All posts by Art Petrakov

EMPLOYEE BUILD: ART’S 2004 SUBARU FORESTER XT: The Re-buildening (Part 1)

It’s only been about four months since I closed the book on my Forester build. My May deadline was met and I finally got my chance to enjoy the car, and enjoy it I did. All the brake and suspension upgrades allowed me to drive it more like an STI than a Previa (another big shoutout to Whiteline for that) and the wheels and exterior bits had me falling in love with the look of the old toaster-box all over again. I was, and still am, satisfied with what this car has become and distinctly remember leaving off my last build blog with this statement:

“So there it is, the car is totally, completely, unequivocally done…There’s a few [small] changes I’ll be making and ironing out some little issues here and there, but for the most part I can finally put down the wrenches, close the wallet, and enjoy staring at it for a while.”

What I ultimately meant by that was: “no way in hell I’m putting this thing back up on jack stands this year, I’m done, I’m finished, no thanks”…well, the wrenches are officially back out, the wallet is all but drained, and it’s go-time once again.


Given my budgetary build constraints I normally have to look for opportunity to present itself before taking on something new. That’s why I never really plan the projects I do, but wait for them to fall into my lap; often times at the most inopportune moments. Some weeks ago, an opportunity came in the form of one friend’s frustration over his project car. His original intent was to build a sleeper FXT that would blow the doors off mostly anything in his path, but unfortunately his first go-around was less than successful thanks to a cam issue in his newly built motor. By the time the blame was placed and the logistics of the rebuild were ironed out, he had lost interest in his original plan. We got talking and long story short, although I wasn’t ready to take on a new project, I showed up to his place with a  stack of cash and drove off with a familiar addition to my stable:


In the next post I’ll give you a rundown of what the new FXT is all about, but the most important bits are its..drum roll…JDM 6spd drivetrain and sleeved motor, among a bevy of other go-fast parts. [I’ll also be showing you a little update on my garage and include a few pictures of the other Forester in all it’s current glory].

I always had the intention of yanking out the original motor in my FXT, picking up a pre-assembled IAG shortblock, building the heads, and switching over to E85. Along with the bolt-on’s and turbo I already had on the motor, pushing out 400-450WHP would’ve been very achievable. When I sat down to crunch the numbers of the longblock build, factored in a 6spd drivetrain, and added up the endless miscellaneous costs, the build was all but unattainable, so the idea was put on hold.  Now that dream is back in full force. What really makes this entire build possible is the fact that I am starting out with two perfectly running, identical Foresters, and ending up with [hopefully] two perfectly running, identical Foresters. That means that one will be will eventually get sold to recoup some of the costs of the build and the other will remain mine-all-mine, becoming as close to my dream car as I could have hoped for.

So here we go. The initial plan is to swap over the rear ends of the cars, dropping both subframes and doing an exchange. Although the new FXT has Brembos all around, I’m planning on keeping the rear and front hub/brake setups just the way they are on the old FXT since they were just freshly rebuilt with new bearings, seals, extended studs, powdercoat, etc.


Once that’s done and I’ve got two rolling vehicles again, I’ll be pulling the engines and transmissions out of each. Some new gaskets, a bit of cleaning, and they’ll get thrown back into their doppelganger’s chassis’ and all will be right with the world. Nice and simple; on paper anyway, but judging from past builds it will be anything but.

This time around I plan to record the build on video so be sure to follow me on Youtube and Instagram @thenotorious_a_r_t for project updates. For those that need a brush-up on the last build, check out my original blog posts here:

As promised, albeit a bit late, I’ll leave you with a small collection of photos courtesy of Cody Helton (@chelton91). Props go to him for making my car look better in photos than it ever could in person:






-Art Petrakov

GrimmSpeed After Hours: 2017 Recap [Gallery]

From day one GrimmSpeed has always been a company comprised entirely of  automotive enthusiasts, it’s one of the things we hold in high esteem around here, and although we’ve grown considerably in size since the beginning, that still stands true to this day. As most typical car enthusiasts do, our employees will check out the local shows/meets as often as possible, so when we finally got the opportunity to start hosting gatherings of our own, we ran with it. The initial meet we hosted was a good way to start spreading the word and gauging what sort of interest the local community had for coming to hang out at the shop. Check out the blog post for the first-ever GrimmSpeed Meet here:

We all felt like we should do things a bit differently than the average meet. What we wanted to do was interact with those that showed up, not just take their entrance money and try to sell them a few t-shirts, but to check out their cars, have a few laughs, and get to know them on a personal level. That turned out to be one of the biggest pleasures of this undertaking. As the shows went on, more new faces showed up and the events started to feel less like work, and more like a big garage hangout with friends.

Fast forward to September, when we found ourselves staring at the face of our last event for the 2017 season. Although it was nice to have a little break from the chaos, in truth looking back at the past few months had me feeling pleasantly nostalgic. With that, I decided to put together an album of pictures that stood out to me during our past events. Without much further ado, here are my sentimental favorites:













The After Hours: Wrap-Up on September 15th came and went in a flash. It gave us one last chance to hang out with the now-familiar faces, catch up over some BBQ, and be in the presence of some of my favorite cars in Minnesota; not a bad send-off. Here is a bonus gallery of pictures from that day:












To those of you who came out to one or more of our events, or even supported us from a distance, I’d like to extend a personal thank you to each and every one of you. This much fun wouldn’t have been possible otherwise. See you all in 2018!



