2004 WRX Wagon Resto Project

We purchased this 2004 WRX Wagon from a dealer and it was reported that it has some issues. A car with over 250,000 miles on the clock is bound to have some issues unless it was properly maintained. When we first took a look at it through some photos, we thought it was going to be rough. However, when we first saw it, we did find the rough spots from the advertised pictures, but then saw that much of the car was indeed in very good shape. So we decided to make an offer and some back and forth and here we are with a 2004 WRX Wagon in Java Black Pearl.

Some initial issues that we found upon initial inspection was that there was rod knock. and so the first thing this car is going to need is at very minimum a new Subaru EJ20 shortblock. However, we will know more once we go in to take a look at the internals of the engine. Now you may be asking, what are our plans with this car? Simple, we want to put it back into a very stock-like state and maybe give a little more power and handling to make it a fun car once again. We will go through the step by step process for restoring this car and making it road worthy once again!

Below are some before images of our wagon before we begin to start taking it apart.


January 23, 2017
We have removed the engine from the Resto Project and have have seen some interesting discovers with the car. The engine obviously is still stock, but from the looks of the clutch, it looks as if it was the original one from the factory! There are no signs of the engine ever having been taken apart and having the clutch replaced. We also found that the rear main seal was leaking pretty badly which is another sign that it was not changed. We always recommend replacing this seal whenever a clutch is being replaced as you do not want to have to remove the transmission and clutch just to replace this one seal. We also found all the vaccum hoses to be all dried and out and cracked. Not surprising as we usually see hoses get rock hard at around 100k miles. Turbo is done as there is quite a bit of oil found in the exhaust housing. We will definitely be replacing the turbo, injectors, and most definitely the fuel pump. But once we get more detailed into the teardown, we will really get to see how the internals of the engine look as for sure there will be items in this engine that will need to be replaced. We will address them more in a bit. Here are some images of the engine after having been removed.


January 30, 2017

With the motor out, we have started to take part the motor to see what is going on inside. After removing the oil pan, we have found that the original oil strainer is still in good shape with no signs of cracks. However, in the images, you can see that it looks like the oil was not frequently changed. You can see this from the brown stains and even one side of the valve cover has build up in the corner. From one of the heads, you can see that grooves have formed on two of the four camshafts and oddly enough that they are both on the front bearings for Cylinder No. 1. We also found that the all four camshafts are really rough around where the bearings hold the camshaft to the heads. This means that all four camshafts are going to have to be replaced along with the heads. At this time, we will replace the valves and springs as well since everything on it has around a quarter of a million miles. The piston crowns actually look much cleaner than expected as we have see engines with half as many miles with more carbon build up on the crowns.


March 1, 2017

New heads, valves and springs have been assembled. The EJ20 Non-AVCS heads are straight from Subaru with no modifications as we just want to keep things simple and we have seen the EJ205 motors make some good power. We decided to upgrade the valves from the OE to Supertech Valves. These valves are a worthwhile upgrade as they are priced very similar to OE and will be able to withstand more than the OE. For the intake valves, we went with Supertech Black Nitride valves that are the standard size. For the exhaust valves, the Supertech Inconel valves are selected. We did not opt for the Sodium Filled exhaust valves because we are not planning on making big power but wanting to make reliable power. It will see a minor turbo upgrade but keeping the car power level realistic, which is why we stuck with stock valve springs. Next, the valve adjustment with new camshafts and shortblock. Images below are of the new EJ20 heads with the Supertech valves installed.


