Style and what it represents, is purely subjective. There's a thin line between style and gaudiness. What makes up that thin line is in the eye of the beholder. We tell ourselves that we only build our cars for ourselves and that it doesn't matter what others think. Sure, that may be true in certain cases, but when someone comes up to you and tells you that you've done a good job, you get that sense of validation, like what you do matters. Cars are supposed to be an extension of our personalities. That's the beauty of building cars; it's your message to the rest of the world that you exist. If style didn't matter, kids wouldn't wear ball-hugging purple skinny jeans, rappers wouldn't wear jewelry in their mouths, cougars wouldn't have the "Jon & Kate Plus 8" haircut, and every car would be unmolested.
The Scion brand is all about style and personality. Their whole campaign since their inception to North America has been personality-driven. Every year at the annual SEMA trade show, they hold the Scion Tuner Challenge; a build-off where hand-picked participants duke it out to see who has the best Scion. It's become a staple of the SEMA show and something that is highly-anticipated every year.
When we touched down at last year's SEMA event and walked through the doors of the Central hall entrance, what we came upon was, to say the least-unexpected. It was definitely a Scion xB, but it definitely wasn't just an xB. It was a car, but it wasn't just a car; it was also a truck. Inside the bed of this truck-like contraption was a matching, and equally impressive, Honda Ruckus. It was style and ingenuity rolled into one. Everything we've ever wanted but never thought of. Like a Scion xB from an alternate universe.
"We wanted something really cool and retro that just screamed So Cal and the West Coast," Brandon Leung, founder of Bowls LA, says. "Just something you can cruise down Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) in and throw whatever your active lifestyle requires in the bed of the truck. We chose the Ruckus for this project because Bowls has become known as one of the premier Ruckus tuners in the States and we wanted something that could haul our bikes to different events."
The concept itself seemed simple enough, but with just $15K allotted to them based on rules of the competition and the short time frame to work with, how did they pull it off?
"We weren't worried so much about the budget. The time crunch was what really kicked our butts. Our xB arrived two months later than we originally anticipated and we worked on the car non-stop right up until the door closed on the transport truck. I think we managed to sleep maybe 8-10 hours during the last week of the build."
The retro-styling cues of this xB, dubbed the "xTruck", come from the old mini-trucks of years past. The inspiration behind the look however, comes from an unusual source. "I've always been fascinated with the old Toyota Crowns. It wasn't until recently that I found out that they made a pick-up version and I've been in love ever since." Leung reminisces. "That's why we went with the Mooneyes fender mirrors, dish wheels, and the wood truck bed with aluminum slats."
The truck conversion, which extends the entire chassis an additional 2.5 feet to accompany the Honda Ruckus, was all done by hand by master fabricator Eric Toyoshiba at Advanced Design and Fabrications in Whittier, California. The bottom portion of the rear hatch was re-used to create the functional tailgate while the glass was graphed to the back to form the cab. A custom 3-piece billet front grille features logos etched on the underside that actually reflect onto the mirror-polished lower portion.
"The colorway is very reminiscent of trucks of years past. We chose a light olive green color with off-white two-tone paint and pinstriped it in metallic grey. I really dig the contrast of it and was very pleased with the look that we acquired," Brandon says.
If the wheels look unfamiliar, it's because they're one-off custom creations by ADF. The 20-inch 3-piece billet aluminum wheels are custom-machined and feature an aluminum fluted center cap. The hammered-look of this retro-themed truck is made possible by an Air Lift Company complete digital air ride kit. The adjustable suspension also makes it easier to get the matching Ruckus on and off the xTruck.
With all the metal work and custom bits on the exterior of this Scion, it might act as a distraction from the equally impressive cockpit. To get that old mini-truck feel, the classic bench seat is a must. That shifter isn't going to get awkwardly close to a middle passenger's crouch on its own now is it? The problem with that is modern day automobiles no longer come with bench seats.
"We used the bottom of the stock rear seat and fabricated a top portion to make a bench seat for the cab. Then we rewrapped it with white vinyl and made matching door inserts and white perforated vinyl headliner," Brandon states. "The upper portions of the dash and door panels were painted to replicate how old trucks looked back when everything was metal." They even went as far as to modify an NRG flip-up steering wheel hub to house a Mooneyes white vinyl steering wheel. The finishing touch comes in the form of a hand-blown glass shift knob that also happens to be color-matched to the vehicle.
"It was gnarly to say the least," Brandon says, when asked about his overall thoughts on the build. "All we did was work on the car every single day from the day it was delivered to us. I'm happy with how it all came together but I can honestly say that I don't think I would attempt a project of this magnitude again with such a small time frame and limited budget. It was built for the Scion Tuner Challenge and we took 2nd place overall. I can't really complain, it got an overwhelming amount of good responses at the SEMA show."
2010 Scion XB
Owner Brandon Leung
Hometown Eastside Of LA - SGV
Occupation Founder Of Bowls LA
Engine 2010 2.4L 2AZ-FE; AEM Cold-Air Intake; Brian Crower Stage 2 camshafts, stainless steel valves, valve springs, titanium retainers; DC Sports exhaust header; NOS Dual-Stage Nitrous Fogger System; ADF custom port & polished head, dual exhaust, valve cover, timing chain cover
Drivetrain TRD heady-duty clutch assembly, helical LSD, short shifter kit
Suspension & Chassis Air Lift Company complete digital air ride kit; TRD rear sway bars
Brakes TRD 4-piston calipers, 340mm drilled rotors, stainless steel brake lines
Wheels & Tires 20x8 ADF custom one-off machined billet wheels (front), 20x10 ADF custom one-off machined billet wheels (rear)
Exterior Five Axis Design 4-piece lip kit; Mooneyes Bullet fender mirrors; ADF custom truck and metal fabrication, wood truck bed, upper and lower front grill, and two-tone paint
Interior Simpson racing harness; Dichrome hand-blown glass shift knob; ADF custom roll bar, bench seat; Complete dynamat interior
Audio Pioneer double-din DVD multimedia receiver, component speaker set (2), 12-in shallow-mount subwoofer (2), mono amplifier (2), 4-channel amplifier; Connection speaker and power wires, RCA cables; ADF custom subwoofer enclosure and billet amplifier rack.
Thanks You Eric Toyoshiba and the entire family at Advanced Design Fabrications; The entire BOWLS staff; Eddie Hahm; Scion and Beyond Marketing