Employee Build: Art’s 2004 Subaru Forester XT (Part 1)

If you’ve ever called GrimmSpeed for any reason, chances are you’ve probably spoken with me. My name is Art and I’m a part of the GS Marketing/Sales Team.

Now that the busy season is drawing to an end and things are a bit more settled around the shop (as settled as they can be around here anyway), I thought it would be a good opportunity to showcase some of the personal projects we’ve got brewing. Since being a car enthusiast is practically a prerequisite of working at GrimmSpeed, we all have a project or two going on at any given time, and I’m no exception. The following is a glimpse of where my beloved Forester XT came from and where it’s going…

The Build: Part 2

Hold on, what about Part 1?

Well Part 1 of the build actually took place around this time of last year, although I never really got around to documenting much of the progress. A good place to start the story of my FXT is during the winter of 2012 when I picked her up from the Twin Cities on a particularly bone-chilling night [see picture below]. At that time I was finishing up my college degree in Wisconsin and decided I needed a change from the Bugeye I was driving around. Truthfully the Subaru I really intended to buy was an 08+STI Hatch, a car I’d pined over ever since a good friend of mine and I road-tripped to California in one. After an assessment of where I was financially in my life, I decided a 2010+WRX Hatch would be the next logical choice…well not quite, because I couldn’t afford that either. It was at this point I realized what a lot of people were/are starting to understand, that the Forester could be a cool, fast, functional option that didn’t necessarily have to be a compromise.

The search began with a few criteria in mind: it had to be rust free (often a tall order in the Midwest) and it had to be manual (not always an easy find for these). Ideally it also had to be mostly stock, since like a lot of enthusiasts, I typically like starting from scratch on my projects. After much run-around from out-of-state dealerships and Craigslist sellers, I managed to find a prime enthusiast-owned example within a few hours of me. Long story short, I made the trip, paid admittedly a bit too much, and I was stuck with her. Relatively stock and absolutely rust-free, I couldn’t have asked for a better canvas for a long-term project.

img_0192-1

Once I was done with college and had been working for GrimmSpeed for a while, the modding began. I centered my plan around a Forced Performance 71HTA Turbo and the desire to eventually throw in a built block and run E85, of which there’s plenty of around here. All of the GrimmSpeed bolt-on’s were fitted accordingly, along with a handful of other parts from some of my favorite manufacturers in the industry.

In the next post or two I’ll put out a complete mod list on the car thus far so you have a better idea of what makes it tick, but for now here’s a little look at it in its current configuration: img_4108

The Plan

As much as I want to go for an all-out, no expenses spared race car build, what I’ve got in mind for the FXT this off-season is a bit more realistic. My budget is being juggled between another [drift] build, and my workspace, as you’ll soon see, is less than a desirable place for a truly intensive overhaul. Besides, car ownership for a lot of us tends to be more fun in stages, a “the journey, not the destination” type thing.

One aspect of the car that I’ve admittedly neglected is its suspension. I’m running a set of Fortune Auto 500 coilovers, which I absolutely love, but I’m ashamed to say that’s about it. Needless to say she’s pretty unimpressive in the corners, which is why a good amount of my focus will be underneath the car. At 120K on the clock the factory bushings/ball joints/wheel bearings are well past their prime, so they’ll definitely see some attention as well.

Aesthetics are however another area I’ll be focusing on. Since the FXT is a relatively obscure model, exterior items are either tough to find, outrageously expensive, or just plain non-existent. I’ve got a few ideas on modifying some aftermarket aero parts from other models of Subaru, and some from totally different vehicle makes.

I’m planning on throwing a good chunk of change at the brake setup of the car as well. Not only have the stock calipers left a lot to be desired, but my pads and rotors were pretty much shot going into the end of this year; a perfect excuse to go bigger as I see it. With that, a set of nice wheels to change up the look are also on the docket.

Aside from the aforementioned, I’m currently working on comprising a list of never-ending miscellaneous things to buy and do, so this project should do nicely at keeping my hands busy and my credit card in its familiar territory throughout the winter months.

Deadlines

I’m the kind of guy that needs to set deadlines; otherwise nothing astoundingly productive gets done. In that light, every year The Wisconsin Dells opens its doors to a weekend of automotive heaven called Automotion, gathering cars/trucks from all corners of the Midwest into what’s grown to be one of my favorite events of the year. Since it takes place in May, it’s typically a good benchmark for debuting winter-time projects like this so that’s what I’ll be shooting for.

Expect more to come in the approaching weeks/months, and to keep things fun comments, suggestions, and general berating are always highly encouraged.

-Art

img_9080

GrimmSpeed Featured Retailer – Built Not Bought Auto

Congratulations to Justin Frank of Built Not Bought Auto for being selected as our very first GrimmSpeed Featured Retailer! Justin has been a friend of GrimmSpeed’s since the very beginning so it’s no surprise that when we opened up the application for selection, he was the first one to complete and submit it. The GrimmSpeed Featured Retailer designation is one that is earned by an Authorized Retailer after they’ve proven their ability to not only sell GrimmSpeed products effectively, but to provide outstanding customer service and support. We have a pile of great applicants to work through and will continue to add to this list of retailer profiles as quickly as we can.

