Project Legacy GT - An Introduction

by Connor Harrison

I’d like to get something off my chest. I am enamored with the idea of hopped up, ass kicking, rip snorting, high performance wagons. V8-powered shooting brakes, high revving hot hatches, and bi-turbo estates (for our euro readers) all seem to get my juices flowing. I can’t quite pinpoint exactly why that is, but there is just something so scandalous about an unassuming five-door giving more pedigreed performance machines a run for their money. Now, I need you to understand that I am absolutely smitten with this car, and have been for the past several years. It is, in my eyes, the perfect vehicle. So please excuse me if I become a bit over-zealous at times. Enter Project Legacy GT, it is Subaru’s mid-size performance vehicle which is equipped with the usual all-wheel drive system, 5-speed manual transmission, and a typical 2.5L turbocharged flat four engine.


Who needs a 550 horsepower V10 and Italian good looks when you can haul two sets of wheels and a toolbox!

It's true, the Legacy is a less commonly modified platform than its WRX and STi brethren, although it was the forebearer of the engine and drivetrain found in WRXs from 2008 to 2014. Unfortunately for Legacy owners it was stuck with the smaller VF40 turbo as opposed to the VF52 found in the later WRXs. No, it's not a rally car and it's not often found racing, but it has an uncommonly upscale interior for a Subaru and the less-than-flashy exterior makes it a fun street car without attracting too much attention. It features wagon practicality, mature esthetics, and a typical Subaru turbo power plant. What’s not to like about a grocery getter with some get up and go?


We aim to improve the performance of Project Legacy GT without compromising its street civility or reliability.

What we’d like to achieve for this car is to make it a super reliable, cross country capable street car that is still potent at a track day: the perfect all-in-one vehicle. Every aspect of our Legacy will be touched upon in order to make this goal a reality: the driveline, engine, suspension, and interior will all be tweaked, modified, or otherwise improved to distill the essence of a perfect sport wagon. Building a car to excel at a single purpose is a tough task in itself, but attempting to hone in on the perfect compromise of an amplified street/racecar will require an even more steady aim. Once everything is all said and done, Project Legacy GT will be making the 2,000 mile pilgrimmage from its home in Wisconsin to the MotoIQ mega-HQ in California.


Buying a car with existing aftermarket modifications can be a crapshoot, luckily ours had only a few tasteful changes.

Unfortunately we didn’t get our hands on a virgin example. The suspension had already been minimally changed from the factory spec when the car came to us. One of the previous owners had installed a set of Bilstein struts from the rarified Legacy GT Spec.B, and coupled them to a set of Swift lowering springs. Rounding out the upgrades was a 19mm RalliTEK rear swaybar with heavy duty end links in the front and rear. This gave the car a sporty feel and helped to reduce bodyroll without being overly harsh or clunky. Normally this sensible setup would be sufficient for a street car, but we’ll be giving the suspension a fresh overhaul in a later article to reduce flex, incorporate a greater degree of adjustability, and increase inner wheel clearance.

It can be a risky decision to buy an already modified vehicle, as many people have different standards of acceptability for the work done to their cars, unfortunately. Always make sure that that the seller is knowledgable about what has been done to the car, why they chose to make the modifications that they did, and that they didn't neglect any maintenance to afford another shiny new go-fast part. What may seem like a good value can quickly eat up a lot of time and money correcting mistakes and half-assed work. When in doubt, always try to find the cleanest and least modified example you can before diving into a project.

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Dan DeRosia
Dan DeRosialink
Wednesday, September 16, 2015 3:32 AM
Ooh. As a bugeye owner, be more than a bit interested to hear input on the Moore case reinforcement. I'm sticking 2L (though possibly EJ207 swap) specifically to keep the torque down, but it's not like that's a reasonable option for an LGT.
Wednesday, September 16, 2015 5:33 AM
For some more build ideas check out Project Gramps from Mighty Car Mods on Youtue (3.6L turbo flat six.......)
Wednesday, September 16, 2015 6:13 AM
You probably want to look at fitting a six speed, the 5 speed is know to be a hand grenade when pushed hard.
Wednesday, September 16, 2015 6:34 AM
So, Full Race's stock location 6758 EFR kit should do the trick right?
Wednesday, September 16, 2015 7:09 AM
You beat me to the punch, Matt!
Connor Harrison
Connor Harrisonlink
Wednesday, September 16, 2015 7:36 AM
I'm not going to give up the ghost right away, but I'll give you a hint. The people who made the thermostat in my apartment also made Project LGT's new turbo.
Wednesday, September 16, 2015 9:08 AM
So Honeywell? A Garrett turbo then.

I have an Outback XT and I love it, it's a bit jacked up for handling, but it's quick and I can go anywhere (in Montana) and it fits all my stuff.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015 9:18 PM
Isnt the legacy 5 speed a little beefier than a WRX unit? I had a friend with a 2.5L WRX wagon with an STI turbo, and he beat on that 5 speed pretty hard. Launches, banging gears, you name it. Albeit always done with a bit of discretion and finesse.
Connor Harrison
Connor Harrisonlink
Thursday, September 17, 2015 6:14 AM
@Van_1986, correct. The 5speed in the '05-'09 LGT/'08-'14 WRX is a bit beefier than what was found in the '02 WRX/'03+ WRX. The gears are a bit beefier with slightly larger teeth, but they do still fail. At the power levels we're shooting for it should be right on the line of what it will hold, and hopefully it does hold.
Thursday, September 17, 2015 12:39 PM
somebody's been watching Mighty Mods...
Connor Harrison
Connor Harrisonlink
Thursday, September 17, 2015 12:57 PM
@warmmilk, its crazy. Before yesterday I'd never heard of those guys, as soon as this went up I had dozens of people telling me I'm "Super Gramps". Those guys made a BADASS wagon! This should be a bit more reproducible.
Friday, September 18, 2015 9:26 AM
Super Gramps or not, looks like a solid project. Off to a good start, so many choices from here on out, good luck with the build. 320 to 350 wheel hp will make the car a blast to drive. Mine is daily driven with similar power around 330whp with a maxed out vf52 (all supporting bolt on mods), love this turbo because it's minimal sacrifice at the bottom end, were its mostly driven, It does fall on it's face at the top though. 350 is easily achieved with other turbos, upgraded fuel delivery and tuning, another thing if your taking the heads off, (dropping the motor to replace the head gaskets). Have the bottom end looked at, and at the minimum put some forged pistons in it. I know I've heard EJ25's putting 500whp with stock bottom end, in the same breath, I blew mine stock. #2 and #4 ringlands, more common than head gaskets on the EJ's...
CJ Warner
CJ Warnerlink
Saturday, September 19, 2015 6:09 PM
I’ve been secretly been waiting for this project for a project like this for a long time. It’s awesome that someone at motoiq has the same dream daily as I do! Thank you Connor!
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