GrimmSpeed After Hours: 2017 Recap [Gallery]

EMPLOYEE BUILD: Cory’s Garelli SSXL Moped (Part 1)

Employee/Author: Cory Mezzenga

Editor: Art Petrakov

Cars? Yeah I’ve had a few of those. I’m no stranger to fun cars, in the last few years I’ve had a Mazdaspeed Protege, a 2001 2.5RS sedan, a 2002 Bugeye Wrx, a Volvo 240 (more fun than you might think), and a built Outback XT. More recently, I’ve purchased another fun project, my first house! With that, my fun car budget pretty much became non-existent. However, anyone who loves engines can’t stay away from getting their hands dirty for long, and besides I’ve been on two wheels longer than four. Sure, I could’ve gotten a motorcycle, but I wanted something a bit different. When people hear the word “moped” they think a scooter that zips around college campuses across the nation, but not these mopeds. The real mopeds, with PEDALS attached to them, that’s the bike I wanted to build, to make stupid-fast, for stupid-cheap..or so I planned.

I’ve been working on this moped for over 6 months now and in that time it’s gone through some crazy transformations. Originally this build started as a Garelli SSXL Moped with a 70cc kit, a bigger carb., aftermarket pipe, etc. At that point, the only thing that hadn’t been modified was the tank. Unfortunately, the reason I decided to modify anything on this bike is a bit of a bummer. Aptly named “The Spite Bike”,  the main reason of this build was actually to upset the person I got it from.


Now, I know what you’re thinking, why would anyone do that? Well, let me tell you. I traded a bike that I very much enjoyed (which ran fine, was reliable, fast, and rare) for this to a (now ex) member of the local moped community. I had seen the bike on weekly rides so I was under the impression that it was in comparable condition to my own. When he arrived to my house on the day we were trading, he couldn’t get the bike to start, I attributed the issue to the cold day  (modified mopeds are notoriously finicky in cold weather) and just said it was fine. He assured me it ran great and was in excellent condition engine-wise. Well, that’s where I got taken for a ride, so to speak. After doing everything I knew to get it to run, I finally decided to crack the cylinder off. Welp, the piston was smeared on the cylinder, meaning it ran lean, overheated, and the piston jettisoned some material, leaving a bike with no compression and bits of metal in the case. Well then, that’d do it I suppose! I shot him a message about what I found and he told me to get lost.

Delightful. So there I was, stuck with this thing, suddenly having to throw more money than expected at it. Looking at the engine it came with, there were many shortcomings in the original design, especially when it came to modifying it. Weak clutches, very little aftermarket support, and just general performance potential left me looking for other alternatives. Originally I decided I was going to slap on a 140cc pit bike engine and call it a day, but after looking at the bike and how the pit engine would mock up, I elected to stick to the moped roots with a 50cc 2-stroke.

With aftermarket support and power potential in mind, I decided to go with a French heart for this “phoenix out of the fire” reborn moped. French bikes like Peugeot and Motobecane use a variator instead of a gearbox. Essentially it’s a small CVT transmission, belt driven with a variable pulley. This is a perfect setup for mopeds, as their low power output and static power bands really benefit from a drive system that can utilize the maximum power at any given time. After about 15 minutes of research the Peugeot came out on top for a few different reasons:

First off, Motobecane engines are more vertical whereas Peugeot uses a more horizontal engine configuration. Perfect, as I needed to tuck it somewhat in the same place where the original engine went under the frame.

Second, the Peugeot used a swingarm engine mount, which means mounting it to the bike would be very easy. No messing with chain lines, no weird suspension geometries, it was pretty much all done for me. One mount on the frame, aligning the shocks, and we’re golden!


Luckily there is a company that makes a mount that you can buy as opposed to either cutting up an old Peugeot or making your own. I decided to run KX80 Dirtbike Forks so I could have a disc brake up front, painted the tank, and made my own custom seat. Now it was time to weld things up. I can weld, but I don’t have a nice setup currently, so I enlisted the help of my good friend Tyler (an Aerospace Welder by trade) and his equipment to help me get this thing [literally] rolling.  


Now it was time for the powerplant. I bought a used engine which turned out to be trash (I’m getting so lucky with this build, right?) This was the point I decided to make this bike a real financial mistake, more so than what it already was. As you can imagine, performance parts for a 27 year old French moped are hard to find, and when you do, they aren’t cheap. “But if i’m going to do this,” I thought, “I’d better do it right”. Garelli was an Italian manufacturer and as it turns out there’s another company in Italy that makes performance parts for all makes: Polini. Even though the engine is a french design, most of the parts I would be using were Italian, paying homage to the original Italian heart of this bike.

I sourced a Polini 70cc W-Port Kit, Artek Stuffed Crank, Polini Race Cases, 4 Petal Reed Block, and a Dellorto PHBG 19mm Carb to top it all off. It’s always fun to watch the boxes of parts come in, as much as it may have hurt the wallet:


Originally I had decided I wanted to make this bike really, really obnoxious, so I was going to do a watercooled kit, but the customization I’d need to do so was a little too intense for my time constraints. Here you’ll see the crank and stock variator installed with engine mounted on the bike:


Since I deviated from my original plan of keeping it 50cc, the 70cc piston was larger, requiring some custom milling to the head to allow room for the piston:


Next, I had to source some shocks with the correct length to give the bike a good stance, without being too raked in either direction. You can also see the entirety of the wiring for the bike, quite a bit more laid back than doing a custom harness for a car.


