2008 Subaru Forester XT – Family First


Ever heard the expression Families that play together, stay together? For families driving around in run-of-the-mill minivans or SUVs, this presumably means going on vacation together or at best enjoying the occasional group outing. But for people who can’t bear the very thought of a family road trip in some soulless, bone-stock people-hauler, this expression tends to take on a slightly different meaning.

John Prisco and his family definitely fall into the latter category, where the saying may as well be Families that modify their car together, haul ass together, given his subtly tuned yet thoroughly improved ’08 World Rally Blue Subaru Forester XT. Call it a wagon, refer to it as a crossover, or even call it an SUV. When you strip away all marketing-driven name-calling is an Impreza-based machine with similar all-wheel-drive system and turbocharged engine as the WRX but what the SG-generation Forester XT is.

As John explained, My first car had been a ’76 Buick Skyhawk, bright orange, chrome American Racing wheels, a built 305, all the goodies. I slowly moved into the sport compact scene with a first-gen Acura Integra. I spent many years afterward buying something different every year or two in order to satisfy the hunger. It was only in late 2007 that the craziness settled down. We had two kids, and my partner and I were tired of being minivan people. I started looking around again and ended up with the Subaru dealership here in Jacksonville, Florida. Out front since we pulled in was a vehicle that immediately excited me like none before. It was actually an ’08 Forester XT in World Rally Blue. I looked past the stock form and could look at it the way I wanted it to be.””, even though in the past I didn’t know much about Subaru””There was only one problem, though. Being a brand-new car, it had been outside of John’s price range. But he was so excited about the FXT’s potential as a fast and fun family hauler that he sent a picture than it to his mom, who told him to make it happen. She loaned us the money for a down payment, and off we went. My mother passed away just a couple months once we got the car, and I think she only saw it once. I decided that I was going to assemble it in her honor, John shared.

It sounds to us like she’s been onboard since day one, even though selling his wife on the thought of modifying their brand-new grocery getter was the next challenge. After driving and purchasing the XT for about per year, I was really craving some crisper shifting. I told my wife, ‘I’m just going to upgrade to your short shifter, and that’s it. I promise.’ She said OK and tried challenging to hold back her laughter. It has come a long way since then and it has really become my vision of a catalog build, with reliability and safety being at the top of a list.

From here the question for John became: How do I produce a reliable street performance car out of a Forester? It’s sort of an Impreza, but not really, as he told us. I’m lucky to have a unique Subaru dealership around town that is loaded with performance specialists. It really started with their guidance. I worked with master techs William Maham and Brent Patchen on all of the upgrades. We covered all the bases, including engine, drivetrain, suspension, and brakes. This meant using all-new parts, most of which were Subaru factory goodies for the GD Impreza STi, along with some other hard-to-find Forester-specific items like the turbo-back exhaust, JDM Defi gauge cluster, and Subtle Solutions fender braces.

John’s local Subie dealership also happened to have in-house Dynapack chassis dyno, so that’s where Doug Wilks from Top Speed worked his ECU tuning magic. As John explained, Doug’s been recalibrating Subaru ECUs for many years and had the in-depth familiarity with the EJ motor I needed. He came down from Atlanta and really took his time on the tune, setting up several maps to handle different driving conditions. In the long run, we’d effectively doubled the horsepower and torque from yournot easy building a machine that’s truly capable of pulling double duty like a family workhorse and a weekend track day toy, though, a reality John was confronted by once he started taking his Fozzie on the FIRM (Florida International Rally and Motorsports Park). It felt sluggish in the corners, brakes were fading after only a few laps, tires were losing grip, and oil temperatures were getting far too high for my comfort. That’s after i started looking more to aftermarket specialists for guidance, John said.

For starters, John tapped into TurninConcepts’ deep Subie knowledge, upgrading to its recommended brake setup and also using its Killer B deep aluminum baffled oil pan for improved oil pressure and temperature control. John also turned into Subtle Solutions, one of the few shops making Forester- specific upgrades, for an intercooler splitter, a piece he describes as the missing link for people guys running STI top-mount intercoolers and JDM big hoodscoops. He also went with Subtle Solutions front fender braces, which contains improved turn-in feel and response.

Mach V Motorsports, another popular go-fast specialist in the Evo and STI world, was John’s source for a lot of the smaller details if it came time to make his FXT more track-worthy, like all the Whiteline suspension goodies. And as John put it, Lastly is my car club, Kindred Impulse. This is a very tight-knit group that I consider family. They have got supported me all in the process and really helped put together every one of the small a few things i may have overlooked.

With his Forester now working just as flawlessly around the racetrack as it does picking up his kids from the carpool line at school, John considers Phase 1 complete and is already planning to embark on Phase 2 with a JDM Spec C front LSD, custom fender flares so he can stuff more wheel and tire under it, and a few more suspension tweaks for even more cornering power. All of which begs the question: Because we’re not really sure if she knows about our modified version of the whole Families that play together, stay together thing, does John’s wife have any idea there’s a Phase 2.

2008 subaru forester xt cobb access port

2008 subaru forester xt JDM STi defi gauge pack

2008 subaru forester xt injen stainless turbo back exhaust

Specs & Details

’08 Subaru Forester XT

Engine: 2.5L EJ255 turbocharged flat-4

Engine Modifications: STi VF43 turbo with heatshield, top-mount intercooler, AVCS heads, uppipe and radiator fuel pump, and water pump; Grimmspeed stainless cross pipe, Injen 4-inch stainless downpipe with hi-flow cat and 3.5-inch stainless turbo back exhaust; JDM STi air cleaner element/plenum, NGK Iridium one-step colder plugs, Subaru super coolant, Subaru SPT oil cooler, Killer B deep aluminum oil pan and custom race and pickupand twoand lower arm bar; Group N top hats (f/r), Whiteline 27mm sway bar (f), offset castor bushings, adjustable lateral links, and steering rack bushings; TiC forward arm bushings, Subtle Solutions fender braces (f)

Interior: Recaro Speed seats and slider kits; Planted Technology seat bracket, Schroth quick-fit racing harness, JDM STi Defi gauge pack (boost, oil temp/pressure) with custom pod, STi badged controls, STi aluminum pedal assembly and leather/aluminum shift knob

Exterior: STi Limited front lip, JDM STi hoodscoop and badges; Sports XT rear wing and taillights; Subtle Solutions IC splitter, Subaru factory cross rails, Yakima bike carrier, On-a-Mission aero pads

Numbers: 310 360 and whp wtq at 21 psi on 93-octane pump gas

Special Thanks: God, my supportive family, Silvia, Victor and Mariana (FDH crewDad, ) and Mom, Subaru of Jacksonville specialists William Maham, Bill Cook, Brent Patchen, Steve Cissel, Kevin McCarthy and Shaun Parks; Lorenzo Barcelo and my entire Kindred Impulse crew; Alan Leung, CJ Yi, Andrew Zachman, Vernon Williams and Chris Cayll for and helps to make this happen; Jon VanWey for your meticulous paintwork, Shay O’Brien (NADY) for your custom CNC work, Evan Geske at Vanity Detailing, the FIRM Motorsport Park, TurninConcepts, 425 Motorsports, Subtle Solutions, Fearless904