March 8, 2017

We have received a brand new EJ20 Shortblock and have started to assemble the brand new motor. We are installing Cosworth H11 into this shortblock and the new heads are bolted on as well. We are using Torco Engine Assembly Lube(EAL) to put this new motor together as it provides a good coating over the engine products to properly coat any of the moving parts as the Torco EAL leaves a film coating to prevent metal-to-metal contact for when we go to start this motor up. We use Torco's EAL in all our engine builds, whether it is from a head gasket job to a full engine build. At this stage, a valve adjustment will be performed and have the valve clearance set to factory tolerances. Camshafts are not shown, but we have new camshafts to be installed when going in for the valve adjustment. Factory head gaskets are used as the originals lasted 250k and so we see no reason in needing to upgrade or change them. We have seen many tuned USDM EJ205 engines that have been mildly tuned and are daily driven reliably. All the vacuum and coolant hoses replaced as well as it would be a good time as many of the hoses in the car become hard as a rock and have cracked when we being removed when the original engine was taken apart for the inspection. Images of the current state of the new engine with the starting assembly of the longblock. More to be added as we continue the assembly of this motor.


March 15, 2017

The final cam buckets arrived from Subaru and we have finally been able to start sealing up the engine and putting the long block together. We have installed a new Subaru baffle plate, oil pickup, and oil pan. We have also installed an upgraded oil pump, new factory Subaru oil cooler, and kevlar timing belt. We have have also replaced all the timing belt pulleys and tensioner, and water pump. Upon inspection of the vaccum lines and some of the coolant lines, we felt it is best at this time to replace the hoses as we are not sure when and/or if they were ever replaced. We have also sent the injectors out to get flow tested and cleaned to make sure that they will still perform and be as good as new.

One might think that we would be upgrading the turbo or replacing it with a new one, but we have decided to have the turbo rebuilt with a small upgrade. We wanted to keep the spool of the stock turbo but wanted to be able to make a bit more power. So after consulting with our tuner, we have decided to keep the stock TD04, rebuild it with new seals, and upgrade the compressor wheel to a billet wheel. We will have more information about this once we get the turbo back from the rebuilder. We are expecting a bit more power and having really good response. If this does not work out well, then we will look into other future upgrades to the turbo and fueling system.

We will have completed upgrade list of what is in the engine once the car is completed.


March 31, 2017

The injectors came back from being tested, fuel injector hoses arrived from Subaru and so begins the assembly of the intake manifold. We had an extra set of injectors laying around and figured that it would be a good idea to send them with the originals from the car to see if we can get a closely matched set of injectors. Eight injectors were tested and from the eight, 4 were very closely matched. Can you find see which ones were decided to be used in the image below?

All the fuel hoses under the intake manifold were replaced as we did not want to have to take the intake manifold off again if we are putting everything together. We have also spent sometime cleaning the intake manifold up as there was a lot of deposits in the runners. We also figured it would be a good time to install some upgraded silicone hoses. Samco Silicone hoses are used because we have always had good fitment and function with Samco and have been using them with great success for over a decade. We continue to use Samco as they make the best silicone hoses in the industry! We have also gone ahead and replaced all the coil packs and installed new ones with the new spark plugs. We decided to use Samco Sport's Viper Red because it is very reminiscent of the STI red.

April 11, 2017

While we are still waiting for the turbocharger to return, we decided it was a good time to clean the engine bay up and to install some items in the engine bay before the engine goes in as there will be nothing in the way to make the installation more difficult. We decided to install a the steering column universal joint from an STi. This removes the rubber damper that helps to isolate some of the vibration from the road. This will help give the steering a more direct feel and make the steering a bit more responsive. More will be going into the engine bay shortly.


April 14th, 2017

We have finally gotten the TD04L back from the rebuilder, had them install their billet compressor wheel specifically for the TD04 as an upgrade, and are excited to get the car finished and the motor dropped back into the engine bay! They have replaced all the seals, bearings and performed a complete spin balance of the complete unit before reassembling the turbo. The turbo looks just as good as new and is ready to deliver some good performance. We are told to expect a 15-20% increase in power and not sacrifice any response and possibly have quicker spool up, which is never a bad thing. The compressor is now a billet wheel and the exhaust side has remained the same as the original.


