2015 Ford Mustang – Air Lift Performance – Part 1

Intro

We know what you’re thinking. “GrimmSpeed, you stand for detailed, meticulous engineering and high-end performance – what are you doing messing around with air ride stuff?” We know that’s what you’re thinking, because it’s what we were thinking, too. With that said, just as important to us as engineering and performance are experimentation, innovation and discovery. As those three things are what brought us to pursue the Mustang Ecoboost market, we thought it only fitting to continue on that theme and see what this air ride business was all about.

Our goals for the GrimmSpeed shop car were two fold. The first and most important is that it was to be used as a tool for the development of the GrimmSpeed product line. The second was to explore a new area for ourselves, learn more about the car and create something that’s interesting. We had no idea that the two would so easily mix.

At GrimmSpeed, whether it’s drag, track, drift, autox or show, we’re all car guys. We like to keep on top of major trends and form educated opinions – it’s part of what helps us communicate with our customers. In the Subaru world that we come from, internet broscience 101 clearly states that air suspension sucks because some other guy says so. Fortunately for you, we prefer to learn lessons the hard way. It was with this crazy idea that we got to work procuring an Air Lift Performance kit with their V2 management for our Mustang.

The Kit

Our shipment was delayed a few days, as the Mustang kit has been already been very popular for Air Lift. Upon arrival, I could barely get a single photo taken before the team tore into the boxes.

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The first thing that we took note of was the excellent packaging. As a manufacturer ourselves, we know that shipping heavy and valuable items safely can be a challenge and that the design process for those products isn’t over until we have packaging prepared as well. Air Lift clearly takes the same care in this area as we do, because everything arrived in excellent condition.

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The first box that we opened contained the compressor, AutoPILOT V2 components, the necessary wiring harness and a generous length of nylon tubing. The fit and finish of the AutoPILOT hardware far exceeded our expectations, not because we didn’t believe that Air Lift made quality parts, but because electronics like this often feel junky, even if they work just fine. Not the case here. The manifold feels extremely well made, with a billet aluminum lower and an injection molded cover. The handheld controller feels similarly substantial, but a nice rubberized coating and buttons that click firmly when depressed.

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The VIAIR compressor and all included fittings and tubing, while not quite as exciting, seem to be of the same quality. We really like that Air Lift includes a tubing cutter with the kit, to ensure that we get square cuts and don’t need to spend time troubleshooting that common issue after installation. We opened the rest of the boxes to ensure that the tank, front and rear assemblies were all present before we got started. The front and rear assemblies are exactly what we expected, having seen the quality of the V2 management hardware. The front struts look similar to most familiar coilover setups, but with a bag instead of a spring. The Air Lift S550 Mustang kit comes with integrated front camber plates that are beautifully machined with a red anodized finish. The rear back setup is a bit different, with a standalone bag assembly with features that capture the top and bottom once installed, to ensure that the bag stays in place. We gave each assembly, front and rear a quick inspection to make sure we didn’t see any obvious defects that would give us trouble down the road (we didn’t).

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Installation

We’ll breeze through installation relatively quickly, as Air Lift has it very well documented in their manuals, which are printed in nice booklets and included with their products. The first thing that we did was get the tank mocked up under the parcel tray in the trunk and drill holes in the tank brackets and the tray in order to mount the tank exactly where we wanted it. There may be alternative mounting solutions that wouldn’t require drilling holes, but we’d prefer to spend the time and effort up front so that we can enjoy the finished product more later on. Retaining trunk space was important to us, so tucking the tank against the rear seats was an excellent solution.

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Next up was mounting of the manifold, wiring and running air lines. We mounted the manifold in a convenient spot above the tank using the included self-tapping screws. One installation note here is that the screws will not slip through the holes in the V2 manifold – you’ll need to allow them to tap the machined holes while they pass through. We used a cordless impact to do this, which saves your wrist and goes very quickly. This ‘interference fit’ made perfect sense after we got everything in place, as once mounted, the manifold was mounted very securely and wouldn’t shift around.

