Oct 16

Factory Manual R154 Toyota Soarer 1JZ GTE Review

After almost 2 years of ownership and just under 10,000 miles I think I’m an ideal candidate to review this car. So this is for you if you’re thinking of buying one. This review is based on the 1JZGTE, R154 manual version, so the sportiest of the bunch, but most of the stuff carries as the cars are largely the same apart from engines.

The other types out there include a 3.0L 2JZ-GE non turbo model and 2 variations of the V8 1UZ-FE version (correct me if I’m wrong!) the V8’s are the range toppers, with one of the models having 4 wheel steering and self-leveling suspension. The 4 wheel steer and self-leveling suspension is probably the next sought after model after the 1JZ versions. That’s due to them being a very limited run car.

Toyota Soarer Country Road Blast

Mine isn’t the purest of the breed as it’s had a few light modifications, but if anything, these are complimentary to the car rather than detract from it.

First off, we’ll start with the design and ergonomics of the car, this is a beautifully designed car that is very heavily over engineered. It oozes quality and it shows. Park it next to a modern day Toyota, Especially something like a Prius and you can see it’s a better built car immediately as you walk towards it and compare the panel gaps and materials used.

I’ve never been in such a solid, substantial feeling car as this. It seems to be better put together than its Toyota Chaser counterparts in my opinion too. Everything is big, heavy and well thought out.

Toyota Soarer side view

When you sit in it, the interior kind of wraps around you. You feel really safe and secure. That said, it is a very small interior when taking into account the size of the car! They’ve also managed to hide screw heads and other parts that would hold an interior together so it’s just as seamless and flowing as the outside of the car on the in.

There is no squeaks or rattles to talk of, even after 20+ years and a good 200,000 KMs on the clock. There’s plenty of leather everywhere and even the plastic parts are a soft textured leather like material, so again, are very nice to touch and adds to that feeling of quality. They also look luxurious too.

Everything is electric in the car too, from wing mirrors to seats and everything in between.. all these years on it all works as faultlessly as it did when it left the factory in ’95! The digital dash is a really cool feature and even stacks up and looks pretty when comparing it to today’s digital dashes. This was always the big thing that struck people when they first got in it. It reminds them of “space invaders” is the most common comment!

Toyota Soarer Leather Interior

MX5 momo Wheels

It also has an electric sun roof even though it has air conditioning.. Yes this is important to point out as it seems to be a dyeing feature in modern day cars! There’s nothing better than having the windows and sun roof open in the middle of summer on a beautiful country road with the turbo’s fluttering and the 1JZ singing to you. It’s a really awesome “summer car” or GT cruiser. The driver’s seat has an electric lumbar support that you can adjust accordingly, this really helps with the longer journeys.

Talking of Journeys and driving, let’s get to the engine! The main motive behind me buying it if I’m honest! The 1JZ is as good as internet folklore would have you suggest! I’ve also been out in quite a few now, so knew what to expect! Where the internet messes up though is power figures.

1JZ GTE Twin Turbo

You DON’T need a 500BHP+ JZ engine to enjoy it (I’ve been in a couple!) It’s excellent as is in its standard form and provides more than enough power and torque to really enjoy it day to day or at weekends. It’s a silky smooth, quiet and refined engine that delivers great, reliable power. It feels as over engineered as the rest of the car. It can also be as loud and lairy as those 500bhp cars if you get a decent exhaust on it! A Stock JZ with some breathing mods, doesn’t really sound that dissimilar to a heavily tuned one unless the tuned one is cammed up etc.

There’s 2 types of 1JZ, the early non-VVTI Twin Turbo that I had in the Soarer, and the Newer VVTI single turbo that you can get in later models of the Soarer/Chaser’s etc.

Power wise, they are very close. I drag raced against my friends Chaser and the Soarer twin turbo would pull ahead and loose power up top, this is where the single turbo VVTI would then clinch it, next gear, rinse and repeat.
The Twin Turbo’s aren’t sequential, they are 2 same size Turbo’s. So they deliver a lot of power at once, low down around 2.5k then tail off after about 5k, the engine redlines at around 6.8 or 7.2k I think. So you get a lump of torque and boost in the mid range.. which was actually preferable to me. This was great on motorways when you sit in 5th gear, you don’t need to shift down as the power is right there for overtaking.

toyota chaser drift

While the VVTI is a technological wonder producing similar torque in that mid range, it’s definitely not the same experience. It’s feels much more like a linear N/A engine with all the power at the top.

Either engine is excellent though, but I feel the Twin Turbo is more necessary with the lowdown torque in a heavy GT car. The boost of the twins is quite aggressive too as they spool faster, so you get a bit of lag and then a noticeable surge forwards as they peak! Never got bored of the way it carries itself on the turbo’s. They are also like old log burners too. Strong, dependable and reliable as long as they’ve been looked after relatively well, due to this strength they can take a few bad owners too. That said the most common failing point is the twins, but they are quite cheap to replace if you shop around, or this is the point that people change to a big single.

