While the car had been running fine up to this point, some serious work was on the near horizon. From 176,581 - 216,000 I drove this car hard, every day, redlining and rev-matching downshifts everywhere. It was a blast, but tired. The things that needed the most attention were:
- Bearings, bushings, ball joints, hubs
- Clutch and flywheel
- Brakes (the whole system)
- Struts and springs
- Transmission syncros
- Interior normal wear and tear
- Maaco paint dying after 3 years
- Needs more power
From all this a real decision had to be made - keep the car and dump up to $10,000 into it, or sell it and move on to another project. At this point I had well over 500 hours tied up in the build, and being as it's my favorite Subaru body and one of my favorite cars, I decided to press onwards and do a full rebuild.
To kick things off, I bought a 1999 JDM STI Version V clip with transmission and rear end. It came with 2 motors, but one was blown and a phase 1, the other had a bad rod bearing. I basically paid what the body and driveline are worth and got 2 free motors and a bunch of stuff to sell. On the motors, I parted out the blown one and saved the one with a bad rod bearing for future plans.
This ended up in my garage, which was... interesting.
Eventually it was stripped and all parts were set aside for future use
Then I stripped and swapped the entire drivetrain into my car, along with new bushings, clutch, rebuilt brakes, etc.
Basically removed all of these components and swapped them with the JDM counterparts
When all was said and done, I got to drive around in this
Now that my complete drivetrain had been replaced, including all new bushings throughout, clutch, flywheel, rebuilt brakes, stainless lines, new fluids, etc, it's time to move on to the motor.
Since the motor(s) I had picked up were either blown or had a bad rod bearing, it was time to source another motor for the immediate swap. As I'm making this swap CA legal, I chose to run an EJ207 V6 with EJ205 timing, intake, and exhaust sensors. Essentially, this is an EJ207 long block with EJ205 everything else.
To start, all of the blown motors were taken apart and parts harvested, and whatever was salvageable was sold off or recycled
The EJ207 V6 was torn down so I could do a full 90k service and replace the entire oil system
From here, I'm sending 3 harnesses down to iWire, who has been a magnificent help in all of this. Harnesses are off a 2001 RS Coupe, 1999 JDM STI Ver. V (for credit), and 2003 USDM WRX.
Also took the time to swap to an STI fuel pump with baffle
And flared my fenders to fit 215/45R17 Pole Position S-04s
And once parts were bought and shipped, the rebuild on the motor commenced.
The motor on its own won't pass the CA BAR due to it using OBDI sensors in a shell with an OBDII compliant VIN. They also won't pass the ECU as when they scan it over the OBDII bus it will show a ton of necessitated sensors as being offline and will come up as the Japanese model (which never passed our SMOG compliance). Further, in CA it won't pass visual inspection as it lacks (2) catalytic converters and TGVs in the intake manifold. None of this matters to anyone with a shell that predates the 1996 introduction of OBDII compliance by Subaru. ** I've gotten some responses to this statement, so allow me to clarify. I have heard of people passing their 1993/1994 shells with EJ20Gs off as motors from a 1994 Legacy Turbo and getting them BAR'd. If this is something that works, it would ONLY apply to 1993 and 1994 shells. This may be a loophole that is now closed, they may have just been lucky, or a variety of things may have helped aid the process. Please research this before jumping in! This Wikipedia article will provide some background. **
So what do you do? You basically have to convert the OBDI V6 motor to support USDM OBDII sensors which requires:
EJ207 V5 or V6 Long Block
- Everything inside the cases and heads
EJ205 USDM (2002-2007 WRX, ideally 2002/3)
- Crank gear and timing sensor
- Left intake cam gear and timing sensor
- Intake manifold (2003 was ideal for my build)
- Intake tract with MAF sensor
- TMIC with BOV
- Up pipe (catted)
- Turbo (TD04)
- Down pipe (2 cats)
- Cat back
- Main harness
- Fuel pump controller and harness
- Fuel pump
- Power steering pump and tank
- Power steering high-pressure lines
- All sensors: oxygen (2), EGT (1), TGV (2), TGV motors (2), MAF (1), and timing (2) need to be fully functional. When you take your car to the ref it can't show any codes being listed, sensors inaccessible or reading wrong, and it needs to populate as a USDM 200x WRX which necessitates a USDM WRX ECU.
