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A very crunchy SF Forester

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Bought this a few months ago and have been working on it since then, so this initial post/posts is just going to be catch-up and a brief explanation of what's going on.


The basic gist of it: I have subaru stockholm syndrome (lol) and have been wanting to pick up a first generation forester to make into a do-everything daily driver for quite a while now. Nearly nabbed a almost-mint one but it was bought out from under me, and the next day this one popped up on marketplace. Rather rusty, but it was 800CAD(600USD), manual, and the 5spd has been rebuilt within the last year, engine has headgaskets done and heads machined, new clutch etc etc. Basically buying a nice driveline attached to a rather questionable shell.


Knew it was rotten when I bought it, my  thought process is basically that any older forester is going to have a decent amount of rust and require a teardown to fix it properly even if not nearly as rusty as this car. Bit more work while it's apart is no big deal to me.

overall plan is a ~2" lift, all terrains, and reliability mods/fixes. Just something I can trust to drive me anywhere any day.








She crusty:








Soon as I got it home, swapped the wheels for a set of 2.5RS 6spokes i'd been holding onto:







Gold wheels make everything better 😛

Car was lowered a bit on Impreza struts when I got it, i wanted to go back up for what I have planned for it, so picked up some SG foz struts for cheap:



Shouldn't be able to see the outside through here lol:




car has nearly 300k on it and that is very apparent in spots, so swapped the pedal covers out to make driving a bit more pleasant:






Stripped the rear interior out:




Rear strut towers, have, uh, seen better days. This one was bent inwards by half an inch when I measured lol.





Starting on making the car visually nicer, a junkyard a couple hours away got a SF in that was even the right colour, so I robbed the hatch off of it, and on the way home swing by someone selling the whole front clip out of a pre-facelift SF forester (also in silver which was very nice).







Even ignoring the faded headlights and trashed clearcoat, the facelift SF forester front end was never really my thing, so being able to backdate it and fix a bunch of stuff at once was a win.








Pulled into the garage with the Z for the winter and to begin rust repair in earnest.




(part 1 of probably 3, more pics to come as soon as i can put them into the next post)

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Tore the front end apart, rad support was rather crunchy and i generally wanted to go over and clean/paint/protect everything anyway.



Rear end too, that crash bar was trash but the tow hitch just needs some paint.




Was tired of looking at the rusty rear quarters and the repro replacements showed up, so got those all fitted but not yet welded (as i need to fix the strut towers and wheelarches in behind there):








sanded and rattlecanned the front fenders to get rid of the surface rust and trashed clearcoat; not exactly as factory but much nicer looking which is all I'm aiming for.



Cut all the bad out of the front end end and made a new rad support from some box tubing:







Front inner wheel arches needed a bunch of little patches so got that done, and one of the subframe outriggers was rotten too so whipped up some patches to replace that:














Painted, undercoated, and wax-sprayed (using cosmoline black wax)





Wanted to run some Hella 500's, so made a bracket:




Rolled it outside to turn it around so i had space to start working on the rear, front lift went on when I did the front suspension (+ strut swap) and rear is just held up with a jack to see how it'll look. Bigger tires will of course be happening 🙂 .





Stripped the rest of the interior out to start on the floor repairs:





There was an old (and broken) alarm system shoddily installed at some point in the cars past, and I didn't trust that none of the shoddy splices wouldn't come apart and leave me stranded in the middle of nowhere, so ripped that all out and fixed the stock wiring.  Giant hole in the floor made it really convenient to sit and work under the dash lol





Passenger floor wasn't bad compared to the driver's side, but needed a bit of work:





Cut the bad out of the driver's side and cleaned up ready  to make the new floor. Fixed the unibody rails and made some missing bits.








Front floor was made from a filing cabinet i bought for 20 bucks:







Not my prettiest work, but hey it's a 600$ car. Just trying to make it rust-free, only needs to be pretty where it's visible.

Another SF popped up at a yard a couple hours away, so went to get some needed bits from it. Was only planning on getting the rear crash bar, but ended up with a ton of other useful bits and an entire rear floor section - this will save me a LOT of work versus making the rear floor from scratch.





One of these is not like the other:




Much better steering wheel swapped in:





Nicer rad brackets:





not-broken cupholder and dash vents:






The floor cut cleaned up nicely, only one small hole under where the floor frame rail goes.









That's pretty much where i'm up to now. WIll get the floor welded in, then on to the rocker panel replacement. Once that's done i'll have a solid place at the rear to place jackstands and can drop the rear subframe, suspension, gas tank, etc and get working on the badness back there.


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Looks like the Ontario environment is bad for the forester. Looking forward to watching the reforestering. Although my dad was a welder, it.s a skill I never developed.


Best of luck and God Speed.

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2 hours ago, paradime said:

Looks like the Ontario environment is bad for the forester. Looking forward to watching the reforestering. Although my dad was a welder, it.s a skill I never developed.


Best of luck and God Speed.


Indeed it is haha, subaru makes cars are amazing in the snow yet woefully unguarded against rust 😞 . I'll get it sorted though, and will be making it better than new with any luck (getting rid of some factory rust trap areas etc. 
And thanks! Welding is a super handy skill to have for sure.