They can take so much abuse in general, so I’d never really be worried about buying one as long as things like the cam belts are done and oil changes are kept on top of. They are generally owned by enthusiasts in Japan and here in the UK too, so a lot of this is taken care of on most cars.

Factory Manual Soarer 1jzgte

The final point to discuss really is handling, they are no MX-5, but with a decent set of coilovers and good spring rates they do handle very well. The Tien Drift Coilovers and springs I had were a good combination. They were stiff but damped well, and the springs and Cusco Strut brace stopped it rolling too much. Ultimately you can never really get away from the weight and mass of the car as these are very heavy, but you can definitely make them more compliant and responsive.

The Suspension components are basically all Mk4 Supra on the Soarers, so a lot of parts are interchangeable between the two. This also means they have really good, stable high speed cornering characteristics. Fast winding country roads are a joy in this. Technical, twisty ones, not so much. That said it could do it quite well still, and it never gets old powering out of a tight corner in second gear with the 2 way diff locking hard and launching you towards the horizon!

Toyota Soarer !jz Twin Turbo

It does have power steering, but it weights up nicely and gives you really good feedback from the road surface through the wheel. That said, it is a little dead in the middle, but this seems to be characteristic of 90’s cars and could probably be addressed with new bushes or a tighter steering rack if you were so inclined.

It also has excellent return to center when you want the back end to step out and control a nice slide. If anything it could do with a bit more steering lock, but once you get used to it, you can transition quite happily for days if drifting is your thing!

Factory Manual Soarer

All in, an excellent car, I was sorry to see it go, and I feel privileged to of owned one. I dare say I might end up in one again, It really is a perfect and very capable all-rounder, even by today’s standards. I think this is truly a testament to how far ahead of their time they were.

However, the sale of this allowed me to get my dream car! More on that soon :)

  1. The Quest to get my First Japanese Turbo Charged Car..
  2. Why Import a Toyota Soarer from Japan Over Buying Domestically
  3. The Importation Process of my 1JZ Toyota Soarer
  4. My Factory Manual Toyota Soarer 1JZ GTE finally arriving in the UK!
  5. Registering My Soarer and Getting The Cars Registration With The DVLA in the UK
  6. Toyota Soarer 1JZGTE Review
  7. Toyota Soarer 1JZ GTE R154 Gallery

Permanent link to this article: http://carsandcoolstuff.com/2017/10/factory-manual-r154-toyota-soarer-1jz-gte-review/

Oct 15

Registering My Soarer and Getting The Cars Registration With The DVLA in the UK

This paperwork part was the hardest bit to be honest, but it didn’t take long, and it’s totally doable yourself, not worth paying the import company extra to do in my opinion unless you’re short of time or really unsure what to do after reading the guides provided.

The next tough part is the waiting periods after sending mail off, since DVLA turn around is incredibly slow. That said, despite the 28 day turnaround, I was receiving communications within 2 weeks, so not so bad.

The DVLA has an import pack that you can either download or request to be sent to you on the DVLA website. This also includes instructions on how to fill the form out. It’s well worth downloading or requesting a couple of copies in case you get it wrong first time around.

Toyota Soarer Finally with me

The guide it comes with is pretty clear, you just need to read it properly and make sure you understand the steps clearly, there’s a lot of citations, ands/if’s to account for every type of vehicle out there.

A large portion of it you don’t have to fill out on cars over 15 years old, you’ll have to fill out a lot more if you import a newer car as there’s more emissions and safety standards/equipment to deal with.

Toyota Soarer 1jz GTE rear

First and foremost you need to get an MOT for the car.. you can do this by trailering the car to a garage or insuring the car on the VIN number and driving it to the garage- This is an unusual request unless the company you’re insuring with deals with imports and modifed cars (you should aim for one of these companies with these types of cars to be honest). If you insure and drive, Make sure you have a copy of your insurance certificate with you. I carried my import docs etc too. Fortunately I didn’t get pulled! But all of this stuff covers you.

Generally you also have 30 day’s to provide a registration number or the policy will be automatically cancelled. With the DVLA 28 day turnaround, this is a bit unrealistic really, but as long as you keep them informed, it should be ok. I had to do this, more on that below..

R154 1JZ GTE Toyota Soarer

In order to get a MOT, the car will have to meet all the standards expected as per a normal MOT on a UK bought car. If you get a very clean car this shouldn’t be a problem. The major change you’ll have to do is get a fog light fitted. If you’ve got a car with slick tires or any other mechanical issues that compromise the road worthiness of the car, this will need to be sorted before going for the MOT.

With regards to insuring and driving with no registration, you’re legally aloud to drive the car to a garage in this situation as long as you have an appointment. So make sure you’re genuinely in the books at the garage and have a contact number handy just in case. This is the only set of circumstances that you can drive the car under. Once you’ve got the MOT and got home, you’re not allowed to drive the car again until the certificate of registration comes through.

