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2013 Scion FR-S - First In Line

This FR-S owner sets trends and waits for no one

Aaron Bonk
Mar 15, 2018
Photographer: Viet Nguyen

Brian Duong likes being first. He started fiddling around with friends' cars before he could drive. He stuck Supra taillights onto something that wasn't a Supra before that sort of silliness was out of bounds. And he ordered himself up an FR-S as soon as he got word that Scion would be selling the rear-wheel-drive coupe. But living in Florida meant that being first wasn't always easy. "The car scene was always behind," Brian says about those early days, usually finding out 12 months later than the West Coast that things like racing stripes and monster-tach shift lights were no longer cool. "So when I would get a chance to visit family in L.A., I would also search for car parts for myself and my friends." And, by default, brush up on what he'd otherwise have to wait another year or two to find out.

2013 scion FR S varis kamikaze 86 rear diffuser Photo 2/36   |   2013 Scion FR S Varis Kamikaze 86 Rear Diffuser

Brian's since relocated to the other side of the country and, nowadays, plays a part in directing the movement he once traveled 2,500 miles back and forth to take cues from. And by directing the movement, we're talking about that FR-S of his being the first of its kind in the U.S. to wear Varis' Kamikaze aero. And if for some reason hand-laid fenders, diffusers, and an assortment of carbon panels don't get you all riled up, know that this FR-S' boxer engine is also the first to puff through both GReddy's turbo system and the company's bolt-on quartet of individual throttle bodies.

Ask Brian and he'll tell you he never planned on doing anything out of the ordinary with the Scion, a car that succeeds multiple cars of his that've made their way into magazines and even to the halls of SEMA. He'll even tell you that, at first, the FR-S was only half his. "[It] started off as a project between my youngest brother and [me]. I intended to have just simple body mods with wheels and good suspension set up to be a daily, fun car," he says. "As the years passed, we started to modify it more and more, the styling of the car began to evolve, and my brother decided he no longer wanted to be involved in this project, so I took [it] over and he got a Prius out of it." Brian: 1, brother: 0.

2013 scion FR S bride stradia II seats Photo 6/36   |   2013 Scion FR S Bride Stradia II Seats

Brian—sales manager for Mackin Industries, the North American distributor of brands like RAYS Wheels and Project Mu—tapped into his network of industry peeps to arrange things like that whole multi-layered arrangement of throttle bodies stashed in between his FA20 and that GTX2871R turbo. GReddy's technicians fastened all of the bits into place, making sure both methods of induction got out of each others' way. They even went on to fabricate a one-off exhaust system just for Brian's FR-S before wrapping the whole thing up.

Like so many of Brian's previous projects, this FR-S was also SEMA-bound. And as is often the case with anything SEMA-bound, timing was critical. And by critical, we mean there wasn't enough of it. "Receiving the kit a few weeks prior to SEMA was very nerve-racking," he says about the Varis bits, "and having Evasive and Auto Tuned put the car together right before SEMA was stressful."

2013 scion FR S FA20 engine Photo 10/36   |   2013 Scion FR S FA20 Engine

But nobody's feeling sorry for Brian. He has two-way-adjustable Moton shocks, Project Mu brakes, and TE37s all around to make him feel better. He also has more than 310 whp—not bad for a guy who's relatively new to boxer engines. "Other than a few of my friends' STIs," Brian says, "I'm more familiar with Nissans," which is evident by the list of S13s, S14s, 350Zs, and G37s the guy's gone through, one of which made his cross-country move possible. "I was able to source the first Esprit kit on the East Coast," he says about the Z that made it to SEMA some 14 years ago by way of RAYS Wheels. "[That] car was my link to moving from Florida back to California to work for Mackin."

For Brian, the FR-S was meant to be what he describes as a fun daily driver, but the car's extensive list of updates renders it just as much impractical as it is fun. It's a trend Brian's fallen prey to more than once, most recently manifested in the form of an Evo X that was meant to facilitate his growing family but ended with a widebody kit of its own and, like the rest of his cars, impracticably undriveable. "[It] started off with just simple mods as my daily driver," he says. "Somehow that didn't last." It almost never does.

2013 scion FR S varis kamikaze 86 front Photo 14/36   |   2013 Scion FR S Varis Kamikaze 86 Front

GReddy ITB Kit Review

GReddy's gone ahead and made fitting an FA20 with individual throttle bodies so easy, even you could do it. It starts with a couple of pairs of remanufactured throttle bodies nabbed from Toyota's 20-valve 4A-GE engine of the '90s and is controlled by way of the electronic throttle body you've already got. GReddy's specially made, cast-aluminum adapters make bolting everything onto those heads a cinch and the included cast-aluminum plenum means hooking it all up to, say, a turbo or that factory intake of yours, won't be hard. Like most power-adders, the kit isn't CARB-legal, and you'll need some sort of aftermarket tuning solution to make it work, but you'll rest easy knowing every single clamp, hose, and silicone coupler is included, making for an easy installation.

