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What It's Like To Drive Hard Without Using Your Feet

Major’s STI-swapped Subaru Forester XT (Images via The Smoking Tire/YouTube)
Major’s STI-swapped Subaru Forester XT (Images via The Smoking Tire/YouTube)

The owner of this STI engine-swapped Subaru Forester doesn’t have the use of his legs, but he still hustles his car around canyons and track days. Watch him explain how it’s done, and see well-practiced car reviewer Matt Farah give the hand controls a shot for the first time.

The car belongs to a gearhead named Major, who uses a wheelchair. He tells Matt: “Everything [all the modifications] you see I’ve done myself. The only thing I didn’t do was mount and balance my tires.”

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On the road, Major is able to manually shift the Subaru’s four-speed automatic with the +/- trigger on the shifter. While also managing the gas and brake with the same hand.

He says he’s taken the car to autocross events and is ramping up to try time attack.

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The pedal controls are portable from one car to another. Basically you push forward on this little lever to accelerate, pull back to brake. There’s a little linkage at the bottom to make it pivot. In the video Major explains that the setup is supposed to be mounted on the left, where you’d “pull for gas and push for brake.” His is on the right side so he can do everything with his right hand.

Push right for gas, pull left to brake. Yeah, this would trip me out.
Push right for gas, pull left to brake. Yeah, this would trip me out.

I’d imagine it feels sort of like a boat. Or a video game... Hydro Thunder comes to mind.

Apparently a manual-transmission version exists as well, but it seems like that’d keep you pretty busy.

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Major says he mastered the technique in “a matter of hours” and Matt seems to pick up the basic operation quickly. Regardless, it’s great to see what Major has been able to do with his build. Hopefully he inspires you to get off your ass, finish up that project, and hone your own skills a little more.

Jalopnik Staffer from 2013 to 2020, now Editor-In-Chief at Car Bibles

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DISCUSSION

My wife’s cousin is a parapalegic. He lost the use of his legs when he was 8 due to a logging accident. He’s a true “car guy” though, leaning towards muscle cars, trucks, and BMW 3-series. Every car he’s owned has been set up for him to drive, including “track days”, where he’s been very competitive. To my knowledge, he’s owned V8 powered pickups, a Dodge Charger (about a 2007), a mid-90s BMW Show Car M3 (he totaled it), a current M3, and a few others. It just goes to show that you’re only as handicapped as you allow yourself to be.