Once you’ve got your MOT, you send this off with your registration documents, the Export Certificate (from Japan, I took a copy of this as the DVLA will keep it on file at their offices) and a full payment for 6 or 12 months road tax, then sit back and wait for your registration to come through!.. This should be it unless there’s complications.. I had complications unfortunately.

Toyota Soarer Leather Interior

My problems arose as a result of the MOT not matching up with the details I put on the registration document. Since the car had to be MOT’d on it’s VIN number. This was picked up at the MOT station as a Lexus SC330 (which doesn’t exist!) I was trying to register a Toyota Soarer. I should’ve known better, but I thought as long as the VIN matches on the documents it shouldn’t be a problem.

Safe to say, my first application got rejected. Upon talking to the DVLA further about it, they just wanted a document to confirm the car is what I want to register it as. This document could’ve been a hand written letter from me explaining the discrepancy or an offical headed letter from a manufacturer or garage.

The gentleman I spoke to was very helpful and said due to the large volume of paperwork going through the DVLA, they ok most things unless there is a glaring discrepancy. He basically told me they don’t know or care what the car is as long as everything adds up, or there’s an explanation for the discrepancies.

Toyota Soarer Rear End

So I did both. I contacted Toyota through their website, and provided the VIN number, This allowed them to verify it was a genuine Toyota Soarer. I got a written letter with a Toyota logo on the top through from them to say its a genuine Toyota Soarer with the VIN number in the writing of the letter. I also wrote a letter explaining that these cars were sold as Lexus‘ in America, hence the possible confusion with information inputed during the MOT. I also explained a lot of people register them as a Lexus here.. because it’s a more prestigious badge than Toyota.

With all of this now enclosed, I sent it off. This was a setback which meant my insurance could expire before the registration got sent back. I called my insurance company and explained the situation, they were very helpful and were ok with this due to the fact I gave them a heads up.

..Just under 2 weeks later, I got the registration back and had a license plate number for the car! This was hands down, the best bit of mail I’ve received through the post in my life!

1JZ GTE Twin Turbo

I was straight down to get the plates made up, called my insurance company and let them know what the reg was then I managed to get out for a little drive! So awesome after it sitting in my garage for a good month begging to be driven!

Check out the Gallery for pics of the first drive along with some pictures I took in my ownership of the car.

So to conclude my experience of importing a car for the first time, I would do it again for the right car or something quite obscure. That said, With the advent of Facebook groups and the never ending expansion of enthusiast forums, I dare say, someone has the car you want stowed away and for sale at the right price out there.

This is actually exactly what I did for my next car.. more to follow on this shortly!

Toyota Soarer Origin Streamline Bodykit

  1. The Quest to get my First Japanese Turbo Charged Car..
  2. Why Import a Toyota Soarer from Japan Over Buying Domestically
  3. The Importation Process of my 1JZ Toyota Soarer
  4. My Factory Manual Toyota Soarer 1JZ GTE finally arriving in the UK!
  5. Registering My Soarer and Getting The Cars Registration With The DVLA in the UK
  6. Toyota Soarer 1JZGTE Review
  7. Toyota Soarer 1JZ GTE R154 Gallery

Permanent link to this article: http://carsandcoolstuff.com/2017/10/registering-my-soarer-and-getting-the-cars-registration-with-the-dvla-in-the-uk/

Oct 15

My Factory Manual Toyota Soarer 1JZ GTE finally arriving in the UK!

This is the really exciting part! I was contacted by Japwest mods the week before my birthday to let me know the car is due any day now. By the time Japwest mods had finaly got their hands on it and unloaded it from the container, it was actually on my 25th Birthday! Talk about a quarter life crisis celebration, this was perfect! I got a lot more pictures and info through aswell, Happy birthday to me!

That said, it was sat in customs while the Tax and import duties were handled and cleared. During this process, I was advised it could cost more due to the weight of the car.. not something you want to hear last minute! This was quite alarming, fortunately it managed to slip in just under on the scales. That was a relief.Manual Toyota Soarer

At this point I could’ve picked it up from the port myself, assuming I had trade plates and was a trader/insured, or arranged a transporter to go and pick it up. Upon discussing further with Japwest Mods, they said they’d get in contact with one of the companies they use a lot themselves. This turned out to be the best option cost wise after getting prices from several other transporters. It took a couple of days longer for the car to get here, but this just added to the anticipation/excitement of it all!

The evening the car arrived at my house was a massive “Wow“/ pinch me moment! Soarer’s are BIG.. very long car indeed, the front and rear just keep going on! That said, it’s an incredibly sleek, beautiful thing to look at. Hard to believe this was a mid 90’s car, Even harder to believe it was mine!

Toyota Soarer Exhaust System

It definitely bought my neighbours out, a lot of them weren’t sure what it was! They’d never heard of a Soarer. It was nice to get the appreciation from “non car“ people though, I think that’s quite a testament to what a great looking car this is.

The car was now stowed away in the garage so I could begine the DVLA process of getting the car registered… This was a very slow/painful process but if you can put the time in yourself, I’d highly recommend it.

