Junkyard Subaru WRX engine gets restored | Redline Rebuild - Hagerty Media
It’s not every day that a clapped-out Subaru WRX EJ205 turbo-charged engine with almost 300,000 miles on it gets a second chance at life. Even rarer is having the entire gritty process recorded in time-lapse. But that’s exactly what we did. Whether you’ve been following along with the build via Redline Updates or this is your first time seeing this project, let’s dive into some of the things you won’t see in this video.
For starters, the rusty body of the well-loved 2002 Subaru WRX hatchback was beyond saving, so it disappeared from the shop after the flat-four powerplant and some associated hardware were unbolted and dropped onto a stack of two-by-fours atop one of the shop workbenches. Once the divorced from the chassis, the engine and transmission were parted, and the engine got bolted to a stand for the real teardown work.
“During the teardown there really wasn’t anything too shocking in terms of wear and tear,” Davin says about the grimy engine. “There were a couple things that made disassembly interesting—like how the piston wrist pins are accessed through ports machined in the block.”
After the teardown, it was off to Thirlby Automotive’s machine shop, where the crankshaft, block, and cylinder heads all received attention. The crankshaft was ground to fit fresh bearings before a final polishing, while the engine block was bored to fit new pistons after a cleaning in the hot tank. The cylinder heads received that same thorough cleaning before being decked for a flat headgasket sealing surface and the valve seats cut to accept new valves.
Fresh from the machine shop, it was time to make some of the parts pretty by having West Michigan Cerakote apply a high-temp coating. Then it was assembly lube time, as the block halves came together to clamp the crankshaft in place, but unfortunately it was clamping a little too well.
“These engine blocks are very difficult to line bore, and there are actually only a few shops in the U.S. that handle that, and unfortunately we didn’t have time to send it out to one of them,” Davin says. “Instead we carefully installed the bearings and also decided to use the stock bolts that clamp the engine block halves together because the ARP ones were actually providing too much clamping pressure and distorting the block, which stopped the crank from being able to rotate.”
With problems like that to solve, who could ever call engine rebuilding boring? Certainly won’t hear that from our team. Luckily, Davin’s solution worked and allowed assembly to progress, as the pistons slid into bores and were capped with the freshened up cylinder heads. The pair of camshafts in each cylinder head are connected by a single timing belt that required a little patience to install even though it was a bare engine on the workbench. Davin even mutters, “I wouldn’t want to do that job with the engine in the car,” after pulling the pin to release the belt tensioner that locked everything into place so that he could spin the engine over with a breaker bar to ensure it was still coming together correctly.
The final assembly was a smattering of vacuum lines and little details that sit atop the engine and under the intercooler. From there the engine hoist was brought back out to transfer the completed engine over to the custom-built run stand. OK, yes it is just an 8-foot pallet with everything bolted down, but that doesn’t make it any less custom. With the battery connected, Davin turned the key and the engine fired right off. Well, it fired off after a little electrical diagnosis and fidgeting. That’s to be expected on an engine like this.
Which leaves one final question you might have: Where is this engine going? Well, we aren’t sure yet, but we’re very much open to suggestions as to what kind of chassis this should find a home in. Leave a comment below with where you’d like to see this turbocharged EJ205 end up, and then be sure to subscribe to the Hagerty YouTube channel so you don’t miss future updates and projects—including where this engine will live.
— Kyle Smith
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