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Toyota Vitz RS - Puttin' On The Vitz

Nonsense to the Extreme -Plus a Toyota Vitz to Boot

Jimmy Louis
Sep 17, 2003
Photographer: Wes Allison
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Here we go again. Once more Japan gets to keep all the hot cars we only dream about having. Now I wouldn't be so angry about this particular one as it is but a peanut of a car, and I probably wouldn't own one myself (I need a little more bling than that, like an Escort on 24s), but it's just the fact that in place of the Vitz, which has an aftermarket parts catalog at least a yard thick and can be made into one of the hottest pocket rockets on four wheels, we get the Scion xA. The Scion xB isn't so bad. Based on the Toyota bbX in Japan, that shoebox on wheels has the potential to entice the Gen "Y" age group that it was targeted after and fits rather nicely into its niche with the other new cubes on the road. (Personally I think I'm just Gen "O" for old.) The xA isn't a bad car per say, but the Vitz is just infinitely more popular and would have probably had more impact.

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I've always wanted to take, say, a Ford Festiva and shove a V-8 into it somewhere and make it into a 0-60 pavement burner. But I don't possess the money, the time, or the mental fortitude to bring a project like that to life, and I will never claim that I do. Besides, someone already did it, and Jay Leno owns one. The Vitz in Japan is like the Festiva was to the U.S. some years ago: small, practical, and inexpensive. The main difference is you wouldn't get laughed at driving a Vitz. Available with either a 1-liter or 1.3-liter motor and two- or four-wheel drive, tiny car fun can be had by all for a measly $14 grand for the top-of-the-line model. I guess that's why the Yashio Factory tuning garage in Japan chose the spunky little 1-liter RS model as its parts car.

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As it turned out, this little rollerskate was a hoot to drive. The acceleration was nothing to write a haiku about, but it took turns like John and Jonny at a Japanese bathhouse. And just like at the bathhouse, Yashio Factory felt a little massaging would get all the kinks out. The Factory is known in Japan for producing top quality aero, suspension, and engine performance parts primarily for Nissan Silvias, 240s, and 180s. On the other hand, they are not known for leaving well enough alone and now they had a new toy to play with. First thing they wanted to do to the little RS was to get it to turn flatter. Having the side profile of an egg isn't conducive to a low center of gravity, so in order to keep the car from going "over-easy" in a high-speed turn, a set of Yashio Spec coilovers were installed on all four corners, with 8kg springs in the front and 3-8kg variable rate springs in the rear. The 185mm width tires were also replaced with the help of a set of Yokohama race tires in a more reasonable 195mm size. Yokohama is also the name that graces the twelve-spoke gold hoops that spin inside them (sounds almost like "twelve-step program," but you wouldn't know anything about that, eh Ricky?) To top it off, Endless brakes were thrown in for the hell of it just in case anyone driving this little monster wanted to stop.

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The engine bay needed a little help too. Instead of hauling parts, this car needed to haul ass, and 1 liter of doodoo is still 1 liter of doodoo, until you supercharge it of course. A Blitz airscrew was bolted in for good measure, good power, and good looks. This egg has been working out and is willing to snap your neck at the mash of the pedal. Many of the parts that grace this car were custom made and are now part of the Factory's catalog. Yashio Factory supplied one of its "Super Radiators" to keep things cool under the hood. The Yashio header helps extract the gases from the motor, and the sweet sound of speed comes rumbling out the rear from a Yashio Factory custom exhaust kit. An HKS F-con V Pro keeps track of all the fuel maps and helps keep this egg from frying.

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Every shop in Japan seems to have a signature color. Top Fuel uses white, JUN uses yellow, Signal even has their funky copper over gold color. Needless to say, Yashio Factory drew straws and came up with this bright pink/fuchsia. The RS blue just didn't look right sitting in the garage next to 600hp pink 240SXs and Silvias so the factory opted to spray the Vitz in the same hue. Chrome and pink vinyl graphics were added for the roll call and provide a shocking but interesting contrast to the sea of fuchsia. The aero kit on this car is also a Yashio Factory masterpiece giving the car a more muscular stance and with fender flares supplying the look of widened haunches.

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The inside of the car is the picture of simple performance. No 12-woofer ear-shattering A/V system here. When you look inside all you see are a pair of Bride Nexus seats shod in a similar hue to that of the exterior and a custom steering wheel. This car was at one time relegated to carrying parts, and now its new lot in life is that of pure performance and driving fun. The guys at the factory are pretty proud of their creation and are more than willing to take you for a ride. Maybe when I start making the big bucks and can afford a Leno-like stable of cars, I'll buy this little speedster from the Yashio guys instead of creating one of my own. I'd rather save what little brain I have left to finish my Dick and Jane books.

Fast Facts

Owner: Yashio Factory
Ride: Toyota Vitz RS
Hometown: Saitama, Japan
Daily Grind: Badass tuning shop
Under The Hood: 1000cc DOHC VVT-i, Blitz supercharger, HKS Racing filter, F-Con V Pro, Yashio Super Radiator, header and exhaust
Stiff Stuff : Yashio Spec coilovers with 8kg spring in front and 3-8kg variable-rate springs in the rear
Rollers: 15x7 Yokohama Kreuzer wheels, Yokohama Neova tires 195/50R15
Stoppers: Endless
Outside: Custom Yashio Factory Fuchsia, Yashio Look Aero GT front and rear bumpers, side skirts and fender flares
Inside: Bride Nexus seats
Props: Bride, HKS, Endless, Yokohama, Blitz

By Jimmy Louis
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