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Gary's "I'll keep this one stock" 745Ti build


Vintage anti-ricer
300+ Club
Oct 21, 2004
BFE Desert east of Cali
Ok, maybe it’s finally time, maybe not, but hey, 12 years in, I guess I’ll do it anyway.
It started back in the fall of 2005. Sitting in my cubicle at work, perusing craigslist on lunch, stumbled across a 1990 740 turbo wagon for $600. Pulled up the pics, description said 180k, IPD VX cam and adjustable gear, IPD bars, Bilstein HD’s, stainless brake lines, needs a head gasket. Pic’s looked like a decent stock, clean 740 wagon. For the price, figured I’d easily get that out of it just parting it out, or fix and sell, so I made an appt. with the owner to go look at it after work. Swung by the bank to get some cash for a deposit in case I wanted it, then drove to his place. Turns out he drove it home, went to go to work the next day, wouldn’t start, so he had it towed to a local reputable shop, they quoted him $2200 for a head gasket. One of the mechanics offered him $100 for it, he said no, had it towed back home. Next day the shop owner offered him $600 for it if he towed it back to them. He again said no, so that’s what he listed it for.

Start looking the car over, looks pretty clean, plugs were pulled, sitting on the fender ledge, rest of the car looked legit, so I offered him a cash deposit, would return in 2 days with a trailer, on the weekend. He refused the deposit, said he’d see me Saturday. Worked out well, got to his place, couple hours later I had this…

Of course, had to dig into it right then, so I did a compression test. 1, 3, and 4 were 170psi, 2 didn’t even bump. AT ALL. Strange, ok, pop the valve cover off, intake valve was ?” from the cam! Ok, dig into my first redblock, pop the cam out, follower out, sure enough, intake spring is 2 pieces. Cool, easy enough, figure I’ll try that first since it’s cheap, no fluids had mixed, see what happens. Off to the yard, new spring, install, cam back in, and…lit right off, smooth as could be. Well, now what, can’t justify parting it out, maybe I’ll drive it a little, even though I really don’t like wagon’s. First week went by, ended up hauling some stuff for a friend when she moved, realized this could come in handy. Already getting spoiled by boost since my 140 was my daily. Finally made the call I would keep it as my new daily, keep the 140 as a project, and leave this thing completely stock…words that would begin to haunt me in less than 6 months. What follows is over the course of the next 12 years of my life.
First things first, it was definitely too quiet, so an exhaust kit from SAM was in order. Queue the first TB group buy I ran. Got that installed, MUCH better, kinda realizing it could use a little more power, but only if something needs upgrading. Wait, what’s that, a 15G is a direct swap, AND easy to find at the yards? Hmm, okay, that could work, this 13c already has 185k on it, why not. Found one, sent off for a rebuild from the get-go, read about the weak spring on the stock actuator so I went with a Garrett actuator, and ended up with this.

Cool, definitely better, but it’ll need some additional fuel to go with more air. Found a set of brown tops, talked Mike into a set of chips, bumped the boost to 12psi, REALLY digging this thing now! Started noticing from time to time it would just bog down in boost though, so I installed an LC1, wired in to the Apexi turbo timer I had installed a few months prior, rather than run a gauge. Turns out it was going pig rich, going into knock enrichment, something it STILL does to this day, that nobody has been able to figure out (please don’t try, I’ve BTDT many times over, got a thread dedicated to that lol). Either way it wasn’t a constant issue, ran pretty well most of the time until boost was over about 12psi, so I figured what the hey, let’s go have some fun with it.

First pass, 15.5, managed to get it down to 14.9, that’s all it would do, but it was also having some traction issues, also needed some bushings. This was also about the time Kaplan started coming out with 7/9 subframes and Kenny started killing them, but better yet, Superpro had JUST started selling full poly instead of just the front end stuff. Cool, found a dealer that could get them, got a set inbound. Figured while the subframe was out I’d beef it up a little…





Cool, got that issue dealt with, shouldn’t need to mess with the subframe again (and I haven’t). About that time TLAO was getting into the exhaust business again so I decided to step up from a 3” to 3.5” downpipe (still in the car today, been thru a few different turbo’s) and also swap to the flat flange setup.