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We mounted the compressor in the spare tire area; since our Mustang didn’t come with a spare, it was a perfect fit. The lines off of the compressor are relatively short, so we made a harness that allowed us to easily extend the wiring to the AutoPILOT harness. We went a little overboard (as we do here at GrimmSpeed from time to time), but most DIYers would have no trouble crimping some connectors to do the same. Just be sure to use the proper gauge wire.

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Now for the fun part. We ran the airlines to the front, first. With the back seats folded down, removing the plastic interior bits was actually quite easy. We tucked the front lines down each side of the car, just under the carpet with the rest of the factory wiring harness.  In the front on both sides of the car, is a nice rubber grommet with a small nipple on it that’s unused (see photo). We clipped the end of that nipple off (from the wheel well) and then fished a piece of welding wire into the cabin, so that we could locate the grommet and pull the airline back through. It was a tight fit, but that’s how we know it’ll be sealed nicely from the elements here in Minnesota.

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With the airlines up front, we went ahead and installed the front strut assemblies. One thing to note is that camber adjustment appears to be very difficult from the engine bay once the struts are in place, so make your best approximation before installation. This is also the time to set your ride height, so be sure to follow Air Lifts instructions in doing do. One thing that we noticed immediately while handling the front struts is how much lighter than the factory equipment they were. Our initial assumption was that the air ride would be heavier, but it seems that the lack of steel springs might more than compensate for the added compressor, tank and management.

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The rear setup requires a little bit of basic assembly prior to installation. Here is where I was able to find one of only two very small issues during installation. The steel perches that are to be bolted to each bag have a plate welded inside of them that would block a socket from reaching the head of the bolt. Air Lift was kind enough to add clearance for a tool in this area, but because the plate is welded at an angle, I was still not able to get a socket onto the bolt without it getting stuck. Perhaps it was just my socket, but in any case, it was quite easy to just use a standard box wrench.

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Bolting the bag into place was where I got stuck again, as the manual instructs you to align a feature on the bag assembly with a notch in the upper spring perch. Our car didn’t have that notch and although I was sure I’d be able to approximate its location, I called Air Lift’s support line anyway. I was very quickly directed to somebody that was able to answer my question and got right back to work – awesome customer support!

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Booya! All struts, shocks and bags are in place, air lines are hooked up and secured such that they won’t be getting in anything’s way while we thrash on our Mustang and we’re ready to rock. I filled the tank using our shop air compressor to save time and let the auto calibration do its thing. After that, we swapped to our Velgen wheels and Mickey Thompson tires, which are a much more aggressive fit, and dialed in our presets.

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The wheel setup currently on the car is a 20×10.5 in the rear and a 20×9 up front. Tires are Mickey Thompson Street Comps in a 305/35/20 and a 255/35-20. We’re able to air the car out completely without any modifications to the fenders or wheel wells and the fender liners are still in place.

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Performance

Here’s the fun part – performance. The word ‘performance’ can have a number of different meanings and we’ll attempt to cover each of them here. First of all, the performance of the Air Lift Performance kit, with respect to how well it functions, is excellent. We’d never worked with an air ride setup before, but with a careful installation, we were up and running with zero issues. The AutoPILOT management is just sophisticated enough to offer multiple preset ride heights and other features, but is simple enough that it should be very reliable.

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Having put a thousand miles or so on the car since the installation, our definition of performance, given our intend use for the car, is how well it performs all of the tasks that are required of it on a normal day. We have the preset bag pressures at a height that is perfect for driving around town, but if we find ourselves needed to drive into steep parking lots or onto a dyno, two button clicks are all that’s required to lift the car above stock height. Two more button clicks after you’ve parked at a local GTG and the car’s stance commands attention and curiosity from everybody around. Equipped with the Air Lift kit, our Mustang does absolutely everything that’s asked of it on a daily basis.

We had the opportunity to rent out a local test track and spend the day beating on the car. The purpose of this was primarily to test some of the product offerings that we’ve been developing, but the added bonus was a full day of putting the Air Lift system through its paces. It was only a couple of laps before I entirely forgot that there was anything ‘abnormal’ about the suspension on the car. It felt firm, handled beautifully and to an enthusiast racer like myself, the car didn’t seem any more or less prone to being upset by sudden changes in direction, bumps in the track, etc.

