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2009 FXT Limited 4EAT :(
859 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
This is a little over due as I meant to start a build thread when I got the car, but that never happened so without further delay.. Project Shwagon (aka the SH swagger wagon)!

Spec Sheet
The Numbers
290WHP & 273Tq

Engine/ Drivetrain
• VF52 turbo (Port and polished, powder coated red cold side, ceramic coated black hot side)
• PTP turbo blanket
• GrimmSpeed TMIC (wrapped in DEI reflect-a-gold with custom made shroud)
• GrimmSpeed intake (wrapped in DEI reflect-a-gold)
• GrimmSpeed pulley cover
• GrimmSpeed turbo heat shield
• GrimmSpeed 3-port EBCS
• Forge BPV
• Perrin AOS
• Cobb Accessport running 93 Oct pro-tune by Neetronics aka Pandatuned
• Ported, polished, wrapped, and heat sealed OEM collectors, cross pipe, and up pipe
• Invidia catted down pipe (wrapped and heat sealed)
• Invidia Q300 CBE
• NGK 1 step colder plugs
• CSF radiator
• Earls 19 bar row oil cooler with 8AN stainless lines and fittings
• Mishimoto thermostatic oil sandwich plate
• Stock 4EAT transmission with JDM Subaru paddle shift kit
• Flex-a-lite 6 tube row 5x12 transmission cooler
• Custom intercooler/oil cooler spray kit

• 2008 STi struts and springs
• Whiteline Roll-center Kit
• Cobb 25mm front sway bar
• Whiteline solid front endlinks
• Whiteline 22mm rear sway bar
• Whiteline lateral rear sway bar supports
• Kartboy solid rear end links
• Whiteline adjustable rear lower control arm
• SPC adjustable rear tow arms
• XXR 527 18x8.75+35
• Michelin Pilot Sport 4S 245/40

• Subaru front underspoiler
• Subaru sports grill
• Custom under-tray/ splitter with adjustable support rods
• OEM front tow hook and Sparko rear tow strap
• Custom 3D printed F-badge
• Baked and blacked headlights
• Plasti-dipped doorhandles
• Subaru rear step plate
• Ceramic from window tint
• Subaru mud guards
• Rally Armour UR flaps
• Subaru side panel proctors
Diode Dynamics DR2 6k HID bulbs
• Custom front splitter and under tray

Interior and Electronics
• Momo shift knob
• Vinyl trim overlays on various interior bits
• SMY dual gauge cluster
• Prosport electronic boost gauge
• Prosport oil pressure gauge
• Prosport oil temperature gauge
• STI door sills
• STI floor mats
• STI driver seat

Media Centre
• Nexus 7 tablet (in custom made aluminium dash mount bezel)
• Kenwood KMM-108U digital media receiver (mounted in the glovebox)
• 4.2 amp dual usb charger
• 4 port powered USB hub
• USB IR repeater (wired to KMM 108-U for remote control)
• Wireless bluetooth USB receiver
• DVB-T antena (converts analog radio signal to digital USB output)
• Factory speakers (with factory tweeter kit)

• GrimmSpeed brake master cylinder brace
• Legacy GT front calipers (VHT black) and stock rear calipers (VHT black)
• DBA T2 rotors
• HAWK HPS 5.0 pads
• Black sleeved stainless brake lines
• Russell speed bleeders
• ATE Super Blue fluid

The project started when I decided to sell my 04 WRX wagon for something new, something different, something a bit more refined and a bit more grown up (the grown up part has yet to materialize). My goal was to find an SH forester X and swap in STi gear from a totalled STi. But after some research I realized that crashed STi’s are not only hard to get in Canada but costly as well. I decided to spend more responsibly and ended up buying a 2009 Dark Grey Metallic SH Forester XT Limited.