In conjunction with the 70cc kit, I decided I wanted a big exhaust pipe. This pipe “hits” at about 7500 rpm; you can liken a 2-stroke pipe powerband to that of a turbocharger. There is some lag in the low end, but when you’re on the pipe the bike just absolutely wants to scream (sounds clips to come!)


With a kitted motor the stock variator just can’t handle the performance and must be replaced if you want to get anything substantial out of the bike. The Doppler ER3 Variator has adjustable weights so you can essentially “set your gear ratio”, or pick when the pulley moves based on the centrifugal force of the weights.


With all of the mechanical aspects of the bike complete (for the most part, as the bike is still being tuned) it was time for some cosmetic touches. Restoring the old speedo gauge, cutting some tank badges, and vinyl for the top that reminds me to persevere with the build:


The bike still has a long way to go, but this should give you a good teaser of what the finished product will look like. Future plans include a computer for logging data, speed, tach, odometer, etc. Wheels need powder coating, lights still need to be wired, and the variator/carb. still needs tuning.  The fork will need to be shortened a bit and filled with fluid, the pipe hits the ground on sharp right turns so that will have to be addressed, and foot pegs need to be figured out, amongest a long list of other details. No matter, because half the fun of this is in the build itself; keep a lookout for updates on this and more of my projects to come!






I haven’t been individually titling my blog posts, but if I had, I would undoubtedly call this one “Sleepless in Minneapolis”. Now that I’ve recovered from the consistent past-midnight garage sessions that plagued the end of this build, I wanted to recap the last leg of my FXT project. Those of you keeping up with my updates on Instagram/Facebook know that I did indeed make my original May 19th deadline in time for the Automotion event in The Wisconsin Dells, but it was no easy road (metaphorically and literally). It seems as though no matter how much foresight I thought I had, half of the build came down to the last minute.

Clinton at Race Coatings pulled through in record time getting my wheel centers and calipers powdercoated; they were still untouchably-hot from the oven as I sped up to Forest Lake on my lunch break to pick them up. A few very late nights followed as I finished removing all of the caked-on road and brake debris from the previously-neglected wheels, refreshed the hardware, and began the arduous task of reassembling everything back into a functional form. I’ve always loved gunmetal centers on Work VSKFs, especially on white cars, so from the start I had a grey powder in mind. I told Clinton to hit them with plenty of flake and a shiny top coat for what I would consider ended up being a great result. For the calipers I stuck with gold as a nod to the OEM Subaru Brembos, albeit in an alternative shade for some differentiation.


Just a few days prior to leaving I dropped the now-reassembled Works off with Landon Haley of Landslide Performance to get tires mounted, holding my breath that the wheels would balance out alright and that there were no previously undetected dents/bends that would prevent me from making the trip (something I had to deal with on a used set of Rays Gram Lights a few years back). I’m happy to say the results were excellent, with the wheels needing little/no weights at all; another perk of sticking with a reputable wheel manufacturer.


While that was happening, Nathan at Metal in Motion made a major push to mold and paint my mid-spoiler in time for my departure. Like any body/paint professional Nathan seems to always have an endless amount of projects to do and fast-tracking mine through in order for me to make a deadline is a great example of why sticking with local, small businesses for a build is so important to me. We didn’t have time to paint the silver roof rails to match the rest of the car, but that will be done shortly.


One of the last really important aspects of the FXT that remained unfinished was the axleback. The TurboXS Axleback that had been on the car when I first purchased it was one of the initial things to come off when I put it up on jackstands last fall. There it sat in the corner of the garage waiting to be replaced. Now that the car was down on the ground and mobile, I was able to bring it into the GrimmSpeed shop to have one of our fantastic welders put together a muffled, dual 3” stainless piece (using a prototype GS muffler) that worked with the new rear diffuser.


(Also a shoutout to @corymezzenga for some extremely-last minute custom Cadillac decals for the ATS Brembos and @tatsandslacks for painting my mirrors/trim pieces at the very last second of the build!)

I found myself in the garage the night before the trip with the car still in the air, exterior pieces needing to be mounted, suspension, wheels, and new bearings/bushings untested, and my energy levels all but depleted. The choice was to either throw in the towel and take my daily driver back-up car to Automotion for the weekend, or push through until daylight and hope that everything came together without any major roadblocks. That night the stars aligned, the Subaru Gods pardoned my procrastination, and the car rolled out of it’s tomb early the next morning. Check out this quick edit @acdef made of the morning wheel test fitment:

The drive down to Wisconsin was nerve-racking to say the least. I had only put a few shakedown miles on the car going from the gas station and home prior to committing to the 4 hour drive (first to La Crosse to meet up with friends and pick up my painted mirrors, then onward to The Dells). The alignment was eyeballed, the steering wheel was cock-eyed, and at full steering lock a metal on metal noise could be heard into the next county over (I later found out my tie-rods were contacting the new endlinks). I gave the car a hasty  wash and vacuum, threw in as many tools as I could, planning for an inevitable breakdown, and set off with a buddy of mine into the Midwest unknown.