Ok, great, we’re doing awesome, now we’ll stop, and just enjoy the car for a while. That worked for a couple months, then I found an old-school IPD upper brace, which of course needed a lower brace. Went thru a couple designed, ended up with both. The current brace is the second pic with the first pic welded on the top side and some trimming behind the crossbar to allow for airflow.


Wow, that made a BIG difference, but over the last couple years I’ve been thru a couple sets of Billy HD’s, keep killing the fronts, start clunking. First one in the car had expanded so bad before I bought the car that I had to slide hammer it out of the tube. About this time someone local had a set of Koni yellow’s, so those were scored along with yet another set of strut mounts since this car was eating them for some reason. To date only the Duralast brand actually held up, while the other name brand stuff would last 12-18 months, but the DL brand was in there for 3 years prior to installing a set of these a few months back. Best thing I’ve done for the front suspension! Kaplhenke budget strut plates…

Ok, handling is solid, but it’s still got a lot of tire roll. Again, a craigslist find on lunch, called up Pat Pieper to pick these up. Told they were 17x7, Pat found 17x7.5 when he picked them up for me, when I looked, 2 were 17x7.5 Sport Edition E6’s, 4 were Fox Racing Evo 6’s in 17x8, ET43, for $140! Great, but despite the seller saying 1 was bent, Pat found 2 were bent, close inspection when I went to get tires mounted, 3 were bent. 7.5’s were fine. Send 1 of the 8’s out to get fixed, later sent the other two out, 1 couldn’t be fixed. These are the rims that now live on dieselboy’s 242. They are without question my favorite rim on my wagon but given the roads in my area, they wouldn’t hold up.


Vintage anti-ricer
300+ Club
Oct 21, 2004
BFE Desert east of Cali
After a few years I decided to go with some Subaru WRX STI BBS’s, again a CL find for $300. Another set of adapters, and this is how it sits now.

So, another local now has a set of IPD springs. Sure, may as well, so those went on with a set of Koni yellow’s on the rear as well, still on the car at this point.
Now, traction issues…yup, got them, track time aren’t getting any better. Around 2008 I found a G80 rear end for cheap, so that went into the car, stock rear end went into the stockpiles. After that ended up not working out quite as well as I’d hoped, it was time to drop some money on this…


Great, that’s done, won’t have to worry about THAT for a while, so bushings are good, suspension is solid, handles great, but it’s starting to get some piston slap, and the boost can go up, so of course, boost first, but it needs an IC. Found an NPR for sale online, got that dropped in, made a big difference but got picked on at a few smog checks, so earlier this year I grabbed a do88 IC, dropped it in, should be good for physical appearances now. FYI, the do88 added a good bit of weight over the NPR as well, minimal butt dyno change in power though.

Okay, that’s dealt with, now onto the engine. Over the last 2 years I’ve been stockpiling parts, between bearings locally, a short-block 230FD block from the yard, and some shiny bits from JVAB, a 531 sourced from overseas, and a set of valves from RSI I ended up with this little beauty…





B230FD block and crank
Long H-beam’s, CP pistons from JVAB, 96.50mm
Crank/pistons/rods balanced to 0.00g
ARP rod bolts
Unorthodox Racing underdrive pulley
Block mount distributor
-10AN oil drain
Ishikawa crank scraper (my pic’s are the ones on his website)

Dropped that engine in, really did run nice, but within the first 20k it was really slappy again, also found oil pressure was dropping. Dropped the pan to find this…


Fixed (I thought)

This proved to NOT work, had the same failure later on, so it now has a single seal with a machined washer to support it, along with high-tack between seal and tube, seal and block/pump. Been much better, rock solid since.