Conclusion

None of us are professional race car drivers and none of us are ‘bout dat static life’. We consider ourselves to be pretty normal, open-minded car guys. We approach evaluation of our products and others with the goal of providing constructive criticism in order to help improve. In the case of the Air Lift Performance kit on our 2015 Ford Mustang Ecoboost, for our purposes, it’s nearly perfect.

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You Spoke and We Listened – 2015+ WRX Intake Revision

It’s no secret that at GrimmSpeed, we rely heavily on input from you, our users. We do this from the time as we’re deciding which projects to tackle next, throughout the design process and even after production. This is one of those times when honest feedback from our customers, tuners and retailers has helped us improve upon a product and we’re not afraid to admit it!

To be perfectly clear, the performance of the intake for the 2015+ WRX hasn’t changed one bit, but we have made a modification that will prevent users from installing the filter onto the intake tube incorrectly, which has lead to some unpredictable performance. We’ve covered proper installation in our installation guide, but sometimes, the task seems so straight forward that people skip the guide all together. We get it – we’ve done it too.

The installation calls for the filter to be installed onto the intake tube only 1″ from the end – not bottomed out on the MAF flange. If the filter is bottomed out on the flange, the tube will protrude (slightly) into the filter and adversely affect the function of the velocity stack that’s built into the filter (see below).

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After our initial group buy customers began getting their tune on, a few tuners were reporting strange readings and got in touch with us. Collectively, we decided that since it’s not always possible for a tuner to inspect the car that they’re tuning physically, it would be best for us to take action to try and prevent such installation errors. The result is the updated MAF flange that you see below. This flange will prevent the filter from being installed too deep onto the tube.

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We strive to provide the best possible products that we can and on rare occasions, sometimes it takes a larger number of normal users to understand just exactly what’s needed from a product. In this case, we were more than happy to revise our design! We still have a small batch of intakes in stock with the RevA flanges, but once those are gone, these RevB flanged intakes will be on the shelves and ready to rock!

Winter Mode – Rally Armor UR Mud Flaps

It’s not very often that we go out of our way to give a tip of the hat to another manufacturer’s product, but from time to time, there’s a product or service that we feel is deserving of our praise. This week, that product is from Rally Armor and it’s their model-specific urethane mud flap kits. At GrimmSpeed, we pride ourselves not only on engineering top-notch products, but also on creating an experience for the user that is second to none and that’s exactly what Rally Armor has done with these kits.

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Here in Minnesota, it’s no secret that our winter months can be devastating to a car. The roads are frequently covered in snow, slush, ice or some mixture of the three and in all of those cases, there’s plenty of salt. The body shape of most Subarus is such that the front wheels, even traveling straight down the road, anything and everything at the side of the car. This leaves a nasty mess of salt across most of the car, making it look filthy and harder to clean. The best part, thought, is that they also seem to prevent the formation of large ice chunks in and behind your wheel wells, which can cause serious damage if you don’t kick them off before they freeze solid (and make a serious mess on your garage floor).

‘Winter Mode’ for most means a set of snow tires and fresh wiper blades. For most of the GrimmSpeed team, it also means mud flaps. Whether you appreciate the aesthetic or not, they make an excellently functional addition to a car that sees harsh winters, gravel, mud, etc.

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Knowing that I wanted to protect my 2015 WRX as well as I could, I went ahead and ordered the black urethane kit with grey logo. They arrived quickly and were packaged very well. We take a lot of care in our packaging at GrimmSpeed and it’s easy to see that the folks at Rally Armos do the same, complete with a packaged by sticker just inside the box. Each component was nicely protected by plastic, paper or both and printed instructions were included.

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Installation on the floor of the shop took 30min or so. No fancy tools, no lift, no previous experience with this kit. The brackets make perfect sense and install easily and securely. I especially appreciated how there was no modification to factory parts required. The included hardware replaced a couple of the factory clips, so I just put those in the hardware bag, labeled it and tucked it into the bottom of my toolbox. The mud flaps themselves are thick and durable, contoured perfectly for the application and feature slotted mounting holes for adjustment based on preference and precise bracket location.

