Daniel Song of Orange County, CA, has a solid history as an automotive enthusiast. Being raised in Southern California, he has been at the heart of the car tuning culture his whole life and that has positively influenced him as an enthusiast. What separates him from others is that his history is actually quite rich. Rather than sticking to one particular manufacturer and style of modifying-as many people do-he has owned a relatively eclectic and exotic range of cars (a '05 Lotus Exige, a '97 Acura NSX, a '06 Honda S2000, a '10 BMW 335i, a '11 Nissan GT-R, as well as a '05 Lamborghini Gallardo). From Japanese makes (and arguably the greatest chassis to come from Japan, at that) to European exotics, Daniel has owned and modified all of them. But it all started for him with Honda, back in 1999. "I was hooked after buying my first car," Daniel says. "I bought a '99 Honda Civic Si and started modifying and customizing the car right away." Clearly, that vehicle proved to be the gateway for Daniel into the world of import tuning in which his passion, creativity, and enthusiasm found ways to physically manifest themselves in vehicular form. In this particular case that form being a Scion FR-S.
Which leads us to the incredible build you see before you: This car was designed and built to compete in the 2012 Scion Tuner Challenge. If you are unfamiliar with the event, it is an annual competition held by Scion corporate in which three individuals are selected to build cars that will debut at SEMA. After submitting renderings of what their final product will look like, Scion provides the builder with the car, $15,000 to use toward the build, and three months to complete their build before SEMA. Yes, just three months to build the entire car. Obviously, this is no easy task, but the contestants are carefully selected and only those who show a high degree of potential are given the opportunity; given Daniel's rich history, it is no surprise that he was selected to compete.
Immediately after being accepted as a participant in the competition, Daniel's mind went to work. He felt that the Scion FR-S was designed to be an affordable performance vehicle that any driving enthusiast, from amateur to professional, could enjoy. It was from that perspective that the theme for his build was born. Daniel decided he wanted to build a raw, aggressive, and sinister, race car-themed FR-S. He decided to name it the "FR-S GT." It was vital to Daniel that the car not only be show-ready for its debut at SEMA, but that it would also perform solidly on a track, where the build and all of its parts could come alive. To do this, Daniel picked only brands and components of the highest quality and performance. Each of the companies that Daniel collaborated with was carefully selected; he only wanted to partner with those who were the best at what they do.
Once the relationships were solidified, Daniel set out to begin the process. Having solid people in your corner is substantially helpful, but building a brand-new car would prove to be quite a daunting task, especially within the short time frame allotted to him. "Because the car was so new, there were very little production-ready, off-the-shelf parts available. Most of the parts either had to be air freighted from Japan, or custom one-off parts had to be created for this project," Daniel says. One thing that separates Daniel from other previous Tuner Challenge participants is that he doesn't own his own shop, nor did he intend to hire a shop to build the car for him. As much as possible, he wanted to build the car with his own two hands. The majority of the FR-S GT was built and worked on in his own home garage. "I wanted to stay true to the spirit of the Tuner Challenge, so it was important not to let someone else build the car, or just throw on a collection of catalog-ready production bolt-on pieces. This is what would set the FR-S GT apart from the other FR-S builds."
Daniel said that he wanted "to create the most extreme, aggressive, sinister, and evil-looking race-ready FR-S for SEMA", and the build that you see before you leaves no doubt that he achieved his goal. For the exterior, Daniel collaborated with one-and-only Jon Sibal, who designed the widebody front and rear fenders, as well as carbon-fiber front canards, race splitter, and side sills and strakes. All of this complemented by a front lip, side skirts, and rear valance by MV Designz, as well as a Difflow custom five-element aluminum diffuser. Daniel also worked with APR who built the carbon-fiber rear spoiler, rear airfoil, and upright stabilizer. Additionally, APR carbon-fiber Formula GT3 mirrors and NACA hood ducts add to the menacing look of the FR-S GT. He then had Daley Visuals wrap the entire car in Meguiar's 3M Carbon Dinoc vinyl. The result is incredible, especially when the combination of Air Runner air suspension with KYB four-dial dampening control is activated to lower the widened chassis down on the custom set of SSR Professor SP1 three-piece wheels, sized 18x10 in the front and 18x11.5 in the rear, wrapped in Toyo 4 Plus tires sized 235/40-18 and 275/35-18, respectively. When it came to the interior, he stripped everything down and contacted Garage Life to have them create a full rollcage and integrated harness bar, as well as a dimple-dyed aluminum floor mat. He also had them create seat rails for the Sparco Competition Circuit racing bucket seat. Daniel continued with Sparco for items such as their four-point harness, R345 suede steering wheel, steering hub, and quick-release. The raw interior was then refinished in matte black, with the rollcage bars being redone in gloss black. Daniel also utilized carbon fiber in the interior by creating custom door panels, as well as radio delete and A/C delete trim panels. The result is an interior that is every bit as menacing as the exterior of the car. But looking like a race car and being able to move like one are two different things. To provide the power needed to propel this black beauty on the track, Daniel contacted Vortech and utilized their full lineup of products. The V-3 H67 self-lubricated supercharger with billet impeller is at the center of it all, complemented by their Maxflow air-to-air front-mount charge cooler and mandrel-bent aluminum charge ducting, as well as their cold air induction system. The modification list keeps going and going, but we're sure you get the point-this thing is just plain ridiculous. It covers everything, and the overall execution is phenomenal.
