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2008 XT Sport 5-speed
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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Welcome to ThatBlueWagon:
For those of you old timers (like me) that have been on SF.org for more than 5-6 years you may remember this car as the “Ultimate Daily Driver Project”. When I first bought this car almost 10 years ago, it was my everyday car, and I wanted it to be a good balance of fun & reliability, with a horsepower goal of just above a factory Impreza STI, with good handling and a nice interior to commute in. Well, about 6 years ago, a cross country move necessitated that the car go into storage for a few months…Well as happens in life things didn’t go to plan, and those few months turned into about 5 years. In that time, I have bought and sold other cars, and the plans for this one have drastically changed. They have changed so much that I think a new thread is required, as well as a new name. So now this is just ThatBlueWagon. Partly because it is simple, but mostly because in the last 6 years, social media has become a standard part of most people’s lives, and to have any hope of a sponsorship, you no longer just need to be active in your local car scene, but have scads of people following your every twit, pic, post, and video. I still prefer these forums, even if they aren't as active these days, as you can truly document and detail the build of your car, instead of just sticking one or two filtered pictures up with a one sentence description. So I have made all of the social media accounts under the name “ThatBlueWagon”, but this thread is where the most detail will be…. So, what has changed so much that I needed a whole new thread? Well, most everything. Instead of a tame daily driver, I am trying to turn this into a Motorsports grade show car. A car, that will be a fun weekend and occasional track day car but built to the highest level a car can be, with the aim of having it displayed in a booth at SEMA. When someone thinks Subaru Forester, I want them to think of my car. And as this thread goes on, It will become apparent how that is going to come about. However, for now we are going to start at the beginning, and work on getting caught up to where the car is now.

So here is how ThatBlueWagon looked when I first brought it home, back in August of 2011.
#subaru #forester #STI #xti

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2014 2.5i Limited CVT
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1,982 Posts
Love how they included the approach/departure angles in the listing...!
 

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2008 XT Sport 5-speed
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403 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
Love how they included the approach/departure angles in the listing...!
If you look, they put all the numbers for a N/A engine instead of a turbo...The dealer lied to me about many things with this car, and operated in a really shady way, so I would bet they put the wrong info on purpose so they could show higher MPG numbers.
 

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2014 2.5i Limited CVT
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1,982 Posts
yea, I did kind of notice the NA outputs instead of the turbo outputs... ah well. some dealers are cheesy cheats and some are just clueless.
 

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2008 XT Sport 5-speed
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403 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
I love that color!
Thanks, I do to. I would probably get most of my cars wrapped or sprayed WRB if I had piles of money just lying around. It is a nice subtle color, but still different enough to make it stand out from most other cars.
 

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2011 Forester X Limited, 2007 Impreza Outback Sport SE 5MT
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129 Posts
Looking good, I read through your old build thread to get an idea of what you have done to it. Looking back, what were some of your favorite/most cost effective mods for the DD vision you had for it? Seems like your method of slowly going for OEM+ quality and look on different components is how I go about mods as well, and turned into a good looking Forester over the years
 
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2008 XT Sport 5-speed
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403 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
Looking good, I read through your old build thread to get an idea of what you have done to it. Looking back, what were some of your favorite/most cost effective mods for the DD vision you had for it? Seems like your method of slowly going for OEM+ quality and look on different components is how I go about mods as well, and turned into a good looking Forester over the years
That is a really good question. The two I would say were my favorite:
First would be suspension, a nice suspension makes the car so much more fun. We all like big HP numbers, because its fun to go like crazy when you mash the go fast pedal, and it is fun to tell people a big HP number, but in reality...especially if the car is your daily...your not going to use big power in the majority of your driving. However, I'm fairly sure all of us go around corners everyday, and the biggest smiles I've gotten from my cars especially the NA cars, is flying around that corner that everyone else slows down to 20 MPH for at 50 MPH. It is a mod, that (If you stick with struts and spring or a high end coilover setup or airbags) that isn't going to hurt the ride quality much, gives the car a better look (assuming you go lower), and makes it much more fun to drive.

Second, Is one I haven't gotten to yet, but that is sound deadening. One of the cars that I bought and sold while this one was in storage was an BMW 330XI. The car was a disaster, but it was so quite inside. I could literally hold a conversation with a passenger at a normal volume, and I mean not raising my voice at all, with the engine bouncing off the rev limiter (Yes I did try it.) when your driving long distances, having a quiet car is so so nice...It just makes every aspect of driving nicer...when I had that car I was driving 99.97 miles per day, and while I never did that drive with the forester... I wouldn't want to do that drive with the forester. Granted I made the Foz super loud by putting a 4.5" muffler on it, but for commuting/DD work, quiet is a major benefit. In fact after I sold the BMW I got a Focus for better MPG, and the very first thing I noticed was how loud it seemed inside.

