In today’s age of cost-effective, mass-production motor vehicles, it feels as though many manufacturers have opted for the conservative approach; including in the looks department. Hybrid motors, more airbags than there are passengers, countless safety measures and driving assists. It’s like cars drive themselves now, and there’s very little left for the driver to really do. Even the handbrake is no longer a handbrake – many models are simply buttons. Have manufacturers advanced automotive technology to such an extent that the driving element is fast being eliminated altogether?
One manufacturer retained their vision to create an affordable car for the driver – Toyota. Their collaborative project with Subaru, dubbed the ‘86’ or ‘BRZ’ (Subaru equivalent) was designed solely with the driver in mind. It is a car produced with something that many manufacturers don’t take into consideration; vehicle customisation and modification. It was designed as a ‘blank canvas’ – giving owners the opportunity to make of the car as they pleased, whether it be track, street or show. Lewis took advantage of his canvas, and decided to pursue enhancements inside and out. Let’s hear about how his humble BRZ became one of widest and quickest in town.
The Subaru BRZ / Toyota 86 (or Hachi-Roku (ハチロク) in Japanese) is a front-engined, rear-wheel drive coupe which has been highly favoured by the aftermarket car community since its initial production in 2012. The bodywork was inspired by the classic Toyota 2000GT (1967), the configuration/handling inspired by the AE86 Trueno (1983), and the iconic boxer engine (manufactured by Subaru) taken from the classic Toyota Sports 800 (1965). The design team behind the car were given no limitations or parameters in their design, and this is what they came up with.
The 86/BRZ was expressly designed to encourage aftermarket customisation – so much to the extent that Toyota/Subaru proactively shared information and data about the car to parts manufacturers! The interior was even designed in such a way that a roll cage could be easily installed, and the exterior is coated in an anti-chip coating with designers under the assumption that the vehicles would undergo track use or harsher road conditions in motorsport. During testing; the 86/BRZ was tested using tyres from a Prius. Yes – A Prius. This ensured that customers opting for high-performance tyres would see significant performance gain beyond factory specifications.
What is perhaps one of the most significant points about the car is the adoption of the horizontally-opposed boxer engine from Subaru. The FA20 motor combines Subaru’s traditional boxer engine with Toyota’s D-4S injection technology to create an enhanced engine built for the driving enthusiast. The N/A approach was adopted in consideration of acceleration response – but that’s not to say that it’s a difficult task to convert to turbo!
The boxer engine, in its horizontal layout, sits low in the car’s engine bay thus shifting the weight to the bottom end of the car and reducing the car’s centre of gravity. The handling of the vehicle would have to be one of its highlights – having driven them on numerous occasions; I can personally vouch for the 86/BRZ’s ability to maintain (or lose) grip on the bends with sharp, responsive steering and braking. It’s an affordable car that feels like a sports car.
Lewis’ BRZ is a prime example of what happens when you’re presented with a blank canvas. Hailing from Western Australia; Lewis has worked on his build since moving to Adelaide and it’s finally reaching fruition after months of cosmetic and performance work. On the outside; the car’s exterior has been accentuated with the Rallybacker V2 widebody – a slightly different alternative to the renown Rocket Bunny widebodies on the market. With a widebody comes wide wheels. Lewis chose a set of 18” Forgestar M14 wheels in custom sizing (18×10 -21 F, 18×12 -34 R) as his shoes of choice – with a black and bronze finish which accompanies the car’s blue paint work comfortably. The BRZ has also been fitted with an Airlift Performance suspension kit, mounted in the boot, which offers adjustable ride height at the press of an in-car controller. The car looks truly aggressive on the road, whilst maintaining its stylish looks.
What sets Lewis’ BRZ apart from the others is summed up in one word, really – turbo. The car has undergone one of the few turbo conversions in SA; featuring a Garrett GT3071R turbo running on an E85 Flex Fuel kit with an Invidia N1 Exhaust. All work has been carried out by Driven Motorsport. The car is still running in the new setup, and we eagerly await the power figures once it’s been properly tuned!
It’s somewhat encouraging to see enthusiasts taking a recently built OEM car and taking it to the next level with complete freedom of customisation inside and out. Lewis saw his opportunity with the BRZ and (IMO) absolutely nailed it. The widebody suits the car perfectly, and accentuates the BRZ’s already aggressive and stylish lines. Paired with the turbo conversion, wheels and bags; we’re in for a cosmetic delight with the go to match the show. The BRZ/86 has quite commonly been slandered for ‘falling short’ of a turbo equivalent, or that it ‘could have been better’ – but that’s the whole point of the car. It can be better, and that’s why it was designed specifically so that you could do it yourself. It’s a car built for the driver, and if you haven’t slipped behind the wheel of one for even an afternoon – we challenge you to it, and to see what you think after spending some time with this remarkably fun car.
Make sure you follow Lewis’ build here!
ABOUT THE MODEL: EMILIE
Emilie is the latest little addition to the Slowlife squad. She’s short, sassy and means business – and we’ve concluded that her sass is scientifically proven in that ‘shorter people are geographically closer to hell’. She’s a laid back girl who likes to hang out with the squad – cruising, banter and coffee are her three favourite things in life right now (and damn right they should be). Emilie currently works full time in administration and is hell-bent on getting herself one of the new Toyota C-HRs (those really techy, modern mini SUV things everyone’s raving on about) and doing fun stuff with it.
As you can see – Emilie’s as casual as they get. She’s always down to do whatever, doesn’t emphasize on hitting up the clubs every weekend, and prefers a chilled night with a bunch of good people doing whatever’s fun at the time. If you catch Emilie at one of our events in the future, be sure to say hi to her and brace yourself for some of the most cringe-inducing puns in history… Yep, guess who’s going to be coming up with all of our event names in the future? May god have mercy on us all… Follow Emilie on Instagram here.
Images by Rapture Media