Connor's Bagged Wagon
Updated: Feb 21, 2021
Now if there is one car going around that springs to mind when you say the word unique, it would have to be Connor's 99 liberty wagon. The presence it has; followed by the ideas that have been brought to life is something to behold.
This Car was purchased 9 years ago and was just a daily until only a couple years back then Connor decided to start modifying it. Originally slamming it on coilovers with some nice wheels to grab an aggressive fitment was all it received . Adding to the look, Connor attached a C-West top wing as well as a Dolphin mid wing and from there the creative ideas began snowballing. Retrimming the fabric centres of the door cards in a floral pattern that nicely complimented the quick release floral NRG 3 spoke steering wheel made the interior really bounce out at you.
This was all well and good but it was time to change gears. To chase are further developing idea of what the Liberty was gonna be. Time to fit air suspension to the car for that more aggressive lower height and tighter fitment. While also as being able to traverse some of the bad roads around the area without a constant soundtrack of rubbing or scraping. K sport struts, double bellow front and slim rear bags were filled by a Boss compressor and air tank, all placed over the rear axles and controlled by an Airline air management system. He added a red Sg front bar also. The car had a whole new look, sitting even lower with some mean Steelies getting squashed by the arches. The interior got more Floral trimming with the centre console and top of the door cards bot recovered. The headliner also got love with 80mm long stranded pink Faux fur. Bride style fixed back driver side and reclinable passenger side seats were bolted in to cap off an eccentric interior.
Most people would stop there for a car. They've got a one off look and have left their personal touch on it for the world to see. Connor wasn't anywhere near the finish line yet.
After having this set up for a little bit. Matt, a mate of Connors' humorously asked if Connor had any special plans for the car ? As a matter a fact he did; Individual throttle bodies as the base for four velocity stacks. Connor thought of this idea a little bit before getting the air suspension but let it stew in his mind simply because of the challenge it would present. Matt very intrigued by the idea; encouraged it saying they will make it happen. So Connor bought the ITBs to suit a EJ20 and some trumpets only to find out after it arrived that Matt was completely joking. The thing is, ITBs have been done before on a Ej20; although the factory intake manifold remains in those applications. This would be first for as far as Connor could find. Serious pioneering was about to be undertaken here. With "No backsies" as the theme for this expedition, Connor went on a 10 month journey of research and development to making the vision come true.
As a proactive decision, bonnet vents were installed to help with keeping bay temps lower since the intakes would now sit smack bang in the middle compared the normal location being as far from the heat as possible.
A mock up block on a stand was used to grasp an understanding of the new layout that would be required now the intake manifold was removed. On and off over the space of 6 months the, the boys tried and tested until they had done all the could to getting it right and the next step was to do it for real. The ITbs and trumpets were mounted on the dummy block. A mounting plate was cut and located to house a place to mount the ignition coil boxes and another plate to attached the throttle pulley wheel and cables too.
The wagons turn was up. Matt worked at a Autotech as a bonus, so the car was rolled into the shop and on a hoist; now the process can to begin. While all this was going on Connor took advantage of the car being off the road to do some further mods. The auto box was removed and sent to Melbourne for it to receive a custom valve body upgrade. Admidst all the mechanical work the Sg forester front bar got an OEM lip fitted to it. Custom cut and flipped Outback side skirts were test fitted in place. That, the front bar/lip plus the front guards all got painted factory metallic green to match the body. Now with the body and box all back it was time to place attention back on the main feature. This new tech in the motor was too much for the standard ECU to run, so a Haltech Platinum sprint series 500 ECU Piggybacked off the standard through a custom harness. Leaving the body harness untouched to keep all the standard functions.
The guys over at Autotech helped to create the tune for this, but things weren't a quick process. Part of the procedure that was tricky would be adapting harnesses and mechanical devices such as idle control valves to work without a manifold. As well as incorporating a Manifold Absolute Pressure sensor into the system since the Mass Air Flow sensor got deleted with the intake. Another problem was air leaking through the seal of the trumpets causing it to get dizzy on idle. Connor fixed that with some "magic goo" and the car was able to get dyno tuned. The car still wasn't running perfect and didn't make insane power but it was an Ej20 running with ITB's and Trumpets. One of the few getting around if not the first. That alone is an amazing achievement. This sound the car now made is sound to behold. The wagon however, still went back to get retuned and dialled in twice since then, still trying to improve the driving power band and smooth out all the wrinkles.
Moving forward in time by a year or so. The car had a few more important mods to gain.
The rear suspension received a bunch of Hard Race goodies. Rear adjustable Toe, Camber and Lateral arms to update the old arms plus give more adjustment to dial in fitment. The front end also got treated to a pair of lower GBD STI alloy arms. The icing on the cake was a set of SSR GTF01s which Connor hand repaired and Powder coated champagne metallic. A much needed mod was some kind of head unit. Connor hadn't had one for over a year and despite ITB intake noises sounding great, it was time to do something about that. An iPad got wired in and mounted in the centre of the dash, offering plenty of choices for music apps as well as videos and the rest. The final piece to cap off Connor's car to date.
Connor still has many plans for this Wagon in future. Such as redoing the airbag system, building a hybrid EJ with better parts and adapting the ITBs across. He even sees track days as a experience the car will have. Thats all part of this cars character as an ever evolving beast. Regardless of whats to come the wagon has been a learning experience in so many instances. The knowledge gained for Connor by being apart of this whole journey has been important. The tally of necks its collected is forever increasing as well as the amount of smiles it puts of folks faces.