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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Sexy '02 WRX Project (WITH FLAIR!!!) - Photo heavy

A few months ago, I stumbled across this WRX on Craigslist in northern VA. Strangely enough, I was only looking for an STI seat to replace my ever-narrowing Sparco race seat in my '03 WRX :tisk:. The car had been posted for a little while both there and on NASIOC, and I was truly surprised it hadn't been scooped up yet. The previous owner had entertained a number of potential buyers, but found that many of them were just time-wasters. So when I began inquiring about the car, it was difficult to get a response. I don't get excited about cars too often, but the quality of the vehicle and the price was certainly intriguing to me, so I persisted. Eventually, we were able to agree on a day to come down from western Maryland and look at the car. My wife was not very happy that I was getting yet another vehicle (we have five), but she finally agreed to ride along for the journey. In a pinch, I was able to find a Uhaul car trailer close to home and rented it in the hopes we could come to an agreement. If we couldn't make a deal, I'd only be out $50 and a few hours of my time. For anyone that has ever driven the DC beltway, it's well worth the price to avoid a second trip!

The allure of this car might not be evident to everyone right off the bat, but it was clear to me someone had gone to great lengths (and expense) to make this car look as close to a V7 STI as possible. In fact, save for the engine and driveline, it's pretty damn close. I'll get into the list further down but modifications notwithstanding, it's a clean, rust-free, accident-free, clean title GD with 166k on it. Market value is strong for these at the moment, and they continue to generate a following. So as an investment, it is certainly worthwhile. But I believe I'll be keeping this one, at least for now!

The person I bought the car from is the second owner, and was not the one that did the "JDM" conversion. In fact, he admitted that he was more of an audiophile than anything, rarely driving the car anywhere near its potential. He joked that it was probably the slowest driven car on the beltway! He did some modifications, but they were mostly related to the sound system such as wiring and sound deadening. There is some tidying up to be done regarding that, but nothing major. He was very honest during the sale, an exceedingly rare trait and something I very much appreciated. However, the car had a few issues. On a brief test drive, it was clear the steering rack had some dead spots, the front end was sloppy because of worn ball joints, and the clutch had a high release point, an indicator of a worn disc and/or pressure plate. In addition, a small amount of smoke came from under the hood, indicating a possible oil or coolant leak. The air conditioning did not work, one of the tires had a leak, and there were some cosmetic problems like torn tint and some damage on the right rear quarter panel. This, however, was all disclosed by the owner ahead of time. Andrewtech did all the service work and diagnosed the headgaskets as a problem, so an engine pull was in the cards. But overall, it was still a very good example. Asking price was $3600, so the owner and I came to an agreement, completed the sale and I towed the car back home. Since then, it has been torn apart and many of the issues addressed. The engine work is about mid way done as of now, but I've been taking pictures throughout the process and will be posting when I get some time. Some upgrade parts are going on the car, a few coming off, but much of what will be done is a "freshening up."


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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
The first owner spent a great deal of time collecting parts for this car. The list of mods:

Exterior

JDM V7 17" wheels
EDM headlights
STI grille
STI fog covers
STI hood scoop
STI fenders
Badging
Color matched side skirts

Interior

STI V7 front/rear seats & door cards
STI V7 Steering wheel, shift knob & handbrake lever
STI JDM cluster
STI sill panels








Suspension

4-pot front gravel brakes w/slotted Brembos front and rear
Cusco rear sway bar
STI V7 struts/springs
Whiteline links


Mechanical

VF30 turbo
STI V7 Intake manifold & injectors
STI TMIC
Walbro pump
Mishimoto radiator
Cusco downpipe
Fujitsobo Evo exhaust
Group N mounts
EcuTek engine management
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Did a compression test just before engine removal. All looked pretty well:

Cyl
1 = 163 psi
2 = 167 psi
3 = 160 psi
4 = 156 psi

Once the motor was out, I did a cylinder leak down test. What I found:

Cyl

1 = 22%
2 = 10%
3 = 36%
4 = 11%



For those unfamiliar with this test, the cylinder is placed at bottom dead center (BDC) on the power stroke, and the cylinder is filled with compressed air. Some leakage is expected due to blow by of the rings but if it's excessive like cylinder #3, there are other problems. It's important to identify where the air is escaping and in this case, I could hear a tremendous amount of air coming from the exhaust turbine of the turbo. In this case, there is a problem on the exhaust side, most likely valve seats.

I also took the opportunity to change out the front subframe while it was on the lift. Because this car spent the first part of its life in NJ, road salt had taken its toll. I found a used replacement locally and scrapped the original.

 

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As I understand, leakdown above 20% is considered abnormal.

Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G890A using Tapatalk
 

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Awesome find, I love me some bugeye!
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
As I understand, leakdown above 20% is considered abnormal.

Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G890A using Tapatalk

I'm not sure about abnormal, but it certainly isn't desirable. Theoretically every motor would eventually succumb to leakage, either due to valve problems, ring collapse, gasket or some other catastrophic failure. In this regard, a 16 year old motor has nearly no leakage on two of the four cylinders, and what I would consider acceptable on the other two. In addition, the compression numbers are pretty solid. So the questions become how much wear has the motor seen, and how much life does it have left? In this case, the motor looks to have been cared for during its life.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
Disassembly has begun. Intake and ancillaries pulled, holes covered and block prepped for cleaning. This is a horribly inconvenient and time-consuming step, but pays dividends in the long run (learned this back in my Ferrari days!). Loaded the motor into the truck and took it to the local car wash. Despite having a pretty decent power washer at home, it doesn't compare to the water pressure at the car wash. Hitting it hard with Simple Green and a scrub brush, soon all of the old grease, dirt, oil and debris that has accumulated over 16 years has been washed away.





Cracking the valve cover, the motor is pretty clean inside. A very good sign!



Passenger head removed, time to check for leaks. Filled the combustion chamber with mineral spirits and waited. Valve seats showed signs of leakage pretty quickly. It's hard to see in the photo but with the valves out, the black dots on the exhaust side valve seats are pitting and the culprit for the leaks. The intakes seldom have pitting. As I understand it, this is due to the amount of moisture from the ethanol in the fuel.



 
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