The Ultimate Subaru Forester XT Build

Discover the inspiring story of Scott Wilson's 2007 Subaru Forester XT, a masterfully crafted build that epitomizes automotive passion and individuality

The Ultimate Subaru Forester XT Build
2007 Subaru Forester XT

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Scott Wilson 

2007 Subaru Forester XT (Full STi Swapped) 

Instagram: @scooter_bluecar

Photographer/Author  -  Donnie Rochin

Instagram -  @r0cean11

Facebook -  r0cean11 Photography

“Build what makes YOU happy.”

I was born in the Detroit Michigan area, moved to Northern California when I was 3, grew up in the Sacramento area and have lived in NorCal for 53 years since then. I’m many years old. I work for a local county government as a financial program manager, and I’ve worked here for almost 20 years. I have 2 grown kids, one 25, and one 21 and they’re my everything. 

It’s been so long, I can’t remember the exact reason I got into cars. All my friends were into cars, so I’m sure that’s where the interest came from. I passed my driving test in a dinosaur. J/k, I took and passed my driving test in my brother’s 1974 Ford Mustang II. I’ve been modifying cars and in the car scene in NorCal since the mid-1980s and my first car was a 1970 VW Bug which I lowered, did all the “Cali-look” mods and tore out the back seat for some subwoofers. Since then, I’ve owned (and modified) a Honda CRX, Mazda Miata, VW Passat Wagon, Ford Focus SVT, a turbo’ed Scion xA, and now my Forester. 

2007 Subaru Forester XT

Choosing and Building “Bluecar”

Back about 10 years ago, I wanted a car that would provide a little more power than my Scion xA and much more room for my kids and the frequent soccer team transportation. I was looking at Volvo V70R wagons and then I read an article about the Forester XT being an affordable “sleeper” car and checked those out. When I saw what could be done with the Forester, I was sold. I started searching nationwide for a manual Forester XT and was lucky to find my “Bluecar” in South Lake Tahoe (an hour and a half away) being sold by a retired gentleman.

It was 100% stock, had only 63,000 miles, was my dream color (World Rally Blue), had the factory sport bumpers, and he had a stack of service records showing consistent maintenance.  It was an ideal situation and I made an offer immediately. Later I found out that Subaru only sold approximately 125 Forester XTs with the Sport package with a manual transmission in World Rally Blue in the 2007 model year in the USA. 

Over the time I’ve owned the Subaru Forester XT, whenever something broke I’d upgrade to JDM Forester STi or aftermarket parts. Now, it’s basically a Subaru STi with a Forester body. I passed my driving test in a dinosaur. J/k, I took and passed my driving test in my brother’s 1974 Ford Mustang II.  

I built Bluecar with the intention of being a car I could drive and with the features I wanted. It was my daily driver for about 6 years, now it’s my weekend and road trip car. I drive it to meets and shows in other states (or 7 hours away in the Los Angeles area) about 4 or 5 times a year and take a 2-week vacation annually where I drive anywhere from 3,000 to 5,000 miles. Even though I built it for me to enjoy, it makes me so excited when other people give me a “thumbs up” when I’m driving down the road. I’m happy that others appreciate the work that I’ve done and makes me proud that I’ve made someone happy for a few seconds. 

2007 Subaru Forester XT roll cage

A Friendly Bit of Advice

If anyone’s looking into buying a Forester, I’d suggest they purchase one that is as close to stock as possible and have someone who knows Subarus do an inspection to look for failure points. Unfortunately, Subarus are known for being modded (and often abused) by some owners who bought the car to try to be the next Ken Block (RIP, Ken). In my opinion, if it’s stock it’s less likely to have been abused, you can add the modifications yourself and know that it is done correctly. Long-term: check the oil often, change the timing belt at recommended intervals, and keep an eye on the head gaskets.  I think Subarus get a worse reputation than they deserve, as long as you maintain any car, you’re less likely to have a random catastrophic failure.

2007 Subaru Forester XT: The Uniqueness 

Although there are getting to be more Forester builds in the USA and worldwide, I’ve tried to make it mine by adding touches that you don’t see on every other Forester.  The most noticeable right now is the custom half rollcage that @vince_metalworks built for me, along with the custom subwoofer box and amp rack that I built to replace the back seats.  But even other details such as the one-off headlights that I built, the bronze powder-coated faces of my SSR SP-5 wheels, the neon yellow brake calipers, tow hooks and STi badges, the color-matched roofbox, the custom Status Racing seats and the random JDM OEM parts on the interior and exterior make little differences that make it stand out.

