Started on March 27 by livinon2wheels

1991 Subaru Legacy L Wagon "WRXish"

This car has been in the family since new. My parents had it first, then I inherited it from them nearly 20 years ago. In the last two years it has had quite the transformation take place, bringing it back from a “rolls can barely” to something that is actually fun to drive. I never had any intention of making it a track car but I wont rule that possibility out. The idea was to take what subaru did and modernize it, make it handle better, stop better, accelerate better, and generally improve its driving dynamic in every way without ruining its utility as a people/grocery/trash/parts hauler and tow vehicle. In its current state it will still perform all those functions as well or better than it did stock. Starting with the engine - I have played the subaru legos game and married a set of 98 ej25d heads with headwork and a set of crower cams to factory rebuilt 99 shortblock and dropped it in to replace the anemic 2.2 that came from the factory. The result is a car that will pull off about 7.5 sec 0-60 runs without abusing the clutch too much and combined with the short 4.11 gearing makes a great compact tow vehicle that is froggy and fun to drive. Throttle response is crisp and torque is plentiful anywhere above 2000 rpm. The engine uses the standard 2.5 liter sensors for everything except for crank and camshaft triggers, and the standard 2.2 harness works with some adaptation for the coil and idle air control circuit. It took a while to figure all that out and the online forums were a definite help. It runs on regular fuel and like most subies is a mid 20s fuel economy car in mixed driving. Whats unique is that all this is happening on the OBD1 electronics which of course were designed for the slightly smaller 2.2 engine but it all works and plug readings indicate A/F mixtures are very good. The crower cams were a custom grind that pulls hard to the rev limiter so you can use everything the electronics will allow you to do to a good result. Overall a well balanced package that runs well on the factory tune. The factory exhaust has been replaced with a custom 2.5” system to a magnaflow muffler at the back of the car. Sounds good without disturbing the neighbors or the local LEOs. The factory exhaust manifold was ditched in favor of some fairly long tube unequal length headers from amazon that are surprisingly well made for what they cost, just over $100. Fairly heavy gauge stainless with heavy flanges that dont warp. Dont know how much they help or hurt the cars performance but they sound good. :) The suspension on the car has been replaced pretty much completely with all new parts comprising coilovers and whiteline sway bars. New adjustable lower control arms in the rear help with alignment issues, while all new bushings help keep the tires pointed in the right direction. Speaking of wheels and tires, the wheels are 16x7.5 Sport tuning from tire rack. Reasonably light for a good price with a decent moderately high performance all season tire suitable for the weather we have here in VA mounted up in 225/50-16. The combination makes for good ride comfort and reasonably quick turn in as well as high cornering limits. I have tried other combinations on the car and they each have their strengths but for street use, this is really what I like. Other combos that work on this chassis include 215/45-17, 205/50-16. The 17” combo tends to tramline a bit perhaps due to the really short sidewall and relatively wide tread, the 205/50-16 has razor sharp response to steering input and would probably be a great autocross size. No project like this would be complete without addressing the brakes. While there are options for upgrades from the subaru catalog that would improve braking performance suitable for track duty, for the street it adds unneeded unsprung weight that impacts acceleration and the fun to drive quotient. I elected to stay with the stock size rotors front and rear but go with slotted and drilled rotors and have found them to be completely adequate for the task when married to ceramic pads. The interior, in keeping with the wrxish theme, has wrx front seats in place of the truly awful legacy seats. I shortened the factory shifter for a firmer and shorter shift throw on the 5 speed manual and upgraded the audio system with an inexpensive system with built in GPS and a touch screen. Window tint in the darkest legal type I can use in VA has been installed and now its time to start the bodywork…

Latest updates
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