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1996 Legacy L Turbocharged


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My Subaru turbo history:

  • '87 GL-10 Turbo 4WD Wagon (pre-Loyale) - SOLD
  • '90 BJ, EJ22T/DOHC and 5-speed swap - SOLD
  • '98 Forester S - EJ22T/DOHC swap - SOLD>IT'S BACK!
  • '04 Forester XT, Forged internals, VF39, STI TMIC, Cobb AP- SOLD
  • '93 Legacy SS - 5-speed, SOLD
  • '02 WRX wagon-SOLD
  • '96 Legacy L - turbo to come>>>it's here

Side note: I've wanted to build a '96-'99 Legacy Outback turbo'd wagon for years. It's still my favorite body-style, I like the higher stance, it's a very versatile vehicle w/its rear storage, roof rack and utilitarian interior, easy to work on and don't forget those Head Gasket issues (er, yeah whatever)...w/more power it'd be about perfect. 

Edit 6-2019: The kid that bought this 2+ years ago 'hooned it enough to need a new HG (he admitted to doing his best Ken Block imitation) and then appears to have crashed it....but I don't know that fershure. But it's totaled. :-(

8/20/15: Bought a '96 Legacy L Sedan w/128K miles for $1250. It had a 'tick' (look on here) that I thought was the Driver's side head HLA's but after swapping it out w/another set it still was making noise. Also was blowing some blue smoke on startup. Otherwise, car was clean and in fair>good condition - but definitely not a low(er) mileage gem. 


9/20/15: I pulled the '96 EJ22e and installed a '91 (or '90) EJ22e.  Block had unknown miles (paid $100 for it from someone who got it from someone else from our local PullnSave). I ran it in another project and knew the head gaskets were toast. So, I put an extra set of EJ22T (turbo) heads on it withe EJ22T head gaskets,  plugged the oil and water lines on the passenger side head and have put about 3K miles on it since.


Tangent: I have no proof and haven't driven a non-turbo 2.2 in a few years, but this 'hybrid' setup seems to have pretty good off-the-line torque. My guess is that it's the turbo heads as the stock EJ22T makes 20 more torque than HP, unlike most Subarus where the HP/Torque are about equal. But this setup sucks down the petrol. I'm guessing 20mpg is it for around town and when driving on the freeway @ 70-75mph it's the same. Maybe mid-20's on a 60mph highway cruise. Not a lot less than the stock 2.2, but not great.


After having a local shop tell me what it needed during a 'buyer's inspection', I proceeded to save myself their $1500 estimate and did 99% of the work myself for about $500 in parts. I added the OB struts to lift it a couple inches so it'll be similar to a Legacy SUS:


