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1980 GL Wagon "My quest for something different"

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This is going to be the build thread of my 1980 gl wagon. But before i can get to the fun stuff of how it is now, I have to give a little back story. I bought the car about 2 1/2 years ago form an old coworker. It was stock and boring but I loved it immediately. Picked it up for $500 and drove it straight to my buddy's house where we proceeded to cut the muffler off. That drive home is also when i realized how bad the rust was because the exhaust fumes almost put me to sleep haha




I got the car with the intention of slamming it. Up until now i had been into lowered Volkswagens. So i found some 13inch temp spares, reclocked the rear torsion bars, and found another set of struts that i simply removed the springs from. Surprisingly it wasn't to bad to drive. It was quit a bit quicker with the smaller tires.




It was fun but a little impractical. So after a few weeks it went back to stock and became my daily driver and i have been slowly modifying it ever since








Now that you are up to speed its time for the fun stuff to start.

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EJ swap time! I had actualy planned to do this a few months from now but my ea71 had other plans. The headgasket went out one day on my way home from work. No big deal right? I took my time and spent about a week replacing it. All was good until the following weekend. We had got about 6 inches of snow here in St Helens and i was out having fun in the Subarus natural environment. I was driving responsible just putting along up a hill when the throttle sticks wide open.There is nothing i can do to bring the rpms down aside from throw it in a lower gear to stop the uncontrollable acceleration and shut it off. this happened in about the worse possible spot as there was no safe place to pull over (narrow country roads). So i was forced to coast a ways and then start the engine again for a little bit, then shut it off. I had to do this about 8 times as the safest place was about a mile away. I pull over and turn off the car. Looking around finds nothing out of the ordinary. I start the car again and it sounds like its running on 2 cylinders. Im just barely able to limp the car home only to find out the headgasket went out again. It was at this point I said "F**k it, Im putting in an ej now" and tare down began that night.



I probably could have gotten away without removing the dash but at the time I thought it was a good idea. If I was you I would try to avoid that at all costs. Its bad



Now i had heard multiple different people say that the ea81 tank would cause fuel starve issues and that the lines where to small, others say they worked fine So i decided to do a little upgrade that i knew would work. Hello 17gal RCI fuel cell



Now the original plan was to make it fit in the stock location without cutting up the floor buuuut that didnt happen. With only a 4 inch lift there just wasnt enough room. If i had a 6 inch lift i probably could have made it fit



Here are some pics of the underside and the custom mustach bar to make it fit




Since you cant use a 4 speed sr top starter on an ej this was the perfect chance to swap to a 5 speed dr. 4 speed on the top and 5 speed on the bottom



Next was actually finding an ej because up until this point i didnt have one yet. I got lucky and found a wrecked 98 outback with the ej25d for $500 picked it up and drove it home. The dash in that came apart much easier then the GL. I spent maybe an hour or so every day one week to tear the harness down from this



To this



Then it was time for engine mock-up. Being a DOHC it didnt quite clear the frame rails. I could have gotten away with just clearancing for the timing cover but i decided to go the full length of the engine as valve cover and spark plug clearance was tight.




The next problem was the radiator hoses witch now didnt fit. So i went down to Macs Radiator and for $60 they put new outlets on




After taking almost a month the swap was finally done. But as with anything there was a few little problems. Taking it out on its first drive, I had gone about 60 miles, and then i started having problems going into gear. Come to find out i had modified the ea82 clutch cable to fit in the ea81 but the ea81 cable has a grommet that prevents the cable being pulled out of the clamp where the ea82 doesnt need because its bolted to the pedal assembly. Without said gromet whenever i would push on the clutch it would pull the cable housing out of the clamp rather then disengage the clutch. So i came up with another bracket. its just a fender washer welded to the top of the bracket to prevent it from being pulled out. i cut a little more out of the cable pocket after i took the pic but you get the idea. So far it has worked great




Driving along one night and after getting on it a little I smell a strong coolant smell. I get somewhere i can pull over and find this.



The lower radiator hose literally fell off. And yes the clamp was tight. i purchased the flexible stainless steel radiator hoses from Summit Racing thinking they would make the swap easier. Turns out they don't allow enough flex. I went down to NAPA and got a real radiator hose for like $12 and haven't had an issue since, although that was only 2 days ago.



Even with all the little problems I love the ej swap. Hands down the best thing Ive done to this car so far. Even with the rpm limited to 4500 (No vss yet) its still MUCH faster. Having the low range also makes it much more capable, even with having an open rear diff in currently.

Edited by Rallyru

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Nice build so far man! Pretty sure I was this at WCSS last year.


How much bigger did you have to make the holes in the crossmember for the Ej to fit ?

I'm about to get started on my Ej swap in my 84 wagon

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Thanks! Yeah I was at WCSS. I widened mine 3/8 of an inch but you could probably get away with a little less. I didnt want to sit there for an hour with a diegrinder so i used a drill bit and a cut off wheel.