April 18th, 2017

As we are nearing the completion of the engine, we bolted the last few items to the longblock to get it ready to put back. New turbo has been installed with all new oil lines that feed and return oil back into the engine. While we are putting in new parts, we decided to put in a new fuel filter element as we were unsure of when the last was was ever serviced. All new clutch and flywheel are installed along with new STI engine mounts as the old ones looked to be the originals. To further clean up the slop, we have also added a SuperPro Pitch Stopper to the system so that it compliments the STI engine mounts to prevent the engine from further twisting underload. Motor is going in today and we are looking to be able to fire up the engine tomorrow as we are requesting a base map from our tuner.


April 20th, 2017

We have been putting more of the ancillaries back into the engine bay and we have also added some gauges to help monitor the engine health. As we were putting the car back together, we decided to put upgraded components into the engine bay as if you were to encounter a failure of something such as the radiator, then an upgraded aluminum unit would be a good way to go as you will never have to worry about the plastic OE or OEM like units from failing. We see them fail all the time as the radiators get older and have more miles on them. We were unsure of the mileage of the radiator that was in the car and so we felt it was best to just get an upgraded Koyo Aluminum unit. We have been using Koyo Aluminum radiators for many years and have never had any issues with them.

To complete the engine portion before filling the engine back up with fluids, we added a complete Cobb Tuning Turboback exhaust and heatshield. The heatshield is a nicely laser cut piece that will help keep unwanted heat from the turbocharger away from the intercooler. We are also using more Samco hoses such as the ancillary, radiator, and intercooler hoses. These hoses have been proven for many years and will pretty much last the rest of the life of the car and even for another 10+ years! Following the many brittle hoses, we have also added a Cobb Tuning 3-Port Boost Solenoid, which included new hoses and such. We will eventually be getting a map for the car and a complete tune after the engine has been completely broken in.

While this is not the craziest of builds, we wanted to added a way to monitor the engine vitals. We had an STI gauge cluster from our 2007 STI project car and installed it into this project car. It fits perfectly in the location of where the Subaru factory gauge pack would fit as both are standard DIN sizes. Gauges are going to monitor boost pressure, oil pressure, and oil temperature.



April 21st, 2017

The 04WRX Resto wagon lives! We filled the engine up with Torco Break-In Engine oil, TBO 40, and NEO Coolant, and after some cranking to get the oil flowing through the engine before its initial fire up. The Resto wagon fired right up with no issues and was purring like a kitten! After some break-in miles on the new engine, we will be moving into the next aspect of restoring this car, with the suspension. SuperPro has stepped up to help us out with this project to put some life back into the handling of this rocket wagon! We will go through each bushing that is installed and the benefits of installing the bushings that we do. You can already tell that the pitch stopper in the engine bay will prevent unwanted movement of the engine to concentrate the power more directly to the transmission and get the power to the ground!



May 3rd, 2017

Upon removal of the fuel pump assembly, we saw that the filter bag at the bottom of the tank, input of the pump, was extremely dirty and has the possibility of impeding the flow of fuel going into the pump. We thought it was best to replace and upgrade this part as asking it to work harder is just going to put more strain on the component. So we replaced the stock pump with a Deatschwerks DW300 in-tank fuel pump. We know that this pump might be overkill for our needs, but having a reliable fuel pump is really important as it flows 340lph(liters per hour) and that is great for high horsepower cars and even cars that plan to run E85 Flex Fuel. The DW300 is a complete kit that includes a new fuel pump filter, new hose, wiring harness connector and clamps. Images show the fuel pump assembly removed, new pump installed on the assembly before the fuel filter pump bag is installed.

We also decided it was a good time to load in the base map with our Cobb Tuning Accessport V3. William Knose from Delicious Tuning has provided us with a base map to run in the car to help properly break-in the new engine. We will have him over during our next tuning session to have him complete a custom precision tune on our MAHA Chassis Dyno!


