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Hello, this is my first time posting here and I'm looking to finally have my own Subaru.


Background is as follows:

-Learned to drive in my dad's Subaru Bajas (he owned three over the years)

-Got a 99 Ford Contour as my first car. Was alright, but had problems.

-When I was planning to sell the Contour, I was trying to find a Subaru, but couldn't find one in my price range, so I gave up and tried Volkswagen in the form of an '03 Jetta Wolfsburg Edition (sport suspension and a 1.8L turbocharged engine.)

-I'm not a trained mechanic in any way. I'm teaching myself from working on my Jetta and Passat (long story as to why I own two Volkswagens)


I was originally planning to turn my Jetta into an all-wheel drive car by importing a parts car in the form of a V6 4motion Bora (name for the fourth generation Jetta in other parts of the world)


I've looked at various cars and it seems like Subaru has most of what I'm looking for and appear to be more willing to recieve the things that they don't have that I want, so I want to finally try again at buying a Subaru. The problem is, I don't know which Subaru I should look at.


The H6 fascinates me and owning a two Volkswagens with turbocharged engines has me hooked on boost for life. I plan to buy a car that has an H6 OR a turbocharger and swap/add the other one so I can have both.


What I'm looking for:

-All wheel drive



-H6 engine

-DIY friendly


I've got it narrowed down to three and have some questions about each.



Third generation Legacy sedan:

-How is leg room in the back seats? Is it better than a 99.5-05 Volkswagen Jetta? I can't find a third generation Legacy sedan for sale in my area to find out.

-If I got this route, I am planning to swap an H6 into this at some point. How much time and money would I likely need to spend on parts other than the engine itself to do this? (Applies to Baja as well)




-How is the EG33 as far as engine reliability and maintenance costs? Are there any common and/or major issues I should be made aware of before buying one? (I know of the transmission issues and have plans for this)

-What is a good price to pay for one? I don't mind buying a fixer-upper as long as the frame and body panels are intact and rust-free.

-If I want to put some form of forced induction in at some point, how much is it likely to cost me?

-Is there anyone in or around Columbus, Ohio who has one that would be willing to let me see it in person and possibly ride (not drive) in it?



Baja: (Not as many questions here because of the front-end similarities between the Baja and Legacy and I've been in/drove a Baja before)

-I'm aware of the head gasket issues in this car's engine, it claimed my dad's second Baja. Is there anything that can be done to prevent this issue? (Until I can swap the engine out entirely)

-Does the Baja turbo have the same head gasket issues?

-Are there any significant differences in the engine bay of this car compared to the Legacy/Outback of its time?



Questions for all three:

-Are these cars more DIY friendly than early 2000's Volkswagens? Everyone tells me that VW is a pain to work on, but these haven't been that hard for me. From what I've seen, Subarus look easier to work on, but I would rather hear it from someone who has worked on them.

-How hard is it to find parts for each of these?

-If I buy one that has a turbo stock, how many of the turbo-related parts would be able to carry over to turbocharge and H6?

-If I were to H6 swap a car, which H6 engines would you recommend? I'm looking for one that will be able to readily swap into a Legacy or Baja that can handle some boost and other modifications.

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If I offend you, I apologize in advance, but...


If you want a turbocharged Subaru, get a turbocharged Subaru outright.  There are Legacys, Bajas, Outbacks and Foresters with stock turbo engines. 

Doing a "swap" of a turbo engine into a car that is not a turbo from the factory requires almost endless tinkering, a nightmare of wiring and electrical issues, changes of crossmembers, exhausts, additional "plumbing" for the turbocharger and cooling systems, etc.


None of the 6 cylinder engines are turbocharged nor are they meant to be.  They are also all very high compression (avg. 10.5 to 1) which means that even minimal (and I do mean MINIMAL) boost will destroy them...quickly.  That said, the only one which will let you retrofit turbo pistons into it is the EG33 out of the SVX.  It already uses turbo rings and bearings.  But, again, it is a high compression engine with variable valve timing and unless you are an expert, this is not a good idea.


Subarus are not ricer cars.  They are built to be safe, reliable and go damn near anywhere.  If you want a race car, head over to NASIOC and see what those mad scientists have to say.

[/end rant]

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I've actually never heard or seen an H6 turbo before. 


