I couldn’t help but chuckle at the responses we got on Speedhunters’ Instagram channel after I posted a few pictures of the Weld Techniques Factory Scion FR-S earlier this week. The comments made me laugh because so many people assumed that this was another FR-S with a Rocket Bunny kit. But oh boy, that couldn’t be further from the truth…
The way I see it, there are two approaches to this whole tuning thing. You have the shops that go out of their way to be the first at everything – they get the latest models and before you know it they have whipped out a full aero kit, slammed the car and outfitted it with some nice wheels ready to display at some big show. That’s great and everything, but then there are others like Johnny at Weld.
I’ve known this guy for years, and I’ve always been a great fan of his work. This is a man that settles for nothing less than utter perfection – time is irrelevant to Johnny. If a car is going to take a couple of years to put together, he’ll just do it – that’s how he’s managed to build a reputation for himself. Weld has always meant top-level quality in my and many other people’s eyes, and there’s no cutting corners when you’re trying to achieve this level of respect.
It took over one year to get this FR-S ready, and by ready I mean drivable. Much like Johnny, I too took my time with it. We saw it in all its detail at the Tokyo Auto Salon back in January, and I could have shot it after that. But I didn’t. No way! Back then the car’s engine was still being set up so it couldn’t be started, let alone driven. Johnny told me it would be no problem to trailer the Scion to a location of my choice, but I said no. I knew I had to wait, because I wanted to see this thing roll up to the shoot under its own power.
With the sheer time and effort that Johnny and his crew put into this build, the least I could do was put a proper feature together – and in my book at least, that means including rolling shots. I know you guys just wouldn’t have been satisfied if I showed you a bunch of static images of the car either – this thing deserves the full treatment!
Patience is indeed a virtue, and I’m so glad I waited. Because earlier in the week I had a chance to meet with Johnny and dedicate a whole afternoon to his creation. This has to be – without a shred of a doubt – the ultimate and most meticulously-constructed ZN6 on the planet.
And to make the whole car even more special in Japan, Johnny based all of this work on a US-spec left-hand drive Scion, rather than a JDM Toyota.
Cutting corners isn’t part of Johnny’s repertoire, so before anyone thinks it, what you are seeing here aren’t FRP fenders moulded onto a stock body with putty. The entire fender sections are steel, and they’ve been crafted in the old fashioned way – cut out, shaped around a wire frame and slowly hand-beaten to follow the contours that were required.
The bodywork side of the equation was actually a collaboration with Nishino Body Repair up in Ibaraki, where the car stayed for a good six months. Johnny actually taught the guys at Nishino how to go about the whole procedure – something he has done countless times in the past with previous builds. This meant lots of travel back and forth from his shop in Yokohama a couple of times a week to slowly shape the car.
The goal was to create the ultimate FR-S street car – one that combined everything into a well-rounded package: looks, stance, comfort and performance. And you just can’t rush something like this…
You need to take your time to fully take in all the custom work here, because like with a lot of things that just look ‘good’, the subtle details are the ones that took the longest to get right.Metalwork: A Dying Art
Back to the fenders… First up, they had to match the preset widening that was decided upon – something that starts off on the bumper, which was widened with the same plastic the OEM Toyota component is made of – no FRP here. A small indentation highlight was also pressed around the extremity of the line – another little custom touch to set things off. The metal work on the fender itself extends all the way down to the skirt section, which is integrated and again made out of metal. All of this was shaped around the 19-inch Work XSA 04C rims, a wheel that Johnny actually collaborated on with Work Wheels during the design and development process.
The driver’s side of the car shows off the same model wheel, but with an anodized bronze rim section that adds even more contrast against the custom body colour.
Hiding behind those mirror-like spokes are another important detail – the brakes. These are Project µ’s first monoblock calipers, 6-pot items that have been etched with Weld’s logo and signature tribal motif.
That same design is actually machined into the 380mm 2-piece rotors, where they act as slots to help keep the pads clean for optimal performance.
Then there is the rear section of the car, and this is where things get complicated. Look at the car in isolation and you might not even notice it, but parked next to a stock FR-S/86/BRZ/GT86 it doesn’t take much to figure out that Johnny really went full-out to enhance the body’s profile. Pretty much the entire stock rear fender was cut out and reshaped from scratch, taking that stock hip line crease above the wheel arch and making it more evident. Then a parallel curve was created, originating from the actual wheel arch curvature and extending all the way down into the side skirt. Everything you see is metal.