Once I started digging into the slap, I ended up removing the head to find multiple issues coming into play. I was also able to check on why the valve clearances kept shrinking, at the rate of around .001” per 1k driven.
The block…




The head…





Plus these (last beehive spring kit from Knox)…



Head is assembled with custom valves from REV, 46mm stainless intakes, 38mm Inconel exhaust, all cut specifically for our heads, no funky issues installing them like the various off the shelf offerings out there. Cam is an IPD Turbo cam.
Block was honed out to smooth it, clearances are on the wide end of things. Cause for the failure, no spec sheet was provided with the pistons when ordered so my machinist called CP directly, telling them this was a high boost street motor. CP tech gave them the incorrect gap spec so the rings butted. New rings sourced, cut on the wide end of the range, but since I didn’t get a fresh block, it’s running around .0045” piston clearance, so it’s a bit slappy, but it’s alive and taking abuse.

Now, for boost. Remember that little 15G? Well, that lasted all of a couple years. Found a Holset HE341 for cheap, modded the downpipe, ported out the WG hole, removed the flapper and replaced with a cut down B20 exhaust valve I had laying around, and ran that for a couple years. Fun, but not good for street driving since it was so laggy until it woke up around 10psi. Would have been a little better on MS, but on LH, it just didn’t play well, unless you wanted to get sideways halfway thru the intersection.


Vintage anti-ricer
300+ Club
Oct 21, 2004
BFE Desert east of Cali
From there I worked a killer deal on a properly sized turbo. Some cash and barter got my a nice, brand new GT2871R with a .63 housing, 56-trim impeller, ATP ultimate gate, Forge 007 CBV, Forge WG actuator, 14psi spring, and a HomeD sourced MBC. Compressor housing has since been stripped to bare alum, a boost signal nipple added, and a stock Volvo T3 tag affixed to it, to appease the smog techs.

Been rocking that for several years, best turbo I’ve run for a daily. Just recently went thru the process of modding the intake to it to make it more stealth for smog…
S60 upper pipe, Saab lower pipe, Forge 007…




Ok, now we’ve covered the power a bit, engine management is still running on chipped LH2.4 but I do have a PnP MS2V3 kit from Kenny waiting to get installed, with new options, including a flex fuel sensor input, CEL output, KnockMS, and his revised trigger input setup. Still trying to find a weekend to install and get it tuned and going again.

Next up, gotta make it stop. Went thru the usual ‘jumbo’ brake research, the 302mm FWD brake setup research, but then I found out at Davis, someone was selling off a pair of Wilwood calipers from his 740 for cheap. Cool, snagged those for $90, but he didn’t have the hats, adapters, etc. O, I can get those. Started looking into it, then had a crazy idea. Volvo has 330mm S60R front rotors, reasonably cheap, so let’s see what we can do here. Hit up a dealer contact, grabbed a 330mm and a 336mm from an XC from their scrap bin. Played around with both, looks like I can make the 330’s work, so let’s see what happens. Built a homebrew adapter, overkill, got it all mounted up, looks like it’ll work, awesome! $60 for lines and adapters, a new pair of rotors, sent off to be cryo’d by a friend, then install time. Total cost was $400 including pads and cryo. This setup was later adopted by Nathan on his 944T after he was looking for more power than the stock Wilwood kit he had. Comparing rotor temps between front and rear, they are still very similar, bias still seems to actually work pretty well, but it does dive a little if you have soft struts (or Koni’s on a soft setting), but the power once the pads get to temp, simply awesome.



So, now we’ve covered power, handling, stopping, all that’s left for the drivetrain is the trans. Around 200k the trans was starting to slip pretty good. Had a local shop to a ‘performance build’ on it, full Kevlar packs, some custom work he wouldn’t disclose due to trade secrets BS, and nobody in town would do bench work, so after dropping $2400, I had a ‘built’ transmission. Well, that failed after 13k. Under warranty they rebuilt it again on the bench, found workmanship errors caused the failure. In the meantime I had grabbed an AW71L from the yard, car had 185k on it, stuffed hard, oil smelled like burnt gear oil. Only needed it to run for a couple months til the nice one was done again, but I did the accumulator mod anyway, just to get some practice. 100k later, that trans is STILL going but it’s showing its age. After a few years I sold off the built trans, got tired of storing it since this one has been a rockstar.