Interestingly, the car took home a disappointing Third Place in the challenge, but the car has been incredibly well received by numerous media outlets, magazines, and websites. But most importantly to Daniel, the people and fans were not disappointed in the build. This build received the highest number of fan votes on FR-S forums. Additionally, it was featured on Top Gear's website, picked as one of the Top 5 favorite cars of SEMA 2012 by Car and Driver as well as Motor Trend. And Scion themselves picked the FR-S GT as one of their Top 5 Favorite FR-S's. To top it all off, the car will be used by Scion for various shows throughout the year, as well as in other marketing opportunities. So what is Daniel going to do while the car is gone? "I have a few ongoing builds, a Nissan GT-R and a BMW 535i. But I also plan on buying a Scion FR-S of my own and possibly duplicate the FR-S GT on my own personal car." Yea, we can't wait, either. Ready when you are, Daniel.
Behind The Build
Art Director for Leg Avenue and founder of syNRG Marketing Group
Photography, modifying cars, racing, and design
To compete in the 2012 Scion Tuner Challenge for SEMA
2013 Scion FR-S
Engine Vortech V-3 H67 self-lubricated supercharger with billet Impeller, Maxflow air-to-air front-mount charge cooler, integrated oversized MAF housing, mandrel-bent aluminum charge ducting, billet aluminum mounting bracket assembly, roto-molded intake airbox with conical filter (cold air system), compressor bypass valve, premium silicone sleeves and stainless steel clamps; custom center-exit exhaust by Speedway Mufflers, cat delete; Koyo Race Radiator; Braille 15-pound lightweight carbon-fiber battery, aluminum battery bracket kit; Motul 100 percent synthetic racing motor oil, Inugel coolant fluid; relocated fuel filler, engine bay refinished to matte black
Drivetrain Billet Pro short shift kit; Clutch Master FX300 Stage 3 Clutch, flywheel; Motul transmission fluid
Suspension Air Runner air suspension with KYB 4-dial damping control, 2-gallon black air tank, 380C Viair Chrome Compressor, custom one-off air management bracket; Tanabe front strut tower bar, rear strut tower bar
Wheels/Tires SSR 3-piece Professor SP1 refinished (18x10 front, 18x11.5 rear; custom offsets), aluminum race lug nuts; Toyo Proxes 4 Plus tires (235/40-18 front, 275/35-18 rear)
Brakes Brembo 4-piston Gran Turismo calipers, 345mm cross-drilled floating discs, stainless steel brake lines; Motul brake fluid
Exterior MV Designz front lip, side skirts, rear valance; Jon Sibal designed widebody front fenders, widebody rear fenders, carbon-fiber race splitter, carbon-fiber front canards, carbon-fiber side sills and strakes; Difflow customized 5-element aluminum diffuser; custom aluminum diffuser brackets; APR carbon-fiber rear spoiler, customized trunk mount uprights, 4-inch carbon-fiber rear airfoil and upright stabilizer, carbon-fiber Formula GT3 mirrors, carbon-fiber naca hood ducts; custom intake inlet headlight; headlight blackout, taillight blackout; Scion emblem blackout, 86 badge blackout; Aerocatch hood latches; custom "FR-S GT" emblem; Shark Fin antenna replacement; Meguiar's 3M Carbon Dinoc vinyl; vinyl wrap by Daley Visuals, "86" and Scion vinyl-embossed effects by Daley Visuals
Interior Full spec rollcage by Garage Life, integrated harness bar, dimple-dyed aluminum floor mat, seat rails; Sparco Competition Circuit racing bucket seat, Competition 4-point race harness, Competition R345 suede steering wheel, steering hub, quick-release system, Racing shift knob, Settanta e-brake, slider brackets, side-mount rails; custom carbon door panels, driver-side door pull/release, radio delete trim panel, A/C delete trim panel; push-start ignition system; battery kill switch; 3 auxiliary toggle switches; Air Runner pressure gauges (x2), switch bank (x4); Kidde Auto fire extinguisher, extinguisher bracket; A/C power inverter; refinished interior color in matte black, refinished rollcage bars in gloss black; foam rollcage padding
Gratitude "Jon Sibal-we collaborated on the design of this project. Jon nailed the vision I had and created something that I think was amazing! His guidance and advice during the whole build was priceless, as a former Tuner Challenge winner. My sponsors-the car would be nowhere near the completeness of its build without the help and support of my amazing sponsors. I had the privilege of working with some of the best brands and names in this industry, who helped come together and provide only the best for the FR-S GT. My fiance, who was so amazingly supportive of my build that she spent so many late night hours wrenching with me in the garage, helped me pick up and drop off parts with sponsors, and coordinated so much of the logistics of this build. Without her support, I'd have run short on time and energy."