It’s hard to believe the famous SEMA custom car expo is now over 50 years in the running. It’s been going year-to-year solid for generations, save for a 2020 public health crisis snafu. Ten years ago, this tiny little Scion iQ made people drop what they were covering and flock to see it in the flesh at the 2011 SEMA show.
This mid-engined, highly modified iQ’s had its innards removed down to the bare shell. Gone is the anemic Toyota engine it came with. In its place is a 1.5-liter 1NZ engine from the Scion xB mounted in the rear compartment. Eat your heart out, Porsche 911.
Being a SEMA showstopper means the engine is far from stock. The fantastic team at Tokyo Automotive made sure the little four-spitter had all it needed to be a beast. JE Pistons 12:1 compression pistons, Web camshafts, ARP head studs, Burns Stainless exhaust, and AEM EMS4 ECU. It’s all fed through to the rear wheels via a six-speed manual transmission to a differential connected directly to the transmission in the vehicle’s rear. Coilover multilink shocks and Wilwood disc brakes are at all four corners with racing slick tires.
Tokyo Automotive documented the build from start to finish in their quest to make the deadline for the 2011 show. Every nut, bolt, and miscellaneous piece of metal that makes up what’s inside the metal shell of this iQ is custom-fabricated, hand-painted, and guaranteed not to be found on any iQ like it in the entire world. It’s now a legitimate rear-wheel-drive race car with all the credentials to race against cars several times its size, weight and price.
Tatsu Tsuchida, the architect, and brainchild behind the operation, had everything stacked against him in his quest to bring us something unique on a profound scale. It turns out that with enough money and enough brainpower, it’s possible to turn any old car you like into a certified speed demon. Ten years ago, that was prooven in the flesh. Check back for more custom car profiles here on autoevolution.