how far is too far?
Although only a sprightly 17-year-old when this project began, the bodywork, interior and running gear had a hard life up until then and certainly didn’t betray the almost 250,000kms on the clock (barely run in by some Subaru aficionados), even with the regular maintenance and care given by Kramer under his ownership. This was a major contributing factor in the decision to take her off the road and carry out a full restoration of the body at the same time as building the motor.
This approach would also allow all the necessary modifications to be properly planned out, and by removing every last component from the shell, its condition could be thoroughly assessed and any parts that required repair, replacement or modifying could be done easily on the workbench rather than in-situ. The bodyshell itself, however, was in remarkably good shape, with zero rust and no major accident damage, the only issues to fix being a few small shopping cart dents in the doors and a previous repair that was discovered in the tailgate.
Fast forward 11 years and this Legacy is now 28-years-old, but you couldn’t tell from looking such has been the transformation that has taken place. Spending several months on her side for a complete underbody treatment and refinish, the floors now look as good as the brand new paintwork on the topside. A virtually bare-metal restoration saw an initial coat of 2k epoxy corrosion barrier applied. This remained on the shell for 5 years whilst Kramer completed his university degree, and held up pretty well, even spending a very wet winter outside under just a tarpaulin!
A move into new premises allowed the project to move to final preparation for paint, and an American classic specialist restorer came on board to tackle the next stages. Sanding back the aged and weathered epoxy to a fresh substrate, and rolling the rear wheel arches to provide tyre clearance, additional coats of epoxy corrosion protection were applied before a high-build primer coat. Then it was back to the workshop for final fit and pre-assembly of all the parts that had been upgraded or modified, to ensure their correct fitment prior to painting. This gave the opportunity to drill any required holes and to make whatever alterations necessary to avoid any problems down the line once the topcoat was on.
Deciding on the colour scheme was the next challenge, and although this might sound straightforward, the only thing that was certain was that the original two-tone finish was to remain, but the original colours were not. This left 2 decisions to make, one for each colour. Several late-model Subaru paint codes were considered, then Alfa Romeo, then Mercedes-Benz, and finally Ferrari, with the choice of blue being narrowed down to 3 options and each being sprayed out on a panel to see it in the flesh. Eventually, the Blu Tour de France was settled on, with the complementary silver being Ferrari Argento Nurburgring. This allowed the interior and the underside to be finished before returning to the paint shop.
Approaching the end after many months of hard work and to-fro between Kramer’s workshop and the paint booth, all that remained was a final sanding, clean and inspection before applying the first of the colour coats. With the interior already finished the door and window openings were double masked to ensure no overspray got inside, and the engine bay, door jambs and door frames were shot, whilst at the same time, the tailgate was prepared for painting later. The doors were then able to be mounted in preparation for the final exterior application, this time starting with the Argento Nurburgring silver.
Before moving to the last stage the opportunity to apply some carbon-fibre effect vinyl to the C-pillars was taken, which would be masked off when applying the colour and then unmasked immediately before clearcoat. Since this part of the body is normally painted black, it was felt the subtle carbon look would be a nice touch, reflecting the interior details.
With the doors on and all masked up, it was back in the spray booth one last time to lay down the blue basecoat and final clearcoat. This process was carried out in the space of just one morning, which certainly validates the saying that paintwork is 90% prep, since that is where most of the time went during this stage of the project! Seeing the shell come out the booth and into the daylight for the first time was an amazing experience, especially since the body had been in nothing but grey primer for the best part of 10 years… The 2 colours really look great together, and give an understated class to the whole car that was intended and sought right from the beginning. If the factory were to build this car today, this is how they would do it.
Back at home safe and sound in the garage, and after many years of waiting, preparing and collecting new parts, this build can actually begin!! Boxes of cleaned and restored parts can now be fitted back to the bodyshell and in time it will become a complete car again. Stay tuned for more updates as this project makes headway…