Nearly one-thousand days after totaling my Scion FR-S on the race track, I finally got it back together and road worthy.
At the beginning of The Scion FR-S Chronicles: Part III, I attempted to make sense of the emotions I felt in the following months after the wreck. Part of the reason the tension was so strong was that I had a decision to make - do I let it go, or do I rebuild it? Given time, effort, and financial inputs, that decision wasn’t easy.
Even after purchasing the vehicle back from the insurance company, I was still undecided on how to move forward. Friends in the auto body industry [correctly] told me I would be crazy to rebuild the car. It would be very expensive to do properly - like purchasing the car over again.
I was also provided some convenient “outs” to not rebuild my FR-S, were I so inclined. First, a buddy of mine had 2013 FR-S with a blown engine that offered me his car for a good price. I could drop my engine into that and not worry about the chassis. Secondly, Toyota released the next generation GR86 - I could carry some compatible parts over to a new car and sell the rest. And finally, I had purchased a new daily driver and a Miata, so I could always just sell my tattered FR-S and save some money.
Despite all of this, my heart ultimately chose to rebuild. I’ve heard many stories of men and their first cars - often bookended by saying I never should have let that one go. That wasn’t going to be me.
Initially, the FR-S was sent to DRP Collision for frame repair. Had they told me that it was too far gone, the decision to move on would have been made for me. That wasn’t the case, though, so I brought the car home to perform all of the repairs that I could do in my garage.
One of the first items to address was my front suspension. After hitting the tire wall, the front of my car was spun high into the air and slammed down onto the pavement. This shot the pillowball straight out of the pillowball mount, destroying the Raceseng camber plate.
Thankfully, the manufacturer of my coilovers happened to be just down the street, and after some correspondence with my buddy Devin Herndon at Fortune Auto, I dropped the fronts off for a rebuild.
Since my front bumper was toast, I guess I had to upgrade, right? Initially I hunted for an APR GT front bumper only to learn production had ceased and it had quickly become unobtanium. That snowballed into me purchasing a Varis Arising II front bumper, rear bumper, and sideskirts. Given that they’re made-to-order parts from Japan, we could have had a child before it all arrived.
After getting the Varis kit on US soil, my FR-S made a return trip to DRP Collision - this time to have everything done - a door replaced, a fender replaced, various dents and scrapes undone, the Varis parts modified and fitted, and finally, the whole car repainted.
DRP Collision was the obvious choice for me because of my relationship with their painter Chris Johnston. He previously did a killer job painting a fender on my car and I trusted him to do it again - plus, if you’ve seen his Mazda FD3S RX-7 as seen in my feature on Fortune Auto’s 2022 Open House, or, you know, greater publications like [PIT+PADDOCK’s feature on his car, you would immediately understand he has an attention to detail.
Chris generously provided me with nearly one hundred photos and videos during the repair process. Whenever I got a message from Chris, I was always excited to see what progress was being made.
In late August 2022, DRP Collision called me up to come check out their completed work. What a thrill! The car had turned out awesome.
While I was filled with excitement, I knew I wouldn’t be driving it any time soon. On top of the normal maintenance and work to be done, I still needed to get it inspected, retitled, registered, and aligned.
The first step was getting my Virginia vehicle title straight. Before I could apply to have a rebuilt title replace my salvage title, I had to get the car inspected. Since the car wasn’t technically road-legal, I opted to get an inspection at the closest place to my house I could find. Even in this poorly-aligned state, if was fun to get it back on the road again for a short trip.
It passed the Virginia State Inspection without issue, and in an attempt to move the process along as fast as possible, I delivered my application and payment to have my rebuilt title examination performed directly to the DMV office downtown that evening rather than waiting for it to make its way through the postal system.
A little more than a month later, a Virginia State Police inspector visited my house to perform the examination. I was pretty confident going into this, but I also did not know what to expect. How stringent would the examination be? Would my absent front license plate mount, lowered suspension, lack of sidemarker lights, window tint, modified exhaust, or something else I hadn’t yet considered be an issue?
