Your aero isn't functional. Go fast enough, allow it to attempt to do its thing, and watch it all flail in the wind while you go about with no more grip at the tires than what you started with. That's the first thing that separates you and your early '90s four-door Accord from Patrick Leong and his FR-S.
Calculated and purposeful. Those two words epitomize Leong's Scion as much as they do the process by which it was built. The car's aero, for instance, has all been mounted right to the chassis so it'll do things like, you know, actually work instead of just wobble and sway alongside the thin body panels they'd otherwise be solely fastened to. "It's all chassis-mounted," Leong says about the Driveway Labs splitters and rear diffuser. "I told myself [that] if I'm going to do it right, I'm going to chassis-mount all of it." Even the Voltex wing you think's been stuck directly onto the rear hatch like you did with your Accord's been mounted straight onto the unibody by means of custom Battle Aero mounts.
It's all very much what you'd expect of a proper race car and not necessarily what you'd presume finding on a three-year-old car like Leong's that spends just as much time on the track as it does the street and whatever show car halls he happens across within the greater Dallas area.
You think show cars and things like chassis-mounted aero don't normally go together and you're mostly right. Leong's objective, as he puts it, was "to keep things functional first and form [would follow]." It just so happens that the way in which all of those functional things were executed couldn't help but tick those same boxes that apply toward the show disciples. Like the Varis-inspired widebody kit fabricated entirely from sheetmetal and painted and installed by Leong's friends at nearby Killer Hot Rods. This aero wasn't fashioned into place for judges and their clipboards but instead to make room for the 10-inch-wide Volks and 295-series Toyos that the racetrack says he needs. "I put a lot of thought and calculated research into the car before doing anything," Leong says, which is evident in the sort of details that you wouldn't necessarily expect from a car that spends ample time on the track. Take the car's AiM MXG data acquisition box, for instance—a display that any race car wouldn't hesitate having mounted right on top of its steering column but one that Leong had meticulously fitted within the car's original instrument cluster housing. The only trouble with this, he says, was that in order for that FA20 to fire up and actually run, it still needed the original cluster. A custom wiring harness, a little bit of ingenuity, and a cluster that you don't know's hidden inside of the glove compartment and, all of a sudden, that four-cylinder boxer engine starts and runs exactly how Subaru thought it should.
But Subaru never planned on its Scion-shared engine making anywhere close to the 486 whp that Leong's high-compression, E85-based mill does, which is why his has been strengthened by way of forged pistons and rods and reworked heads of which nearly every moving bit's been replaced by something more durable. But that's just business as usual if you want things like a Precision 5858 turbo and an aluminum long-block designed to handle little more than 150 lb-ft of torque to coexist without the threat of important parts collapsing or metal bits making their way out of the exhaust and onto the track.
Leong's done most of this work himself but admits that space constraints and lacking some of the right tools is what led him, for instance, to PRT Performance to assemble the short-block and to Full Blown Motorsports for the top end. The Full Blown Motorsports turbo system, the StopTech brake kit, and the KW Variant 3 coilovers, however, are all Leong. As were most of the changes made to the car's electronics that allowed things like that AiM display to work as well as the repurposed factory traction control buttons that are now in charge of swapping fuel maps by way of the EcuTek-modified computer. "With my friend Paul Mai's help, I [learned] how to solder and use printed circuit boards to simulate modules like my cruise control," which Leong explains he no longer retains because of the aftermarket steering wheel. "I took the traction control unit from an automatic and pretty much re-wired it to mimic the same buttons as the cruise control stalk."
Leong bought his FR-S in hopes that it'd do everything, like go balls out on the track, command Instagram posts, and get him to work and back. It's a lofty ambition and one that few manage to achieve. That well-rounded methodology can, in part, be credited to PRT Performance's Steven Kan, who, aside from assembling Subaru short-blocks during the week, is a certified HPDE instructor. "I started having him instruct me at various events in the area," Leong says, "and from there, I was hooked."
"I love learning new things about the car and pushing its limits," Leong says about the symbiotic relationship between preparing it for the track, racing it, and even lugging it off to the occasional car show. "There is just so much more technical information that needs to be utilized when tracking the car," he says. "That's what's helped me understand more about the car and how different things can affect it."
Ask Leong and he'll tell you that he didn't exactly build this Scion just to go racing, though. "The purpose of this build," he says, "has never been to take on just one form or shape." You might say it's multipurposed but without sacrifice, that every modification's got a reason and a job to do, and that it's a whole lot better than your early '90s four-door Accord.