Car enthusiasts all face the same conundrum when it comes time to buying a family car: They suck. It seems that every time we get on the road in a lowered vehicle, a team of ugly, lumbering, gas-guzzling monoliths decides to surround us and obscure our vision while driving. Not only are the average SUVs poorly designed, they also pose a real danger to everyone around them, with their blind spots and all. So we'll be damned if we become one of those jackasses. But what do we buy so we in turn don't have to sell out to the SUV/minivan franchise of America? For Pam and Brian Carroll, this was an issue that was plaguing them way back in 2007, when they realized they were sick and tired of the '04 Nissan Pathfinder they had been using as the family hauler. Sure, the Pathfinder had served its purpose as a family vehicle, but the mundane look and feel and lack of power was driving Pam nuts. So in true enthusiast fashion, they decided to upgrade.
Pam Carroll has always had a fascination with fast, well-built cars. She loves any car that boasts having both raw speed and precise handling. At the time, her husband and co-conspirator, Brian, had an '05 Legacy GT sedan, and she loved how "zippy" it was around town. Since the Carrolls loved their little Legacy so much, they opted to start their search at the local Subaru dealership by testdriving a WRX wagon. But once inside the cabin, they knew it was way too small for long family road trips, and they bailed from the car feeling a little cramped. Next up on the agenda was a crisp '07 XT Forester, which came complete with a sharp-looking "sports package" and a ton of extras. It was at this moment that the Carrolls hit proverbial pay dirt.
From the moment they hopped inside the little "Fozzy" to look over the interior, they knew that they had found the perfect family car. This conclusion was solidified when Pam took it out for a "quick" testdrive. As the turbo spooled up, the Carrolls realized they were in love. So with their new "family member" safe at home in the garage, the Carrolls were truly happy . . . for a while.
One cool autumn day, Pam and Brian took their Subarus to the local dragstrip for a dash of heads-up fun. After a few adrenaline-filled passes, Pam had a thought, How awesome would it be if the Forester could be faster than Brian's modified Legacy?! Not knowing where to begin, Pam approached Brian with her idea. You see, Brian is always dreaming up new ideas, projects, and plans, so it was an easy sell. After countless hours of online research and drooling over pictures of the JDM version of the Forester, they decided they were going to turn her Subie into an American interpretation of the JDM STI Forester.
Brian addressed the Forester's utilitarian ride height and handling first. Local Cincinnati-based performance automotive specialists Turn in Concepts was contacted for its performance bushing kit and suspension upgrades. Larger Whiteline sway bars were then thrown into the mix, along with some aluminum STI control arms and Subtle Solutions' trunk and fender braces. All this time, Pam was working right alongside her husband, listening, learning, and yearning for a faster Forester. So with their newfound connectivity, it was time to address the Forester's power supply.
In the following months, they swapped three different turbo-back exhausts on and off the car looking for the right sound and style. An upgraded STI -spec IHI VF48 turbo replaced the stocker, and a noticeably larger STI intercooler finished off the engine mods.
All of these parts actually ended up swapping onto the car with great ease, with the turbo upgrade bringing the most noticeable results to the table. Pam was ecstatic! Her Forester was actually performing like a real STI now, but it sure as hell didn't look the part.
With its boxy styling, sharp lines, and rectangular influences, the '07 Forester already stands out quite a bit from all the other cars in traffic. So to capitalize on these interesting OEM attributes, Pam and Brian decided to start things off by sourcing Canadian-spec OEM HID headlights for the little Foz, along with some seriously rare Australian-spec JDM headlight washers. They then perched an authentic JDM STI hoodscoop on top of the bonnet that not only looks good but also opens up airflow to the STI intercooler. Meanwhile, a Subtle Solutions chimney duct tucked within the hoodscoop helps circulate heat away from the engine bay. In the back, an STI undertray and rear diffuser were installed and paired with a set of '08 USDM Forester taillights in black to better match the overall theme of the car. Carbon bits like a slick Carbotron muffler shield and Ravspec front lip, along with the Moore Performance plate delete and name tag finish off the exterior, while a set of pink STI decals in a few appropriate spots now give the Forester its well-deserved STI status.