A dense smell of overflown coolant from burping the system the night before followed us for the first leg of the trip, eventually being replaced by the burning smell of axle grease thrown onto the exhaust piping (and pretty much everywhere else on the bottom of the engine bay) courtesy of a busted passenger side axle boot. Later on, the alternator decided to give out on the highway and one burned-out bulb somehow turned into the headlights and fogs becoming completely disabled (still trying to figure that one out). Regardless, I was all smiles to be driving this car for a measurable distance for the first time in so many months.

Automotion started life as a classic car show, but has since evolved into a gathering of every vehicle you can imagine: muscle cars, imports, moped gangs, mallcrawler trucks, motorcycles, etc. To some that’s part of it’s downfall, to others it’s a part of the appeal. In years past the show has also become synonymous with, and there’s no better way to put this, ass-hat behavior. This year more than ever the Police Department made it very clear that they would not tolerate any disrespectful behavior, thus as a lot of the local community has already seen, ground rules were reinforced more strictly (most of us had a good laugh about the fine for cruising, since that’s mostly what the event is all about)…


Whatever people think of Automotion, it keeps me and my friends coming back every year, so they still must be doing something right. My personal favorite aspect of the gathering is the sheer amount of different cars and owners you get to meet during your time there, if you’re in the Midwest and haven’t made a weekend of it, I would highly suggest doing so next year.


So there it is, the car is totally, completely, unequivocally done. Well alright, not really, it’s somewhat done for the time being. There’s a few changes I’ll be making and ironing out some little issues here and there, but for the most part I can finally put down the wrenches, close the wallet, and enjoy staring at it for a while.

Next up on my build agenda is to get back to my neglected Cressida drift car, expect to see some blog content of that posted soon, in addition to some exciting video content coming from GrimmSpeed. Also, as I’m sure most of you are fed-up with looking at grainy cellphone pictures of my car, I’ll be dropping a full album of professional photos from shoots and shows in the coming weeks. Here’s a little taste of things to come courtesy of @chelton91:


As always I appreciate everyone keeping up with this build, I would thank the individual people that had a hand in finishing up the car, but the listed would be too damn long, you know who you are!




GrimmSpeed’s Inaugural Friday Meet

As many of you know, GrimmSpeed’s inaugural Friday meet-up took place exactly one week ago, and now that we’ve gotten some time to decompress from everything I’d like to take the opportunity to reflect on what exactly took place. Here’s a short video to get those of you who couldn’t attend caught up:

The veneer of what happened is that of a small meet, show, event, or whatever you choose to call it, but it actuality turned out to be so much more than that at its core.  At the risk of sounding melodramatic, what I now realize is that last Friday brought a lot of us back to what being a car enthusiast is all about.

@chelton91 @extendedclipproductions

I suspect that many of you readers are a part of the automotive industry in some form or another; techs, parts guys, tuners, installers, salesmen, etc. I myself started my path into the automotive profession by changing oil at a local Ford Quicklube. My point being is that we all know that the glitz and glamour of going to work where your hobby is the central focus can wear thin at times. However, days like last Friday give not just us at the shop, but everyone in attendance, an opportunity to push the rigors of the car-enthusiast lifestyle to the back of our minds. For at least a few hours we didn’t have to think about the stresses of work, what deadlines loom for finishing our builds, or what the internet has to say about our cars.


The comradery we saw from those that stopped by was evident and good attitudes were out in drones. Maybe it was the start of the weekend, maybe it was the almost-inexplicably gorgeous day, whatever it was, things just felt right. Of course Subarus and Fords were in attendance, but there was no shortage of Mazdas, Infinitis, Volkswagens, etc. The few times I was able to slink away from my duties and meander across the parking lot I could only smile as I overheard old friends catching up after the off-season and could sense new bonds being made over a common obsession. At its heart, is that not what a local car scene should be all about?


So what’s next? The logical conclusion after a successful meet like this is to keep things evolving, so for those who haven’t heard, we’re excited to introduce a series of gatherings that we’re referring to as GrimmSpeed After Hours.

ah_5-5-17 - Copy

Much of the same vibe of the first meet will be kept, but we’ve got plans to continue making things interesting and fresh so that what’s been created here never feels like a chore. If you haven’t checked out the event page for After Hours: Round 2 on June 2nd, now’s the time to do so:


The first meet’s crowd-pleaser was without a doubt Alex Docken’s G35 sedan, which after a long winter of body work and meticulous improvements, is road-worthy once again:


The type of attention Alex’s car received got us thinking of ways that we could carry that excitement over to non-employee car owners. Thus, throughout the GS After Hours series we’ll be hand-picking a car or two at each event to showcase inside the GrimmSpeed R&D space for the upcoming meet. Since the car is only as good as the person that financed/put it together, we will also be doing a quick interview of the car owner(s) for the GrimmSpeed Blog.

Another big thank you goes out to all those that stopped by for the first meet, we couldn’t continue doing this without all of the overwhelming support from the GrimmSpeed family. See you all at the next one!

