Next came the car's looks. "I wanted to combine performance and luxury," stated Afshar, proudly standing next to the Forester's 20-inch Arceo rims wrapped in BFGoodrich KDW 255 tires. The all-wheel-drive pocket rocket retains its factory suspension components at Subaru's request, as this vehicle will be campaigned in the Al-Can Rally in 2005 and a 5,000-mile race through Alaska and Canada, both which specify stock suspensions in their rulebooks.

ESX took out the factory cloth interior and did a complete makeover, from seats to armrest. A full suede headliner combines both A and B pillars in matching material. The combination of door panels and seats are accented in luxurious suede and charcoal leather with a finishing touch of silver trim. Completing the interior upgrade is a leather-wrapped armrest, custom SPT-embroidered steering wheel, headrests, and for aesthetics, a complete carbon-fiber SPT badge kit, complements of Subaru.

The audio system was also altered within the month-and-a-half stint. A Kenwood KV911 DVD pop-up head unit controls a massive Boston Acoustic GT50 amplifier. Voltage is equally distributed through six Boston Acoustic speakers, while a 10-inch Boston subwoofer supplies the bass.

Need to check your e-mail during rush hour traffic? Not a problem. This SUV boasts an Octanium Electronics full onboard computer and Internet accessible system. The unit consists of a wireless keyboard, touch-screen audible navigation, DVD player and more. A 13-inch drop-down screen for those rear seat passengers who feel the need to watch movies or pursue the occasional street battle on the Xbox game console.

The Subaru was originally built to rally and it competed in the 2004 Alcan Winter Rally. Driven and navigated by the team of Paul Eklund, Kala Rounds and Gary Reid the Forester won Class III and was third overall. Class III is a SOP (Seat of the Pants) class with no high-tech rally computers allowed. So to place third overall without a navigation computer is quite impressive.

Laughing at the Forester when we first laid eyes on it was wrong. What looks like a mom-mobile with some added bling bling in the fenderwells is actually a rally-proven sleeper with a big blast of power waiting beneath the loud pedal.

Special thanks goes out to: Subaru of America, Brent Gunderson, John Hubach, Edgar Ford, Tom Doll, Robert LaBossiere, Bruce Barker, Jay Gelletley and Gary Palanjian, Injen Technologies' Ron Delgado and Ryan Takashima, BFGoodrich's Todd Steen, Arceo Wheels' Joe Arceo, Boston Acoustics, Leif Blackmon, Brembo, Torco Oils' Jamie Montesalvo, Octanium System and Scott at Radio Active.

Arceo Wheels Easy Street Motorsports
1 Parkway S.
P.O. Box 19001
SC  29602-9001
Injen Technologies
Boston Acoustics
Subaru of America
Brembo Torco oil