“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.