- Stock (RS) everything (compressor, condenser, compressor mount, soft lines, hard lines, expansion valve, core)
- Stock (RS) radiator - the JDM one will hit the condenser inlet/outlet
- You'll also have to cut the driver side injector rail cover and bend the mounting point on the hard/soft line running from the compressor to the expansion valve/core
- Wiring merge (I chose to tick every box - avcs, dccd, intercooler spray, etc. all for future plans)
- Misc. things like coolant runners, vacuum lines, etc. off either V6 or EJ205
Since I was in there, I figured I would replace with new (OEM where possible)
- Head gaskets
- Timing belt
- Water pump
- 10mm oil pump
- Oil cooler
- 2006 STI oil pan
- 2006 STI oil pick up tube
- 2006 STI oil baffle plate
- 2006 STI dip stick
- V6 dipstick tube (same length, different mounting point)
- Rear main seal
- Oil baffle plate
- NGK Iridium plugs
- All coolant rubber hose
- All vacuum rubber hose
- All gaskets that touch the head or intake manifold
- Entire A/C system (compressor, condenser, expansion valve, drier, core)
If I'm being honest, I'm not really sure why I went with this choice in parts and replacements. It would have been 1000x easier to have just started with a wrecked USDM WRX and/or buy a EJ205 motor and everything from a part out. And the money spent could have done other more fun things, like twinscrolls and forged internals... What swayed me was the cost of and the condition the clip came in - I wound up with a great hood, grille, and drive-train that otherwise would have been foregone.
Ultimately I'll end up with a motor and drive-train that's good for another 100k mi, but at a higher cost to my wallet and sanity.
Getting the car to pass the BAR was both difficult and easy. By researching at end for hours upon hours I was able to match everything from a WRX - down to the turbo heat shields - and have it passed on the first go. This took a considerable amount of work.
That said, the injector o-rings were dry and brittle, causing gas to not feed into the cylinders. You could smell gas every time you floored it.
The next thing to do is fix that issue and get it tuned for a more appropriate road-car. For this I utilized
- 725cc ID injectors
- VF28 from the V5 EJ207
- Retrofitted GR TMIC
The result was 232hp and 210tq with serious boost lag. It wouldn't hit 16psi until 4,000rpm due to the 2002 WRX exhaust which contained no less than (3) cats. I also left the restriction pill for the TD04 installed which didn't help.
OEM exhausts tend to rob the motor of power, and the 2002 WRX exhaust is one of the worst. There are (3) catalytic converters - one in the up-pipe and two in the down-pipe. In order to get the BAR sticker of approval, all (3) cats had to be installed and operational.
However, I want as much power as I can squeeze out of this thing. While I haven't confirmed if this method will work (I'll update after I run a test SMOG on it. EDIT: It worked!) this is what I've come up with to pass the visual portion of the SMOG. Note, that it still may not pass the sniffer test (EDIT: there was none as the ECU is newer than 2000/2001).
In order from left to right: JDM V5 up pipe, JDM V5 down pipe, JDM V7 mid pipe, JDM V7 muffler.
This specific selection was chosen to keep the OEM look while increasing flow. The mid pipe in particular was chosen due to the front resonator looking like a catalytic converter. The hope here is that the smog tech will glance at the mid pipe, see what looks like a cat, and not think twice about it. EDIT: He did. However, if they run the serial number printed on the heat shield, it won't come up as a cat. It's a shot in the dark, truthfully.
The up pipe has nearly 2mm larger ID. The down pipe's ID remains the same as the USDM one, but you're moving from (2) cats to (1) high-flow.
The down pipe had to be modified with a bung for the rear O2. I also chose to run a reducer where the O2 would typically go (post turbo but pre cat) to use the EGT sensor. I don't want any codes to be cleared when I go to smog and would rather retain the EGT. Note though that the reducer doesn't terminate like a stock up pipe which has forced me to buy another adapter, a M12 x 1.25 to 1/8" NPT and run an aftermarket EGT sensor.
Will this all work? I'm not sure, but it's my best bet at upgrading the exhaust to flow at a higher rate without removing the ability to SMOG easily. The goal is to *not* need to swap downpipes every 2 years.
EDIT: The EGT sensor never worked, I ended up plugging the hole and having the tuner kill the code on the ECU. Smog passed on the first try and I got my reg.
Around this time I cleaned up some lingering issues from 2015 and 2016, and got to work on suspension.
I fixed the ABS issue (throwing codes for front sensors) by installing tone rings on the front axles. The '99 JDM axles were made for older style tone-ring-on-hub style knuckles, but tone rings for the newer tone-ring-on-axle type knuckles worked fine.
And installed a new streetlight flywheel and HD clutch, since I was in there.
I had already replaced all bushings back in 2015, but it was definitely time to give it some more love. Out with the old (and clunking), in with the new.
- ST Suspensions XT HTA
- Cusco rear camber plates
- JDM STI Pink lateral links
- JDM STI Pink trailing arms
- JDM STI front end links
- Whiteline 22mm front sway bar
- Whiteline 24mm rear sway bar
- Whiteline HD rear mounts
- Whiteline HD rear end links
- JDM STI V5/6 carbon front strut brace