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Some newbie questions

Discussion in 'Subaru Sambar' started by kayakbrian, Oct 6, 2017.

  1. kayakbrian

    kayakbrian New Member

    Just picked up a supercharged 91 sambar van with 55k on it that I'm planning to build out into a fun micro camper van. The intended use is lots of highway miles with two people and lots of camping gear. I've done a few camper van builds but never owned a Kei car, so lots of things are new for me. I have a few questions to start out with for anyone kind enough to reply:

    Transmission: it's a 5 speed, is there a possibility of getting a 6 speed? or some other way to get one last high gear in there to bring the RPM's down a bit on the highway? Is it really ok to run the tach at 6000 for long periods of time?

    Tires: go a little bit bigger (like 7% bigger). or not? Those tiny wheels just seem wrong, and a little more clearance might be nice, I've read reports of better handling with a little bigger tires, true or not true? How much power loss is there really with just a moderate increase? I'm fine to stick with the stock size if that's what makes sense.

    Anything I should be thinking about as I go through the vehicle, weak spots in the engine or other components that I should check or replace before they fail? I'd rather put money and time in now than break down later.

    Any other advice for a new guy who knows nothing about Kei vans?

    Thanks for any replies. This is such a cool little van. I'm hooked.
  2. rkrenicki

    rkrenicki Active Member

    There is a 6 speed for this engine, but the extra gear is an "Extra Low", not a lower ratio gear.

    I daily drive my Supercharged Sambar truck, and there is a good amount of highway driving. I would try to not go over 6000rpm for an extended period of time (over an hour straight) without some breaks in the trip, but 110km/h is about 5500rpm in 5th.

    The engine is pretty good as long as it was well maintained. Do you know when the water pump and timing belt were last changed? Otherwise, it is normal maintenance.. oil, coolant, plugs, plug wires, distributer cap..

    I recently did a full rebuild on my engine, so if you have any questions.. please feel free to ask.
  3. kayakbrian

    kayakbrian New Member

    hey Kevin, I'm not sure I want to drive this thing over 90kph anyway! I may well take you up on the rebuild advice as I get into the process. I'm going to assume the water pump and timing belt are original. Time to change?
  4. rkrenicki

    rkrenicki Active Member

    Given that your van is 26 years old, I would not trust the timing belt, idler, or water pump unless you knew that it was replaced recently. The EN07 engine is not interference, so a broken timing belt will not destroy the engine (unlike other subaru engine designs).. but it is relatively cheap insurance to keep you from waiting for a tow truck.
  5. BLES

    BLES Member

    I have a 91 Sambar truck with the Supercharger and 6 speed. I don't have a tach but it seems to scream on the hiway! Best change I've made was wheels/tires. Switched from the tiny 12" to 195/14". Difference in ride was astounding. Definitely takes more power but the supercharger is up to it.
  6. rkrenicki

    rkrenicki Active Member

    Small displacement engines are designed to spin.. It is best to think of them like Motorcycle engines and those love to rev.

    The redline on the EN07 engine is around 7300rpm. At 130km/h, it is still a little bit under 7000rpm on mine. Truck is a pretty floaty at that speed, but boy is it a screamer.. I have not had the truck past 7000rpm yet, even when it was on the DynoJet.
    Bobacuda likes this.
  7. SpikeFiend

    SpikeFiend Member

    I have a '91 Supercharged Sambar. The first time I really drove it was on the 3 hour highway trip home doing ~100-110 km/h. The supercharged models have a taller 5th gear which makes them a bit better for high speeds than other models.

    I wouldn't go too big on the tires, there is a noticeable drop in power. With the stock 12" tires, I was able to accelerate handily up hills... now with the 165/65 R13's (basically the same outer diameter) the super charger kicks in just to maintain speed up the hill. The ride is definitely better with the 165 width though.

    I also made a timing belt/water pump replacement guide. It's for a truck, but the van should be almost the same.
  8. kayakbrian

    kayakbrian New Member

    That timing belt tutorial is invaluable. Thank you!!!

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