Jump to content

Welcome to Ultimate Subaru Message Board, my lurker friend!

Welcome to Ultimate Subaru Message Board, an unparalleled Subaru community full of the greatest Subaru gurus and modders on the planet! We offer technical information and discussion about all things Subaru, the best and most popular all wheel drive vehicles ever created.

We offer all this information for free to everyone, even lurkers like you! All we ask in return is that you sign up and give back some of what you get out - without our awesome registered users none of this would be possible! Plus, you get way more great stuff as a member! Lurk to lose, participate to WIN*!
  • Say hello and join the conversation
  • Subscribe to topics and forums to get automatic updates
  • Get your own profile and make new friends
  • Classifieds with all sorts of Subaru goodies
  • Photo hosting in our gallery
  • Meet other cool people with cool cars
Seriously, what are you waiting for? Make your life more fulfilling and join today! You and your Subaru won't regret it, we guarantee** it.

* The joy of participation and being generally awesome constitutes winning
** Not an actual guarantee, but seriously, you probably won't regret it!

Serving the Subaru Community since May 18th, 1998!

Guest Message by DevFuse

- - - - -

I'm new, What Subaru should I buy for offroading? Basic conversion Q's

  • Please log in to reply
40 replies to this topic

#1 BlueRidgeSE


    USMB Regular

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 32 posts
  • Barrie,Canada

Posted 28 November 2005 - 10:22 PM

Hello everyone, I have been trolling for a few weeks and this is my first official post.
I work at a Subaru dealer in Canada and have been playing with GC Impreza's
the last few years, doing turbo conversions etc.
I'd like to get into some off roading a bit and need to be pointed in the right direction. I also have to leave the coupes to turn my attention to wagons
since my lifestyle with kids and camping is now in full swing.
I do not see myself ever trying to keep up with jeeps or hardcore offroaders
but I would like something lifted enough to have some fun in the summer
and take out in the snow.
I want a daily driver I can play with and drive the kids to baseball in
without worries about flipping it on the highway. I have always been a guy who likes a 'tasteful' ride, nothing too extreme.

I have two options I am thinking about

1. take my wife's higher mileage 01 Forester and lift it and do some mods
but it would have to be ok as a daily driver too. I was thinking EA82 D/R swap and 3 inch lift, and some tires suitable for some highway use.


2. buy a 1987 GL wagon 5speed D/R with 78,000 miles that I see that was imported from Colorado and mod it instead, do the carbs, LSD, and lift it
about 3-4 inches. The car is rust free and has all the options I think I need.

Option 2 means I have to cough up to buy a third car so it starts out being more expensive already,which isn't ahuge factor. In Canada alot of these older cars are all rusted out and hard to find roadworthy.YOu hardly see any driving around anymore. There are used parts around though.
The forester has more power and is fuel injected and it has been a great car.
There is more info on lifting and modding the 1987 out there . There seems to be limited info on converting Foresters to keep up on the trails.I know this may or may not change in the future but I don't know if I can wait that long.
One way of the other I am excited about a new project, I just can't afford to go one way and then change my mind part way.

Old school or new ? I need some advice please...thanks alot

#2 fishy


    USMB is life!

  • Members
  • 307 posts
  • Nova Scotia, Canada

Posted 28 November 2005 - 10:26 PM

I'm a little short on advice but fairly long on opinion. :brow:

If you want to keep your lifted rig as a daily driver I think the forester would be the clear choice. It would have the creature comforts, be quiet, etc, etc.

If you wanted to get really hairy offroading the old school approach is probably the way to go because it affords you transfer case options, etc. but will cost you a third car :)

#3 BlueRidgeSE


    USMB Regular

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 32 posts
  • Barrie,Canada

Posted 28 November 2005 - 10:53 PM

The cost of the extra car being about $3500 CAN. I could do alot to the forester for that. Alot of sites say " TBD" on lift kits for Forester though, how close is the arrival of EJ lift kits for Foresters and such?
I also would like to have a proper low range and LSD?

#4 Andyjo


    I'm Not Austin!

  • Members
  • 1,808 posts
  • Windham NH

Posted 28 November 2005 - 11:08 PM

I Think AA have a forester lift? i might be comepletely wrong on that one though....
You could look into some King Springs for it, which will give you a 2" suspension lift i believe...
You should check out Forester_Ranger's forester... holy crap it's sweet!

With the foresters i think you're more limited with lifts, because you can't just swap out another subaru's struts.... but you might want to check out the baja struts? i have no idea about this one either, but it's been mentioned on this board before, and noone's tried out that option before.. swapping baja struts into a forester, that might be pretty hott.....

I'd go with modifying the forester... it'll most likely be the cheaper way to go (since you already have it..)

