The debut of the production Scion FR-S rear-wheel-drive sports coupe in 2012 wasn’t so much an expansion of the known vehicle universe as much as it was an enthusiast milestone. It had been years since anything of equal excitement had come down the pike, so to say driving fans and car lovers were eager for the athletic new platform codeveloped with Toyota and Subaru is an understatement. In fact, when the FR-S first dropped, demand was so pent up that dealerships could scarcely keep them in stock.
Hoping to get in on the ground floor of the zeitgeist, tuning mag siblings Import Tuner, Super Street, and Modified teamed up to present GarageFRS.com, a fan site dedicated primarily to the Scion. The site taps into each publication’s expertise and resources for news and information about the FR-S and to a lesser degree the Toyota 86/GT-86. Staffers also leveraged GarageFRS.com to source a project car, one that would eventually have to find its way to the 2012 SEMA Show.
In reality, the site’s FR-S went through at least three major revisions. Super Street got assigned interior and wheels, while Modified took over engine and performance duties, leaving the crew here at Import Tuner with exterior, braking, and suspension arenas. At the start, around June 2012 when the magazines took delivery of the Scion, they posted three different renderings on Facebook penned by Jon Sibal and asked visitors to let them know via “like” which they dug. After voting ended the clear winner was a so-called “Japanese Domestic Market (JDM) build”—but the ball didn’t get rolling on construction until a few other odds and ends were addressed.
New rubber was sourced from Falken Tire to replace the OEM donuts. Falken’s Azenis RT-615K competition DOT-approved tires offered a softer compound, stiffer sidewalls, larger blocks of tread, and a wider contact patch, even when sized the same as the Michelin Primacy HP summer tires (215/45R17) that come stock. Maybe the comparison is unfair—one is a street tire, the other essentially a track tire—but the added grip was needed for circuit work.
Evasive Motorsports mounted and balanced the new rubber, as well as strapped the car to the rollers of its Mustang dynamometer to get a baseline (this was with the Michelins). The FR-S reached peak horsepower of 160.8 at about 7,000 rpm. Torque came on early in the rev range and stuck around until roughly 6,500 rpm, peaking with 130.2 lb-ft at just about 4,850 rpm.
After a couple of weeks, the Garage FR-S Scion went back to the shop for more upgrades. The team began outside, installing JDM Toyota headlamps, clear side markers, and red 86 fender badges, parts all facilitated by Carson Toyota. In particular, the Toyota 86 headlights come LED and HID equipped, where the U.S. versions do not; the JDM version also boasts a self-leveling feature, but they chose not to hook it up since it’s set up for Japanese roads.
JDM lighting specialists Grazio & Co. customized the rear taillights by only spraying them red on the outer edges. Finally, for wheels and tires, Garage FR-S decided to go with SSR MS3 mesh wheels in a slightly staggered size. Fronts were 18x8 +37mm while the rears measured 18x9 +37mm. Nitto NT05 tires resided on all four corners, sized at 225/40R18 in front and 235/40R18 in back.
The exterior mods listed up to now are largely considered a Stage 1 tweak, but for Stage 2 the guys at Garage FR-S wanted to go big—widebody big. Enter TRA Kyoto, designers of the Rocket Bunny aero kit for the 86; Greddy was able to nab one for this project and ship it to the United States from Japan. The kit includes a one-piece front lip spoiler, side skirts, front and rear over-fenders, bumper trim, one-piece rear under diffuser, and GT wing, all made in fiber-reinforced plastic (FRP).
As for the color, Import Tuner Editor Charles Trieu and the guys at The Shop Automotive in Culver City, who performed the body and paintwork, went back and forth on several iterations before deciding on this one-off shade of green.
Since the new fender flares are visually incompatible with the SSR wheel/Nitto tire combination, the running gear was swapped out again. With the popularity of BBS LM wheels on Japanese cars these days, they decided to take it a step further with BBS’s motorsport wheel, the E88. These were custom ordered with a white face with polished lip in 18x10 and 18x11.5. Adding the cherry on top, optional red BBS center caps were ordered from Japan.
The E88s are wrapped in Toyo Proxes RS1 full slick competition tires, mounted and balanced. In front, the FR-S is flossing 245/640R18 rubber, and out back the rears roll on superwide, gently stretched 285/650R18s. To push the wheels out further, 15mm spacers were also installed.
