Junkyard Find: 2001 Subaru Legacy Outback VDC Wagon

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

  • MQHokie Who decided moving all headlight control to the touchscreen was a good idea? I assume this means no manual high beam control anymore, so you're at the mercy of the automatic system that gets fooled by street lights, porch lights, sign reflections etc. Not to mention a good software bug or a light sensor failure might render the lights inoperable. With all the restrictions the NHTSA has placed on USA headlight design over the years, it amazes me that this is even legal.
  • Teddyc73 The Bronco just doesn't have enough editions and models.
  • ToolGuy @Matt, let me throw this at you:Let's say I drive a typical ICE vehicle 15,000 miles/year at a typical 18 mpg (observed). Let's say fuel is $4.50/gallon and electricity cost for my EV will be one-third of my gasoline cost - so replacing the ICE with an EV would save me $2,500 per year. Let's say I keep my vehicles 8 years. That's $20,000 in fuel savings over the life of the vehicle.If the vehicles have equal capabilities and are otherwise comparable, a rational typical consumer should be willing to pay up to a $20,000 premium for the EV over the ICE. (More if they drive more.)TL;DR: Why do they cost more? Because they are worth it (potentially).
  • Inside Looking Out Why EBFlex dominates this EV discussion? Just because he is a Ford expert?
  • Marky S. Very nice article and photos. I am a HUGE Edsel fan. I have always been fascinated with the "Charlie Brown of Cars." Allow me to make a minor correction to add here: the Pacer line was the second-from-bottom rung Edsel, not the entry-level trim. That would be the Edsel Ranger for 1958. It had the widest array of body styles. The Ranger 2-door sedan (with a "B-pillar", not a pillarless hardtop), was priced at $2,484. So, the Ranger and Pacer both used the smaller Ford body. The next two upscale Edsel's were based on the Mercury body, are were: Corsair, and, top-line Citation. Although the 1959 style is my fav. I would love a '58 Edsel Pacer 4-door hardtop sedan!