“It’s hard to believe that this car was once just a bare chassis with only body panels,” says Mike Chung, Planning Manager at GReddy Performance Products, when speaking of how their FR-S project came delivered to their doorstep. “No engine, suspension— not even a subframe —that’s how bare it was.” It quite possibly could’ve been one of the first FR-S chassis in the US, pre-dating even pre-production models but still far along the process from the camoflauge test mule you’ve no doubt seen on the Internet (that’s if you’ve been chronicling the entire 86/FR-S development process from concept to showroom ready models). But here it is, finished, if not totally dialed in, ready to head into the war zone we know better as Formula D.
GReddy has had a long-standing relationship with Scion, having built several cars over the years, the first project being a first-generation xB that was actually built in conjunction with Super Street back in 2004. In more recent years, GReddy has had a successful tC road racing venture. With the FR-S, Scion had a new game plan in mind, to place the talents of their young star, Ken Gushi (the former driver of a drift tC, now Tony Angelo’s) within the capable hands of GReddy’s R&D team to see if magic could indeed, be made. The chassis was delivered to GReddy in June of 2011 and by December had custom-fabricated all of its components for shakedown testing at Laguna Seca—even our friends at Motor Trend had caught it all on film and posted it for the world to see. However, none of those one-off parts were legal according to Formula D’s rulebook, and really, the testing was meant to see how and if the drivertrain would hold up—and so, GReddy went right back to the drawing table. It gave them only a short window of time to wait for an actual factory subframe and Formula D’s 2012 rules to come in, yet a competition spec version couldn’t be completed until after its world reveal debut at the Detroit Auto Show at the end of January earlier this year.
Ah, right—the drivetrain; here’s where things get interesting. As you can probably guess, this isn’t the FA20 that’s supposed to come in a stock FR-S. Remember, the chassis came without an engine. “We would have developed parts for the FA20, but we only had one engine to work with from the get-go,” says Mike, “This is the reason why chose the EJ25 as the alternative, and surprisingly, it’s a close bolt-in. The FA20’s transmission doesn’t bolt up to the EJ so it requires a different bell housing, which we found through companies that offer custom bell housings for sand rails.” As far as whether or not they think the EJ swap will be a very viable option for FR-S owners, GReddy says it’s not the easiest job as it requires quite a bit of custom work to make it work like butter. Mike adds, “Size-wise, [the EJ] it works and the mounting points are similar, but the smaller details are more than a weekend job, and exact machining will be required.” The joint effort between Toyota and Subaru is what ultimately makes up a FR-S’ DNA, and so it’s cool that the EJ25 can be used almost effortlessly. Cosworth helped build the team’s engine, with specifications supplied to several rally teams, nothing special than what’s offered standard. “Eventually, we will go back to the factory engine,” Mike adds, “More likely next year [than this]. This year is more of understanding our team’s dynamics, and we relied on Cosworth so we could concentrate more on preparation and not lose valuable time on engine development when we could have set our car up properly. Furthermore, on GReddy’s end, they custom fabricated their own exhaust system and intercooler piping to a v-mounted R-spec intercooler, bolted an off-the-shelf TD06SH-25G turbo—tuned with a Cosworth ECPro engine management, it puts down a generous 600hp with 500lb-ft.
A car can’t be built without its driver in mind, and so GReddy built the car around Ken, as if it were his own personal car. From the seating, pedal positioning and more, he was involved every step of the way. His feedback is clearly crucial to help dial the car in, which was very important during development as several problems occurred during shakedown. “Doing everything from scratch is the hard part,” Mike explains, “There isn’t another car like this out there, so everything’s new; we couldn’t compare it to anything. The good part—since it’s a mixed build of Toyota and Subaru parts—is that it allows for the flexibility of applying parts that are similar.” One example they gave us were drivetrain issues: breaking axles is expected, but finding replacement parts is problematic, especially since they couldn’t just go to a dealer and source new ones. By using both Toyota and Subaru components, GReddy was able to create a beefier hybrid axle—they add, “When we pulled everything apart, some things are labeled ‘Subaru’, but they’re Toyota-spec (ie, bolt pattern, wheel offset, rear diff). We could really see how the two companies worked together.”
GReddy didn’t have to spend a lot of time working out the kinks in the suspension department, mostly because the car is pretty much good to go right out of the box. According to Mike, he says it’s pretty clear that both manufacturers spent a lot of time to make sure the arms and suspension geometry were on point, and that it’s not tough to make it a competitive drift car. They only added in KW Club Sport coilovers and stiffened the chassis with a custom rollcage. In regards to the FA20, however, they are working on parts development and you can expect a turbo kit in the near future, both for offroad and street use. “Turbocharging [the FA20] isn’t as easy as the WRX/STI,” they say, “The configuration is different; where the turbo would normally be positioned is where the FR-S’ ECU and main engine harness is.”
As for the future of the Scion Racing GReddy FR-S, with round two of the 2012 Formula D season about to start (as of press time), we can be sure the road to victory won’t be entirely clear of obstruction—but the signs are looking great. GReddy is quick to point out that Ken Gushi’s “very focused and everyone’s positive and excited to have a shot at winning and a spot on a podium—we want to give him that opportunity the best we can.” The car is using everything that Toyota/Scion and Subaru has in their powers to provide and GReddy has stepped-up massively to take advantage of the opportunity. GReddy is also working on a second FR-S to help showcase more of what they can do with the FA20 and in both NA and turbo form. But the key point is that GReddy is doing what it can to succeed, saying “One key thing is that the entire car was built in-house at GPP with only two R&D techs. We spent a lot of hours on this, so it’s a testament to us as to how well the car did at its debut at Long Beach. Making the Top 8 is good for us; we couldn’t shoot too much higher. Ken’s getting more comfortable with the car and is pushing it more. His confidence is something that will pay off in the long run for sure.”
Scion Racing GReddy FR-S
Owner: Scion Racing/Greddy Performance
Driver: Ken Gushi
Hometown: Irvine, CA
Engine: Cosworth CS600 EJ25 engine; GReddy TD06SH-25G turbo, R-spec v-mounted intercooler and custom exhaust
Drivetrain: G Force GSR 4-speed transmission
Engine Management: Cosworth ECPro
Power: 600HP with 500lb-ft
Footwork & Chassis: KW 3-way adjustable Club Sport coilovers; GReddy rollcage and chassis prepep
Brakes: Custom GReddy braking system
Wheels & Tires: 17x9"/18x9.5" RAYS Gram Lights 57DR; 245/40R17 & 255/35R18 Hankook Ventus R-S3
Exterior: Scion Racing/GReddy Aero Kit
Interior: Sparco EVO seats
Thanks You: GReddy GPP staff; Steve Hatanaka & Craig Taguchi at Scion; Fred, Andrew & Joyce at Beyond Marketing; Paul Jho at Hankook; Eddie Lee & Steve Lim at Mackin Industries; Eric Hsu at Cosworth; Chris at KW; Ruben at Spin
WWW www.cosworth.com; greddy.com; kwautomotive.com; mackinindustries.com (RAYS); scionracing.com