1996 Subaru Legacy Maintenance and upgrades
  1.    1998 OB struts with 45K miles (?) - LegacyGT.com
  2.     Front and rear sway bar links
  3.     Inner/outer tie rods
  4.     R&P boot kit 1 (one in stash)
  5.     Alignment 
  1.     ATF drain/refill
  1.     Swapped in EJ22e from '91 and installed EJ22T heads and EJ22T HG (EJ22e head gasket doesn't match the head's ports)
  2.      IM gasket
  3.     Installed Delta 220 grind cams-cost $180>Removed 10/1/2015 - too lumpy
  4.     New T-belt/waterpump, etc and reseal on the EJ22e/EJ22T when installed
  1.  Summer: Michelin Defender 215/60R16
  2. Winter: Hankook Ipike Snow tires 215/60R-16 on wheels + chains 
  1.     Upper Radiator  hose
  2.     Tighten Trans Pan bolts to eliminate leak
  3.     Adjust rear PARKING brake
  4.     VC gaskets  
  5.      Power mode switch for AT trans
  6.     4WD Diff switch
  7.     Upgraded to Legacy OB 10.7" front disk brakes w/dual-piston calipers (L model are single-piston)
  8.     Mud flaps
  9.     2000 Outback front seats- power driver's (Tried some '97 OB seats first but the '00 are more comfy)
  10.     Leather steering wheel
  11.     Driver's side CV Axle - New Napa
12/2015: The car is 99% a city commuter as I have a 6 mile commute across town - top-speed of 35mph. Car runs great around town. I took it on its first road test to ski in Canada and had two experiences that made me think I needed a power boost (as someone w/a V6 RAV4 and numerous Turbo'd Subies I'm not a stranger to quick(er) cars):
1. Went to pass a neon (probably the last one with out blown HG/engine) and the guy was a jerk (hey, Canada has red-necks too) and sped up on a two-lane road. We were doing about 60mph and my car had nothing left when I went to 'go faster', so I backed off and pulled back in behind.
2. Went to pass a semi on another two-lane road and thank the gods we had plenty of open road ahead of us....I had time to note the weight gauges on each axle as I moseyed on by...painful.
So, it was either the 2.5/2.2 franken-engine or adding a turbo (I'm not a fan of the EJ25D DOHC ticking-time-bomb). I had most of the parts for the turbo option sitting in my garage from past projects, so finally decided to go that route....although truthfully the 2.5/2.2 option was less work, and I had two sets of EJ22 heads I could've sourced.
2/7/2016: Here's my Legacy Turbo List for an NA (non-aspirated) car:
*    This is a 5 psi setup (wastegate pressure of the VF11 turbo)
*    This low-boost setup should run 'as is' w/out Engine Management (EM). The stock MAF can compensate for the extra air the turbo sucks in.
*    Notch Crossmember (I'll need to reinforce this. Use a '91-'94 Legacy Sport Sedan (SS) or Touring Wagon turbo crossmember for best application - and get the turbo front swaybar!)
*    Turbo - VF11 (stock from SS) - need the stock oil and water lines w/the EJ22T heads. Turbo’s coolant comes from stock EJ22T location and dumps into the return Heater-core hose by firewall.
*    Turbo inlet hose (stock from SS - bought one of the last new ones in the WORLD from a member on Legacy Central)
*    Re-route PCV, Breather, F-pipe, IAC - this is a PITA, and spent more time on this than just about anything else. I have the BPV, IAC and EGR all going into the same hose that connects the turbo inlet...have to wait and see if that'll blow up something. The stock EJ22T setup has a 'resonator' box between the air filter box and inlet hose that has the extra connectors, so I may have to come up w/another fix.
*    EGR - reroute hoses: I'd already done the non-EGR mod when I installed the older EJ22 so some of it was already there, but had to redo it w/the turbo.
*    Stock SS Plastic pipe/hose from turbo to throttle body - it also mounts the BPV.
*    Air filter box: Re-used Stock w/an existing reducer, to a piece of pipe,  to connect to the turbo's 90° rubber inlet hose.
*    Turbo IAC + one-way valve - The turbo IAC has a 90° elbow that allows it to clear. W/out it I don't think the NA version would work w/the VF11 due the turbo's bracket.
*    Sti Fuel pump + kit - probably not 100% necessary for 5 psi, but I bought it w/30K miles  for $40 so cheap insurance?
*    Move wiring harness - the NA cars have the 3-connectors for the engine harness mounted right where the turbo and a bunch of other stuff must go, so I moved them more to the top/center of the engine under the throttle body...it's a tight fit.
*    By-pass valve (BPV)- vacuum line source
*    Boost gauge -  vac line
*    Regap plugs to .030? (left @ stock unless I get misfires)
*    Install turbo exh. Manifold and uppipe (new gasket)
*    Stock SS Downpipe, to an ‘04 WRX Exhaust w/about an 16" pipe (2.5" connector ends) extension in the mid-pipe, to a 2002 WRX axle-back muffler w/twin tips (slightly smaller than the ‘04’s single-tip muffler). Used two stock hangers bolted together to hang from the WRX hangers to get clearance.....for now.  Edit: After getting a $200 quote from the exhaust shop, I replaced the mid-pipe hanger and 2 rear hangers w/longer ROL brand  Rubber Insulator hanger. Part #: 511180. They got rid of 95% of the looseness in the exhaust and I'm going to just drive it as is. The hanger that's on the downpipe doesn't align w/the ’96 transmission's hanger, so it's not used.
*    REAR O2 sensor wire extension- 24" (my ’96 is a CA-smogged version and has the 2nd O2 closer to the front of car.)
*    LC-1 wideband sensor to read AFRs - I hope to be <12:1 when on boost. Any more Lean and I'll have to get a Fuel management unit (FMU)/ Rising rate fuel pressure regulator (RRFPR) to increase the fuel pressure to compensate. Most suggest a 6:1 for the MAF-based cars. (Not permanently installed.)
*    Run Premium/Super unleaded - we have 92 octane
*    Modified turbo heat shield
*    ECU / ECM from a 1998 GT, Outback w/the EJ25D. A '98 ECU from an RS or Forester may work also. I 'think' this ECU supplies more fuel due to the extra HP/torque and better flowing heads on the 2.5 engine. NOTE: I tried a '96 and got a code for the Purge due to the location of the charcoal canister. A '99 won't work either as it's the transition year to Phase 2 engines/Transmissions. ECU should probably match whether your car is Federal or Calif. model, too.
* Edit 7/6/2016: Installed a cheap ($73 shipped)  ebay downpipe (DP). Had my Subaru Guru, Damian A. -  install a bung (wire feed welder on stainless), and bought a used Grimmspeed DP adapter on ebay. Modified the connector piece used w/the stock DP. Added 50HP/Torque......not quite, but from what I've read online it should add SOMEthing. Still on WG boost. (Subaru Guru put new rings on the '96's original 2.2 - the bottom oil rings were seizedd, likely causing the smoke. )
Edit: 11/4/2016: Bought an extra 90° turbo inlet hose but for an EJ20G as the EJ22T's sold out. Got it from Partsouq.com very cheap. Subaru 46023FA000 BOOT B JAPAN 87149900 $22.88, Total for This Shipment: $33.67.
See attached pics:
*    IAC fitment  of stock part - only about 1/4" between it and turbo.
*    Turbo one-way valve behind IAC.
*    STi vs. stock fuel pump (pic doesn't show actual size difference. The STi is MUCH smaller but flows a lot more.)
*    WRX exhaust
*    16" Flex pipe for too short WRX exhaust. EDIT: swapped it out for a solid 2.5” ID piece I cut to fit.
*    Pre-fabbing hoses and wiring
*    Final hoses and wiring
*    Notched crossmember
*   Grimmspeed DP adapter - note it has the stock donut gasket installed - that's NOT included but just swap over the stocker.












