Some people will do anything for their cars. And then there is me.
Now here is a job that everyone loves to do. Upper Engine Cleaning, AKA, the Smoke Screen.
The job everyone hates, and the one that so many people wished me luck for. Subaru spark plugs.
I don’t always make silly decisions, but when I do it’s usually because of Trademe.
Related Project Links
After once again, not managing to buy a Rover, despite my best attempts, I decided to buy another car sight unseen…. from the other end of the country.
It is a Subaru Legacy S401 STI.
Basically, Subaru decided “Hey, this is the last of the twin turbo Legacies, lets get STI to throw the lot at it and make the ultimate Twin Turbo Legacy”.
What did it get? Well, 6 Speed manual gearbox, front LSD, retuned ECU, hand-built engine, STI exhaust, Intercooler pipes, full STI suspension, big ass Brembo brakes, some lush BBS 18″ wheels, exclusive front bumper, side skirts and intercooler scoop. It also gets a stunning half leather/Alcantara interior, red stitching, and an STI full dash cluster. There’s a few other bits here and there, but that’s the main parts. This Japanese website lists everything in detail, it’s an amazing site.
It’s a really nice place to be, the seats are very comfortable and the interior is simple and easy to use. The 6 speed gearbox, mostly shared with various other STI and later model Legacies, is lovely to use, direct with short ratios.
The STI suspension is nothing short of amazing. Cruising down the motorway it’s firm, and flat, but sucks up all the bumps like they are nothing. Hit some corners, and it’s flat and just grips and grips.
The S401 was a limited edition, and they were apparently going to make 400 of them, hence the number is ***/400 on the badging. In reality, they never made that target, and there were only approx 290 cars made.
Mine is 143/400.
It was looked after by an owner in its past, likely the one before the guy I got it from. Sadly it’s suffered some neglect, so there’s a lot of work to do, including fixing some issues, and giving it a thorough top to toe clean, which should be fun. I hope to do this car the justice it deserves.
How it was when I got it.
And during my ownership
So after a long string of Legacy’s I decided it was time for something different, and a bit more sporty. Saw this on Trademe, and loved the look of it.
Went and viewed it, and WOW! The colour is nothing short of stunning, its certainly one of the best factory colours Subaru produced. Deep rich blue, which at night just pops. It was Sonic Blue 74F. I seem to recall i swapped the Skyline for this.
This was a surprisingly quick car considering it wasnt an STI, just a normal Type RA WRX. It was running a little higher boost than normal, and a BOV, but other than that the engine was stock as a rock. It did have receipts for a rebuild.
The car was sitting on BC Gold adjustable suspension, which although very low was actually decently dampened and comfortable to drive. This was only the second set of adjustable suspension i had ever had in a car, the first being the bloody terrible D2s in the Laurel.
Speaking of low, it caused some issues when i got the car. The front guards hadnt been rolled and they were catching at both max compression and when turning. Sadly at some point the tyre caught the inner guard and pulled the lip out, cracking the paint and leaving a ripple in the panel. Either way, it looked damn good being so low.
I did get the guards rolled by some chap in an awesome orange classic Mini Traveller, he did the best he could considering the damage already done, and i didnt have any issues after that.
Another subtle but great looking mod was that someone had grafted a later model (V8?) STI bonnet scoop on, which gave it a nice aggressive look.
The Type RA Limited model was a limited run, mine being 590/1000. They came with 280hp, Sonic Blue paint, blue seats, blue dash trim, (apparently) a close ratio gearset, LSD rear diff, and an alloy bonnet.
I sold this because i was bored, like usual, which was silly.
Well here’s a surprise, another Subaru!
So I swapped the Alfa for this Legacy, which in the big scheme of things was actually a decent idea, the Alfa just wasnt going to be reliable.
This one was just a normal twin turbo manual one. It had some modification, but good…. and bad. It drove well, was decently tidy, and had receipts for work done including a rebuilt engine.
It had a full bodykit of some sort, an RFRB grille, and Enkei RS Evolution wheels. Sadly someone had also decided that the lovely marbled interior trim was ugly and painted the centre trim black and the dash surround white. badly. It was rough as guts, and ugly as sin. I managed to source some new original trim, fit that, and it improved the looks a million times.
