This SA guy designed skid plates for Subaru in lockdown, now they're selling like hotcakes in the US
• The prveious-gen Subaru Forester is one of the most popular SUVs.
• Skid plates are vital for proper off-roading.
• Local SA engineer designed a skid plate for the Forester, now popular in the US.
Subaru's SUVs might not have dramatic styling details, but when it comes to gravel travel ability, they are excellent.
The Japanese company built its success on providing family vehicles that could keep rolling safely, in treacherously snowy conditions.
During the early 1990s, the choice for all-wheel drive family cars were limited, and if you desired a relatively low-centre of gravity and strong traction, the only choice was a Subaru. As a result, Subaru's Forester range as tremendously strong following in the north-eastern United States and Canada.
Unlike most SUV or crossover rivals that are similar in size and ride height specification, the Subaru Forester has a proper centre-differential distributing torque through its drivetrain. The benefit of Subaru's symmetrical all-wheel drive system is how it allows a vehicle like Forester to keep surging along snowy or sandy trails when most other crossovers have run out of traction.
Subaru owners are given to adventure, and for those who really wish to use the off-road ability of their Forester, a skid plate is advisable.
Image: Anderson Design & Fabrication
Thinking local – acting global
Stiaan Swart is an example of someone who didn't merely binge-watch Netflix during the lockdown. An engineer based in Cape Town, Swart is a lifelong Subaru enthusiast, and his Forester skid plate design is proving popular in the American market.
In a joint project with Anderson Design & Fabrication, Swart spent lockdown working on a skid plate for the 2003-2008 Subaru Forester range. From concept to production, it is a fascinating view of how decentralised engineering resources can work together.
Advanced scanning technology is what enabled this skid plate project. Swart used Redline Laser to scan an appropriate model year Forester, which was hoisted at Pyro Performance. A challenging aspect was finding a vehicle lift which could create enough space for the scanning crew to work under the engine bay area freely.
Plastic cladding and engine covers were removed before an Arctec EVA scanner meticulously navigated around the Forester's underside, capturing all the crucial data to create a 3D image. These Luxembourg scanners can operate to a resolution accuracy of 0.5mm and are portable, allowing operators easily position themselves under a vehicle and move naturally across mechanical surfaces which require scanning.
Image: Anderson Design & Fabrication
After receiving the scanned 3D files, Swart used SolidWorks to create a surface model which is close to the original Forester plastic engine covers. Tolerances were crucial, to allow for undisturbed airflow and dust sealing around the engine.
Once the fundamental surfacing model was complete, Swart could busy himself with designing the aluminium skid plate's structural properties, complete with bending detail. The final design files were then sent to a supplier of choice, for fabrication – employing laser cutting and bending.
This specific Forester SG-series skid plate is now being marketed with success in America, by Subaru aftermarket specialist, Anderson Design & Fabrication.
Despite being separated by thousands of miles, hours of time zone difference and the lockdown, Patrick Anderson and Stiaan Swart could collaborate and create a skid plate that keeps Subaru Forester owners adventuring.
A custom Subaru Forester by Anderson Design & Fabrication.