Justin will stop at nothing to ensure that his customers are taken care of and is always assisting us with product feedback, ideas and testing. He’s even been known to offer his time and travel on his own dime to help the GrimmSpeed team out at big events.

Business Name: Built Not Bought Auto (online) and VA Parts House (in-store)

Website: www.builtnotboughtauto.com

Location: Chesapeake, Virginia

In business since: 2010

Their story: Justin started the business on his laptop during breaks and on lunch at his day job selling GrimmSpeed products on eBay. Over time, he built a loyal customer base both locally and nationally and it wasn’t long before he was able to quit his day job and pursue his business full time. Since then, Built Not Bought Auto has grown to number of employees, a brick and mortar retail location and online sales through www.builtnotboughtauto.com and eBay. Justin is a big guy with a big personality and is an expert at maintaining a level head and a positive attitude in an industry that sometimes makes that challenging.  When asked what about his business people might not know, he responded that many people that know him from his exclusively GrimmSpeed days don’t know that he now sells parts for all kinds of cars.

What you need to know: Justin will treat each and every customer like a friend. We recommend giving him and his staff a call any time you have a question regarding GrimmSpeed products. They won’t steer you wrong.

The Gift of GrimmSpeed – 2016 Subaru Enthusiast Gift Guide

We can probably all agree that 2016 has had its ups and downs, but whether it was a great overall year for you and your loved ones or not, you still have time to end it on a high note with The Gift of GrimmSpeed. We have worked hard all year in the GS workshop to bring your favorite automotive enthusiasts the products they’ve been clamoring for, and we’ve done just that!
At GrimmSpeed we don’t just take pride in the quality of our products, but also in the quality of our customer service and support. We strive to make shopping for aftermarket upgrades as easy as possible so we always encourage you to call in with questions, for a little advice, or even just to chat. In order to make things even more simple, we’ve come up with a quick Subaru enthusiast gift guide for some last minute ideas:

Gifts under $50

under50

  • GrimmSpeed Apparel and Swag – A t-shirt, fitted hat, keychain or pair of license plate frames would make an excellent gift or stocking stuffer for the Subaru fan in your life!
  • Delrin Shift Knobs – A product that’s been flying off our shelves since its recent introduction, it’s an excellent gift for enthusiasts that prefer a lighter-weighted shift knob.
  • Hellas Horns/Accessories – We all know how much Subaru owners love to outfit their cars with Hella-brand horns, our Hella Horn Brotie Brackets and plug-and-play wiring harnesses make mounting these up less of a hassle than ever.

Gifts $50 – 100

under100

  • Stainless Steel Shift Knob – This is one of our newest, long overdue releases, and one of our most popular items already! A must-have for those that like a nicely-weighted shift knob.
  • Pulley/Alternator Covers – An excellent GrimmSpeed-branded ‘dress up’ item that replaces the less-attractive plastic factory cover. Available for fitment on the BRZ/FRS and most 02+turbo Subarus, including a newly-introduced piece for the 2015+WRX.
  • Lightweight Crank Pulleys – One of our oldest and most-purchased items, the GrimmSpeed Lightweight Crank Pulley is a must when it comes to building up your engine.
  • License Plate Relocation Kits – This is one of our most popular gifted products. It moves your front license plate to a less prominent location and eliminates the need for holes in your bumper. A few new fitments have been added for 2016 including for the Ford RS and Volkswagen MK6 Golf/GTI.
  • Electronic Boost Control Solenoids – This is another very popular gift that has become an industry-standard amongst tuners and enthusiasts. Readily used on 1,000+HP setups running serious amounts of boost, it’ll do the job and then-some on your car!

Gifts $150 – 400

under400

  • Catless Up-Pipe – An excellent way to free up pre-turbo exhaust flow and remove the restrictive and potentially-harmful factory cat. Also available with an external wastegate option for those who want to pump up their boost levels without experiencing dreaded boost creep; feel free to give us a call to make sure you’re picking the right one!
  • Air Intake System – This seems to be at the top of everybody’s list each year. An upgraded intake system reduces restriction and allows for more power to be made during tuning. It also enhances the sound of the vehicle. Don’t settle for cheap alternatives, get a hold of us so that we can explain exactly why!
  • Air Oil Separator – Another very popular gift for Subaru owners: available in beautiful red, blue and black anodized finishes. Feel free to get a hold of us for an explanation of how the AOS system works!

Gifts $400 and up

over400

  • Downpipe/J-Pipe – This is typically the starting point for an upgraded exhaust system and is the piece that generates the greatest performance gains. Available with a number of options, you may need a couple of hints on this one!
  • Top Mount Intercooler – For that very special person in your life, a GrimmSpeed Intercooler is the cream of the crop where intercoolers are concerned. Rated to high horsepower figures, it’s an excellent fit for nearly all applications. This year we’ve introduced the 2015+WRX TMIC/Chargepipe that’s quickly becoming the industry standard for high-quality intercoolers.
  • GrimmSpeed Power Packages – Available with a wide range of options, GrimmSpeed Power Packages offer a fully engineered system of modifications, designed to enhance the performance of your vehicle to a number of different degrees. A PERFECT starting point for a new enthusiast or a seasoned car nut that’s picked up a new/stock Subaru!

If you have any questions about items that are on the GrimmSpeed Gift Guide or our website, please contact us directly at sales@grimmspeed.com!