Based on your wants/plans why don't you include the Impreza?  Your still learning, you need a vehicle to "play" with.  The Impreza community has this much more than any other subaru due to the WRX and STI.


Dirtyimpreza.com, nasioc, and rs25.com are all sites that are impreza related including turbos, full turbo engine swaps, etc.....  


Wanting to play is fine, but find a car that not only has it happening but has the experience behind it to help you.

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I second the Impreza notion. I've owned 2 Legacy wagons (NA H4), 1 Forrester SUV (NA H4), a 97 Impreza coupe(2.2 NA), and have owned my current 02' WRX a number of years.

Don't get me wrong, I loved every Subaru, but nothing sums up the perfect AWD experience like the Impreza. As stated above, any combination you can come up with has been done. Twice, 20 times, etc.


There simply isn't a market for performance H6. Trust me.. I researched a lot on how I could fit an H6 and 2 turbos under my hood. Not possible without immense modification and even more money.

Besides, with the WRX/STI platform you can easily achieve torque of your liking out of the turbo H4

I settled instead for an 02 JDM V7 STI engine, trans, rear diff/axles and brembo brakes. As far as swaps go it was easy. In order to retain AVCS alone I had to buy a special harness, use the JDM ECU, and route said harness..Problem is, wont pass emissions with JDM ecu. Solution- USDM ecu tune for break in/emissions and a JDM ecu tunes for daily driving and another to run e85 to utilize the BC AVCS cams, monster turbo, and ALL supporting mods. The trans being much bigger than my factory 5 speed was a bit difficult to get in without crushing wires, brake/clutch lines, my face(which was under there when we dropped it in). I'm sorry if it seems like it went off topic. My intention was to inform. Like I said, this is one of the easiest swaps for an Impreza. Even doing a V8 or V9 swap gets harder(for my 02 at any rate)


Moral of story, yes you can physically put pretty much any Subaru engine in any Subaru car, but it is sooooooooooo much more involved than you might think. No insults intended. Welcome to the Subaru community, you're going to love it! Even in stock form these cars are safer and more fun to drive than anything else I've driven( I've had 87 and 90 Mustang GT, 97 Camaro SS, 91 and 88 S10 lowriders)

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I apologize for sounding dumb by coming here first instead of to one of those other forums. The thought process was to come to a forum that wasn't model specific to get a wider range of knowledge and opinions from more people.


I don't have any delusions of turning a car into a racer or anything. I just want to have a fast, fun car that is all wheel drive that I could try to build into a track car after I'm more comfortable with the car and have a better budget.


The reason I've been staying away from the Impreza is because they seem to be about double the price of other Subarus that I've found in similar condition/mileage that aren't even a WRX or STI.


I've also been trying to stay away from a two-door car because I am my roommates' primary transportation at the moment and one of them aren't exactly a small person. If I were to luck out and grab a cheap SVX, I would just sell the Jetta OR Passat and keep the other for driving them around and keep that until my roommate can afford his own car. I want to reduce down to one car, but I don't think the Impreza is the right one.


If you guys say the H6 can't handle boost, I'll stick to one of the turbo H4 engines or keep a naturally aspirated H6 depending what I go with. I just wanted to try it because I have been following a video series done by some guys out in Australia who built a first generation Subaru Liberty station wagon (Legacy/Outback) with a Tribeca H6 engine, a large turbocharger and a custom ECU. Their goal was to make an 11 second drag racer that was also suitable for daily use and pulled it off.


I was also sold on the idea that starting with a bigger engine meant you could make it more powerful far more safely (and cheaper) than starting with a smaller engine.


The sad part is, any project I could even imagine needing done to a Subaru (engine swap or turbocharging) would be pretty easy/cheap compared to the over-ambitious project I had in mind for my Jetta. Between the parts, shipping and tools needed for this, it could have easily cost me almost as much as a brand new car.

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Seriously, you need to consider an impreza.  Go over to dirtyimpreza.com and look at the Rally car builds.  


Based on what you want to know, and your skill level, an Impreza is the perfect starting point.  


And before you start looking, look at those forums.  The Impreza body hasn't changed a lot over the years until  you get into the last 5 to 7.  The '93 to '01 and the '02+ years are very similar.  Personally I have a '96 OBS I'm building.


Another person locally has done a full STI swap (right down to the dahs) into a '95 Impreza..................

