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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi All!

As a long time Soobie 4X4 wagon guy (since mid '70s) I was absolutely delighted to acquire a WRX wagon last month. I plan to get full use from my new toy! I live at the far end of a bumpy dirt road, and spend a lot of time in the back country, climbing, backpacking, fishin', canoeing, etc. (yep, the WRX wagon handles 2 U/L solo boats ((34lb X 16.5ft)) on a Yakima rack just fine; that's at least 1/2 of the reason I upgraded from my older wagon)
Most of the mods I've looked at seem to be aimed at getting the best street performance out of the car, and while I must admit that I thoroughly enjoy terrorizing the back streets now-n-then, sanity and preservation of license issues have relegated these activities to a very minor percentage of the wagons responsibilities.
So then. I would like to set the WRX up to somewhat optimize the performance on rough roads. The first and most obvious mod is a cut-out switch for the ABS (tomorrow! ;-) What (if anything) do I need to do to enhance the survivability of drive-train and suspension components? I have the factory bang plate for the rear diff. Any other particularly fragile points? What about wheels and tyres? The 17in rims and lo-profile tyres that stick so well to asphalt would seem to be a handicap on dirt. I have a spare set of 15in alloy wheels from an Outback. Will these wheels fit the WRX? I had thought that these rims with aggressive 205-60 or 205-65 all season tyres might be a good choice. Eventually I plan to equip the stock rims with some sticky rubber and mount them up solely for autocross activities. Finally, I had thought that it would be nice to actually raise the car a little to provide some extra clearance. What do the rally guys do?
Any thoughts on these issues greatly appreciated. TIA.

ByeBye! S.
 

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ABS switch definitely good idea on gravel. Other worthy brake mods would include ss lines, uprated pads and DOT 4 fluid. These will all help in autox as well- if running stock class cancel ss lines.

Definitely invest in a front skid plate as well. Check http://www.writerguy/primitive

If your saving your stock rims for autox, 15's would work fine for gravel (if they fit), one other option is do a search here and on i-club (even check your dealer) for wrx wheel take offs- usually very reasonable. Aggressive all seasons will work, rally tires obviously will work even better.

Most rally work is done at very close to stock heighth, I don't think you would gain much by going higher- and would definitely lose out w/ your autoxing. Don't know how much you want to dabble (or spend) w/ your suspension but a appropriate (reasonable spring rates/minimal drop) spring/strut upgrade or coilover setup would help (definitely w/ autox).

Big Sky
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Hi Big Sky, All.

Thanx for the link for Primitive Racing; definately gonna order up one of their front skid plates. I was relaxin' under my WRX yesterday and trying to come up with a PLAN for a front bang plate, but for $200 why re-invent the wheel? Oh BTW, the full link is:
http://www.writerguy.com/primitive/products.htm

The 15in wheels didn't fit; those front brake calipers . . . guess I'll watch for a second set of stock rims on ebay or maybe my junkyard buddy can find me some 16in steel wheels that'll fit. I'll just install some slightly taller rubber (205-60s or 195-65) for everyday pothole bashing. Can't see spending the big $$$ for 17in components at this point.
Ummmm, what's a rally tyre, and where mite I take a look at one? Betcha they use a similar tread pattern to what the local hill-climb guys run. That's about what I'm looking for.

Thanx again! ByeBye! S.
 

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labman,

Try this site it links several outfits who carry rally tires:

http://www.sdcrally.com/links/rally_supplies.htm

You may also want to see if there is any active rally racing in your area, these teams will sell real cheap, tires that they've used for only one race or part of a race- plus they would be a wealth of info (if you have any near you).

