Special thanks Tetsuya Ogushi & Naoto Negishi (for translation)
From the outside of Kazama Auto Service, one might not fully expect what occurs within its garage spaces. On one hand you see a few used cars that most would kill to see on a lot here and on the other, you notice a retail front for a RC car shop. Not exactly the kind of imagery that provokes thoughts of D1 competition cars or cars swapped with 600hp engines. On most days, it's normal to find kids or the hardcore RC enthusiast who come in to drive on their choice of an in/outdoor track or have a shop employee modify their cars for optimum performance. For Kazama-san, he still finds solace in building actual cars and there's been another project that's kept him preoccupied - the IS-GT concept.
We first caught wind of the IS-GT this past winter in an Option magazine Tokyo Auto Salon preview. We didn't know much about the car except that it would have extensive body modifications and a 2JZ engine swap done to it. For someone to take the chance and retrofit the car with an older engine platform seemed ballsy enough for our liking and wouldn't just be a built 4GR-FSE (stock IS 250 engine) or possibly a predictable IS-F 2UR-GSE (not that we've seen these swapped in either, but then again you might as well have started with an IS-F). When we saw the car in its finished state at the RAYS booth, we were pleasantly surprised with the outcome and for many good reasons.
Stating the obvious is how beautiful and meticulous the engine work is. The 2JZ-GTE fits in perfectly, as it does when it's swapped into other Toyota models where this engine doesn't come stock (and there are a lot), but it wasn't all puppies' kisses and butterflies. Kazama-san said "it was easier to swap the engine and transmission in than we originally thought. We modified the engine compartment and floorboard slightly and didn't have to modify the body." The most problematic part of the transplant was getting the stock UCF30 (Lexus LS 430) steering rack to work. He felt that the stock IS' electronic power steering lacked a linear feel so the idea to transfer the hydraulically operated UCF30 rack seemed like a good fix, but would obviously require the necessary fabrication to make it work. "I would find a good spot to mount the rack and the shaft would hit the engine mount," Kazama-san says, "So we modified the suspension member (heavily) to alter the centerline of the rack towards the left, but then that affected the left and right turning radiuses; we fixed that with tie rod adapters." A Getrag 6-speed transmission was mated to the 2JZ by using a modified propeller shaft that is a combination of a custom front section with a rear section from the stock IS; an OEM IS 350 differential casing is used to house the Tomei LSD unit. When you hear this setup at idle, it has a wicked sounding engagement thanks to an ORC clutch upgrade, and Kazama-san hinted to us that he's looking for the manual IS 250 shift boot cover from the US RWD model to finish off the transmission swap perfectly. As a matter of fact, to keep the build centered around a true street theme, he made sure the stock gauge cluster, audio and navi all work.
Once the swap was completed, it was time to play. Kazama used an awfully huge GReddy T78 turbo as the heart of his custom turbo system and fabricated all of the piping to make it work, from the intercooler piping all the way down to the exhaust, leading out to a pair of HKS Legamax mufflers. The intake is comprised of a GReddy AIRINX air filter and intake plenum, and SARD fueling components help feed the engine the necessary juice to push out the 600ps the engine, which was max tuned with a HKS V-Pro.