RE: Shed of the Week: Subaru Legacy GT-B

RE: Shed of the Week: Subaru Legacy GT-B

Friday 22nd March

Shed of the Week: Subaru Legacy GT-B

Subaru. Legacy. GT-B. Nuff said



'Italian sports car for sale, probate disposal, late relative's car, we don't know much about it but just need it gone, £995.' Who doesn't dream of that scenario where some fool mistakenly puts an F40 up for sale at under a grand? In your fantasy, somehow you're the only one who sees the ad, and somehow you manage to remain calm as you seal the deal for £850.

Actually, this sort of thing really used to happen. Many years ago an old bud of Shed's spotted a very sorry-looking car on a back street in north London. Apparently it was being used by a builder to store his bricks. Underneath the coating of cement dust was a Ferrari 275GTB, which Shed's pal proceeded to pick up for a sum that wouldn't even get you a beaten-up 308 today.

This week's Shed isn't quite on that hang-on-a-minute level, but it is true that if you looked only at the bot-generated spec at the bottom of the ad you probably wouldn't have given it a second thought. That ad spec has this gen-two Legacy wagon down as a non-turbo model parping out a weedy 138lb ft of torque and a sniffling of power so small it's not even worth mentioning.

The reality, as most of you will have noticed, is that it is a twin-turbo EJ20R Legacy GT-B - a very different bucket of permanently four-wheel driven whelks pumping out something in the order of 275-280hp. Even in an 1,800kg beast like this, that's enough for a six-second 0-60 time. The same-size (pretty much) turbos operate sequentially, the primary one designed to give you grunt off the line before it temporarily de-spools in the midrange. Somewhere between 3,500 and 4,000rpm a secondary turbo wakes up. Although the primary turbo does then re-engage to work with the secondary one, that momentary de-spooling effect causes a power gap amusingly acronymmed by the Legacy TT community as the VOD - the Valley Of Death.


Fortunately, there is a Bible-load of vaccum and solenoid-related info online about how to turn that VOD into a POP (Plain Of Pleasure) so you shouldn't let it put you off too much. In fact, some TT aficionados have made a sort of positive out of the 4,000rpm thump, it's like their V-TEC yo, but in reality it's a bit of a pain as it's most obvious and intrusive during upchanges. Left to its own devices, the Subaru four runs to 7,500 but most of the action is over by 6,500.

The GT in GT-B means it's an estate (the saloons were RSs), but what does the B stand for? Mainly for Bilstein, but also for Bigger Brakes and Beefier anti-roll Bars. As you can see, this car no longer has its original Bilstein front and rear struts, but the adjustable MeisterR coilover replacements look like a very fair exchange. Shed thinks that the design of these MeisterRs allows you to independently adjust the ride height and the spring tension, so that lowering the ride height doesn't affect the damping. But then Shed thinks a lot of things, not all of them correct.

Anyway, a new set of these MeisterRs would cost you half the asking price of this car, so that's a good start for our £1,500 GT-B. One of the rear top plates seems to have taken a biff at some point, though that could be a trick of the light. Whatever it is, it doesn't seem to be in a critical area. Disclaimer: Shed is not a lawyer or an engineer, real experts are available etc.

The ad headline says it's a 2008 car, which it clearly isn't. The ad copy says it's 1998, but the P-reg plate says 1996. These twin-turbo units would only fit in right-hand drive cars, and as such were only officially sold in Japan, Australia and New Zealand - not in the UK, though, boo - so let's go for a 1996/98 car that was imported from Japan in 2008. The important thing is that it's got a valid MOT certificate from a January 2019 test which came up with just two advisories: one, our old favourite the corroded brake pipe (offside rear); the other, a worn rear brake disc, which judging by the ad has since been addressed by the fitment of Brembo discs and pads. A good thing really because Legacy rear discs are known for scoring and original Subaru parts generally are famously expensive.


In the context of what else you're getting here, these are hardly deal-breakers, especially when you see that the expensive cambelt and clutch have both been replaced in quite recent memory. Having said that, these EJ20 TTs do have a bit of a name for big-end failure. Cold-start knocking is a sound you don't want to hear. If you go to see this one, you might want to insist on it not being warmed up before you arrive. Getting past the 100,000-mile mark, as this car has done, is important.

The hill start assist that many of us think is a fairly recent advance was in fact present on Subarus from 1994. They called it the Hill Holder. Its hydraulic/brake pressure mechanism does need monitoring if you don't want your brakes to jam on. Obviously it's an old Japanese car too so look everywhere you can for rust and check the underside for rock dents.

Summing up, this is a big, handy, credible and quick estate that any self-respecting PHer should be proud to have on their drive. There's the thing, though. Leaving it on the drive might be something you find yourself doing quite a bit if you have the keys to another, less juicy option, like say a blown Jag or a V8 Merc. Mid-20s mpg figures are on the cards here if you take it reasonably easy, but you can knock 10mpg off that if you're planning on extending your right leg. Basically, don't buy it unless you're prepared to do without the odd meal in order to keep it fed.