To my surprise - the rebuild title examination was a bit of a joke. The inspector never really even reviewed the car - just verified the VIN under the passenger seat matched the one on my salvage title and took a picture of a single receipt showing repair work was completed.
Within a couple hours of the officer leaving, I had already put the car on jack stands, pulled the rear Fortune Auto 510’s, and dropped them off at their headquarters to be rebuilt. There was nothing particularly wrong with them, but if I needed an alignment anyway, I might as well have them restored.
In small incremental steps, that “last 10%” came together over a few months. In addition to many other non-driveline related chores, I replaced the front wheel hub assemblies, replaced a rear upper control arm, reinstalled the rebuilt coilovers, and took it in for an alignment.
Since the car had never been aligned since the accident, there was a little uneasiness going into this too. What if the car’s frame still wasn’t straight enough? Of course, those worries were for nothing, and I was able to drive the car home spiritedly for the first time in years.
Before I could really use it, though, I dropped the car off for a final round of work at DRP Collision to prevent the driver’s side door from ever so slightly crimping on the sideskirt when a little dirt built up - problems you have when you start putting aftermarket body parts on your car.
On March 13 of this year, I was able to pick up my car again from DRP, and this time, for good. Like the other little trips I had made in the car, driving it home felt surreal. Immediately upon getting it home, I pulled the front bumper and stayed up late replacing the stock headlights with freshly clear-filmed Morimoto XB LED retrofit headlights.
Conveniently, our monthly Team Reasonable meet was the next day. I had been silent about getting the car back so that I could surprise my friends who were there by unexpectedly arriving with the finally roadworthy car. It went over great - and while most of my friends had known the car before the accident, the repair process been so long that I had made a few friends since June 2020 that had never seen the car at all!
Better yet, just a couple days later was March Madness with NASA at VIR! I made the 150-mile trip down and worked on the grid with my car proudly parked next to pit out. This was especially fun because my NASA family, many of whom were at Summit Point when I destroyed it, got to see the car in its renewed state.
While I was taking these pictures, my friend Chris Larson swung by with his S2000. You may recognize it from another post of mine, although it’s received some tasteful modifications since then to better suit it for track duty, which I’m all about.
In the time since, I’ve put a bit over 1,000 miles on the car over no shortage of little adventures.
One of these little adventures was to our local Cars and Coffee’s first meet after the organization’s long hiatus. The developing mall where the event was previously held could no longer house our growing crowd, so a new location had to be selected that could fill our needs.
Of course I spent half the event taking pictures of my own car that I, you know, could just take pictures of at home.
Another highlight was being asked to have the car in the “show parking” area of this year’s Fortune Auto Open House. I can’t say I had the time to take enough photos to do a full feature on this event like last year, but it was still very special.
I couldn’t stand the look of the car without the front badge, so I spent several hours the week preceding this event painstakingly attempting to get a new flat-backed OEM badge to fit on the convex-shaped Varis bumper. I tried everything, and eventually got it to fit pretty well after some time with a heat gun and a basketball.
Most recently, Ruby and I took my FR-S on our little date out to the Blue Ridge Mountains where we got to see the famed Norfolk & Western 611 and cruise Skyline Drive. This was a blast, and I took many pictures.
Happy to report the car still shreds the back roads, and I’m amazed at Ruby’s superpower of being able to sleep while I drive spiritedly.
And that brings us to today! The car’s fairly clean right now and hiding in the garage. There’s still more to do, but at this point they’re all fun things and not needed-for-the-car’s-survival things. The next “major” change will be swapping out the still fresh Morimoto XB headlights for some OEM RS2.0 headlights I have being clear filmed. The Morimotos are excellent in every way but I just can’t get used to the smoked headlight look. It’s just not for me.
I wasn’t sure if I’d ever catch up to the modern day on my website, so this is also a little accomplishment.
Thank you for reading. I think I’ll go for a drive. ❤