If you’ve been following us on instagram (VertTuner), you know I’ve spent the summer working on two projects. The first was replacing the headgasket on a 99 Subaru Outback Legacy. The aim of the first project is to make it a daily driver while I work on the second, more long term project, swapping the drivetrain in the Spyder to an all wheel drive. We’re sticking with automatic, but we’ll be adding a translab shift kit, a Kiggly 5 disc front clutch pack, and a forced four shift box. So we’ll have more traction, hold more power, shift harder, and be able to shift manually without needing a clutch pedal. Before we do any of that, we need to strip our donor.
Some background on the donor car/parts:
I was given a 96 AWD shell previously owned by a friend. This was a 96 Eagle Talon TSI which had an engine bay fire several years back. My friend removed the exhaust, engine and transmission, salvaging all the parts he could for his new car before donating it to our car club with the intention of making a club car for member who don’t normally have the means to race to have the opportunity to do so. However, the damage was more extensive than we initially thought and the project was eventually abandoned. So the car has sat for several years since then before it was passed to me earlier in the year. This summer, I had the opportunity to work on it while my work allowed me to work from home so that I could attend one the last classes for my degree in person. So, I began stripping the shell and posting progress to Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube. Now that I’m home, all that content will be edited, compiled, and posted here in between trips home to finish the project.
The donor gave me a rear subframe, driveshaft, center differential, gas tank, and all the mounts and bolts needed, but I still needed to source some pretty big parts. I had rear axles, but no front axles, for instance. Miller import parts had all the parts I needed, and I’ve had good dealings with them previously, but I found the parts cheaper locally. I managed to score a 96 transmission and transfer case in Green Bay (about a 3 hour drive from my place in Chicago), and a 3 inch stainless exhaust, AWD Front axles, Megan Racing o2 housing and bonus 14b turbo from Club Diamond Star members in Fort Wayne (where my garage is). I also had to order mounting bolts for the transfer case from JNZTuning along with the driveshaft rebuild kit and subframe bushings. They shipped me my parts in two packages, supplying me with tracking numbers within a few hours of purchase. I’ve ordered from them multiple times, and I am really happy with their level of service.
So what do you actually need to AWD swap a Spyder? (or any FWD Eclipse, the only difference is that Spyder sub frame bolts can’t be removed from above)
- The transmission
- The Transfer Case
- Front/Rear axles
- Rear Subframe
- Center Differential
- Transfer case
- Carrier bearing mounts
- Gas Tank
- Possibly, the filler neck (there’s some debate on this)
- Subframe mounting bolts
- Gas tank mounting bolts
- Gas tank straps/cover (These are almost always rusted out. Lots of people fab new straps and run without a cover
- E-Brake cables
- Suspension (optional, but keep in mind the AWD drivetrain adds several hundred pounds, and a Spyder already weighs more than a hardtop)
- Fuel Pump sending unit (will need to be rewired)
- Full exhaust (both the downpipe and the catback are different for AWD. O2 housings are all the same, but my exhaust was a single welded piece, so I had to source a new one anyway)
That’s all I can think of for now, but I’ll come back and add to the list if anything is missing. Keep in mind that your donor parts are between 17 and 21 years old, so rebuild kits are highly recommended. I’ll be rebuilding my driveshaft (JNZtuning kit), replacing my driveshaft and subframe bushings (I’ll change the suspension ones when I upgrade my suspension to coilovers later), and rebuilding all or a good portion of the transmission during the project. I’ll also be replacing the stock fuel lines with an AN kit fitted with an inline filter with a stainless element. This is to prep me for e85 and higher horsepower while everything is apart. You may or may not be able to pull the sending units off the donor cars without damaging the stock lines and continue to rely on them. I wasn’t, and I wanted to upgrade anyway.
- Engine hoist to pull the motor and transmission
- Metric socket set
- Breaker Bar
- Lots of PB Blaster
- Soft blow
- Pry bar
- Drill (to pull the carrier bearing hangers)
- Spot weld cutter bit/standard drill bit set (See Carrier Bearing Hanger Removal videos and decide for yourself)
- Safety glasses (seriously, every time I’ve crawled under either car without them, I’ve instantly regretted it. It’s very easy to get hurt, especially when you’re drilling)
- Welding gloves
- Welding mask
- Wire Brush
- Impact Wrench (optional, but helps when the breaker bar isn’t enough)
- Vinegar (optional, but can be used for rust removal – videos to come)
- Sandblaster (optional, for rust removal – videos to come)
- Paint/underbody spray (optional, but you’ll want it – videos to come)
I’d like tell you this blog will be a definitive guide to doing everything on the project, and I’m going to work hard to make it include as much as possible, but you’ll likely need multiple sources to figure out exactly what to do and how. Here are the resources I’ve used so far.
- YouTube (Jafromobile’s driveshaft rebuild video series is about as good as you’ll ever get for a walkthrough on the subject)
- Locals/Club Members
- Service manuals/Haynes/Chiltons
- Time, money, patience, and persistence – This isn’t a project for the faint of heart. You’re going to have setbacks, your car’s going to be down for a while, and you’re going to have to repair, replace, or upgrade parts as you go.
- Welding. I took some courses at Arc Academy in Chicago to learn the basics. From there, it’s all time and practice. When it comes to the welding cuts for the subframe mounting bolts, you’ll want someone experienced to do the welding.
- Basic automotive knowledge. If you’re not rebuilding the transmission, the basics are enough. Follow the instructions in the VFaq, take your time, pay attention to how the donor comes apart, and you’ll be ok.