Sparky’s Subaru Specialists: Custom Rides in ABQ

pattern stories
Written by:
Ed Domain

Got a Subaru you love a whole lot? Ben Wade is your new best friend.

New Mexico, I’ve got a story for you.

Not too long ago, the engine in my 2003 Subaru Outback blew up in Colorado, but that was not the end of the story. I decided to get a new engine built, and I went searching for someone in Burque that could not only work on my car, but put some love into it too.

I love the outdoors and I’m getting into overlanding. For those who don’t know, overlanding is taking a vehicle with some off-road capability and going into the wild to camp, drive bumpy dirt trails, and explore. The point isn’t the destination (although that’s part of it). It’s the journey that counts.

I asked around and finally my friend Chris, host of the 10 Drink Minimum podcast, said to me, “You’ve got a Subaru and want to overland? You gotta meet Ben.”

Word is this dynamic duo loves Subarus too.

Ben Wade is an entrepreneur and the owner of Sparky’s Subaru Specialists, a mechanic shop that only specializes in Subarus.

I had called around Burque, and no one wanted to do custom work until I found Sparky’s. I don’t remember too much about our call until I said, “I want to take my Subaru overlanding down some Bureau of Land Management trails and put a lift kit on…” Ben cut me off and said, “I love people that want to fix up old Subies! I’m your guy.”

As we discussed the future, Ben shared a sentiment I’ve heard from other entrepreneurs here:

“Look at our state,” Ben went on, “I love the people here, the gorgeous outdoors and I feel like New Mexico has so much untapped potential.”

Other mechanics for Subarus are in town, but Ben Wade is the guy you call when you want to make your old Subaru into a like new, trail-eating monster. 

Early Saturday morning  at Sparky’s, before opening.

“I was born and raised in Albuquerque and I love it here,” Ben told me early on a bright Saturday morning. “My dad was a mechanic and I’ve been a car guy my whole life. My first job after graduating from the Universal Technical Institute was on Subarus, and I fell in love with them. They are unique vehicles.”

Sparky’s opened in October 2017 and, despite the pandemic, is as busy as ever. “Every bit of profit I make, I put back into the shop; every time I pay off a piece of equipment, I buy a new one. I’m also proud to say that I have five employees on my team and I haven’t had to lay anyone off.”

There are a lot of Subies down at Sparky’s.

Passion

Subarus have their own devoted fan club and I’m not going to lie — I’m starting to really love my Subaru and can’t wait to get it off road. “Subaru enthusiasts tend to find each other,” Ben said with a laugh. (I was in his shop, so he must be right.)

Meet my ride. Mechanically speaking, Sparky’s Subaru Specialists made it a star.

As we walked through his shop and yard, there were Subies in different states of upgrading. There was an old red Forester he was turning into a race car and then he showed me some old arcade video games he recently acquired; Ben plans to evolve his shop into a gathering center for Subaru owners. We talked about events, group rides, cookouts, and even his vintage arcade video games. He and I agreed we’re going to be friends and I expect to spend a fair amount of time down at Sparky’s myself. Watch out for a parade of lifted, overlanding Subarus cruising down Central before too long, Burque. 

As we discussed the future, Ben shared a sentiment I’ve heard from other New Mexican entrepreneurs:

“Look at our state,” Ben went on, “I love the people here, the gorgeous outdoors and I feel like New Mexico has so much untapped potential.”

I had to agree with him.I have been here a little under a year, and every day I find more reasons to love New Mexico. 

Coming soon.

Oh, and my ride? It’s cruising nice and smooth thanks to Ben and his crew. I’ll be bringing it back next month for a final mechanical update along with some new tires. 

For anyone with a Subaru that doesn’t want to overland, Ben is also your guy for oil changes and regular maintenance. Sparky’s is a one-stop-shop for everything Subie related.

Thanks to Sparky’s Subaru Specialists, you’ll see my Outback overlanding on trails in the New Mexico desert soon.

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