The widened rear fenders perfectly accommodate the 19×11.5-inch-25 offset XSA wheels, much in the same way the fronts where shaped around 19×10.5-inch -19 versions. Laser etching on the barrel is a giveaway that this isn’t an ‘out of the catalogue’ wheel.
The rear gets some pretty serious brakes too. The stock, budget slide-type calipers the FR-S comes with have been replaced with Project µ 4-pot calipers and 355mm rotors with that recognisable Weld tribal grooved pattern again.
The car sits low – as low as anyone would want a street car to sit. Yet Johnny made sure it wouldn’t end up with too much negative camber – rather just enough to balance looks and performance. Those of you that know your rubber will recognise the tyre of choice here: Yokohama ADVAN Neova AD08s with the ‘R’ compound for extra grip.
There is a lot of work that went into making sure the rear bumper had the right sort of look too – specifically the way it tucks in and matches up to the rear fender treatment, and the way it’s finished off with a one-off under diffuser made by Nishino Body Repair. Then there’s the colour of course – a House of Kolor Candy Apple over metallic silver highlights to really make it pop on the hand-sculpted fenders.NA All The Way
You can spend years on a car and make it look incredible, but if there is no substance to it – nothing mechanically special to make it really stand out – well, that would only be half the job done. Obviously there was no way Johnny was going to leave the FA20 stock, nor follow what seems to be the norm with these engines by bolting on a turbocharger or supercharger. In his mind the car came NA, so it should stay NA.
Well hats off to Johnny, because what he came up with is as commendable as you can get. The 2.0L boxer engine might not have all the power in the world, but what it lacks in numbers it makes up for in everything else!
The work started when the heads were pulled off the block for a clean up. The first set of modifications are all about improving response – something an NA engine should have bucket loads of, but something that the stock FA20 doesn’t really have due to modern day engine management and emission controls. So that meant throwing the cheap and nasty plastic intake manifold in the bin and fabricating a one-off crossed item from aluminium piping. Onto this Johnny bolted Toyota AE111 4A-GE mechanical throttle bodies with a set of billet velocity stacks. And check out the XSA RC wheel mounted onto the throttle shaft! 380cc/min injectors from a 1JZ were then mated to a pair of custom fuel rails. The whole set up is controlled by a Vi-Pec ECU, which Trust fitted and then tuned. This was actually the biggest headache of all, as the wiring and setting-up of the quad throttle conversion turned out to be a real nightmare. But Johnny and the guys got there in the end and the car sounds and feels impressive.
The engine dumps gasses into a Trust stainless steel manifold and then onto an Amuse twin-exit titanium exhaust, which enhances that new-found raspiness of the engine and combines it with a deep underlying tone.
For the moment it all adds up to around 210hp, but there is much more to come in the future, like a bump in capacity, hot cams and some serious head work.
Like the rear, the front has received a subtle under spoiler with integrated down-turned winglets on each side to add a finishing touch to the car’s presence.
It’s hard to pick which of the two colour combos work best on the Work wheels, but under the fading late afternoon light the bronze side certainly stood out more to me.
And how can I possibly not say anything about the Voltex carbon rear wing! The ‘swan-neck’ wing stays are something we will be seeing a lot more of in the future as aero makers continue to emulate what is happening in the racing world.
The design interferes less with the air flowing over and under the wing, which generates less turbulence and therefore boosts its efficiency.
To stiffen the two mounting points on the stock trunk lid, Voltex created a moulded trim piece that prevents the lid from flexing – or even caving in- once the wing starts doing its job at speed.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with the FR-S’s cabin, which is precisely why Johnny only upgraded the essentials.
So joining the two Sparco seats – which feature red stitching to match the stock stitching around the interior – is a nice and chunky Sparco suede-wrapped steering wheel. Boom, job done!
We have seen many ZN6s in a variety of flavours since the car’s release a couple of years ago, but out all of them, this is the one that has made the greatest impression on me. That’s probably because I respect substance the most – something the Weld Techniques FR-S has absolutely no shortage of!
Dino Dalle Carbonare
My car got backed into while it was parked near the sidewalk. The front fender got smashed in rather severely. This is affecting the wheels from turning. Is there any way that I can have an auto body repairman do a house call?
Very refreshing. Stands out from all the Rocket Bunny's left right and center for sure. I wonder how many hours of labor he's put in this project for the body work to stand out the way it does.
The road less traveled turns out to be very rewarding! Very refreshing to see an NA; driving a turbo car makes you appreciate quick response.
Even after a lot of consideration, I'm not sure if I like the spoke design. I was unable to fault any other part of the car! Hopefully it's like a fine wine and gets better with age.
The car is truly a functional work of art. You've got a great eye Dino.
