AEM Scion FR-S Photo Shoot and Interview with Custom Tuner Young Tea of FRS 86 in the Light

Another shot of Young Tea's Scion FR-S in the AEM warehouse
Another shot of Young Tea's Scion FR-S in the AEM warehouse

It's not too often you meet someone who genuinely believes in something. They have a passion in their voice that seems to fill the air with energy and encourages those around them to share in their vision. I had the pleasure of meeting such a man, not too long ago, at an AEM photo-shoot.

I was called to the parking lot, just outside the AEM main lobby, where I met the owner of a Scion FR-S scheduled for a photo shoot. I asked the owner a few questions to see what I was working with. His responses were precise and full of information. After our brief introduction, I could tell this guy was for real. My first impression was one of confidence and ambition and it was clear to me that there was more to this guy than what was on the surface.

By this time, the camera equipment was ready to go and we headed over to the AEM warehouse in the back to begin the Scion FR-S photo shoot. This is where I really got to know him.

His name is Young Tea, and this is his story.

Growing up in Lakeland, Florida, Young remembers hanging out in the garage while his dad worked on cars. "I was always hovering around him as he fixed cars," Young explained. He eventually started helping his dad out. "People would bring cars over, and we would wrench on them in the garage." Air intakes, exhaust systems and minor bolt-on parts would only be the beginning for Young Tea. He had no idea this small taste of the tuner world would develop into such a large appetite to learn and understand the industry from the inside out.

Young Tea began his professional career in automotive at age 15, when he found his first job at the local car wash. He started out vacuuming cars, but his hard work quickly awarded him a position as Head Detailer. Young developed a strong interest in mobile audio and really liked working with cars, so he decided it was time to move on to bigger things. He applied for a position at the Best Buy Mobile Electronics Department, where he was hired to push sales. After Best Buy, Young took a sales position in Circuit City's car audio department, where he was eventually given the opportunity to perform audio system installations.

The lights inside the AEM warehouse started turning on and off as the camera crew searched for the proper ambience to photograph the FRS. This was a welcome distraction that gave me a chance to write down some of the details I skipped, just trying to keep up with this fast-pace highly articulate conversation.

George Hsieh, AEM Brand Manager was responsible for introducing me to Young Tea and coordinating this photo shoot at the AEM facility. George is quite the tuner enthusiast himself. It really didn't matter that we were standing next to this massive rollup door, just inside the AEM warehouse, or the décor was that of metal racks, filled with AEM air intakes and AEM air filters, I felt like I was hanging out with old friends, looking for an opportunity to pop the hood and brag.

Young Tea brought his Scion FR-S to AEM for photo-shoot
Young Tea brought his Scion FR-S to AEM for photo-shoot
Young Tea's Scion FR-S sports FIVE:AD body kit and wheels
Young Tea's Scion FR-S sports FIVE:AD body kit and wheels

The camera crew must have found that 'perfect mixture of natural and artificial light,' because the photography had started, the lights were steady, and I could see Young was about to take a deep breath. I cracked my knuckles, raised my pad of paper and readied my pen.

At the age of 17, Young decided it was time to get a car of his own. "My parents wanted me to get an automatic," Young mentioned. "I said nope, I don't want an automatic vehicle." He wanted nothing to do with automatics. "My cousin was getting a new vehicle and she had this 1992 Toyota Paseo," he added. "I ended up buying it from her for its trade in value."

Young and his friends were more prone to the Honda scene, mainly because parts were readily available, but he was really excited to have his own car. Sure, it wasn't a Honda, and it was an awful teal green, but it certainly attracted some attention at the local meet. "The first time I rolled over to the meet in my '92, my friends were making fun of me," explained Young.

I started staring across the AEM warehouse while Young continued to talk. I was thinking to myself that I would have been embarrassed to park this old teal green Toyota Paseo next to a large line of souped-up Honda Civics, Accords and Preludes, but Young didn't see it that way at all. I refocused my attention on the conversation, and realized it was through his confidence in turning madness into muscle, that Young quickly replied, "Ok guys, give me some time and I'll show you what can be done to this Toyota Paseo."

Young's project was off to a good start with a custom air intake and exhaust system. "It just wasn't enough," Young explained. "I picked up an old T25 ball bearing turbo and had it rebuilt. After some research on how a turbo works, I came up with my own design, non-intercooled, and put it on the Paseo. The engine was pushing 110,000 miles when I installed it." Young did not expect what happened next.

It was only 30,000 miles later, when the engine blew and put a damper on his project, leaving him with a difficult decision to make. "Do I want to get another stock motor, re-build it and put the turbo back on," Young pondered. "Or what are my other options?"

While reading an old tuner magazine, Young told me he ran across an article that detailed the 1.3 Turbo Starlet motor. "I read that the 1.3 Turbo Starlet motor bolted right up to the Paseo transmission," he explained. Young knew right away that this was the motor he wanted. "I ordered it from Japan," he told me. "When it arrived on the crate, the ECU was intact, but the harness was chopped." Young quickly got his hands on the wiring diagrams. His prior experience with wiring audio systems provided enough knowledge to not only read the diagrams, but to get the turbo running in safe mode.

Young knew that it was time to call in the professionals. "These guys in Miami were regulars at this motor swap," he told me. "I had the car shipped to them for repair." Five days later, Young's Paseo was returned, and everything was working as it should. "It was running ideal," explained Young. Then, as if struck with a jolt of energy, he took a deep breath and confidently said, "I had a top mount intercooled stock Starlet motor in my Toyota Paseo."

