2009 Subaru Forester - Behind the Scenes of a SEMA Show Vehicle

Rex Roy

Scanning the SVI's hallways leading from the front offices to multiple build garages at the rear of their building, I see photos of old projects; 1989 Corvette ZR-1 LT-5 V-8, the turbo system for the original Fox-platform Mustang SV0 (circa 1984), and the certified 198-mph PPG Pace Car used in the awful movie, The Wraith (1986). Koran went immediately mute when asked about current projects. But one can imagine that since SVI was working on cutting-edge technologies behind the scenes in the 1980s, the stuff they're working on now should be really great. We immediately think that this Subaru transformation should be easy for these guys.

By the time we laid eyes on the 2009 Subaru Forester, it had already been disassembled down to its unit body. Subaru drop-shipped the Forester to SVI on August 7th, so the team had already done much of the grunt work necessary to pull the project together. Koran explained that nearly everything had to come off and out of the crossover so that the team knew what they had to work with ... and how to incorporate the myriad accessories that would ultimately make the Forester ready for Vegas.

Building By The Book
You could write a book on what it took to transform the stock Forester into the finished concept, and Mike Koran has. Every detail of the build is documenting in a giant binder dutifully filled with words, photos, and plastic sleeves holding paper mock-ups of hand-built parts. Koran says, "Just in case Subaru ever wants to build another one, we've got the recipe right here." The details are staggering, but Koran can go right to the page with the "recipe" for bin hinges or air suspension wiring.

A staple of SEMA project vehicles are partner companies that contribute hardware in exchange for promotional exposure. Subaru's Lukas tapped several long-time Subaru vendors for major components. For example, DeeZee supplied brush guards, rockers, side steps, and skid plates. Bushwacker designed the body cladding and tail lamp guards. If these were the only modifications, then any monkey could have handled the build. However, Lukas was looking to have his Forester run with 16-inches of sill clearance and genuinely posses the functionality of an emergency response vehicle. Additionally, other add-ons became necessary mid-way through the Forester's build when The U.S. National Ski Patrol signed on to the project and tweaked the project's direction.

New Car Research

our instagram

get Automobile Magazine

Subscribe to the magazine and save up to 84% off the newsstand price


new cars

Read Related Articles