A lot of import companies will charge extra for this paperwork side of it, most I’ve seen is £200! It’s only about a half hours work.. That said Mine wasn’t that easy as there’s a lot of mixed information around whether this is a Toyota or Lexus.. more on that in the next post.

1JZGTE Twin Turbo Non VVTI

  1. The Quest to get my First Japanese Turbo Charged Car..
  2. Why Import a Toyota Soarer from Japan Over Buying Domestically
  3. The Importation Process of my 1JZ Toyota Soarer
  4. My Factory Manual Toyota Soarer 1JZ GTE finally arriving in the UK!
  5. Registering My Soarer and Getting The Cars Registration With The DVLA in the UK
  6. Toyota Soarer 1JZGTE Review
  7. Toyota Soarer 1JZ GTE R154 Gallery

Permanent link to this article: http://carsandcoolstuff.com/2017/10/my-factory-manual-toyota-soarer-1jz-gte-finally-arriving-in-the-uk/

Oct 15

The Importation Process of my 1JZ Toyota Soarer

It is possible to buy a car privately in a very similar way to what you would do here by seeing a car and contacting the seller. But the language barrier is a big problem, you also have the problem of time zones and not being able to see the car in person. If you do buy privately that way, you will need to arrange international payment through your bank, transportation to the doc and whatever process is necessary to de-register the car in Japan (more costs and communication that could get complicated)
Toyota Soarer Import If you manage to get that far, you’ll then have to wait for it to get here, pay the HMRC a wad of import duties and tax, then either transport the car home or arrange to get it driven home on trade plates.

I won’t elaborate much more, since I don’t know the intricacies of the business side, especially in Japan, Thats just what I’ve gleaned from other people’s experience and what I’ve heard about during the importation process of mine.

Toyota Soarer Digital DashAlternatively you can go through your preferred importation company who handles all of that and can give you a relatively flat rate price for the task.

I went through a company called Japwest Mods who handled everything for me.

The owner had a man on the ground in Japan who would find the cars and check them out. My requirements were quite specific, and they delivered on what I wanted.

I requested a completely stock car or a lightly modified car, gave them my budget and that’s how it all began, they then start searching for cars within your budget and specification.

Toyota Soarer Leather Interior

If you find something you like, you pay the deposit, they check it out in japan and if it meets your expectations a deal is made. The car is then driven to the port, de registered in Japan and loaded on to a ship to the UK.

This is where you sit back and hold tight for 3-4 months while you await the arrival of your fresh JDM import!

If this wait alone puts you off, then stop thinking of importing now. Personally this wasn’t for me, but then trying to find a manual 1jz Soarer in the UK is hard to do. In the time it took for this to arrive, I was only aware of 3 or 4 other ones for sale. They were all converted and not factory manual. Personally, I would rather it was put in place by Toyota themselves than some people you don’t know. Gave me that peace of mind.

This reassured me I made the right decision.

Next I’ll cover what happens once it arrives in UK.

Toyota Soarer Origin Stream Line

  1. The Quest to get my First Japanese Turbo Charged Car..
  2. Why Import a Toyota Soarer from Japan Over Buying Domestically
  3. The Importation Process of my 1JZ Toyota Soarer
  4. My Factory Manual Toyota Soarer 1JZ GTE finally arriving in the UK!
  5. Registering My Soarer and Getting The Cars Registration With The DVLA in the UK
  6. Toyota Soarer 1JZGTE Review
  7. Toyota Soarer 1JZ GTE R154 Gallery

Permanent link to this article: http://carsandcoolstuff.com/2017/10/the-importation-process-of-my-1jz-toyota-soarer/

Oct 15

Why Import a Toyota Soarer from Japan Over Buying Domestically

The most immediate reason is choice and availability, There’s also potential to save a lot of money. This also opens the door to Japan only models such as the Soarer we have here. If you type “Toyota Soarer” or “Nissan Skyline” into a Japanese used car website/auction site, The world is your oyster with the breadth and depth of cars available, especially when it comes to modified cars. Type the same thing into Gumtree or ebay UK… well yea, choice is limited or non existent!

As some of you may be aware, this car was also sold to American markets as a Lexus SC300 and SC430. The engine options were a 2JZ-GE non-turbo straight 6 (SC300) and a 1UZ-FE V8 (SC430)
Whilst both engines are unquestionably decent,refined powerplants, they don’t quite get the pulse racing and adrenaline going like the 1JZ GTE Twin Turbo engine thats in my one. This particular spec and engine choice was not sold outside of Japan either.

The other benefit from buying from Japan is the ability to get a cleaner bodyshell. Whether this is true or not I’m not 100% sure, but they don’t salt the roads in Japan so cars don’t rust and rot as quickly as they do here.

This was confirmed once I got my car up on the ramp. This Toyota Soarer is from 1995, so over 20 years old. There isn’t a hint of rust anywhere, not even on the sills or jacking points, or up in the arches. This shell is clean. Cars that are even 2-5 years old in the UK show signs of rust, especially around the arches where a lot of the salt and road dirt build up takes place.