Fresh from the dealership and other than OEM optional parts it's totally stock

My old 04 WRX and my new to me SH FXT

The goal for the Forester was pretty simple; make a car that is part grown up and part hoon. It had to be comfortable on long road trips yet still fun for those times I visit a track (or possibly an empty on ramp.. or two). I struggled with the aesthetic part of the project as part of me wanted a sleeper and the other likes a more pronounced style. You’ll see were I ended up.

All of the following work was done by myself on the street where I live (with the exception of window tinting, tire mounting, installation of the WL roll centre kit, and the alignment).

The first mods
The first mod was removing the air intake silencer. I know this is a silly mod, but I like to hear turbo and intake sounds. Unfortunately it didn’t make as much of a difference noise wise as it did on the WRX. The next step was getting rid of those terrible fender mouldings and removing the front and rear light grey bumper garnishes. I didn’t like the interior wood kit either, so I slowly started to remove it. The adhesive made it a huge pain the the *** to get off! After I rid the poor fozy of its tacky garnishes I started to put together a plan for the suspension. Coils would be nice, but I cannot currently afford a top shelf system that would deliver the ride comfort and handling I desire. I settled for some takeoffs from a low milage 2008 STi. I also picked up a 25mm COBB front swaybar, 22mm WhiteLine rear adjustable swaybar (with cross support braces), and WhiteLine HD adjustable end links.

Suspension pt.1
The visual difference between the stock and aftermarket bars is fairly significant

I installed the F+R swaybars and end links, and what a difference they made! The handling went from that of a boat to that of a well sorted (small-ish)SUV. Now to get better spring rates and lower centre of gravity! (I hadn’t yet sold the WRX as you can see in the picture below)

Something I am not a fan of on my vehicles is chrome! The first thing i took care of was the head lights. I did the oven bake and black technique.

While visiting my family in Seattle I found a great deal on an Invidia Q300 from Rene (known for his 500HP SH FXT that was featured on TheSmokingTire). Boxed it up and brought it back home with me on the plane.

(the following image was taken when i was installing struts, thus the control arm hanging down)

Suspension pt.2
Once I had the front strut wings modified I installed them. It was a fairly easy swap to do except for tightening the rear top bolts as the hole in the trunk is small making the bolt hard to reach. I ended up buying a deep well ratcheting spanner to get this done.

Winter mode
Shortly there after it started to get cold so off came the OEM Geolanders and on went a set of OEM sized Hankook iPikes. Once the tires were mounted I dipped the stock wheels flat black.

As allot of you know, the Subaru navigation system is not the best so instead of replacing my head unit with an OEM nav unit I decided to try my hand at something a little unconventional.. an Android tablet entertainment and car-puter system. After watching a few youtube videos and reading a bunch of forums I started to design the system and buy the components I needed. Something of noteworthiness here is the Torque app and the ODBII dongle that sends all the information from the Forester's ECU to the Nexus 7!

After getting everything in order I removed the factory unit and started to fab the Nexus 7 into the OEM bezel. It’s help on with a few aluminum bars and secured in place with a few pieces of back strapping that is bolted to the body of the car.

I choose the Kenwood deck as it is a digital only unit which isn't as deep as a standard unit with a cd player.. thus allowing my to mount it in the glovebox and maintain the glovebox's function (I have since re-located the USB3.0 hub behind the dash).

I also removed the power plug from the front dash location and fab'd my own USB plug to go in it's place (you can kind of see it in the picture below where I wrapped interior trim). While the dash was apart i installed an SMY gauge pod with prosprot boost and oil temp gauges. The SMY cluster fits really well and the gauges were a simple install as well.

The great thing about running an Android setup like this is the user (me) can change the look and add or remove functionality as I see fit, such as adding a race computer as seen in this night shot (glove box was open for the pic).

I even have games (mostly racing and rally games) along with a bluetooth controller for those moments when I'm stuck in the car I need to kill some time. <insert fast and furious joke here>

Intake, exhaust and tune
I picked up a COBB accessport v2 and COBB intake for yet another great deal and flashed the FXT stage 1 map

Always wanting more power I had been waiting for an Invidia V3 catted down pipe to pop up on a local forum and finally found one. Installed it right away along with a grim speed heat shield and flash stage 2 93 octane map. I ended up over boosting a few times on my test runs so I switched to a low waistgate map which only half fixed the problem. I'm waiting for a VF52 upgrade before I drop any coin into a pro tune.

