So few years later, year 2011. After just using my car to drive from point A to point B, not doing any mods, buying a house along the way, getting married. The dreaded quarter panel rust started to spread real bad.
I finally decided to fix it one day. But as I started taking a closer look at the problem, I realized that the quarter panel was only the beginning.
All of those long winter trips up north took its tool. After seeing the extent of the damage, it really got me down. It was pretty clear that any quick fix will be completely temporary if not useless. I really wasn't sure what to do about it, if this was going to be the end of my car as we know it, if I should move on, or just drive it to the ground, which did not seemed to be far away.
I really never done any body work of that scale before so all of that looked pretty scary to my untrained eye. But I decided to at least see what it would all take to get the bar back to the top shape. At that time I already had another commuter car, little Civic hatchback. So I parked the Impreza and started taking few more pieces off to try to see where the rust stops, what my options would be, what possible labor costs it would require should I decide to take it to some classic/custom body shop, or how much work it would take if I do it myself. I didn't have a garage then, and it was getting into the fall with lots of rain. Here are some pictures of my attempt to try to get somewhat extended period workspace going.
Disregard that big old shed. It was some rotted structure with dirt floor that was very slanted and got muddy when it rained a lot.
Only couple weeks after erecting my structure, it was destroyed by Hurricane Irene.
There were very few survivors...
At that point, I was plunged deep in thoughts again...Where to go from here? What should I do now? I knew that I had to strategize. Should I go home??? Should I go big? Perhaps even balls to the wall? I decided to go home... and make myself some earl gray tea, with some lemon. As I was sipping on my tea, I came to the conclusion that going anything other than balls to the wall would not be in the style of everything else that I did with my Suby, that going big was the only way to give Impreza the proper treatment and to ensure that I would have it for years to come. So I have began doing some number crunching, cash flow analysis, budget review, income projections, credit refinancing, portfolio assessment. And after this careful financial review I concluded that a real garage shall be erected on my land.
For the next 3 months or so I was dealing with the township, zoning codes, paperwork, contractor estimates. In order to get the most bang for my buck I only contracted the work that I absolutely could not complete myself. So after all of the drawings and plans were completed reviewed and approved, the transformation began.
After I payed off all of the contractors, and inspectors, I was left with a completely wrecked yard, a basic structure. As I was staring up at the trusses, and wondered about beam arrangement and load distribution, I knew there was still a lot of work left to do.
But at the same time I just could not contain my excitement.
So I rolled up my sleeves and got to it.
My dad kept his sleeves down, though, but he still helped me tremendously.
That brings us to about midsummer of 2012. Due to different life circumstances the Impreza would spend another year and a half in that same exact spot in the garage practically untouched. Sad banana would be sad again.
Then finally in May 2014, after dealing with other household and work things, I got back to working on my Impreza. This time for real. I realized that if I keep working at the pace that I have been, I won't get anywhere.
Pulled the gas tank. It was in the sad state.
The rear of the car bas basically stripped to the shell, and I started working on the body. First cut out the bad parts of the outside of the rocker panels. Dad's being a big help again.
Unfortunately I don't have a lot of intermediate steps pictures, but here is the piece welded in already. This is after the inside rocker panel was repaired.
Cut out and welded in some panels under the fenders
Still learning how to weld basically.
Onto quarter panels. I have read that you can take front fenders and use it on the opposite rear side, because the arch is the same shape. Both my front fenders were bad on the bottom, so I was planning to replace them, but the piece that I could use for the rear were good. Well, the crackpot theory is not 100% true, that you can just flip them and BAM! you are good to go. While the arch is the same, the angle where the arch ends and goes into the horizontal part above the bumper cover is different. But I was still able to use them, with the following modification.
You can see here that I cut a small triangle shape sliver, while still keeping the piece connected on the bottom, and pushed the top together to get the correct angle.
My plan was to go over with the spot welds over several passes and grind it off until seam is flush, but what ended up happening is that he seam got somehow indented so it needed to be filled with the body filler, so then I didn't bother grinding it off and heating the metal any more than I needed to.
There may have been a leak in the trunk, from one hole for the wing that I did not seal correctly, so the two side pockets, where jack goes, were rusted out. Thankfully Subaru sells those pieces. So I ended up replacing them. It was relatively simple because I didn't have to bend or cut anything. I used that spot weld drill bit to cut the old ones out. There were couple points that you could not get to, so I just kinda went around them and grinded the rest off.
Then afterwards I sealed the seams with this thing
I took some pictures of well afterwards that sort of show how the insides of the rocker panels were fixed. I just used 16 or 18 gauge steel sheet and bent it to shape, then lap joint welded it. The picture is after seam sealer, and after rubber spray