SVI took the challenges and changes in stride. For the suspension lift, Air Lift from Lansing, Mich. modified one of its own air suspension products to provide the desired max height. However, to make the lift workable, SVI had to modify the suspension components to position larger 33-inch tires properly under the bulked-up wheel wells. SVI lengthened the Subie's drive shafts and half shafts, modified the exhaust system to accommodate the modified suspension components, and extended the brake lines. Throughout the suspension's range of travel, SVI maintained stock-looking wheel travel so the Forester's stance on a show stand wouldn't be marred by odd camber angles. SVI even modified a set of 15-inch steel wheels to obtain the right wheel offset by reversing the wheel rim on the wheel center, an old trick used by hot rodders since the 1950s.
Tracking The Progress
Regarding the body, Tenn's original drawing showed panel-van style rear doors and utility cubbies built in where the cargo area windows would normally be. SVI carried through on the design with slight alterations to enhance Tenn's concept. Using another hot rodder's trick, SVI shaved the rear door handles and fitted electric releases; definitely more custom. Additionally, the team made the utility bins more usable by fitting the hinges at the top of bin as opposed to the lower edge. With 16-inches of lift, you'd need to be tall like Charles Barkley to access Tenn's design. SVI custom-fabricated the hinge mechanisms so the bin doors swing out and up without contacting the body. Hydraulic struts keep the lid in the lifted position. God is in the details.
To contend with the National Ski Patrol late-to-the-party partnership, design changes were required, including the ability to carry the standard-issue rescue toboggan used to whisk injured snow bunnies to safety. The concept's original roof rack was scratched in favor of a new custom design that could carry the orange sled that measured longer than the Subi's entire roof. Even though this news came barely a week before the transport was leaving for Sin City, Koran and company created the new hardware and even managed to incorporate the auxiliary lights that were part of the original design.
The last time we saw the SEMA Forester in Michigan, it had just returned from the paint booth, and final fitment was well underway. The next time we would see the Subaru was in Las Vegas during Subaru's press conference on Tuesday, November 4th.
Finally it's SEMA Time
Unlike other major auto shows (such as the L.A. or Detroit auto shows), press events at SEMA are pretty low-key. A couple of executives make a couple of announcements, a few camera flashes go off, and then whatever is under wraps gets revealed. That's how it happened at the Subaru booth. Direct and simple. This left us more time to look at the vehicles.
The Forester we watched come to life in Michigan looked good and had enough going on to attract its fair share of eyeballs. And that's its only purpose in life, so it was considered mission accomplished by all.