Some of my friends who have also imported cars from Japan, even 80’s AE86’s are finding the same thing aswell. Despite Japans seemingly lairy climate at times, cars seem to stay cleaner for longer.

Coming back to the money side of things it is a great way to save money and a way to get round the “JDM Scene Tax” that you are undoubtedly aware of, but this is also where things can come apart aswell. While I initially saved money by paying the price for the Car landed and nothing else.

My general expenses with regards to getting the car legal/ MOT etc has bought it back to the similar price of buying one already imported to the UK, is it worth it? To me and my very specific expectations. Yes. To other people, maybe not. Hopefully the next few Articles of writing will help you decide on this, Next we’ll talk about the process involved, this will cover finding the car in Japan to the point where I was driving it in the UK.

JDM Toyota Soarer

  1. The Quest to get my First Japanese Turbo Charged Car..
  2. Why Import a Toyota Soarer from Japan Over Buying Domestically
  3. The Importation Process of my 1JZ Toyota Soarer
  4. My Factory Manual Toyota Soarer 1JZ GTE finally arriving in the UK!
  5. Registering My Soarer and Getting The Cars Registration With The DVLA in the UK
  6. Toyota Soarer 1JZGTE Review
  7. Toyota Soarer 1JZ GTE R154 Gallery

Permanent link to this article: http://carsandcoolstuff.com/2017/10/why-import-a-toyota-soarer-from-japan-over-buying-domestically/

Oct 15

The Quest to Get My First Japanese Turbo Charged Car..

So, it was inevitable I’d end up here eventually, Its not hard to tell, I suppose, looking at some of the previous features of friends cars on my website! I’m a sucker for anything Jap, with a turbo. After going out in my friends JZX100 and experiencing the 1JZ GTE engine in that. I wanted a slice of this action.

Its a bit strange that after many years of coveting the RB skyline engines, I’ve ended up flipping at the last minute to the 1J. I think the thing is, I’ve been fortunate enough to experience a few Skylines, but not really Toyota’s equivalent, also insurance was a big factor. Even at 25 with 5 years no claims, the Skyline and 200sx family is still significantly pricier to insure than the Toyota family of straight six turbo engines.

I’ve also done my fair bit of research on both and the general consensus seems to be the more in Favour of the 1JZ GTE motor over its immediately and relatively available equivalent, the RB25.

This is where we then break it down to personal opinions and preferences. I think the 1JZ GTE sounds better than the RB25 in its standard twin turbo form (what we have here) and I think the range of cars the 1JZ is in is much better and readily available than Nissan’s equivalents (in the uk at least anyway)

As you can see here, I’ve gone for a Toyota Soarer. Again, I think for the money, it is a nicer looking car from the outside, and its most definitely a nicer place to sit on the inside. This is an incredibly comfortable GT car, whereas the Skyline is more towards the performance end of the scale, that said, My Soarer you see here has a few nice things to keep it with the competition ;)

Its all light mods but just the right stuff, I wanted a close to standard car as possible so if any work needed to be done, I’d know who’s done and how its been done, Its also nice to know a car hasn’t been completely gutted, botched or messed with in any major way. Thats why I had to jump on this one when it came up.. only problem was, it was in Japan!

Quick list of the mods then:

Toyota Soarer 1JZ GTE Factory R154 Manual

  • Crazy JDM MIniDisc Player
  • Tanabe Medallion exhaust system
  • AVS model 7 18 inches alloys
  • TRD 2 Way LSD, 4.1 Ratio
  • Big Greddy Front Mount Intercooler
  • HKS Mushroom Air Filter
  • Origin Streamline Bodykit
  • Fancy Bigger Brakes of some sort, possibly Supra RZ
  • TIEN Drift Spec coilovers
  • Cusco strut braces
  • HID Headlights
  • Uprated Clutch
    Toyota Soarer 1jz GTE Twin Turbo
  1. The Quest to get my First Japanese Turbo Charged Car..
  2. Why Import a Toyota Soarer from Japan Over Buying Domestically
  3. The Importation Process of my 1JZ Toyota Soarer
  4. My Factory Manual Toyota Soarer 1JZ GTE finally arriving in the UK!
  5. Registering My Soarer and Getting The Cars Registration With The DVLA in the UK
  6. Toyota Soarer 1JZGTE Review
  7. Toyota Soarer 1JZ GTE R154 Gallery

Permanent link to this article: http://carsandcoolstuff.com/2017/10/the-quest-to-get-my-first-japanese-turbo-charged-car/

Nov 28

DC5 Honda Integra Type R

This was my friends car that I helped him to sell a while back. This really was an excellent very capable car that lives up to its handling reputation. The k20 engine sounded fantastic and pulled hard aswell.