IG @thenotorious_a_r_t


In today’s post I wanted touch on some of the less-than-awesome aspects of taking on a car build. I’m talking about unexpected fitment issues, the wrong parts arriving, the right parts being out-of-stock, and the planets aligning in just such a way to ruin your weekend of planned-progress. This is something that seems to be contagious during this time of year as the honeymoon feeling of committing to a build starts to give way to the reality of how quickly both time and money can disappear [see: Alex Docken’s G35 build (].

The FXT has been coming together rather smoothly, but there hasn’t been a shortness of heading-inducing issues. The brakes are a good example of that. The original conversion brackets came to me with enough shipping damage that I had to exchange them out for a new pair, I’m on my second set of stainless lines and pads (admittedly because of my own oversight), and on my fourth order trying to get the right caliper pin kits. All of this is delaying getting the calipers off to powdercoating and only pushing me closer to the dreaded deadline.

The Voltex-style diffuser that arrived last week is a perfect example to fitment problems. Granted, I knew it was never designed to flawlessly mount to the SG5 Forester, but it did have me a bit worried upon my initial mock-up. A half day of finessing, cutting, drilling, and Dremel-ing later, I actually walked away very happy about how the piece came together. There’s a certain feeling of accomplishment to take a part that doesn’t belong on your car and find a way to integrate it in. I’ve never been much of a body-modification guy when it came to my past projects so it’s new, exciting territory for me.  You can notice in the photo that my blacked-out window trim (and grill) pieces are back from paint and blend in with my window tint nicely. I was so pleased with how they looked that I sent out the modified Gandor-style mirrors to get matched.

Art FXT Diffuser/Painted Trim

Then there’s  countless little things that don’t need to be mentioned…which I will; stripped nuts and bolts, cracked trim pieces, scratched body panels (thanks breaker bar), bloody hands, and hours of work with no immediate reward.

Yes, it’s all a bit of a vent for me, but what I’m really getting at is that everyone has a fair share of “one step forward, two steps back” moments with these sort of things. It’s important however to keep it all in perspective and not let it discourage you from finishing the project. At the end of the day (or week, or month) things WILL come together and you’ll have nothing else left to do but sit back and admire the work that you put into your car.


As evident from my cover photo, the bulk of my Whiteline parts came in right on schedule (excluding a set of rear endlinks and subframe bolts that are currently on back order). Ever since I bought my first Subaru during my Freshman year of college, I had always coveted Whiteline products and looked forward to a time when I could fill my shopping cart full of their lineup for my chassis and hit the “order submit” button. On this build I finally got the opportunity to do so. I ended up picking up sway and struts bars for the front and rear, along with both sets of endlinks. Adjustable rear arms, sway bar lockouts, heavy duty rear sway bar mounts, camber bolts, caster bushings, and the roll center adjustment kit rounded out the order. From start to finish in dealing with the guys over at Whiteline (shoutout to Jesse), I couldn’t be more happy with the customer service and parts quality; this definitely won’t be my last order with them.

Art FXT Whiteline Sway/Strut Bars

Art FXT Whiteline Arms/Misc. Parts

Art FXT Whiteline Correction Kit

Art FXT Whiteline Front Suspension Mock Up

Fender rolling [not pictured] was something I’ve been putting off both because of necessity, since I had to wait for the suspension parts to come in, and because of a lack of desire to potentially crack the paint on my otherwise immaculate fenders. I learned my lesson with an older car of mine in rushing through and not using a heatgun for the job, so this time I was prepared with one, along with a temperature gun and a helping hand. Taking my time and making sure the fenders were a consistent temp. resulted in a pretty good, albeit not professional, result. A few small paint cracks here and there, but nothing compared to the peanut-brittle I turned the paint on the last set of fenders into.

A few posts back I mentioned that I would give you a quick preview of some of the miscellaneous parts that will be coming out in the very near future. A select few may have already seen the soon-to-be introduced GrimmSpeed Exhaust Hangers which were included in the catback kits we recently dropped, for the rest of you, feast your eyes on the beauty (and also on the hangers):


This is however a piece not many have seen yet, but it should need no explanation…

Art FXT GrimmSpeed Radiator Hoses Koyo

A bonus preview for the Focus RS guys: the GrimmSpeed Lightweight Battery Tray (this is an uncoated prototype that I’ll be modding onto my OEM battery platform) and Sparkle-Blue Stainless Steel Shift Knob:

Art FXT GrimmSpeed Battery Tray

GrimmSpeed Focus RS Blue Shift Knob

A big thanks to all those that have been keeping up with the progress, it’s been excellent to hear feedback and encouragement for my project and to see what everyone else is working on. Feel free to keep messaging and tagging me in your personal builds, I always enjoy reading through them. While you’re at it, take a look at this Forester build from one of GrimmSpeed’s good customers:

IG @thenotorious_a_r_t

Employee Build: Alex’s 2003.5 Turbocharged Infiniti G35 Drift Sedan (Part 2)

Employee/Author: Alex Docken

Editor: Art Petrakov

When I last left off, I was discussing some of the changes that are taking place on my G35 for the upcoming drift season.  As we speak, Nathan Chin at Metal in Motion in finalizing the exterior bodywork and the car is just about ready to get picked up. I absolutely can’t wait to have it all put back together and see this phase of my vision for the car completed! These particular changes are something I had originally hoped to have done last year, but with the crazy amount of fabrication taking place and with how ever-changing car deadlines can be, the big debut was put off until 2017. There is still a laundry-list of things I hope to get done to the car, but that will just have to wait for later on this season, or next.

