At $15,000, Could This M52-Powered 2005 Subaru WRX Be A Frankenstein Monster You Could Get Behind?

Photo: Craigslist
Nice Price Or Crack PipeIs this used car a good deal? You decide!

Let’s get it out of the way at the outset: today’s Nice Price or Crack Pipe WRX is absolutely ‘Somebody Else’s Project™.” That shouldn’t mean that it couldn’t be your next purchase. That is of course, if the price is right.

I’ve always had an issue with cheap things that realistically should cost more. Sixty-nine cent tacos? Yeah, I don’t think so. Two-Buck Chuck at Trader Joe’s? Wine-no thank you. Yesterday’s 1988 BMW 325ic was a fine example of something fairly cheap—$2990—that you actually might be willing to spend a few more dollars on, in order to get a better example.


That’s not to say the seller didn’t try to present the car in the best light. He filled its ad with soft-focus glamor shots and did temp us all with tales of new-looking seats and extensive work having just been completed. That wasn’t enough for you all, as 52 percent dunned the high-mileage Bimmer with a Crack Pipe loss. That decision was hard work, go get yourselves some tacos and wine.

Before you do that however, take a look at this 2005 Subaru BMWRX. I know, I know, you’re all asking BMWRX—just what the hell is that?

Well, it’s pretty simple really, someone has taken this formerly pancake-powered and AWD hot Impreza and has turned it into a BMW M52-powered RWD Frankencar. Along the way they have given it fat fender bulges, an M3 five-speed transmission, Nissan back axles and a whole amusement park’s worth of fun bits in between. Oh yeah, and those front wheels? They just steer and keep the nose off the asphalt.


That’s a lot to take in, but let’s start with that M52. The ad notes that it started out with an M52B28 alloy block foundation, and then was rebuilt with a VANOS head, S52 cams, aftermarket pistons and rods, and a slew of other upgraded pieces. The whole shebang was shebanged together by a shop called LoDynamics in Santa Rosa, California. Bolted to that mill is a Garrett GTX3076R turbo and the whole thing is fed by a high-flow fuel system.


The seller claims 575 horsepower at the back wheels as a result, when running an alarming 27PSI on E85 corn gas. That’s some serious shit, and while it doesn’t quite look right, it still mostly looks pretty well packaged.

Admittedly, there does not seem to be any sort of filter on the big Garrett’s intake, and yes that absence does make my eye twitch something fierce. Still, we have to push on.


The drivetrain after the M52 consists of the ZF box, custom driveshaft, and 240SX rearend with high-torque axles in place. A heavily modified and adjustable coilover suspension holds all these lovely bit up off the ground, while a mix of AP Racing and Brembo brake parts do the stopping.


The body around all that looks like pretty much every other wild WRX out there with lip extenders on the already fat fenders and a comically tall wing out back. Three-piece Jongbloed 305 alloys underpin and are wrapped in 285/40-17 Continental tires. It’s all fairly tidy and cohesive and admittedly in your face.


The interior on the other hand is rather subdued. The ad says that the dash is custom painted, but the chosen paint seems to be matte black. An aftermarket cluster by SMY faces the driver, and holds additional gauges below the main quartet of dials.

A Pioneer double DIN head unit takes up residence in the center stack, and an STi shift housing holds the BMW stick below that. Upholstery on the sport seats and wheel look to be in excellent shape, and there’s no roll cage to have to climb over to get in as you might expect.


The seller notes 113,000 miles on the odometer, but in a car with such extensive mods and updates, that probably doesn’t matter all that much. The title is reported as clean and amazingly, this heavily reconfigured car with an engine older than its body seems to have been able to make its way through California’s labyrinthian registration and emissions certification process. Hell, it even has a Golden State license plate that celebrates that feat.


Okay, so yes, this is someone else’s project and equally yes, a few of you aver to avoid those like an anti-vaxxer’s kid’s birthday party. Look, pretty much any privately-sold used car of more than a few years age is going to be “someone else’s project” in some way or another. This one just happens to be so in every which way ‘til Sunday. It’s also an insanely cool and interesting project. Just because it wasn’t your idea, let’s not dun it for that fact.


Where you do come in however, is in determining what this Frankencar might reasonably be worth. The seller is asking $15,000 for the car and while it’s likely going to exist forever more in an awkward nether world between Subaru and BMW circles, it potentially could be the one talisman that brings those two tribes together for once and for all. Could that heroic feat alone be worth the $15,000 asking?

You decide!


San Francisco Bay Area, CA Craigslist, or go here if the ad disappears.

H/T to @veer90 for the hookup!

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About the author

Rob Emslie

Rob Emslie is a contributing writer for Jalopnik. He has too many cars, and not enough time to work on them all.