Joe Gearin
Joe Gearin Associate Publisher
7/30/12 9:23 a.m.

The grassroots motorsports world owes a debt of gratitude to younger gearheads, including—gasp!—the drift scene. Without these much-maligned enthusiasts, the fantastic new Scion FR-S and its fraternal twin, the Subaru BRZ, may have never seen the light of day.
By the new millennium, the flingable, affordable cars that were so common in the 1980s had all but disappeared. Even the spunky little AE86 Corolla GT-S had faded from the enthusiast scene.
That all changed with the popularization of “Initial D,” a Japanese anime series about a high-school kid who hones his drifting skills while making deliveries for his father’s tofu shop. His trusty car is a white-and-black 86—the number is pronounced “hachi roku” in Japanese—and the kids went crazy for it.
Scion and Subaru both took notice of the “Initial D”-generated enthusiasm for the car. They also saw a void in each of their product lines. The two companies decided to collaborate on a lightweight, rear-wheel-drive sports car that anyone could afford—including the “Initial D” fans who inspired it. The 86 project was born, and each company would release the resulting car under a different name: the Scion FR-S and the Subaru BRZ.
Next time you see a flat-brimmed youth at an automotive event, you may want to shake his hand and offer to buy him an energy drink.

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