1996 Legacy NA-T totaled.jpg

1996 Legacy NA-T totaled2.jpg

Edited by wtdash
added totaled pics 6-2019
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EDIT - 2/22/16: LC-1 Wideband info:

(Note to Self: Don't try to use the Evoscan's WB option w/the LC-1 WB software running @ the same time.)

The good news is the ratio seems to be pretty safe hovering @ 12:1 or below. Not sure I trust the readings below 11:1 - seems TOO rich... Boost is ~5 PSI, per my gauge, which is right-on for the stock VF11's WG boost level.

Initial driving impressions are good. Car runs basically the same - starts/stops/idle/noise. The WRX exhaust is pretty tame (which I wanted!), and is not much, if any, louder than stock. I've yet to hear any pinging on the 92 octane in the tank.

Performance is not going to overwhelm anyone, but my 'test hill' - an uphill climb on the local interstate for about 2 miles - showed the turbo doing its thing. The car would usually shift down to 3rd about 1/4 mile into the hill; Now it holds 4th (but not OD) all the way to the off-ramp near the top. Drops the RPM from 4K in 3rd to 3K in 4th @ 65mph.

Logs w/EJ25 / 2.5 ECU are HERE.


Edited by wtdash
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  • 2 weeks later...

Weight is going to be your biggest enemy. These cars aren't exactly porkers, and amazingly have fairly light seats, but I cringed at the muffler pics as those things have to be at least 45+ pounds each.


