprehensive timeline highlighting the company's latest achievements, and interactive walls. Since its update, Subaru enthusiasts from around the globe have planned trips just to visit the Mitaka Gallery to immerse their minds with Subaru heritage and gain inspiration for their own modifications and creativity. 

A Walk From Familiar to Legendary

The Tokyo Auto Salon was in session during our visit to Japan leaving a few less vehicles in the gallery than during a usual week, but our team was still able to experience some history with the iconic cars that were resting quietly. Normally, the gallery only exhibits five vehicles in the space, but for a true enthusiast, the reasons are easily understood. The impact and significance of the gallery rests in the quality and energy that live within its pieces, not how many are displayed or what their monetary value may be in the market. They have chosen to display a collection that includes what some may see as the most ordinary, but beautiful, to the most unattainable, innovative and ground-breaking vehicles to have ever been driven.

As we toured the space, put hands on the designs, and sat in the driver’s seats, this strengthened our resolve to document our experience through words and pictures to hopefully inspire others to visit this piece of the Subaru world if they have the opportunity. In the gallery our team was free to walk amongst the cars, take photographs, capture video, and take away a personal feeling for some of the most iconic engineering in modern history. 

Being Up Close & Personal at the STI Gallery

Scanning the room, an experienced enthusiast will first notice the beautiful 2022 GT 300 BRZ, along with a timeline of historic automotive innovations which include platforms like the beautiful WRX STI S209 to the legendary cars like the Prodrive-built Group A, Subaru Legacy driven by the pioneering rally driver Colin McRae, 1993 winner of Subaru’s first rally in New Zealand and undoubtedly the launching pad for the brand’s ongoing wave of motorsports success. 

Existing as a constantly rotating and changing exhibit, this room will freely display cars like the iconic Subaru Impreza 555 and the Subaru WRX STI, winner at the Nürburgring 24-Hour Race in 2016, which continued a new era of racing victories illuminating the revered 2.5L boxer engine, a power plant that has a very similar design to that which lays within the current WRX platform. Panning your vision from the left to the right quickly confirms that the Subaru timeline of success and innovation has continued longer than many have realized.

In addition to all these impressive pieces of machinery, the gallery also proudly displays cars that attract Subaru enthusiasts from around the world just to be in their presence, namely the Subaru Impreza 22B STI prototype and the STI ERA electric performance concept car, which allows Subaru to humbly shout to the world that electric is here and its here to stay. Our video of our gallery tour shows an installation of a fully transplanted GT 300 power plant exhibit with thoughtful cutaway sections to display the mechanics behind the STI engineering. “This exhibit shows how much STI does over the factory” said Subimods leader, Nick Nazzaro. “You will see in the cutaway…the actual rods stamped with STI. They are refreshing and refitting everything on this powertrain to be able to handle and compete at the GT level.” This exhibit is one of many tangible components installed by the STI Gallery to help you appreciate the personal experience they have kindly created to educate and inspire the Subaru enthusiast.

Growing Brand Inspiration

Ultimately, the curators of this unique museum and gallery focus on a specific target. They aim to make the STI Gallery a special place where those innovators at Subaru/STI can interact, educate, and share ideas with fans and Subaru enthusiasts from around the world and expand and inspire the minds of all future automotive enthusiasts through their transparency and communication. The Subimods team entered the STI Gallery with excitement and anticipation knowing that what they will be sharing with their customers and community will be special and inspiring. “The gallery is highly focused on everything being interactive,” Nazzaro said. “You can hop in these cars, sit in them, and you can interact with them. It’s a beautiful way they create this culture…the little character things they do that are very cool.” Exploring the small STI Gallery does not leave you with a feeling of not seeing enough, but injects you with a need to see and learn more, which proves its success and ingenuity

The creative and inventive curators behind the STI Gallery have created both an inviting and relaxing environment that promotes knowledge, displays a wide bandwidth of technology, and confirms a spirit of accelerated momentum across genres within the STI/Subaru slice of the automotive industry. “In addition to looking at the cars, there is a casual side to the gallery,” Nazzaro confirms as he walks through the room. “You can come here and you can spend a couple of hours…You’ll be able to see a whole library of books that they offer including World Rally books, everything from motorsports to general Subaru history. You can come here, look through everything, have a read, and have a day.” All these highlights did not rest lightly on the mind of Nazzaro and his team as they spent more time at the facility in Mitaka and at other events during their visit to Japan. Walking through this gallery allowed the team to reflect about our own customers and the dedicated community of Subaru lovers that we serve each day. As Nazzaro confidently confirmed during the visit, “If you have any passion for Subaru, there is plenty to look at in here. It is worth the trip.”

To learn more about what experiences the Subimods team took from their trip to Japan, we invite you to review the “ Subimods Tokyo 2024 Adventure ” video (above), where you can see more details and visual highlights of our journey including more about the STI Gallery, our HKS factory tour, and the exciting happenings at the Tokyo Auto Salon. 

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