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Subaru Legacy wagon gt b 1996 jdm

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Hey everyone.

I’m a total car noob. I learned to drive stick initially, then owned two automatic Nissan Sentra 2000s.

My Sentra died and I decided it was time to get a car I’d enjoy driving.

Picked up this jdm legacy gtb: http://www.jdmautoimports.com/1996-subaru-legacy-gt-b-bg5-bilstein-twin-turbo-5-speed-ej20tt-rhd-for-sale-usa.html

What should I do to make sure it’s in top shape? I’ve been giving it 93 octane, it’s the best I can get. Have octane booster in the mail to put in before each tank to get it closer to 95 octane.

I’ve been watching lots of conquer driving on YouTube, he has a bunch of great manual driving videos. Lately I’ve been trying to get better at getting into first and second gear more quickly by blipping the throttle. How high should I be doing this?

I can smoothly transition gears, but I fail at this and don’t want to drive like a grandma, but also want to take care of this beauty.

What rpm should I blip to, and what rpm should I wait for the needle to fall to before dropping the clutch?

Generally speaking what rpm makes sense for each gear? 

What rpm do I have to blip to and then wait for the needle to fall to when downshifting?

What rpm makes sense for smooth shifts?

I know a lot of this will come with time and feel, but I am trying to minimize any wear on tear on the car that I can.

Anything maintenance wise I should get taken care of right away? I don’t want to skimp on babying this car as I want it to last forever.

Should I replace the timing belt? 

Appreciate any manual driving tips / general Subaru Legacy tips. As stated, all very new to this. Thanks — excited to be a member of this community !


Edited by megasquid
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Up shift RPM depends on the load you are trying to get.  When I'm granny driving around town (about .002% of my driving) I shift up in the 2000  to 2500 range.  My normal driving ranges between very assertive and race mode, so I shift up at more like 3000+ or 5500 for a full send.  I rarely take it up to the 6000 where my gauge starts the red markings.  I've always stuck to about 500 under red in my cars.  But espcially with my Subaru with it's lower power I'm often nearing the full send.


As to down shifting, I mostly don't do that in street driving as there usually isn't a need.  My normal to work route has a lot of 45 mph to or nearly to a stop at a light and traffic means I can't get much engine brake in, so it's clutch blip into neutral, and then when I'm ready to go into second for a rolling start I'm typically going slow enough that no throttle blip is needed, just gently hold the shifter toward that gear and it will drop in when it's ready (meaning the synchro has matched input shaft to output shaft rpm)  so a resonable clutch release is fine.  I learned on a car with no synchro on first, so I basically never go to first unless I'm fully stopped.  Even when I do go to first while rolling my Subaru does not enjoy this, so I just avoid doing it.  If I do have to for mountain grade reasons a quick double clutch and throttle blip really helps it accept first while moving.

When I'm ripping the mountain grades and curves I double clutch and throttle blip for my downshifts.  About the best I can say on that topic is spend some time riding with someone who can explain it in real time, and don't do it yourself until you have gained some experience.  Mostly what that experience will teach you is a feel for what rpm a given gear will need to go the speed you are going, and then you will be able to plan out throttle blips, or just a gentle feather the clutch to go along with a correct choice of gear for that speed and planned throttle load.

Some considerable time ago Casey Putch did a video or two trying to explain and demonstrate this in one of his cars.  I thought he did a good job for a video, but there is nothing like having someone demo it while explaining it as you go, and then swapping seats and them doing a little coaching.  I think I picked it up in two sessions of about a half hour way back then, so it isn't that hard, it's just hard to really convey it in text.  And of course lots and lots of practice.  I probably drove stick every day for a month+ before I felt like I was really good at it.


P.S.  I love your ride.  It's what I see when I look at mine that is a 1995 'L' trim level.

Edited by doublechaz
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  • 2 weeks later...

Thank you so much for the reply!

I’m jealous of the 95 L trim — trying to find as many after market parts as I can! The GTB is definitely lacking in that department…

I’m in the U.S and have been putting 93 octane gas in my tank. I started adding STP octane booster as that should get me closer to the 95 octane that is expected in Japan.

I’ve had a hard time finding other fuel. There are a few places farther away where I can go to get 100 octane race gas. I’m going to try and get that when I can, and mix it with 93 octane to get to the 95 octane.

When I can’t do that, I’ll continue to stick to shell v-power with the stp booster.

From what I’ve heard online the octane boosters can cause build up around the spark plugs etc. 

What gas are you able to get? Is your 95 JDM? Do you know anything about the octane booster or have opinions?

Should I opt for getting it tuned for the common 93 octane gas here?

I really don’t want to damage the engine / get knocking.

Probably overthinking it?

BTW been getting much smoother at the shifting appreciate the advice!

Feel free to drop any pics of your legacy if you’d like, would love to see it!

Edited by megasquid
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I don't know about Japan, but Australian octane ratings are different from US ratings.  I would do some reseatch to see if 95 Japan rating is equal to 95 US.  I suspect 95 Japan would be the same as 91 US, but do a bunch of research first to be sure because detonation in a turbo engine can quickly kill it.


Check https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Octane_rating to start, and then once you have the terminology down you can do more specific research.


My ride is just a plain USDM Legacy L in silver.  Nothing that would get most people excited, but I love it.  I've learned a lot working on it over the years and done some mods to make it less slow.

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