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£150 Impreza WRX


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I'm new to the forums (I've been lurking reading posts etc for some time) but I thought I'd post my project which was a total gamble and has ended in complete failure! I also posted this on some other forums, so apologies if you've seen it already.

A neighbour of my Dad had this impreza which hadn't been used for some time. He enquired with my Dad if I might be able to get it back on the road again for him. It'd been sitting there under a tree for about 3 years with a suspected blown head gasket and with a leaking heater matrix. Anyway, after chatting to the him, it was clear that this wasn't going to be a small job and quite a bit of time and potentially money needed to be spent on it. I offered him £150 to take it away and he agreed. This is when the fun began.

The first job was to move it from it's resting place and get it down into my Dad's driveway. It was completely overgrown and slowly being ingested by the plantlife coming up from the ground and a bush next to it. It had 4 flat tyres, seized brakes and a completely dead Battery. We cleared it out, pumped up the tyres, and then towed it down to the yard. This is the state it was in.



A quick powerwash got the majority of the dirt off, and to my amazement it wasn't acutally that bad underneath. I charged up the Battery as I wanted to see what might work, and if it would turn over. I cranked it over by hand first to check it hadn't seized. After working out how the utterly stupid sigma alarm/immobilier worked, I got the ignition on and cranked it. It burst into life and started first time, completely to my amazement. It wasn't happy, though, there was something not right with it.

A few weeks later I borrowed a trailer, picked the car up and brought it down to my garage with a view to getting it back on the road and using it as a winter hack/workhorse. It's perfect for lugging bikes around, moving rubbish, going to work, and all the other crap jobs that I don't want to involve my other cars in. A day later the engine was out. It wasn't too tricky, although I'm not entirely sure how I'll get the clutch fork back in! Also, I had to cut one of the engine mount nuts off as it had completely rusted solid. After getting the heads off, it looked like a failed drivers side head gasket. Anyway, a new gasket set was bought, heads were skimmed and then back together. One thing which was a total pain in the !Removed! was removing the cam pulley bolts. They were so tight and instantly rounded off. Luckily I had a decdent bolt extractor, heat gun and long breaker bar and out they came.



Total spend up to this point £150 for the car, £80 gaskets, £72 head skimming.

I then set about sorting out the heater matrix as it had been disconnected due to a leak. The floor of the car was completely wet on the passenger side and the carpet had been pulled up. I also found the fan motor had died and was distinctly asthmatic. As I started to investigate removing the dash I I discovered there was also all sorts of aftermarket crap attached to the dash, like additioanly gauges, white backgrounds to the dials, and some multicoloured lights with some dial to change the colour.

The horror of the wiring.......





Anyway, it all came out, and I found that yes the heater matrix was leaking, and the fan had properly died so it was time to find some new ones.


On to order some more parts from eBay. I found a set of engine mounts for £10 and fan unit and heater unit (complete units!!!!) for £15. This all went in surprisingly easily, and the dash is now back in.


I then ordered a new cambelt kit (£120), plugs (£30) , filter (£5) and oil (£30) bringing the total spend so far to £512.

I replaced the cambelt - this is so easy on an impreza when the engine is out. The belt has all the timing marks on it, you just line everything up, pull the pin on the autotensioner and bingo done. I turned it over a few times to check and it all looks good. Put in some new plugs and oil filter while it was out. I had a look at the clutch as I had to take the cover plate off to remove to the release bearing. It's got hot at some point, but there's life left in it (I'm keeping the spending down after all). It's also not the original clutch, it has been replaced at some point before. Exhaust manifolds all went back on, new engine mounts and then the engine went back into the car.

This was a complete PIA!!!


Trying to line up the engine with the gearbox, whilst clearing the studs of the mounts over the engine mount seats was extremely difficult. I ended up putting a tranmission trolley under the engine, then lifting the gearbox bellhousing with the hoist to get it to go together. It took about two hours in the end. After about an hour and a half of getting nearly nowhere, there was the sudden click as the release bearing popped into place. Then it all went together quite easily.

Getting the up pipe in was a pain, as all the turbo mounts attached to the block and cylinderhead get in the way. Ideally I should have left the exhaust manifolds off to get the up pipe in place, then refit them. I realised this after I dropped a nut into the hole of the lambda boss whilst trying to do up the flange to the uppipe. Anyway, manifold off, nut retrieved, lambda on, manifold on, then did up the flange. A bit of a palarva. The the turbo went on, and power steering pump. The rest of it all went together pretty easily, and was all straight forward to connect up.

The other issue I found was with the mid cat pipe as the rear flange had completely corroded away. I found a decat pipe on eBay for £25, brand new and unused. I fitted that inside the original heat shield, hopefully an MOT tester won't notice!



Then D-Day came along, time to fire the thing up. I left the fuel pumps disconnected and turn it over a few times to build up some oil pressure, fill the filter etc. I then connected up the pumps and started it. It burst into life but something is seriously wrong. It was only firing on two cylinders and vast amounts of steam and smoke were billowing out the exhaust. I stopped it and investigated under the engine to find water coming out of the flange of the uppipe and the manifold. I took off the headers and found a cylinder on each side was wet in the exhaust ports. I fired it up again with the ports open and found water spraying out the rear cylinders.

I'm now at the point where it's going to be pretty expensive to fix. I think the block is probably warped, or cracked as I found water in the oil and with water coming out the cylinders it's a major engine problem. I basically need another engine. So far I've not had much luck finding one anywhere for less than about £500, so I think the project might have come to a pretty abrupt end!

The question now is if I should just scrap it, or try and cover my costs and break it (and then scrap what's left)

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Missed this thread somehow.

It depends on the condition of the rest of it ?

Is it clean enough around the rear inner arches, boot well ,inner sills and suspension turrets?

If the brakes have been sitting a while, the discs might be quite pitted and calipers might need a refurb too .

Diff and box oils (plus a few other serviceable parts ) would probably worth doing as well .

Id say realistically; it would cost about £1k to get it on the road and would've have thought you'd be able to pick up a second hand lump for £650 . You could fit the new belt kit to that , But with anything second hand you do take a bit of a chance .

If that engine is goosed ?

i do need a exhaust cam pulley, left bank timing belt cover backing plate and a clean center timing belt cover for my bug [emoji6]

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