While the car has been over at Nathan’s, I haven’t had much opportunity to get my own hands dirty on it. Instead, I had a chance to start putting together Youtube content to chronicle the build and the upcoming drift season. I’ve also been busy with drift-event planning and working on design aspects for team apparel, stickers, etc. Recently, I was also lucky enough to be able to spend some time in California for Formula D Long Beach. The event was an unreal experience and gave me a chance to hang with some old friends and meet some new. While out there, I was able to make it to the Hardcore Japan X Super Street Meet, as well as the Hoonigan Donut Garage After-Party, which were both an absolute blast.

Alex California Trip

Alex California Trip 2

Alex California Trip 5

Alright, back to the car!

I’ve always LOVED this style of sideskirt extension, but it was proving very hard to source the ones I wanted, let alone find them in a length that was appropriate for my chassis. I tried several options, including ChargeSpeed Subaru Impreza Extensions, but in the end, I had to settle with the more appropriately-fitting Outcast Garage Skirt Extension. After some research and sourcing of parts, I was able to find some authentic URAS Side Skirt add-on’s (basically just the flare piece). I brought these over to Nathan and he modified them to be the exact fit and finish I was looking for!

G35 Skirts and Extensions

In addition to the skirts, I also dreamed of equipping the car with a set of front bumper canards. These are readily available for cars like the S13/S14 240SX, which have a longer front bumper and less curve than the G35, but the choices for me were few and far between. What I ended up doing was sourcing some ORIGIN Front Canards and had Nathan modify them to fit perfectly with the curvature of the bumper. We also created some custom metal upper canards based off different styles I liked on other cars, with a bit of our own flare…

@chelton91 @extendedclipproductions
@chelton91 @extendedclipproductions

Two other big aesthetic changes had to do with the hood and mirrors. I’ve had aftermarket Ganador-style mirrors for years but hadn’t gotten around to modifying them to fit the chassis until last fall. I had Nathan smooth and mold a set of custom mounting plates that I created for a truly OEM look, as opposed to the roughly-fabricated way I dropped them off in. I’m very excited to have aggressive aero mirrors on the car, since I think mirrors can make a major difference to the look of a build. Aside from that, the look of the hood has always been something that’s bothered me. Last season was a mad dash to catch as many events as possible and with the build taking much longer than first anticipated, the hood was a last minute temporary solution. This year, I am looking to have the hood match more of the look I had originally intended, while functioning to properly flow air through the engine bay in conjunction with the v-mount setup. Expect to see the finalized design in my next post!

@chelton91 @extendedclipproductions
@chelton91 @extendedclipproductions

Another change I had mentioned to make in my last post was the brakes. At the time I was torn on what route I wanted to go, but after having some friends deal with bracket adapter issues on different brake conversions, I decided to keep things simple with the OEM-offered Brembo brakes. In addition, I picked up the Stoptech Sport Upgrade Kit which included stainless steel lines, slotted rotors with black painted centers, and sport pads to compliment the rebuilt Brembo calipers. My factory brakes have always functioned just fine for the car’s intended purpose, so in my mind anything crazier than upgrading to the OEM Brembos seemed a bit overkill.

So that’s where I am at! If all goes to plan I’ll be picking up the car today or tomorrow to start finishing up the final touches. I have some small updates/changes to make in the engine bay, as well as installing the aforementioned brakes, swapping all fluids, tires, and getting the car ready for Wekfest Chicago. I hope to see and meet some of you there! Otherwise, the week after, I will have the car at GrimmSpeed’s first-ever meet at our shop on May 5th and will be attending Cars and Coffee and potentially the MNCEC meet on May 6th/7th, respectively.


Come find me at any of these events and feel free to say hello and ask questions. I’m always wanting to get to meet people and help anyone out with their own build. I can’t wait to see what 2017 brings as well as to share it all with you!


IG @DabSedan








As many of you have heard, GrimmSpeed will officially be hosting our first-ever shop meet on May 5th. Although exciting news, that time frame has put some sudden pressure on me to get the FXT at least driving and partially show-worthy in the next four weeks. Time, as it stands, is not in my corner.

The big news, without which potentially making it to the show would have been impossible, is that the ideal set of wheels fell into my lap just a few weeks ago. Originally I was weighing out a number of 1-piece wheel options from Enkei, Work Wheels, Rays, etc, but lead times for custom sizing were a bit too far out, especially since I would need to test-fit them with the new brake setup before both the rims and calipers went out for coating. I eventually set my sights on 3-piece wheels as I was more likely to find a lower offset in a 5×100 bolt pattern. Although my choices were far and few in-between, the perfect set popped up locally just in the nick of time:

Art FXT Work Wheels
For those that don’t know, these are a set of Work VSKFs, a style of wheel I fell in love with when I first started hanging around the drift scene a few years back. I’m undoubtedly not the only one with a certain explainable affection for these and I’ve seen them mounted on everything from R32 Skylines to GS300s to FC RX7s. Rarely however do these make their way onto Subarus, which was part of the deciding factor in buying them.
The positive aspect of these particular wheels was that they were pretty much the exact sizing and style I was after: square 18×9.5 +19 (with 6-8mm spacers for caliper clearance), 5×100 with gold hardware and red center caps. The unfortunate part was that they needed a good amount of TLC before they would be considered show-ready.
First thing’s first, the faces had to come off (hence the circa-late 90’s MS Painted profile picture) since the chrome on the backside was hanging on by a prayer. Although I was already way past my original wheel budget, I dug a bit deeper into my dog’s college fund and sent the faces off to get powdercoated by Clinton at Race Coatings in Forest Lake, MN. While the pieces are stripped and I decide on a final color, I’m focusing on chiseling off years of caked-on brake dust on the inner-barrel and re-polishing the outers and hardware. Once everything has been refreshed it’ll be a sprint to the finish to fit these with a bit of persuasion on the fenders.

