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Old 09-12-2017, 02:05 PM   #1
Scooby Newbie
Member#: 327942
Join Date: Aug 2012
Chapter/Region: South East
'77 Super Beetle
'99 Acura 3.2 VTEC bwaaah

Default When People Tell You To "Buy A WRX" (white paper)

You see this frequently around the forums. A newbie picks up a non-turbo base model, because it's a good deal/only thing they can afford/practical daily, and wants it to be faster. Newbie comes to the conclusion that bolt ons don't really do much, because they don't. With newfound motivation to make the tin-can economy car more fast than practical, they endeavor to boost the poor thing. Cue an influx of posts saying "sell your car and buy a WRX", parroted from years of seeing others posting the same. Newbie has seen successful DIY supercharged/turbocharged NA cars, gets butt-hurt and leaves.

I ran my blower setup on my Forester for around 3 years. I daily drove it and beat on it regularly, and for the most part, downtime was limited, and the car never stranded me. You must be proactive with maintenance- true for any car, but especially true for a DIY boosted vehicle.

The fact is, while a non-factory setup might indeed be reliable, you are statistically much more likely to have problems. Problems that may come up no matter how good your maintenance schedule is. Problems that may at first seem completely unrelated to your compressor setup, but are in fact secondary to it. A few of the latter that I've experienced- worn bushings and mounts, early catalytic converter failure, worn accessory bearings from higher belt tensions necessary to prevent blower belt slip.

Metallic creep happens. Inelastic deformation happens. This is the core reason why parts fail. And by pushing stock parts past their intended limits, you accelerate that process. An aftermarket tune runs tighter tolerances than a factory tune. Will drastic changes in climate and conditions necessitate changes in your fuel maps that your aftermarket tune doesn't account for perfectly?

When you buy a WRX, you're buying a vehicle that has had untold hours of educated engineering thought put into it. You'll have better community support for when things go wrong, quality OEM parts that bolt right back on when something breaks, and limited guesswork when you start hearing "that weird random noise that I can't tell where it's coming from and might or might not be from a critical or expensive part".

It will most likely not be cheaper than a WRX. Saving money is the wrong reason to try a home-brewed turbo build. You see builds all the time with guys saying "yea I picked up this turbo for $100 and $50 in piping and $200 for supporting parts and tuned it myself, no problems and it runs great and will drag a stock STi to triple digits". Sure, they got some good prices and put everything together correctly. This could work out the same for you, or, it might not. Do you have the knowledge to put it together correctly without cutting corners on the critical stuff? What happens if your setup doesn't function properly or at all? Do you have enough $$$ left over to go back to stock or repair it?

I used to despise people who would say "sell it and buy a WRX", but for the vast majority of people considering a custom turbo build, buying a factory boosted car is a wiser decision.

But if you have the time, money, and willpower to do it all yourself, carry on. There are many resources on this forum that will be important in figuring out your build, and members here, myself included, can give you advice.
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Old 09-12-2017, 06:32 PM   #2
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Member#: 322035
Join Date: Jun 2012
Chapter/Region: BAIC
Ol yeller


When I jeer that its stemming from the amount of flipping time Ive personally wasted on my own cars

So even if you do setup a knock free boosted 2.5rs or something. Then you look back and you realize.....

The brakes are crap, the suspension is crap, the auto transmissions are crap, all the stock bushings are crap, the pistons are crap, the rods are crap, the ecu is a huge crap, the headgasket is likely about to crap.

So when you replace the whole car with better stuff. It's great. But if you started with a wrx you wouldn't have a wiring nightmare and you could get a head-start on alot of things. But even wrx stuff isn't up to par and you usually end up replacing most of that aswell eventually.

Only heavily modify If you're 100% willing to break it is a good rule of thumb
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Old 09-14-2017, 12:33 AM   #3
91 RS RA
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Join Date: Oct 2016
Chapter/Region: International
Location: Christchurch, New Zealand
1991 Legacy RS RA


I had a N/A 2.5 legacy wagon that I loved and wanted to get more power out of it.
Went online looking for performance parts, couldn't find anything apart from exhaust and intakes.
Went online and looked at forums for answers and everyone said buy a factory turbo car.
Dismayed I ended up doing the exhaust headers for sound and new rims (already have Bilstiens). Unfortunately it was written off, then brought an N/A OUtback and a few months later brought a Turbo legacy.
I just wish now I had just got the Turbo Legacy first.
Now the Outback stays DD stock and the other car is for playing and tinkering
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Old 09-14-2017, 10:29 AM   #4
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Join Date: Jun 2017

To be honest, I never thought of picking WRX before and it was my mate from DSRLeasing who advised me to pick one and he gladly assisted me in picking and doing everything as he is long time fan and pretty knowledgeable about it. Since then, gotta say it was the best advice anyone has ever given me.
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Old 09-14-2017, 01:38 PM   #5
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Member#: 327942
Join Date: Aug 2012
Chapter/Region: South East
'77 Super Beetle
'99 Acura 3.2 VTEC bwaaah


Originally Posted by H_wells3000 View Post

Only heavily modify If you're 100% willing to break it is a good rule of thumb
I agree. Another idiom that proves true time and time again:

Fast, Reliable, Cheap. Pick two.

I don't regret boosting my NA Forester. It was a good learning experience and gave me a head start on my career (I'm a college student). But was it a sound financial decision? Nope.
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Old 09-15-2017, 12:58 AM   #6
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Member#: 333468
Join Date: Sep 2012
Chapter/Region: RMIC
Location: SLC, UT
1993 SS
03 WRB GD 205/22T 20G-XT


Swaps are a labor of love, that's for sure. Throwing a turbo on a first or second gen legacy or GC can be fairly simple if you don't go too crazy for power. That being said I spend a few years working on a swap into a second gen BK wagon. I found a WRX with a blown engine and that was a lot easier project haha. But I love swaps. I'm working on a WRX swap into my 93 SS and me and my buddy are getting close to swapping in a closed deck 22T/205 hybrid into his 95 GC with a WRX wiring harness merge.

If you really want it, not because you can't afford a cheap WRX, then go for it if you love working on cars and want to learn something and are willing to do your research. I think a lot of times people say to just buy a WRX (myself included) is that the person asking the question thinks that it is going to be easy when they have little to no experience working on cars or the budget or patience to see it through. I don't want to see some poor guy end up with a mess on his hands that he will abandon due to pissing away all their money on a failed project.
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Old 09-15-2017, 07:41 AM   #7
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Member#: 437670
Join Date: Jan 2016
2005 2.5 SC OB


I did my hg a year before putting on my supercharger. Would have been a great time for new 257 block. So that was just really bad planning but the car was our family daily at the time.

Otherwise I think price between SC add on and sell for an XT are about the same. I think mine is more fun.

Also I do believe the SC is easier on the engine with boost being linear to Rpm.
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Old 09-15-2017, 07:03 PM   #8
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Join Date: Jan 2006
Chapter/Region: VIC
Location: Coquitlam, BC, Canada
1979 BRAT / 01 RSTI
99 2.5TS (DEAD)


Originally Posted by monkeyposeur View Post

If you really want it, not because you can't afford a cheap WRX, then go for it if you love working on cars and want to learn something and are willing to do your research.

The problem with most of the people asking about these swaps is that they think it will be a cheaper alternative to buying a wrx. Very rarely is that ever the case... It adds up real quick once you start making a proper car, not just slapping on a turbo. I have a spreadsheet showing exactly how much it has cost me...
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