Scion is one of those “must see” stops for any SEMA visits for me. Granted their vehicle line is somewhat limited compared to other brands but Scion always seems to find a way to do very much with very little. Once again Toyota’s youth brand held their annual “Tuner Challenge” with the tC being the canvas of choice but to switch things up and get with the times Scion added a “fan favorite” element to the challenge this year by utilizing social media. Scion posted pictures of each build to their Scion Racing instagram account and Facebook and then left it up to the fans to vote with their “likes”. Which ever car received the most likes would win “fan favorite”. However this caused a bit of confusion. I will get into that later.
The winner was Young Tea (yes that’s his name) and his “Simpli-tC” concept. With a little help from his friends (one of which is Noel Barnum AKA @canibeatnoel on instagram) Young built a tC that he felt embodied the purest form of a custom build. Something clean, simple, stylish, but still performance minded. As the name suggests he kept it, well, simple. When it comes to the exterior you can see that there isn’t anything crazy or over the top. Just some enhanced fenders for a wider stance along with a MV designs lip kit and rear diffuser. It was then sprayed with a coat of teal pearl paint and that was all she wrote for body modifications. Some NuTek wheels with Nitto tires were bolted on and the whole car was put on an AirREX suspension system. A custom turbo kit built around a Garrett T3/T04 turbocharger was fabricated and bolted on and that was pretty much it. Not to labor a pun but it was all pretty simple. Yet, the balance of show, go, and every day won enough fans over for Young to win the challenge. Although not without controversy but again, I will get to that later.
Second place went to Walter Franco (@namsayin on instagram) and his L-DZ concept. Not sure what the letters stand for but I do know that Walter’s concept goal was to design something of a “VIP style” tC that would focus on a luxurious and comfortable look but with a bit of performance to balance things out. Walter had custom metal fender flares fabricated to widen his tC as well as provide room to fit wide 20″ x 10″ Avante Garde wheels. The interior got a full work over with custom leather upholstery and a full car audio make-over using mostly HERTZ components with a Pioneer head unit. To add performance Walter had a custom manifold made in which he bolted up 4 (75 shot each) “sneaky pete” nitrous bottles. It was the first time I have ever seen a set up like that and I have to admit it brought a smile to my face. I wasn’t the only one either as Walter’s tC won the “fan favorite award.”
Finally there was Josh Croll of Croll Customs (@crollcustoms on instagram). Josh came in third place with his WSD tC concept. Josh’s tC easily has the most fabrication work of the three entries. This is mostly because Josh’s shop specializes in custom fabrication. Josh stripped down the entire body of the tC painting it from the frame out in bright orange. He then fab’d up his own one-off body kit, turbo kit, and then went the extra mile by converting his tC to right-hand-drive which I have never seen done before on a tC! He really utilized all of his resources to go all out on his build. Which may have been to a fault. Having a full fledged fabrication shop going up against two regular guys does seem a bit unfair but perhaps the judges took that into consideration when making their decision and gave Josh a handicap.
Which finally brings us to that “later” I was talking about. See, there was a bit of confusion over the interwebs as to how the tuner challenge was going to work. When Scion’s followers saw that they could vote for their favorite build out of the three they were under the impression that who ever won the “fan favorite” would win the overall competition. However, that was not the case. The winner of the challenge was actually chosen by a panel of judges from Super Street magazine. So, when it was announced that Young Tea and Simpli-tC were the winners some followers were none-to-happy about it. Which is understandable. It is easy to see how visitors to Scion’s social media pages could have misunderstood the rules. Perhaps Scion could have done a little better explaining how things worked. There were official rules posted on the Scion Racing website but as far as I know those rules were not posted on any of Scion’s social media pages. On the other hand some of the commenters were getting pretty outlandish with their anger. Some even accused the judges of cronyism. Oh internet…you so crazy!
Personally, I agree with the decision but I also think that the challenge could use a few tweaks for next year. I would love to see it get bigger!