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Grandma's Subaru


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#1 Red0ktober

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Posted 22 March 2011 - 10:49 PM

Hello all,

I don't have it just yet, but it looks like I'm going to be the next owner of Grandma's Subaru. It's a GL 4wd Wagon, an '81 I think. My grandma had it as long as we all can remember, so that would go back to the early 80's. Been passed around the family a bit in recent years though. My uncle may be mistaken, but he thinks it only has about 80k miles on it. Been sitting at my other uncle's place for a year and a half, so I'm going to take my turn. Could be a gem, or could be trash, but I'm counting on it to drive 800 miles from Montana. We'll see.

I'm a hobby mechanic that's become known for rescuing old Isuzu's. I've wrenched on mine and my friend's quite a lot. Three engine swaps in Troopers under my belt so far. Between my friends and I, we have five of the 1st Gen Troopers cruising around here.

I don't figure I'll be able to keep from fiddling with this Subaru. Already looking into upgrading to an EJ22. I have a friend with a '93 Impreza laying around that I might be able to talk him out of. First things first, gotta get the car.

I've never had a Subaru before, never really expected to either. I've had several '89-91 Isuzu Troopers, an '81 Isuzu I-Mark LS Diesel, and my latest is a '99 BMW 328i. I only currently have a '90 Trooper LS (engine upgraded to a '94 Camaro 3.4L V6) and the BMW. I'm not actually sure what I'll do with the GL, I just know that I want it.

#2 MilesFox

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Posted 22 March 2011 - 10:55 PM

You may grow fond of the car. It is essentially bulletproof with the right subaru specific maintenance.

these cars go 300-400,000 miles in good maintenance.

If you know this car for a long time, and it has been a reliable car, keep it going! If you dont have rust or road salts to contend with, consider it an infinite car.

#3 bheinen74

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Posted 22 March 2011 - 10:55 PM

if it has a ea81 engine, no need to ever swap that it will run a bazillion miles.....just somewhat underpowered. I heard Isuzu makes engines needing to be swapped every 25k miles due to well, you can chime back..

Why go and swap put a perfectly reliable engine, it will NEVER go bad, ever, not like your isuzu. Welcome to subaru.

#4 Subruise

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Posted 22 March 2011 - 10:57 PM

welcome. the good news is that even if the car is junk, itll probably still get you 800mi. if you like isuzu/zuki stuff youll find people on here that do too. let us know how it goes.

RV

#5 Red0ktober

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Posted 23 March 2011 - 12:02 AM

Hey now, no need to rag on Isuzu's (this isn't a Jeep forum is it?). Isuzus are understated but pretty darned good. My folks bought one in new '89 and I bought mine about nine years ago. It's never let me down.

The ones I've worked on have had a GM V6, not most advanced engines, but solid (GM makes some crap cars, but some good engines). I swapped my 2.8L for a 3.4L voluntarily and ended up reusing my old 2.8L in a friends Trooper. All of the ones I've bought or worked on in the last few years have cost between $250 and $500 and are now go-anywhere daily drivers. You can't argue with that value (the repairs, even the engine swaps, were not expensive).

Posted Image

I'm excited to get the Subaru, just something different to fiddle with. I'm probably not going to replace the BMW with it or anything. :P

#6 Red0ktober

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Posted 23 March 2011 - 12:12 AM

Would an '81 have round headlights or rectangular? I have not seen the car person or picture in a long long time. My memory is saying they're round, but after looking at some pictures I'm really not certain. Seems rectangular is more common.

#7 subeman90

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Posted 23 March 2011 - 06:29 PM

you know I love those old Isuzu troopers like that red one in the pic but here in PA....they all rusted and died. :-\

They sure do look like fun to wheel though!

#8 Durania

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Posted 23 March 2011 - 06:44 PM

Please post lots of pictures when you get it.

#9 Red0ktober

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Posted 23 March 2011 - 08:12 PM

you know I love those old Isuzu troopers like that red one in the pic but here in PA....they all rusted and died. :-\

They sure do look like fun to wheel though!


The red/maroon one in front is mine. The silver one in back is probably going to be mine again, it's engine just blew and we towed it back to my house. Strange coincidence that we're having this conversation now... It was $450 a couple years ago, so I still count it a fair value. I'll fix it and probably sell it again.

#10 Red0ktober

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Posted 23 March 2011 - 08:20 PM

Please post lots of pictures when you get it.


Will do. Still not sure when we're going. Could be a week or could be a month. Pretty soon though.

[edit]Sounds like we're probably going next week.[/edit]

Edited by Red0ktober, 23 March 2011 - 09:27 PM.


#11 Omega79

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Posted 24 March 2011 - 03:42 AM

Nice! Looking forward to seeing some pictures. I drove one of those 1st gen Isuzus around for a while and I have driven MUCH worse. The 3.4 is a nice solid engine just REALLY inefficient. What car did the 3.4 come out of? The ones from the 93-95 Camaro and Firebird had a bit extra torque, but parts are harder to come by/more expensive FWIW.