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Oh, to add to this I paid $450 for my OBS.  I found a set of basically brand new tires on Craigslist for $100.  That's $550.  I put a knock sensor in it (wiper blades also, but I don't count those) for $50.  I then did a thermostat and could have skipped the blue devil so I won't count it, for another $50.  That's $650.


The struts I just put in I picked up used ('06 WRX Struts ) for $50 for all 4.  I put them on myself (already had the tools and rented the strut/spring compressor).  


We are now at $700.  I'm now getting ready to spend another $500 on a head gasket job + camshaft sensor + blower motor.  


That put's me at $1,200 on a car that low blue books locally at $1,400.  


Yes I need a fender/door but I'll be patient and by what I want as it shows up for the right price. ;)


If this wasn't my daily driver I would be picking up a EJ25 (2.5L) short block and pulling my engine to put the Heads/intake on that block after fully rebuilding it (probably another $600 to rebuild the short block).


It's all in what you find and how you look.

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(long story as to why I own two Volkswagens)

Volkswagon is the reason!


Turbo H6, probably not gonna be doable. Like CCR said, they're high compression and have nothing in the way of aftermarket performance parts (pistons rods etc)


The H6 are gonna be Outback or Baja, or the lardy Tribeca. SVX have their own special problems and are hard to find.


Turbo, a WRX is a good starting point. Lots of aftermarket support, plenty of info availabe for what works and what doesn't as far as engine performance mods.


Every Subaru model is available at some point with a turbo 4 cyl.

Check cars101.com and do some reading in the archive section for details.

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supercharging the H6 has been done - see user cardoc postings at subaruoutback.org (but I think boost was only about 1/3 the turbo imprezas)


but really, unless you want a HUGE project, just get an STI or WRX to begin with. I LOVE my 06 WRX Wagon.


what kind of motorsports are you interested in? if you want an eighth or quater-miler, Subaru is not a great choice - start with a Mustang or similar.


but, if you are interested in a road course, or autoX or rallyX, get a WRX or STI.



1817119818_3cbce14894_b.jpg3142plateless by alckytxn, on Flickr

Edited by 1 Lucky Texan
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some additional info - much of this is arguable, just what I take from what I've read;


modern turbo cars do not have unusually high HG problems like the late 90s 2.5 NA engines.


the late 90s 2.5 that do exhibit HG problems, IF properly rebuilt with mls-type gaskets, are 'likely' as reliable as any other used engine.


WRXes are cheap-ish sporty cars, be VERY careful buying used as 'kids' have probably reamed-out many of them. At least pay to have the pipe dropped and the turbo inspected for shaft play.


learn about the banjo bolt oil screen problem on some turbo cars


'most' people would say the cars ARE very easy DIY vehicles. other than sparkplugs on H6es and some parts under turbo piping, access is good to excellent.


tuning the ECU and go-fast bits are both easier to find for the turbo cars.


the Forester is a frequently overlooked platform and would make a great 'sleeper'.

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I apologize for sounding dumb by coming here first instead of to one of those other forums. The thought process was to come to a forum that wasn't model specific to get a wider range of knowledge and opinions from more people.



If you guys say the H6 can't handle boost, I'll stick to one of the turbo H4 engines or keep a naturally aspirated H6 depending what I go with. I just wanted to try it because I have been following a video series done by some guys out in Australia who built a first generation Subaru Liberty station wagon (Legacy/Outback) with a Tribeca H6 engine, a large turbocharger and a custom ECU. Their goal was to make an 11 second drag racer that was also suitable for daily use and pulled it off.

I'm also a MCM fan/subscriber and the thing I took note of during that turbo ez36 build was the sheer amount of experts involved doing thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars worth of very custom one-off things to make the project happen. They also have rust-free used cars to play with and somehow got a nearly-no miles h6 from japan to start with. 


I reckon if I had to hire the help it took them to do that project it would end up as a $10,000 engine. Even with all of that work and tuning Marty basically acknowledges that it might grenade at some point and they'll have to build the internals... yow. 


So is it possible to turbo an h6? clearly it is. Is it worth it to do so? Unless you've got friends in all the right places probably not.

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I forgot about Marty saying that, actually... Now that you brought it up, I remember him saying it.