#5 kingbobdole


    Mr. XT-6

  • Members
  • 1,654 posts
  • Longmont

Posted 28 November 2005 - 11:56 PM

I say go old school, but I'm kinda biased.... I picked up a 87 D/R wagon here in CO in Febuary or so, but mine has like 180K on it. Baught the car for $200 and the first thing I really did was SPFI it... HIGHLY RECOMMENED, the fuel injection has really saved me tons of headaches, ditch the carb, go EFI. Then I got a 4" lift and 15" rims (from AA)and 29"ish tires. I have plenty of power in the mountians for climbing and I just took it wheeling and it went well. The big perk of old school is its readily available and cheap. I probably, including the price of the car have about $1500 into my wagon, and I love it. The forrester could be done, but you might want to get in touch with "forresterranger" hes got the pimpest forrester around as far as I know, but I'm sure hes got tons into that thing, but its really cool.

Posted Image

#6 beansy82


    New User

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 23 posts
  • ferndale

Posted 29 November 2005 - 01:07 AM

ok so im pretty new to this but iam working on my junior project. my junior project is to take my 87 wagon and turn it into a 4x4. i currently own a 1987 wagon carbeb bual range 4 wheel drive i think. it is in pretty good conditiona few dings and dentsand a little surface rust. motor wise it has a new motor but the exaust is bad like falling off bad and the front rotors are weared down. but the plan is to take it from stock to 4X4. i need to completely redo it. so i need to know lots of how to's i guess i need a list of things that i will need to make it safe and drivable and i hopefully have a bidget of 2000-2500 so if u guys know were to buy things and get good deals please let me know

#7 Jibs


    Wonder Triplets Activate

  • Members
  • 1,720 posts
  • Reno

Posted 29 November 2005 - 01:20 AM

Check this thread out, it has lots of info for ya.

http://www.ultimates...=offroad sticky

It shouldn't be too hard to build a decent offroad soob for 2500. Have fun and welcome to the board!

#8 Hodaka Rider

Hodaka Rider

    Original BC Soobnut

  • Members
  • 1,577 posts
  • Nelson, BC (Canada)

Posted 29 November 2005 - 01:57 AM

In Canada alot of these older cars are all rusted out and hard to find roadworthy.YOu hardly see any driving around anymore.

Dude, you just live in the wrong part of Canada. I can look down almost any street in town here and see several of the '85 to '94 cars. I can look out my office window and see enough street for 5 cars to park. At least two of them are usually Subarus - and neither is mine, either.

Anyways, my vote is for the older car. But only if you can find one for less $ than the one you mentioned. Drop in an EJ-22 and you won't look back.

#9 BlueRidgeSE


    USMB Regular

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 32 posts
  • Barrie,Canada

Posted 29 November 2005 - 07:37 AM


most of the cars are badly rusted here in Ontario because of massive amounts of roads salt in winter. I have to pony up large $$ for one in good shape.
I don't want to drive a rust bucket or dump alot into body work.
Maybe I will look at bring a BC or Alberta car in with clean body and less rust.
I am thinking old school would give me the best starting point if I could find a car under $2000 to start. I am going to look at this 1987 since it is clean and low kms.
I would still prefer to do the Forester but don't want to feel limited by expense and lack of product support.

What years did the EA82 cars come with D/R and SPFI and what yeras did they come turbo with the better 4wd system.


#10 Rollie715


    USMB is life!

  • Members
  • 181 posts
  • Bellingham

Posted 29 November 2005 - 11:33 AM

I'm considering building an offroad Subaru I can use for a daily driver. What advice can you all give me?

I've been told I should look for something like an 86-89 Wagon with dual range transfercase and fuel injection. I'm also thinking of finding some peugeot wheels and mounting up some 27" Super Swampers. Also a lift kit.

Any advice or leads on where to buy a car in NW Washington would be welcome.



#11 Jerry DeMoss

Jerry DeMoss

    Pushrods 'O' Fury

  • Members
  • 2,408 posts
  • Colorado

Posted 29 November 2005 - 11:48 AM

Welcome.You live in the right area to find a good subaru for what you are looking to do with it.There are plenty of guys and gals in your area with subes for sale.Check craigslist and you should be able to find something that suites you.

#12 samo



  • Members
  • 731 posts
  • The Emerald City

Posted 29 November 2005 - 12:15 PM

Here and Craigslist are both great resources.

If you're really interested in serious offroading, most would argue that the EA81 is the best platform to start with, particularly the Hatch models. They don't have as much power as an EA82 and they're (almost) all carbed, but they're smaller, lighter, and have better approach angles, with a more reliable engine.

If you're going to fall in love with an EA82, you'll still have a potent platform. The '87-'89 SPFI GLs are probably your best bet, as they have more power than the carbed models, and have the lovely dual-range transmission.

