BRIAN DUONG’S ’13 SCION FR-S
Brian Duong likes being first. He started fiddling around with friends’ cars before he could drive. He stuck Supra taillights onto something that wasn’t a Supra before that sort of silliness was out of bounds. And he ordered himself up an FR-S as soon as he got word that Scion would be selling the rear-wheeldrive coupe. But living in Florida meant that being first wasn’t always easy. “The car scene was always behind,” Brian says about those early days, usually finding out 12 months later than the West Coast that things like racing stripes and monster-tach shift lights were no longer cool. “So when I would get a chance to visit family in L.A., I would also search for car parts for myself and my friends.” And, by default, brush up on what he’d otherwise have to wait another year or two to find out.
Brian’s since relocated to the other side of the country and, nowadays, plays a part in directing the movement he once traveled 2,500 miles back and forth to take cues from. And by directing the movement, we’re talking about that FR-S of his being the first of its kind in the U.S. to wear Varis’ Kamikaze aero. And if for some reason hand-laid fenders, diffusers, and an assortment of carbon panels don’t get you all riled up, know that this FR-S’ boxer engine is also the first to puff through both Greddy’s turbo system and the company’s bolt-on quartet of individual throttle bodies.
Ask Brian and he’ll tell you he never planned on doing anything out of the ordinary with the Scion, a car that succeeds multiple cars of his that’ve made their way into magazines and even to the halls of SEMA. He’ll even tell you that, at first, the FR-S was only half his. “[It] started off as a project between my youngest brother and [me]. I intended to have just simple body mods with wheels and good suspension set up to be a daily, fun car,” he says. “As the years passed, we started to modify it more and more, the styling of the car began to evolve, and my brother decided he no longer wanted to be involved in this project, so I took [it] over and he got a Prius out of it.” Brian: 1, brother: 0.
Brian—sales manager for Mackin Industries, the North American distributor of brands like RAYS Wheels and Project Mu—tapped into his network of industry peeps to arrange things like that whole multi-layered arrangement of throttle bodies stashed in between his FA20 and that GTX2871R turbo. Greddy’s technicians fastened all of the bits into place, making sure both methods of induction got out of each others’ way. They even went on to fabricate a one-off exhaust system just for Brian’s FR-S before wrapping the whole thing up.
Like so many of Brian’s previous projects, this FR-S was also Sema-bound. And as is often the case with anything Sema-bound, timing was critical. And by critical, we mean there wasn’t enough of it. “Receiving the kit a few weeks prior to SEMA was very nerve-racking,” he says about the Varis bits, “and having Evasive and Auto Tuned put the car together right before SEMA was stressful.”
But nobody’s feeling sorry for Brian. He has two-way-adjustable Moton shocks, Project Mu brakes, and TE37S all around to make him feel better. He also has more than 310 whp—not bad for a guy who’s relatively new to boxer engines. “Other than a few of my friends’ STIS,” Brian says, “I’m more familiar with Nissans,” which is evident by the list of S13s, S14s, 350Zs, and G37s the guy’s gone through, one of which made his cross-country move possible. “I was able to source the first Esprit kit on the East Coast,” he says about the Z that made it to SEMA some 14 years ago by way of RAYS Wheels. “[That] car was my link to moving from Florida back to California to work for Mackin.”
For Brian, the FR-S was meant to be what he describes as a fun daily driver, but the car’s extensive list of updates renders it just as much impractical as it is fun. It’s a trend Brian’s fallen prey to more than once, most recently manifested in the form of an Evo X that was meant to facilitate his growing family but ended with a widebody kit of its own and, like the rest of his cars, impracticably undriveable. “[It] started off with just simple mods as my daily driver,” he says. “Somehow that didn’t last.” It almost never does.