IG @Acdef
IG @Acdef
IG @Acdef
IG @Acdef
IG @Acdef
IG @Acdef

Art FXT Work Wheels Dissembled

The old adage “time makes fools of us all” is no exception when it comes to cars and I was delighted to find out the exact extent of what my OEM suspension components had eroded into. After years of hard driving and overly-excessive camber here’s an example of the type of wear I found time and time again:

Art FXT Broken Suspension
Art FXT Broken Suspension 2

The wheel bearings were of course toast, but ended up being a nice learning lesson for me, as I had never redone them by myself. Having done so now, I would encourage anyone with access to a press and some common sense to tackle the job themselves. In my case the old bearings pressed out easily and the new ones fell into place with about the same amount of effort. All new seals were lubed up and thrown in, along with APR Extended Studs all around and a few coats of fresh paint. Here are some shots of the setup on the car before the calipers are dismantled and sent off to Clinton:

Art FXT Knuckle Assembly

Art FXT Brake Assembly 2

Art FXT Brake Assembly Mounted

Art FXT Brake Assembly Mounted 2

Since the front end of the Forester is virtually finished up, I’ve had a bit of time to take care of some aesthetic changes for the rest of the exterior. Last month I had ordered a JDM mid-spoiler that is now off in the capable hands of Nathan at Metal In Motion Bodyworks in Fridley, MN to get a crack fixed and the part molded into the existing trim-piece. Once the car is road-worthy I’ll be taking it over to his shop to have the spoiler and roof rails painted Aspen White to match the rest of the car. You may remember Nathan from one of the last few blog posts as he did a lot of the body work/paint on Alex Docken’s G35 drift sedan: (Keep an eye for Alex’ follow-up post this upcoming Monday).

Art FXT Rear Spoiler In Progress

I took to fixing a few cracks in my side skirts and pulled the window trim pieces to get painted gloss black instead of the weathered-gray they have become. I also decided on ordering up a diffuser to carry the lines of the front lip and skirts to the rear bumper, although that likely won’t show up in time for the GrimmSpeed get-together.

Art FXT Body Work Skirts

So far so good, but the stress is starting to mount. The days are passing by quicker and quicker and small issues are starting to build up like a game of Tetris. In fact I should probably get off the keyboard and hit the wrenches, stay tuned for more in the upcoming weeks!

IG @thenotorious_a_r_t

Employee Build: Cody’s 2011 Turbocharged Nissan 370Z Touring

Today I’m happy to introduce one of the GrimmSpeed Assembly Technicians and the owner of a car all of us at the shop have been drooling over as of late; Cody Batch and his 2011 Turbocharged Nissan 370Z Touring.

Cody is one of a handful of guys that puts together all of the GrimmSpeed goodies that end up on our shelves and at your door step. Countless electronic and manual boost controllers, up pipes, license plate relocation kits, intercoolers, etc. are personally inspected, assembled, and boxed up by him. He’s in charge of making sure that every piece of whatever kit the customer buys is not only present, but devoid of any sort of manufacturing defects. This can be a daunting job when you consider the amount of different part-pieces that make up each kit we manufacture, but he does so without fail. In fact, this is something I can personally attest to, since I’m one of the guys that has to deal with his mistakes (so don’t screw up buddy!). The next time you open up a GrimmSpeed product and the packaged-by card reads “Cody”, you’ll know you’ve got everything you need in front of you to tackle the install.

@chelton91 @extendedclipproductions
@chelton91 @extendedclipproductions

Cody has a history Subaru ownership, including a pair of WRX’ and most recently an STI and winter-daily Forester, but this is his first foray into the RWD world. He picked up the car just a few months ago with the intention of having a fast, head-turning summer cruiser that he could take to shows and blast down the highway in. As you can tell by the cleanliness, this is a perfect low-mileage example of the Z chassis with only 19,000 on the clock. The miles won’t stay that low for long however, since Cody plans to take as much advantage of the short Midwest car season as possible by doing what this car beckons you to do, drive.


