We’ve heard the scenario a thousand times. Car
enthusiast settles down, has a family and, due to practical requirements, is
forced to buy something in a ‘plain brown wrapper’ – a Commodore wagon for
But when Brendan Moffatt went on the search for a
car that could comfortably accommodate his wife, young son and a pram he didn’t
see any need to forgo his desire for something with a bit of speed and
His search came to an end when, while scouring the
web for Subaru Forester GTs, he found a rare Japanese import Forester T/tb. The
Japanese-spec T/tb is far superior to the locally delivered GT having a 240ps
(177kW) 2-litre turbo engine that runs a TD04 turbocharger (the local GT makes
just 125kW and uses a TF035 turbo). The luxury T/tb also offers woodgrain trim,
front and rear fold-down armrests, central display pod, eight speaker audio
system, climate control and a few other goodies. A 4-speed automatic transmission
and electronic controlled AWD system are also standard.
Brendan says the guy selling the Forester T/tb
didn’t really understand what he had on his hands so Brendan picked up a bargain
– you’ve gotta be lucky sometimes! The car was in immaculate condition with
around 48,000km on the odometer and came with a 3 inch exhaust, K&N panel
filter and Mine’s ECU.
With an output somewhere around 200kW, the lightly
tweaked Forester T/tb was an absolute ball of fun on the road – but Brendan was
aware that there was a lot more yet to be unlocked (he knows this coz he’s a
major moderator of http://www.gtrydaz.com- a site dedicated
to the Forester).
The previous mods were left in place and Brendan
enlisted C-N-J Motorsport to fit and tune a UniChip interceptor module. In
addition to altering fuel and ignition timing, the UniChip is also configured to
control boost pressure – Brendan has max boost set to 18 psi.
The TD04 turbo (which is a popular upgrade for
local Forester GTs) was removed by Brendan to make way for a bigger STi VF23
ball-bearing unit. This blows through the standard Forester air-to-air
intercooler which is equipped with a Samco high-flow hose and Y-pipe kit.
With a high-flow fuel pump keeping pace with the
engine’s airflow, Brendan’s imported Forester has made some impressive numbers
on the chassis dyno. At full-bore on a Dyno Dynamics dyno the Subie has put out
160kW at all fours (and, remember, that’s driving through an auto transmission).
Brendan says the 1420kg car should be good for a 13 second pass given it
previously ran a 14.6 ET with the standard turbo set to 13 psi.
On the street, Brendan has great fun giving WRXs a
According to Brendan there’s an effective launch
process that sees the Forester leaving the line with all four wheels spinning.
Simply hold the brake, apply about half throttle and the turbocharger will spool
up to around 18 psi boost. Get the timing right when you release the brake and –
wham – you’re off in a flurry of wheelspin!
And the car is no less impressive in normal
driving. The engine’s 9:1 static compression ratio and torque converter flare
combine to deliver better driveability than any manual gearbox Rex.
Interestingly, Brendan’s Forester will also run to 8000 rpm before the limiter
steps in (probably thanks to the Mine’s ECU) - this works very well with the
upsized VF23 turbocharger which is a bit laggier and softer at the bottom-end
compared to the stock turbo.
Brendan has also detailed the under-bonnet of his
Forester with a comprehensive array of red highlights – replacement hoses, spark
plug leads and painted trim pieces. It’s certainly eye-catching, just like the
newly applied graphics.
Look closely and you’ll notice the stick-on
graphics integrate the styled ‘F’ badge on the Japanese-spec grille. These red
graphics have great impact against the factory black mica paint and dark tinted
windows. Brendan has also installed a set of Kaizer Spade 2 polished 18s teamed
with 245/40 rubber. Big tyres? You bet! Brendan says that’s one of the
advantages of the Forester – you can fit some serious rubber compared to a WRX.
The elevated ride height of the Forester has been
substantially slammed with fitment of King Super Low springs and handling is
further tightened with an aftermarket front tower brace. Brakes are stock apart
from RDA slotted front discs, braided lines and Race Brakes pads.
Inside, Brendan hasn’t made many alterations to
the already cosy T/tb trim (which includes the optional power sunroof). The T/tb
comes with a luxury spec cabin which has been enhanced with a Pioneer MP3 head
unit, 6 inch front door splits and a 12 inch Alpine sub boosted by a Jaycar amp.
An AutoMeter boost gauge has also been installed at the base of the A pillar and
Momo pedals have been slipped in – a match for the factory Momo leather
At the time of writing Brendan says he has a few
tweaks left to execute. A front-mount intercooler will step in to replace the
factory top-mount, a STi body kit will go on and a Whiteline 20mm adjustable
rear swaybar will help balance the handling. He might also go for adjustable
airbag suspension so that the ride height can be raised when required.
Over the top? Maybe - but at least you can’t call
it plain brown wrapper!
+617 3290 3966