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2007 Subaru Forester XT engine and bay

2007 Subaru Forester XT: Build List

2007 Subaru Forester XT Engine/Drivetrain Modifications -

  • Subaru STi EJ25 “Type RA” short block w/ rebuilt B25 heads
  • 2007 JDM Forester STi 6-speed transmission w/ limited-slip front and mid-differential
  • ACT Performance Clutch
  • JDM Forester STi R180 rear differential w/ limited slip
  • JDM Forester STi Driveshaft
  • Hybrid JDM/USDM rear axle
  • ARB head bolts
  • Killer B oil pickup 
  • Killer B oil baffle
  • JDM Subaru STi 12mm oil pump
  • Company 23 timing belt retainer
  • Perrin cold air intake
  • AEM dry flow air filter
  • TD-05 16g turbocharger
  • HKS Super SQV4 blowoff valve
  • Cobb electronic boost control solenoid 
  • Cobb Accessport v3 w/Snail Performance pro-tune (conservative 305hp & 310tq)
  • Tomei silicone turbo inlet
  • Subaru Group N motor & transmission mounts
  • DC Sports stainless header
  • Perrin catless uppipe 
  • Grimmspeed Limited stainless 3” downpipe w/ hi-flow cat
  • SPT stainless 3” mid-pipe
  • HKS Hi-Power Silent stainless 3” exhaust
  • Koyo aluminum radiator
  • Custom aluminum radiator shroud
  • Grimmspeed Air Oil Separator 
  • Sti intercooler w/Grimmspeed intercooler shroud
  • Perrin torque brace
  • Perrin turbo heat shield
  • Bosch AGM Battery
  • Grimmspeed battery hold down
  • Billetworkz aluminum engine compartment caps
  • KEIN differential brace
  • Kartboy transmission cross arm bushings

2007 Subaru Forester XT custom wheels

2007 Subaru Forester XT Suspension Modifications -

  • Cygnus Performance (Fortune) coilovers w/ Hyperco Springs
  • 2004 STi steering rack
  • Whiteline steering rack bushings
  • JDM aluminum Forester STi front control arms
  • Whiteline control arm bushings
  • Whiteline roll-center and bump steer correction ball joints and tie rod ends
  • JDM STi rear aluminum lateral links 
  • Mooresport shortened cromoly trailing links
  • Whiteline trailing link bushings
  • Whiteline 24mm swaybars F & R
  • Perrin Stout rear swaybar mount w/ urethane bushings
  • Perrin swaybar endlinks F & R
  • Kartboy differential outrigger urethane bushings
  • Kartboy rear subframe lockdown bolts
  • Perrin front strut tower brace

2007 Subaru Forester XT Brakes/Wheels/Tires Modifications -

  • SSR Professor SP-5 3- piece wheels 19x8.75 - ET27 - Custom bronze powdercoated faces
  • Continental ExtremeContact DWS  225/45/19 Tires
  • NRG lug nuts
  • Brembo Subaru STi 4-piston front calipers - custom powdercoated
  • 2006 WRX 2-piston rear calipers - custom powdercoated
  • Goodridge stainless braided brake lines F & R
  • Stoptech Drilled and slotted front rotors 326mm
  • R1 Drilled and slotted rear rotors 290mm
  • Hawk HPS 5.0 front brake pads
  • EBC Redstuff rear brake pads
  • OEM Subaru STi brake and clutch master cylinders & STi brake booster

2007 Subaru Forester XT interior

2007 Subaru Forester XT Interior Modifications -

  • Custom Status Racing seats and harnesses
  • Vince Fabrications custom half rollcage
  • Kein rear strut / cargo floor brace
  • Beatrush STi floor braces
  • STi steering wheel hub w/ functional cruise and stereo controls
  • FactionFab D-Shaped 355mm steering wheel
  • OEM blue STi carpet
  • JDM Subaru OEM dash navigation pod
  • JDM Subaru OEM dash mounted coldbox
  • Illumaesthetic custom gauge face w/ all interior lights converted from green to red
  • AutoMeter boost and oil pressure gauges in custom dash panel
  • Kartboy 6-speed short shifter w/urethane shifter bushings
  • Status Racing carbon fiber shift knob
  • Carbon fiber e-brake handle and drift knob
  • OEM STi aluminum shift boot trim
  • JF Customs leather shift and brake boot
  • Custom paint matched center dash panel
  • JDM glovebox shelf
  • WRX/STI JDM glovebox light