The problem was, it seemed almost to capable for the road so it was hard to enjoy it to the fullest on the B roads. The this was most at home on a big open track like Silverstone or Snetterton.

sam_1608 sam_1609 sam_1610 sam_1611 sam_1612 sam_1613 sam_1614 sam_1615 sam_1616 sam_1617 sam_1618 sam_1619 sam_1620 sam_1621 sam_1622 sam_1623 sam_1624 sam_1625 sam_1626 sam_1627 sam_1628 sam_1629 sam_1630 sam_1631 sam_1632 sam_1633 sam_1634 sam_1635 sam_1636 sam_1637 sam_1638 sam_1639 sam_1640 sam_1641 sam_1642 sam_1643 sam_1644 sam_1646 sam_1647 sam_1648 sam_1649

Permanent link to this article: http://carsandcoolstuff.com/2016/11/honda-integra/

Nov 13

Drift Elite Bronze Drift Day Package Tuition and Drift Practice

Despite owning a Volvo 340 with a Clio RSi engine that was built for drifting, it’s hardly been drifted. I have had a play once in a while like everyone with a RWD car but have not entertained it past that. However, it definitely did put me in good stead for a day at drift school with the Drift Elite guys.

I’ve always thought I’d take my Volvo to Drift What Ya Brung at Santa Pod but never got round to it. Also being open diff, it seems like a waste of time. Really to hold long smoking drifts in any RWD car you need a LSD or a Welded diff, otherwise the inside wheel just spins the power away, as a result of this, a Drift day has never happened! Until the Drift Elite offer popped up on Groupon.

Drift Elite Drift Day Mazda MX5

It was only £65, that’s generally what I would spend over a weekend socialising with my friends so I thought, what the hey! And I am glad I did it. It reminded me why I loved drifting so much.

We left Swindon quite early expecting it to take a few hours to get to Throckmorton Airfield where it was held. Surprisingly we made it in just over an hour, I actually arrived just before The Drift Elite Guys arrived. This was my first introduction to Matt Denham, one of the organisers and Pro Drivers/instructors, and a bit later, his parents.

They were all very welcoming and hospitable and clearly shared the passion for drifting that we did! It was amazing to spend some time talking to all these guys. I fast realised how small the drifting community is! They knew people I knew, and Matt, being a fellow PC sim racer, knew all the gear and games I knew. I also found it very inspiring that Matt learnt his trade in the sim racing world and he’s now at the top of his game in the real world.

I have spent countless hours drifting and driving on sim racing games. This was a not to subtle reminder that it is possible to take what you learned in the virtual world and apply it effectively in the real world, you hear the stories, but you very rarely meet the people.

If that’s not proof it can be done, I don’t know what is!Drift Elite Drift School

Since we arrived so early, we needed to kill a bit of time, so headed off into the town for breakfast to find nowhere was open. By the time we established this, enough time had passed, so we made it back to the airfield where we would wait a bit longer for things to begin.

The day started With a lairy R33 Skyline with no bonnet entering the top of the airfield, turbo on song, straight six screaming, roaring towards us! This then led to an impromptu, impressive one man drift display that none of us was expecting! This was our first introduction to Martin Richards. Martin was another one of the Pro Drivers/ instructors there to advise and instruct us.

What a way to start the day!

Turns out this lairy R33 Skyline without a bonnet belonged to his girlfriend, he reckons he “borrowed” it from her.. but to be honest, I think he stole it while she was still asleep ;)Drift Elite Nissan Skyline r33 GTS-T

The plan for the day was pretty basic and simplistic, but effective in giving us a good grounding of car control and having a good play around in the cars. First we’d be learning controlled Donuts, so steering out and balancing the throttle round the cones. Once we were comfortable with this we’d then do figure 8’s.  We then moved on to a “kidney” shaped track which allowed us to attempt multiple transitions, So maintaining a slide while switching directions. This then prepared us for a high speed left, right in a 200sx.Nissan Skyline R33 GTsT Drift Car

My first ride was with Martin Richards, and he was great. He was just chilling casually drifting round the cones without thinking about it in the MX5. I wouldn’t be surprised if he could do it with his eyes closed. It was amazing to see how effortless it was for a experienced driver. From the outside drifting always looks, scary, lairy and out of control. The truth is, it’s a balancing act between the throttle and steering. It’s about working both together to maintain a slide. The counter intuitive part is letting the steering wheel go and roll through your hands. The car will do most of the steering for you if you let it, you just need to be there to guide it. Getting over this initial hurdle is quite hard though.Eunos roadster drift car eunos roadster LSDEunos Roadster mk1

Unfortunately, when it came to my turn, the mx5 over heated, but I managed to go out in a 316 touring instead, which I think was easier to skid anyway than a mx5. I managed to pick it up quite quickly so was doing the odd figure 8 then maintaining the donut. I would of like to of done a series of figure 8’s one after the other, but I wasn’t that confident and I was still getting used to the car.

It was interesting to watch everyone else as well. You could tell they were enjoying it since It’s not every day you’re asked to donuts in someone else’s car! It was smiles all round. I think it touched the mischievous side in all of us. Everyone got into and out of the cars with massive grins on their faces. It was great, everyone was having a laugh and enjoying themselves. I think the instructors were on edge sometimes.. but then thats all part of the fun, we’ve all got to learn somehow!BMW 316 estate toruing drift car Drift Elite BMW touring

After the figure 8’s it was the kidney track. This is where I found things got trickier. The courses were wetted before we went on to make it easier to break traction in the cars, without a doubt, this was beneficial and helpful. However I found it made it a bit harder for me aswell.

As I got the car into a slide, it would be going sideways nicely, then I’d slip off the wetline on to a dry bit of tarmac. All of a sudden, the car would grip and throw me straight. This is where you see the good and bad of a welded diff. When the car is sideways and traction is broken it will stay sideways and be fantastically controllable, but when it’s straight, or you steer to much into the corner, the car would then under steer massively, as the welded diff tries to keep pushing you forward. This was very hard to get used to. This is where I felt it would of been great if it was raining, so everywhere was wet, or completely dry so there isn’t the contrast of the different grip levels.

drift elite bronze drift packageDrift Elite Bronza Drift Package

Once we all had a go at this the final stage was a fast S drift in a 200sx. The aim was to get a high speed drift initiated at around 60-80 mph, in theory it was simple and effortless for the pro’s.. but alas us mere mortals didn’t quite make it.

This was my first time driving a 200sx aswell. I’ve been out in a lot of my friends’ 200’s and experienced turbo lag. But not tried driving one myself till this day! Wow, it was bad, but when it was on boost it felt great, well worth the build up.

The idea was, go 1st, 2nd and floor it towards the corner, as you got to the corner the car was just getting on boost, so you quickly throw the clutch in and release it to unsettle the car. A simple “clutch kick” this worked a treat, the back end flew out, now the hardest part was maintaining the slide in such a small area at that kind of speed. We only had 3 attempts unfortunately. I felt that if I had another 3,  I would of had it down.200sx s14 driftingDrift Elite Nissan 200sx Drift Elite Nissan s14 practice

For me it went like this, first attempt, spin, but had an idea of the car. Second attempt went to far and powered over massively into a spin. Third attempt, the Line, speed and power was about right, but I struggled to get the back end to break out nicely. I shall be uploading a video shortly showing all this, it should give you a good feel for the day aswell.

Drift Elite crash



After we all had a go and caused much carnage and took out a few more cones and track scenery, we were then taken out in a passenger ride with the pro’s. As you can imagine, this was pretty intense! They were on each others doors, getting as close as possible to each other, absolutely hammering the cars. Even got the occasional tap in, it was definitely an awesome adrenaline rush.

There was also points when you wondered how they maintained the slides. I guess thats the difference from someone who has an interest and someone who is actually doing it. Their experience, skill and talent was hard to ignore.

Drift Elite Drift Cars Drift Elite Passenger Rides Nissan 200sx S14 SR20DET

I even talked my parents into going out in the cars. Safe to say they loved it! It was nice to get them to get a taster aswell. Gave them a glimpse into why I love this sport so much.

It was a great day, a great experience, and I also met some great people to share the experience with. some fantastic memories were made that day! I plan to go back again soon aswell.

Drift Elite Drift Experience Days, If you’re thinking about it, Do it, I’m raring to go back at some point and have another go! Be sure to check out the Drift Elite Website and Facebook Links below

drift elite FB

Drift Elite on Facebook


Drift Elite on The Interwebz

Nissan 200sx twin drift 13 and 14



Permanent link to this article: http://carsandcoolstuff.com/2015/11/drift-elite-bronze-drift-day-package-tuition-and-drift-practice/

May 31

JZX100 Toyota Chaser Photo Gallery

This is a collection of all of the pictures from the day that was spent putting the Toyota Chaser Tourer V feature together that you can read here.

It’s not everyday you get to have a good play with the car your doing a feature on so this day was a bit unique. It was a great opportunity to experience more of the car than you could if you were on location at another photo shoot. We had a good section of Santa Pod to play with and see what the car could do, this was also a fantastic photo opportunity aswell.

Below I’ve included the good the bad and the ugly of the photos that were acquired that day, the most important part of them all though, the car, still makes up for the not so good ones that you can see below. Enjoy, like and Share :)


Toyota Chaser JZX100 feature

Toyota Chaser JZX100 page

Permanent link to this article: http://carsandcoolstuff.com/2015/05/jzx100-toyota-chaser-photo-gallery/