2009 FXT Limited 4EAT :(
859 Posts
Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
Summer shoes
I picked up some low milage tires off a GR STi (Dunlop SP Sport 600 245/40/18) to mount to some XXR 527's that were being sent over from Cali. As soon as those came in I had them mounted, just in time too as the weather was getting too warm for the iPikes!
Dunlops on the left, Hankooks on the right

Now that I have a properly wide tire, I desperately needed some body protection. Lucky for me I had saved the Rally Armor UR flaps from my WRX. After re-locating the mounting holes to fit the SH they were easy to install.

Suspension pt.3
I realized I’ll never corner balance the car so the Whittling HD end links were over kill so I sold them to someone that would properly use them and installed solid links (Whiteline up front and Kartboy in the rear).

Next up I plastidip chrome fog bezels and door handles (#nochrome) flat black. Removing the door handles was allot easier than I thought, with the exception of 2 things. 1st and for most (if you are going to do this TAKE NOTE), some how when I removed the door handles I triggered the child safety lock on the rear passenger door. Without a working handle to open the door and the door car being sandwiched by the frame I had to very carefully and painfully slide my arm down the interior door pull gap and grab the cable that opens the door. Don't make this mistake! 2nd was the key lock mechanism on the driver door. If that comes apart it's a PITA to get it back together.. take it slow and make note of how it's assembled incase this happens to you.

Interior change #1
Now onto the interior wood-grain trim. As stated at the start of this build thread the previous owner had installed a wood trim package (this was real wood veneer, but isn't my thing at all). It was a pain to remove as the adhesive didn't want to let go of the plastic. Some of the panels were permanently damaged by the adhesive so now I had no option but to cover the trim. From previous experience painting interior trim isn't a long term solution so I turned to vinyl wrapping. As to not make a boring all black interior I went for the foe carbon on most of the trim and black on the console parts. This was the first time I had ever done this and it turned out ok.
Old and new

Continuing my hunt for a "more clean" look I removed the front oval star badge and started designing a JDM F badge to go in it's place. I designed it in 3D software and had it printed on a MarketBox 3D printer.
In the making thread

No boat = front lip
Tired of looking at the boat like front end I ordered up an OEM front lip from Budds Subaru in Tacoma WA (best deal I could find) and had it shipped to Niagara Falls NY. When it came in I was so excited that rushed down there and installed it in their parking lot before heading home!

At a local meet called Hypermeet (the largest annual suby gathering here in Toronto which is hosted by Subaru of Canada).

Suspension pt.4
While at the Hypermeet I picked up a WhiteLine roll-center kit for a great price and planned to install it but before I knew it time had flown by and it was winter again. My front end started making a terrible clunk from warn tie rods and I was afraid to let it go any longer, thus forcing me to take it to one of the few shops I trust working on my car (because I am not about to work on my car on the street in the middle of winter). When I picked it up they said it was a good thing I had them do it as they had to use a torch and impact tools to get the ball joint off so I would had likely had to flat bed it to them if I had attempted the job myself.. on the street in the middle of a low snow but frigid Canadian winter.

I had dipped the rear badges with Pasti-dip’s “smoke” and liked it for a year, but I started to desired a cleaner look so I debadged the rear, as well as removing the star oval as the silver was falling apart from inside the stars and needed to be re-done or replaced. I tried getting the paint off with coke, brake cleaner, bleach, and finally an environmentally friendly paint stripper. The paint came off fine, but the silver was a PITA and the badge ended up getting small cracks in it so it’s not looking the best and I’m not sure if I will try and repair/repaint it or just make a new “F” insert to replace it. EDIT: Ended up scrapping the rear badge and I am will eventually make a new 3D printed F badge.

