Project Scion FR-S Part One

Project Scion FR-S Part One – An Introduction

By Mike Kojima


27 years ago I bought the first new car in my whole life, a red Toyota AE86 GTS Corolla hatch.  It was in 1985, I was in my last semester of College and I was working as an intern at TRD.  A whole new world was ahead of me.  It was perhaps the most exciting period in my life and the AE86 was the car for those days, it probably influenced who I eventually became as much as anything else.  The AE86 was inexpensive, economical, good looking and its twin cam 16 valve 4AG engine was quite advanced for the time.  What ended up making the AE86 an iconic car was that it (and the Nissan S chassis) was one of the last RWD compacts made.  I had a lot of fun with that car and wish I had never sold it.

Fast forward to the present day.  The small car market has turned into a dreary morass of economy car crap piles.  Toyota, Honda and Nissan had seemingly abandoned the small performance car market in the 90's and each successive generation of their once beloved compact car nameplates became more and more boring and economical with a capitol E.  Gone were the sporty GTS Corollas and the new generations of Civic Si and Sentra SE-R became further and further away from their once appealing and sporty roots.   A lack of an affordable and desirable compact cars for young and young at heart people is probably one of the biggest reasons for the decline in the Compact Car performance market.

So far it seems like only one manufacturer saw that there was a pent up demand for something entirely new in this market.  They saw that young people cherished their ancient AE86's and Nissan S chassis.  They saw that many cars on the Formula Drift circuit were these older cars and that the cars themselves had many fans.  They understood that many people still want and appreciate the driving dynamics of a RWD platform.  The manufacturer was Scion, Toyota's youth brand and they formed a consortium with Subaru to bring a new radically different compact car to market, the Scion FR-S and its sister, the Subaru BR-Z.

We feel that this is a landmark car that will breathe a breath of fresh air into our stagnant market.  Of course we had to get one.  Follow us in our adventures with this car starting now!


For our FR-S road test click here!


Here is my old AE86.  Unfortunately I don't have many pictures of it as I was not really into taking them and an old girlfriend who took all of my car pictures at that time took the pictures with her when she dumped me.  My AE86 was a GTS model with a 5 speed T50 transmission and a limited slip differential.  As you can see I had some JDM Weds wheels in this picture with Yokohama A008 tires.  Later I replaced these with Hayashi 504's with Yokohama AVS Intermediate tires.  I also had full TRD GT suspension, Trueno side skirts and OG Hella fog lights which were the shit back in the day.  I painted the mirrors and rear wing to match the body which I thought was cool.  Later I replaced the bumpers with Trueno parts which saved about 50 lbs.  I sold the bumpers separately when I sold the car years later.  I had bought the car for $8500 brand new and sold it 7 years later for $9700.  At the time I needed money for my Z32TT but I wish I hadn't done it now.


I had the JDM Sprinter taillights and an HKS exhaust.  I was pretty JDM back then even though the term JDM was ten years from being coined. Later I swapped the quiet HKS exhaust for a louder Trust (Greddy).  Man I miss this car! This photo was taken in the back of TRD's original office in Gardena.  Now it's the used car department of Gardena Toyota.


My engine.  The 4AG was modded by me and had TRD Group N 272 cams and timing gears with the lobe centers screwed down to 98/100.  The thing hardly idled.  It had a TRD header that I designed (when I became an engineer there).  I built a ram air system to pressurize the stock air box at speed and tweaked with the flapper air flow meter to get it to idle and open farther at WOT.  It had TRD spark plug wires and a TRD Group N ECU.  I also ran the injectors from the 22RET Turbo truck which were a gigantic 250cc.  Check out the TRD factory Group N strut tower braces.  This was before any company made anything like that!  I also had a hidden nitrous system.  The car ran 14.7@ 92 mph in the quarter on the motor and 13.9@ 100 mph on the bottle.  I bet it made 120 whp on the motor and 165 whp with NOS.  In a 2400 lb car it was not too shabby and deadly at the street races back then, a sleeper that won a lot of low dollar races and frequently paid for our food at Carrows.


 The interior had a JDM TRD steering wheel and short shifter (probably the first ever marketed) and old school billet RAZO pedals.  Look at the supportive stock seats with adjustable bolsters and the squeeze bulb blood pressure thingie that adjusted the lumbar support.  This was trick stuff before Nike Air.  I was rocking a Stereo out of a MA70 Supra, double DIN with a big amp and EQ built right in.  It fit in perfect, I just had to get rid of the cubby below the radio.  The knob on the lower left of the dash was a resistor in the coolant temp sensor line.  With old school ECU's you could fine tune the mixture like this.  Adding resistance richened the mixture and advanced the base timing.  Since there were no chassis dynos that were good for tuning back then (Claytons were crap), I tuned by noting MPH to distance.  I would mark off a couple of light poles distance, drive into my speed trap at a consistent rpm, floor it and note my mph at the end of a pull.  I twiddled the knob to get the best results.  It really worked!  Later my friend who was an electronic tech at Hughes Aircraft came up with a stealth version that used the radio tuner to adjust the mixture.  Then it was tune to the right channel for power.  I had the first channel preset button in the exact right place!  I am not kidding.  This was useful for both street racing and SCCA showroom stock!  We never got caught in either.


So here we are 27 years later!  Rick Burgess, the Fleet Manager of Norwalk Toyota/Scion was the only dealer that was willing to both: Sell us a car for MSRP and help us find one with a six speed manual transmission.  The FR-S is in such high demand in our area most dealers are asking for $5000-7000 over MSRP by stacking them full of dealer installed options.  Rick was super friendly and helpful and more than willing to work with us where the other dealers we spoke to blew us off.  If you want a new Toyota/Scion we highly recommend him!


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