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In closing, I should probably note that we don’t sell Rally Armor products, nor do we have any sort of vested interest in their success. We’re simply passing along what we think is a functional and inexpensive product that meets a certain need perfectly. I’m very much a DIY person myself, and 6yrs ago, I may have attempted to hack together my own kit with cutting boards or some other nonsense, but for how quick and easy these were to install and the quality of the components, this kit is an absolute no-brainer!

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If you’d like to see us review other products in a similar fashion, let us know! Cheers!

The Gift of GrimmSpeed – 2015 GrimmSpeed Gift Guide

Finding a holiday gift for the car guy or girl in your life is sometimes easier said than done. If they’re anything like us, then their automotive wish list is endless and ever-changing. Here at GrimmSpeed we hope to make things a bit easier by walking you through any product-related questions you might have, with some expert advice along the way. Give The Gift of GrimmSpeed this season and don’t hesitate to call or email us so we can help you make sure your favorite Subaru enthusiast gets exactly what they want this holiday season.

Gifts under $50

  • GrimmSpeed Apparel and Swag – A t-shirt, fitted hat, keychain or pair of license plate frames would make an excellent gift or stocking stuffer for the Subaru fan in your life!
  • Exhaust Gaskets – These might not look like fun to you, but to a Subaru owner, high quality exhaust gaskets are essential, especially if they’ll be installing new exhaust components this winter!
  • Bounty Hunter Sponsorship Kit – Challenge him or her to take part in the GrimmSpeed Bounty Program. The kit includes a shirt, sticker pack and registration to compete in fun challenges to win GrimmSpeed store credit!

Gifts $50 – 100

  • License Plate Relocation Kit – This is one of our most popular gifted products! Moves your front license plate to a less prominent location and eliminates the need for holes in your bumper.
  • Alternator Cover – An excellent GrimmSpeed-branded ‘dress up’ item that typically replaces the less attractive factory cover. Available in red, black or stainless steel.
  • Electronic Boost Control Solenoid – This is another very popular gift! Although most enthusiasts already own one, if your Subaru/Mitsubishi/Mazdaspeed nut is planning on getting tuned anytime soon, it’s a must-have!

Gifts $150 – 400

  • Catless Up-Pipe – An excellent way to free up pre-turbo exhaust flow and remove the restrictive factory cat. Also available with an external wastegate option – be sure to get the correct one!
  • Air Intake System – This seems to be at the top of everybody’s list this year. An upgraded intake system reduces restriction and allows for more power to be made during tuning. It also enhances the sound of the vehicle.
  • Air Oil Separator – Another very popular gift, available in red, blue and black. Be sure to check on which fitment is needed!

Gifts $400 and up

  • Downpipe/J-Pipe – This is the starting point for an upgraded exhaust system and is the piece that generates the greatest performance gains. Available with a number of options, you may need a couple of hints on this one!
  • Top Mount Intercooler – For that very special person in your life, a GrimmSpeed Intercooler is the cream of the crop where intercoolers are concerned. Rated to high horsepower figures, it’s an excellent fit for nearly all applications.
  • GrimmSpeed Power Packages – Available with a wide range of options, GrimmSpeed Power Packages offer a fully engineered system of modifications, designed to enhance the performance of your vehicle to a number of different degrees. A PERFECT starting point for a new enthusiast.

If you have any questions about items that are on the GrimmSpeed Gift Guide or our website, please contact us directly at sales@grimmspeed.com!

Wicked Big Meet 2015 Recap – Stafford Motor Speedway, CT

It’s been one week exactly since the GrimmSpeed team packed our rental with burgers, hotdogs and drinks for 700 people and only now are we coming down from the excitement and enthusiasm that we have for the Wicked Big Meet 2015 weekend. Held in Stafford Springs, CT, Wicked Big Meet is the largest Subaru festival in the world. In the world. In fact, it’s difficult to see just how big it is while your there, because in a single day, it’s not possible to take a look at every car on the grounds.

Our trip to Sam’s Club on Saturday morning!

