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1994 Impreza LS wagon

This is my daily driver. After finding bad rot in the strut towers on my forester i set out to find another car, preferably a wagon and i wanted to swap this one. After a few two’fers at Chilis one night a friend of mine found this in Philly for $500, and after a few handshakes and PA’s stupid notarized paperwork nonsense i drove it back to NY, only to have the motor fail a few weeks after. At that point the Forester was still being driven so i gutted this to a bare shell to prep for the swap, wiring harness was done first, followed by building the engine and trans, then finally id swap out the suspension from the forester into this. The forester already had GD subframes/suspension, so just a few small things were changed like brake lines and rear top strut mounts.

Ill get a list of modifications when i can figure out what all ive done to it, because to be honest ive touched every single nut, wire and body panel on this thing so its quite an extensive list.

3/24/23 Update: Its almost done

Im certainly slacking at keeping this updated but here goes. Since painting the car a few years back i now need to repair the quarter spot rust repair because i didnt repair it correctly. The parts around the tires are blasted to primer as i kind of expected but its not a huge deal i think i can knock most of those pieces out in a weekend. The rear bumper isnt playing nice with 255’s and i constantly am breaking the upper mounting points apart from the tire rubbing so ill have to make a mount inside the bumper and cut away what rubs.

The trans still has a whine from when i built it before a road trip back when i first put the car together, eventually id like to get a JDM short gear non-dccd trans for this car and put this trans into my RS with a dog box gear set. The rear end needs a rebuild the clutches are toast, id imagine being an 04 the front diff needs it as well. Motor wise, this thing is a unit, its taken an absolute thrashing over the years and still spits 30mpg on road trips while eating up ALS fired runs down on the dragon. Mapping wise i have a street setting at 18psi that feels great, and a balls out map at 20psi with LC/ALS which also runs fantastic. I think in the future i will put EGT bungs in the manifold and get a 4channel logger so i can get more precise with mapping i just feel thats the next step to tweak what ive come up with.

Next on the list is the fuel tank, the original tank is starting to seep, so a baffled GD tank is going in at some point, i also snagged an aluminum driveshaft to put in when that happens. Id like to fix up the remaining body parts like the lip, skirts and lower spoiler so they look nice, then go over it with clear film. Other than those few things, the car is at the point where im super happy with it and while i wouldnt use the term “done” or “finished” its almost there.

11/16/20 Update: The Paint

I decided the only real challenge ive never tackled with cars was bodywork, mostly because of the time involved with getting things correct but later i found out that money is also a big drawback of doing your own bodywork. So i spent the last two months practicing on minor issues around my impreza wagon and as of three weeks ago i tackled painting the entire car, by myself, at 3:45am.

Back in august/september i still had a brain blockage when mixing filler, too much or too little i couldnt get it right. On October 31st i was spraying the car in a friends booth, i was hoping for a better result due to being in a booth and not in my garage, but it was still quite dirty which is requiring me to now wetsand the entire car and fix a ton of issues. I had a trip scheduled to the tail of the dragon with some friends the weekend of November 7/8th and i wanted to finish the car before then. Back up two weeks, i was working 18-20 hour days to finish sanding/filling the doors which i shaved the molding holes from, sanding edges and triple checking i didnt miss any spots knocking the car down with 220 grit. I then had to deal with the massive rust on the passenger rocker, which was created by a gap in the seam where the pinch weld that was crushed, had opened up. That took all day to finish in addition to the quarter panel bubble that was a 2″ wide hole. Fast forward a bit were in the week leading to halloween weekend and im still sanding, prepping, removing parts, swapping on the shaved doors etc. The plan was to bring the car down to the shop Friday night, spray it Saturday, then assemble it Sunday to drive home that night. None of that happened…

Friday night i get to the shop after hours and unpack everything, dozens of small parts, bumpers, trim etc, along with all of the actual materials to do this. Which totalled about $1200, everything from sand paper and paint stirrers up to the paint/sealer/clear itself. I had to borrow the spray guns from him as i couldnt fit that into my budget. I worked until 2-3am friday night to prep the car for primer which was laid down before we left for the night.

Saturday rolls around and im sanding it with the help of my buddy Jon who stuck around every night till 4am to give me a ride home, this is my only car. What all these youtube videos dont tell you is the actual amount of time, and the ones that do dont really drive it home. Blocking the car out after primer took 4-6 hours, another 2-3 for small parts, all day and most of the night. Fueled by nothing but a burger king meal and energy drinks we hammered out the last few pieces to sand and a few friends showed up to help mask the car, which didnt work out well since i had to razor blade all of the glass afterwards. I load the gun up, and one of the plastic air filters explodes, sending the gun into the wall/floor breaking the cup and dumping product, my buddy had none in the shop so i ran home to get some of mine late in the night. The small parts were primed and sanded late in the night, or morning.

