Replace engine

We have a 1981 Suburu Wagon. The engine needs to be replaced - or probably just the heads - but apparently it’s impossible to find any these days for a car that old.

Any ideas where we might find heads for this car or even an engine? Thanks

Unlucky you. I just trashed out about 15-20 Subaru cylinder heads of this era for scrap aluminum along with a number of engine blocks, manifolds, etc. Just simply got tired of stumbling over this stuff.
I may still have some 1.8 heads in the basement but will have to wait till tomorrow to go digging.

Just curious here. The heads are seldom a problem on these engines so why do you think you need cylinder heads or an engine?
What are the symptoms?

jlrdrr, you must be in the southwest because up here in New England all of those Subarus are gone not because of the engines, but because of body rust haha. Don’t get me wrong, I do have a spot in my heart for Subarus, but boy, they sure were rust prone back then.

Just out of curiosity-have you peeked around on Ebay? Maybe OK4450 will be able to find you something if there’s nothing online.

try for tips.

The heads are pretty trashed. Due to overheating, several spark plugs had to be drilled out and new threads put in which didn’t last too long.

About the rust, we lived in a pretty rust prone area (PNW) and it stayed pretty rust free…

Well, took a look today and no more 1.8 cylinder heads. Only about half a dozen 1.4 heads and those are real hard to find anymore. (and they won’t fit your engine)

If the engine overheated pretty badly then odds are you may have a blown or weakened head gasket(s). Subarus do not take overheating very well due to the all aluminum construction.
If the engine apparently runs well, other than this problem, then you could remove the heads and a machine shop should be able to repair the spark plug holes pretty easily. This would give you an opportunity to replace both head gaskets.

If you remove the heads I would strongly suggest they be checked for flatness. The cylinder heads are very short in length but have a tendency to warp beyond the specs anyway. This often requires surfacing of the heads. During head reinstallation it is critical that the cylinder head nuts be torqued in sequence AND in stages. It’s also a good idea to spray both side of the new head gaskets with aerosol Copper Coat as this helps tremendously in sealing them.

(I’ve owned several of the 80-84 Subarus and they’ve been my favorite model. Good cars and I’d love to have another one but every one I’ve run across has been near totally thrashed and not worth the effort. The 81’s were the first year for computer controlled carburetors and were plagued with vapor lock problems during warm weather. Still, I like them)