Seat swap
I got tired of sliding around in my OEM leather drivers seat and wanted to swap to something more appropriate for spirited driving. The problem is that my wife and I take allot of road trips and she wasn’t too happy with the seats in my WRX and really likes the one in the FXT. Due to this, I couldn’t swap both and have a matching set, but after watching some videos on Japanese car modding culture i realized that it didn’t matter if the seats match and I should do what I needed to meet both our needs (leaving her seat in and swapping mine). After about two months of searching I finally found someone willing to sell me just the drivers seat out of a Canadian (heated) GR STi. The swap was really easy and the only thing I swapped from the old seat was the seatbelt receiver. There is a significant weight difference between the heavy electric FXT seat and the STi seat. The seating position is a little lower than where I had my OEM seat, but I got used to it really fast!

Update. The STi seat is a great option and is likely the best bang for buck seat one can find, but after while I find I want more bolstering so I will eventually swap this STi seat with something else.

I have had a few people ask me for the seat measurements from the seat bottom to the roof. The STi seat only has 2" of height adjustment so the most room you have from seat bottom to the roof is a little over 41" and when the seat is raised to it's highest setting you have 39" of clearance.
(the lever to raise/lower the seat wasn't re-installed when i snapped this shot, it's there now)

Track day
After taking the FXT to Shannonville Motorsport Park (
) to see how she drives and figure out what needed addressing next. I assumed the brakes would be really lacking (which I’m sure they would be if I started to push lap times), but they ended up being just fine for my casual lapping. While monitoring the FXT’s vitals I noticed my motor oil temp climbing to nearly 300ºF. While this is within the operating range of synthetic oil, it’s pushing it. To remedy this I am picking up an Earls 19bar oil cooler which will be installed before I go back to the track. Although I have read that this system won’t drop my oil pressure much, I will be installing an oil pressure gauge to keep an eye on it.

Oil Cooler
Installed an oil cooler last Saturday before my track day on Sunday. That &@$%*!# thing took seven hours to install thanks to a seized heat shield bolt that I stripped trying to get loose. I had to hack the heat shield away to get the grinder close enough to cut the bolt head off. I tried installing the oil cooler horizontally but no matter how hard I tried the lines wouldn't cooperate so I ended up mounting it vertically. In the end i read that how I mounted it is better as air won't get trapped in the system. After buying the original kit, then having to buy a longer Russell -10AN line the cost ended up being the same as the small Mishimoto oil cooler kit that is made for the GR WRX, which would have been so much easier to install. I guess my hours of labor gets me a larger cooler at the cost of the smaller one so I cannot complain too much.

At the track day it didn't help as much as I thought it would.. but I did have to hack the crap out of my header's upper heat shield to get the sandwich plate and Russell braided lines to fit so i can only assume it's getting some serious heat soak. A 20 min run at Cayuga Motorsports park got my oil temp up to 270ºF. The engine does cool off faster on cool down laps though. Guess my next project is to heat-wrap the (stock) headers.

I'm very happy with how the SH is turning out! It's so much fun to drive be it taking a long road trip, or getting groceries, and even honing at the track. I'll keep this post updated as the modding continues and I hope that you have enjoyed reading and seeing what I have done to my SH. I look forward to hearing from you in the comments. Cheers!


2009 FXT Limited 4EAT :(
859 Posts
Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
Engine bolt on upgrades
Installed some more GrimmSpeed goodness (TMIC, Intake, and belt cover). Install of the intake and belt cover is straight forward and easy. The TMIC is straight forward, but not so easy as getting all the pipes to fit to the intercooler is a bit tough. I got it done though and love it! The cold side of the TMIC is always cool to the touch (so far as I have not had it on in super hot weather yet).

Installed a GFB bov. Install was super quick and easy. I found a 20% vent to atmosphere to be where the motor is most happy.

A low milage VF52 is on it's way down to SoCal Porting for some work. Ruben at SoCal already has the exhaust collectors done (port, polish, and VHT coated) and is starting the cross pipe and up pipe. Once those are done he'll port, polish, and coat the VF and then ship it all to me in the spring.