So, since we’re done with the powertrain side of things, here’s my last dyno pull a several years ago, on a stock 530 head and stock bottom end, IPD cam, various LH bits, and the Holset, running 18psi on E85. I don’t have a current dyno sheet but it’s much improved, will be better once MS goes back on as well.

A couple other minimal but nice upgrades on the powertrain side:
Mechman 170A alternator
E-fan conversion
MSD6A/BlasterSS ignition setup

AEM 320LPH in-tank pump, main pump removed, relay kit for pump supply

RX7 oil cooler mounted in the lower valance

Custom upper engine mount, utilizes a 2.5 turbo Dodge damper

Ok, so now for the cosmetic stuff. I’ll just list what’s what, then on with the pics.
SAM rear spoiler

JAO Designs pillar pod


SE front/rear bumpers
PIAA P3000 fog lights
S90 side skirts
V90 tail lights
V90 door/liftgate handles
LHD E-codes/corners with relay kit


Custom lower air guide

R-sport seat covers
V40 sub

Pioneer deck, Focal 5.25’s in the doors, Alpine 445U amp under the dash
V90 moonroof and headliner

So, there’s a lot I haven’t covered, a lot of the trivial stuff, maintenance stuff, additional breakages, and plenty that’s either not documented, forgotten, blocked from memory, etc. This thread has a running log of the trials and tribulations for many years…

Additional information on the engine build…


Vintage anti-ricer
300+ Club
Oct 21, 2004
BFE Desert east of Cali
Yeah, had enough people asking for it, had some time without anything pressing, and I was awake last night. lol

Just like the 140 was never originally planned on being the show quality car it turned into, the wagon was never EVER meant to be the troll-worthy sleeper it has become. With the MS swap laying in wait and a trans swap to a 200-4R when I get the time/money, it'll be done aside from maybe some R seats up front and paint. Only problem with paint is then it will be nice, can't have that since it will lose some of it's sleeper status. lol


Apr 15, 2006
Sacramento, CA
I had no idea there was this much in this car. I love the BBS, as a Subaru guy in a past life (I lived in Reno for a decade, and it snowed) they're some of my favorite OEM wheels of all time.

When do I get a ride. :oogle:


Active member
Apr 20, 2015
Ben Lomond, CA
I will also chime in with "I didn't know you had done so much to this car", and I've seen it in person at least a few times. Nice work! Also encouraging to see that old dyno sheet on a setup so similar to mine. Will definitely have to go for a ride next time.


Vintage anti-ricer
300+ Club
Oct 21, 2004
BFE Desert east of Cali
Uncle...just gotta connect at some point. Got something to play with this afternoon, different tune I forgot I had, might help the WOT issue a little, but it's getting swapped out for the Dodge for a couple weeks, camping trip coming up.

Tyler...definitely a nice setup, but that Holset just got annoying if you had to get out into traffic, since it would light off too late to be of any use, where the 2871 is there from the get go. Still hilarious. the 2871 is a nice blend of spool just a little slower than a 15G with power just a little less than the Holset, but easily able to fit under the disguise of stock when it comes time to deal with the smog a-holes. :)


El Greco Capitano
300+ Club
Sep 19, 2013
Ahh .. at last the whole story, that i have been listening to in bits !! On this car i have based my inspiration for my 240, and learned a lot from Gary's experience.. The ultimate sleeper !!

Also shows that the biggest lie of a man to himself is: "will keep it stock" ... we all have been through this :) So accept it and keep improving it :)

You only need a dyno session now .. but the real results are on the road as always !

Thumbs up !!


Reformed SAABaholic
Nov 1, 2009
NW Georgia
Best $600 wagon on TB! :rofl:

I know this story ALL too well.... I had just planned to do a HG replacement on my 92 sedan.

If and when you get a current (latest rev. redblock) dyno sheet, please post it. I'm a bit surprised at that gentle torque slope... but you did say it was mostly stock at that point with just some boost added.

A fine late 7/9 wagon, what I secretly wish I had bought instead of the sedan.