#12 Red0ktober

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Posted 24 March 2011 - 08:16 AM

The 3.4 came from a '94 Camaro. Parts are no problem, they're still very similar to the 2.8 and 3.1L versions of that engine, which are the first generation most parts are interchangeable. They are pretty inefficient though. The engine I have on the stand now is a LX9 3500 from an '05 Chevy Uplander. Same bell housing and similar external dimensions, but it's the 4th generation of that engine family. Much more modern. More efficient aluminum heads, roller valvetrain, improved oiling, cross-bolted mains, etc. But the LX9 is only used in FWD applications so there will be a bit of fabrication work to get it installed in a Trooper. Full multiport injection conversion too. I did originally run my 3.4L as multiport, but I was having wiring issues and ended up reverting to TBI (which I could do since everything was interchangeable with the 2.8L). Of course I figured out the problem later, so now I'm thinking of reinstalling the multiport. It was just better.

I'm a fan of fuel injection. That and the extra horsies are why I'm interested in the EJ22 swap. I have access to a donor car too. I'll have to see how I like the EA81 first though. It could still have a lot of life left in it. I used to have an '81 Isuzu I-Mark Diesel, so I'm used to a little car with little horsies.

#13 VaporTrail

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Posted 25 March 2011 - 08:04 AM

Would an '81 have round headlights or rectangular? I have not seen the car person or picture in a long long time. My memory is saying they're round, but after looking at some pictures I'm really not certain. Seems rectangular is more common.


if it is a '81 GL 4wd, it will have the ea81 :) and would have the large rectangular headlights with turn signals on the outside part of the headlight bezels.... like this here... http://www.indysworl...ures/1981-f.jpg

the Subarus of the 80's page (link near top of the forums) is a good page for varying information on the old soobs, but this forum will be the best resource you could ever find....

welcome!

#14 Red0ktober

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Posted 25 March 2011 - 06:21 PM

That looks about right. I called the salvage yard here and they think they have a set of 4x140 wheels for my snow tires (leftover from my '81 Isuzu I-Mark LS Diesel).

#15 Red0ktober

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Posted 26 March 2011 - 04:58 PM

Here's the actual car. But this would have been taken a couple years ago.

I didn't ask my cousin about posting him on the internet, so I just took him out. :P

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#16 92_rugby_subie

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Posted 26 March 2011 - 05:33 PM

Looks like a pretty cool Subaru, with it sitting it may need some work and a good body washing, paint could be faded, but oh well, its a Subaru, love it for what it does, not for what people see.

I like the way you took him out, you could just say the Michelin man owned it before you :lol:

#17 Crawlerdan

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Posted 26 March 2011 - 05:41 PM

where at in montana is the car? i would be glad to help make it drivable for you

#18 bheinen74

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Posted 26 March 2011 - 06:19 PM

I think i know that color code...now what color again. Could be grizz2.

#19 Red0ktober

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Posted 26 March 2011 - 08:45 PM

where at in montana is the car? i would be glad to help make it drivable for you


It's in Havre which is where we'll be getting off Amtrak, then we'll drive it to Great Falls. It was running fine when it was parked, so it aught to fire up without too much trouble. I think I'm going to be headed up there next week but I don't know for sure. Still waiting to hear from the folks.

I have some friends in the auto body business. I'll get the rust cleaned up and possibly a spray. I was thinking a metallic gun-metal gray.

Apparently the windshield was leaking on the passenger side. Hoping that didn't do much damage to the interior with it sitting so long. :/

#20 Idasho

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Posted 26 March 2011 - 08:54 PM

You have a hell of a trip ahead of you in a car with a lot of un-knowns.

Good luck to you!

By the way, Spokane is about the midpoint in your journey according to google maps. Lots of folks here in and around Spokane. Probably a great place to stop.

#21 Crawlerdan

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Posted 26 March 2011 - 09:08 PM

if you need help before you leave the state chime in, im along the way

#22 Red0ktober

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Posted 27 March 2011 - 12:35 AM

I have friends in Spokane, I was planning on stopping or staying there actually.

This car is a reconstruction from front end damage, but that was early on, 25 years ago or thereabouts. Hopefully it doesn't come 'round to bite me. Either way, this is basically a mercy buy to get my uncle some cash. But I've had my eye on this car for a while so I hope it isn't too bad.

I'll have my guys look it over and see if it's worth fixing up. I'm a hobby mechanic and I let friends borrow my cars when they're in need. This could be a nice little loaner if nothing else. Keep them out of my BMW. ;)

#23 Red0ktober

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Posted 27 March 2011 - 12:39 AM

if you need help before you leave the state chime in, im along the way


Thanks Dan (I'm assuming), whereabouts are you in MT? Mind dropping me a message with your contact info in case I get in a pinch?

#24 VaporTrail

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Posted 27 March 2011 - 03:59 AM

I think i know that color code...now what color again. Could be grizz2.


yeah. that would be paint code 45. Torreador Red. it fades like that, but polishes back up nicely....

here's what mine looked like... I just sold it...
http://www.indysworl...aingrizzly.html

#25 1982gl4

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Posted 27 March 2011 - 09:21 AM

Hey I have one of those too! Probably the best car I have ever owned, I need to do some work to it this summer, but this is what the paint looks like when it's all shined up. This one was originally gold, I repainted it Torreador Red because I loved the color!

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