Junkyard Find: 2001 Subaru Legacy Outback VDC Wagon

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 2001 subaru legacy outback vdc wagon
The Outback version of the third generation of the Subaru Legacy wagon, built for the 2000-2004 model years, was the one that really nailed down the Outback as the Denver motor vehicle.These things are so commonplace in Denver car graveyards that I don’t even notice them (unless I’m looking for bits for my own ’04 Outback), but today’s Junkyard Find is a top-trim-level VDC with every imaginable option, on top of its standard six-cylinder engine plus McIntosh audio system, and well worth documenting.
VDC stood for Vehicle Dynamics Control, which was Subaru’s early version of stability control. Pretty high-tech stuff for 2001.
The coolest thing about the VDC Legacy? The high-end McIntosh audio system, with lots of watts and speakers all over the car. Usually these head units get grabbed immediately by eBay sellers, but this car had just been put out in the yard’s inventory when I found it.
I already have a McIntosh radio, because of course I do, but I lacked the under-seat amplifier. Naturally, I yanked out the passenger seat and invested $12.95 in this amp. It will make a proper heart for a very high quality car-parts boombox.
Bought new in Albuquerque, just down I-25 from Denver. In fact, the original owner’s manual and salesman’s calling card remain in the car. Subaru had removed all the Legacy badging from the Outback wagon’s exterior by this time, but this car remained a Legacy as far as the Subaru organization, insurance companies, DMVs, etc. were concerned (because you could get the Outback trim level for the Legacy sedan until 2004, it would have been too confusing to have “Outback” serve as model name and a trim level at the same time). Just to make things more bewildering in the Legacy/Outback universe of 2001, Subaru hadn’t axed the Impreza Outback until the 2000 model year.
At some point in the early 2010s, it moved to Missouri.
The 3.0-liter boxer-six engine in this car cranked out a pretty decent 212 horsepower, which was 47 more than the four-cylinder in the ordinary Legacy. Legacy Outback Wagon shoppers could get the H6 in the VDC and in the nearly-as-pricey L.L. Bean Edition.
You couldn’t get a manual transmission with the H6, no doubt for the same parts-breaking reasons you couldn’t get one in the earlier Subaru SVX. I must say that the five-speed in my ’04 Outback — same generation of Outback wagon, fewer options — is the only thing that makes this ill-handling machine slightly enjoyable to drive on dry pavement (on snow or ice with real winter tires, though, it’s a fine machine).
This one got abandoned somewhere in unincorporated Colorado (probably the side of a highway) and towed away by the state rozzers. Maybe the transmission finally gave up.
Dual sunroofs! The MSRP for this car started at a staggering (for a Legacy in 2001) $31,895, or about $47,000 in 2020 dollars. You could get a new Audi A4 Avant Quattro wagon with 190 horsepower for $31,990 that year, which would have given you better handling but no McIntosh audio system.
If the Black Ice Car-Freshner Little Tree ( the #1 air freshener I find in junkyard vehicles these days) seems a little too, y’know, black for you, there’s always Vanilla Pride (which is an American-flag-printed tree suffused with the same scent as the Vanillaroma tree). Either way, you’ll find one in every car. You’ll see.
The world’s first sport utility wagon, according to Subaru. The mud-spattered bride who shows up late to her own wedding due to foolhardy Ford Explorer ownership is a nice touch, given the white-hot notoriety of the Explorer in the news when the ’01 Outbacks went on sale.
Subaru worked hard to position the 2001 Legacy Outback wagon as a true SUV, but American SUV shoppers tended to covet 5,000-pound-plus Detroit behemoths by that time. Still, while the H6 Legacies didn’t fly off the showroom floors, buyers in snowy/outdoorsy-activities regions threw elbows at each other in their frenzy to buy the lower-zoot-level 2000-2004 Outback wagons. You’ll still see these wagons lined up in row after row at the REI parking lots, here in Denver.
In Japan, this vehicle received Legacy Lancaster badging, and the Boxer
Have some tea?
With a name like Lancaster, you know this was one classy car in Japan. Actually, Subarus ( other than kei vans) are fairly rare on Japanese streets. I’m a big fan of the Subaru Chiffon Police Interceptor, naturally.For quick links to well over 2,000 additional Junkyard Finds, Junkyard Treasures, and Junkyard Gems, check out the Junkyard Home of the Murilee Martin Lifestyle Brand™.
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3 of 48 comments
  • Davew833 Davew833 on May 06, 2020

    Contrary to popular belief, the H6 engine in these DOES blow head gaskets, maybe not at the alarming rate the EJ25 4 cyl does, but I've had both a 2001 Outback H6 and a 2007 Outback H6, both that had blown head gaskets when I bought them, unbeknownst to me. I bought them on the basis that the EZ30 is "bulletproof" compared to the EJ25. It's a great engine, but not bulletproof.

  • Eng_alvarado90 Eng_alvarado90 on May 06, 2020

    I've never heard a McIntosh sound system in any Subaru, but I would bet it sounds better than the Harman Kardon that replaced it on the newer Outbacks. My in-laws have a 2011 Outback Limited and the sound system is nothing to write home about, it sounds clear ebough but has no bass despite the 6x9 subwoofer in the trunk. I believe my Accord EX sounds better despite having no branded stereo

  • Kcflyer on one hand it at least wont have dirty intake valves like Honda's entire lineup of direct injection ice vehicles. on the other hand a CRV offers more room, more range, faster fueling and lower price, hmm
  • Tassos BTW I thought this silly thing was always called the "Wienermobile".
  • Tassos I have a first cousin with same first and last name as my own, 17 years my junior even tho he is the son of my father's older brother, who has a summer home in the same country I do, and has bought a local A3 5-door hatch kinds thing, quite old by now.Last year he told me the thing broke down and he had to do major major repairs, replace the whole engine and other stuff, and had to rent a car for two weeks in a touristy location, and amazingly he paid more for the rental ( Euro1,500, or $1,650-$1,700) than for all the repairs, which of course were not done at the dealer (I doubt there was a dealer there anyway)
  • Tassos VW's EV program losses have already been horrific, and with (guess, Caveman!) the Berlin-Brandenburg Gigafactory growing by leaps and bounds, the future was already quite grim for VW and the VW Group.THis shutdown will not be so temporary.The German Government may have to reach in its deep pockets, no matter how much it hates to spend $, and bail it out."too big to fail"?
  • Billccm I had a 1980 TC3 Horizon and that car was as reliable as the sun. Underappreciated for sure.