It's amazing, the kind of crazy reader interaction we get here on a daily basis: one-line emails from kids named Clarence in Wichita looking for "free hats and pens"; threads on importtuner.com asking what needs to be done for a 2JZ swap into a '93 Camry ("They're both Toyota, so they should bolt right up, right?"); or my personal favorite-a Sherrif's Office postcard from a Maricopa County, AZ, inmate serving a two-figure bid for manslaughter, yet still in desperate need of tuning advice for an RX-8 he used to have (that last one is hanging on my office wall as I write this). But possibly the most common and misguided of all are from newcomers to the scene who just know they could create the ultimate show/race/street car, if only they could find those ever-important sponsors to do actually do everything for them.
"...So, if you know anyone over at XXX (company)...," these requests commonly begin, "who would contribute X, Y and Z (basically every product made for the car in question) to my project car (usually a Civic; sometimes a Cavalier), I promise, I'll run their stickers everywhere I go, and tell all my friends to buy their parts!" Uh, no . . . It don't work like that. Not when people like Mike Ma are in the scene, creating monsters like this once fuel-sipping commuter car, turned turbocharged road-race-prepped xD, that tour the entire country on the back of the HIN series, steal spotlights at the SEMA and CES shows, and, as of this writing, score six of the hardest-to-earn magazine pages in the world of import automotive tuning.
Yes, Scion contributed this car specifically for this build. As did most of the manufacturers whose products you see scattered about it. But that's not to say Mike just sat around in his undies and watched it all come together through the efforts of others. Though he'd be the last person to admit it, it was his 15 years in the import scene, the knowledge, connections and respect he earned through building his own online parts retailer-and no less than six notable past project cars-that gives his promises to return sponsors' investments the clout that earned him the mere opportunity to attempt what you see here. To actually make it happen took a whole lot more.
It's done looking pretty," laughs Mike. "Now it's time to kick some ass-Super Lap Battle finals, look out!
"Scion was excited to work with me from the get-go," Mike says, "but getting others on board was different. All my past projects were modified in ways that really made sense," he says, about his 1JZ-swapped SC300 drift car, VIP-styled SLK, and xB show car, among others. "Building an xD into a race car was so far out there, I don't think too many people thought I could actually do it." On why he chose the 3S-GTE conversion, rather than building the xD's 1.8L 2ZR-FE to the hilt, or swapping in a 2.2L 2AZ-FE from a tC, Mike explains, "Like the SR20 to Nissan builders or the B18C to the Honda guys, if you were looking for a four-cylinder Toyota engine for your project car, the 3S-GTE has always been the one to have." Ubiquitous, as it came gift-wrapped from the Toyota factory in transverse and longitudinal mounting patterns, chances are one variation could be made to fit nearly any platform, with a little work. Except the xD, so Mike had been told. "Back when I started talking about this project, everyone told me the 3S just would not fit into an xD without major modification," he says, "but since the MR2 has a transverse-mounted 3S placed over its rear wheels-in a tight engine bay-I figured we could make it work in the xD."
Of the many SoCal-based tuning shops Mike approached for his build, only JRX Performance seemed confident enough to tackle the project alone. Every aspect of the conversion took place in their Irwindale, CA-based facility, from start to finish. "We retained the factory MR2 engine mounts," explains Mike, "but had to fabricate new chassis mounts, notch the frame rail for the transmission to clear, and CNC custom axles for the engine to fit." A stand-alone ECU from Australia-based Microtec was used in place of either the xD or the MR2 units, and a custom engine and chassis wiring harness was assembled, from scratch, by Juni, JRX's owner and lead tuner. Through his M2-Motoring.com enterprise, Mike sourced an Airwerks K24 turbo upgrade, 550cc RC injectors, an Injen front-mount intercooler core, DC Sports exhaust, and a grip of other goodies good for 350 whp and 280 lb-ft of torque after some in-house JRX tuning. "It's sick," says Mike. "All the stock chassis electrical options are still functional-power everything-and the engine starts right up like stock."