Things didn't stop there, though. Eventually a set of custom STI-upholstered rear seats, a complete STI pedal set, and a one-of-two Moore Performance intercooler sprayer kit made it onto the Forester. With a Brembo big brake kit, a rotated twin-scroll turbo, and some bigger wheels already in the pipeline, things are looking good for the future of this build. If things go as intended, Pam and Brian are even thinking of ditching the stock auto trans for a JDM six-speed.
Until then, the Forester remains a workhorse. Pam has used this car to orchestrate charity fundraising events for "Scoobies for Boobies," benefiting the Keep-A-Breast foundation, she's logged road trips to Canada, a cruise down the infamous Tail of the Dragon in North Carolina, along with multiple autocross and rallycross events over the last few years. Pam can now put down a respectable 12.9-second pass in the local quarter-mile and then go pick up her son and all of his gear from football practice, all without having to fold down a single seat. So as long as Pam and Brian keep sourcing parts, and Brian keeps teaching Pam how to install them, she'll keep the car ready for any task that falls in her lap. Oh, and since they first got The Gray Goose, back in 2007, the Carrolls have purchased two more Foresters for the family because they love them so much. I guess that old saying was right on all along: "Love. It's what makes a Subaru, a Subaru."
Specs & Details
'07 Subaru Forester XT Sports
Engine Subaru EJ255
Engine Modifications IHI VF48 Turbocharger; STI TMIC; Walbro 255-lph fuel; Perrin turbo inlet; KS Tech 73mm cold-air intake; Moore Performance Parts 3-inch divorced catted downpipe, midpipe, and custom TMIC sprayer manifold; Cobb Tuning axle-back muffler; '05 STI Header; Grimmspeed lightweight crank pulley; Electronic boost control solenoid (hybrid system); Manual boost controller (hybrid system); Turbo heat shield; 160 thermostat & oil cap; Subtle Solutions Forester XT Chimney Duct
Drivetrain B&M Super Duty trans cooler / Group N Mounts
Engine Management Cobb Tuning Accessport Sub-003
Suspension Tokico D-spec struts; STI lowering springs & aluminum control arms; Kartboy endlinks & subframe locking bolts; Primitive Racing rear diff skidplate; Subtle Solutions trunk and fender braces; Turn in Concepts saggy butt spacers; trailing arm bushings; lateral link bushings; F-car bushings; Whiteline steering rack bushings; 27mm front / 24mm rear sway bars & forward control arm bushings
Interior Clarion VX400 DVD/navigation head unit (remote mounted); backup camera; Pioneer speakers; Defi 60mm EGT and boost gauges (stealth mounted) & Defi-Link Control Unit II; 3M carbon-fiber-wrapped dash; '05 STI blue seats with OEM Forester seat heaters; Custom-stitched '05 STI rear seats; Subtle Solutions dead pedal & ashtray gauge bezel; STI petal set; Moore Performance Parts custom airbag indicator harness
Exterior Canadian Domestic Market HID assemblies; Australia-spec JDM headlight washers; Ravspec carbon-fiber lip; Carbotron carbon-fiber exhaust shield; Moore Performance carbon-fiber "ScoobiesForBoobies" plate delete & name tag; 02-03 JDM STI hoodscoop; Diode Dynamics LED kit; Hella Supertone Horns; Subtle Solutions hoodscoop splitter, alternator cover, radiator shroud & hood struts; STI underbody/rear diffuser; '08 Black Forester sport taillights
Wheels, Tires & Brakes HyperBlack Rota MXR 18x9.5-inch +38 wheels; Hankook Ventus RS-3 245/40/18 Tires, '05 Legacy GT Calipers & Rotors; Akebono Pads; P&L Motorsports stainless braided brake lines; Turn in Concepts master cylinder brace