The vendor also tells us that the wheels are coated in classic Subaru Gold GK1 paint, which if you're interested was one of the first gold paints to be used in mass car production. One to thrill your next dinner guests with.

Here's the ad.

Author
Discussion

cjcor

Original Poster:

64 posts

177 months

Friday 22nd March
quotequote all
That is some shed!

Cambs_Stuart

429 posts

24 months

Friday 22nd March
quotequote all
I seem to be saying this every week, but that's a great shed.
The denizens of uklegacy.com are a good bunch too. Good info on technical issues and finding parts.

mrpenks

197 posts

95 months

Friday 22nd March
quotequote all
That’s a lot a car for under £1500. Makes me wonder when 90s cars like this will start picking up in price like 80s motors are at the moment.

Bill

38,720 posts

195 months

Friday 22nd March
quotequote all
Blimey! Good shed with no need for brave pills.

Ahbefive

11,601 posts

112 months

Friday 22nd March
quotequote all
Why are PH articles always riddled with inaccuracies? These weigh around 1400kgs, nowhere near the 1800kgs stated in the article.
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sgtBerbatov

1,128 posts

21 months

Friday 22nd March
quotequote all
Cambs_Stuart said:
I seem to be saying this every week, but that's a great shed.
The denizens of uklegacy.com are a good bunch too. Good info on technical issues and finding parts.
+1 for the uklegacy.com family. When I had a 1999 Legacy I found their help invaluable.

I miss my Legacy, it was a 1999 one and a 2.0 NA GL spec. Poverty spec really, but I bought it from a chap at work last year for a bottle of whiskey as it was just laid up in his lock up. Loved the car for the short time I had it, but the wife wanted it gone and after I pulled and tore a ligament in my ankle changing gear (the clutch was stupidly heavy on it) I was forced to sell it. Checked on it the other day actually, the chap I sold it to scrapped it. So the timing belt snapped or he wrote it off. You can't begin to understand the regret I have over getting rid of it.

GravelBen

13,672 posts

170 months

Friday 22nd March
quotequote all
Ahbefive said:
These weigh around 1400kgs, nowhere near the 1800kgs stated in the article.
+1

I have a Gen 3 GT-B which is a tad heavier at 1500kg, but they had also made some good improvements to things like the VOD and fuel economy by then. Its a great car and I've become quite attached to it after 10 years, but I do sporadically think about trading it in on a newer 3.0R 6-speed.

IIRC peak power is at 6500 and peak torque torque at 5000, the original advertising guff claimed over 80% of torque on tap from 2000-6500 (redline at 7500, limiter at 7750). They're a lot more linear than the single turbo Subarus with less mid-range grunt but a stronger top-end pull, a mate had a Gen 3 GTB and a Ver 9 STI at the same time and reckoned the GTB beat the STI for top end.

Edited by GravelBen on Friday 22 March 07:32

Cambs_Stuart

429 posts

24 months

Friday 22nd March
quotequote all
Also as for subaru parts being expensive, I found they were more reasonable than the VW ones on my passat. There also tend have a lot less fripperies to go wrong.
For a weekend tinkering and bike/keyboard/drum kit hauling this is really tempting.

samoht

884 posts

86 months

Friday 22nd March
quotequote all
Good find, a car that's cool, quick, good handling, practical and reasonably reliable for shed money.

mrpenks said:
That’s a lot a car for under £1500. Makes me wonder when 90s cars like this will start picking up in price like 80s motors are at the moment.
The NSX, Supra and RX-7 have all more than doubled, albeit from quite different starting points, 300ZX too I think. Cars like the Scoobies and Evos sold a lot more, I doubt they'll be super valuable any time soon but yeah I wouldn't be surprised if they rise a bit.

teacake

117 posts

131 months

Friday 22nd March
quotequote all
I've owned the model before this one (a single turbo saloon) and the model after (a GTB). Awesome cars, among the best I've ever had, and remembered only with affection by both me and Mrs Teacake. Indecently quick, especially if the conditions are a bit adverse. The only real downside we found was the godawful seats.

I always thought the BG5 version in this ad looked a bit jelly-mould, and it dated quite fast, but who cares about that when you're in the driving seat?

As Ahbefive says, these were more like 1400-1500kg.

