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 Post subject: 1st gen Legacy is officially a Japanese Nostalgic Car
PostPosted: Thu Jan 15, 2015 11:34 am 
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Joined: Sun Apr 16, 2006 6:16 am
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Location: Bay Area, CA
Not sure about our car being nostalgic, but I found a newly published article from Japanese Nostalgic Car about the 1st gen Legacy. Thought I would share.

Part 1 of 2

Part 2 of 2

The Subaru Legacy is officially a Japanese nostalgic car, Part 01

Posted on December 30, 2014 by Dave Yuan

As mentioned, the great machines that debuted a quarter century ago have made 2014 the year of the JNC. As it draws to a close, let’s sneak in another a member of the “Class of 1989.” This late entry competed against ubiquitous mid-size sedans, a class often marked by mundaneness in purpose and form. Nevertheless, Japanese carmakers occasionally injected into these cars doses of performance and techno-gadgetry. Examples include the Mitsubishi Galant VR-4, Mazda 626 GT, Nissan Bluebird SSS-R, and Honda Accord SiR.
However, such variants tended to be sporadic fits of passion, homologation specials, or technological showcases. By contrast, the subject of this article was plunged into a serious racing campaign at birth, got worked over by one of the most revered factory racing development organizations, and saw continuous high-performance development throughout its lifespan rarely enjoyed by its competitors. That car is the original Subaru Legacy.

By the mid-1960s, Japan and its booming economy had been mobilized by cars like the iconic Subaru 360. This growing market prompted Subaru to develop a larger sedan: the Subaru 1000 of 1966. Significantly, it was Japan’s first mainstream FWD passenger car. With it came a longstanding Subaru tradition: the horizontally-opposed boxer engine. This was the first tangible root of the Legacy lineage. In 1969, the 1000 was updated and renamed FF-1.
The iterative evolution of the “large” Subaru continued in 1971 with the Leone. Perhaps as significant as the 1000, it established two more Subaru traditions: 4WD and frameless door windows. Strictly speaking, 4WD entered the Subaru fold near the end of FF-1’s lifecycle, as the FF-1 1300G Van 4WD was developed at the behest of Tohoku Electric Power. Only 8 were produced (more like custom-made), none of which was sold to the public.

Nevertheless, the 4WD FF-1 was well-received enough to inspire a production 4WD Leone model. The success of Leone sales are what cemented Subaru as a major carmaker. By 1978, Subaru was selling over 100,000 cars a year in the US, and the one millionth Leone rolled off the assembly line in 1982. By the mid-1980s, Subaru had gained popularity in many markets.

The third-generation Leone debuted in 1984 and was a rather sophisticated compact economy car. The performance-oriented RX Turbo version was equipped with 4WD with differential lock, turbocharged SOHC boxer engine, and 4-wheel independent suspension. Curiously, this model was sold in the US, though majority of Leones (badged as DL/GL and, later, Loyale) were bread-and-butter variants.Indeed, Subarus had gained a reputation as rugged and economical, with all-terrain capabilities. While US sales were good, they were concentrated in “weathered” areas such as the Rockies, Pacific Northwest, and Northeast. Effectively, Subarus were niche products.
Keep in mind that this was the deep-1980s, when nearly all Japanese carmakers seemed to be taking over the world. Development of groundbreaking products-to-be — LS400, Legend, NSX, Q45 — were beginning or already underway. Naturally, Subaru wanted to broaden its appeal and marketshare. It saw to reach this end via two approaches: high-performance upmarket and racing.

The former approach manifested as the Alcyone sports car. Unveiled in 1985, its aerodynamic body was matched with a cockpit featuring an aircraft- or video game-like digital instrument panel. It showcased the best of Subaru with available 4WD, turbocharged flat-4, a flat-6 later on, traction control, and even an electropneumatic suspension.

As a halo car, it raised a few eyebrows, but sales remained low. At the time, the idea of a high-tech sports car from Subaru was difficult to swallow by many Americans thanks to its reputation. However, Subaru’s granola perception really was accidental due to 4WD in its cars; sports and performance models were in its blood from the beginning. The 360 was raced in the Japanese Grand Prix back in the day, and the R-2 SS was one of the first factory sports model kei cars. And let’s not forget the RX Turbo.
However, the dynamics and performance of the Alcyone was not quite up to par with contemporary full-on sports cars such as the RX-7 or 300ZX. It was more akin to the Prelude, a competent sports coupe in its own right. The real flagship was to be the next iteration of the large Subaru car. Developed under project code 44B, it was to be larger and more sophisticated and luxurious than any preceding Subaru.

The Legacy debuted in 1989. Its development as the new flagship was either prudent product planning or a stroke of genius. Yes, it was the top-level Subaru product, but ostensibly it was also a contender in the lucrative mid-size sedan class. It was thus simultaneously developed with some of the latitude and attention of a specialty product as well as the practical and usability constraints of an everyday car — all of which was afforded by an allowance promised by mass market appeal.