Sounds like you've got a decent plan for building your Subaru, once you get it. Search around, there's tons of information on here about all aspects of Subarudom.

And welcome to the board!

#13 Scott in Bellingham

Scott in Bellingham

    Lets go wheelin!!

  • Members
  • 4,044 posts
  • Bellingham

Posted 29 November 2005 - 12:33 PM

Echo papers a good spot also rods Japanease Auto on the Guide , good Luck , keep us posted on your mods SJR

#14 Newbaru


    New User

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 1 posts
  • Virginia, USA

Posted 29 November 2005 - 12:56 PM

I'm trying to gauge how much actual off-roading newer Subarus can handle. At what point is a 4x4-type locking diff necessary. I've seen pictures of guys fjording, running in deep snow, climbing etc., but wasn't sure if the cars had been modded (drivetrain, not suspension).

I understand the basic idea of transferring power to the wheels with grip, but what about in situations when all the wheels are slipping (like in mud)? Are you just stuck at that point with wheels spinning, or does the engine kill power to all wheels?

Sorry for the rookie questions. Just trying to figure out what's ahead. Looking to get a newer Outback as a family hauler, but fairly serious MT. bike trail car.

Thanks in advance.

#15 Numbchux


    EJ conversion addict

  • Members
  • 6,760 posts
  • Saginaw, MN

Posted 29 November 2005 - 02:31 PM

Also....check out DrKrazy's post on 'Project Cheap'

He's put pretty much everything he's done in that post, plenty of info on how to make a nice rig out of any EA82...

#16 tjZ06


    USMB Regular

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 40 posts
  • San Jose, CA

Posted 29 November 2005 - 04:45 PM

I'm pretty new to the Subi world and I'm really startin' to dig these things. In a way they are the antithesis of my Z06. The Z06 has stupid power (428RWHP and gaining ), amazing dry-road handling and speed, and stereotypical good looks. The Subis are down on power, but make up for it w/ capability, utility (ppl/stuff space), and a very unique type of good looks. Lifted they have this demeanor which I just love. It's not your typical lifted full-size domestic pickup that really has very little ability off-road (too big to fit anywhere, and if it's late-model IRS sucks for a full-size) and they typical look. I was very into off-roading with some friends for a long time and we had some mean little Samis. I still might be acquiring my buddy's Samis for true, serious off roading.

So what I want to build is a sort of daily driver vehicle (though I have a '89 MazDUH B2200 for that) that will be good for road trips too (my family owns a cabin in Idaho which is a 16 hour drive for me). I want reasonable off-road capability, and the pervy lifted Subi look.

What's the best year and model to start with? Which has the most power, strongest running gear etc. What are the known issues year to year. Oh, and yes this will be a budget build. I still want some $ to spend on my '79 Subi 4wd Wagon I bought the other day.


PS- Yeah, I sort of have a problem with collecting too many vehicles.

#17 Numbchux


    EJ conversion addict

  • Members
  • 6,760 posts
  • Saginaw, MN

Posted 29 November 2005 - 05:47 PM

well...there used to be a sticky with stuff like this, but I'm not sure what happened to it...

anyway, you have to analyze you're needs here:

The EA8x Dual Range 4WD is by far the best subie tranny fo offroad, unfortunately, the motors bolted up to these trannies are, well, a bit lacking in the hp department. I think an EA82 SPFI motor is rated at 91 hp at the crank...

The EJ series (legacy, impreza, etc.) has WAY more power, but no lo range, and AWD, instead of true 4WD, which is a big disadvantage off road.

the newer, EJ series car's are much more expensive, but will be way better for road trips, but not as capable off-road...

all that being said, I'd recommend an '88 GL wagon (ok, I'm a bit biased...but I've had an '85, and '92). With an SPFI (best lo end torque of any EA8x motor), and a 5-speed, D/R 4WD tranny. Then add a 4" lift kit (presonally biased towards allied armament...but there's also SJR and BYB that are both also great), 14 or 15" wheels (pugeot or AA, or 6-lug conversion), ~28" All terrains, LSD or welded rear, skidplate, bumpers, maybe a roof rack, etc......make it yours.....then, down the road, add an EJ motor to give it the power of the newer cars....This is the path I'm taking anyway...

Others will argue that the EA81 platform is better, frankly, I'm not sure, I've never had one. The brat's are cool, the hatch's are the perfect size, and the motors are a bit more reliable (timing chains, instead of belts). However, they're essentially all carb'ed, and only a 4-speed tranny...not for me...but if you go that route, the rest of the upgrades are pretty much the same, plus a weber carb for better power.

These are all rather common upgrades, you just have to look around, in the marketplace, and here, in the offroad forum, for info. Also, the search function can yeild many answers...