1 hour ago, thisismatt said:

Yikes. Might be cheaper to come down and grab a nicer specimen 😬


I thought about that, but with how subarus love to rust i feel like i'd be dealing with SOMETHING no matter what, and this also gives me a reason to refresh as much stuff as I can while i have the rear suspensions, diff, gas tank, etc out.
Plus honestly part of it is that it keeps me busy over the winter, i always need something to tinker on and the rest of my cars are either on daily driver duty or parked for the winter and don't really need work done on them.



1 hour ago, bilzbobaggins said:

You are addicted to rust lololol


Subaru's seem to rot everywhere.  I see some lots down in the south that have lots of rust and the historys on them are southern cars.  

Seems like it sometimes haha. And yeah, the older ones especially are REALLY bad for it even in places where they shouldn't. I'll get it all fixed though 🙂 .

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Not much progress today, but I did cut the rest of the bits off of the new floor section that were unneeded so that it'd fit in the car, and mocked it up.





More work to do before it can actually be welded in of course, but it's nice to see it in there!

Pretty sure the under-floor unibody rail is bent upwards a bit (from being used as a jack point maybe?) and thus the front seat crossmember area doesn't want to sit flat. Going to drill out its spot welds, fit the rest of the floor separately (it'll bend to fit once the seat mount is out), then fit the seat mount after.
No way in heck am i going to be able to bend that rail back down so that seems the easiest wqay to go about things

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Floor is in! Spent yesterday doing the boring but important little patches to the new floor and the inner rocker etc needed for everything to be ready to fit, then about 5 hours today welding it in etc. Have yet to clean up the welds, but am pretty happy:






not a bad before/after if I say so myself.




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On 1/23/2023 at 6:14 PM, Noll said:

I'll get it all fixed though 🙂 .

I have no doubt about that, watched your work through on the Z and the Niva! You are indeed addicted to rust.

Is the Subi made from thicker sheet than the Z? I didn't enjoy welding the extra thin and often pourus 24ga on my 620, even the lowest settings on my Lincoln weren't seemingly low enough.

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On 1/27/2023 at 10:57 AM, EDM620 said:

I have no doubt about that, watched your work through on the Z and the Niva! You are indeed addicted to rust.

Is the Subi made from thicker sheet than the Z? I didn't enjoy welding the extra thin and often pourus 24ga on my 620, even the lowest settings on my Lincoln weren't seemingly low enough.


Indeed haha. Ehh, a bit maybe but not much; same ol' thin japanese metal. Not that bad though, as long as it's not pitted it's pretty pleasant to weld.

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Rear subframe,suspension, etc out today. Subframe is rather holey and i'll try to find a replacement but if i can't get one at a good price I can weld it back up if needed.






The driver's side trailing arm mount didn't like existing:






Pretty crusty under there but mostly limited to the unibody rails. With any luck the tank doesn't end up having any leaks, will be testing that before i paint it of course.






Passenger side trailing arm mount if also trash but exists enough for me to take a template from it for both sides if needed. With any luck will be getting some offcuts from another car to graft in here though to save myself work.




Current state. Next up will be to take the rear control arms etc off the subframe and drop the fuel tank and related bits so the rear is completely bare.





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Rear suspension all taken apart fully today.

the Subaru rear lateral link bolts are apparently often just as bad as S30 ones can be, so i lucked out there; both came out in less than 5 minutes with a bit of hammering.









All in all it came apart reasonably easy, only had to cut 2 bolts; the rear lateral link inner toe bolts were seized in the bushings so sawzalled them. New ones are made and are like 8 dollars so no big deal.

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10 minutes ago, ]2eDeYe said:

You are a glutton for punishment. I love it 😄


Feels that way sometimes lol.

Just aiming to build a 100% solid and ideally better than new daily driver to last me hopefully a good many years. Keeps me busy over the winter if nothing else haha.

For some of the worst unibody rust in the rear a friend may be able to cut and ship some sections out of a clean colorado car, which would save me a ton of work.

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Removed the last of the rear end stuff yesterday.

Fuel filler neck vent lines have very much seen better days, new filler neck assembly is pretty cheap though thankfully.




Tank out, it's pretty crusty and looks to be leaking in at least one spot.






And the underside fully bare. Very crunchy, but at least a lot of the rust on the underside of the floor is just missing paint, and should clean up with a wire wheel.



this is fiiiiiiiiine:



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Probably a bit, but hey it keeps me busy haha.

Hit the underside with the needle-scaler today and knocked off all the crust. Still need to wire-wheel everything ofc but it's nice to have it back to (surface rusty) metal to see how bad it all really is.

Despite being covered in flaky rust before the frame rails aren't all the bad; bad rust in spots ofc but it's localized.








Wire wheeling it all and zinc primer will be next to unify it visually; rn the surface-rusty bits makes some areas look way worse than it is.



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6 minutes ago, thisismatt said:

Yeah man, it's totally fine...not bad at all!







When you're done, some kind of undercoating?



Well it is obviously bad 😛

I mean more that in pics it all often just looks uniformly bad, whereas in person there's a bunch that's just "the paint came off" rust in some areas, as opposed to deep pitting and the holes elsewhere. 

Yeah, after welding the whole bottom of the car will get a POR15 type paint, seam sealer, undercoating, wax spray, and then it'll get oil-sprayed every year before the winters so as to keep it rust-free hopefully for a long time. Pretty much the same as i did to the front clip in one of the first posts.

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