How do you turn a nice family SUV into a gnarly overland monster? You give it to Crawford Performance and the Grabowski Brothers, of course. Both Crawford performance and Grabowski Brothers are almost unanimously linked with the Subaru name. Grabowski Brothers Racing’s Max Ries tell us the story.
How did this tandem come to exist?
Well Crawford has been working with Subaru since the late nineties and, at Grabowski Brothers racing, Neil and Dustin have been racing a Class 5 unlimited chassis since the early 2000s. It had all kinds of engines in the past but with the new Class 5 regulations the 2.5-litre Subaru boxer engine turned out to be the best option and proved to be very successful. It was Crawford who worked on our engine, which led both companies to a collaboration with Subaru Motorsports and Subaru USA. Further down the line Neil Grabowski bought Crawford performance, which is where the story of the Crosstrek begins.
A perfect segue. What’s the concept behind turning the Crosstrek family SUV into this overlanding blue beast you’ve created?
Well when Neil Grabowski took over Crawford the company was struggling a little bit as the Subaru aftermarket market wasn’t as big as it used to be, and the company was looking for a way to reinvent itself. As luck would have it, Subaru was looking for a new way to market its SUV products in much the same way Jeep is doing right now. So, with that in mind we had seen an opportunity to create something with the Crosstrek. We started talking to the Subaru marketing team and that quickly lead to this project.
Tell me more about the build. What exactly did you do? Is this kit for sale for customers?
Yes, it’s not a concept car you can’t buy. That being said, we don’t offer the car as a complete product or as an entire kit to fit on the car. It’s more of a collection of products we offer. Apart from the light kit, lift kit and the big tyres, there’s a lot more going on. For instance, we’ve developed a billet power blocks set for the car, which adds around 10bhp as well as the signature Crawford air and oil separator. On top of that we’ve added various skid and protection plates such as a frontend skid plate, a protection plate for the transmission and rock-slide rails on the side of the car. To finish it off we also gave it a new exhaust system.
The Class 5 Crosstrek car is a whole different animal. How much do both of them share?
Not that much. I believe it has a door handle somewhere that sort of resembles the one from a Crosstrek [laughs]. It obviously has the Subaru power plant and we have a great partnership with Subaru, so it made sense to name it Crosstrek although the Class 5 racer doesn’t resemble an actual Crosstrek in any way.