How does a custom order work?

Our custom ordered Subaru will take 6-8 weeks to arrive from Indiana. Does the car really get built after it’s ordered, or do they have some of everything and ship one that meets your specs?

Depends. If they have one already built somewhere that’s exactly what you ordered, they might toss that one your way. Otherwise they’ll build it after it['s ordered. I’d say with a 6-8 week lead time, they’re building it to spec. Subaru does have a plant in Lafayette, Indiana.

The demand for Outbacks & for Legacy sedans is such that it is unlikely that they have excess stock just sitting in a storage lot at the factory. My experience with Subaru is that–due to the backlog–the production of your car will begin anywhere from 6 to 10 weeks after you order it.

Once it is scheduled for production, you will get a message from the manufacturer (if you have provided your e-mail address to the dealership), and that will give you a better idea of when it will actually arrive at the dealership.

In the past I’ve found it quite satisfying to custom order ( 78 Cordoba ) and end up with exactly what I wanted.
Recently , though, I’ve found custom ordering near impossible ( 06 Escape hybrid ). They refuse to break their ‘‘packages’’ and force you to compromise on accessories or features you don’t want in order to get what you do want.

  • VERY frustrating ! –

Why do you even care as long as you get what you want? We had a Nissan Frontier brought in for us and I do not care where it came from. If you are really concerned ask the Dealer.

This is one of the most interesting and complicated things a carmaker does (IMHO - but I’m weird)). Build to order cars go thru a process that includes initial review (No, you can’t have green upholstery with a red car!) and is input into the schedule with a lead time. If all the parts to build what You want aren’t in the plant, they go into the order system. The lead time determines the scheduling of the car. Each part is sequenced into the assembly process so the assembler has it as the next part when your car comes by. All colors, options, special stuff you want are all sequenced as they go down the line. It should take 3-5 days to go through the line from start to finish (depending on the plant) and out the door. It then gets shipped to your dealer and readied for you. It shouldn’t take 6-8 weeks, but it does.

KG - same here, Ford is now almost like Honda, a few sets of options, plus whatever the dealer installs. I couldn’t get a nicely-optioned Fusion without a sunroof, a deal killer for me. Same with Accords.

"It shouldn’t take 6-8 weeks, but it does. "

…and with Outbacks & Legacys it often takes longer, due to the demand vs the output capacity of the factory in Lafayette, Indiana.

When Isuzu went belly-up, its half-share in the factory went back to Subaru, but when Toyota bought into Subaru, they got the right to build Camrys there.

However, ever since the Generation 4 Outback & Legacy went on sale in late 2009, the ratio of Toyotas to Subarus has changed continually, with decreasing Toyota production and increased Subaru production. Subaru has a problem keeping up with the demand, which appears to be steady with the recent introduction of the Generation 5 vehicles.

The factory would schedule your build in the color and trim you ordered, you should have been given some sort of timeline as far as production date (or at least the week) with a good faith estimate of shipping time. It may be a few weeks before your car is built and then it depends on how long it takes to get on a truck going to your area with other Subaru’s.

When Isuzu went belly-up,

Isuzu is still around. Just not in the US.

Isuzu is still in the USA, but only in commercial trucks. That’s basically all they build everywhere.

“When Isuzu went belly-up,
Isuzu is still around. Just not in the US.”

I’m well aware of that reality, Mike.
I was referring to them going belly-up in the US, and–as a result–having no more need for their share of the SIU (Subaru-Isuzu Indiana) factory.

Additionally, what can complicate matters and lead to an extended timeline is that some of the available options are not installed in Indiana, and are added to the vehicle at “The Port”–which I believe to be Boston.

My 2011 Outback took a bit longer than 10 weeks, as a result of specifying the 3.6 liter six-cylinder engine, and also adding some trim items that are only installed at “The Port”. The vehicle was shipped by rail from Indiana to Boston, and was transported to NJ by truck after three trim options were added at “The Port”.

It may be frustrating to only get to choose from the predefined trim levels and option packages, but I doubt the automakers would even make it possible if they couldn’t restrict the ordering process in this way. I remember how exciting it was when I was young (sixties) for your car to come in just the way you wanted it. They certainly had different choices then, with most cars offering several engines. And a larger number of colors, some with matching interior colors. This is when power steering was far from a given, and power brakes still an option, too, at least for the cheaper cars.

My guess is that Subaru probably uses their dealer network inventory management system to try to find one on a lot somewhere that matches, or closely matches, what you want. If some modifications are needed, they might pull it from the lot where it is, and ship it back to the factory. Or do the needed mods at a dealer shop.

My uncle used to special order his cars. But that was years ago. Special ordering, the way cars are made these days in computerized, robot factories, is probably a lot more complicated to do. They might set up the robot production line to make all manual transmission equipped cars for 3 weeks, then switch to all automatics for 10 weeks, etc. Likewise with the colors, they might make only blue cars for 4 weeks, then white ones the next 4 weeks. Depending on the combination of features you want, there’s no telling how long it would take.

But why guess? Ask the dealer who sold it to you. They should know where the car comes from and should be happy to tell you. When I purchased my Corolla I wanted a certain color and manual transmission. There wasn’t one like that on the lot. But the dealership found one on a lot in a nearby town and had it trucked over. They were perfectly happy to tell me where it came from.

Also some of the custom order time table has to do with the assembly lines limited production schedules.
They may be tooled up this week for xx interiors or xx engines or even different vehicles all together and your order will wait for the similar group of tooling.

I’ve only ordered ONE vehicle in my life. Every other vehicle I bought was either on the lot or the dealership found the one I wanted.

There’s a difference between the dealership finding you one and custom ordering it. Custom order is they will actually build you the vehicle to your specifications.

The dealer may try to find one to your specs…or close to your specs first. For hot vehicles the only option may be to custom order it because they are not staying on the lot.

I really doubt the factory would ever pull one back and modify it. Only modification would be at the dealership for a “DIO”, a dealer installed option.

I’ve ordered Buicks and Olds and they were all scheduled for production after the order was placed. Don’t recall the actual time frame and it varied but anywhere from 4-8 weeks or longer. I got my diesel in about four weeks because the dealer supposedly swapped out one that was already on order and in the production queue. Just changed the options.

With the Acuras though, there are really only a couple different models such as the tech package or not. They are all optioned the same, so provided the color you want is in stock, you just pick it up the same day.

I think your Subaru is being built in Lafayette, Indiana home of the Purdue Boilermakers. They are as slow shipping out cars as they are on the football field.