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Money pit build log

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1997 Legacy 2.5L AWD Automatic (36 left on the road in the UK..... for now at least). The first owner had it at least 17 years as I looked him up and on google maps and in 2014 the car was still sitting in his drive. 

Purchased Saturday 23rd January 2019 for what I think is a small amount of money. This is a diary of what I've done, what I am going to do, and/ or how much money I've thrown away.

The plan is to mend it before making any modifications because that's the sensible thing to do. Unless it's about to break in two, then the nice people of ebay can buy an engine, gearbox, wheels, an interior, etc. As far as I can tell the only things on it that are after market are the wheels since these have carbon fibre accents and a universal multi-stud pattern. I would assume factory with just be 5x100 stud pattern. Possibly the rear brakes have been switched from drum to disc but I'm seeing conflicting information about this.

A list of obvious issues.

  1. Rust, hole in the wheel well/ boot floor, rust rear arches, general rust including mount for rear bumper so it's hanging down slightly. 
  2. Front brakes, drivers side missing outside pad, calliper directly onto disc so the disc is goosed and means there's a yellow streak of dust all over the drivers side. ABS light on, suspect this is linked to the missing pad. 
  3. Drivers side front fog light smashed in, not sitting properly, found a cable tie behind it today.  
  4. Boot lid doesn't open from release at drivers seat, boot doesn't hold itself open and is very heavy/ impractical to hold 
  5. Front grille feels a bit loose not sure if normal. 
  6. Rear brakes dust cover falling apart and rusty, brakes look in generally bad condition, not sure if this will clean up. 

I booked in to get the front brakes done because I wanted my mechanic to give it a look underneath and tell me if it was a death trap that needed to be humanely disposed of. Dropped it on Wednesday late afternoon to get done on Thursday. Friday came and it still hadn't moved so I went to go take the wheel off and see what state the calliper was in on the drivers side as the mechanic thought this looked shot. I ended up taking it apart and successfully wound the pistons back so that was a relief. Now fingers crossed that they get on with it and put the new brakes on, was going to continue and do it myself but the bolts on the calliper carrier were seized and I didn't want to shear a bolt. 

I've got a quote for welding but concentrating on making it start and stop for now. To be honest it drives great apart from the brakes, the engine sounds very healthy, it's surprisingly smooth and quiet for a 22 year old car. 

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Last night I got to look at the underside while it was up on a ramp and it was mostly good news but then a couple of niggles. 

Rust - everything that matters is solid and just needs a tidy up. Sills aren't great nut knew this anyway. So it's not about to snap in two which was my number one decider between keeping it or selling/breaking the car. 

Oil leak - it looks like the underside has been sprayed with oil as there is a uniform thin layer from front to back in the middle third. Possibly done to protect against corrosion. No obvious leaks. The thing that makes it look like it's been sprayed is that there's a thin spread oil on the top of some things and oil doesn't tend to fall upwards. 

Front headlight is gaffa taped and missing bits of plastic mount. Luckily found a set on ebay. 

Passenger brake carrier bracket snapped when being removed for disc replacement. Finding a Legacy one was impossible/ quite expensive. Tracked down the part number and it is shared between two models of Impreza and a Forester so could get one off a breaker for a fraction of the cost. 

Running total including delivery costs, not paid for. 

  • Car £300
  • Brake discs and pads £58.99
  • Set of front headlights £37.95
  • Brake carrier £33
  • Hole repair £18
  • Total 447.94

I know this is a fraction of what will be spent over the time of my ownership. Paint and welding is going to kill me, will need to do some research or cheap out and rattle can it. I will definitely go the welding route rather than bodging it though. 

My next job is rear brakes including heat shields as these look horrid right now. 


Uniform oil coverage underneath no obvious signs of source. 



Drivers drop link has been replaced, passenger has surface rust but is solid



Front drivers and rear passengers sill give most concern


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Bit of an update. The brake carrier saga was a mess, I got the wrong one. Then after much googling found the equivalent Impreza calliper and carrier for less money. 

I ended up doing the discs and pads myself in the yard of the garage it was in because the mechanics were snowed under. I live in the middle of town with nowhere to work on it. 

I learned that under the steering wheel behind the panel that there are plugs that are deliberately unplugged and there for different testing of systems and such. So my check engine light wasn't really on it was just that I plugged something in I shouldn't have. 

Anywho now it has brakes with actual brake pads I have finally been able to drive it properly and it's really nice to drive. It's peculiar going back to a 90's car and also back to an AWD. My very first car was a 98 Land Rover Discovery which shares some similar characteristics but is obviously completely different.

I'm really eager to get the cosmetic work done but I know this is going to be costly. It's just a shame that the car drives so well but looks a bit of a dog at the back. 


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