Bonus, I would say another one for a great DD is great night lighting...Again, I haven't gotten there with the Forester yet. My wife's Mitsubishi Outlander Sport, has some of the best OEM low beams I've ever used, and the difference in driving when it is dark between some of the cars I've had, and that one is amazing...It makes for a more relaxing, and nicer overall experience having a good amount of white light out in front of you...Again on that BMW it had old halogen reflectors, and I'm pretty sure I could have seen further down the road by sticking a flashlight out the window. However, when I would drive my wifes car, that stress and tension of feeling like you are constantly out-driving your headlights goes away, and you can "enjoy" the drive so much more, when you can see far enough ahead of you to feel like you can drive safely.
 

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2008 XT Sport 5-speed
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403 Posts
Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
So before I was able to find ThatBlueWagon, I had a couple other cars...The first was a 2006 2.5I, which had been fairly heavily modified, and was likely one of the/if not the fastest 2.5I in RI, by the time I was done with it, it was putting out around the same HP as a stock WRX...It also donated it's wheels/tires, and STI front seats to the forester...The other car was a 1991 SW21 Toyota MR2, which is a naturally aspirated mid-engine, 2 seater. Both cars were lots of fun, but they both got sold to pay for the Forester, and its initial round of mods.
#subaru #forester #2.5i #Toyota #MR2 #SW21 #xti
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2008 XT Sport 5-speed
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Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
If I remember correctly the first thing to change on thatbluewagon was the wheels...As I said in my last post these wheels came off of my 2.5I...I really like the style of this wheel, as well as the performance...When I first ordered these wheels, it took several months for them to arrive as they are only made in small batches by O.Z. Racing in Italy, and they are extremely light. #ozracing #subaru #forester #OZWheels #xti

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2008 XT Sport 5-speed
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Discussion Starter #11
One of the first mods to go in was a set of STI front seats...Back in 2011 there were a lot of people attempting this, but most of them couldn't make the STI side airbag system talk correctly with the Forester...The key to make this work is that the STI, and Forester use different parts for the air-bladder, and control unit, so you have to remove both and swap them, so that the Forester bladder, and control unit are installed into the STI seat, and vis-a-verse-a. I also swapped the STI seat onto the Forester seat rails. The STI rails will bolt straight into the forester, but they will sit quite a bit lower, than the Forester seat. Some people liked the lower seating position, but the higher position fit me very well, so I swapped the STI seat onto the Forester rails, to keep the seat height the same. (Airbag pieces needed to swap outlined in red, Seat Rail pieces outlined in Yellow)
#subaru #forester #OZWheels #STI #xti

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Discussion Starter #12
One of the Next things to go on was the Litespec Titanium catback, and kinda like the seats this ended up being a much more involved process than I was hoping for, but being that this was the first Forester to ever have a Litespec exhaust (at least that’s what Litespec told me), it was worth the effort. This company has gone out of business since I purchased this back in 2011, but the exhaust is great, extremely high quality, and light...the entire cat-back weighs 12lbs, which is incredible considering the factory system weighs just a hair over 34lbs, so a weight savings of just over 22lbs.
Sound Clip:
https://youtu.be/75OQwU7X3Uw

#subaru #forester #OZWheels #STI #xti #LiteSpec

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2011 Forester X Limited, 2007 Impreza Outback Sport SE 5MT
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I discovered the same thing about the airbag sensor in the seats in my swap, what did you end up doing with the rear seats, any plans to match them?
 

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2008 XT Sport 5-speed
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Discussion Starter #14
I discovered the same thing about the airbag sensor in the seats in my swap, what did you end up doing with the rear seats, any plans to match them?
Right now the rear seat is just the stock Forester one. For the short term, I might just get a seat cover from here: https://www.precisionfit.com/us/en/product/microfiber-custom-seat-covers.GT-GTMI but eventually, I'm going to try and find a wrecked 07 STI to scavenge a bunch of parts from and hopefully I'll be able to take the fabric from the STI seats, and use it to re-cover the forester seats.
 

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2008 XT Sport 5-speed
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Discussion Starter #15
the next thing to go in was a new radio head unit. (Again, I’m trying to remember the order of everything 9+ years after the fact, so some of this might not be the exact order.) I wanted something with built in GPS, and Bluetooth. Stuff that almost everything has now, but back then was top of line stuff. I ended up going with the Pioneer AVIC-Z130BT Pioneers flagship head unit at the time, and amazingly still now in 2020 it is a very competent unit, with HD radio, built in GPS, phone and music over Bluetooth, as well as Realtime traffic, voice control, and a 7” screen. One of my proudest moments with the installation of this radio was finding a completely hidden spot to mount the GPS antenna. The SG9 Forester has a monstrous sunroof, and when retracted there is a sheet metal shelf that supports the sunroof, and at the end of that shelf it leads straight into the interior of the car via the A-pillar, and the antenna just fits on that support. It gets great GPS signal through the glass of the sunroof, but with the sunroof closed is completely invisible…I even bet some of my friends $50 (or something) if they could find the antenna, and not one was ever able to find it with the sunroof closed. This head unit also allows for custom splash screens which I made a couple of and have plans for some more. (first pic is newer, but I don't have any good pictures of the head unit from the install...post about all the other goodies in the pic will be coming.) #subaru #forester #OZWheels #STI #LiteSpec #Pioneercaraudio #pioneerelectronics #AVICZ130BT #xti

