Driving is in his blood. We recently caught up with professional drifter Ken Gushi at Asari Auto, his dad's auto repair shop. Both love cars and work on them. Just like the cartoon drama, Ken learned how to drift from his father, in an AE86. And that was when he was 13, before he was even old enough to get a license to drive. So it's easy to understand how he became the youngest driver to ever compete in D1GP and Formula D at age 16. Fast-forward, he's 23 now and has years of professional drifting experience. We were curious to see what he's up to when he's off the clock. You can take a fish out of water, but you can't take someone who drifts for a living and not expect him to get loose on the streets. An unsuspecting 1989 Toyota Cressida was what we encountered. No, its not anywhere near perfect shape but it's a very realistic street condition. Something we've all had and gone through with our cars.
You might have heard the a rumor or two about Cressidas having some potential, so let us and Ken show you exactly what you can do to these grandpa machines. For starters, no '89-91 (X83 chassis) Cressida came with a manual transmission in the US. On top of that, they came with the 7M-GE that is known for blowing head gaskets. Luckily the '86.5-92 Supra 7M-GTE turbo engine bolts in along with the manual transmission parts. And even better the JZ series engines and transmission also bolts into the X83 Cressida chassis. Most Cressida owners go with the imported 2.5L 1JZ-GTE turbo engine, but Ken decided to ball a little harder with the legendary 3.0L 2JZ-GTE, which is essentially a twin-turbo Supra engine.
Super Street: Why did you build this car?
Ken Gushi: I built this Cressida for the sole purpose of drifting practice. During the off-season for Formula Drift, my RS-R Scion Racing tC is stripped down for a fresh rebuild and the car is not available for me to practice with. To close the gap between the last round of the previous season and the first round of the next season, I built this Cressida so I can continue to drift. It's cheap and roomy so I thought it would be the perfect candidate for an all-purpose, street-able, affordable, drift car that can haul ass. This isn't my first Cressida either. I first got into them back in 2005.
SS: All Toyota, all the time?
KG: I've been a huge fan of Toyotas ever since I can remember. My first drift car was a Toyota Corolla, and currently I compete with the first RWD converted drift Scion tC. I also have another Scion tC for a daily driver. So pretty much everything I drive is a Toyota.
SS: How long did it take you to build this car?
KG: The build took me roughly three months. I started off the build by prepping the body first. When I got the car, the body was beat up because the previous owner didn't take care of it. There was rust everywhere and I knew if I didn't take care of it then, it would get worse. I spent about a month and a half doing bodywork and restoration. Then I moved on to suspension parts and brakes. That took about two weeks while waiting on some parts from 'G' at Serial Nine. If you want awesome suspension parts for a Cressida, you have to go to www.SerialNine.com. They even have an aero kit for the Cressida! The rest of the time was spent prepping the engine but in the end, it came out better than I had expected. This car is a missile!
SS: How difficult was it to swap in the straight-six beast and five-speed conversion?
KG: The swap was very easy and straightforward. Toyota was nice enough to make many things interchangeable with their cars. When I looked underneath the car, there were about 10 different holes to mount/relocate the transmission mount.
SS: Did you do the swap yourself?
KG: I did everything myself, wiring and all.
SS: How does the Cressida drift?
KG: It's really easy to slide. My tC has a long wheelbase so I needed a similar car to practice with. The Cressida has a long 106 inch wheelbase.