@bluestreaksti Thank you kind Sir!:)
This is amazing. So much inspiration comes from this, and in true build fashion; it's never done!
Are there any videos of this thing? I'd love to hear the notes that come from that exhaust system.
@Slinger I'll get some video once the engine is upgraded, it'll be more fun then :D
This is so much win. Best FRS ever imo. Can't wait for the hotter NA motor. They could very well end up being the front-runners to something amazing there as I have not seen anybody get serious about that little motor without adding some sort of Forced-Induction.
@Merc TRD have this let's not forget:
i looked up candy apple red by house of kolor, and unless the metallic undercoating makes that big of a difference, then you have the color wrong. Its a much more vibrate red. this is almost maroon. But hey im no paint expert
@CharlesChris15 the undercoat makes al the difference. You see the highlights around the wheel arches? Those were made by spraying light metallic silver underneath
That little wheel on the throttle shaft! hahah Almost looks like it should be running a belt, this car is amazing. For all those supercars that had bolted on kits, this could have happened to them instead...unless they had crabon fiber bodies? Great article once again, I love how they used the FR-S too!
at first, i just glanced over this article. Another FRS with a massive spoiler, but today i actually took the time to read this. and i feel very dumb. MAD respect for the handcrafted metalwork, makes me smile and inspires me that someone didn't just throw on some RB flares and call it a finished project. bravo!
@Jake d haha glad you came back to have a proper look!
@Jake d Same here dude
I seriously admire anyone who is dedicated enough to go the hand-crafted route. I admire them even more when it is so flawlessly executed! Amazing work.
All that work, all those sweet parts....throw all the performance out the window with stretch tires and obnoxious camber. what a waste.
@munichm3 With decent grip ~3 degrees is practical and a little stretch (the contact patch won't be negatively affected by what this car has) feels really good to me, adds to response. I know it's cool to bash stance / wheels / fenders right now but you need to find a more worthy target.
@Pancakes looks pretty stancy to me.
That's how I want my bodywork: melds and blends seamlessly with the stock body and looks like a Man on Wire performance between GT1-wide and house custom.
@UWerqxTeam_MJ If costs weren't an option I'm sure most people would want to go this route
I can't call this an over-fender job, as he didn't put something over the fender... he recreated it. Double points for the style and the finish... remarkable.
Good job that you waited Dino, the car is fantastic even with only 210hp!
@Kirk_B Yep and going to get even grater soon!
You speak at least three languages, so I'm not complaining! You do a fantastic job of writing outside your native tongue, in a country where few speak English, none the less Italian! Appreciate the efforts
WoW, this is how it should work a car,,, love the dedication and the small details that make this Scion be great!
Nice article Dino :D
@FickertJose Thank you Sir!:)
It's making a comeback soon ;)
As much as I can't stand 86's, I can overlook the model of vehicle and appreciate the work, skill, time and effort that has gone into it! Beautiful!!!
*kinda* related, Metalwork-wise, here's progress pics of a Sallet Helmet being made to fit my particular head...hand beaten/forged by the Talented man Stanislav in the Czech republic. I find this sort of thing - as with Curves in Cars formed from Steel - to be utterly amazing to see being done. Real skill.
@keyboardrosak Yep, a pan in the behind to tune for no real benefit ...
This is stunning! I hate to imagine how many hours went into shaping the bodywork on it, the end result is amazing though, and I especially love the small details that have been incorporated into the bodywork, such a clean, tidy package.
@JoshuaWhitcombe 6 months of work!!
gotta appreciate the work involved in not following everyone else and to pull it off the way they have is awesome, easily one of the top 86s around atm. you guys should definitely do a follow up after the extra engine work including video haha if possible
Really good job ! It would has been well to see the project from the beginning with all the work done on it.
I really like this.
This is a barely relevant question but speaking of cool 86s, last year (or earlier this year?) you had a couple of pics of either a ZN or a ZC with (I think) an EZ30 swapped into it. Was there ever any more info/feature on that car?
@Slappy Pistons Ah yes at last year's 86 event in Fuji. No no more info on that thing, but it sounded awesome!
Meaby the coolest FRS so far on the Speedhunters, not too mutch, no overkill.
Thank you @Dino Dalle Carbonare for the article.
Heavily agree with you Dino, this thing is an amazing looking car and for me this is a clear winner over other styles
Metal work isn't a dying art..... Just not a lot of people doing it as a main income job anymore. I know several people in the Dallas, Texas area that do beautiful metal work and tig welding. The only reason I see it as a dying art is the lack of people willing to pay well for such work.
@JordanKinberg That's very true too