May 26

JDM JZX100 Toyota Chaser Tourer V Drift, Track and Road Car

So most of you have probably seen this around Swindon, most of you know what it is, but when you’re out driving round town and meeting new people and strangers, it’s amazing how few people know what it really is. The conversation usually starts, “I love it, it looks stunning…” closely followed by “what is it??” somehow this never gets boring! It’s also nice to see that people who aren’t really interested in cars have a healthy appreciation of it.toyota chaser drift What we’re Looking at here is a JZX100 Toyota Chaser Tourer V, this is Japan’s/Toyota’s answer to the European equivalent of a BMW 5 series, it was also marketed as a alternative to the 4 door Skylines from Nissan, In its standard most basic form, the chances are it won’t catch your attention, it’ s just another family sedan. toyota chaser review toyota chaser jzx100 That said, when you’re getting to the 1JZ-GTE version of the car that we have here, it’s got a bit more pedigree and starts to share parts with the Supra. Most notably, the engine.  In the Supra’s and Soarer’s, this engine comes with a twin turbo setup. In the Toyota Chaser this is a single larger turbo configuration, so it has more power from standard than the twin turbo ones. It also produces more torque, but this is higher up the rev range. The engine really is a lovely thing in this car, it’s smooth and efficient in its power delivery and while there is still a noticeable turbo lag it’s not so much that it suddenly snaps your neck or makes for sketchy driving. It’s a very steady pull and a gradual increase in power right the way to the limiter, compared to a four cylinder turbo engine around this BHP mark (200sx’s come to mind!.. see the owner’s previous Sil-80 here..) it is a much more refined and useable power band. Without a doubt the extra 2 cylinders and the larger displacement make the engine what it is. toyota chaser engine Toyota Chaser It’s also consistent in its acceleration, at no point does it feel like it’s tailing off, the higher up the gears you go, the turbo is there to keep on pulling you through. It’s not likely to surprise you, but it will impress you. The gearing is definitely accustomed to motorway cruising the gears are long and wide and aimed at taking advantage of the low end torque this engine has to offer, this made it a “lazier” revving engine as well. When the current owner first acquired this car, the clutch was on its way out anyway so he opted for a lightened flywheel to accompany the uprated clutch. The uprated clutch is rated for around the 700BHP mark, so assuming this car is between 350-400bhp, a clutch that bites and a lightened flywheel have made the whole engine much livelier and much more “revvy” making this closer to the performance GT car it is and taking it away from a motorway cruiser. toyota chaser partstoyota chaser jzx110 Crucially this also means clutch kicks for the foreseeable future without the concern of breaking anything.. Nice. This brings us nicely to what has made this car an icon in the Japanese car scene. These are most famous for going sideways really well and really fast with tons of smoking pouring off the rear wheels and the rev limiter being smashed with a turbo on song. They absolutely epitomise what drifting is all about, Lots of noise, lots of show, lots of smoke and a degree of elegance and grace that’s bought about by the sheer size and weight of the things.

toyota chaser trd

Making sure there’s still some tyre there!

The size of it is definitely surprising when you see it in person, while it’s closer in looks and design to a  5 series , it has the wheel base of a 7 series to give you an idea of size. While it’s big, this has had no impact on the looks as you can see very clearly in the photos. It is beautifully designed car and everything is very well proportioned and balanced. It’s a very handsome looking thing indeed. With shiny metallic gloss black paint, chrome details and classy wheels. It certainly has a lot of grace and presence wherever it goes. It fits in at car shows and car meets, but it also wouldn’t look out of place rolling up outside a 5 star hotel, it’s got a whiff of VIP about it. Where it really comes into it’s own is cruising the city streets late evenings. It also has a very deep and sweet inline six note coming from the exhaust that brings the looks to life. It’s loud, authoritive and assertive but never enough to be intrusive or obnoxious. It produces a very harmonic bass note lowdown between 1500 to around 3k revs which seems very agreeable indeed. toyota chaser avante toyota chaser coupe Talking of drifting, we actually took this to Santa Pod Drift What Ya Brung which I’ll be covering later on. There will be some nice video footage to accompany this, so you’ll get a chance to see and hear this beauty in action. The mindset to this day was let’s see how well built and durable this thing really is and while we weren’t surprised, it made it through the day without any problems at all.JZX100 drifting While other cars were cutting their sessions short to have run off laps and cool downs we stayed on track for as much time as we could. It was a very hot day indeed. I know this because it’s taken me over a week to recover from my sunburn that day! The temperature gauge did not move or did not falter from the middle. I was expecting it to go ¾ at least but this never happened, it’s not uncommon to come away from drift days with new squeaks and rattles as a result of the day’s abuse.  On this occasion, there was nothing to be foundtoyota chaser tourer v for sale The worst thing that happened to it was a bit of the passenger inside door trim came off from where we were holding on for dear life while out in this thing! What a magnificent car. Stay tuned for more coverage over the coming weeks.

If you enjoyed this be sure to check out the owners previous Nissan 180sx Sil-80 and check out the previous Drift What Ya Brung event. It’s surprising to see how similar it is to when I first went there a few years ago now.

Don’t forget to swing by the friends’ cars page for this JZX100 Chaser Here and view more photos of this spectacular Toyota Chaser here

toyota chaser tourer vtoyota chaser weight

Permanent link to this article: http://carsandcoolstuff.com/2015/05/jdm-jzx100-toyota-chaser-tourer-v-drift-track-and-road-car/

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