GReddy FA20 ITB kit Photo 15/36   |   Greddy FA20 ITB Kit

Installing GReddy's individual throttle bodies starts with you yanking off everything you won't need, like the intake manifold, as well as everything that's in the way, like the ECU, fuel rails, injectors, and throttle body.

GReddy FA20 ITB kit Photo 16/36   |   Greddy FA20 ITB Kit

The whole kit is based on Toyota's 48mm throttle bodies that came standard-issue on its 20-valve 4A-GE engines from two and a half decades back. GReddy has them reconditioned and pre-mounts them onto a pair of specially designed, cast-aluminum adapters that bolt directly onto the FA20's cylinder heads and work with the engine's original fuel rails and injectors.

GReddy FA20 ITB kit linkages and brackets Photo 17/36   |   Greddy FA20 ITB Kit Linkages And Brackets

It's GReddy's unique system of linkages and brackets that adapt its mechanically driven throttle bodies to the FA20's electronically controlled throttle. You'll need to remove the throttle body's butterfly valve before fastening the new bracket into place.

GReddy FA20 ITB kit intake plenum Photo 18/36   |   Greddy FA20 ITB Kit Intake Plenum

Although you'll need to install each of the kit's components separately, the whole system is fairly self-contained. The cast-aluminum plenum and its four adapter pipes can be tossed aside on naturally aspirated applications where velocity stacks might be used or it can be retained for connecting to the factory intake system, most aftermarket intakes, or even a turbo's charge piping.

GReddy FA20 ITB kit vacuum canister Photo 19/36   |   Greddy FA20 ITB Kit Vacuum Canister

Not having a conventional intake manifold means there's no longer a vacuum source for things like that brake booster, for instance. GReddy supplies its own vacuum canister that connects to everything the FA20's manifold did, including the original MAP sensor.

GReddy FA20 ITB kit adjustment meter Photo 20/36   |   Greddy FA20 ITB Kit Adjustment Meter

Anytime individual throttle bodies have been integrated, they've got to be adjusted so that they all yield the same amount of vacuum. GReddy includes the meter you'll need to adjust all of this as well as a MAF sensor emulator. The emulator plugs into the factory engine harness, fooling the ECU into thinking the MAF sensor's doing its job, when in reality it's been temporarily set aside along with the intake piping it's attached to.

How Turbos and ITBs Coexist

All this time you've been thinking individual throttle bodies and natural aspiration ought to remain exclusive to one another and you've pretty much been wrong. It turns out that multiple throttle bodies and forced induction get along just fine, too, thank you. Ask the turbo and it'll tell you all it wants to do is compress a whole bunch of air—it doesn't care where it goes after that. Unlike naturally aspirated layouts where that pile of throttle bodies can individually suck up the oxygen right in front of them, having a turbo in their way means some sort of manifold's got to be there to tie it all together. The manifold doesn't just send air from the turbo's compressor outlet to the throttle bodies, it does so in an evenly distributed sort of way and with the sort of crisp and immediate throttle response you've come to expect from a multiple-throttle body layout. But there are drawbacks. Tuning can be more of a challenge, for instance, since both manifold pressure and throttle position now have to be considered when configuring engine management fuel tables. Get it right, though, and you could end up with the best of both worlds.

GReddy FA20 ITB kit Photo 21/36   |   Greddy FA20 ITB Kit

Your first inclination when installing individual throttle bodies is to expose them in all their glory, bolting on a set of velocity stacks, and sharing it on the 'gram. If there's a turbo someplace under the hood, though, you won't be doing any of that, which means bolting on GReddy's provided intake plenum just became pretty important. That is, if you want that compressed air that turbo just whipped up for you to make its way into those cylinders.

GReddy FA20 ITB kit dynograph Photo 22/36   |   Greddy FA20 ITB Kit Dynograph

Know that peak power doesn't necessarily make you any faster and you'll see the good in this dyno sheet. Bolting on GReddy's individual throttle body kit onto Brian's already turbocharged FR-S led to mid-range gains as high as 30 whp and 36 lb-ft of torque.

The ITB/Drive-by-Wire Solution

Incorporating more than one throttle body into something like the FA20's drive-by-wire electronics goes beyond you arranging the right assortment of linkages and cables. You still have to do all of that, but you also have to keep that original drive-by-wire throttle body around. Here, there won't be any air passing through it and you can position it just about any place you want; instead, the throttle body's electronic actuator has to mechanically link up to the new throttle bodies. In other words, you can't get rid of the actuator since it's what's being controlled by the pedal and your right foot.