Cody’s car isn’t as much of a “build in progress” as some of the others around the shop, but it will grow in its own right over the next few years. The car already has a handful of tasteful mods from the previous owner and Cody is planning to add a few more subtle exterior cues of his own this season, including vinyl wrapping the roof and switching out a more aggressive rear spoiler. As far as performance goes, the Z is currently making a healthy 432whp and 424wtq on wastegate pressure (7psi) with a fresh retune from DB Performance, so that likely won’t change anytime soon. Cody describes the Z as already the most exciting car he’s every owned, which is his way of saying that it’ll blow the doors off almost anything in his way…

“Mostly I’d like to keep the car how it is and maintain and keep it reliable, even though I’m a fuel pump, injectors, and e85 away from 600whp” Cody

@chelton91 @extendedclipproductions
@chelton91 @extendedclipproductions


  • Boosted Performance Single Turbo Kit V2.0 with Precision 6266 Turbocharger
  • Radium Oil Catch Can
  • South Bend Stage 3 clutch
  • SPL Camber Arms
  • Hotchkis Front and Rear Sway Bars
  • GTR Wheels (20×10.5 all around)
  • Swift Springs
  • INGS Carbon Fiber Lip and Side Skirts
  • Fujimura Diffuser
  • Fast Intentions Resonated Exhaust
  • Full JL Audio System
  • Custom demon eye headlights
  • GrimmSpeed Rear License Plate Surround 😉
@chelton91 @extendedclipproductions
@chelton91 @extendedclipproductions
@chelton91 @extendedclipproductions
@chelton91 @extendedclipproductions

Follow Cody @cody_batch to see some more shots of this car and keep an eye out for it in person at local shows this season.

Big thanks to Cody Helton of Extended Clip Productions for the beautiful pictures. You’ll definitely be seeing more of his work on future GrimmSpeed blog posts!

-Art @thenotorious_a_r_t


Things have really been picking up speed [pun intended] around the shop lately. The engineers have been busy putting the wrap on our first production line of catbacks, while simultaneously juggling a number of smaller projects that will get announced very soon. The assemblers and welders hardly get a few minutes to catch their breath with the amount of orders needing to be filled and the Sales Department is finally back to its typical crazy pace. With the weather starting to turn and tax checks coming in, it’s full steam ahead at the GrimmSpeed warehouse, but in all honesty this is the pace that we all tend to thrive at.

Last time I had briefly mentioned my basement workspace, so I thought it would be a good idea to give you a quick glimpse of where at least part of the build is coming together. Growing up tinkering with bikes, small motors, and eventually cars in the corner of my parent’s garage made me pine for a day when I could have a dedicated space to sprawl out all of my parts and tools. Luckily enough I was able to find a house with the perfect basement for such a work area; something that was dry and warm, but not necessarily a livable, white-carpeted den that I would be afraid to get dirty. The space itself is pretty modest in size so I always have to be cognizant not to overfill it with unnecessary parts. Ultimately that prevents me from hording on to too many things, a problem that most of us car people share. Check out a few pictures of the parts den and my build assistant:

Art FXT Basement

Art FXT Employee Build-Basement

Art FXT Employee Build-Basement/Sarge

The progress on the car has been nice and steady since you last heard from me; the underside is completely stripped, and while being rust-free, it still put up a fight coming apart into discard-able pieces. Now that new parts are flooding in, things will be coming together ASAP in preparation for Automotion in May.

Photo: @Acdef
Photo: @Acdef

The front end of the car is all but finished and is really getting me excited to get her back out on the road. I had mentioned previously that I had plans to modify a more aggressive lip to fit the front end and I’ve done just that. I’ve seen a handful of [non-06/07 STI] Subarus rocking this particular piece, but I’ve never been satisfied with the over-sized look of it. With that in mind, I took to shortening it by about 4-5 inches in the middle and adding a few strengthening brackets, effectively making it into a better-fitting two-piece lip [See first picture for final fit on the car]:

Art FXT Front Aero

For those of you who have asked, the GrimmSpeed Hella Horn Brotie Bracket does mount up to the SG5 core support, one small tab needed to be bent and a secondary nut/bolt was added into an existing hole to make sure it didn’t swivel over time. OEM grill clearance is a bit of a toss-up however and the horns may come in contact with it unless the Brotie is bent back a bit, not a problem I had since my DIY grill gives the horns substantially more room:

Art FXT Front Aero Grill
Photo: @Acdef

Since a lot of Subaru Forester XT owners seem to have issues with leaks developing on their OEM radiator around the 100K mark, I decided to preemptively tackle the issue before I was left steaming on the side of the highway this summer. The obvious choice was to go with a Koyo replacement, for which I’m happy to say there is a plug-and-play version for the SG FXT. As always with Koyo products, the build quality was excellent and fitment for the fans and core support was spot on:

Art FXT Koyo Rad (1) Art FXT Koyo Rad (2)

I got in contact with the awesome staff over at Whiteline and have been working on finalizing a long list of much needed underbody components. Expect an unboxing and review of those pieces soon! I also put in a sizable order with RallySportDirect and have been receiving some of those parts already. As you can see I’ve decided to go with DBA4000 rotors, Stoptech pads, and Stoptech Stainless Brake Lines based on overwhelmingly good reviews. Brackets from Kartboy will make mounting the Legacy 2-pot rear calipers possible. All new bearings and seals will be going in as soon as I’m done stripping the old ones out and ARP extended studs will be thrown in for the new wheel setup.

Art FXT Suspension- Brake Setup

Speaking of the new wheels, those of you following me on Instagram (@avpetrakov) have gotten a little preview of what I ended up settling on, for the rest of you, I plan to showcase those, along with suspension reassembly and a few aesthetic updates in the next post.

Make sure to stay tuned!