The signature yellow, Rocket Bunny-wearing, drift machine from Bee Racing in Tokyo, has caused a stir and created a lot of discussion since its conception late last year. Arguments have sprung up on all corners of the net debating what it actually is and Kiyonori Imai from Bee-R just sat back and laughed at all the attention it is receiving. You see, it’s not a Scion FR-S despite wearing Scion badges and anyone with half a brain will also figure out that the Scion FR-S is a LHD model since it was a North American designated model. It also isn’t a Toyota 86, despite wearing a front bumper that is indeed a genuine Toyota item. So that leaves only one other option.
It is in fact, a Subaru BRZ. I’ll say it again; it’s a BEE-R-ZED. Get it? Got it? Good. One of the first off the production line, in fact. Its production numbers go back to April 26th 2012 which was just after the cars were released and Imai san wouldn’t tell me how he acquired it. What isn’t a mystery is the method behind the madness that is Kiyonori Imai’s expert level trolling. It’s hard to stand out in Japan at the best of times among a sea of appliances and robots in suits and this was one of the reasons the car was built in this configuration. It has people talking and is definitely a stand out creation.
I was at Bee Racing to meet with Imai san and I couldn’t help but chuckle a little as he described the build to me with a wide, comical grin on his face the whole time he spoke. I totally got what he was saying and laughed along with him, since I knew the Bee-R BRZ was the automotive equivalent of an impossible to hit curve ball. And it’s brilliantly pitched.
Wearing the Bee-R signature colors in 3 coat pearl yellow, the BRZ sits low and tough, accentuated by that amazing wide-body kit from Rocket Bunny. Having already purchased the BRZ, Imai fell in love with Kei Miura’s designs but there was just one problem. It was designed for the Toyota 86 and the Subaru’s front bumper assembly is a completely different shape, so off came the front bumper and corner lamp assemblies and in their place, went the Toyota parts. The Scion badges were just the icing on the cake.
There are two versions of the kit. You can have the entire set, consisting of 12 individual pieces that make up the over-fenders, front and rear under spoilers and those curvy side steps for about RM10,000 but that price doesn’t get you that massive, in-your-face rear wing. That’s a separate piece again and retails for another RM10,000. In the case of the wing, also, decisions need to be made since it is mounted directly to the trunk lid with rivets. It’s an extreme kit for extremely dedicated owners but at a reasonable price, I would have thought.
Rocket Bunny has risen to prominence in the last few years through the wide body creations for the Nissan GT-R and Nissan S-chassis, so the creation of a super wide Toyota 86 kit was a very welcome addition to the lineup. Imai-san’s BRZ started life in WR Blue mica, fresh from the Subaru factory floor. The decision to add the RB kit is not one to be taken lightly because once you start, there’s no turning back. The reason for this is that around 100 centimeters of metal has to be sliced away from all four corners of the car to accommodate the more aggressive fitment of wheels along with a wider track. Compounding matters, the body kit is then riveted into place. The entire surgical procedure on the body is a one-way street and irreversible, so it takes a special type of owner to allow someone to knife the chassis up in order to fit the kit.
Having finished with the body, the car was stripped of all external parts and sent to Imai’s friends for painting. The result is a beautiful shade of yellow covering a very aggressive form. Since Bee-R are well known in D1 circles through the exploits of Tsuyoshi Tezuka and his Bee-R324, the BRZ would also need to be set up for drifting and Imai specifically went about making sure that form paired with function.
Initially, this led to a set of DG5 adjustable coil-overs being installed, sprung to 8kg’s on each corner; milder than I actually thought they would be considering how low the car sits but the car is totally streetable and surprisingly well balanced between supple and stiff. Filling those riveted arches is a set of original 5 spoke, “BEE-R5” 17 inch alloys. These beauties, shod with Goodyear Eagle RS Sport rubber, are no longer in production but Imai still had a set lying around that actually suited the BRZ’s hubs perfectly. They measure a 9J with a +25mm offset on each corner and are cranked inward with a few degrees of negative camber, giving the BRZ that super angry, low and wide stance from any angle you care to look at it.
Since this is a work in progress, there are a fair few parts that remain standard but there have been some great additions to the interior and drivetrain to handle some of the abuse Imai throws at the car during weekends when it is mercilessly flogged at circuits like Nikko and Tsukuba. For example, the engine, while still naturally aspirated, benefits from the latest Bee-R ROM tune, Rasty headers and a full 3 inch, custom Bee-R exhaust system from the headers back. The installation of a GReddy oil cooler and catch tank is supported by an uprated fuel delivery system. Getting the tail out and holding it there is a Tomei Powered 2-way mechanical differential; the 5.1 final drive shortening the top speed of the car but serving dual purposes in helping the BRZ reach its peak in the power-band quicker and then, helping it to stay there.
It makes 200hp at the wheels in this current tune but Imai hinted that there was much more to come and inevitably the car will be either turbocharged or supercharged in the very near future. The target is to get it to push around 260hp. When fired up, the boxer FA20 in the BRZ sounds oddly like a rotary engine with a very deep and sharp raspiness to it. The exhaust note is really quite pleasing to the ears in any case.
Inside there are a few simple modifications including a great pair of Bride Low Max semi buckets, HPI harnesses and a Driftworks steering wheel. The interior of an 86 or a BRZ is a really inspiring place to be; functional and attractive with everything you need and nothing you don’t.
Undoubtedly though, your thoughts must be turning back toward that awesome exterior. It’s a brilliant looking machine and the kit just accentuates the natural lines of the car in a way only Rocket Bunny owner and designer, Kei Miura, would understand. As much as I love the way this kit looks, I’m not among those that would take a new 86 and start hacking metal away from it in the chase for a wider wheel base. I’m just too averse to something that extreme but thankfully, some people aren’t!
Imai-san’s Subaru is a beginners lesson in Japanese efficiency and a basic study in Japanese automotive aesthetic and mechanical approaches; less is often more, simple is often best and form always follows function.
Car: Subaru BRZ
Engine Mods: Rasty headers, custom Bee*R 3-inch exhaust system, GReddy oil cooler, GReddy oil catch tank, uprated fuel system
Electronics: Bee*R ROM ECU reflash
Transmission: Tomei 2-way LSD, 5.1 final drive
Chassis & Handling: DG5 coilovers
Wheels & Tyres: Bee-R5 17 x 9jj offset +25
Interior: Bride Low Max semi-bucket seats, HPI racing harness, Driftworks steering wheel
Exterior: Complete Rocket Bunny body kit
Garage: Power Builder Bee*R
Text & Photo: Adam Zillin of 7Tune