The cabin of the FR-S does its best to emulate a proper race car. For seating, Recaro Profi SPG bucket seats rest on top of the Nagisa Auto ’rails. Other changes consist of a suede-wrapped Momo Mod 78 steering wheel, Splash steering wheel hub adapter, and Safety 21 five-point, LHD rollbar.
Cusco helped brace the FR-S chassis with a host of its products, namely front and rear Type OS strut tower bars and an engine room brace. Instead of using typical round tubing the Type OS is made up of an oval shaft center, allowing for less flex than round tubing. To further strengthen the bar, Cusco designed the Type OS with a small groove on each side. The forward brace also features a Brake Cylinder Stopper, a neat fitting that stiffens pedal feel.
Each corner of the FR-S was the source of considerable attention. Starting with the suspension, KW provided a set of its Variant 3 (V3) coilovers for the coupe, chosen because they permit a few levels of tunability in the handling department, allowing suspension settings to be matched to whatever wheel/tire combo the car runs. Stopping power is significantly ungraded with front and rear AP Racing big brakes sourced from Stillen, and racing-bred extended lug studs from ARP were pressed in.
The point of changing the car more than once was to illustrate some of the FR-S’s tuning potential. This was especially evident underhood, where Garage FR-S partnered with HKS to explore both naturally aspirated and forced induction options for the modestly powered sports car.
As it sits, the Garage FR-S Scion is blown with an HKS GT supercharger system, but before that the crew had installed at first a Premium Suction intake and then HKS’s Racing Suction setup. To aid in the outflow of spent gases, the Scion was outfitted with HKS’s lightweight Hi-Power Spec-L cat-back exhaust system, stainless header, and stainless front pipe. A Koyorad radiator keeps the high-strung Scion running cool, while a Cusco oil catch can helps deal with blow-by gases and oil mist.
As one might expect, the engine truly comes alive under boost. This prototype GT kit makes in the ballpark of 28 percent more power (201 hp and 176 lb-ft of torque by our testing) and improves the Scion’s critical power-to-weight ratio. HKS says they will be playing with different pulleys for more boost on the production version of the GT Supercharger kit.
Getting the Garage FR-S Scion to this point has been a long and curious journey, and as a project car for three magazines, it still has plenty of life to go. It’s impossible to judge if the choices made so far have been the right ones, but an encouraging sign is all the love and attention the car got at the 2012 SEMA Show (it was the only Rocket Bunny–clad FR-S that was green). One thing we know for sure, the story of this car’s build has been covered like few others, informing an enthusiast community—via GarageFRS.com—that is quickly lining up to make this new “86” as indelible as the last.
Behind The Build
Source Interlink Media (Import Tuner/Super Street/Modified)
Aftermarket Media Specialist
Our readers and the sport
2013 Scion FR-S (ZN6)
Power: 201 whp / 176 lb-ft of torque
Engine 2.0L 4-cylinder boxer 4U-GSE; HKS GT Supercharger (prototype), Hi-Power Spec-L cat-back exhaust, stainless exhaust manifold, stainless front pipe; Cusco oil catch can; Koyo radiator
Suspension KW Variant 3 coilovers; Cusco Type OS front/rear strut tower bars, Engine Room Power Brace
Brakes Stillen; AP Racing 6-pot front and 4-pot rear calipers, two-piece big brake kit
Wheels/Tires BBS E88 wheels with optional JDM red centercaps 18x10 +3 front, 18x11.5 -4 rear (track); SSR Professor MS-3 18x8 +37 front, 18x9 +37 rear (street); Nitto NT05 245/40-18 front, 285/35-18 rear (street); Toyo RS1 245/640-18 front, 285/650-18 rear (track); ARP extended wheel studs; Buddy Club racing lug nuts; H&R TRAK+ wheel spacers (15mm rear)
Exterior Greddy X Rocket Bunny aero kit, spoiler, and optional rear LED diffuser brake lights; JDM LED Toyota 86 headlights; JDM OEM Toyota 86 clear side marker lights; JDM OEM Toyota 86 side emblems; Grazio & Co. red taillights; Beat-Sonic antenna; custom green paint blend by The Shop Automotive
Interior Safety 21 lefthand-drive–specific 5-point rollbar; TRD shift knob; Recaro Profi SPG seats; Nagisa Auto (NAMS) seat rails; Momo Mod 78 steering wheel; Splash steering wheel hub