I've looked at winter tires as a alternative to gravel tires but was forewarned they're two different animals -sidewall stiffness, tread patterens, softness of compound etc

Big Sky
 

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there ARE 15" wheels that will fit a stock WRX... however, if you go with brake upgrades, i can't assure you whether the rims will still work... anyways, the common rim of talk for a 15" rim would be the Raceline RL-7... you could probably pick one up used from a rally team (sometimes you'll find clubrally or prorally teams selling old rims at their events)...

definately get a front skidplate (1/8" is fine unless you are going for some real hardcore offroading) and make sure you have a rear differential protector...

mudflaps would be good to to keep your car in a nice condition. i recommend Fastlines (~$100) www.fastlineonline.com (he also sells a kit now i believe that is a cutoff switch for ABS)

if you plan on doing auto-x and rally-x, a set of adjustable coilovers may be nice so you can keep your ride high for your offroad adventures and drop it low for pavement duties...
 

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RL7s are very nice...and they can accomodate a wealth of bigger brakes due to their inside diameter. I believe Raceline was merged with Speedline(not sure though). Other wheels to consider are Compomotive(I personally like the TH2s amongst Compos).
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Maximum tire size

Hi again, All!

Back again with more questions. Does anyone have any idea how large of a diameter tire the WRX wagon will accommodate? I'm trying to get some more sidewall between my rims and the rocky Rocky Mountains ;-) I've about given up on trying to find 15in wheels to fit; I hear rumors that such a thing exists, but have yet to find any for sale. I have been considering the Michelin Acrtic-Alpines in either a 215-60, 225-60, or (preferably) a 215-65 on a second set of stock 16X6.5 wheels. These tires are somewhat larger than the stockers:

B. 205-55, dia 25.1", 8.2" section (stock)
M. 215-60, dia 26.2", 8.7" section
M. 225-60, dia 26.9", 9.0" section
M. 215-65, dia 27.3", 8.6" section

I really don't care too much about the change in final gearing resulting from the taller tire, these are for dirt and gravel roads after all. I am concerned with the taller tire hitting the struts in front tho, there isn't too much room there . . .

TIA for any input.

ByeBye! S.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
15in wheels

Hi again, again!

Well, never mind. Earlier today I wrote:
>I've about given up on trying to find 15in wheels to fit; I hear rumors that such a thing exists, but have yet to find any for sale.

So who should call but Mr Tom Tatalovich of TTRS.

<http://www.revolutionwheelsusa.com/subaru_wheel_specials.htm>

They now have a redesigned Revolution RFX 15X7 wheel to fit the WRX, at a very nice price too. I've ordered 4, I'll let you know how they work out.
Yahoo! NOW I have some tire options!

ByeBye! S.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Hi Travmn, All!

$183ea, + $30 to ship. List on 'em is $260 or so . . . All he had in stock was white. Gold is available as a special, but you'd probably end up paying list price to get them.
That's OK, white wheels'll look just fine on my black wagon; kinda retro; like the good old days when we were running white spoke steel wheels on the soobie 4X4 wagons. They looked real sharp! ('Til the rust took over. Don't suppose that'll be much of an issue with these new ones ;-)

ByeBye! S.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Hi All!

Just in case you were wondering, here's an update on the 15in wheels.

After careful measurement and much anguish, I decided to mount a set of Michelin Alpin Pilots in 205-65-15. Yea, yea, I know; 'em are dedicated winter/ice tires.
BUT.
After using them as daily drivers for a couple thousand miles, and swapping back to the stock tires for a sanity check a time or two, I have the following observations to pass along.
* The Michelin tires grip dry pavement at least as well as the stock stuff (not really saying too much).
* They offer much improved performance on dirt.
* They are a bit louder on the highway, but just a bit.
* I have noticeably better clearance; at least my floor jack WILL roll under without hitting anything now ;-)
* They have made the car just perceptibly slower. Probably mostly due to the change in final gearing resulting from the almost 1 inch larger diameter.
* My speedo reads more-r-less accurately now; it read a bit high before.
* Surprise! My mileage has gone from 24-25MPG to 27-28MPG (probably 75% highway, but some longish stretches of Forest Service roads as well), again, probably as a result of the increased diameter.
I have been running pretty close to the recommended pressures; 32 front, 30 rear. Seems to be a good compromise.

ByeBye! S.
 
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