Swapped this one for my next car.
2l EJ20 twin turbo
Told you it wasnt over.
About 3 years after I sold my second Legacy (the first gen GT that was converted to manual and had the STI engine fitted), whilst trawling trademe for my next toy… guess what i found. It was sitting around, had covered almost no KM since i sold it, and hadnt aged well in the mean time. I owned this at the same time as the FXGT Corolla.
It was listed still with the same issue i sold it with, so it looks like the owner never sorted it either. I enlisted the help of a couple of friends to purchase the car for me (i figured that due to the current state of the car the seller may not be too happy with me, as obviously it was a bigger issue than i thought), drive it around the corner to where i was waiting and i would drive it home. It still drove, still wouldnt boost properly.
Got it home and took a look at what i have. Car was almost exactly as i sold it, except for more paint damage, the drivers door had some sort of issue (its taped shut in the photos, cant recall why), and it had been broken into and the ignition smashed. Someone had also removed the intake resonator and replaced it with a rusty bit of mild steel. MMM.
I decided since i didnt need to drive this, as i still had the Corolla, i could actually try and find out what the problem was and fix it. Mechanically it should have been all good, so i decided it was probably electrical. This resulted in me testing various sensors and probing wiring…. and removing the dash to get at all the wiring looms.
Unfortunately no matter what i did i just couldnt fix the issue, i found some incorrect wiring, fixed it, still didnt fix the issue. The final straw was when i discovered some serious rust in the body, between the boot opening and the rear window. A lovely hole i could poke things through. I decided, since i couldnt fix the damn running issue and it now had rust, i would part it out and see if i could recover what i had spent on it. It was a hell of a shame, but it had to be done.
I had a mate help flat tow it to his workshop and we got stuck in. Using the power of an angle grinder, we stripped the good bits out in no time, and sent the shell off to the scrap yard to be crushed.
Ah, this is why i sold the last Legacy. This was a pretty cool car, looked like a normal GTB but had some really good goodies in it.
It had been converted to single turbo using the headers and turbo from a V8 WRX STI RA Spec C, which meant titanium wheel VF36 and equal length headers. Apparently it was a full forged internal rebuild too, but typical Trademe special there were no receipts. Also had a tuned LinkPlus ECU and a couple of other various things (like the DIY cold air box).
This was a quick car, and when i changed the exhaust on it it sounded great, almost a less harsh Evo exhaust note. Still remember the sound of the turbo spinning down after you shut the engine off, made a sound like a jet engine spinning down.
Sadly the engine, although apparently “rebuilt” by the previous owner who was a “mechanic” 30,000km ago it smoked like a freight train on boost and at high RPM. I suspect the rings were probably gone, either not run in correctly if rebuilt, or just not rebuilt and tired. It did have piston slap when cold which was somewhat indicative of forged pistons…. but it could also be a worn standard pistons >_<
Sold this off too, and went to something different.
Converted to single turbo, forged internals
James Bond smoke screen
An interior so gross i had to have it pro steam cleaned
So after selling the Rover I thought “hey, what uses less gas than the V8? A soobie” and picked this up. Similar spec to my first green one, but far far better condition. It was actually pretty tidy inside and out, hadn’t really been molested and drove really well.
Drove it around a bit, pretty uneventful ownership really. The previous owner had spent thousands of dollars on maintaining it before me so I didn’t really have to do a lot. I seem to have records to changing the spark plugs and coils (cracked like usual) and that was it. BTW, forget the internet mechanic myths, doing plugs on a twin cam EJ20 aint that bad. Take out battery, take out washer bottle and you have almost unobstructed access.
Only real issue was that it had a pretty bad trans oil leak when I got it. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but the big patch of oil staining on the previous owners driveway should have been a dead give away.
Actually, come to think of it I did have one pretty serious issue. The steering rack bushes gave out. How do you know your bushes are stuffed? When the rack itself moves when you turn the steering wheel, meaning that the ratio is kinda variable and you never know how far you have to turn the steering wheel before the wheels start to turn, and how straight the steering wheel will be when you return to “centre”. Easy fix but scary to drive.
Sold this on when I got bored, think it ended up in Queenstown.
2L EJ20 twin turbo
Axle back exhaust
Sweet black painted Starform Basel wheels