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Thread: The Lesbowagon

  1. #1

    The Lesbowagon

    Hello all, I'm Robby and this is the build thread of my 1999 Subaru Legacy Outback aka, The Lesbowagon.

    First and foremost, I bought this car as a shell for 350$ because my old Legacy wagon was too rusted out to save. It was originally an EJ25D (DOHC, 2.5L, head gasket blowing turf of a bottom end. Great heads, read on to see why they're great.) And a 4EAT (4 speed, electronic automatic transmission) so I had my old driveline swapped into it by a shop because at the time, I had not the knowledge, nor the tools to do so. The driveline was:

    1996 EJ22E
    5MT (4.111 geared)

    So as you might imagine, it was rather slow haha.

    The car received all of my previously installed mods on the old Legacy. Mostly suspension, they consisted of:

    2004 STI struts and springs
    OEM 25mm Tribeca front sway bar
    Polyurethane front sway bar bushings
    Cusco 22mm adjustable rear sway bar
    Kartboy solid aluminum rear endlinks
    EBay rear strut tower brace
    2004 STI BBS wheels
    235/45/17 tires (225 is stock STI size)

    It handled nicely but was very slow and boring so I began exploring options to make more power. In the meantime, I added a custom made UEL header and 2.25 inch straight pipe catback so it would sound like a proper Subaru. The next thing that happened was I happened upon some WRX brakes for a deal so I upgraded to the larger WRX brakes. Brake upgrade was:

    2002 WRX calipers
    2002 WRX rotors (eBay slotted ones)
    Goodrich braided stainless steel lines
    DOT4 fluid
    Grimmspeed master cylinder brace

    So my braking improved drastically over the stock, worn out Outback brakes. I purchased a harness bar purely for the bracing aspect of it, as these wagons are not really braced beyond the firewall. Then it came to mind, I should look at trying to make more power so I began exploring options. The only real way to make power in a Subaru is:

    A.) Swap in a turbo engine
    B.) Swap in a 6 cylinder
    C.) Build a hybrid motor (many parts into one engine)

    N/A Subarus just don't make reliable, easy, cheap power. The swap ideas were rather pricy and I decided to explore the idea of building a hybrid motor. The EJ22E engine has one of the strongest bottom ends Subaru ever produced and there's no two ways about that. Factory forged crank, factory forged rods, heavy duty cast pistons, thicker cylinder walls than the 2.5 motors, short stroke (same as 2.0 WRX) balanced crank and rods. Add that all up and you have a bottom end that's just begging for boost.

    "Now Robby, why not turbo that, I mean it sounds strong, right?"

    Yes! But the old, outdated, archaic SOHC heads are not good for boost at all. Hell, they're not even good for N/A really, they're asthmatic and just a poor design. So this is where the EJ25D DOHC heads come into play, but before that, let's look at Subaru in general. Many Subaru parts will swap directly over to other models with NO MODIFICATIONS, they're giant legos. So the 97-99 DOHC EJ25D heads bolt directly to the EJ22E bottom end and are leaps and bounds ahead of the SOHC heads in terms of airflow and design. Another little known secret about the 97-99 EJ25D heads is they're the exact same casting as all JDM Phase I turbo and twin turbo heads. I happened upon a set of JDM EJ20R heads that were warped beyond usability but thankfully since my EJ25D heads and these heads shared the same casting, everything swapped directly over! The EJ20R heads possess the nastiest, hottest Phase I camshafts Subaru EVER made. They're the same camshafts that are in the legendary 22B, the EXACT SAME. They're also identical to the JDM STI EJ20K cams so they're the best cams I could get without going aftermarket. They also have sodium filled exhaust valves, hollow intake valves, stiff springs and slightly stronger retainers. So I effectively had a set of usable EJ20R heads, made for a single turbo in my possession!

    Good motor for boost: Check

    On to the next idea, turbocharger and supporting mods. On these old cars, the ECUs are untunable and so I can't just plug in an Accessport or go to a shop with a tuning cable and bam, it's tuned. However, the stock EJ25D ECUs will compensate for up to 8 pounds of boost (stock 2.0 WRX wastgate pressure), fueling and timing wise. They need small things like a larger fuel pump and a rising rate fuel pressure regulator to do so but my target boost for now is only 5 pounds (stock Forester XT wastegate pressure) and so I don't need those just yet. For my turbo setup, I chose:

    JDM EJ20K STI manifold (bigger than any USDM stock cast manifold)
    Invidia catless up pipe
    CNT catless downpipe
    3" straight pipe all the way back
    TD04-13T turbo (stock Forester XT turbo)
    OEM 02-05 WRX TMIC

    These will make for a good, free-flowing exhaust and a quick spool (small turbo, free-flowing exhaust) so I had most of my build worked out and I set to work, building my own little engine. I call it: the EJ22R. the ingredients are as follows:

    96 EJ22E bottom end
    97-99 EJ25D heads
    JDM EJ20R cams and valvetrain
    96 EJ25D intake manifold (WAY bigger than 97-99 25D)
    Fel Pro MLS EJ22T head gaskets
    ARP head studs

    "Head studs are overkill for 8 PSI!"