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07 Forester XT 5MT
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Oh man, that sun roof GPS antenna tip is clutch. I have my antenna just rattling around behind the dash somewhere. Honestly, I'm scared to open my sunroof, lol. I haven't in years. It doesn't leak, and I have not wanted to risk messing with it.
 

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2008 XT Sport 5-speed
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Discussion Starter #17
Oh man, that sun roof GPS antenna tip is clutch. I have my antenna just rattling around behind the dash somewhere. Honestly, I'm scared to open my sunroof, lol. I haven't in years. It doesn't leak, and I have not wanted to risk messing with it.
it worked perfectly, I ran a a piece of solder or a metal hanger or something like that through the spot in the front of the sunroof, and it ran straight into the a-pillar...taped the antenna wire to whatever it was I had fished through, and pulled the wire, and it is great...I have amazing GPS signal all the time, and the whole thing is completely hidden...The car is in storage without a battery at the moment, but at some point I'll have to put a battery in it so I can get a better picture.
 

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2008 XT Sport 5-speed
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Discussion Starter #18
One of the more unique things, I think, that I have done with this car is to integrate my family shield into the car. Growing up in Rhode Island, I used to visit the “Newport Mansions” as a kid and as an adult; and one of the things that the uber wealthy used to do was to integrate their family crest into a lot of the details of the house, having it carved into light fixtures, trim pieces, and various other ornate pieces of the house. I always thought that was a really cool idea, and a way to really the make the house theirs. (Not that mega mansions trade hands that often). So, one of the things I wanted to do with this car was take that idea and integrate my family crest into the car. Being able to trace my family history back through the Mayflower to England, and then back to the nobility of the middle ages, I was able to find my family crest. However, the shift knob was kind of small to put the whole crest onto. So working with WC Lathe Works, we decided to just use the main part of the crest, my families shield. #subaru #forester #OZWheels #STI #LiteSpec #Pioneercaraudio #wc_lathewerks #xti

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2008 XT Sport 5-speed
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Discussion Starter #19
Next up was one of the biggest changes for the car up to this point, and that was the suspension. The factory suspension has just over 8” of ground clearance, which is part of the reason this vehicle is technically classified as an SUV. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what suspension I wanted to put on thatbluewagon. When I first bought the car, it was my daily driver, and so I didn’t want the stiffness of a coilover suspension, especially considering the primary reason of coilovers is to corner-weight the car, which many times makes the stance of the car look kind of funky. So, I decided to stick with struts and springs. The best system out there is made by Ohlins, but was discontinued long before I bought the car…and despite looking for a long time for an Ohlins system, I could never fine one, new or used. So, I went to the next best in line, which was the Tokico D-Specs, and Race Comp Engineering Black Springs. I do most of my own work, but I don’t have the tools needed to do a suspension swap, so the car went over to the boys at Wicked Innovation in RI (Now Wicked Performance Group in NH) They are some of the best in New England when it comes to Subaru’s. (Mini Documentary about the shop below.) I also had Wicked do the front swaybar at the same time. (The dealer I bought the car from (NEVER buy a car from Planet Subaru in Hanover MA.) Swore to me up and down that the car had never been modified. However, I immediately found modifications on the car, that any dealer would have easily found. I actually found the previous owner and found out that the car had been heavily modified with lots of engine work, a larger turbo, suspension, and many other things, and then been put back to stock when the lease was up on the car. They also lied to me about many other things on top of harassing me, and threatening to sell the car to someone else, even after taking a deposit. I would have walked they were so bad to deal with, if this car were not so rare and hard to find.) But the Previous Owner had already put a Whiteline 22MM adjustable rear sway bar with Kartboy endlinks. So, we put a non-adjustable 22mm Whiteline swaybar with Kartboy links in the front to match the rear. In the end the car does ride stiff but not to bad, it handles amazingly, and looks great.
#subaru #forester #OZWheels #STI #LiteSpec #Pioneercaraudio #wc_lathewerks #tokico #racecompengineering #_whiteline #k4rt30y #xti

MiniDoc:

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2004 Forester
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I dig the family crest on the shift knob and the new suspension! What is your reasoning behind
Race Comp Engineering Black Springs? I won't be going that route but am curious.
 
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