So one of the subies I bought recently and regretted almost instantly was a 2000 OBW, nothing special, just a base model in white with the gray interior. It was advertised on CL as having blown headgaskets and was priced right ($1200) but had no pics and no mileage.
Cars like that don't stay on CL for long so fortunately I was the first to call and asked a few questions, the answers satisfied me to the point where I made a verbal commitment to buy the car, provided it was what he said it was. One of the questions I asked was what the mileage was. . .he wasn't sure but said it was definitely under 200k. Interior was "very clean" and the body was dent free.
Showed up cash in hand with the trailer hooked up to look at the car, and was hugely disappointed to learn once we hooked up the boost box that it had not just a little over 200k but a whopping 276,000 on the clock. VIN also indicated it was a 2000, not a 2001. That alone was enough to turn me off but the body was solid and interior clearly had potential, so rather than back up and run off I negotiated and wound up taking it and a very nice set of Michelin Hydroedge tires in 225/60-16 the guy had squirreled away for the car.
I'll say I let the fever of the deal get me because of the three Outbacks I bought that week with bad headgaskets (that's unusual for me. . It's usually like one a month but I had folks lined up waiting for cars), this was by far the worst deal. I built the other two and gave each a 2 week shakedown session before I even touched this car. It sat in the yard collecting leaves as I couldn't figure out how I'd be able to do a proper engine rebuild on a car with this many miles and still have any margin left over to make it worth my time.
I considered parting it, but nobody would want to buy driveline pieces with just shy of 300k on them, and body parts (aside from the front end) never sell well. . So it just sat.
On a whim I had my local dealer run the VIN for their own service records and was pleased to learn it had been a one-owner car for at least 260 of those 276k miles. . . Bought locally brand new in 2000 and driven by a college prof with a 120 mile daily commute (round trip), a longtime Subaru enthusiast. The guy I bought it from bought it from them literally as it was headed across the scales to the crusher! He'd been dismayed with the availability of good 2.5's so he just mothballed it unitl it went on CL.
Then I bought a rolled 2002 LL Bean. . .mostly for the interior. Got it at the sale cheap as the mileage was unknown, and I had the interior sold out of it pretty much before I brought the car home. Once I got the twisted metal free enough to start it I was pleased to discover it had a reasonable 169k on her odometer, and the entire engine and driveline was dry and clean and showed evidence of a good bit of recent service, including spark plugs and vc gaskets. Engine was quiet and smooth, not even a squeaky tensioner bearing.
I parted out a VDC 6 cyl once before and breifly considered swapping the driveline over to another 2nd gen outback but once I pulled the motor and saw all the differences changed my mind.
Changed my mind again now that I had a good 6 cyl driveline and a good 4cyl body. The little white outback was about to rise from the ashes and come back better, faster, stronger
This time I decided to try and approach it like the factory would. . . Drop out the whole engine and trans as an assembly on the crossmember with steering rack and suspension still attached. Do that on both cars, just move the powerplant unit straight across. Less bolts to undo, no messing with torque converter bolts (always my fave thing to do), and I get to swap over half of the suspension and 90% of the rotating assemblies on the hi-miles car (what we dubbed the white base outback). Once all the bolts have been turned the only moving parts on the car with 276k on them will be the rear axles and bearings.
Still, it's turned out to be a monumental undertaking. Even though the entire process is a bolt on, plug in swap, it's been about 4 8 hour days so far (one full day to strip the parts car down to a naked hull), and I've still got about 10 hours to go. A short list of what has to be swapped:
Cooling fans (H6 fans are thinner, 4cyl will not work)
Dash wiring harness
Cluster (I think. . .I'm not taking chances)
Front body/engine wire harness
Cross-dash harness including connection to underhood fuse box
Trans cooler lines and inline filter (H4's have the filter on the trans. Converter lives in this spot on H6 so filter was relocated to the driver's fender--I forgot about this and sent the parts car to the crusher with those $200 pieces still attached)
That's just to get it running. If you want some of the other amenities to work (might as well. . . It's more work to leave them off), you need to swap these goodies:
-Entire underdash HVAC system (6cyl cars all have auto HVAC)
-Combination switch (so you can have adjustable delay wipers)
-Lighted bezel around ignition lock (might as well, ey? Wires are there)
-Door harnesses (assuming you want heated mirrors)
-Windshield (assuming you want wiper de-icer)
-Rear body harness (or pare out the heated seat harness)
I drew the line at the autodimming compass/mirror. Don't see much need for it as I generally know which way I'm headed by the sun or GPS. I also left out the heated seats as I'll be putting an aftermarket set in. I don't want leather in this car as I'll probably wind up driving it myself and I'm not a huge fan.
As of right now it's in the car and running, although the exhaust and rear diff haven't been swapped. It's also still using the 4cyl fuel pump which I plan to leave in for a little while to see if it'll run properly on it. Might be news you H6 guys with failed fuel pumps could find useful.
Some comments on Subaru's construction methods:
I've always loved working on Subies. . .this one being no exception. Stuff is assembled with service in mind; it's very rare that you have to pull major components to gain access to minor ones. The hardest part of reinstalling the engine/trans/crossmember assembly? Lining up the steering rack u-joint with the steering column. Everything else was a cakewalk. . . Including sliding at least 800lbs worth of driveline under the car and raising it into position. God bless you Subaru for putting studs on the body to align the crossmember!
Wiring: I cannot fathom some of the decisions Subaru makes when it comes to building wire harnesses. They must have dozens of part no's for the cross-dash harness (for example), each with a slightly different wiring config for different options. . . But all include heated mirror wiring if the car has power mirrors. Know what doesn't have the 2 extra wires for heated mirrors? The door cords. 2 extra feet of wire per door but it's not in there. HVAC wiring is incorporated into 3 different harnesses, including the engine. The Auto HVAC systems use entirely different wiring, so going from a base to limited with the same engine and trans means a different wiring harnes part no. Things like heated windshield that could easily be packaged outside the main harness are incorporated into not one but TWO different harnesses. On the first gen cars it's even in with the engine harness!
And test connectors. . .these things are EVERYWHERE! And they look just like a regular connector! Make them all red or print TEST on them or put a tape band around them or SOMETHING! One of the more maddening elements of reassembly has been making sure any unconnected connectors are truly test connectors and not something I forgot and buried its mate under the carpet or something. Nothing like getting the dash fully reassembled only to learn that connector behind the HVAC wasn't a test connector, it went to the mode control motor (I didn't do that, but it would have been very easy to).
Anyway, pics to follow. It's raining so I'm stuck inside for the moment, otherwise I'd be out swapping the diff and exhaust. . .and wondering if Grizzard is gonna get back to me on those trans lines I need or if I'm stuck ordering them from Subaru