As is now tradition, on the Saturday before Wicked Big Meet, the GrimmSpeed team and ECS Performance team up to host a Pre-Meet GTG where ECS opens their shop up to the public and GrimmSpeed mans the grill and provides BBQ goodies for all in attendance. This year, two of us manned a large commercial grill for 5 hours straight, grilling over 500 burgers and 300 hot dogs. This event has become a great way to kickstart the Wicked Big weekend and is a fun, relaxed atmosphere for us to shoot the breeze with our favorite people. At 7pm when the event ended, we had just run out of food and packed up out trusty tent and tables in preparation for a long day on Sunday.

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Setting up our booth on Sunday morning – featuring Robert Champion himself.

Bright and early on Sunday morning, we arrived at Stafford Motor Speedway and began setting up our booth. Despite the already sore feet and tired voices, this is, perhaps, the most exciting part of the day. The hustle and bustle of all of the vendors settings up their tents, the rumble of Subaru engines far and wide and the growing line of show-goers, eagerly awaiting entry.

Premium ticket holders enjoyed the calm before the storm with early entry and had first crack at some crazy deals at the GrimmSpeed booth.

Folks that opted for premium tickets with early entry come pouring in at 9:00am, catching all vendors by surprise, but it’s the push we need to finish setting up and settle in for 8hrs of talking, teaching, learning and laughing. In our booth this year, we were joined by Khanh’s 2015 STI, outfitted with every GrimmSpeed product that fits and Robert’s wicked STI swapped forester. These are the men behind the madness and their cars are perfect evidence that they truly are ’bout dat life’. We were also thrilled to have Howie back with his super clean WRB GR STI. Howie also joined us at Boxerfest, earlier this year in MD and is somehow on his third set of wheels since then. Last, but certainly not least, was Caleb’s crazy BRZ. Caleb is a long time sponsored driver and those in attendance last year might recall his ‘incident’ with a track wall during the Autox event. He was back badder than ever this year in his race-prepped BRZ and booth-goers loved poking around his caged setup.

Shaded area was at a premium later in the afternoon and our tent became a popular spot for men, women, children and dogs!

The day was a blur and before we knew it, the crowd had migrated over to the awards and raffle. If you were part of that crowd, you probably missed the fun moments while vendors have some time to catch their breath and stumble around in a daze, wondering what had happened in the last 6hrs hours. We take stock of the product that we have left and begin tidying up the booth in preparation for the sprint to the finish. After the crowd has left, we tear down our booth area in record time, say our goodbyes and head back towards the hotel to clean up and find some dinner.

David Higgins signing Caleb’s dash!

A single blog post can’t possibly explain just how awesome this event is, so a quick list of highlights will have to do. We chatted with Hiroshi Mori (Director of Product Development with STI) as he admired the GrimmSpeed parts in Caleb’s engine bay. We saw a whopping 5800 Subaru enthusiasts come through the gate next to our booth. David Higgins, legendary rally driver, came straight from his win at STPR to give ride-alongs in the Subaru STI S206. Afterwards, he made his way to the GrimmSpeed booth to sign Khanh and Caleb’s dashboards. We saw $25k+ in raffle prizes given away. Subaru debuted the newest exciting color – Hyperblue. STI brought their 2015 24hr Nurburgring car to the states for the first time ever. The list goes on, but the only way to understand just how awesome this event is is to attend. Make it happen in 2016.

The STI 24hrs of Nurburgring car, stateside for the first time!

Finally, we owe Robert Champion, Khanh Hoon Duong and the entire WBM crew of volunteers a massive thank you. Around GrimmSpeed, WBM weekend is our Super Bowl. Although we do like to joke around and participate in the weekends shenanigans, we take the opportunity very seriously and there are no words to show the amount of appreciation that we have for what you guys put into this weekend each year. We’d also like to thank all of the other vendors and sponsors for their participation in helping make WBM the massive success that it is. Of course, WBM wouldn’t be what it is without you crazy Subaru fans (and I do mean crazy). The excitement and enthusiasm that we saw coming through the front gate all day is contagious and no amount of sales/profit/growth/etc could possibly overshadow the satisfaction that we get from seeing that. THAT is why we do what we do and you can expect to find us at Wicked Big Meet for as long as our feet and voices will allow it. See you next year!

Hiroshi Mori, David Higgins and the lucky winners of the S206 ride-along jumping for joy!

