Ashyukun (Robert)
Ashyukun (Robert) UberDork
11/7/19 9:47 a.m.

So next year after tax time when our finances are a bit more stable I want to pick up something more fun to drive than the QX4, but also want something that will still be useful and able to make the run between our house and the cabin (and thus, up a kind of steep gravel road). So something small(-ish) with a stickshift and AWD is what I'm aiming for- and an AWD DSM pretty much seems to check all the boxes (there are other contenders, like an X-type and most any Subbie, but I've always wanted a DSM- though am unfortunately forbidden from getting a Spyder which would check EVERY box...). I'd also like to keep the price in Challenge range in case I end up being able to go.

The problem is, while Eclipses and to a lesser extent Talons & Lasers are relatively easy to find and some of them fairly cheaply, finding a cheap AWD one has proved to be a lot more challenging.

But since I've seen several part-outs of AWD models, it got me thinking- how difficult is it to take a non-AWD model and convert it over to AWD? What all do you need to do so? Are the chassis the same such that the driveline from an AWD will bolt right up, or were there more significant differences that make it more challenging? Does the wiring harness differ significantly between them, or is the AWD not really tied into the electrical system?

shelbyz
shelbyz Reader
11/7/19 10:44 a.m.

I haven't really looked into the swap in a long time, but there's a lot of difference in parts and not just what's associated with the AWD system (off the top of my head: gas tank, exhaust, etc.). There would also be some cutting and welding involved as far as adding the driveshaft is concerned.

When it's all said and done, you'll probably have spent more hunting for the trans, Tcase, driveshaft, etc. than you would've getting a project AWD 1G that just needed buttoning up.

Being in a ton of DSM classified groups on Facebook, I often see a lot of guys selling their AWD shells in various states from a complete car missing the just motor and trans that was likely built and worth more on it's own, to completely gutted/caged race cars. I would rather pick one of those up and find the missing pieces that will simply bolt back in instead of swapping over a FWD car.

That said, and it hurts to say this as a die hard DSM guy, I'd go with a WRX for what you're looking for. Specifically a 2002-05 example with the EJ20. I had a 2002 WRX Wagon as a daily driver and while it wasn't as much fun nor as easy to work on as my 2 AWD 1G DSM's, it was WAY more reliable, comfortable and functional. I could drive my WRX all day without complaint and being a wagon it hauled stuff and people with ease. My back hates me 45 minutes into a roadtrip in a DSM and they don't haul a whole lot, especially with more than one person. I also thought the Subaru drove way better in the snow than the DSM's. The bugeye examples are starting to hit that rock bottom depreciation that 1G DSM's were at about 15 years ago.

That is unless you're looking to cheaply make a ton of AWD power as well. Hard to beat the DSM for that...

Ashyukun (Robert)
Ashyukun (Robert) UberDork
11/7/19 10:52 a.m.

In reply to shelbyz :

Thanks! If I do end up deciding to try and go to the Challenge next year power is obviously going to matter, and I do want something with at least a modest bit of it so it's more fun to drive than the QX4, but I have no idea whether the Challenge will work out and most all of the cars I've considered (a Subie wagon among them, though the Dancer won't likely ever want to ride in it since she hates wagons...) have a better power:weight ratio than the QX4 and will handle way better as well. 

engiekev
engiekev Reader
11/7/19 12:02 p.m.

I'd say drive a DSM if you can find someone who is willing to let you, even a bugeye WRX drives quite a bit better.  The 2G DSMs were quite "squishy" feeling from the factory, and 1G DSMs are downright medieval compared to a bugeye.

As for AWD swaps, the 1G DSM has basically a completely different rear half chassis in the FWD versions.  You would essentially need a AWD parts car to make the swap worth it, and at that point you may be better off just buying an AWD shell and building an engine for it.

Ashyukun (Robert)
Ashyukun (Robert) UberDork
11/7/19 12:39 p.m.
engiekev said:

I'd say drive a DSM if you can find someone who is willing to let you, even a bugeye WRX drives quite a bit better.  The 2G DSMs were quite "squishy" feeling from the factory, and 1G DSMs are downright medieval compared to a bugeye.

As for AWD swaps, the 1G DSM has basically a completely different rear half chassis in the FWD versions.  You would essentially need a AWD parts car to make the swap worth it, and at that point you may be better off just buying an AWD shell and building an engine for it.

Unfortunately almost all of the AWD shells I've seen have not had titles (and generally been in Ohio, which is the definition of 'not fun' when it comes to dealing with a car without a title, especially since I no longer have family living in GA to pull what I did with the DMC...) so wouldn't be useful for anything except track-only/Challenge cars. 

The good news is that I've got time to keep my eye out for all of the options. The bad is that I've not seen any WRXs for less than about $4k, which is likely going to be out of my budget range by a fair amount...

EDIT: Well, except for this, which I'm sure will be gone before I will be able to buy anything.

b13990
b13990 Reader
11/7/19 8:06 p.m.
Ashyukun (Robert) said:

EDIT: Well, except for this, which I'm sure will be gone before I will be able to buy anything.

The whole "wife is pregnant" thing always puzzles me. My wife's pregnant, and I have no urge to unload any of my crap for $500.

93gsxturbo
93gsxturbo SuperDork
11/7/19 8:07 p.m.

So you are in luck, I actually did and completed an AWD swap.  Here are the deets. 

1G - 90-94 - 100% NOT GONNA HAPPEN.  Entire car is different.  Both subframes, subframe mounts, rear axle, exhaust, fuel tank, trunk floor and floorpan, etc etc etc.  No way no how.

2G 95-99 4G63T only - not NT 420A Forget it never gonna happen.

You need the following parts

  • AWD trans, transfer case, front axles, front brakes (not necessary but larger on the turbo cars), clutch, flywheel.
  • AWD full exhaust from downpipe back.
  • AWD prop shaft to rear end
  • AWD fuel tanks, mounts, sending units, pumps, and some wiring FROM THE SAME YEAR AS YOUR DONOR CHASSIS DUE TO EVAP PIPING CHANGES
  • AWD rear subframe and diff FROM MATCHING YEAR OF TRANSMISSION/T-o

Here is how to do the conversion.

Remove all the FWD parts mentioned above

Install the AWD trans, Tcase, clutch, etc.  Since you have a DSM interest already gonna assume you are well versed on driveline changes.

Get your spot weld cutter and remove the two mounts in the tunnel for the driveshaft from your AWD donor car and your FWD project car.

Swap over the studs from the AWD mounts to the FWD mounts and weld the FWD mounts back into the car.  I like to reuse the original mounts since you can match their location up by using the existing spot weld locations.

Splice the gas tank wiring for dual sending units and EVAP solenoids

Cut out the mounts for the exhaust around the FWD fuel tank.

Take your new fuel tank and line it up under the car.  Note the location of the mounts for the gas tank - the holes are there but there are no studs.

Go get your holesaw and drill some access holes to drop bolts down to mount your gas tank.  Hook up the piping and electrical

Take your AWD rear subframe and bring it into position under the chassis.  Same story there are holes in the subframe but the studs are missing.  Note the hole locations. Go to your AWD donor car and cut the special mounting hardware out of the trunk floor.  

Very carefully cut the trunk floor of your FWD donor car.  Peel the trunk floor back, install the studs and backing plates for the AWD rear subframe, and put the trunk floor back together.

Put your rear subframe in, connect the rear brake lines

Install the prop shaft between the t-case and rear diff

Install the AWD exhaust

Thats about it really.  Not hard but its a lot of parts and you really need a same year AWD donor car due to wiring changes and a final drive ratio change.  AWD A/T and M/T use a bunch of different parts but now would be the time to convert A/T to M/T or vice versa.

Ashyukun (Robert)
Ashyukun (Robert) UberDork
11/11/19 8:08 a.m.

In reply to 93gsxturbo :

Wow, thanks- that's a LOT of really good info! Needing to match up the years will make things a bit more interesting as will needing the newer generation cars. I've got a good bit to think about regarding this now, and I love having as much info as I can. As was suggested earlier I probably should try and get the chance to drive a DSM at some point to see how I like it (and fit into one) since when I drive out to the cabin it's an hour each way which would get quite old in a car I don't fit well into.

Ashyukun (Robert)
Ashyukun (Robert) UberDork
11/11/19 8:10 a.m.
b13990 said:
Ashyukun (Robert) said:

EDIT: Well, except for this, which I'm sure will be gone before I will be able to buy anything.

The whole "wife is pregnant" thing always puzzles me. My wife's pregnant, and I have no urge to unload any of my crap for $500.

Well, it has no engine, transmission, or seats... the price may not be so much a function of the pregnancy but of condition. I know if we found out my wife were pregnant I'd be taking stock of what projects I would and wouldn't have time for and dropping anything I didn't think I'd be able to continue with...

Streetwiseguy
Streetwiseguy MegaDork
11/11/19 8:33 a.m.

Dude- you've just spent a year and a half building a cabin on the side of a cliff.  IIRC you have a broken Delorean, a hot tub that's way more expensive and difficult to repair than  you thought, and no spare time because of your wife's  dance thing.

Isn'to do something easy, like finding and buying a running, driving car?

Ashyukun (Robert)
Ashyukun (Robert) UberDork
11/11/19 9:57 a.m.

In reply to Streetwiseguy :

Well, the cabin is essentially done except for some cleanup and minor things, and the original, massive hot tub has been up and running in our backyard since New Year's (we picked up a smaller, lighter one for the cabin itself- we used the one at the cabin Saturday night and the one at home last night). The DMC- yeah, that's going to be taking up the garage for a while to come and hopefully this weekend I'll finally get it into the garage since all of the cabin stuff will be out of the garage.

With this I had hoped that it was going to be relatively easy to do, but it clearly isn't- so it's pretty certain that for what I pick up next will be something that I can drive out of the gate (or has something I can fix relatively easily in the driveway. Doesn't mean I won't keep all of this info for down the line- I still think a AWD DSM Challenge car would be a lot of fun.

Stefan
Stefan MegaDork
11/11/19 4:06 p.m.

Wasn't there a Galant 4-door AWD  turbocharged car that was essentially an Eclipse IN 4-door guise?

MrChaos
MrChaos SuperDork
11/11/19 4:12 p.m.
Stefan said:

Wasn't there a Galant 4-door AWD  turbocharged car that was essentially an Eclipse IN 4-door guise?

Galant VR-4 closer to an evo than a eclipse though

noddaz
noddaz SuperDork
11/11/19 5:44 p.m.

Interesting.  I have been toying with something along these lines myself.  But I am just looking for RWD on a 2G.  This gives me lots of information.  

93gsxturbo
93gsxturbo SuperDork
11/12/19 12:22 p.m.
MrChaos said:
Stefan said:

Wasn't there a Galant 4-door AWD  turbocharged car that was essentially an Eclipse IN 4-door guise?

Galant VR-4 closer to an evo than a eclipse though

No sir - That is not correct.

Galant VR4s that we got here in the USA from 91-92 are pre-EVOs, even before the Mirage based EVO 1.  

A Galant VR4 and a 90-94 AWD DSM are kissing cousins.  Basically the same driveline with the following changes:

  • Transmission has different gear ratios but will physically swap as long as the whole thing is swapped
  • 91 and 92 VR4s came with the big brakes that did not appear on DSMs until late 92 or 93
  • VR4s have a longer prop shaft due to longer wheelbase
  • VR4s have a different steering rack with provisions for rear steer
  • VR4s have a rear steer rack on a similar rear subframe with different mounts.  1G DSM AWD subframe and steering rack can be installed in a VR4 - bolts in, no provision for rear steer.  
  • ECUs are different but you can run a DSM on a VR4 ECU and vice versa as long as it is a 91-94 ECU.  90 DSM ECUs are different
  • Intake piping is different on VR4
  • VR4 has a weird little front mount intercooler with long piping, DSM has a side mount intercooler.  
  • Galants use 4 lug hubs, DSMs use 5 lug hubs.

EVO 1-3 is similar engine/trans to a VR4 and a 1G DSM but the rest of the chassis is different as it is Mirage based and not Galant based. 

The Galant was too heavy to be competitive in rally hence the creation of the Mirage based EVO.  

KyAllroad (Jeremy)
KyAllroad (Jeremy) UltimaDork
11/12/19 1:18 p.m.

Bob, a couple of my friends here in Lexington have AWD DSMs.  Both of them spend HUGE amounts of time and effort keeping them running.  I strongly recommend looking elsewhere for your "fun to drive" cravings.  I'd suspect an old Audi S4 would be more reliable and enjoyable than a nearly 30 year old DSM.  

Ashyukun (Robert)
Ashyukun (Robert) UberDork
11/12/19 2:20 p.m.

In reply to KyAllroad (Jeremy) :

An S4 (especially a drop-top like this which has the bonus of being a color the Dancer would love) is also something I've been considering, along with the aforementioned Subies and an X-Type...

Our Preferred Partners
0CmeDBQiTQLVFb4lAKnyomwvFGCfGriaTX5HVhETdO4BR1HAHHZS8Em8zNHYY6GE