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So far I have developed a couple little issues with the swap. First being an intermittent no crank. It has only done it twice and both times i just used a screwdriver at the starter terminals to start it so I'm hoping it just a bad starter button (No key). Both times its happened I have been in a hurry to go somewhere so i haven't tested it yet but hope to soon. My second problem is my clutch slips. Its only when I'm getting on it in 4th gear right around 4000rpm (Witch is about peak torque for the ej25) and when trying to go up a hill at speed in 5th. I was expecting something like this to happen as the clutch came from Rockauto. It was supposedly a step above OEM for the ea82 witch apparently isn't enough. I'm thinking about swapping to a beefier SPEC clutch soon. I wanted to get bigger tires but Ill need the clutch fixed before I can do that. I'm also working on a "larger then most" suspension lift with the hopes of changing very little of the existing setup. Ill give more info out on that when the plan comes closer to being put into action. Even with the clutch slip the car is still very capable and easy to drive comfortably. Definitely worth the effort.

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Finally got around to going up to Subaru John's last weekend and picked up a new headlight bezel and pedal assembly. Installed the pedals today and they completely fixed my clutch slip issue. The old assembly was so worn out it was preventing me from properly adjusting the clutch.




My buddy fabbed up these mounts for his 3rd gen and gave me one. This works a whole lot better then the fender mounted setup I had before. I still need to reroute the cable in a more inconspicuous location


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So whats new... about two weeks ago the car developed a problem where it would randomly die while coming to a stop and idling. That ended up being my IAC plugged full of gunk. Went to go see if the car would do a burnout but I didn't realize I still had it in 4wd. 5000 rpm clutch drop and my mustache bar twists like a pretzel. so I took the opportunity to reinforce it. To be fair, high rpm clutch drops aren't what I built this car to do so i wasn't even mad when something I built broke.



That's about it as far as new things for now. Ill be getting some custom made 6 inch strut top blocks from SJR here in about two weeks. Then 31's can go on the beginning of next month :drunk::banana:


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Got my wheels from Summit Racing the other day. They are 15x7 with a 3.5 inch backspacing and should do just fine. Not a huge fan of the stripes but they where super cheap so I'm not complaining. Ill be getting tires put on them in about 2 weeks :D



So today's project was to do a dual stick conversion. Id say it took me about 3 hours to do. I didn't have any old shift linkages laying around so I chopped the throttle pedal off of my old pedal box and used that :drunk: It works pretty damn good if I do say so myself. Now I just need to get a shifter ball for it and to reattach the center console



I should be getting my custom strut tower blocks and limiting straps sometime this week witch means next weekend the front gets taller :headbang:

Edited by Rallyru

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Its Christmas in April! I got my custom 6 inch lift blocks and bumper brackets from Scott today and my limiting straps showed up. It looks like its going to be a fun weekend :banana:


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It was a fun weekend! :drunk::headbang::banana:





It turned out pretty good in my opinion. Its just the right amount of positive camber to look good and give it that old school look.






While I had the suspension out i took the opportunity to beat the fender well back for bigger tires. I beat it back so far that the doors don't line up anymore haha. I guess you have to pay to play. :zzz:


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I got new tires today!!! 30x9.5 Maxxis Bighorns on 15x7 VW wheels







I also put a shifter knob on the dual stick but that's not nearly as cool as the tires


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All I do is break things lol. Drivers side outer bearing cage exploded on Friday. I made it to work but I had to have it towed home.





changing axles is such a pain in the rump roast with this setup. I have to put on spring compressors, ratchetstrap the strut back and use a jack to compress the strut enough to install thew balljoint



I got my new battery box today. Might get that set up tomorrow



The recap205/65 (26's) next to the 30x9.5 Maxxis Bighorns




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Absolute trash. First set lasted my a day. Second set lasted less then a week. I do NOT recomend them

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Drove to work today and didn't make it home. Axles blew up again... Caused a horrible shaking in the steering wheel. And now I've used up all of my AAA. Oh well. I'm currently replacing the axles and I'm going to swap back to the stock struts. I think the weird struts I have are puting too much stress on the axles. I sure am glad Orileys had a lifetime warranty on their Import Direct axles haha

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I had to lower the front back down to keep from popping cv's. I went back to the original struts. Its been 3 days and no problems since. Before the cvs never made it more then 100 miles. Its a little low for what I would like but I think it works out good.





Playing around with the forklift today :banana:







Damn I look good



Finished installing the battery box



I figured the sticker was appropriate since its not your typical Portland subaru



I plan on doing a little more clearancing to the front fenders this weekend :zzz:

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It's in this thread that I ever heard the words "uncontrollable acceleration" used in relation to an ea71.

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