This shows in the resultant car. At first glance, its design is rather conventional and easy on the eye. A closer look reveals some design quirks, such as the stepped window arrangement in which the door window lines dip down from the bottom edges of the windshield and rear quarter window on the sedan, foreshadowing a design feature on the upcoming Alcyone SVX. In addition, the glass are either all adjacent to each other or connected by blacked-out pillars as on the wagon, giving the illusion of a floating roof and resembling an aircraft canopy.

The handsome shape of the car is defined by angular lines and wedges, which build on the design lineage of the Alcyone and the third-generation Leone. However, subtle blistered fenders hint at performance intent and potential. It’s a friendly-looking car with something just a bit sinister. Obviously, this otaku is a Legacy fan, so bear with me as I suggest that this is one of the greatest deceptively innocent designs with complexities hidden in plain sight.

Under the skin, the Legacy had the mechanicals befitting the new Subaru flagship. Like its predecessors, it rode on independent suspension all around. FWD was standard, with available part-time 4WD on lower grades activated via the trademark button mounted on the gear shift. Higher grade models were equipped with full-time 4WD. In manual transmission cars, this system splits power evenly between the front and rear axles and uses a viscous coupling limited slip differential (LSD) to vary power in case of slippage. With automatic transmission, most of the power is normally routed to the front wheels, while a computer-controlled clutch varies power under slippage. In its time and class, these AWD systems were sophisticated equipment.

Coupled to these drive systems was the new EJ family of flat-4 engines. All variations had four valves per cylinder, with either SOHC or DOHC. At launch, there were 1.8, 2.0, and 2.2L versions, including the much admired EJ20. In Japan, the new Legacy came in a wide range of models powered by the 1.8 or 2.0L EJ, while in the US only the 2.2L was available.
The array of standard and available equipment was impressive, so much so that Subaru tried to market the Legacy as a luxury car. Aside from mechanicals such as 4-wheel disc brakes, front and rear anti-roll bars, or available ABS, there were options like automatic climate control, leather seating, or even an electro-pneumatic suspension.
Three body types were available: sedan, flat-roof wagon, and high-roof wagon. With one exception, only the sedan and flat-roof wagon were sold in the US, while all wagons in the home market were high-roof.

Sitting on top of the range was a highly-developed sports model: the Legacy RS. The top-of-the-line RS was powered by the intercooled turbocharged DOHC EJ20G putting out 220PS. Available only as a sedan with 5-speed manual transmission and full-time 4WD, this was one of the launch models, signifying the role of the Legacy as a high-performance flagship. All the requisite equipment was there: a rear LSD, ABS, tuned springs and shocks, 15-inch alloys wearing aggressive Advan tires, a four-spoke MOMO steering wheel, and front seats with extra side bolsters. Even by today’s standards, this was a well-equipped sports sedan.

In fall of 1989, the Legacy’s sports range was extended with an optional automatic transmission on the RS, the new GT, and the RS Type R. The GT was powered by a slightly detuned EJ20G putting out 200PS. Importantly, it was available as both the sedan and the Touring Wagon. The RS Type R, on the other hand, was a stripped-down RS with a lower price. Intended for motorsports as the basis to build a race car, it began a Subaru tradition that continues to this day.
In Part 02, we’ll look at some of the Legacy’s racing successes and the STI sub-brand. To be continued…

Posted on January 1, 2015 by Dave Yuan

Let’s get right back into the groove this new year by continuing the induction of the original Subaru Legacy into the 25 Year Club. In Part 01, we studied its origins, but despite its humble family sedan appearance, Fuji Heavy Industries intended for the Legacy to go racing right from inception. This is a fitting place to discuss the origins of Subaru Technica International (STi) and how it relates to the Legacy.
Founded in 1988, STi’s original missions were to train technicians, develop aftermarket equipment, and, most importantly, manage Subaru’s racing activities. As mentioned earlier, besides moving upmarket with high-performance models, Subaru also saw the track as a venue to increase its profile and outgrow its niche reputation. To generate publicity, one of STi’s first outings was a high-speed endurance record attempt with the new Legacy.

STi prepared four Legacy RS models with stronger drivetrains, stiffer suspensions, a deep front air dam, roll cage, and a quick-fill long-range fuel tank. In January 1989, STi took the cars to the Arizona Test Center, an oval track in the Phoenix desert, and drove the hell out of them. Under the auspices of FIA, the cars ran for over 18 days, accumulating 100,000 kilometers (over 62,000 miles), and set a speed record of 138.78 mph!
Almost immediately, STi used its World Speed Endurance Record experience to produce its first car: the Legacy RS Type RA. Launched in November 1989, it was visually identical to the regular RS save for discreet decals on the front doors reading “Handcrafted tuning by STi” and rear badging. Under the skin, however, the Type RA received many of the modifications on the record attempt cars.