Stage 3 bolt-ons
Got the VF52 turbo, up pipe, and headers back from Socal Porting and they look great. I took advantage of the first nice weekend that came this spring to install all of it.. which took the entire weekend thanks to my novice experience and that crappy OEM turbo inlet tube. If you are taking your turbo out for what ever reason.. get an aftermarket inlet, it's 100% worth the cost and it will save you hours of finagling! I also installed a new up stream 02 sensor, Perrin AOS, PTP turbo blanket (in red!), a GrimmSpeed ECBS, wrapped the down pipe with the left over wrap from the headers and up pipe, gold heat tapped the GrimmSpeed TMIC, finally finished the install of an oil pressure gauge, and swapped out the GFB bov for a Forge bpv for quicker spool/ turbo response. After the tune I had to zip tie all the vacuum lines and replace the factory bpv to throttle body line as they kept blowing off every time I came close to 18PSI.

Got my tune done and thanks to an acting up 4EAT we had to stop at 290WHP and 273TQ. The 4EAT started to heat up pretty fast and started slipping so much the tuner couldn't tune it anymore. I guess it's time to start saving for that 6 speed. The tuner said I will easily break the 300 mark with a manual transmission. The tuner also insisted on swapping out the GFB BOV for a Forge diverter valve which I hadn't planned on and it doesn't sound as nice.. but smoke testing revealed that GFB leaked something awful. Not sure how I like it and it wasn't a cheap part :( On a happy note.. the FXT pulls really hard and for some reason peak power is near redline so once boost hits it doesn't quit! Boost comes on just before 3k RPM and hits peek at [email protected] RPM and doesn't tail off all that much after that. Other than it being a super expensive day I am really happy with how it turned out.

A crappy video I took (I can never get my equipment to work right when it counts.. one video camera is completely dead as it corrupts every file it makes)

Next on the install list
• finish install intercooler and oil cooler water sprayer kit
• finish my rear badge design and have it made, same for the front.
• install trans cooler

The wish list
• Koyo radiator with Mishimoto rad hoses
• get a spare set of trims for my racing slicks
• Rear wing from the 12/13 SH FXT (really low on the priority list)

2009 FXT Limited 4EAT :(
859 Posts
Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
Interior 2.0
Not happy with the wrap job i did with the carbon vinyl I decided to re-do the interior once again, this time I choose to do it right and use authentic Alcantara and take my time doing it. After gathering the materials and some good quality high temp spray contact adhesive I went to work. I'm super pleased with the end result. I feel it gave the interior a much more polished and expensive look!

I also added Paddle shifters to the mix which made the driving experience so much better. I ordered the kit from and took a month to get to me. Now both hands are always on the wheel.

Tail lights
I plan on opening up my rear tails soon so I can place them out as I hate the chrome, but until then I ordered these LED reflectors to replace the reflectors in the rear bumper. They are wired to my turn signals so they are always at half brightness until I signal.

I finally installed the new brake set-up yesterday.. what a difference!! All four corners got DBA T2 rotors, Hawk HPS 5.0 pads, black coated SS lines, as well as speed bleeders. The front calipers were replaced with LGT calipers (re-finished with VHT black paint), and the rear calipers were kept but were re-finsihed in VHT black. I flushed the system with super blue fluid and took it out to bed the new system in. After some wonderfull smells and a bit of fun everything is running great and the pedal feel and stopping power is night and day over stock. In the image below you can see the massive difference the OEM FXT rotor and the LGT size rotor!!

Rad and transmission cooler
My OEM rad cracked on the upper plastic tank end cap so it had to go which meant the OEM trans-cooler was gone too. In it's place I installed a CSF aluminum radiator with a 5x12 tube trans-cooler. The install was easy and straightforward. 3 hours later I was back on the road with the coolant running a good 8ºC colder!

The install of the trans cooler was really easy! You can see the lines here and how easy they are to access.

