Around an hour or two North of Tokyo lies an Aladdin's cave of drift machinery. In an unassuming corner of Saitama prefecture lies FAT FIVE RACING, which is the workshop of drifting legend Daigo Saito. You approach the front gate from a semi-rural road that runs parallel with a train line. Turning in to the compound, you realise that you are in a special place; a bare chassis of a Toyota GT86 sits atop a paint booth, and immediately opposite are a selection of drift cars for sale.
Then you get towards the doors and see the crazy stuff. Inside Daigo's office sits his car of the moment, the Corvette Z06 drift car, and a colossal range of drift championship trophy. In the main workshop live every race car that Daigo had brought to fame in various drifting events from the D1GP in Japan, to Formula Drift USA.
Below is my selection of my favourite drift cars, and what information I could gather from Daigo's cold, steely exterior.
The first car on display is Daigo's Toyota JZX100. This car was used in the 2016 D1GP and has a 3.0-liter 2JZ engine that normally lives in a Toyota Supra or Aristo chassis. The engine is tuned to output 1000 bhp, and the chassis has been stripped out to the extent that it only weighs 1000 kgs. This gives the JZX100 the magical 1:1 power-to-weight ratio that only hypercars like the Koenigsegg One:1 can boast.
The car is technically a front-mid engine chassis as the engine has been pushed so far back, Daigo had to chop into the front bulkhead to make room. Daigo's seat is also so far back, that it sits behind the B-pillar. These relocation techniques of the engine and seat are to give the car more pivot control, and to give Daigo more of a feel when the car pivots and yaws around the front end.
The car has now been retired from the Japanese D1GP as new rules are stopping people pushing the engines so far back.
Next up is the world famous Liberty Walk Lamborghini Murcielago drift car. This car hasn't actually been used in any drift competition, and that's probably because it is so irreplaceable, that any crashes would be the end of the car itself.
Instead, the car has been used in drift exhibitions and the viral Monster Energy Drinks' Drift Battle videos.
Daigo decided to keep the original 6.5-liter V12 engine from Italy, but use Nissan GTR throttle bodies - thanks to their faster responce - and two aftermarket ECUs. He needed to use two ECUs as they can only handle eight cylinders on their own.
Producing 650 bhp, it is probably the least powerful car that Daigo owns, and it looks like it might not be getting much use in years to come. Anyone want to make him an offer?
The car of the moment is the most recent; the Corvette Z06 drift car.
This ex-GT300 race car chassis was stripped down completely and built up to become a truly remarkable machine. The engine is a V8 LSX that is naturally aspirated and can output around 800 bhp. The throttle response is so rapid, that Daigo had to slow it down. A small spring pulls on the throttle plate in an opposite direction when opening to stop the engine being so snappy with power delivery. First time I've heard of that!
The chassis is a perfect remedy to the D1GP regulations on engine relocation, as the engine sits so far back in its stock form. To this end, Daigo has used this car in this year's D1GP to great success.
The bodywork is completely carbon fiber, or kevlar composite, and the gearbox is the sequential unit from the race car.