Boxerfest 2015 Recap – FedEx Field – Landover, MD

Whenever family, friends or acquaintances ask me what I do for work, I struggle to accurately explain to them just how unique and passionate our community of enthusiasts, manufacturers, shops and retailers is. They’re stunned to learn that there are enough people modifying their Subarus to support even a single person, let alone an entire industry of people developing, manufacturing, selling and installing parts. I’m sure this isn’t a uncommon conversation for people in the industry and even recall answering similarly themed questions when I was just an enthusiast myself from people that don’t ‘get it’.

If you don’t know what ‘get it’ means, you don’t ‘get it’. Keep reading.

IAG Performance TR-42 on the autocross course!

The GrimmSpeed team spent last weekend just outside of Washington DC for the second annual Boxerfest event at FedEx Field in Landover, MD. Boxerfest is one of four national events, organized by our friends at SubieEvents, that caters exclusively to the Subaru community. Manufacturers and vendors from across the country travel to take part in the festivities, meet their customers, display products and enjoy the sights and sounds that thousands of Subaru enthusiasts provide. Yes, thousands. In just it’s second year, Boxerfest 2015 attracted 2700 attendees, dwarfed only by Wicked Big Meet (held in Stafford Springs, CT), which drew nearly 5000 people in 2014. Other events include Big Northwest Meet in Portland, OR and for it’s first year ever in 2015, Rocky Mountain Subaru Festival in Denver, CO.

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GrimmSpeed donated $1000 in Gift Cards to the raffle!

Attending one of these events, or even just consuming the MASSIVE amount of media created by them, helps shed some light on just how big this ‘thing’ is. Jaws drop when I share photos of 3000 Subarus parked in the lot or of the vendor area packed wall to wall with people carrying boxes/bags/shirts/hats/etc. They begin to understand that our community is more than just a popular movie franchise from 15yrs ago.

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Chuck’s Legacy GT sporting the newest GrimmSpeed TMIC.

The GrimmSpeed team flew into Reagan National Airport on Thursday night and spent the day on Friday checking out the area, visiting IAG Performance in Westminster, MD and helping pack thousands of goodie bags for Boxerfest attendees. The next morning, we were up early and and by 7am, we were at FedEx Field setting up our tent and assembling our display. At 9am when the gates opened, there was already a line of Subarus a mile long ready to rock and roll. For each event, we select a few local guys to join us at our booth and show off their cars. It’s always fun getting to know a couple of local enthusiasts a little bit better. They get top-notch parking and we always have new cars sporting our full product line to show off!

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Howie’s super clean GR STI brought a lot of attention to the GrimmSpeed booth.

We had a number of other favorites parked inside and outside of the vendor area as well. We’re car guys to core here and have no difficulty appreciating anything from a great stance on beautiful wheels to an all-out track build like the white STI gracing the IAG booth with it’s presence.

Another favorite of ours is Khanh’s 2015 STI with, literally, every single part that GrimmSpeed makes for his car. 

Enough words – I think you get the idea here. The bottom line is that the Subaru community is growing quickly and that these events are a great way to connect with fellow enthusiasts, see some cool stuff and even learn a thing or two. Nothing can describe our little piece of the automotive industry quite like a gathering this size.

Twin-turbo Subaru BRZ. Very slick setup.
Extremely well-sorted rotated EFR setup.
Super clean engine bay with a GrimmSpeed Boost Control Solenoid keeping that Precision turbo under control.
Subarus and Subaru fans as far as the eye can see. Friends, children, moms, dads, grandparents and even puppies!
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Definitely the wildest Subaru SVX we’ve ever seen!
Of course, the event was serviced by a handful of local food trucks!

Thanks for reading! We’ll be recapping each of this years events, so keep an eye out for more! For more photos, visit the GrimmSpeed album on Facebook or visit the Boxerfest page for a number of the day’s albums.

