Bug-Eyed Barn Find: Subaru WRX unearthed after 7 years of sitting | Taza Khabre

Key findings

  • The 2002 Subaru Impreza WRX is an important part of American rally culture and features a 2-liter EJ20 engine.
  • The WD Detailing team cleaned the car’s wheels, wheel wells, engine bay and interior to restore it to its former glory.
  • The team faced problems such as rat urine, rat feces and a strong smell, but in the end they achieved great results and the owner is satisfied.

We can’t expect a Japanese tuner capable of making big power when we think of barn finds. The The WD Detailing team is at it again with another satisfying car detail, but this time, it’s not your typical muscle or classic car. Instead, they found 2002 Subaru Impreza WRX. It’s a car that hasn’t been driven in 7 years, so they felt it necessary to take it back to the garage where they will bring it back to life.

They found the car after heading to a barn on Sam’s 400-acre property. However, after opening the shed and the WRX “bug”, they were immediately hit by a terrible stench. Finding the dust-covered barn was in poor condition, Sam explained that after getting married and having kids, he didn’t have time for the car. He did a lot of cosmetic work on the vehicle, avoiding too much work on the engine. So, it’s time to see if RJ and Mike can bring the WRX back to its former glory.


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HotCars searches for hidden treasures and classic automotive gems tucked away in storerooms, garages or forgotten corners. If you have a vintage beauty waiting to be rediscovered, contact us and we’ll show the world the untold story of your classic car. Contact us at barnfinds{@}hotcars.com to learn more about your classic car.

The Subaru Impreza WRX started the Subaru rally culture in the US

Before they take off, RJ explains to Brent that the Beetle WRX is an important part of American rally culture, as it was the first WRX available for the US market. According to RJ, the Bug-Eye and Blob-Eye WRX are essentially the same car with different front ends.

When these cars were launched in the US, the STi was not available, meaning the first STi was only available in 2004 with the EJ25 engine. However, the WRX has a 2-liter EJ20. That’s not bad, but these cars are notorious for rusting.

RJ explains that they were planning to do a “wheels off” detail and Mike had an idea to make them more presentable. Mike claims the Subaru wheels are in bad shape, so he’s going to put them in plastic, the owner said, once he gets the car back.

He also says he’s going to sand the wheel with 400 grit sandpaper and prep it properly before applying five coats of plastidip. While getting the job done is a priority, Mike stresses the importance of taping the tires and applying a thin layer of Plastidip to avoid drips. A fresh coat of paint will bring these factory Enkei rims back to life.

All kinds of dirt came from the wheel wells

  • While waiting for the plastidip to dry, Mike began cleaning the wheel wells.
  • After cleaning the wheel wells, RJ proceeded to pressure wash the rest of the car.
  • The car was covered in cobwebs, dirt and dust.
  • RJ explains that the easiest place to miss is the back of the gas door.

Popping the hood, RJ explains that the EJ20 is an overhead intercooler four-cylinder engine. However, many WRX owners removed them, cut a hole in the bumper and installed larger front intercoolers. Matt explains that they can start the car if they check the fluids and make sure everything else is in order.


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It’s a bad idea to pressure wash the engine with power on

RJ explains that they need to remove the dead battery before they can pressure wash the engine bay. After the engine was clean, Mike installed a new battery to help them start it when the car was clean. RJ notes that they smelled a heavy smell of rat urine coming from the engine, but they found it coming from the wiper housing. After cleaning up the underside of the fairing, Mike moved on to adding additional coats of plastidip to the wheels.

RJ and Mike removed the rear fender, which is modest compared to other large fenders in the automotive industry. This is necessary in order for them to clean every part of the appearance. After washing the car, RJ tackled the foggy headlights of the WRX. He started by wet sanding with 600 grit sandpaper, then increased the grit to 1000 and then 1500. He then used a rotary compound and DA finish. After the process was complete, he added a UV protective coating to prevent oxidation and yellowing.

Engine characteristics



Years of production

1999-2006 years




2 liter


227 hp

A turning point

217 lb-ft



Programs worth paying attention to

Subaru Impreza WRX, Saab 9-2X

(Engine specifications obtained from Edmunds)

After removing the shroud, they found the source of the smell

  • The rat’s nest was wet, so it was harder to clean.
  • RJ restored the fog lights through a complex detailing process.
  • Mike added plastidip to the wheels.


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This WRX has about 100 more horsepower than the all-new 2021 Subaru WRX STI and weighs about one full-grown grizzly bear less.

The interior was one of the worst they had ever dealt with

2002 Subaru Impreza WRX engine compartment
YouTube – WD Detailing

RJ explains that when they raised the back seats, they were in for a pleasant surprise. After lifting the seat, piles of rat faeces spilled over and the only thing they could do was vacuum it up as it kept falling. After the back seats and trunk were cleaned, they moved on to the carpets, which had much of the same. However, this was only the beginning.

To get rid of the strong smell, they had to pressure wash and then vacuum the carpets. The seats have undergone the same treatment to ensure that the smell is completely gone and they are clean. Then RJ tackled the rest of the interior, starting with the doors and then the steering wheel. Then followed a thorough cleaning of the central console. After pulling out the carpets, RJ mentions that he plans to run an oZone air purifier at the end of the part.



5.4 seconds

The highest speed

145 miles per hour

Equipped mass

3165 lbs


227 hp

A turning point

217 lb-ft


Front engine, four-wheel drive

(Performance characteristics are taken from Edmunds)

The smell inside was a combination of urine and feces

  • A huge rat’s nest was found behind the back seat.
  • RJ used a steamer to clean most of the interior.
  • The oZone cleaner will get rid of unpleasant odors.

The wheels were clean

Front bumper Subaru Impreza WRX 2002
YouTube – WD Detailing

The owner and the team are satisfied with the result

  • It took four days to detail the WRX.
  • Sam took the WRX for a short rally, which caused the car to overheat.
  • After the first start, a mouse flew out of the exhaust.

RJ moved on to cleaning the exhaust tips with steel wool and a microfiber towel combined with a steel polish. These are great products for keeping your car clean and recommended by most professionals. Once that was done, all they had to do was assemble the WRX.



Average Used market range

Original MSRP


16,119 USD

24,520 USD

(Prices are taken from Classic.com)

Mike then checked the fluids after installing the new battery. However, after starting the car, a mouse flew out of the exhaust. In the end, Sam is very happy with the result, saying it looks like a new car. Everything from the paint to the wheels is now spotlessly clean.

Sources: WD Detailing, Classic.com, Edmunds

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