Sometimes opportunities come by chance, and some come by knowing the right people. For Chris Basselgia, I’m not sure how he got the chance to compete in this year’s Scion FR-S Tuner Challenge, but for me, I had the opportunity to shoot this Minty FReSh beast by knowing the right people.
It’s no surprise that I like the FR-S/BRZ. If you recall, I got the chance to drive the Subaru variation of it a few months ago and it definitely caught my attention. When I drove that BRZ through the backroads of Maryland, just outside of Baltimore, I got a good sense of how the car handled and how it could benefit from a few upgrades. I know a lot of you have been thinking the same as well. Fortunately for me, the same guys that let me drive their BRZ also allowed me to see this Minty FR-S.
But let’s get to what this Scion FR-S Tuner Challenge is all about. In it’s eighth straight year, Scion USA hands three builders (or tuners, if you prefer) the keys to a brand new, bone stock Scion car and $15,000 to modify, accessorize and customize it however they’d like. The catch? You have exactly 90 days to wow the world when they are unveiled at the SEMA show in Las Vegas, NV. Winner takes a check for $10,000 and the bragging rights to say they won the Scion Tuner Challenge.
This year, the lucky three builders were Daniel Song of Orange County, CA, John Toca of Chicago, IL, and Chris Basselgia of Lebanon, PA. Each builder had to stretch out that $15k, make the car they originally rendered and submitted to Scion USA and do it all under just three short months.
Fortunately for me, I got a text from IAG Performance head honcho, JJ Jabaji, asking if I’d be interested in taking a few photos of the project car to which I quickly obliged. I arrived literally just a few days before the car was to be taken by transport to Las Vegas for the SEMA show. IAG was contacted for their obvious expertise in boxer motors, and building turbocharged boxer motors was a game that they were very good with. The problem was, that’s what people were expecting. I mean think about it, if you heard that a Subaru specific performance shop was building an FR-S/BRZ’s motor, it would be natural to assume they would turbocharge that car to hell and back. That was a given. But SEMA is a place to show off what is possible with the right imagination, know-how and determination.
On the outside, the first and most obvious thing that grabs your eyeballs is the Mint Chocolate Chip color. I say mint chocolate chip because the mint green color of the body mixes quite well with the chocolatey goodness of the Rotiform SNA wheels and smoked out headlights. The Rotiforms, sized 19×9.5 in the front and 19×10 in the rear are finished in a matte root beer finish with a highly polished lip to go with the Mint Chocolate chip theme. Nineteen inch wheels may sound extreme, but when the car sits as low as this FR-S thanks to the Airlift suspension, no one seems to mind. It’s crazy to see the car literally rise as soon as you turn on the ignition switch as if it were KITT in Knight Rider and he was ready to roll out.
The FR-S has a very aggressive look to it in the OEM body lines, and Chris wanted to accentuate the lines without destroying them. I would have to agree with him here, as part of the reason why I’m so drawn to these cars is the overall styling. Chris’s reasoning for the overall look of the car is best explained by the man himself, “I approached this challenge with the goal to build something unique, functional and what I would want to drive,” which is to say, something that appeals on a very street car level.
That also meant that Basselgia wanted power to match the looks. All three entrants were supercharged, something no one expected. Two of the FR-S’s had Vortech Superchargers, but only one Scion had what basically set this car far apart from the others, a custom, one off water-to-air intercooled, Eaton based Supercharger complete with a billet CNC intake manifold made by the wizards at IAG Performance. The idea, as Jabaji describes, “is to make this supercharger/intake manifold so easy to bolt on, it could be installed in a backyard with some hand tools and a few hours by anyone that can turn a wrench”. The idea was simple enough, and with the internet screaming that Toyota/Subaru should have made the car with more power, IAG listened and decided to make a Supercharger kit that is nearly as efficient as a turbo setup and to make it easy for the end user to install. Power numbers are still a mystery as the Supercharger was literally installed a day before the transport came to snatch it up for Scion, but the early estimates are somewhere near the 50-60whp range, a respectable bump up to make the lightweight FR car fly while maintaining drivability.
