The curtains came up Tuesday on the three Scion Tuner Challenge cars ahead of their Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show debut in Las Vegas Nov. 5-8. The stars: three custom car builders representing tuner scenes in the East, the Pacific Northwest and Southern California. At the beginning of the competition, Scion gave each builder a stock 2014 tC plus $15,000 to design and modify the car within 90 days.
Josh Croll of Mertztown, Pa., converted his tC to a right-hand drive model, the first in the world. Diverse influences came together in the car with the flashy hot rod orange color, European clean lines and shape, and wide wheels for a proper stance. As the owner of Croll's Customs, Croll completed the work in-house. "This tC is a modern day hot rod with clear Japanese roots," Croll said.
"It has the uniqueness, style and power to win this competition." Walter Franco of Seattle worked with DTM Autobody in El Monte, Calif., to create the sophisticated VIP look he envisioned. Franco, who owns a transportation lifestyle brand NAMSAYIN, brought in a luxury feel through a combination suede and leader interior with diamond stitching and pearl white exterior paint. He also put extra focus on the driver's experience through the audio system and performance enhancements, including a shot of nitrous for added power.
"We aimed to reach that next level within the VIP style with performance capabilities and a good sense of design cohesiveness," Franco said. "This build represents the new direction I want to bring to the industry and the skill represented here in the Pacific Northwest." Many know Young Tea of Alhambra, Calif., as the co-founder of the Scion FR-S community FRS86.
He and his team took on the work themselves to showcase that a garage-built car can earn respect at the track and be driven daily. The "Simpli-tC" concept aimed to keep the design cues of the tC while extending the fenders, adding a custom dual-outlet exhaust rear diffuser and including an air suspension system to lower the car for shows.
"The tC popularized the concept of a cost-effective and easy-to-modify coupe, and that principle inspired this SEMA build," Tea said. "We want to show people what you can build in the garage, and that you can be proud of your car." All three competition cars will be judged by a panel that includes representation from Super Street, a magazine dedicated to covering high-performance customized cars and lifestyle. Scion will announce the winner at 11 a.m. on Nov. 6 during the SEMA show. The winner will take home a $10,000 grand prize.
"Showing off the three Tuner Challenge builds ahead of SEMA lets more Scion enthusiasts see the incredible creativity and craftsmanship that went into these tC vehicles," said Steve Hatanaka Scion marketing and special events manager. "We hope builders will be inspired by the versatility of the tC as displayed by our custom builders. Our panel will have a difficult job choosing the ultimate winner."