Subaru Forester GrimmSpeed

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.

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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

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