The car was officially unveiled last week during a Scion promo party in Vegas, and this week was crowned the “Hottest Sport Compact of the 2012 SEMA show” which is apparent after walking through the vast space of the Las Vegas Convention Center. So how did Chris fair? He won first place for his entry with John Toca taking second and Daniel Song taking third place. All three cars had their own personality that was shown and as Daniel Song told me, “people’s posts seem to be all over the place… so i love that the cars are pretty dynamic, and people are all reacting dynamically to it”. So they say, “different strokes for different folks”, and I would agree, everyone had their own favorite, and hopefully we will be seeing what the aftermarket industry holds for our beloved FR-S/BRZ when Ervin returns from his drunk nights at SEMA!
IAG Performance Billet CNC Intake Manifold
Eaton M62 Roots Supercharger
IAG Performance Water to Air Intercooler Located Inside Billet Manifold
Bosch Cobra Water Pump For Intercooler
Frozen Boost Heat Exchanger
(2) Frozen Boost 12” 900CFM Electric Fans
IAG PerformanceT304 Stainless Steel Exhaust System w/ Dual Oval 3.5” Exit
IAG Performance Polished Water Tank
IAG Performance Polished Coolant Overflow Tank
IAG Performance Polished Intake system and MAF Housing
19×9.5” Rotiform Super Concave 3-Piece SNA Wheels (Front)
19×10” Rotiform Super Concave 3-Piece SNA Wheels (Rear)
Matte Root Beer Finish w/ Polished Lip
Falken FK453 Tires – 225/35ZR19
Airlift FR-S Double Bellow Air Struts
Airlift Auto Pilot V2 Digital Control System w/ 4 Corner Control
5 Gallon Air Tank
Neo Motorsports 6-Piston Calipers w/ Neo Chrome Finish (Front)
Neo Motorsports 4-Piston Calipers w/ Neo Chrome Finish (Rear)
Neo Motorsports 14” C-Slot Race Rotors (Front)
Neo Motorsports 13” C-Slot Race Rotors (Rear)
Neo Motorsports Braided Stainless Brake Lines
Body and Paint by RMiller Autobody
BASF Fresh Mint and Matte Root Beer Paint
Juevos Designed/RMiller Produced Molded “Lipster” Lip Kit
RMiller Autobody Molded Duck Bill Spoiler
RMiller Autobody Rear Diffuser w/ Center Exit Exhaust
IAG Performance Diffuser Exhaust Trim
Wiper Delete and Smoothed Rain Tray
Mild Smoothed Engine Bay
Shaved Center Grill
RMiller Autobody Side Brake Vents w/ Lateral Slats
APR Race Mirrors
Red Tinted Brake Lights
Yellow Font Turn Signals/Marker Lights
Vinyl Partner Graphics by Advert Graphix
Custom Leather Re-Trim by BK Rodz
Distressed Leather and Black Ostrich Leather Provided by Roden Leather
Shaved Rear Deck
Arm Pads added to Rear Panel
Custom Rear Panel Speaker Grill
IAG Titanium Shift Knob
Floor Mats Trimmed with Distressed Leather
Stewart Warner Gauges: Boost, EGT, and Volt
Nardi Classic 360mm Wood Grain Steering Wheel w/ Chrome Spokes
NR-G Quick Release Steering Wheel Hub
Sony XAV-601BT Double DIN Touch Screen Head Unit
JL Audio HD750/1 Amplifier
JL Audio HD600/4 Amplifier
(2) JL Audio 10W7 Sub Woofers
(4) JL Audio 6W3 Mid Bass Sub Woofers
JL Audio Power/Audio/Speaker Wiring and Fuse Blocks
Optima Yellow Top Battery
Special thanks to LowLifestyles and Squeaky Clean!
Bonus! Check out the videos of all three contestants here: