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Christophers Sleeper Liberty RS

Updated: Jul 20, 2022

Motec Digital dash, Big GTX35 Garret, Billet Stroker crank, 4oo watts on the corn juice.

At face value those bullet points alone are enough that anybody with a lick of car knowledge would be be going through a spec list like that with a fine toothed comb admiring the sheer volume of performance parts and beginning to throw guesses out like darts at the dartboard of what car this could be ?

A GT-R, Evo or maybe even a some Barra powered thing ?...

Would you believe me if I said all these bits and many more are all found in a Gen 1 Subaru Liberty RS Wagon. Well I am saying just that folks. Theres a chance a few people reading this wouldn't know much about these cars and that also rolls into how this car in my eyes, has an underdog status. Gen1 libertys came before the WRX, most young Subaru people would brush them off quite easily and just label them old. But Christopher takes his wagon on a journey to make it look showroom fresh and educate folks on a car thats worth a longer look.

What got Christopher to do this amount of work to an RS ? Why an RS ? He'd say " why not an RS ?" It's the only type of car he's ever owned. Its his bread and butter. His first car was a Burgundy GX wagon with 270 thousand kms on the clock as a 14th bday present from his dad. Christopher's Dad; Ken whom was completely aware and willing in getting Christopher into the Carcaine addiction at a young age. But Christopher didn't immediately become the RS addict like he is today. After the initial service the appeal of the car wore off and it sat in the yard for a couple years, being 14 he couldn't really do much with it anyway. Ken's second attempt on giving Christopher the carcaine hit was to paint the wagon in late 2014. It was a big process for Christopher, doing almost all the work with his Dad watching over in a Mr Miyagi sense. The car's body was smoothed and fixed, Then he car got primered and sanded back, afterwards it all got painted. Christopher was almost eyeing off a full cycle around sun since he'd started the respray but he'd completed it. That experience had got him hooked. The effort and rewards of working on a car really formed a bond, a bond that I personally never see breaking. From there Christopher looked into improving how the wagon handled and drove and soon after that he started looking for Turbo Gen 1's and as everyone knows.... a teenage boy needs himself a turbo car.

Not your average p plater story ensues.

While up in Sydney one weekend visiting his mate Luke to probably buy car parts, Christopher saw a burgundy RS shell sitting in Luke's work car park looking rather sorry for itself. Luke had taken the drivetrain out of it since it had been in a rear end ding. He told Christopher he can take the shell for $400 and offered to help fix the rear end with him too. What would a young man with new found skills and a large desire to have a turbo car on a really tight budget do ? He buys it of course ! He had to install hubs and what not just to put it on a trailer to bring it home. But Christopher officially had himself an RS. Eager to get started Christopher pulled the rear end off the car to get a better look at the repair work ahead of him. Further inspection exposed the damage as well as some rust. Christopher hadn't lost motivation from this, he sourced a new rear end from a local wrecker who at the time had stacks of Gens 1 piled up in their yard. A whole drivetrain was purchased from Victoria for $400. Luke came down that summer and helped redo the rear end of the car, ( Luke's an exhaust fabricator by trade ) the old munted one got cut out and the new one was welded in. Techworkz supplied Christopher with all the consumables for the motor and a new clutch and before you'd know it the car had Rego. This time round learning experience was a in a different form and yet still held a fair amount of similarities to the respray. There isn't a happy ending here, As the Car got rear ended again ! 5 months into it being on the road.

Ideally Christopher wanted to find another shell identical to the one that got totalled but since theres only 7 in that colour and specs; that is near impossible. Wheres that leave us? Well after a more discussion between a father and Son, Christopher's Dad, Ken, suggested that the white wagon that was in storage for the restoration should be picked up and turned into Christopher's dream RS Build. Christopher liked the idea but didn't want his dream RS to be white. Ken replied "just paint it". He organised to do it on Wednesday, went and picked it up Saturday and dropped it off at the paint shop on the Monday. Decisions decisions, what colour was the wagon gonna be smothered in ? Christopher cruising the gram one day saw a pretty Black on a gen 1 sedan he'd later own. The colour was a Mica black which was a jdm exclusive colour for Gen 1s. A rare colour for an Aus car as well as being period correct. The Wagon came out the booth gleaming in black and off to storage waiting eagerly to get a driveline.