The drivetrain got forged pistons and strengthened connecting rods, revised intake and exhaust ports, balanced crankshaft and flywheel, and an additional fan on the radiator. Suspension was retuned, and a quicker ratio power steering was added. Available only in Ceramic White, this first series of the RS Type RA was limited to only 100 units.
The following May saw the second series Type RA with a close-ratio transmission added. From this point on, Type RA was a low-volume but regular production model. With the 1991 facelift and update across the Legacy range, the third series Type RA got a 16-bit ECU, improved mid-range torque, and color change to Feather White.The final series was marked by availability of Black Mica in addition to white. The ultimate Legacy, the Type RA was a veritable piece of STi history.

As early as December 1989, STi had developed an extensive aftermarket catalog of performance parts for the Legacy. Besides the RS Type RA, STi also produced the Touring Wagon STi. Launched in July 1992 and limited to only 200 units, it came with BBS wheels, various STi suspension upgrades, and a front splitter. With 220PS, it was closer to an RS wagon than the GT. Perplexingly, it came only with the automatic transmission.
Unfortunately, none of these sports models made it to the US. Our EJ22-equipped models were mostly naturally- aspirated, and the Legacy was seen largely as a Camry and Accord competitor. In 1991, however, Subaru did launch the Legacy Sport Sedan in the US. Powered by the SOHC EJ22T, it lacked an intercooler and produced 165PS, available only with the 5-speed manual. With identical alloy wheels as the RS, it did at least resemble its Japanese cousin.

The following year saw the new LE wagon, later renamed Touring Wagon, powered by the same engine. Sadly, the turbo wagon was only available with the 4-speed automatic. Nevertheless, with AWD and turbo boxer engine, there was nothing quite like it on the market. Most American buyers, however, remained confused by the racy Subaru, especially in wagon form.

Two other US-only variants are worth mentioning. In 1994, Subaru released the GT Wagon. AWD but naturally-aspirated, it was the only high-roof first generation Legacy wagon sold in the US. From 1990, Subaru also sold a right-hand drive wagon to the United States Postal Service.
Last but not least is the contribution Legacy made to Subaru’s racing history. Though STi was founded in 1988, Subaru had been dipping its toes in the rally world since the days of the FF-1. In the World Rally Championship (WRC), its presence began in 1980 with participation mostly in high- profile events such as the Safari or Monte Carlo Rally. Early contenders include the 4WD Leone, with the later RX Turbo showing the most promise.

By 1989, STi was prepping the RX Turbo, but Subaru had yet to achieve major success as a constructor. With the new Legacy, a major WRC assault was undertaken in 1990. The works team by STi built its cars in Japan, while Prodrive also built cars in England for the European events. The Legacy showed immense potential upon debut, garnering 4th place overall for Subaru at season’s end.

1991 saw the legendary Colin McRae coming aboard at the RAC Rally. With a subsequent win in a Legacy at the British Open Championship, McRae earned a spot on Subaru’s works team. The model proved to be Subaru’s best WRC effort yet. However, stiff competition began to suggest the need for a smaller and lighter car. Mitsubishi was switching from the Galant to the Lancer, and Subaru had the new Impreza in the pipeline.
Yet Subaru’s president emphatically didn’t want to retire the Legacy until it became a winning car. At the hands of McRae, the Legacy won Subaru’s first WRC victory at the Rally of New Zealand in 1993. The timing was impeccable, and the Legacy went out with a bang.
Suffice it to say, the Legacy was no ordinary mid-size sedan. To those in the know, four generations of Legacy provided antidotes to the mundane. With seemingly incessant performance developments — the later GT-B, RSK, Blitzen, GT spec.B, S401, S402, etc. —the Legacy manifested many of Subaru’s the most celebrated and unique core values. It has charisma, with racing pedigree to boot, and is also a linchpin to Subaru’s modern legacy (pardon the pun).

While we missed out on many of the hottest variants available in Japan, the Legacy remains a car worthy of preservation, especially the rare turbo sedans and wagons. These days, Subarus tend to still be in the minority at events like JCCS. As a bona fide JNC, the original Legacy is a classic that also works well as a daily driver. Find them, save them, slap on a daruma decal, fill in the eye, and bring these cars out to the shows.


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 Post subject: Re: 1st gen Legacy is officially a Japanese Nostalgic Car
PostPosted: Thu Jan 15, 2015 1:00 pm 
Fourth Gear
Joined: Sun Jun 10, 2007 4:35 am
Posts: 1734
Location: All over the place


And I'd definitely co sided our cars nostalgic. My car is older than most of the guys I work with.

93 Touring Wagon (EJ20G 5spd Swap) -- In storage while I work (and never get to play) in JDM-land.
00 Forester S/tb (predecesor to the XT) -- My JDM fling, dont tell my Touring Wagon!

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 Post subject: Re: 1st gen Legacy is officially a Japanese Nostalgic Car
PostPosted: Thu Jan 29, 2015 2:34 pm 
First Gear
Joined: Sun Feb 16, 2014 2:04 am
Posts: 239
Location: Rocking the Blackstone Valley
and by far the best leggies

Legacys are like potato chips-you can't stop at one!

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