Identity Crisis – My Subaru Forester

My beloved Element gets a new stablemate

When I first test-drove a Honda Element back in 2003, I actually grinned.  The first year of manufacture for this one-of-a-kind vehicle, I was drawn by the Old School practicality – squarish, roomy and no carpeting or bespoke fabrics for me.  It reminded me of the vehicles of my youth.  And, I loved the sweet little 5-speed shifter mounted up on the dash.  With a trailer hitch and my own roof rack, this vehicle has served me well.  In fact, with over 300 K on the odometer, it still serves me well.  And, I still grin every time I get behind the wheel.

Rack 01 - Element with Canvasback 3L

Nevertheless, as  a beat-up Indiana Jones uttered in the original Raiders of the Lost Ark:  “It’s not just the years, it’s the miles.”  I still drive my Element every day, but she requires more and more attention from my mechanics.  So, I have been pondering for years about her successor.  Honda stopped selling Elements in 2011.  A new Element was no longer an option and I am loathe to entrust my longer trips to a 7-year-old vehicle.  Instead of buy the newest used Element, something new made sense.

My struggle was made easier by my grandson Jacob.  Not yet a year old, he solved my problem by needing a seat.  Susan’s ’17 Golf seats only 4 – as does even the newest Element.  Whenever Jacob visits from Germany, we need a reliable vehicle that holds 5.  And, I still need something to handle our snowy hills and cornfields – especially whilst pursuing waterfowl.


The Official Car of Washington County


So, like an amazing percentage of locals – at least those not driving 4×4 pickups of the Ford or Chevy persuasions – I began to consider the Subaru Forester.  Tall, roomy, fabled reliability and off-road capability – we encounter Foresters and other Subarus on the local roads almost continually.  Although not boxy and slab-sided the way I prefer my “trucks”, the Forester seemed like the closest thing to an Element in today’s marketplace.  A test drive showed me great visibility and road manners – and I even abandoned the manual transmission for the CVT (continuously variable transmission).

sm AGAIN Jackiemobile 03 AGAIN

There was just one problem….

From my earliest days, I was always drawn to good design.  I am guessing that the first emblem – or logo or icon or insignia – burned into my brain was probably either…


Superman on white



I was always interested in cars, too.  And, every American soon learns these two…..

Chevrolet CROPPED




I recall vividly my Grandfather’s MG-TD – British Racing Green with Biscuit interior, of course…..



The M and G within the octagon, too, caught my eye.


When I was growing up in the ’50s – long before today’s mega-dealerships, there was an MG dealer right on Main Street in East Islip.

Other logos from “across the pond” remain as classics:

Rolls-Royce-BW CROPPED




In 1961, my Dad replaced his Willys Jeep with an “import” –  a Volkswagen Transporter, compete with the canvas top.  The VW insignia is one of the sweetest, in my view.

VW Transporter 1961 CROPPED

When I was in Eight Grade, I clearly recall seeing and being excited by the new MGM logo.


Simple. Bold. Unforgettable.

The Subaru logo, on the other hand….not so much…..

Subaru Emblem CROPPED

Although I know about the history – the Fuji Heavy Industries and the Pleiades and all – I always found it too “busy”.  It does not grab the eye as a good logo must.


Once I picked up my new wheels, the first thing I did was to peel off the dealership “badges” on the hatch.  The next step was to get in touch with Do It Yourself Lettering, Inc. in Florida (800.550.3883  or ) .

sm DIY

They have been making registration numbers and names for my boats for several years now.  Their website has a great “design it yourself” feature – with hundreds of fonts and all the necessary colors and effects.  Everything comes properly spaced and easy to apply.  I could even design in the arc to match the camber of my aft coaming on my Barnegat Bay Sneakbox:


Because this was something a bit different – and certainly new for me, I sent an inquiry off to Brad Handy and his crew.  After some ready assurances, I then sent off both my Goldeneye drawing file – which I drew for my first business cards back in the early 1980s – and the dimensions of the ellipse:

Sanford - Ellipse dimensions

Because the badge is 3-dimensional – it is slightly convex – DIY Lettering recommended the material they use for vehicle “wraps” – those images we see covering entire cars and trucks.  They also sized and located my image perfectly within the ellipse – and added a silver border that simplified installation.

sm Logo and Black 01

I also covered the chrome “wings” on the grille with some Krylon Semi-flat spray paint.

sm Logo and Black FULL

Installation was a bit tricky on the curved surface.  I still have a tiny wrinkle on the stern emblem.

sm Jackiebaru Stern CROPPED

Now for the next pet peeve – to modify the roof rack so it will actually carry lumber or a canoe…..

All the best,


Bufflehead logo BRIGHTER