Scion Tuner Challenge</br> The Build: Part 1
Day 1: Tear It Down

We’ve previously touched on different aspects of our MAXIMUM ATTACK FR-S build, but until now we haven’t shown you the full blown Scion Tuner Challenge build in all its detail.

Since I have loads of photos, I decided it’s best to split the build into three installments, each covering roughly one month of the three-month project. Looking at the calendar, I split the build into three stages too: engine bay, body and paint and final assembly.


I was full of nerves the day the car was dropped off, not only because of the challenge ahead, but also because Scion had sent a camera crew to document the delivery. I didn’t just have to build the car, I also had to pull myself together and represent Speedhunters to the best of my ability with a camera in my face.


Fortunately, the video guys were extremely cool and made it easy to talk to the camera. In an interesting twist, I learned that Brandon, the main guy who was doing the filming, actually competed in the Scion Tuner Challenge a few years back. He built an xB, so could relate to the pressures I was feeling.


Knowing that 90 days would be over all too soon, I tore into the car immediately. Our plan was to shave the engine bay first, even though our livery wasn’t completely decided on and the power adder was up in the air too. Fortunately we had you, the readers, to help us by voting on the look.


Honestly, the tight deadline was a blessing in disguise to me. While I spent eight long years building my Kaiser and sweating over every last detail, this timeline would force me to be efficient and decisive. I knew the engine had to come out, so we just got on with it and ripped all the front sheetmetal off the car.


We worked quickly, cataloging all the parts as they came off the FR-S. The work happened in three to six hour chunks, because my main helper Travis and I were both working our jobs for the first half of the day. We then met in the afternoon nearly every day for a good Scion Tuner Challenge thrash.


The 4U-GSE was yanked immediately.


Our goal was to strip the engine bay, but with a wiring harness that’s integrated with the chassis and a heater core that was in the way, much of the interior had to come out at the same time.


I was shooting photos for the forthcoming build stories, and also to document how everything was assembled, just in case we ran into a snag when putting it all back together.


I didn’t expect to pull out the dash at the beginning of the build, but it had to go in order to pluck that massive heater core and shave the firewall. I had a wrestling match with the heater core late one night so I could weld up the holes in the firewall. Guess who won.


As I stripped the engine bay I would text pictures to Chase McMaster from Chasebays to ask if I should remove this or that. Here you can see how the engine wiring passes through the firewall into the interior, necessitating the removal of the dash to pull the entire harness out.


We just kept ripping and tearing, until most of the interior was gone and the harness could be routed through the firewall.


I can’t tell you how good it felt to finally free the stock harness from the chassis. Chasebays would flying out to install a much cleaner version, and with Chase’s arrival coming up soon on the calendar we had to make sure everything was ready.

Get The Welder!

With a picture of the Chasebays FR-S for reference, we got to work shaving hundreds of unneeded holes in the engine bay.


First, we methodically marked each hole that would be welded up and smoothed.


Once we had determined which holes were no longer needed we used a variety of sanders and grinders to remove the paint.


These are the holes that used to connect the AC and heater lines to the heater core. I made tape templates and filled them with sheetmetal patches.


At times my helper Travis and I were both huddled in the engine bay throwing sparks at each other, but when it got too crowded one of us would find something to do at the workbench. The fender mounts had holes that needed to be shaved anyway.


As I mentioned in my fabrication story, I used Light Racing dimple dies to makes these strut tower gussets.


I know I’ve shown this before, but I want the build stories to be thorough and complete.


Once all the holes were welded, it was time to grind them down.


I covered this process in my Welding 101 story last year if you want to learn more.


Once the welds were ground flush, it was time to add plastic body filler and sand them smooth. This isn’t very pleasant work, but it had to be done!


Here’s what it looked like once everything was sanded down and cleaned with wax and grease remover in preparation for a coat of primer. We were glad to have this part of the job complete!

Primer & Paint

Paint materials have become very costly these days, so I was glad when R-M Paint stepped up as a sponsor. They hooked me up with a local shop called Leading Edge, which would be providing the materials and helping me understand the best practices to utilize them too.


Colin Stevens, owner of Elite Auto Creations, would be doing the painting, so he stopped by one night to check on our progress and squirt some high-build R-M Power Fill 2K Primer in the engine bay.


I’ve dabbled in paint and body, but it was nice to watch a pro at work. You always pick up little tricks from the guys who do this kind of work all day, every day.


Since the engine bay paint wasn’t nearly as critical as the finish on the exterior of the car, we saved ourselves the trouble of transporting the car to Elite’s paint booth and sprayed it in my garage.


