Project Legacy GT – An Introduction
I’d like to get something off my chest. I am enamored with the idea of hopped up, ass kicking, rip snorting, high performance wagons. V8-powered shooting brakes, high revving hot hatches, and bi-turbo estates (for our euro readers) all seem to get my juices flowing. I can’t quite pinpoint exactly why that is, but there is just something so scandalous about an unassuming five-door giving more pedigreed performance machines a run for their money. Now, I need you to understand that I am absolutely smitten with this car, and have been for the past several years. It is, in my eyes, the perfect vehicle. So please excuse me if I become a bit over-zealous at times. Enter Project Legacy GT, it is Subaru’s mid-size performance vehicle which is equipped with the usual all-wheel drive system, 5-speed manual transmission, and a typical 2.5L turbocharged flat four engine.
It's true, the Legacy is a less commonly modified platform than its WRX and STi brethren, although it was the forebearer of the engine and drivetrain found in WRXs from 2008 to 2014. Unfortunately for Legacy owners it was stuck with the smaller VF40 turbo as opposed to the VF52 found in the later WRXs. No, it's not a rally car and it's not often found racing, but it has an uncommonly upscale interior for a Subaru and the less-than-flashy exterior makes it a fun street car without attracting too much attention. It features wagon practicality, mature esthetics, and a typical Subaru turbo power plant. What’s not to like about a grocery getter with some get up and go?
What we’d like to achieve for this car is to make it a super reliable, cross country capable street car that is still potent at a track day: the perfect all-in-one vehicle. Every aspect of our Legacy will be touched upon in order to make this goal a reality: the driveline, engine, suspension, and interior will all be tweaked, modified, or otherwise improved to distill the essence of a perfect sport wagon. Building a car to excel at a single purpose is a tough task in itself, but attempting to hone in on the perfect compromise of an amplified street/racecar will require an even more steady aim. Once everything is all said and done, Project Legacy GT will be making the 2,000 mile pilgrimmage from its home in Wisconsin to the MotoIQ mega-HQ in California.
Unfortunately we didn’t get our hands on a virgin example. The suspension had already been minimally changed from the factory spec when the car came to us. One of the previous owners had installed a set of Bilstein struts from the rarified Legacy GT Spec.B, and coupled them to a set of Swift lowering springs. Rounding out the upgrades was a 19mm RalliTEK rear swaybar with heavy duty end links in the front and rear. This gave the car a sporty feel and helped to reduce bodyroll without being overly harsh or clunky. Normally this sensible setup would be sufficient for a street car, but we’ll be giving the suspension a fresh overhaul in a later article to reduce flex, incorporate a greater degree of adjustability, and increase inner wheel clearance.
It can be a risky decision to buy an already modified vehicle, as many people have different standards of acceptability for the work done to their cars, unfortunately. Always make sure that that the seller is knowledgable about what has been done to the car, why they chose to make the modifications that they did, and that they didn't neglect any maintenance to afford another shiny new go-fast part. What may seem like a good value can quickly eat up a lot of time and money correcting mistakes and half-assed work. When in doubt, always try to find the cleanest and least modified example you can before diving into a project.