The only time I would even consider taking a car on the 1/4 mile would be to show a certain co-worker who insists his Chevy Cobalt sedan is faster than my 1.8T Jetta. Even then, I might not.


If I wanted a drag racer, I would start with a late model Buick Regal T-type since I'm too poor to own a Grand National.


I've seen a supercharged SVX online before. I've also seen a turbocharged build for one, but I don't know too much about it.


The drawbacks of a supercharger are less boost overall and a loss of high end power unless you can rig a way to disengage the pulley (which Volkswagen did with their twincharged TFSI engines.)


What I'm looking to do is build up a car that I can take to the Mid-Ohio track and still be used as a daily car. I don't expect to win any races with this car, I just want to have fun there. I figured all-wheel-drive, which is practically a standard feature on every Subaru, would give me the best of both worlds on the corners.


The only major issues I've heard of from the SVX are related to the transmission. If there are more that I'm not aware of, I'll gladly hear them out. The reason I wanted an SVX was because it was an AWD coupe with an H6 engine already installed. It was also a car that not many people see, so it had a bit of a "what is that" value to it.


If I'm going for the Impreza, I plan to track down a late 90's one that has a solid, rust-free frame. Body panels and an engine can be repaired or replaced, a frame cannot. The bug eye creeps me out and those are all I can find for sale.


Also, I want to note the Baja doesn't come with an H6. It comes with one of three versions of the EJ25 engine, one of which are turbo. I would love to build a track car out of a Baja, but I'm thinking it's not the best candidate. Also, if I'm remembering correctly, it's a bit lacking in leg room in the backseats.

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Good luck with your car shopping... and since you didn't really ask I thought I'd barf up some more opinions :)

SVX = very cool cars but nearly impossible and/or very expensive to get used parts for and things like a windshield apparently cost both legs, an arm, and your lunch money. Also they're a big heavy pig of a thing. I think of them as an all-weather grand touring car moreso than a sports car.

90's Impreza (this is the winner in my books) = very popular/common cars that also happen to weigh in under 3000lbs before any weight reductions. They'd be pretty tight for fitting a 6 into but are the perfect home for a turbo power plant.

Baja = I wish I could find one of these buggers for a reasonable price someday... I yearn for one :)  But they're also Outback ride height, heavy, and a touch longer than an Outback if I remember correctly so I wouldn't think they're a natural base for a sporty car.

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I'll keep the SVX parts availability in mind. I still want an SVX. I just might wait until I'm more financially set to care for one. In retrospect, I'm kicking myself even harder for losing that auction. That SVX I almost bought on eBay recently included a parts car, spare engine and several bins of parts. I would have bid more on it, but I still had to make sure I had money to get all of that moved from North Dakota to Ohio.


If I go the 90's Impreza route, do you know how it is in the legroom department compared to a 2003 Volkswagen Jetta? If it has more than the Jetta, we may have a winner. I sometimes have a full car and the Jetta can't fit three guys who are upwards of 5'10" while the Passat can easily fit them. I was surprised when I realized I fit in the backseat comfortably with my roommate in the seat in front of me.


I might have found a cheap SVX for sale locally. This will be my chance to at least look at one in person and see if it's worth the trouble. I won't be able to test drive it because its transmission is broken, but I will get to see the rest of the car. Just waiting for the seller to reply.


Annoying thing is, shortly after I bought the Jetta, I found a turbo Baja for sale for ~$3,700... I was upset. I paid $4,500 for the Jetta when I originally wanted to buy a Subaru. I couldn't find one in my price range until after I bought something else.

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That's how it is right now, but the problem is that the two cars are too similar that there isn't much point in having both. The only time I drive the Passat is if both my roommates and one of our friends are riding with me or I need an empty trunk. (My Jetta's trunk is full of tools and parts.)


I would like to find one car that can be both, but the options I have before me don't favor that course. The Jetta was that until I discovered my roommate doesn't fit behind the steering wheel and I am supposed to teach him to drive as part of the deal I made when I moved in. Shortly after that, my hunger for all-wheel-drive and turbo kicked in. I bought a 4motion Passat 1.8T with a seized up camshaft online, paid a mechanic to put a used engine with 42k miles on it in there and called it a day.


The Passat was originally going to replace the Jetta, but it was heavier, had a weaker engine stock and finding go fast bits for a 1.8T Passat won't be easy. Few months later of finding little things I don't like about the Passat, I decide I am going to sell it after my roommate gets his driver's license.


