Category Archives: Art’s Forester XT

EMPLOYEE BUILD: ART’S 2004 SUBARU FORESTER XT (PART 3)

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!

-Art

Employee Build: Art’s 2004 Subaru Forester XT (Part 2)

Some of you may have experienced the harsh downturn in weather in the past month or so, especially if you reside anywhere in the Midwest. For those of you lucky enough to be unfamiliar with such things, I’m talking about the kind of temperatures that a few pairs of sweat pants, two hoodies, a jumpsuit, and winter coat can’t combat. This brings me to talk about the workspace I had mentioned in my first post. It’s not as much of the dream garage that I had envisioned when I first started looking at buying a house a few years back, but it’s what I could afford at the time, so I had to get realistic. Dark, cold, and wet would all be apt adjectives to describe it, one could say it’s the type of garage that makes Guantanamo look cozy. It does have some redeeming qualities however; it’s got a roof, a concrete floor, and a couple of walls, so as far as I’m concerned it’s tuner paradise. While working on my projects I try to keep in mind that where you build your car is only a fraction of what the finished product will be, so when I encounter somebody that’s adamant that worthwhile builds can’t be done in modest accommodations I tend to disagree. That being said, I do plan on improving the space with some proper insulation, heating, and lighting at some point.

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The silver lining is that these past bitterly-cold weeks have given me a chance to further plan out the next couple of month’s worth of work and parts ordering.  I’ve narrowed down my driver’s side seat choice to either the Sparco Evo I/II or the Cusco Bride Zeta III. I’ve had a chance to start assessing what worn out parts need to be replaced, plan out the brake upgrades accordingly, and had time to expand on some of the ideas I’ve had for the car before I got my hands dirty. I’ve started mulling over wheel choices, but it’s been a major toss-up for me since 5×100 options with a decent offset are fairly limited. I’ve been lucky enough to test-fit a few wheels courtesy of my Subaru friends, but the search continues for now. Here is a set of Enkei NTO3’s that I threw on, a rim I’ve coveted for years:

subaru forester xt build grimmspeed employee

I did also have a chance to start digging into the front end of the car, my plan being to pull things off that I can work on in the warmth of my basement (which I’ll showcase in the next post). This gave me the opportunity to start fitting the 06/07 style STI lip, getting to work on the DIY grill, cleaning up the practically-opaque headlights/fog lights, and replacing the laughable amount of broken or missing clips that contributed to the old lady-esque bumper sag that’s been haunting me…

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Another area of the Forester, and most Subarus if I’m being honest, that had to be addressed was the awful blocky side mirrors. Since there was really nothing on the market that I liked, I decided to use a bit of drift-culture inspiration and adapt a set of 240sx Ganador-style mirrors. I imagine they’re not everyone’s cup of tea, but to me it adds a certain sleekness to the look of the old toaster-box. What do you guys think?

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As I touched on in my last post, upgrading the brakes is something I’ve definitely been looking forward to. In lieu of sourcing used STI Brembos, I decided to try out the Cadillac ATS Front Brembo Conversion Kit. I liked the aspect of being able to buy a brand new set of calipers for frankly, a cheap price. A bit of drilling and tapping later to accommodate for the new bracket and I was happy with the fit and look. As a bonus I found the passenger side ABS wire had been guillotined in half by my suspension, explaining the dashlight that’s been on all season. After some test-fitting with the eventual wheels I end up with, I’ll be pulling the calipers right back off for a bit of powdercoating alongside a pair of Legacy 2-pot rears. A new set of stainless lines, upgraded pads/rotors and the GrimmSpeed Master Cylinder Brace I’ve already got equipped will cap things off nicely in the stopping department.

(Please don’t ask how long I spent trying to pull the rear passenger rotor off before realizing the handbrake was still on).

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(http://www.ctsvbrakeswap.com/subaru-kits/frs-brz-gt-86-4-piston-ats-caliper-bracket-kit)

I’ve also be tearing apart the underside of the car in preparation for a bit of new-parts TLC. As expected my ball joints sound like maracas when the knuckle assembly is shaken and my wheel bearings are all but toast. Along with some fresh replacements I’ll be upgrading the rear arms and bushings all around in addition to a beefier sway bar setup for the front and rear. I’ve been making a long list of Whiteline parts to throw at the car so those should be inbound soon.

There’s still a long way to go, but so far it’s been a blast to get back to work on this thing. As promised in my last post, I’ll end things with a list of current mods:

Engine

  • GrimmSpeed Hood Splitter
  • GrimmSpeed Hood Struts
  • GrimmSpeed Limited Battery Tiedown
  • GrimmSpeed Modified Radiator Cover
  • GrimmSpeed Alternator Shroud
  • GrimmSpeed AOS
  • GrimmSpeed Lightweight Pulley
  • GrimmSpeed 3-Port Electronic Boost Controller
  • Cobb Accessport V2
  • Forced Performance 71HTA 64mm Turbo
  • IAG Oil Lines
  • GrimmSpeed 38mm EWG Coated Up Pipe
  • GrimmSpeed 3’’, Divorced, Limited, Wrapped Downpipe
  • Turbo XS 3’’ Catback
  • PnP’d, Wrapped Exhaust Manifold with GrimmSpeed Coated Cross-pipe
  • PnP’d, Coated Intake Manifold
  • Coated TGV Deletes
  • 8mm GrimmSpeed Phenolic Spacers
  • Injector Dynamics 1000cc Injectors, lines, rails (top feed conversion), stock FPR
  • Deatschwerks 300 Fuel Pump
  • TurboSmart Comp-Gate40 EWG (14PSI)
  • GrimmSpeed Coated TMIC
  • GrimmSpeed First Gen. Y-Pipe Kit
  • JDM STI BPV
  • Silicone Turbo Inlet 2.5-3’’
  • Injen 3’’ CAI w/GS Oiled Cone Filter, stock MAF
  • Perrin 4 Bar MAP

Suspension

  • Fortune Auto Coilovers w/Swift Springs, Radial Bearings, Rear Camber Plates

Exterior

  • STI Sideskirt Lips
  • GrimmSpeed License Plate Delete
  • Importology Front Lip w/V7 STI Lip
  • JDM STI Hood Scoop
  • USDM Rear Spoiler
  • 30% Tint
  • Drag DR31 17×9 +38 Rims with 235/45/17 Continental  Extreme Contact DW tires
  • Muteki Close-ended Lugnuts

Interior

  • GrimmSpeed Delrin Shift Knob
  • Gauges: AEM AFR/Boost Wideband, AEM Oil Pressure in custom pod
  • 2007 STI Steering Wheel
  • Touge Factory Race Seat w/Buddy Club Rail

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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