Aaron's 2006 Baja
I searched for a clean Baja for a solid 2 years before I found this one up in Powell River. I wanted a "shop truck" but also wanted to keep it a Subaru to represent what we do in our shop.
It was a full day trek there and back. We had to take 2 ferries there, 2 ferries back, and had to pick it up on a trailer since the engine was blown and in pieces in the bed of the Baja. I finally found one without the 2 tone paint job that was a factory turbo car. Unfortunately, it was an automatic but it would need a 6-speed in the future with my power goals anyway.
After our 12 hour round trip journey to bring my new-to-me Baja home we backed the trailer up to the shop and cherry picked the engine out of the box while it was still on the trailer.
After assessing the damage I set a goal of having it built in 5 days. That being said, we had planned on using the built short block that I had pulled out of my STI since we have other plans for that car. We sent the heads off to the machine shop as soon as we pulled them off so that we could start prepping other parts in the meantime.
The 5 day goal was strict because we had a hockey tournament in Victoria and had to leave early in the morning on the 6th. We pulled some strings with the machine shop and got our heads back early on day 2. Here is the wifey torquing the ARP head studs.
We were doing pretty good for day 2 so I figured we had time to quickly spray the intake manifold a nice wrinkle black.
We let is set for a minute but started assembling before it had fully cured. Just had to be very careful and honestly didn't really mind. Even with a few fingerprints it was much nicer than it looked when we got it.
So we got the intake manifold assembled and installed on the long block as well as all of the other accessories. We cut up an old header with leaky flex joints in it and welded in straight pieces of tube. We installed our custom rotated up pipe, which wasn't designed for this manifold set-up but we made it work.
Time to drop her in!
We were truckin' along! It's only day 3 and we are almost ready to fire her up!
It's not perfect, but it will work for now. Ideally, I'd like to relocate the expansion tank and run a nicer flowing intake. But we only had 2 days to finish! After a quick base map we were ready for our first test drive!
So we decided to drive it to Bespoke Performance & Tuning so that we can get it on the dyno and tune it. Since the short block was already used from my STI there was no break-in period needed! As we start our 15-20 minute drive with Paul in the passenger seat on the laptop dialing in the cruising part of the map things are looking really good. We approach a large hill and figure this is a good place to dial in the high load areas on the map. As we climb about half way up the hill the Baja starts expelling smoke out of the exhaust. It's billowing out by the time we reach the top of the hill. We quickly realize it's from all of the oil that has collected in the exhaust when the the old turbo had blown into pieces. We stop at a red light at the top of the hill and 2 gentlemen in a truck pull up next to us in the left turn lane and ask if we realize there's smoke coming out the of the exhaust. We quickly explain the situation and as the light turns green they pull in behind us and follow us for about 500 meters. Then some red and blue lights start flashing through the cloud of smoke and we realize those two were undercover police officers. They walk up next to us on either side of the car and ask what exactly we are doing. They ask Paul to pull up the program that he was using while in the passenger seat. Apparently they thought it looked very similar to a police jamming program of some sort so they wanted to check it. After a good laugh they let us continue on our way. By the time we got to the shop there was still smoke coming out of the exhaust. We decided we didn't want to foul the dyno's O2 sensor which goes in the tail pipe so we drove back to Boost Barn. It was time to build a custom exhaust.
So we had the Baja running by day 3 and had some time to kill so we debated lifting or lowering it. We found out 2002 Tacoma front struts bolt right in, all you have to do is swap top hats. It would provide a 2" lift and increase the payload rating by a ton! (not literally)
After digging through our suspension shelf we found some old Bilsteins with lowering springs off my old legacy that would basically bolt right in.
Here's how it turned out.
Height is great! But the stock wheels had to go...
Well that looks awesome but not really functional...let's try something else.
They work! Also the Baja puttin' in work, using the box for the first time to take the empties into the bottle depot. After a good long cruise on the base map I decided the suspension was really nice. After deeming it reliable enough for our hockey tournament we were all set for the morning's journey.