If you want a better performing muffler w/o the noise, I like to run Summit Racing Turbo Mufflers like this: http://www.summitracing.com/parts/sum-631125/overview/   (very subdued sound) that's a 2.5" in/out and the things weigh all but 5 pounds and are probably 1/4 the size of factory. Avoid the fully welded as those are rebadged 44 series Flowmaster or similar. If you are handy, get the 3" in/out and weld a 3" to 2.5" adapter to -> your pipe and you'll most likely fit your pipe. I suggest 3" as it'll lower your back pressure and flow a little better since it's not a straight-through design. I also suggest dumping the factory NA cats and running a single, aftermarket high flow cat that crosses with a WRX STi or similar, and if you have the room, go with a 2.5" or 3" downpipe after the turbo with a 3 or 4" high flow cat.


If you can live w/o lugging a factory spare around plus factory jack, that's another 35-45 pounds.


If you drop the muffler and spare, that's roughly 85+ pounds of dead weight gone, and if you run a single high flow cat with larger dp, I wouldn't be surprised if you went a second faster in the 1/4 mile as spool would be almost instant, maybe a tad more depending how badly the stock exhaust is slowing that turbo down.


Wouldn't hurt to run a FMIC cross-flow style and maybe 2" thick. Good quality ones are plentiful used and will help improve pep any time ambient is over 62F.


Regardless, cool to see someone just go and turbo their car to make it more "fun" ;)

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  • 1 month later...

Are you using the 22t intake manifold? Wondering, because I'm also boosting my ej22 and there isn't a place for the 1 way valve behind the IACV. Hoping I won't have an issue there with host going where I don't want it to…...



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No...see the pics attached in 1st post.


I have the stock '96 EJ22e IM installed  - w/the EGR valve.


I have the one-way valve installed on this and is working fine - @ 5psi.


"...with BOOST going..."? or what is 'host'.

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  • 1 month later...

Installed a Hayden 401 (402 is too long/wide) AT trans cooler inline w/the stock cooler. According to the attached from the FSM the UPPER attachment on the radiator is the RETURN to trans....makes no sense that the fluid flows UP and out.....?


Edited by wtdash
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Are you still going to use the radiator side inlet in tandem with trans cooler? If not, it won't matter as it'll just pass-thru. If you want even better cooling performance, get a small fan and zip tie it to the cooler. For best performance, use a thermostat on/off to a relay, but make sure the temps aren't getting too hot before it kicks the fan(s) on. My 96' Lincoln Mark VIII ran an external power steering cooler and it had a very compact fan on that. If you could find 2 of those fans used (guessing they go for nothing used), it would pull the heat out of the fins w/o noise. Could probably run them off key on source until thermostat switch is installed.

Edited by Bushwick
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Are you still going to use the radiator side inlet in tandem with trans cooler? If not, it won't matter as it'll just pass-thru. If you want even better cooling performance, get a small fan and zip tie it to the cooler. For best performance, use a thermostat on/off to a relay, but make sure the temps aren't getting too hot before it kicks the fan(s) on. My 96' Lincoln Mark VIII ran an external power steering cooler and it had a very compact fan on that. If you could find 2 of those fans used (guessing they go for nothing used), it would pull the heat out of the fins w/o noise. Could probably run them off key on source until thermostat switch is installed.


Yes...which is why I posted the attachment of the Inlet/Outlet lines from the Trans. I  don't want to deal w/a fan/T-stat, and I think/hope the add-on cooler will enough, but probably should do another ATF change w/Synthetic.


I'd still like to find another 2.5 4EAT w/the 4.44 FD ratio as a backup...as I'll probably turn up the boost b4 too long. And No 5-speed swaps....been there, done that.



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You need air moving over the cooler. If it's packed tightly were stagnant air resides, you'll want a fan on it. If it can catch some air across the fins, you should be OK. A temp gauge in the trans fluid will tell you how well it's working assuming you do a before/after.


Not sure why you'd frown on a fan(s)? The more torque you put through an auto trans, the higher the converter can stall. A trick in the old days was putting a small torque converter from a lower powered engine behind a big block (big blocks made a ton of early torque) and this allowed for higher stall speeds. Higher stall speeds allow the engine to launch at a higher rpm, where it's making more power. The downside is extra heat (plus mechanical failure if converter was weak). The upside was obviously getting a higher RPM power level to launch the car from when mashing the pedal vs. off-idle power level with a lower stalling trans.


Just saying, you want it to be as cool as possible. 

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  • 2 years later...

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