Young Tea and FRS 86 led the Tour of L.A. event
Young Tea and FRS 86 led the Tour of L.A. event
Custom Scion xB owned by Young Tea
Custom Scion xB owned by Young Tea
The Tour of L.A. started at Longo Toyota and was organized by FRS 86 and Young Tea
The Tour of L.A. started at Longo Toyota
and was organized by FRS 86 and Young Tea

Young's Toyota Paseo quickly became recognized by the locals everywhere he went. It was a car that demanded attention and a ride worthy to be proud of. "I wanted to build this car so the Honda guy's would show their respect," he stated. "It took a while, but eventually made a name for itself in the state of Florida."

After graduating from High School and starting College, Young wanted to dive deeper into the realm of car audio. He accepted a position at, high-end car audio shop, Sound Advice. His knowledge and experience continued to grow with every challenge he faced, making it easier for him to help others. At the same time that he worked for Sound Advice, he decided to work as a mechanic at a local mom and pop auto shop.

1992 Toyota Paseo modified by Young Tea
1992 Toyota Paseo modified by Young Tea
Another custom project for Young Tea was this '94 Acura Integra
Another custom project for Young Tea was this '94 Acura Integra
Young Tea's other modified '95 Acura Integra with '98 front-end swap
Young Tea's other modified '95 Acura Integra with '98 front-end swap

Young decided to move to L.A. and began working toward his ASE (Automotive Service Excellence) certifications. Young was considering opening up his own tuner shop, when one of his ASE instructors suggested he apply for a job at the Longo Dealership. Young remembers the conversation well. "He told me, with the passion, knowledge and info that you have; they can really use somebody like you." Deciding to take the advice of his instructor, Young became an employee of Longo Toyota, one of the largest automotive dealerships in the world.

The Longo Dealership started Young as a salesman, but his hard work led to a position running the Longo Scion Department, and eventually the Longo Assistant Service Manager. After some time, Young left the dealership to work for Five Axis, an automotive design studio, where he then learned more of the design and concept side of the automotive industry. From Five Axis, Young has since found his way back into the audio side working as the Director of Client Development at OEM Audio Plus. Young often travels to automotive dealerships to demonstrate new products and show off the latest aftermarket upgrades available to their new clients.

This is where Young's Scion FRS, the one currently posing for its glamour shot during the AEM photo shoot, comes into the picture.

There was a lot of buzz going around about a performance car Scion was working on. It sparked a lot of interest because Scion was redesigning an earlier concept car. Young had a feeling the FR-S was going to be in demand. FIVE:AD, the product line for Five Axis, began working on products for the Scion FR-S as soon as they heard it was going to be produced. The overall setup of the Scion FR-S was so impressive that Young decided he needed one of his own.

Young's excellent rapport with his previous employer, Longo Toyota, and the relationships built from Five Axis, gave him an opportunity to purchase the Scion FR-S one week before the official launch date in June.

"I would describe the Scion FR-S as a driver's car," Young mentioned. "It is well balanced and handles very well. It's very light, very nimble and very responsive." Any form of aftermarket modification that he would even consider, would need to perform as good as or better than they claimed. "That's why I decided to wait for the AEM air intake system", he explained. "I knew how much effort they put into making sure it was the right part for the car." Young had equipped the Scion FR-S with a FIVE:AD body kit and FIVE:AD wheelsbefore brining it to the AEM facility for air intake development. He became the first driver to use AEM's electronically tuned intake (ETI) system part 41-1408DS.

"AEM's FR-S air intake is very functional," Young added. "The ETI technology makes a big difference." AEM air intake 41-1408DS uses the ETI module to provide an accurate air flow reading to the vehicle's computer, so that the larger intake tube can feed the engine more air without tripping the check engine light.

Young Tea installing an AEM strut bar on his Scion FR-S
Young Tea installing an AEM strut bar on his Scion FR-S
Outdoor photo-shoot captures Young Tea's Scion FR-S
Outdoor photo-shoot captures Young Tea's Scion FR-S

"AEM is not like other companies I've seen," Young told me. "They don't come out with a product and then disappear on you. They have a reputation to maintain, and the level of research that goes into all of their products proves their dedication to aftermarket performance."

FRS 86 is stationed in Los Angeles, California, and was formed by Young Tea soon after he bought the Scion FRS. He knew the demand for FR-S would be great, and the desire to modify, customize and/or personalize it, could provide a foundation for organizing a community of like-minded drivers, similar to what was seen in the 1990's when Hondas were the focus.

Young began to organize a number of events, for FR-S 86, which encouraged collaboration and social contact. He positioned himself as the go-to guy for information related to any form of FR-S modification. Young works with a lot of companies and manufacturers who make products specifically for the Scion FRS. He follows the most current trends, stays up to date with the latest technologies and tests the newest products to hit the tuner market.

FRS 86, as well as Young Tea, share in a vision to reignite enthusiasm within the tuner market, and establish a community filled with experience and trust. This vision is to provide a place where questions are answered and new products are put to the test; a place where enthusiasts are born, reborn and continue to grow in a knowledgeable, safe environment. For more information about Young Tea and FRS 86, visit www.FRS86.com.

"My entire life has revolved around cars or automotive of some fashion," Young concluded. It reminded me of something I read years ago. The information one obtains from reading books and going to school certainly counts for something, but the knowledge gained through experience builds confidence and knowhow.

It was clear to me from the beginning that there was more to this guy named Young Tea. It has become clear to me now however, there is much more to come.

AEM 41-1408DS air intake for Scion FR-S shows an estimated gain of 10 horsepower at 6500rpm. To find AEM cold air intakes for a different vehicle, use AEM's Product Search. To find an AEM dealer use the Search for AEM Dealer or simply visit AEMintakes.com.


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