After loading up 4 hockey players, all of their gear, and 2 days worth of clothes, etc., we were riding on the bump stops...but it was too late. Anyway here's a random pic of our hockey team for that tournament...yes, that is Jonesy from Letterkenny.
We made it! There and back without a hitch! Got a few hang-loose and peace signs our way by people in Subarus and in pick-up trucks! Now it was finally time to tune it for power! Oh yes and I threw on my STI BBS wheels.
Finally! We get to hit some boost and hear some choo choo noises! So now with all this power we need a way to slow this beast down! Brembo brakes off my STI on the front sure helped a lot. I also built some rear strut spacers so now we can handle way more tongue weight! Here is a pic of the shop truck taking scrap metal in for recycling. Oh yes, and different wheels again.
With winter approaching and the Baja running great it was time to start working on the STI. My friend Greg and I made a trip out to pick a part after hearing they had a Tribeca in stock with the engine in it! Yes that's right, a flat 6 cyl swap for the STI (more details in a later blog. Oh and yet again...different wheels).
Obviously this was a great build for cruising on the streets and having some fun, but we also took full advantage of the "truck" part of it too...I swear I changed the wheels more often then I did oil changes on this thing.
Later that same day we took it to the drag strip. I ran 13 second passes all evening until my buddy Thomas said he'd buy me dinner if I get into the 12's on our last pass of the day. I immediately started stripping the seats out, removed the tailgate, and everything else that was heavy and removable. I ended up running a 12.99 which is the most satisfactory 12.99 I have ever run. I was pretty disappointed with my times but couldn't get it any faster with the slush box (automatic trans). The free dinner on Thomas definitely helped ease the pain, but it was time for something better...
Blurred picture for added speed effects! haha
That kind of brings this portion of the project blog to an end. My wife drove the car to work and back for a while until we finally got a good commuter car. She would fill up every 2 days with premium fuel in this thing because she loved hearing the compressor surge all the way to work and back.
We enjoyed things like going to the drive-in theater in Aldergrove, which it seems like this thing was made for! I always wanted to put some speakers in the side panels of the bed just for this. Oh and here's our puppy named Turbo! @turbochargedpup on IG. We set up a Subaru Club Vancouver drive-in theater meet during the summer.
The Next Chapter
HAHA Just kidding! That's an old picture from when we were considering lifting it.
The new goal for this Baja is to compete in Race week, or Drag Week 2020. If you don't know what these events are, I suggest you watch some videos on YouTube and check out the rules. We started building a new engine package in preparation as well as a whole new set up. There has been a ton of planning that is involved with this part of the project. We had to make sure everything was packaged nicely while staying within the NHRA and SCCA rules to be able to compete in "Drag Week 2020".
We already had this air to water intercooler system on the shelf for a different project which ended up going a different route. However we fear it may be too small for our power goals. It is only rated for 400 horsepower, whereas the rest of the engine build is rated for 700+. We may only use this set-up for break-in and try tuning with it to see if we can get anywhere close to our goals or if this set-up is just too much of a restriction. Regardless, we fabbed up the piping with all those nice (and time consuming) pie cuts.
We had originally planned to go with a forward facing intake manifold, hence the "BOOST BARN" logo showing through the gold paint. Plans changed many times as to where to locate everything and how to plumb it all.
There is still a ton of stuff to button up but we hope to have it running by the end of Feb. 2020. More progress will be posted as time goes on...
April. 15, 2020. A long overdue update. Well, she runs, and drives as of sometime in March. A little behind schedule but we got her done none the less. With COVID 19 being a huge part of everyone's life I found myself with extra time in the shop so I decided to build the roll cage. But lets go in order from what I did next. Yup.. wiring
The original plan was to run an 07 STI ECU out of my original STI since I already had it, and the whole harness. I made a wiring schematic going off of both Baja, and STI wiring diagrams and made this mess.
After nearly completing the re-pinning I found out that the 04 STI ECU is basically plug and play! It was much easier to re-pin everything and buy the ECU so that was the route I went with. The whole reason for running an STI ECU is so that I can run an Accessport and retain OEM drive-ability with flex fuel.
