As you've noticed from our previous build articles in Import Tuner and last month's issue, our '98 Subaru Legacy GT Wagon has gone through a major transformation. Not only is the car lookin' fly, but it's about to be a whole lot faster thanks to a JDM 2.0-liter turbocharged motor. The power is expected to triple from stock to 350whp with a big-turbo setup. With this in mind, the stock brakes obviously weren't going to cut it, so we were in need of a major upgrade to control all the new power effectively.
One of the best things about Subarus is that there are a lot of parts that are direct plug-and-play from other models and generations. In our case, we knew that brake components from a 2002-2005 WRX would fit directly. And since we're planning to give this wagon some serious track time, we knew a set of stock brakes would cook too easily, so we turned to our friends at Wilwood.
Our wagon weighs a little more than your standard WRX sedan, so we decided to up the brake game with a six-piston front and four-piston rear big brake kit from Wilwood. The rotors measure 14" front and 12.88" rear—much larger than the 10.9" and 10.47" stocks. You can never have too much stopping power, right?!
Here we added Red Loctite and torqued down the supplied hat bolts to 155 lb-in.
We took advantage of the slotted bolts that Wilwood provided and made sure to safety wire everything up. (Tip: Safety wire is a great way to prevent anything from coming loose when it's under extreme vibration or heat.) It was a tedious process to do, but after a while we got the hang of it, and the peace of mind was totally worth it. After getting everything all tied up and ready to go, it was time to swap out the old brakes.
The difference is pretty drastic just in the front corners alone—single-piston to six-piston calipers! Multiply that difference to the rest of the car and we've gained an extra 16 pistons of braking force! Frankly, we can't wait to feel the difference these are going to make. We may need to get some harnesses sorted out so we don't kiss our steering wheel every time we hit the brakes!
After we sorted out the first corner, it was time to throw some wheels over it and check the clearance. It turns out our Yoshihara Design Champion wheels (18x9" +35) didn't clear the calipers because the center valve stem interfered. We weren't too worried about it though—nothing a 15mm spacer can't fix. (Tip: Do not spin your wheels too fast when test-fitting big brake clearance. Rotate the wheel as slowly as possible just to make sure you don't scratch or even crack your wheels or calipers.)
With the brakes finalized, it was time to strengthen our suspension components. If you've driven any '90s Subaru, you're familiar with the fact that these cars are prone to understeer, and that the components aren't necessarily the strongest from the factory. Notice here, other than being infested with spiderwebs, our rear suspension components were not only old and tired looking, but also the bushings were shot and some pieces were actually bent (right rear lateral link).
We made a quick call to Whiteline and went a little nuts ordering every single thing the company had in its catalog. All the rear arms, bushings and bars were upgraded with some heavy-duty components that will not only keep the rear planted, but most importantly keep the vehicle safe at speed. Plus, we now have the ability to dial in more alignment adjustments if need be. It's a shame we couldn't get rid of all the spiderwebs though.
The quality and strength of Whiteline products are two of the main reasons why we choose to use them for our build. Just look at the engineering that went into this rear sway bar mount. It looks like something off of a spaceship!
With the rear buttoned up, it was time to move on to the front. First things first, we replaced all the bushings and ball joints. Most people don't realize but bushings and ball joints are two of the main reasons why cars lose their steering feel and road feedback. Needless to say, all of ours were shot, so it was time to replace anyway. After that, we took care of the sway bar end links and the rack-and-pinion tie-rod ends. While we were down there, we pulled out the front axles and rebuilt them to handle the power we plan on making. Stay tuned for our next update—when we build a custom-rotated Garrett turbo kit along with some more power-adding goodies.
Drills and Slots
Drilled and slotted rotors look cool and improve braking performance, but why? The function of a brake disc is to provide a surface for the pads so that when you pound on the brake pedal, the pad is squeezed against the rotors by the calipers. The car slows down and heat is released into the atmosphere from the rotors. Cross-drilling is helpful because it increases the surface area of the rotor, which in turn keeps the disc cool and allows for heat, gases and dust to escape faster. It's also beneficial in wet conditions as it helps evacuate water between the disc and pad surfaces. As for slots, the benefits are similar, but they were designed to help refresh the pad surface while being able to use high-end racing pads. With the more aggressive pads, drilled rotors sometimes had issues with the cooling around the holes—poorly engineered rotors tended to crack. So a slotted design was developed to address this problem.
AEM Gauge Giveaway!
If you drive a heavily modified car, chances are you're going to need gauges to monitor engine vitals. But sometimes when the adrenaline is pumping and the situation arises to stomp on the gas pedal, there isn't enough time to look down and check your gauges. This is why a gauge like AEM's wideband fail-safe is just what you need. The gauge incorporates both boost and wideband UEGO air/fuel ratio readings into one simple package, plus it also houses datalogging functions and many other cool features—but the alarm/fail-safe trigger feature is what'll save you. A visual alert can be triggered, plus the option of boost or timing can be set to retard as a fail-safe strategy. A simple little feature like this can save you thousands of dollars in damaged parts, not to mention all the headaches. This new digital gauge is made to work with a Bosch 4.9 LSU sensor that enables a faster light-off time and draws less current than its predecessor sensor. The gauge lists for $277.50, but we'll be giving one lucky reader a gauge on us! All you have to do is email us a photo of your boosted ride and the story about your car to firstname.lastname@example.org by November 21st. Good luck!