GrimmSpeed Sponsors Dai Yoshihara’s 2015 Formula Drift BRZ

It is with an unhealthy amount of excitement that we announce GrimmSpeed’s official sponsorship of Formula Drift veteran, Dai Yoshihara’s BRZ for all seven rounds of the 2015 season. Dai’s Falken Tire x Turn 14 Distribution Subaru BRZ is sporting a new livery for the season that maintains the classic Falken Tires scallop design but integrates the corporate colors of this year’s co-title sponsor, Turn14 Distribution. When those Falkens aren’t creating a massive amount of tire smoke, you’ll find the GrimmSpeed logo anchoring the rear of the car. That may not be too often and were OK with that; we love us some tire smoke.

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GrimmSpeed has always been a huge supporter of grassroots motorsports and up-and-coming drivers, having sponsored some of the nations fastest time attack and rally drivers ‘back in the day’. Many times, as those drivers find larger success, they also find larger sponsors. We take pride in supporting the smaller guys and are happy to ‘set them free’ as they advance, but we’re also very excited to be a part of a small group of sponsors that are supporting one of the biggest names, Dai Yoshihara, in Formula Drift this year.

Throughout the season, you can expect to see GrimmSpeed covering Dai’s season with race recaps, technical discussion and other assorted shenanigans. Let us know what else you’d like to see!

2015 Formula Drift Competition Schedule:

Streets of Long Beach (Long Beach, Calif.): April 10 – 11
Road to the Championship (Braselton, GA): May 8-9
Orlando (Orlando, FL): June 5-6
The Guantlet (Wall Township, NJ): June 26-27
Throwdown (Monroe, WA): July 24-25
Showdown (Fortworth, TX): August 21-22
Final Fight (Irwindale, Calif.): October 9-10

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Introduction: 2015 Subaru WRX 3-Port Boost Control Solenoid

If you’ve been in the Subaru game for long, you’re probably well aware that a 3-port Boost Control Solenoid (BCS) is considered my most to be a ‘must have’ improvement before having your car tuned. GrimmSpeed has become the trusted brand in the BCS market, with tens of thousands of solenoids in operation today across the globe.

The 2015 WRX offers a unique change of pace, as the factory 2-port solenoid is mounted directly to the plastic turbo inlet and interfaces with an o-ringed feature, rather than a vacuum hose. With expertise in designing machined parts and a tried and true boost control solenoid, we were excited to dig in and create a solution with an already proven pedigree of high performance and quality.

GrimmSpeed 2015 WRX BCS

GrimmSpeed 3-port BCS 2015 WRX

GrimmSpeed 2015 WRX Solenoid

Enter the GrimmSpeed 2015 Subaru WRX 3-Port Boost Control Solenoid, the first and only of it’s kind.

We began by recreating the factory turbo inlet and solenoid in CAD to ensure a perfectly fitting system. From there, we designed a beautifully fitting machined adapter that would recreate the o-ring sealing feature that the factory solenoid uses. This bracket features 1/8 NPT threads so that both barbed fittings (included) and AN fittings can be used interchangeably, for use with the GrimmSpeed BCS, Manual Boost Controller, or other boost control solutions.

A small mounting bracket secures the solenoid to the machined adapter, to create a compact system, while still allowing those interested in running other boost control solutions the flexibility to do so. Mounting the solenoid directly in place of the stock solenoid allows for vacuum hoses of similar length and a shorter wiring harness. We contemplated the option to make a fully integrated solenoid, but decided that creating an adapter and mounting solution allowed people to use a solenoid that’s already been heavily tested and that tuners are familiar with. One possible change between now and production is to integrate the BCS mounting feature into the adapter. Cost and complexity will determine if that’s feasible shortly.

GrimmSpeed 2015 WRX BCS

2015 Subaru WRX Boost Control Solenoid

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Lastly, we worked to identify the exact electrical connector used on the stock solenoid so that the GrimmSpeed solution would be a true plug and play (differs slightly from the connector pictured). After that, we went ahead and built prototype and pre-production units.

2015 wrx boost control solenoid

As a brief overview of the advantages of a 3-port boost control system vs. the factory 2-port system, the 3-port systems works by interrupting the boost signal traveling from the turbo to the wastegate. That boost is redirected back into the turbo inlet (post-MAF sensor) and re-ingested by the turbo. The factory configuration simply ‘bleeds’ the signal from between the turbo and wastegate which creates a system that is a bit less complex, but reacts more slowly and with less precision.