2smoke

74 posts

51 months

Friday 22nd March
quotequote all
Been looking for a fast estate for around £20k. Maybe I should get this instead and keep the change for petrol money and maintenance. Only 40 miles away too, that is rather tempting. Yet another great shed!

greenarrow

1,576 posts

57 months

Friday 22nd March
quotequote all
mrpenks said:
That’s a lot a car for under £1500. Makes me wonder when 90s cars like this will start picking up in price like 80s motors are at the moment.
I think quite a few have picked up - Clio Williams, Integra Type R. EVO 6 etc, but it seems some of these Subarus are still under the radar. You can still pick up a Gen1 Impreza Turbo for a few grand. Perhaps their somewhat iffy image goes against them? Good for Shed buyers as this is a great car for the money

pti

1,039 posts

84 months

Friday 22nd March
quotequote all
Blimey, that looks to be a cracker for the money

mooseracer

459 posts

110 months

Friday 22nd March
quotequote all
mrpenks said:
That’s a lot a car for under £1500. Makes me wonder when 90s cars like this will start picking up in price like 80s motors are at the moment.
10 years time? smile

In all seriousness they already are for some 'special' 90s motors.

only1ian

562 posts

134 months

Friday 22nd March
quotequote all
2smoke said:
Been looking for a fast estate for around £20k. Maybe I should get this instead and keep the change for petrol money and maintenance. Only 40 miles away too, that is rather tempting. Yet another great shed!
Yes, yes you should! And the reason being that £20k still isn’t going to buy you the latest and greatest model and therefore your none PH neighbours are going to judge on the age of the registration plate. There is a reason the landed gentry smoke around in ancient landy’s Etc. A performance classic like this will be just as fun (more so) and whilst your newer £20k waggon will depreciate rapidly a car of this age if loved will likely appreciate! Not buying a car because of its mpg is idiotic when most people lose far more to depreciation.

AC43

6,796 posts

148 months

Friday 22nd March
quotequote all
I just can't keep up with all the great sheds this year.

Love that one.

I had a good long look at the succesor of this when scratching my head about fast estates back in the early 00's.

The left field nature of them really appealed to me (and still does).

Crosswise

404 posts

126 months

Friday 22nd March
quotequote all
These are great cars, I'm surprised they hold so little value. I've got a 96 GTB which I've owned for 6 years and it's fantastic. It's not only fast, but also handles really well especially for a car of it's size. It is really as fast as you ever need on the road and AWD means it accelerates so well out of corners, it's such a good overtaking car.

It's not all positive though, big end failure is mentioned in the article, but head gasket failure is really common too. Mine's had one owner since being imported and came with full Subaru service history, yet the head gaskets still needed replacing due to corrosion of the mls head gaskets. It's a really involved job, even with the engine out there is so much going on that it's a huge amount of work. An issue for me deciding if I want to own it long term is the quality of the interior plastics, they just seem to be so brittle now that it's impossible to remove trim without breaking it. It's not all available new anymore even if the expense was justifiable, it's a shame as it makes it really hard to want to keep using the car daily for fear of wearing out parts that can't be replaced. They're worth so little that there just aren't many good ones left.

badgerracing

71 posts

169 months

Friday 22nd March
quotequote all
I had the model after with about 150,000 miles on it. It was a 2000 manual full leather GTB back in 2009 for £1,700. Went like stink, but did like a drink. The 170mph claimed top speed was very believable given it was still pulling hard on the autobahn at a GPS 150mph.

20,000 miles and 3 years later (+ a belt change and a 2nd hand gearbox replacement) I sold it for £1,750. Wish I never had.


sledge68

329 posts

137 months

Friday 22nd March
quotequote all
Excellent Shed, much overlooked car and very under rated.
In 2007/8 I took the year off to do my house up and travel a bit, I also owned an Evo 1 integrale at the time and looked for a daily that could be fun and unassuming. After looking at Legnums, RS4s, and many others I stumble across these. Imported a 1997 wagon in white that had 33000 miles on it, it arrived on 311207, and it was mint, even had the goldish colour still on all the suspension bolts and underneath was as clean as a new car.

Anyway I have now had 4 x GT-Bs, 1 x Outback, 1 x Legacy diesel, 1 x 3.0 Spec B Wagon and now a JDM Twinscroll Wagon and I can honestly say I am stumped as to what I could replace it with, for the value, performance, spec, build quality and being something no one really knows what it is.

My GT-Bs did sound rough on a cold start due to the forged pistons, but soon goes away.

I saw 163mph via a GPS on the AutoBahn chasing a 57 plate RS4, I had paid £3300 for the GT-B that he wasn't shaking.

Subaru parts are not overly expensive and ICP can source JDM car parts.

Great shed and some great fun to be had with that car.

Edited by sledge68 on Friday 22 March 09:41

GravelBen

13,672 posts

170 months

Friday 22nd March
quotequote all
teacake said:
The only real downside we found was the godawful seats.
We must be quite different shapes or have had quite different spec cars, my BH5 GTB has some of the best seats I've had - very supportive and comfortable. The BG5 TS-R (155bhp 4cam NA) I had before it had good seats too, but Outbacks of similar ages were too flat and unsupportive.

Edited by GravelBen on Friday 22 March 09:52