The chassis was further stripped to the metal by Mike and the M2 crew, and modification continued at Oink Fabrication, in Huntington Beach, CA, where owner Rob fabbed up a full halo-style, WRC-legal roll cage, and stitch welded the entire chassis before outside consultant Adam Nonis got started with the custom carbon fiber door panels, suede interior covering, and custom minimalist enclosures for all the lightweight Memphis Car Audio schwag Mike had arranged. It was during this time that Mike and M2 began turning even more wrenches themselves, installing the KW Variant 3 coilovers, JBT four-piston, 13-inch big-brake kit, and massively lightweight 19x8 Enkei rollers.
"The exterior was the last part of the car to be modded, since we wanted to fit it with the freshest, most functional parts available," explains Mike. For that, he went to friends Troy Sumitomo of Five Axis Design, and Mike at Seibon for a then one-off (now in full production) front lip and true dry carbon fiber hood and hatch, respectively . . . and a little inspiration, it seems. "The Magma Orange paint was inspired by Troy's personal xB," Mike confesses. "I kinda stole that color from him."
Possibly most impressive about this build, is that it occurred entirely over a two-month period. "We threw a couple parts on the car right after we got it for SEMA in '07," says Mike. "It was white, stock under the hood, and very lightly modded. Two months later, we debuted it at CES looking like it does now." The rest of the year was spent earning Best of Show and First Place wins all across the U.S., but now it's time for something new. As if simply building this machine hasn't silenced enough critics and guaranteed aftermarket support for whatever crazy project Mike dreams up next time, he's determined to see it own face at what he built it to do.
"It's done looking pretty," laughs Mike. "Now it's time to kick some ass-Super Lap Battle finals, look out!"
Behind The Build
President: M2-Motoring, Head Chef at Lublae Thai Cuisine
Cooking, MMA, food and wine, eating contest champion in training
"Less talk. more work!"
2008 Scion XD
Output 350 whp @ 6,400 rpm; 280 lb-ft of torque @ 4,500 rpm
Engine 3S-GTE conversion; JE pistons; custom Injen front-mount intercooler and plumbing; custom manifold, radiator, fans, hoses; custom DC Sports exhaust; Airwerks K24 turbocharger; GReddy RS blow-off valve; Microtec ECU; NGK plugs; 550cc RC Engineering fuel injectors; Aeromotive fuel pump, pressure regulator; ARC oil cap; DME Radiator cap
Drivetrain JRX Performance axles; Fidanza Stage 3 clutch, aluminum flywheel
Suspension KW Variant 3 coilovers; Oink Fabrications halo-style WRC-legal roll cage, full stitch-welding
Wheels/Tires 19x8 +35 offset Enkei RPF1 wheels; 225/35-19 Toyo T1R tires (street); 18x8 +35mm Enkei RPF1 wheels; 235/35-18 Toyo R1R tires (track); Project Kics lug nuts
Brakes JBT four-piston calipers, 13-inch rotors (front), JBT stainless steel lines
Exterior Five Axis Design lip kit; Seibon carbon fiber hood; Nubi HID lighting; Magma Orange color change; K&R 3M graphics
Interior Sparco EVO front seats; custom suede rear seats, dash, door panels, console; NRG steering wheel
Electronics Motevo Mobile head unit; Memphis Car Audi S Class two-channel 300-watt amplifiers (x1), S Class single-channel 500-watt amplifier (x2), M Class 6.5-inch speakers (x2), M Class 12-inch subwoofers (x2), wiring; Adam Nonis custom enclosures, carbon door panels
Gratitude Steven, Dave, and the crew at M2-Motoring; Juni and everyone at JRX Performance; my brother Tanner and everyone at Memphis Car Audio; Scion; Freddy and the family at Autofashion USA; Injen; Enkei wheels; JBT brakes; KW coilovers; Troy at 5Axis; Oink Fabrications for their badass fabwork; K&R digital graphics; Will Law and the guys at DC sports; Adam Nonis; KC at APR; Toyo Tires; and the one and only Carter-thank you for giving me the honor of having my Scion grace the pages of your magazine.