Project Neo86: Introducing the JNC Scion FR-S

When the original AE86 and Silvia were killed, no one expected that Japan would simply walk away from its automotive roots. But walk they did, and light, agile, affordable RWD cars remained absent from the market for what turned out to be well over a decade. So naturally we went bananas when Toyota announced that the FT-86 would satisfy our yearning for a return of this past period, this irrecoverable condition. After all, that is the very definition of nostalgic, and Nostalgic is our middle name!

We won’t do what most neo-86 owners are going to do. One of our favorite games at the proverbial JNC water cooler is trying to guess which cars will be the JNCs of tomorrow. With a 2013 Scion FR-S we’re talking many, many tomorrows, but most of us think that it’s a shoe-in for future nostalgic. We’ll have plenty of fun with it, but we’re still going to do everything it takes to make this a “Kidney, Anyone?” contender in 2043. And when collecting a car to be preserved for posterity Rule Number One is: get a manual. Oops, not this manual.

This manual. It’s the difference between a desirable machine and a commuter. 30 years from now an oddball enthusiast might buy a slushbox FR-S but swapping in a 6MT then, if they can find one, will ruin its originality. The little steel VIN plate affixed to every Toyota discloses what transmission came with the car when it was birthed in Aichi. We’ll happily endure a lifetime of clutch creeping in LA traffic to keep it numbers-matching.

Can you imagine an automatic 86 ever making it into the Toyota Museum? The FR-S is a return to the proper Japanese sport coupe so the 6MT is a no-brainer. If we’d been old enough to order a RWD Corolla in 1985, we would’ve checked the boxes for GT-S and LSD but said no thanks to the spoiler and air conditioning.

What normal people call pearl white Scion calls “Whiteout.” It’s a $220 option for the three-stage paint job, while metallics and solids only need two. We held out for it because come on, what else were we going to get, Hot Lava?

As Ben mentioned, white is overwhelmingly the car color of choice in Japan. Why? This is just our own theory, but it’s all about contrast. Tires have to be black. Taillights have to be red. On many modern cars where taillights are not separated by chrome or rubber trim, red paint strips away the defining features of the rear. Traditional Japanese art consists mainly of stark black ink on white paper, with a little dash of red inkan. Those colors must speak to some deeply ingrained cultural wavelength among Japanese drivers, and Japanese cars are designed to just plain look good in white.

We made sure that none of the window stickers were tossed prior to our taking delivery. Later we carefully removed each one ourselves with a razor and pressed them into a scrapbook. Nerdy, yes, but 30 years from now it’ll be fun to look at these old fonts and actual sheets of dead tree when we’re all getting bar codes directly translated into brainwaves. After hours of paperwork we placed our JNC inkan on the B-pillar as an homage to our Hot Wheels Mazda RX-7 and we were off!

We left all the window stickers, plastic sheeting on the seats, and white body wrapping in tact for its maiden voyage. By the time we hit the highway the odometer was still reading 10-point-something miles, total. Every law and speed limit was obeyed, of course. Driving impressions to follow shortly.

Ben snapped this photo from a chase car, and if we hadn’t told you it was California it might be easily mistaken for a stretch of the Tokyo-Yokohama Bayshore Route. He says the FR-S looks dead sexy in motion, svelter than the bulbous, lumbering giants that are the modern automobile. We don’t know what our plans for this car will be just yet, but you can bet we’ll put a nostalgic twist on it. I’ll be writing more articles here at JNC as Project Neo86 develops so please stay tuned.

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35 Responses to Project Neo86: Introducing the JNC Scion FR-S

  1. E-AT_me says:

    perfect color. needs Hayshi Streets. just sayin.. 😉

  2. Zak says:

    I know it’s a modern car car at this point but maybe we should have a forum for the brz and the frs on the website no?

    • Aaron says:

      How cool is a brand new car when thoughts of welcoming it into a nostalgic forum are in the air?

      Likewise, how cool is a brand new car, that the operators of said nostalgic forum purchase one with future preservation in mind?

  3. Philip Pilgrim says:

    I am trying to like that car but it looks like a Hyundai varient.

    It simply does not stand out.

    I bet it is fun to drive but it is very bland to look at.

  4. dankan says:

    As soon as I have the cash, I’m buying one. And guys, if at all possible, a nice photoshoot with some large (1920×1080) scale wallpaper quality photos would be mucho appreciated. The official Toyota photos for this car have been abyssmal (Hot Lava indeed…).

  5. Aaron says:

    White is definitely the way to go. (I’ll be getting my subie in blue 🙂 And $220 is extremely fair for a tricoat option. What does the pearl flop too on the side tone?
    _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
    Also, a “three stage” pearl or candy refers to a base (tint), an topcoat (pearl/candy) and clearcoat.

    And almost all production paintjobs today, urethane or waterborne, solid and metallic are “two stage” base/clear. Single stage refers to a formula, solid and sometimes metallic, that has single stage binder that is catalyzes with an activator and laid down all at once. Single stage solid colors look great but haven’t been used in quite some time.

    sorry, it’s the paint geek in me

  6. Dave says:

    That’s the exact car I want. Jealous! My RX-8 will never fall into the “kidney, anyone?” category. Maybe someday I’ll get to order an FR-S… This is a sweet feature, look forward to reading future installments.

