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Old 05-15-2008, 07:06 PM   #1
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Polishing a Turd: aerodynamic improvements for a Subaru Wagon

Ok, I thought I'd just keep this car for the winter and then sell it in the spring and get something more FE. Wrong. NO ONE is selling a FE car around here anywhere near my price range. At least not yet. So, now that the snow is out of my yard it's time to tackle some mods on my '96 Suabaru Legacy L wagon, Auto, AWD.

So far AWD is disabled by fuse, AC belt is removed, tires pumped up, and I'm working on a driving style that the on board computer likes. (this is a tough nut for me to crack.) So far I've made it from 20mpg up to about 26mpg on driving style, but the car works better above 55mph. Matter of fact FE drops if I drop down to 40-50mph.

Below is part of the spec listing from Road and Track.

__________________________________________________ ______________________

Coefficient of drag: 0.37
-
Driver and passenger power black door mirrors
-
External dimensions: overall length (mm): 4,671, overall width (mm): 1,715, overall height (mm): 1,450, ground clearance (mm): 155, wheelbase (mm): 2,629, front track (mm): 1,461, rear track (mm): 1,455 and curb to curb turning circle (mm): 10,577

Weights: curb weight (kg) 1,390, (that's 3064 lbs.)gross trailer weight braked (kg) 0 and gross trailer weight unbraked (kg) 0

__________________________________________________ _______________

So, in short, it weighs more than my mother in law and has the aerodynamics of a brick. A large lumpy brick.

I'm on a tight budget, but I need to do something here. Any ideas?

Plans so far:
grill block
lower grill and foglamp block
belly pan (partial at least)
rear wheel well covers
pizza pan hub caps, unless there's something better/cheaper

So this is what it looks like (mine has hubcaps and a stupid roof rack, which I do use)


And this is what I was thinking for changes:


I can't delete mirrors, and I almost wish I could strip the interior, AWD and any other extras, I could probably drop 1000lbs, but it needs to be a family car, in Vermont.

Ideas? Critique? INSTRUCTIONS!!!???

Thanks
Mike
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Old 05-15-2008, 08:39 PM   #2
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I'm surprised that your FE is about the same as mine. My Forester is more of a brick and higher off the ground.

Go for narrower tires, think about skirts that flare towards front and rear tires, diffuser at the back and a skirt on the front bumper that flares downward toward tires as well.
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Old 05-15-2008, 11:44 PM   #3
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Remove all the AWD equipment from the transmission back. Driveshaft, differential, axles. Re install it in the fall. Lower the rear suspension as much as possible. Maybe airbag suspension. It will reduce overall height and reduce the angle of the windshield. Should help a lot with aero.
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Old 05-16-2008, 01:21 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by tjts1 View Post
Remove all the AWD equipment from the transmission back. Driveshaft, differential, axles. Re install it in the fall. Lower the rear suspension as much as possible. Maybe airbag suspension. It will reduce overall height and reduce the angle of the windshield. Should help a lot with aero.
talked to mechanic about it already....

taking it out, about $200
putting it back, about $1700

I guess putting it back in (properly) is a royal pain in the arxe. Completely rebuilding the entire back end would only be another $100-$200. He rebuilds Subaru's up here constantly, always been very fair on prices. Very much a buy the book minus "x" amount of discount. (My last brake job was $18 labor) He told me to just find a second car, it'd be cheaper. (He doesn't sell cars either)

He did say that if I had a stick it'd be much easier, but still not worth it. (We'll have snow again starting in late September/mid October)
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Old 05-16-2008, 06:41 AM   #5
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Put in speed holes. Simpsons reference.

Seriously I'd look at getting a different vehicle. What are your reqirements and price range? Subarus with AWD should have a good resale or trade value.
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Old 05-16-2008, 06:43 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JV-Tuga View Post
Go for narrower tires
Narrower tires are more aerodynamic, but at the same pressure they will have more rolling resistance. I don't know which one costs/provides more MPG.
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Old 05-17-2008, 06:19 AM   #7
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Question

Quote:
Originally Posted by 101mpg View Post
Put in speed holes. Simpsons reference.

Seriously I'd look at getting a different vehicle. What are your reqirements and price range? Subarus with AWD should have a good resale or trade value.
My mechanic agrees with you. I'd love to get a different vehicle.

Requirements: 20 days of the month, commuting on rolling hills. 10 days a month commuting on the same hills with 3 kids (one is a teen) and their stuff... back of the wagon is 1/2-3/4 full on those days.

I tried a Civic EX, but the trunks was too small.
Any ideas would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 05-17-2008, 06:36 AM   #8
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There's not really a lot of options for you, needing AWD for snow and a wagon. A small SUV (I know that's heresy here but sometimes they're appropriate) or a minivan might do. If you can live without AWD, a Camry wagon would work, if you could find one in decent condition.

The Jeep Patriot FWD is incredibly cheap and practical if you were in the market for a brand new/late model used vehicle, but I don't know if its good EPA ratings are as good in the 4WD version.
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Old 05-17-2008, 09:25 AM   #9
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There's not really a lot of options for you, needing AWD for snow and a wagon. A small SUV (I know that's heresy here but sometimes they're appropriate) or a minivan might do. If you can live without AWD, a Camry wagon would work, if you could find one in decent condition.

The Jeep Patriot FWD is incredibly cheap and practical if you were in the market for a brand new/late model used vehicle, but I don't know if its good EPA ratings are as good in the 4WD version.
I had a VW Golf before and it was just fine. Barely enough cargo room and I'm really just fine with FWD + studded snows.

Actually, I prefer it. I don't like the illusion that comes with AWD that traction is better and speeds can be higher in crap weather. I like the tactile feedback that FWD gives, if it's slippery, you know soon as you touch the gas, not soon as you need the brakes.
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Old 06-29-2008, 02:18 PM   #10
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The GT-trimmed Legacy had better aerodynamics - front lip, sideskirts and a rear duckbill spoiler. I'd start there and put on some pizza-cutter alloys from the 1990-1991 Legacy (I have some for sale, name your price).

For the drivetrain, the lowest trim level of the Legacy (pre-'98 only, if I recall correctly) had FWD. Swapping this transmission (manual, of course) onto the back of your engine and removing the driveshaft, rear differential and rear axles will save you a massive amount of weight and also about 5% drivetrain losses. It's fairly easy to swap in a manual transmission with a service manual (can be found in its entirety online) and guidance from sites such as NASIOC.com.

Please email me if you have any other questions about these cars. FWD Legacies can be made to drive just as well in the snow as AWD Legacies, and the cars are more aerodynamic than competing station wagons - your turd has potential.
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