With the ECU out of the way we just had to button up a few things and make sure all the fluids were topped up. Well I forgot that I didn't have an oil filler neck that would work with the new set up yet. So I built one. While the welder was set up I decided I might as well make the wastegate dump tubes. Or as some people like to call them.. screamer pipes
This happened to be on Valentines day so I decided it would be a fun idea to make them into a heart
LOL the flowers wouldn't last long in there considering we got her fired up!
After the first start up I noticed a bit of oil slowly building up at the bottom of the timing cover and thought "oh great, a cam seal.." After pulling the covers I found it was actually one of the small set screw plugs that was not quite sealing. So it was a pretty easy fix and the timing belt didn't have to come off!
With that out of the way it was time to get this thing ready for the maiden voyage. But there was still a lot to do. The 6 speed in the car didn't match the stock gearing of the factory R160. In an Impreza chassis the STI driveshaft or an Automatic driveshaft fit with a 6 speed and R180 rear diff. However the Baja chassis is much longer so options were limited. I decided to get a custom driveshaft built that would hold the power, and along with it we got a pair of driveshaft shop 1000hp axles for the rear.
If you can't tell by the picture, you will have to take my word that these things are BEEFY!
After getting the rear diff and axles installed it was time to measure the length of driveshaft that I would need. Luckily I already had the correct flanges for both ends off of an old carbon fiber driveshaft that we broke in our racecar. We ended up getting a custom 3.5" Beefy DOM steel driveshaft built for it which actually touched the factory shift linkage. So our solution...
This beautiful CAE Shifter kit. This is an absolute piece of artwork for a gearhead like me, being able to see the mechanism working is just incredible. Shout out to Amritpaul for having one sitting on his coffee table that I could steal.
Well, after all of that we finally got the wheels turning! Took it for the first drive just down the road and back, but there was still lots to do inside the car. Oh yes, and some Speedline's with gravel tires haha.
After a ton of reading through the rulebook it was finally time to get started on the cage. After lots of measuring and designing we got the main hoop, front and rear bars bent up.
Here are a few more progress pics of the cage coming together..
I painted the top sections before raising the cage and after final welding so that there was full coverage of paint all around the tubes.
I replaced the factory dash bar with one tied into the roll cage. This meant a new steering column mount and a few other brackets would have to be made. Using our CNC table and software I designed and built this piece.
Also, A pillar gussets are not required by NHRA, but I thought I could add a bit of flare. So I went ahead and cut these out..
I also fit the dash in trying to keep it as clean looking as possible. Yet still removable without pulling the windshield back out. After that, it was time for paint!
Now that POPS! I wasn't worried about the floor colour since I will be putting the carpet back in.
I wasn't about to put the carpet back in looking like the right half. So I dyed it black which looks 10X better!
After letting the paint cure, it's time to start assembling again.
The carpet back in makes the gold cage really pop!
I think this shifter deserves another picture..
Oh and the STI project in the background. BIG plans in store for that one. I wont spoil too much but plans are more then 4 cylinders and more then 1 turbo..
Decided to see if 03 wrx seats that I had kicking around would fit in the back of the Baja, since the original ones are super heavy.
Spring of 2022 rolls around and restrictions are being lifted, we can finally get out on track to test out the car. But first, we need to get the tune as close as possible on the dyno before hitting the track.
We turned it up to around 37-38PSI of boost with a 100 shot of nitrous on top. As a lot of our customers know our dyno dynamics chassis dyno reads incredibly low. Stage 2 STI's put down around 230HP. We were just shy of 550hp before the wheels kept spinning on the dyno so we had to stop. We tried adjusting tire pressure, using hairspray between the rollers and the tires to get them to grip up but the power just came in way to hard.
We ended up taking it to the track and prepared to do the final adjustments there, we got 5 runs in before one of the wastegates got stuck open. Our best time was an 11.9 @ 131MPH with a terrible launch and missing 3rd gear. No where near the E.T we were hoping for but the MPH looks promising.
More to come....