The Rise of the Scion Nation

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Scion finally went national in the beginning of February, launching car sales in the East, Southeast, and Gulf States. To celebrate, the Scion Nation gathered on a Saturday afternoon in Los Angeles.

Some 350 xA and xB Scions and 1300 people showed up for a Scion-sponsored music festival that featured displays by the makers of aftermarket parts. The cars were parked and a photographer captured the moment from a tall crane. The sun sparkled on custom paint and trick wheels, while the rumble of maxed-out woofers could be heard across a half mile or more.

Scion has been selling cars in California since last June, and it was quite something to see the results as a long line of xAs and xBs filed onto the festival site at the former El Toro marine air station. For months, self-styled marketing experts have portrayed Scion as a contrived response to Toyota's aging owner body, and there have been doubts that a Scion-style audience of buyers even existed. And yet here was the counter-culture automotive crowd, just as Scion management had promised.

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The xB made up the bulk of the car count. The boxy Scion has accounted for 65 percent of Scion sales in California, much to the surprise of Toyota's corporate executives, who anticipated that the radical van-let would only make up only 35 percent of the mix. The xB clearly connects with car-audio enthusiasts, and most of these cars were dressed out as mobile acoustic environments with dark windows, sweet custom seats, and a meticulously selected array of audio equipment. The xB is like an Apple iPod on wheels, a reminder that the automobile is the primary venue for music listening in contemporary America.

Meanwhile, the snub-nose Scion xA appeals to car enthusiasts with a more traditional interest in fast driving. Many of the xAs on display from aftermarket suppliers were parked with their hoods open, a recognition that this Scion is all about the metal, not just the space inside. That said, most of the bits for the xA encompass little more than a front anti-roll bar, a polished valve cover, and big brakes, as supercharger kits and suspension modifications are still coming on-stream from various aftermarket manufacturers.

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