Colin gave us instructions to wet sand the primer with 400-grit and scuff the rest of the factory paint so the new paint would stick, then wished us well.


A few nights later and we had the bay prepped for a new coat of shiny paint.


R-M Paint and Leading Edge came to the rescue again with all the materials to paint the car in its new white base. When I told the guy at the paint counter that I wanted the purest white possible, he walked me back to the mixing wall and pointed to the top left corner. It turns out the whitest white is an untinted base, which normally has color added to create other shades of white.


Colin stopped by again, with a bigger paint mask this time. Notice the yellow tape around the door that leads inside my house? Last time I painted in the garage my wife wasn’t too pleased about the new odor that wafted through to the living areas, so I took extra precautions this time. I guess bondo and paint don’t smell as good to everyone else as they do to me!


Colin worked his magic on the engine bay, laying down a solid white base covered in thick, glossy clear. It was important to spray both the base and clear as perfectly as possible, because it would be tricky to sand and buff any imperfections due to the varied surfaces of the engine bay.


In just a few hours all of our hard work was sealed in pure white paint.


The final step in this stage of the build was to swing the 4U-GSE back into its glossy, smoothed-out home. My friend Keith Ross stopped by and helped clean the engine and remove any unnecessary accessories.


While we had everything apart we went ahead and blacked-out the wheel wells too. Nothing kills a new paint job like looking underneath and seeing traces of the old color.


Finally it was time to put the stripped down boxer back into the stripped down bay.


This isn’t normally a three man job, but we weren’t about to risk scratching the paint as there simply wasn’t time in the schedule to repair mistakes. Fortunately, the job went smoothly and we all breathed a huge sigh of relief.


We pulled away all the blankets and admired our new shaved bay, but there wasn’t much time to bask in the glory of a job well done. Chase from Chasebays would be arriving in a few days to wire everything up and make it run again.


We took the first month to complete the engine bay shave, start to finish. I felt it was a bit of a gamble to invest that much time into a single area of the car, but wanted to do it first so it wouldn’t become compromised as time ran out. Once we arrived at the SEMA Show and saw Super Street also had a shaved engine bay, I was glad we had taken the time to clean ours up too.


We still have a ton to cover with this build, but rest assured – the little red FR-S that would become the Scion Tuner Challenge winner didn’t look like this for too much longer.

Keith Charvonia
Instagram: SpeedhuntersKeith



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yeah the build!!! finaly!!! looking forward to the next part


looking forward to part 2! Very well written Keith


About time compadre, when do you show us how to build the time machine you must have used? Really looking forward to the rest.


Speedhunters_Bryn I borrowed the blueprints for a time machine from this guy.


Amazing that this was all done in your home garage. Looking forward to the next instalments!


What has become of the actual car? will it ever hit the track? or is it just a showpiece?


Wow. So much effort.


finally, a more detailed article (or 3 in this case, lol) of the speedhunters scion fr-s build :)


I'm looking forward to more articles about the build. So much hard work and attention to detail, all from the comfort of your garage. This is inspiring stuff. Thanks for the read Keith.


matthewyaa Thanks, glad you're enjoying the stories!


SimonVandormael It's a Scion's corporate headquarters in California. We're trying to book a track day for a nice photoshoot now.


BT180 Thanks! It's a small garage but we get it done. I'm trying to have a larger work space before I start anything else.


jdmRob Glad you liked it!


Such a beautifull project,gorgeous car!


Respect you guys for the work you've done!

function over form

Thanks for reppin Phoenix and showing people marvelous things can be done in a humble garage.


Can't wait to see the next instalments. Love how its pretty much all built in your garage. True Tuner Style!! 

I've built 3 cars in my garage, & dream of the day when I can have a bigger one for more cars,tools & good times!

Thanks Keith!


I love those strut tower gussets - really great addition Keith. 
I can't ever skip one of your posts - they're awesome man.


AM81 I really appreciate that! I think I might produce the gussets too. Although very few people will go this far with their engine bays the hardcore builders and drift/race cars might want them.


@function over form LA isn't the only place with a car scene, right?


There are so many small detail in this build that I now somehow want to incorporate in my own project, thanks Keith for making my to-do list longer :p


I adore your skills sir , that shaved engine bay is one of the finest showcar ideas i've ever seen makes it look so clean !


Wow! its nice to see what acutally went into creating this!
looking forward to the rest of the build!!


Damn, you make it seem so easy...