GReddy FA20 ITB kit GReddy throttle bracket Photo 23/36   |   Greddy FA20 ITB Kit Greddy Throttle Bracket

GReddy's specialized throttle bracket bolts to the FA20 throttle body's butterfly shaft, only without the butterfly valve. Once plugged in to the engine wiring harness, the throttle body's actuator will continue to rotate its shaft when your foot tells it to, only now it'll be rotating the bracket and directing a series of linkages instead of allowing any air to pass through it.

GReddy FA20 ITB kit electronic actuator Photo 24/36   |   Greddy FA20 ITB Kit Electronic Actuator

All we care about at this point is the original throttle body's electronic actuator, which, when you step on or release the gas pedal, will pull and push the linkages, opening and closing each pair of the throttle bodies you've just installed.

His and Hers

Julie duong vertex nissan s14 Photo 25/36   |   Julie Duong Vertex Nissan S14

Brian isn't the only one who moved out from Florida to Los Angeles. Wife, Julia, also did, and she's the owner of this Vertex-kitted S14. The S14 was her car in college, which was built to its full potential years later. Eventually, it graced the cover of our Nissan Issue two years ago. So, who did it better?

2013 scion FR S varis kamikaze 86 front bumper Photo 29/36   |   2013 Scion FR S Varis Kamikaze 86 Front Bumper
2013 scion FR S varis kamikaze 86 aerokit Photo 33/36   |   2013 Scion FR S Varis Kamikaze 86 Aerokit
By Aaron Bonk
402 Articles
2013 Scion FR-S - First In Line
Tuning Menu
Owner: Brian Duong
Hometown: Yorba Linda, CA
Occupation: sales manager, Mackin Industries
Engine: GReddy GTX2871R V3 turbo kit, Type 24 intercooler, individual throttle body kit; DeatschWerks 900cc fuel injectors, DW65C fuel pump; GReddy exhaust piping with titanium turndown tip, oil filter; MXP stainless steel front pipe; Koyo radiator; ARC radiator cap, oil catch can; HPS radiator hose kit; Mishimoto fan shroud; Grimmspeed 86 oil cap; Blitz oil cooler; Project Kics magnetic drain plug; Autostaff titanium pulley cover; Odyssey battery
Drivetrain: OS Giken STR series clutch, Super Lock LSD; GReddy rear differential cover
Engine Management: EcuTek RaceRom; GReddy Profec boost controller
Footwork & Chassis: Moton two-way sport coilovers; Cusco front and rear carbon-fiber strut bars and Power Brace; GTSPEC four-point front subframe reinforced tie brace, rear lower subframe reinforced tie brace, rear lower T-brace; SPL bump-steer adjustable front tie rod ends, front and rear lower camber arms, titanium rear toe arms, titanium rear traction arms, Pro rear end-links; Stancepart cup kit; Whiteline front and rear sway bars
Brakes: Project µ Forged Sports Tufram four-piston front and two-piston rear calipers, 355mm front and 316mm rear rotors, B-Force pads, Teflon lines, PG Four 335 fluid, master cylinder fluid cap and reservoir cover
Wheels & Tires: 18x11" +13 Volk Racing TE37 wheels; 295/30R18 Toyo R888R tires; Project Kics Ti64 titanium lug nuts and conversion spacers
Exterior: Varis Kamikaze 86 front and rear diffusers, side fins, wide fenders, louver ducts, fender splitter ducts, canards and duct covers, dry carbon-fiber hood, carbon-fiber trunk, carbon-fiber Swan Neck 1800mm GT wing; Seibon carbon-fiber roof; Beatsonic carbon-fiber roof spoiler; Craft Square GT mirrors; '17 Toyota 86 headlights and taillights; Cusco antenna; Avery Dennison gloss white wrap by Auto Tuned
Interior: Cusco four-point rollcage; Bride Stradia II seats, YZ Low Position seat rails; Willans harnesses; ATC GT sports steering wheel, carbon-fiber shift knob, alcantara shift boot, shift lever, alcantara instrument cover; broadway mirror; Cusco emergency brake knob; Pioneer head unit, speakers
Thanks You: my wife and family for their support; my coworkers at Mackin Industries (Steve, Yuji, Tony, Rowie, Victor); Wakana at RAYS Wheels Japan; Yoshi at Project Mu; Dave at Project Kics; Mike, Tony, Hugh, CY, JJ, Kel, Randy, Josh and JC at Evasive Motorsports; Coen, Marleen, Sean and Johan at Moton Suspension; Philip and Kenji at GReddy; Young at Auto Tuned; everyone at Ravspec; Stan at Toyo Tires; Kenji at Cusco; Bun at Lot USA (Bride); Sean at OS Giken; Scott at Koyo; Ted at Pioneer Electronic; Sean at SPL Parts; ATC Sports; Varis; Whiteline

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