This Subaru WRX’s Boxer Engine Scares Hagerty’s Mechanic


Although some enthusiasts might say so, there aren’t many production cars available with a better rally pedigree than the Subaru Impreza WRX. Critically acclaimed in 1992, the “World Rally eXperimental” recipe proved to be a smash hit for Subaru as one of the original “turbocharged pocket rockets”.

Winning a barrage of rally stages and a few world championships and constructors’ cups, Subaru was one of the most successful rally teams of the 90s. With the first generation of classics already certified, it’s no surprise that the second-generation WRX, known more commonly as the pre-facelift “bugeye,” from the post-facelift “blobeye” is starting to get some serious attention.

As one of the leading figures in the classic car space, it’s no shock to see Hagerty start focusing on the WRX with this hatchback version, in particular. Where the mechanic, Davin, will attempt to remove the engine from a car he’s never worked on before – but not before heading to the forest area near the workshop, of course.

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But first…we rally

As mentioned earlier, despite being a fantastic mechanic, Davin admits that he has never undertaken engine maintenance on a Subaru due to its intimidating appearance. Those unfamiliar with the Impreza should know that the engine bay feels cramped to the point that it looks like Subaru built the car around the boxer flat-four engine.

With his game plan of “pulling things down until they fall off,” Davin begins to face the nemesis of every Subaru owner: rust. Because for those who deal with snow on a regular basis, understand that Subarus practically disintegrates after a handful of winters of dragging around salt-melted snow. Luckily, this headache is Davin’s “future” problem as he focuses only on the engine output.

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The result of a lot of patience

After passing on valuable information in the form of placing the fasteners in their original location when removing components, Davin shows us how to remove the front assembly – engine included – without the use of an engine hoist. While it’s definitely not an OSHA-approved system, Davin places a shop table under the front and carefully lays the assembly on the table. This gives it enough room to easily remove suspension, transmission and clutch components.


With the success of removing an engine without breaking a joint, Davin is convinced the worst is over. He is looking forward to taring the engine and rebuilding the boxer engine to handle rally duties for years to come.

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