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Scion tC - Tech Scene

Robert Choo
Jul 1, 2004
Turp_0407_02_z+scion_tc+tech_scene_article Photo 1/1   |   Scion tC - Tech Scene

Scion, the descedant of Toyota, is at it again. It's in the midst of unveiling its third model, the tC (xC was taken already by Volvo, which screwed up Scion's entire game plan). Unlike the funky xA and xB, the tC is a pedestrian-looking, two-door sedan. Scion is aiming at the older, middle-America crowd with this model, but it still has plenty of features attractive to us tuners.

Turbo once again was selected by Scion to preview and wrench on the tC before it's released stateside. We got our hands on one of only two preproduction vehicles in the United States. In conjunction with Performance Dealer Options (PDO) of Irwindale, Calif., we're building up the tC the best we can in a short timespan.

At first sight of the tC, we noticed the Euro-looking fat front end, similar to a 7 Series BMW. The back end, slightly less attractive, looks like a Saturn ION or Acura TL-pretty much like any ol' rear end on a sedan these days. One of the strongest exterior features of the tC is its all-glass roof, so backseat passengers can enjoy their own sunroof, too. Also looking good on the stock vehicle are the 17-inch alloy wheels, and the bucket-like sport seats are appealing as well.

Not to be outdone by the looks of the tC, there are 160 ponies hiding under the hood. We, of course, immediately tested the power on the street (I'm sure that's exactly what Scion had in mind when it handed us the keys to its $1 million-insured preproduction vehicle) and were pleasantly surprised by its handling and quick responsiveness.

After surveying the tC, we had to decide our game plan for fixing it up-top to bottom, inside and out-in a mere three weeks. Scion plans to unveil Turbo and PDO's Project tC at the SEMA International Auto Salon in Long Beach, Calif. Three weeks is nowhere near enough time to build up an entire car. This is especially true if the car is brand-new and there are no available parts for it.

Unlike the xA and xB, which were long available in Japan prior to their U.S. arrival, the tC isn't a Japanese car. More likely a European model of Toyota's, the tC doesn't have ready-made performance upgrades available. Since there are no U.S.-based Japanese companies with parts for our Scion, we were left scratching our heads as to how to fix up our tC. With ample time, we could put on a body kit, etc., but this isn't an option, unfortunately. It's been a sleepless few weeks.

First on our game plan was installing some Tein springs and coil-overs, giving the tC a sumo-squatting stance. We then sent it off to Duran's body shop in West Covina, Calif., where it's currently being painted Japanese-spec blue to match its brothers, our projects xA and xB. (I was going to say brother and sister, but I didn't want the xA to feel bad.) After the tC is freshly painted, we'll replace the stock seats with some slick holding monsters, the hallmark Bride gradation striped buckets with matching backseats and door panels.

Also in the works is a custom turbo kit by Turbonetics of Simi Valley, Calif. Since we supercharged our xA and xB, we decided to go the turbo route this time. The turbo kit will be a one-off customization incorporating a long-runner stainless-steel tubular turbo manifold mated to a T4/T3 ball-bearing turbocharger. Linked by polished aluminum intercooler piping, cooling chores will be handled by a massive GT-R-sized front-mount air-to-air intercooler.

Rounding things out will be 19-inch custom-made wheels by Speed Star Racing. If you thought the xA looked bad-ass, wait until you see the 19x9-inch wheels we plan to stick underneath the tC's wheel arches. We just hope they land on the docks in time. Sitting pretty behind the spoke wheels is a massive brake-and-rotor combo from Wilwood Engineering. Did we mention all this must be done in 21 days?

Well, that's it for now. It'll be a busy three weeks, so we'll see what actually happens-plans always change as obstacles inevitably arise. When it comes to cars, especially, nothing ever works out exactly as you planned. (Or at least it always takes longer than you planned!)

We'll do our best. After it's completed, we'll show you how the tC turned our in the pages of Turbo. Until then, my boss and wife, take note-you won't see me for a month!

For more information on the Scion tC, visit its Web site at

By Robert Choo
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