Yep, 04 Sti wheels and tires (225-45-17). The combination of springs, Sti rear sway, and the Sti wheels and tires makes the car feels night and day different. The Tein H-Tech WRX Wagon springs provided a slightly tail-high attitude that I had hoped for. I still want to do the Koni inserts at some point down the road, and to be honest the Sti rack and pinion and whiteline steering bushing would be a good investment as the steering still feels slightly sluggish compared to an Sti, Evo, or M3. Overall a nice improvement in looks and handling though!
Thanks SkiPhast! Once I get the car aligned, I will get a chance to see how much better it handles the curves. Its nice to be far enough south in New Mexico to actually be able to use summer tires throughout the winter months with the temps staying in the 50-70 range. It would be great for mountain biking too if it wasn't for those darn Goathead thorns!!
H techs do not lower the vehicle as much as S techs, but he is using WRX/Wagon springs, which will be lower than Forester springs. Look at the pics in my mod page in my signature for what Forester specific H Techs look like.
The Head: The H-techs are not as low as the S-techs, but these are WRX/WRX Wagon H-techs not the Forester H-Techs. Snowman has the Forester H-Techs on his car (I think thats right?) which are actually a really nice option as well and a much better match to the stock FXT struts. The Tein WRX/WRX Wagon springs are actually very similar in ride height and spring rate to the Sti springs, but are engineered to keep the tail-end of the car higher than the front for more of a slight nose down rake.
Snowman: I originally had a set of WRX Koni inserts to match to these springs, but since I don't have my home garage and tools readily avavilable I decided to avoid that strut mod upgrade until later in the summer. Right now the springs are on the stock Fxt struts with trimmed bump-stops, and although liveable certainly not the right answer long-term.
Sorry bout that Snowman, for some reason I thought you were on H-techs. I figured my H-Tech WRX springs would be similar to the Forester S-Techs, and although yours looks like it sits at a similar ride height, it looks like my front is down a slight bit more than yours. Pretty close though I would say.
I have to tell you that when I first installed the suspension, I also put the Sti wheels and stock Sti Potenzas on for the first time as well. I initially had some major misgivings because the ride was pretty brutal. I checked my tire pressures and they were set-up pretty firm around 38-39 lbs cold, which for normal daily driving use is just too much for me, especially with the stiff sidewalls of the RE070's. I dropped the pressure to 36f / 32r and the car immediately fell into place. I guess the stock OE recommended pressures are 36/30 for the Sti, from what I have seen. Moral of the story, check your tire pressures when putting on new tires...especially with a new suspension.
Being in New Mexico, I will probably get the windows tinted for sure, otherwise you just get baked to death around here with 105-110 degree summer temps. Its also a good excuse for getting tinting which also looks a lot better too!
The exhaust is a Forced Air Technologies (FAT) 3", which is stainless and ceramic coated as well.
I really want to get a similar grill set-up to yours for that no-nonsense competition look.
It depends on what you mean by safe. If you mean is it safe for the factory struts, the answer is that using stock Fxt struts with shorter springs will push the strut piston further down into the strut body reducing overall travel when compared to the original spring strut combo. This will cause additional stress and wear on the stock struts sooner or later.
The shorter the springs the higher the potential for causing problems for the factory struts. Personally I don't care if my factory struts blow-out, because I know I will be going to Koni inserts this summer anyway. If longevity of your factory struts is a concern, then you should consider a taller performance spring like the Forester Pinks which are engineered to work with the OE FXT struts. Having said that though, there are quite a few folks on this board running the stock struts with Sti springs with 10-20,000 + miles, so its obvious that the FXT stock struts are pretty tough. As far as ride goes the factory FXT struts with the Tein H-Techs for WRX wagon, it handles and feels pretty good. Certainly not up to my full expectation, but not too bad either.
In the end it doesn't really matter if its a Fxt, an Evo, VW, or any car for that matter. The best solution is a set of engineered performance struts and springs that provide a tuned or matched solution for spring rate and damping as well as spring length/travel and strut length/travel.