    Right, but eventually I'll be somewhere in the neighborhood of 350whp and around 18 PSI from a bigger turbo so I want to be safe.

    That's pretty much it from an engine standpoint, here's an account of the other small things I've done while the car was down.

    So the main difference between an old Outback and an old Legacy wagon is the strut length, and the drivetrain spacers. There are spacers and other Outback specific parts on the early (96-99) Outbacks. These are for keeping the CV axles/suspension geometry correct because Legacy and Outback suspension components are the same. So taller suspension warrants these spacers to keep angles correct. I lowered my Outback with shorter 2004 STI struts and springs so I decided to get the necessary Legacy brackets, bolts and mounts to correct my suspension geometry and allow for a better range of motion, closer to its optimal operating range. The only Outback part I retained was the front control arm mount. The Outback ones are taller and thus push the control arms slightly forward, adding more front caster.

    That's pretty much it, I'll post more as I finish building the engine. Criticism is welcome!

    Sent from my HTC6525LVW using Tapatalk
    Last edited by 05scoobyroo; 11-08-2015 at 22:16.

  2. #2
    Track Junkie
    Join Date
    Mar 2009

    Awesome! I am jealous of people that are in the middle of a engine build.

    Build thread enforcer

  3. #3
    Still a n00b 05WRX's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2014

    Sounds like a good plan! I love my wrx and the mods that it has only sad part is I didn't get to pick them........but neither did I have to pay for an 8k engine. Keep up the good work.

  4. #4


    Got some assembly pics. It's nearly done. All the rest of my parts should be here within this coming week.

    Silicone turbo inlet
    CSF dual core radiator
    Grimmspeed 8mm intake manifold spacers
    Various and sundry fittings and hose clamps.

    Here's some engine porn.

    Sent from my HTC6525LVW using Tapatalk

  5. #5

    Sent from my HTC6525LVW using Tapatalk

  6. #6
    Track Junkie
    Join Date
    Mar 2009

    So much winning! Is the wiring simple or will you have to custom make something?

    Build thread enforcer

  7. #7

    Plug and play haha I'm making something though, gonna extend the harness so I can move it back from the turbo and heat wrap it.

    Sent from my HTC6525LVW using Tapatalk

  8. #8

    More info:
    I have come to a couple of conclusions and am putting them into practice on this build.

    1.) I will be running the turbo return line directly into an oil cooler and then back into the engine.

    2.) I have decided that I need an upgraded radiator. CSF radiator makes a dual core aluminum one that I've purchased and will be installing ASAP.

    So the oil feel into the turbo is tapped into using the oil pressure sensor. You use a brass T fitting and some AN fittings and things like that to effectively use pressurized oil to go into the turbo. I've decided to use a braided stainless steel line to supply my turbo.

    I'll keep adding tidbits as I come to them

    Sent from my HTC6525LVW using Tapatalk

  9. #9

    Custom fuel lines!

    Sent from my HTC6525LVW using Tapatalk

  10. #10

    Before and after. Now my turbo inlet will fit just like a stock WRX

    Sent from my HTC6525LVW using Tapatalk

  11. #11
    DSM nOOb xeroevil's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Marion, NC

    So excited to see you get everything put together and get it up and running. I was honestly surprised with how quick you were up 80 before, I can't even fathom it now, haha. Excellent progress dude!
    95 GSX - Needs Everything...
    Quote Originally Posted by NWHTanK View Post
    Yeah right... What is cod? I dont do fishing games.

  12. #12

    Thanks man! I'm getting close!

    Sent from my HTC6525LVW using Tapatalk

  13. #13

    The final piece!!!! Now I need gaskets and it's time to get it running!

    Sent from my HTC6525LVW using Tapatalk

  14. #14

    This children, is why you don't start a bolt with an impact gun haha

    In other news...

    I mocked up the engine fitment and notched my crossmember in the appropriate place. It should be running and driving within a week!

    Sent from my HTC6525LVW using Tapatalk

  15. #15

    It's been a while since I posted haha

    As of now, the car runs!!! Yaaayyyyy!!!! It needs sensors hooked up but DAMN does it sound mean. Can't wait to get it on the road.

    Sent from my HTC6525LVW using Tapatalk

  16. #16
    Track Junkie
    Join Date
    Mar 2009

    Pics, videos and launch test or we won't believe you!

    But really, congrats! Can't wait for my bugeye to get done so we can go for a drive.

    Build thread enforcer

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