May 25th, 2017

The Resto wagon is being driven around and we have hit our break-in mark of 1,000 miles on the new engine and are still are going to gradually open up the engine. By gradually, the engine will be opened up to 5krpms for a couple of hundred miles and then opened to 6k for a couple of hundred and then opened to redline. We are nearing the tuning date with our tuner, Delicious Tuning, and eager to see what it will do on the dyno.

But before getting on the dyno and still doing the gradual break-in process, we decided to do some brake upgrades as the pad squeekers are making noises when brakes are being applied. So what are some upgrades you ask? Well, we are going to be installing many of our most common products that we do here at the shop. For the front, we are going to be installing DBA rotors with Hawk HPS 5.0 brake pads. We are also going to be installing stainless steel brake lines.  For the rear, we are going to be doing a standard rear disc with Hawk HPS 5.0 brake pads and stainless steel lines as well. The brake system has been bled with Brembo Sport.EVO 500++ brake fluid. Because this car is mainly going to be street driven, it we felt that just upgrading the front disc was more than adequate as majority of the braking is done at the front.


June 16th, 2017

We finally have gotten the Resto wagon custom tuned on the dyno. We are more than happy with the results of this setup on the car and it is quite quick on the street. It produced more power than we had originall anticipated. The car is currenly running on 91octane fuel. Below are some images of the car being on the dyno and the final results of the what the dyno plot looks like.

We also installed some Speedline Type 2120 Turini Wheels in 17x7 in Gold to replace the replica wheels that came with the car when it was purchased. The gold really goes well with the Java Black Pearl as the paint itself has some gold flakes in it and matches really well together in the sunlight. We also installed some Falken RT615K+ tires as they were new and it was worth trying out to see what improvements were made over the previous generation tire. We stuck with a 215/45R17 as we did not want to over tire the car and the new tire feels great and more predictable than the previous generation.



July 6th, 2017

We have started to make our way through the suspension of our 2004 WRX Wagon. We have chosen SuperPro for this project as they have a complete lineup of bushings and endlinks for this application. We started with the front and are working our way to the back of the car. For the front, we have installed all of the most common items that we service here at the workshop such as the anti-lift/caster offset bushings for the front control arms, front control arm front bushings, steering rack bushings, endlinks, and roll center adjusters. We have also installed an upgraded transmission mount from Subaru and SuperPro's transmission mount bushings. More will be up as the rear of the car gets is treatment of SuperPro Bushings!


July 7th, 2017

After completing the front suspension, we then went to the rear where it received more SuperPro bushings to replace the worn bushings and give the car new life again. All the rear lateral and trailing arms along with differential replacements and inserts were installed. We also install a factory STI short shifter kit with the upgraded SuperPro lower shifter bushing and upgraded STI upper shifter bushing. This setup makes the shifting much more precise, direct and shorter shifts. This setup removes any of the guessing work out of the shifting and so you will not be hunting or second guessing yourself as to which gear you are in.

After everything was installed, we performed an alignment on the Resto Wagon to put things straight and to make the car more fun to drive! After test driving the car, we found that the car is much more predictable and precise going through corners and a lot of the slop inconsistencies are little to none. All the bushings really freshened up the car and gave it all new life again!


April 10th, 2018

It has been awhile since our last update onto our project 04WRX Resto Wagon. We have since then ordered a set of JRZ RS One shocks and put them on the wagon to give more life to the car and to improve handling. We kept the setup fairly tame for street driving as that is what it primarily does but have the ability for it to hit the track on occassion. These shocks are a great entry level setup to the car and we have been on them for over a half year on them and cannot say anything negative about them. They are great shocks and we will continue to spend some more time dialing them in to make them even handle and ride even better! If you are considering a set, contact us as they are hand built and go under strict quality control measures before leaving the factory. We opted to not purchase springs as we have our own springs we equipped the shocks with.

Stay Tuned Until Next Time!