2007 Subaru Forester XT Audio/Video -

  • Kenwood Apple CarPlay Headunit
  • Soundstream Rubicon 404 amplifier
  • Soundstream Rubicon 1002 amplifier
  • Focal ES165K2 165mm 2Ω component speakers - front doors in stock location
  • Focal ES130K2 130mm 2Ω component speakers  - rear doors - custom tweeter mounts in JDM ashtray locations
  • (3) Rockford Fosgate P2 10” Subwoofers in custom ported rear seat delete enclosure / amp rack

2007 Subaru Forester XT Exterior Modifications -

  • Custom headlights - USDM  w/ JDM lens - low & hi-beam projector conversion, blue demon eyes and sequential turn signals
  • LED SG5 style taillights w/ custom sequential turn signals
  • SG5 tailgate valance
  • SYMS replica rear spoiler
  • JDM Subaru Crossport replica front lip
  • JDM Subaru OEM Crossport rear bumper and lip
  • JDM Subaru OEM Crossport side skirts
  • RARE blue tinted OEM “Grampus” JDM mirror signals
  • RARE blue tinted OEM SG5 side marker lights
  • STi JDM intercooler hood scoop
  • OEM Subaru crossbars
  • Rhino Rack roof box - custom paint matched
  • Beatrush rear tow hook w/ one-off Kartboy mounting bracket to clear JDM bumper
  • Generic front tow hook bolted to bumper beam

2007 Subaru Forester XT

The Work

I performed most of the work on Bluecar, but the engine swap was done by my friend, Jarek (insta: @jarekwrx_pdr).  The rollcage was custom built and welded by Vince Metalworks (insta: @vince_metalworks) and the recent paintwork - after getting run over by a lifted truck - was completed by SEA Works Collision (insta: @seaworkscollision)

Future Plans for the 2007 Subaru Forester XT

I’m at the stage where any changes would be major ones and I don’t know if I want to really pursue those types of projects. I’ve contemplated how a Forester would look with B22 STi-type molded metal fenders with the rear doors welded, or how OEM Hawkeye STi-type flared fenders would look. Not sure if I’d ever do something like this or not, but maybe someday. I plan on keeping Bluecar until the grave, I love this car and it would feel like selling a child after all the work I’ve done and the trips we’ve taken. 

The Car Community

Forester Culture has been very supportive of me and the entire Forester community, and I’ve been lucky enough to be featured on their website, and promotional material and Bluecar is going to be their featured booth car at Subiefest California in 2024!  Instagram: @foresterculture

My long-time friend has started a car group called Ready Driver One (RD1) open to anyone that has a love of automobiles. He’s a great guy and is creating this group for all the right reasons.  It’s not about clout, it’s about promoting a healthy auto enthusiast scene locally in Northern California and spreading the love nationwide.  They’ve provided me with tons of support and I’m proud to represent them at car meets and shows.  Instagram: @readydriverone

Since I’ve been in and out of the Northern California car scene for almost 40 years (!), I’ve met a ton of good people, made a few friends, learned an immeasurable amount of information, and tried to give back by sharing my knowledge to whoever would like to hear it.  Although I am often first looked at as an odd man out when I first show up at car meets and shows, I think the people who are willing to talk to me learn that I am not so different from them and we both share the love of the car culture. Over the past 2 years, I’ve been lucky to be able to travel outside my home area and experience different car scenes (Los Angeles, Portland, Seattle, Salt Lake City, Denver/Colorado Springs) and despite being from different geographical areas of the USA, I’ve found that we’re all just out to have a good time, meet people with our interests, and most of all check out some sweet cars.

The first thing I’d tell someone getting in the car scene and building their first car is: Build what makes YOU happy.  There’s a lot of clout chasing in the car scene, but if you want to build something different from everybody else and that’s what makes you happy, GO FOR IT!  I’ve gravitated towards building cars that you don’t see 40 of at a car show, especially with my last 2 cars.  Very few people drove Scion XA’s, let alone ones that were lowered 5”, had a custom turbocharger system, huge Wilwood 4-pot brakes, Sparco seats, Rotiform wheels and a sound system.  But I loved that car and drove the hell out of it, it was like driving a go-kart on winding roads like Highway 1 on the Pacific Coast. 

When I bought my Forester, wagons were definitely not a popular body style and I had a bunch of people give me grief about buying it, although that’s changed somewhat over the years with the resurgence of the wagon culture in the US. Even as it’s built now, I go to many shows and people often walk right by it to look at one of the multiple “whatever car model is popular this year” cars (I call them “copy-paste builds” because there are often a bunch of some model of car built almost the same at every show).  At the end of the day, it’s your car. Build it how you want, take long road trips if you want, just enjoy it!!

Dream Car

The dream car is a Nissan Hakosuka GT-R

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