Well, I was going to wait to write this up until I got my car back from the shop and had pictures of sweet sweet victory, but nope... it’s still there. Let me explain.....

Back at the end of February I was driving my son across town to hike with some friends in my trusty 2005 Subaru Legacy GT Wagon (with a 5-speed of course), also known as “The War Wagon.”Suddenly, the CEL came on and the cruise light started flashing... AKA the “stop now you idiot or you’ll break something” light. So like a good boy I stopped driving and popped the hood. Saw some smoke coming from behind the turbo. Not good. I called up the Subaru dealer since my normal mechanic wasn’t open on Saturday morning and they said to just have it towed there since nothing good could come of driving it. Womp womp. Thankfully, no expletives were uttered in the presence of my two year old during this process or the subsequent wait for a tow truck. Win!

The tow truck arrived, as did my lovely wife in her car to pick up the little one. He told her “daddy’s car is broken. Daddy’s frustrated” when she arrived. Frustrated indeed, my son. Frustrated indeed.


The car was towed to the Subaru dealer and I awaited a diagnosis. They called later and told me that there was a misfire in cylinders 2 and 4, likely due to a plugged catalytic converter. Knowing what I know about Subarus, I called complete BS on this idea and drove the car to my usual mechanic post haste. It was not a pleasant 7 minute drive, but all involved parties survived. Thankfully the dealer didn’t charge me for their “diagnosis.”

After getting it to my mechanic’s shop they confirmed what I already knew by that point, that it sure as heck wasn’t a catalytic converter and that I was in for a bad time. With 209k miles on the clock, they would have to pull the engine to figure out what was wrong and considering the mileage I had 2 choices: 1) Tell my wife I’m getting a new car 2)Tell my wife (while hiding from behind a couch) that I’m buying a new engine because I love my car too much to part with it. Guess what I chose??

Like the deranged car nut that I am, I started looking for engine ideas. I got a couple quotes for new engines ranging from $4,500 to over $8,000 and laughed at all of them in my naivete. I bought a used 2006 STI engine instead for $3,600, thinking it would be “easy to drop in” since it also included the intake manifold, intercooler, and turbo. Boy was I wrong...

The mechanic and I agreed to use parts that I would supply for the build, which was pretty awesome of them. Not many places let you do that, so they are definitely good dudes. Here’s the plan:

-Drop in donor engine from a 2006 STI

-Swap over my lightweight flywheel

-Swap over my Grimmspeed up pipe

-Add on ported exhaust manifold and Grimmspeed hi-flow crossover pipe

-Machine the STI flywheel

-Install a new South Bend Stage 2 Daily clutch

I waited about a week and a half to get the engine shipped to the shop and found out they weren’t going to have time to work on it for another week since they had a lot of regular business to attend to. Not great, but I could deal with that. Once the got to the car though, we found out there were more problems. Finally, some pictures for you kind, patient readers who have made it this far:


One of these plugs is not like the other.... I found out the wiring harness from the intake manifold on the STI wasn’t the same plug as from the Legacy GT. Bummer. Since I didn’t have the stomach for a re-wiring job, that meant I couldn’t use the intake manifold, intercooler, or turbo from the STI. [insert some four letter words of your choosing here. I like the word drat.]


So, with that all sorted I thought we’d be on our way. What’s that you say? The STI engine needs a valve job? Excellent! I would love another 2 day delay!

SITREP: It’s now Friday April 15, and the car still looks like this:


Astute readers will notice the downpipe is not in its normal position. Also the front of the car is a few inches higher than it should be. Which means the mechanic didn’t put the engine in yet like he said he would by this time. [Insert some more four letter words of your choosing. How about fart?]

Here’s what my engine looks like today:


Looks to me like the go fast bits I had requested be transferred from my old engine to the donor have not made it to their new home either...

On the plus side, I’ve been able to sell the intercooler, turbo, and injectors from the STI donor engine to finance a new turbo for the War Wagon from BNR Supercars as well as a 3" catless downpipe from Invidia. I’ll be putting those on myself after I get the car back and then getting it tuned with Tuning Alliance.


Oh, and did I forget to mention that my lovely wife is 9 months pregnant and due on April 29th? So that adds an extra layer of crazy to all of this...

Stay tuned for the next episode in the Saga of the War Wagon!