Good luck with your build

#18 Phizinza


    Yip yip

  • Members
  • 3,939 posts
  • South Australia

Posted 29 November 2005 - 06:06 PM

Something on a side note. I've noticed newer car heaters are SOOO much better then the old cars ones. Just thought that might matter up there in canada.
Look for a 80's hatch!!! :D

#19 Kostamojen


    From FF-1 to BRZ!

  • Members
  • 1,693 posts
  • Roseville, CA

Posted 29 November 2005 - 06:20 PM

I like your option #1. A lifted forester can do about anything, and if you get a VTD auto tranny from a Baja or WRX in there, you will have a true AWD system with a planetary center diff that will probably outperform the EA82 D/R in most anything but the most extreme off-roading situations.

#20 Numbchux


    EJ conversion addict

  • Members
  • 6,760 posts
  • Saginaw, MN

Posted 29 November 2005 - 06:35 PM

Something on a side note. I've noticed newer car heaters are SOOO much better then the old cars ones.

That may be true, but my EA82 generates more than enough heat for me, I only have fan settings 3 & 4, and I'm finding myself turning it on and off all the time because it's too hot (new said -15 w/windchill this morning)

#21 soobmater


    Got Mud?

  • Members
  • 1,668 posts
  • South Bend

Posted 29 November 2005 - 08:35 PM

if i were you, i would go with older roo..if you could, try to get a ea81, better motor and all:) then get a 4inch lift, some ssr's and you would be set(well, basically)

#22 BlueRidgeSE


    USMB Regular

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 32 posts
  • Barrie,Canada

Posted 29 November 2005 - 09:00 PM

I haven't bought yet but am lining everything up and doing the research.
I found a 93 Loyale wagon today for $800CAN. It is a bit high in kms w 246,000 kms on it.
I called the local junkyard and they have a d/r tranny from an 87 GL for $300 CAN. Just add a lift and tires and I'll be in business. I would prefer a 1988-1989 model but those are all in the scrapyard.
Hell even the 1993 has quite a bit of rust on the fenders and doglegs.
Forget brats and older EA81's in Ontario. They have all but suffered a rusty death years ago. I have't even seen a brat for 5 years anwhere in Ontario.
I may buy this 93 for now and look for a better one to start with.

#23 scrap487


    Certified Subaru Nut

  • Members
  • 989 posts
  • Government Camp

Posted 29 November 2005 - 09:08 PM

hey all... I just bought an 81 subaru wagon, gonna trailer it over here this coming weekend. I've had a 93 jeep cherokee that i lifted n all that stuff, but I've decided its time I move on to something better where I can afford to drive to work and school everyday :banghead: , where I dont see clones of my own rig every 3rd cherokee i see on the street, etc.. etc..

anyways I plan on modifying it quite a bit once my jeep sells, but first I need to get it driveable. currently it has 2 bad cv joints and since it seems this is a common problem I was wondering if theres a write up describing the best/easiest/fastest way to swap it out as I've never worked on anything with an indepandent suspension before.

ok for the fun stuff... after reading around a little bit, I've decided 4 or 5" is a good amount of lift for this car. I have access to a shop and if I can fab something up, it would be prefered over buying a kit as I will be on a bit of a budget. can anyone help get me started in the right direction as to what components I will need to get/make, and also what I may need to do to other parts of the car that might be affected by the suspension lift, like driveline length/angles etc... and also what size tire can the axles/differantials handle.

[edit] how'd my post end up here.. o well...

#24 Shadyirishmen


    Subaru Nut

  • Members
  • 655 posts
  • Scappoose OR,

Posted 30 November 2005 - 01:49 AM

The old schoolers are just plain tough for offroad, I would say if you plan on showing off and having a good time, get the 88 gl dual range. If your looking for civility and offroad prowess, forrester, I personally would like to see more of them lifted and we do have a lift for the model. :brow:

The main thing is when your really offroading you will most definitely dent bend and even brake something. Many will argue that if you take the correct line you will be fine, but I say shoot through the middle and suprise everyone and get stuck. The point of this paragraph is how far do you plan on going with your vehicle!? :brow: (I can't get enough of the brows) If you plan on going on trails and deep ruts go with the old school, cheap and easy to fix, takes a beating, and with the dual range can run large tires and can go just about anywhere.

If you go to this link, we have customers pictures up that show how some of the older wagons look and what you can do with them. http://alliedarmamen...m/Customer.html

Best of luck with your decision, either choice you make will be good.

#25 BlueRidgeSE


    USMB Regular

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 32 posts
  • Barrie,Canada

Posted 30 November 2005 - 08:31 AM


I am leaning for an older GL an the search is on. I found one that is clean and low kms but it's too expensive and carb. I found another with high kms,EFI but no d/r tranny. Whatever way I go I may have some swapping to do.
AA can xxpect a call to ship some of your goodies to Canada soon once I land a car.

0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users