Its now sunday, still a day behind, and today the real fun starts, my friend who owns the shop decides to throw me the keys and bounce so im flying blind for the remainder of the process. Luckily a friend of mine Brian is an autobody teacher in PA who just had a baby a few days before i started, so guess who was awake at 2:30am to help me with fixing my fuck ups? Brian! Sunday morning the car is in the booth, masked and ready to spray. I used Acme products (made by Martin Senour, distributed by Sherwin Williams) at the recommendation of which supplied my color matched paint at half the price any local shop could do. Seeing as it was sold by Napa stores i figured it would be a good choice so i could get supplies on weekends, last minute etc… I was so wrong.

After finding out i used the wrong hardener for the primer, because the 6+ different cans for each product have identical colors and labels, i now find out i used the hardener i needed for my clear. Luckily Napa store #1 had some, so a quick drive for that and were good. I check the hardener again only to find the sealer uses its own specific hardener, after a few hours of phone calls i had Jon make a 3+ hour trip to upstate NY to the only Napa that had it in stock. He finally gets back and I begin spraying sealer, now keep in mind ive never sprayed paint on anything ever. The first coat goes down like glass, im super happy and ready to roll with the second coat. I get all the way to the end (drivers door) and the DeCups (reusable paint cup with liner) that ive never used before, fails on me. The liner shrinks down as the product is used, and when assembling the cup, its upside down with a lock ring that seals the lip of the liner to the cap. I fucked up that lip, so the shrinking liner pulled from the cap dumping the rest of my sealer all over me, the floor and subsequently the car. Now i have to force dry ( a new term for me) the driver door panel and wetsand a bunch of runs ( a new process for me) and this is around 1-2am. Keep in mind, spraying all of this is called wet-on-wet, which means the previous layer flashes dry but doesnt cure, so all of this time needs to be kept in check.

After spending an hour fixing the splatter all over the door, which came out perfect btw, i get onto preparing the car for base coat color. Its now 2:30am or so and im absolutely exhausted, two coats of sealer are on the car which took an entire quart of the product, im stirring the base coat which is Sedona Red Pearl 94F, a 2001 Impreza RS color. The first coat goes down well, the color pops on the white sealer and coverage is good. I let that flash and begin the second coat. At this point ive been spraying paint, let alone in a booth for all of a couple hours of my life, and im halfway through the first coat while walking around the car holding the hose behind me. I manage to step on the hose which breaks the airfilter (again) sending the gun onto the floor, breaking the cup and dumping my expensive ass paint all over the floor. Now its around 3-3:30am, im almost done with the second coat, im hanging over the car and sweat drips off my head onto the paint. And just like earlier with the sealer i had to fix that, without fucking it up, which is hard. After that crisis was dealt with and the second coat of color is down, the car looks good and im barely standing, i take a break to let that flash.

Spraying the clear sucked, i could be fatigue, the cold temps, dirty spray booth, you name it. I couldnt get the gun set correct after recommendations from my buddy, but i couldnt stop here this had to be finished because the shop is open for business in a few hours and they needed the booth in the afternoon. I hammered through it, but in the end its full of dust, bugs, and a full serving of orange peel. Somewhere around 4:30-5am i call it a night, close up the shop to go home and hibernate for the remainder of the day.

Monday night comes around and im back at the shop to unwrap the car and take it home, along with the parts i didnt get to spray. I arrive to see the car already unwrapped with the wheels put on, outside in the back. Cool, that saves me time, so i pack up my supplies and parts in the car and head home. I made it all of 3 or 4 miles up the highway and my front left wheel comes off. So now my body-worked fender is fucked, and im in the mud on the side of the highway fixing the car, only to find the other three wheels are loose as well so im in a peachy mood. I limp the car home and call it a night.

I now spend all day tuesday the 3rd looking for more white sealer, only to find absolutely none. So i go to a local autobody supply shop to find a light gray sealer, which to me looked close to white as i could get, got bend over for $90 something dollars and went home to prep the small parts which i now had to paint outside in the yard. Wednesday comes around and i start prepping the parts. Thursday comes around and im painting the parts, i had to use a $50 ebay spray gun which in all honesty wasnt much worse than the $100-200 sata i used at the shop, the weak link at home was the compressor keeping constant pressure for the gun. It would randomly drop which causes the gun to sputter and not atomize the fluid well, which led to a few problems with the clear. After one solid coat on the parts i get into the second coat, to find out i have now run out of color, which was a full gallon. So i had to compromise and leave some things unpainted, which turns out a bunch were super visible on the car so that didnt work out. I finally finish painting around 4-5pm, the clear needs 6-8hrs to dry before being handled. So i hit my local Five Guys for our Thursday night Subaru meet, then head home around 10 to start assembling the car. My tenant upstairs saw me in the garage around 1am and came down to lend a hand carrying big parts onto the car. Little by little i throw parts on to get ready to drive 13+ hours to the dragon, only a few hours after painting/assembling everything. I had the trial-by-fire approach to this whole ordeal, everything that couldve gone wrong, did.

I spend saturday morning, now November 7th, installing door handles and the gas door on my car in the grass at Fontana Village down on the dragon. And after all of this chaos the car is now one color, albeit some serious flaws im happy with it, but i wouldn’t do it again with any kind of deadline to meet.