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!