Not too long ago we where talking about the older WRX's and how inexpensive they are getting in the used car market. So after some discussions we thought it would be fun to find a good example and build it on a budget (about $15k including the car). What we expect in this project is a car that will be reliable and pass all emission testing. On top of that it has to be FUN not so much a 12 second car but something you can enjoy driving to work and still be able to go play on a sunny day. But we are definitely happy if we can turn 12's.
Step one is finding the "right" WRX. We looked at a dozen or so examples that included wagons and sedans from $9k - $13k.
Here’s a couple examples of potential WRX that were close to what we were looking for but because of over all condition or based on the cost to repair ruled them out.
Some of these cars had interior damage that obviously came from a large dog chewing on every chewable part wile others had been seemingly dimpled like a golf ball on the exterior with not one straight panel. Finally we came across the right one for our project. It is the rarest color for 2002 (Blaze Yellow) and with no major damage it was the one. It even had a few extra goodies that could be used or sold to add to the build. After paying the small fee of $10,000 we were able to start the drive home.
Honestly the car was in good condition but it badly in need of a bath and there was a strong odder of funk coming from somewhere. All in all out of the 12 or so that we looked at it was the best choice for us and our budget of $15K
Lesson learned so far if you’r willing to search and put in some sweat equity you can find a very nice and inexpensive WRX on the used market.
The Clean up
- The first step was to clean this thing up and get rid of the smell.
Time to address the paint, even with a relatively “okay” body the paint was in pretty oxidized and contaminated condition. The paint felt like sand paper, if we dragged a towel over it the crap on the paint would actually snag the towel. After a thorough wash we clay bar the entire car, mirrors windows and everything. Clay is amazing, at first we where skeptical that we could revive the paint. After claying the paint really started to show potential. The next step was an abrasive polish, this removed the remaining contaminants and removed the oxidation wile getting us excited at the same time. After the aggressive polish came a fine swirl removing polish, this smoothed the finish to better than new feel. To protect the paint we finished with a layer of wax that will protect the revived finish through the coming fall months.
The second step was to be able to drive down the road and not pass out because of the smell. After completely removing the entire interior for a good cleaning we found that there was a leak on the passengers side. The pervious owner/owners installed an aftermarket down pipe and in the process cut the AC condenser “drip hose” to short and it caused a leak to form in the passengers compartment. This was the cause of the smell and also the cause of our new mildew situation. After repairing the drip hose and a little extra scrubbing it was time to put everything back together. All in all we spent about a weekend scrubbing and buffing the car but let me tell you it was well worth it.
What we got on day one:
Let the cleaning begin:
While cleaning things out we found $1.22 in change to put back into the the build budget.
Additionally the car needed some paint less dent removal to get rid or minimize the door and parking lot sores, the WRX really looks amazing! It’s now a car that anyone would be proud to drive.
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