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Shed of the Week: Subaru Impreza WRX PPP

We'd go to the moon and back for the right blobeye WRX wagon. Which is appropriate...

By Tony Middlehurst / Friday, May 17, 2019

If you were prepared to put in all the necessary effort (and money) into servicing and maintenance, is there any limit to the mileage a car can do? All the evidence would suggest that the answer to that is no. All it takes is proper care and a willingness to replace parts in time-honoured Trigger's broom stylee.

Of the three highest mileage cars ever recorded, two are Volvos. In at number 3 with 1,630,000 miles is a 1979 Volvo 245 estate, the property of a Finnish logistics firm. Number 2 is a 1976 Mercedes 240D (vertical headlight W114/W115 model) used as both a taxi and a private vehicle by a bloke called Gregorios, which with just a couple of letter changes would be a perfect name for a taxi driver.

Just imagine the amount of politically incorrect guff the Merc's upholstery had to absorb between 1976 and 2004, when Mercedes verified the car's mileage at 2,850,000 and swopped it for a new C-Class. Who was the winner there?

Top of the iron butt league is Irving Gordon, whose Saintly Volvo P1800S has sailed past the 3,000,000 mile mark - the equivalent of more than twelve trips to the Moon and back. As far as we know, it's still putting in around 100,000 miles a year attending car shows across the States. Irving puts his Volvo's endurance down to a healthy lifestyle. In all its 53 years on Earth, the car has never smoked, drunk alcohol, or done drugs. Plus its oil is changed every 3000 miles.

By these lofty standards, our 2003 Shed of the Week blobeye WRX wagon (unearthed by Matt B from a little-known section of PH Classifieds) is a mere stripling at 222,000 miles, which would leave you slightly short of splashdown on your first lunar round trip. See how easily you can be conditioned into accepting big mileages? Like age, mileage is only a number.

It's a nicely written ad, but like Shed himself the owner is clearly not too hot at the photography lark. For your viewing pleasure, PH bossman Nic likes to run a tight ship on photography. What with the rotten pics (the interior shot you see here is plucked from Subaru's own archive) and the big mileage he only just managed to crank his Roman emperor's thumb into the upright position when this Scooby was put forward.

Let's forget the mileage for a minute and concentrate on what you get for your £1500. The vendor hasn't provided us with much hard info, so we need to don our Sherlock Holmes deerstalkers. His mention of the Prodrive Performance Pack is a big help though as it tells us that this car has the recalibrated engine management system, high flow intercooler hose and stainless steel backbox that were included in the PPP, which was a 'complete package only' option available to owners of WRX and Impreza Turbo cars from 1999 right through to 2008.

In the 2003 WRX STi, these PPP mods lifted turbo boost pressure from around 13-14psi to something nearer to 19psi, hoisting the power of the boxer four 2.0 from 265PS to 305PS and the torque from around 350Nm to 405Nm. That new torque figure was pretty much available all the way from 3000rpm to 5800rpm. Prodrive reported a new 0-60 time of 4.6 seconds for PPP cars (compared to the 5.2sec of the standard WRX) and a 0-100 time of 12.2 vs 13.7sec standard.

A damn good package, then. The vendor mentions modified springs; Shed is fairly sure these weren't an official part of the PPP offering, but red Prodrive springs were a popular add-on so it's entirely likely that they are present here. The leather seats may or may not be heated. Reading that sentence back, you could say that applies to every car with leather seats, but what Shed means is that some WRXs had them and some didn't.

What else? Well, with this sort of performance on tap a PPP-equipped WRX isn't going to be cheap to run. Things to check to keep it running at peak efficiency? Clean the mass air filter, the K&N air filter and the intercooler, treat the boost solenoid to a squirt of carb cleaner, and check that the throttle cable is at the right tension.

These are among the few easy jobs on a WRX. The front brake calipers with their mild steel pistons are known for seizing, and this is a faff to sort. Oil can drip from one or both of the rocker covers (or the crank seal) and onto the exhaust, which apart from the risk of conflagration results in a pong of burning oil coming in through the air vents.

You and/or your neighbours might find yourself annoyed by the deafening squawk of the alarm when the car is being locked and unlocked, and to a lesser extent by the squeaking of the front seat belts as they rub on the B-pillars, or the screech of the alternator belt on cold startups. Mainly though it will be you doing the squeaking as you revel in the WRX's rally-bred ability to swallow up bumpy roads at crazy speeds. Great cars, these.

There's another elephant in this room apart from the mileage, and that's the MOT, which expires a few days after this piece goes live. Still, the only advisories on the last one were for worn rear tyres, with ON INNER EDGE in capitals, suggesting an alignment issue.

So, the question you have to ask yourself, immediately after the obvious one of do you feel lucky, is the one we started off with: how long can something go on for? Mrs Shed has been going on for what seems like centuries with only minimal attention from Shed. If this Subaru has any of her gumption it should be good for a little while longer yet.

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