  7. benji says:

    nice! they are starting to grow on me, i take it there is no optional LSD?

    too bad they are so expensive where i live, base price around 49,000.00 $, being a track oriented layout there are cheaper and faster options around so i dont think its going to sell too well over here. bummer really . . .

    if i were to live in the us i would be at the dealer tomorrow putting in an order.

  8. bert says:

    I hate to say this, but in 30 years the manual transmission will be a thing of scorn. I suspect that most of these cars will be sold with the auto and paddle shifters. Out of the 5 BRZ’s I’ve seen so far, only one had the manual. With everything from the top best of the luxury market, to the lowly Kia Rio being sold with some form of “manumatic” the clutch is rare and already being cast into the lot of bad automotive ideas along with the Chrysler Sebring, the Yugo, and Chinese built Hummers. I’m not saying I hate your choice of tranny, I think you will have a lot more fun with it than you would the Auto. But, I have a feeling given the current trend of “F1” inspired econoboxes, 30 years from now, the manual transmission might hurt the value. Or I could hopefully be wrong, and if anyone remembers what a clutch is, you could be the coolest kid on the block!! If we still have blocks.

    • E-AT_me says:

      so if 1 in 5 have a manual, this would be rare then.. 😀

      • bert says:

        Yes, it would. That was just the first five from the Subaru dealer on my route, of which, four were already sold before they came off the truck, and the one with the 6speed being sold 45 minutes after they put it in the showroom. Which was an hour after coming off the truck!


      just sayin 🙂

      I wish I had them in a 6 speed pattern though. Would be great for the FR-S/BRZ crowd.

    • j_c says:

      Manual transmissions are already a thing of scorn. Most people’s priorities in car buying are bluetooth connectivity and sat-nav. Paddle shift and automatics today are better than most drivers, but this is an enthusiasts’ car. Same way a camera is better at recreating a scene than a painting, but people will value the painting more because it requires skill.

      Toyota heeded the enthusiasts’ call and made a driver’s car, the masses who see a car as an appliance will stick with the Corolla.

    • madfaber says:

      Let me save you the wait, your wrong. The entire idea of being a “car guy” is knowing whats cool, and no one has every thought a automatic trany is cool. And being in the “japanese nostalgic” variety of car guy makes that double as true. The mechanical interface of manualy shifting gears is never going to be replaced in the hearts of gear heads.

  9. Nigel says:

    Nice purchase guys.
    (I am waiting for the BMI / JNC special episode).

  10. 91ma70 says:

    We have a raven black one with MT at the dealer I work at. I have the window sicker to my 86 gts when I can ill post it up.

  11. john says:

    Does anyone know if the paddle-shifted auto is a DSG-style automated manual, or just a plain old slushbox with paddles to select the gears?

    • bert says:

      It’s a variation of the auto in the IS-F, minus two gears, and without the dual clutch. But it’s electronically programmed to act like the dual clutch from the IS-F. So basically it’s a regular slushbox with fancy gadgets.

  12. Kevin T says:

    Damn I’m jealous Ben! Lolz. Beautiful car man. I want one so bad. What you guys gonna do with this thing? Put ITB’s on it? Lolz. Be hella different and pay homage to the old school cars.

  13. Tristan says:

    Needs grey Watanabes!

  14. JamesE says:

    Congrats! I’m excited for you and for future updates.

  15. yoda says:

    Too bad its’ not available in non-pearl white. New Mazdas are like that too, as is the Focus Titanium (but not the S/SE and ST) – the only white available is an extra-cost pearl.

  16. Drive510 says:

    Wonder if we’ll be seeing owners install fender mirrors?? XD

  17. Chris says:

    Beautiful car. I’m already feeling future nostalgia and can’t wait to see the future iterations of this as the FRS evolves. This is the first time in a long time that I’ve felt excited about a modern Toyota. Let’s hope the FRS doesn’t get killed off before I get my hands on one. The back side needs some work aesthetically but I can see this going somewhere. I’ve seen some body kits already that makes this vehicle look stupidly amazing.

    What are people’s thoughts on a AWD version for the east coasters?

    • dankan says:

      Physically impossible. The engine is mounted low and far back, so that the system used by Subaru in their other cars will not work. This one is RWD only, and according to Subaru and Toyota, naturally-aspirated only as well…

  18. motoliam says:

    Looks like a hybrid Mitsubishi/Hyundai, as others have mentioned. That said, I’m sure this new 86 will perform well, but will it really be a better overall “nostalgic” rwd car than a Miata roadster? I think not. The earlier Miatas really pulled a lot from the past, were light weight, and rwd – this new 86 . . . is a mish-mash. Hood line is too low compared to the rear end, air intake/mouth area is toothy-aggressive, but not cleanly styled, like the original, the side windows look like they’re trying to be upswept (ala 240-280Z, Kenmeri, etc), but they’re too small compared to the body; the proportions all look wrong to me. For preservation/nostalgia reasons, I would beat the snot out of this Scion, racking up the miles left and right. Save the true classic rwd’s and use the Neo86 for what it is, a cheaper rwd alternative to what’s out there.

  19. silverarrow says:

    Hmmm would you be so keen to buy one if it cost $38,000? Because that is what they are listed as here in the UK(£25,000). Takes the edge off.

  20. Chris says:

    They should totally slam this thing and have huge wheels poke out the sides with loads camber LOl

  21. chris says:

    Love the car, hate the Scion badges. Should’ve been a Celica.

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