Now I'm sitting on a spare 1.8L Passat engine with a seized camshaft which I was planning to practice tearing down and putting back together to familiarize myself with working on the internals of an engine.

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Hmm, I've never sat in the back seat of mine. lol  It isn't "spacious" but it isn't cramped either.  


Based on cars.com info it has about the same amount of room as the Jetta.  


It doesn't look like it changed much until 2003 when they actually gained a good 6" in rear leg room.


You can do a lot to the Legacies, but based on what you are saying I doubt you would be happy with it.  It weighs a lot more than the Impreza, but carries the same motors.  Although many of the performance mods people do on the Imprezas will fit on the Legacy your still not going to get the same amount of power simply due to weight and size differences.


Personally I would tell my roommate he can ride on top so there's room and just go. :P  But being serious, I wouldn't allow other peoples needs to outweigh my wants when it comes to cars.

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If it has the same amount of leg room as the Jetta, then I see no point in having a four door Impreza. I'm going to look into a two-door Impreza and tear out the back seats.


I found an SVX for sale by owner in my area, but no price listed. It needs a new transmission and it's not the color I want. I figure if I can get him to let it go for cheap enough, I'll take it. If not, I'm going to start the search for a two-door Impreza that has AWD.


What I'm planning to do is hold off on buying a Subaru until my roommate has his driver's license and his own car. Once that happens, sell the Passat, use that money to buy a cheap Impreza and fix it up. I plan to keep the Jetta because it's the one I'm attached to and will make a fun daily driver. The Passat is boring, heavy, more expensive to maintain and slow.


Which brings me to this question; how much should I be paying for a first generation Impreza that has the following?

-Solid, minimal rust, frame


-Two doors


Things that don't matter as much because they can be fixed/changed:

-Interior panels not in too bad shape. Interiors can be fixed over time.

-Doesn't need to be turbo as long as there is room in the frame/body panels for it without too much cutting/drilling.

-Body panels are unimportant as they can be replaced, a frame can not. They can be rusted, mismatched or dented as long as the damage is only on the panels.

-Engine doesn't matter. A dead/wimpy engine can be swapped or boosted.

-Transmissions are unimportant as they can be replaced. However, one with a functioning transmission makes less work for me.


If it needs a new engine, I'm probably going to look for an EJ255. Maybe I'll luck out and get my turbocharger with the engine.

Edited by Arvex
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The first question is, are you willing to travel to get it?


If your willing to travel and drive it back then it comes down to which one you want.  Google pictures of various generations, and don't forget the Outback Sport (started a hoodscoop in '97) or the WRX, RS, and STI.  Check '02 to I think '06 as well.


Figure out a generation.


Once these two are answered I can tell you right up front that little to no rust  your going to be better off picking up a west coast or south mid-west (texas, etc..) car and driving it back.

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Willing to travel? Yes. Able to? Not easily.


My work schedule is against me with a schedule that is set up at near-random and I won't be able to get vacation time until November (and won't even be able to use it until January because of holidays) So, unless it's less than a two-day trip both ways, I'm out of luck. I won't be able to buy a car from the ideal locations unless I have it shipped here after buying it without a test drive or fly one way and skip sleep on the way back.


Also, I might end up having to pay as much as 40% of what I paid for the car to get it back here depending what I pay for the car itself and how far away it is. So that will have to be factored into my budget as well.


I doubt I would be lucky enough to find a decent condition WRX, STI or RS in my budget so I'm pretty much writing those off now. I don't really want an OBS, either, because I like the three-box build of most sedans and coupes.


I'm pretty much set on the first generation Impreza, preferably a 97-01 because:

-I like the style

-Has a two-door option

-They come with an EJ25 on certain models.

-The come with a turbocharger on some models, which means the frame and body won't need too much work to install appropriate hardware.


The 02-05 Imprezas are alright, but being newer, they might be a bit out of budget for me. I'll consider them if I find one, but the focus of my search will be on the 97-01.

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The budget for the car itself and getting it here is whatever I can sell the Passat for, minus the amount I said I would chip in on my roommate's car. If I get what I want for the Passat, I am looking at about a $3,000 budget plus whatever I can save up beforehand.

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