Here is the cooler installed along with the new rad. Lots of cooling going on!

Goodbye drone, Hello happy neighbours
In exchange for some graphic work I did for my tuner he hooked me up with his buddy's exhaust shop, GT Custom Exhaust, to address an issue I have with my Invidia TBE. I have grown to hate the amount of drone the Fozy has in 4th gear while on the highway and to be honest it's too loud for me in general. GT Custom Exhaust cut out Invidia's small resonator and replaced it with a Borla resonator that is almost three times larger. I will say that it felt odd to have someone else doing work on the car, but it was nice to just get in and drive away at the end and not need a shower or to re-collect and pack my tools. So the result.. The car is very happy as there was a rough idle before that is now gone, the drone isn't gone but it's significantly reduced, and the overall noise of the car is reduced quite a bit but not so much that it sounds stock as it still have that deep rumble.. it just dosen't shout out to everyone "IM FAST LOOK AT MEEEE" so i'm really happy! Oh, and the welds that GT Custom Exhaust did are so pretty. They know what they are doing over there and I would have no problem handing my keys to any of the guys at that shop (if you guys know me that's saying allot). I wish I took more pics while the work was happening but I didn't so these will have to do.

Cutting out the old resonator and welding the new one in

New Borla resonator installed

Next on the install list
• finish install intercooler and oil cooler water sprayer kit
• finish my rear badge design and have it made, same for the front.

The wish list
• get a spare set of trims for my racing slicks
• Rear wing from the 12/13 SH FXT (really low on the priority list)

09 Fozzy XT 4 Hungry aka 4EAT
2,124 Posts
Yeah, definitely Sub'd .. I like the infotainment. I too have a a few tabs but the one in particular I would try to fit in like you have(Although it may be a little too big) is the Galaxy Tab 4 8.0..

PS: Interesting wood interior to say the least. I've never seen that on a Subaru before. Plenty on an Audi, but not any Subaru.

2009 FXT Limited 4EAT :(
859 Posts
Discussion Starter #10
Thanks for the comments! Fitting the tab will definitely be a tight fit and some of the screen might be cropped as the Nexus is a 7" tablet.

Yesterday I drove to Niagara Falls NY to pick up an oil cooler kit from a poor gentleman who blew a head gasket on his RSTi race car for the second time and is giving up on Subaru and moving onto an LS7. I hope to get this installed in the next couple of weeks.

(his pics, not mine)

2009 FXT Limited 4EAT :(
859 Posts
Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
Finally got some pics from last months track day @ Shannonville (there wen't many as the rain kept the photographer inside for most of the event).

Plans this weekend are to install the oil cooler, drain oil and replace with Eneos, and install either brake master cylinder brace or ss lines and flush with super blue fluid.

2009 FXT Limited 4EAT :(
859 Posts
Discussion Starter #19
Attempted to install the oil cooler yesterday and was unsuccessful. The kit I picked up was a universal kit that a guy had used on his RSTi race car. He had mounted in on the engine side of the radiator so the lines were pretty short. Due to the fact that I have fans on the engine side of the radiator the oil cooler has to be mounted on the bumper side. As such the line would not reach no matter how many different configurations I tried. Another issue I came across was that the design of the sandwich plate and the profile of the engine; the plate can only be mounted in one orientation which will require modification to the upper header (collector) heat shield. I tried using both sandwich plates (I have 2) stacked to gain clearance from the block, but then the ports of the pate were hitting the cross pipe.

So in the end I spent 6 hours on the car and all I got done was an oil change :(. I had planned on doing a trans fluid change, brake speed bleeder install, brake line flush, paint the callipers black (VHT rattle can satin black), oil cooler install, oil change, and spark plug change. I'll have to order longer lines and try again later.

09 Fozzy XT 4 Hungry aka 4EAT
2,124 Posts
Sorry to hear buddy.. At least you didn't give up and know what you need to get it done. Take it easy today, enjoy your Sunday and try again when you get your lines. Thanks for the Update :grin2:
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