Last year, the Specialty Equipment Market Association, or SEMA, trade show in Las Vegas attracted over 60,000 domestic and international buyers. And each year, automotive tuners, manufacturers, and aftermarket specialists scramble to draw as much attention as possible. It’s a chance to showcase creativity and design to a unique audience that cannot be found anywhere else — at least not at this size.
So it was no surprise that Scion is rolling out some vehicles that do not fit the traditional scope of the Toyota-owned division. 2015 marks the 11th Annual Scion Tuner Challenge, in which the manufacturer selects proposals submitted to its website by teams of designers. This year, illest, a streetwear-brands company, and Crooks & Castles each received $15,000 and a Scion iM to get freaky with.
The illest iM was taken on by creative director Mark Arcenal, who used the Japanese VIP automotive movement as a baseline for his design. VIP refers more to the cars than the people who drive them. Traditionally in Japan, members of organized crime would drive large luxury cars to draw less attention from the authorities than they would in an exotic. They would add their personal touch to the wheels and suspension, but avoided being too flashy. Inevitably, the style was adapted by enthusiasts, who would implement large diameter wheels, slammed suspension, and (sometimes severely) negative camber.
The illest iM features 19-inch Rotiform wheels, Brembo 4-piston brakes, Air Lift Performance 3H suspension, a new leather and suede interior, and MB Quart sound.
Rob Panlilio of Crooks & Castles went a little more aggressive with his build. the C&C iM rides on an air suspension and 18-inch deep-dish Rotiform wheels. A new custom exhaust and NOS kit add performance. The interior features a white leather-wrapped roll cage, steering wheel and shift knob by Nardi, Recaro seats, and Sparco pedals.
Scion’s Beyond the Tuner Challenge includes two entries. Eddie Huang, author of Fresh off the Boat: The Series and creator of its TV adaptation, used his iA project car to create a spin-off of the classic Los Angeles lowrider. Metallic yellow paint and root-beer-colored rocker panels are topped off by a mural of a human panda, Huang’s alter ego, on the hood. The wire wheels are dipped in gold, and a custom gold-plated front grill announces Eddie’s arrival. The interior is bedecked with a chain-link steering wheel, swivel seats with Alcantara inserts, a bamboo shifter, and Pioneer sound system.
The human panda iA floats on a dual-stage air bag system with independent control for each wheel.
Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman wanted his iA to appear possessed. Taking inspiration from his new comic series Outcast, Kirkman summoned the demon for his build. The Outcast iA features a two-minute choreographed program that runs through a series of actions that breathe twisted life into the vehicle. The rear doors and fuel door open on their own, while the front and rear wheels steer themselves. The front and rear lights then flash independently, while the car rises and falls on its air suspension.
On the inside, the possessed iA’s steering wheel and seats cannot sit still. The glovebox opens up and smoke pours out through the vents.
Following SEMA, Scion will award $10,000 to the winning build at the L.A. Auto Show on November 28.