Christopher originally had a driveline line setup in mind; A built 2L with a STI 6 speed and a hefty turbo behind it to make some decent power. Chatting to Mick from Techworkz. (which is Christophers second home at this point.) about engine set ups. A Cosworth 2L was the engine Christopher wanted but at the time they couldn't be bought anymore. Mick suggested a Cosworth 2.5L block instead, also adding that its a bigger displacement will help with spooling a big turbo of course. Mick had a light bulb moment and told Christopher. " I have a crazy idea, I've got a 2.7 out back which was for my 2 door and you're the only person crazy enough and committed enough to put it in. " The heads got a shimless bucket conversion and has been ported, but hasn't got variable cams timing so its suits your wagon. 10k and its yours, If you're crazy enough put it in an early model car! " In moments like these we turn to our parents for guidance, Luckily for Christopher, his dad is the original dealer for the carcaine addiction and told him " you'd be an idiot not to buy that engine. " Well its hard to argue with that folks.

Christopher parts out a large number of Subarus, selling all the parts and sometimes keep the best bits for his own cars. He came across a 6 speed box during one part out but changed his mind when the engine became the 2.7L and a big 35 front housing was going to sit next to it. Wanted a longer ratio box now because of the big power numbers he sold that box and used the funds to get a long ratio box with an electronically controlled centre diff. The car saw daylight again for a brief period as it made a little trip to the Techworkz workshop where it got its suspension overhaul. Christopher had this part figured out from an early stage. Custom valving and dampening rates in some MCA Black coilovers. A 24mm rear sway on its tightest tension setting and 20mm on its loosest bar up front to attempt to create the car to turn on tis rear wheels more. Combating the understeer repercussions of an AWD car. All new bushes through the under side with all the Whiteline arms to match. Christopher still wants to do more research and development with roll centre correction and updating subframes in the future, but right now it sits as good as an RS gets under there.

A bit of fab work was done to the engine and bay to connect all the dots. Custom header tank and power-steering reservoir on the driver-side and washer bottle and catch can on the passenger side. Stainless steel intercooler piping linking turbo to intercooler to throttle body. A stainless steel pipe that routes into the guard to find cold air to relay to the turbo. Christopher had a visions for no silicon joiners between outlets in the bay as well as the custom tanks on the sides. A fair amount of time was spent discussing it with Matt ( his fabricator ) until it all came together. An ear drum shattering exhaust and screamer pipe were next. Most cars that have a screamer are pretty mild in sound out the back tail pipe until the cars on full song. This Wagon is loud off gate and on. Probably one of the few things that give people thoughts that there is more to it than meets the eye. An aluminium killer B oversized sump was also fabbed up to keep the oil pressure good for that big motor.

Aftermarkets ECUs always play a big part in high horsepower numbers especially when an older car is involved. Christopher wanted a digital dash that included all the road features like an indicator lights and a fuel level. Ken had a Link ECU set up in his car which lead Christopher down that path but after more research discovered at the time that link didn't had a digital dash. He kept looking and came across a Motec digital dash with all the bells and whistles. If he's got the digital dash it makes complete sense to get the ECU to match. Motec digital dash would replace the cluster and sit neatly away, showing all the sensors needed too. The liberty dash the doesn't go well with external gauges on it, this was the perfect solution. The car got taken to Benchmark solutions to have the ECU wired in. They tailor made a specific custom harness for the car, which the ECU is going into. Adding all the wires for the set up the car is going to run. Benchmark does most of the wiring for the Techworkz competition cars. While they had the car they also upgraded parts of the body harness such as the gearbox and ABS loom. This wiring experience was a pioneering one for them because the RS loom is actually quite different to even the early GC8 looms of the time. After some learning and figuring out Benchmark had it all wired and ready to be tuned. This procedure wasn't as simple either. The trigger kit on the cam gear didn't have enough trigger points to be read properly, so the car had trouble cranking and wouldn't start. The trigger kit got removed and the ECU got sent back to Motec to get programmed for a newer triggering kit with 3 times the teeth.

With the wiring all set up and the car ready to start and run it was thrown on the dyno for the break in tune. Once the engine had been bedded in, the party was underway. Time to see what the engine and turbo could do! With its tank full of E85 the car spun up 417 Kilowatts at wheels. A very high power out put for most cars and especially high in the world of RS turbos. With the car back from Benchmark he was in dire need for a nice interior to cap it all off. Because he Christopher is the equivalent of Idris Elba's character Heimdall from Thor; the one who sees all but in the case sees all to do with Gen 1 libertys. He came across an imported Gen 1 Wagon that’s been trapped down at Melbourne docks for many years. The car had a grey title and despite Christophers' best attempts it was as good as impossible to register. There was still a purpose for this car. The interior in it was as good as you could find for a Gen 1 these days. A proper unicorn. The car was brought up to Christopher's place where he went about parting it out and kept that leather interior for himself. Read more about this in part out in Christopher's Article thats on the site. "The art of a Part out". With his wagon back home, Christopher set about swapping out all the old bits for the good as new bits. Interior in and 'new old stock' door rubbers and other little bits that make significant difference for a car on getting that last 2% .

