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

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