We’re currently finalizing the detailed design and moving into production. As soon as we have an estimated release date (expected 2-3wks), we’ll begin accepting pre-orders at a discounted group buy price. We’ll start a different thread for that when the times comes, so for now, let’s keep this discussion technical.

The next step is to get a small initial batch of solenoids into the hands of your favorite local tuners. If you’re a tuner yourself or you’d like to nominate a tuner for receipt of a prototype unit, please comment below and we’ll add you to the list. From this list, we’ll select testers based on experience and geographic location.

Top Mount Intercooler Test Results – Part 1: OEM vs. GrimmSpeed

The moment many of you have been waiting for – top mount intercooler test results! In testing and developing a heat exchanger, there are countless bits of data to collect and analyze in order to facilitate the decision making process, but when it comes to evaluating the final product, performance can be quantified with relative simplicity. Everything boils down to temperature and restriction. The intercoolers primary duty is to lower and control the temperature of the hot charge air leaving the turbo and running through the intercooler. This is the first test that we performed on both the stock unit and the GrimmSpeed unit.We setup this test to simulate a real world scenario that’s typically demanding of an intercooler. The test vehicle is a 2012 WRX with a GrimmSpeed downpipe, boost control solenoid, prototype intake and tuning. On a closed course, we accelerated in 3rd gear from 3000rpm to redline repeatedly, with 5-8sec between runs. Temperature was logged via k-type thermocouples between the turbo and the intercooler and between the intercooler and the throttle body on both units. Ambient temperature here in Minnesota for both tests was between 20 and 22 degrees F.The results above speak for themselves, but here’s a breakdown. The phase differences between the runs are a result of how quickly we could safely get the car back down to speed for another run, but the important thing to notice is the magnitude of the temperature fluctuations. Predictably, both intercoolers were seeing similar Pre-IC temperatures on each run (180-190F peak), but while the GrimmSpeed TMIC kept Post-IC temperatures between 30-40F the entire time, the OEM TMIC fluctuated between 35-75F. This is the kind of consistent cooling that you should expect from a high quality TMIC and is a function of the geometry and design of the bar and plate core. Our high density core has a massive heat transfer surface area but maintains a large enough cross-sectional flow area that there’s no added restriction.

What’s Next – Pressure Drop, Aftermarket TMICs and Warm Weather Testing

The second part of our final testing will be to measure the pressure drop across each intercooler to demonstrate that the increased cooling performance comes with no sacrifice in flow rates. We’ll also run the same tests with a couple of other aftermarket TMICs. You can expect to see these results in the coming week. Lastly, in the spring, we’ll complete all of this testing again in warmer weather to show that the same effectiveness can be expected, regardless of ambient temperature. We’ll also try to find it’s limits with our 600whp STI.

Casting Intercooler End Tanks – A Day at the Pattern Shop!

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The photo above shows the machining of the TMIC outlet end tank master. The Bottom received a finishing pass and then the part was flipped so that the top could be roughed out. When all is done, this will be a flawless part. Now that the master parts for both end tanks have been completed, we’ll make a cast iron match plate from each of them. You probably noticed that it looks a lot like they’re being machined from wood and that’s because they are! These master parts will only be used a single time – to cast the real molds from, so a heavier duty material only costs more and takes longer, with no added value.

Interesting Note: The master that you see here is not dimensionally identical to our final part – it’s actually larger. Based on the foundry’s preferences, standard shrink allowances and the geometry of the model, the pattern makers job is to determine how much the cast aluminum part will shrink/contract during solidification. An easy way to cut cost, especially if you’re casting overseas, is to skip this step. Ever had an application-specific intercooler that didn’t fit quite right? There’s a decent chance that uncontrolled shrinkage was at least partially to blame.

For those unfamiliar with high end casting processes, creating the tooling and molds is the giant hurdle standing between your design in CAD and real parts. With properly designed and manufactured tooling, casting and machining the parts is relatively straight forward. One of the many benefits of casting right here in Minnesota is that we’re able to sit down with everybody involved and work through potential issues to mitigate the risk of trouble during production almost entirely. That means lower production cost for us and lower pricing for you!