The car is as good as done, you know, as done as a modified car gets (*wink )

I enjoy retouching on this subject every now and then when I chat to Christopher on how having a newly finished car is a blessing and a curse, We joke about putting his wagon in the National Museum, because it will never be as perfect as it is in this moment, The world is just too cruel and damn paint is just such a fragile material. This very car now sits in front of him in that very stage in its life and it does become a serious thought that crosses a persons mind; especially a dude like Christopher whom has an eye for detail. "Do I keep it safe and locked away?" The equivalent to a new car that drives off the lot, the value drops immediately. You'd probably be saying as you read those last couple sentences “you're kidding right? “ But when multiple years are invested in this car; it’s a real predicament to be in. Despite this Christopher rounds it all up by saying, “ I built the car to be driven, the whole set up is for the best Gen 1 to drive it can be, So that’s exactly what I’m going to do." And the mans addicted to driving it, sculling a litre of milk to just get an excuse to jump in the RS and fly to the shops for more. Can't get him out, have to drag the man out. In terms of the initial purpose for the car; Its passed with Flying colours !


1993 Subaru Liberty RS Turbo Wagon

ENGINE •2.5L block closed decked •Darton sleeves •One off custom CP pistons •Manley I beam rods •Manley 2.7 billet crank •V6 STI big port heads •Kelford 274 cams •Kelford titanium springs and retainers •Oversize valves •Hand port and polish •Shimless Bucket conversion ENGINE BOLT ONS •Garrett GTX3582R .83 •ID1700 Injectors •Radium top feed conversion set and rails •Full braided fuel lines and speedflow fittings •Speedflow fuel filter •Radium twin in tank fuel pump hanger with twin Walbro 460s •-8 feed and -6 return braided fuel lines from tank to engine bay •Radium Fuel Pressure Regulator •Motec flex fuel sensor •PSR UEL Headers •GIR/PSR Twist mount kit •PWR Intercooler •PWR Radiator •Process West inlet manifold •Process West billet TGV Deletes •Bosch motorsport DBW throttle body •Custom made stainless front mount piping •Custom made stainless intake •Custom made stainless exhaust •Custom made catch cans •Custom made coolant header tank/power steer reservoir ENGINE MANAGEMENT/WIRING •Motec m150 •Motec CAN keypad •Motec C125 Dash •Motec DCCD controller •Motec LTC Lambda Controller and Sensor •Sensors -Fuel pressure -Fuel Temp -Oil Pressure -Oil Temp -Coolant Temp -Inlet Air Temp -Manifold Pressure -Boost Pressure -Ethanol Content •Full rewire •Flex fuel tune DRIVELINE •2013 STI 3.54 DCCD 6 speed gearbox •R180 rear diff •New R180 rear shafts •Rebuilt Suretrac front diff •Rebuilt R180 GD STI hubs •Jim Berry race clutch SUSPENSION/BRAKES •Custom MCA coilovers •GD sti alloy control arms •Whiteline rear adjustable control arms •GD rear subframe •GD STI 20mm front sway bar •Whiteline 22mm rear sway bar •Whiteline alloy links front and rear •Whiteline heavy duty sway bar mounts •Whiteline anti lift kit •Whiteline trailing arm bushes •Whiteline steering rack bushes •Whiteline subframe lockdown kit •Whiteline diff bushes •Whiteline rack ends •Whiteline pitch stop •STI group N engine mounts •STI group N transmission mounts •FE440 STI Spec C steering rack •Speedflow braided ps lines •STI power steering pump •Cusco carbon fibre front strut brace •Cusco H brace •Cusco diff brace •Cusco brake master stopper •Tein rear strut brace •Beatrush interior floor brace •GD 4 pot 2 pot brakes (until I can afford AP Calipers) with DBA T3s and Hawk Ceramic pads EXTERIOR •Speedline 2110 •TBO half bar •B-Craft grill •Chargespeed rear wing •OEM monsoons •OEM lip kit and aero pods •OEM new chrome rear step •OEM bonnet and headlight protectors •OEM chrome sill plates •JDM chrome Bailey channels •JDM tail lights •JDM side indicators •JDM folding mirrors and chargespeed purple glass •Full open door respray in JDM black mica •Custom stainless radiator shroud •Custom engine bay cap set INTERIOR •3D race solutions dash and Motec c125 •mint JDM Legacy Leather seats with Recaro pole position drivers seat •Mint JDM legacy leather door cards •JDM legacy black pillar trims •Legacy leather centre console lid •STI shift surround and leather boot •New STI SPEC C 6 speed shift knob •STI metal pedals •NOS RS Steering wheel


Car: @darling_christopher


photos: @mc.visuals_


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