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Gone Racin' to the Scion Performance Challenge - 11/04

Gone Racin' to the Scion Performance Challenge - 11/04
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Gone Racin' to the Scion Performance Challenge

Writers, journalists and photographers from all over the United States converged on the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum, in Pomona, California, on November 30, 2004, to cover the Scion Performance Challenge. This event was put together by Scion to show off the styles and performance of the new line of Scion cars; the xA, xB, and tC. In Japan the symbols for the cars were originally bB, meaning black box, and the Scion that everyone seems to be aware of is the xB. The ride and handling of the xB is unbelievably smooth and quick. The styling of the xB is rather stern and boxy, but that is its charm among the ygen, or today's young people. They want a "blank slate," a car that they can take over and modify and alter to fit their own personality. The xA is a "tweener" car, between the amorphous xB, and the sporty looking tC. The tC is swift and stylish, and the car of choice for the journalists as they raced each other at the Pomona dragstrip. A word of caution to the public, the yGens have their own language and descriptions. It is not XA, XB or TC. It is always xA, xB and tC. However, they seem oblivious to whatever adjectives you use to label these cars.

Following the banquet and speeches by the technicians, engineers and sponsored racers, came the real reason for the Scion Performance Challenge. The journalists were given numbers and a brief explanation of the way to drive these cars and the rules in drag racing. Side by side they raced down the dragstrip, supervised by some of the finest from NHRA. For a brief moment, these men and women who observe and write on imports and auto racing had a chance to see what it was like to actually race these cars. Quick and smooth, these new imports were consistently going 10.50 E.T. (elapsed time), at 69.50 mph on the 1/8th mile timed track. There was nothing fancy, just stock cars, and they were performing very well. The practice sessions ended, and the times began to improve as the media racers began to pair off in the final showdown. Round by round the best of the journalists began to emerge and the E.T. and mph began to drop. The best time of the day dropped down to 10.32 E.T., at over 70mph. The yGeneration kids, for whom this car was developed, take this stock car and through catalogs at the dealers, or on-line, begin to immediately alter and modify these cars. While speeds rise and elapsed times drop drastically with the added enhancements of high performance equipment, it is the more mundane cosmetic changes that drive these youth to purchase these cars. Scion was developed to introduce a new generation of buyers to the Toyota brand name. Suggested in 2000, brought to the Japanese market a year later and finally to the American market in 2003, the Scion is fully a year ahead of its sales projections.

While the technical aspects of the Scion cars are impressive, and seeing journalists go at one another on the track is amusing, it is the contagious attitude of the yGen kids that really is the story here. Scion Evolution is the name of the club, with over 600 members throughout the United States, and growing larger every day. They hold road rallies, cruises, car shows and other events to showcase their cars. And what cars they are. These aren't the cars that you wrinkle your forehead at on the freeway. These cars have been changed into works of art, both in the interior as well as the exterior. Hoods have been changed to composite materials with a NASA like look to them. Flat screen TVs and speakers are everywhere, from the dashboard to the sun visors, and splitters allow each passenger to view a different program. These cars are chopped, widened, lengthened, lowered and modified. From a distance they can appear to resemble Hummers, limousines and a myriad of forms. It is the ability to "transform" these cars that make them so valuable and unique. A basic car starts at $13,000. Yet one club owner after another bragged how he had kept the upgrade costs below twenty thousand. No other cars on the market have the adaptability of these cars, and the closest parallel would be the old VW bus.
 
It seems the very reason for the xA, xB and tC to exist is to transform it into something other than what it was originally meant to be. Troy Sumitomo at Five Axis brought three cars that can only be compared to a George Barris work of art. The first was an xB limousine, all white. The second was a sporty tC that transformed in the rear with a 42-inch plasma screen TV and 8 speakers, a cool way to go to a tailgate party. The third car was a xB, which was chopped and lowered, then widened. It had a ramp that extended mechanically out of the rear, holding a disc jockey's turntables and DVD players, with 10 speakers putting out torrents of power. I called this the Portable Rave Party Machine. Ed Ducreux brought his xB with flames, hot lava gold paints, supercharged, 6 flat screen TVs, speakers with 1800 watts of power, and a composite hood which he makes and sells to the Scion customizers. Ryan Abando gave me important details on the Scion Evolution club. He pointed out the club members to me and their cars and special features. "This car is special," he said, "because you can do all this customizing without voiding your warranty." The dealer will customize your car, or sublet it to others to do the job, or give you referrals. Others find all kinds of after market parts on eBay or other websites, and the market for Scion parts has exploded since being introduced in 2003.
 
Ryan went on to say that you can get: interior accent kits, sunroofs, intake and exhaust systems, wheels, suspension, spoiler tail lights, nitrous oxide, audio and video, paint, leather, flat screen TVs, hoods, gas flaps, bras, and battery grounding cables in metallic colors. Membership in the Scion Evolution club is only $40 per year. Edwin Mangune mentioned the numerous outlets for finding customizers and parts. Steven Wang, Nilo Miranda and Adrian Lazatin showed me their cars, ideas and other sources for custom parts. Nilo and Adrian are founding members of the Scion Evolution club. The Scions are not for everyone. They reflect the very essence of the old '32 Ford roadsters and the hot rodders of a different generation, who took a utilitarian vehicle and crafted a work of art out of it. These are the types of men and women who don't care what others think of them. They know what they like and they know how to take these dependable cars and rework them into their own individuality. Or as they might say, "deal with it."

Gone Racin' is at www.oilstick.com