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 |   |  1994 Toyota Soarer - Sight For Soar Eyes
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1994 Toyota Soarer - Sight For Soar Eyes

450hp Toyota Soarer drifter is going for gold

B.K. Nakadashi
Nov 21, 2013
Photographer: Colin Waki

“Patience and time do more than strength or passion,” said Jean de la Fontaine, the French Fabulist poet (d. 1695). To some this may be an ideal mode of thought, but in fact the exact opposite is all too often true in the modern world. While modern society is one of instant gratification, many frown upon the directions we’ve taken as a result. There’s also something to be said for living life in the moment. Time, after all, cannot be replenished; once we’re done, that’s it.

De la Fontaine may have been content to fritter away his life and let things happen to him, Forrest Gump-style, but the type-A Hideki Nagahama better embraces Andrew Jackson’s philosophy: “Take time to deliberate, but when the time for action arrives, stop thinking and go in.” Nagahama-san, of Gunma Prefecture in Japan, has owned a series of fun rear-drive Toyotas over the years such as a Chaser, Mk II, Aristo, even a Celsior. But he loves Toyota’s big rear-drive coupe Soarer the most, and he loves drifting. Put the two loves together and there wasn’t a lot of fumfering about in figuring out what he wanted to do. In actuality, the entire project took only a month. One month! Think about that for a second. Most of us can’t even get our cars in and out of paint in that amount of time, much less build an entire running, functioning drift car with aftermarket engine and chassis parts, plus body modifications to boot. Granted, he owns a shop, N-Style Custom, and could dispatch his minions to work on his car for as long as he required. Even so, one month is not a lot of time to make things happen.

1994 toyota soarer zenki front lip Photo 2/9   |   1994 Toyota Soarer - Sight For Soar Eyes

Clearly, saving time is of paramount importance. What better place to start than under the hood? The big change to the 24-valve 1JZ is in the turbocharging. No need to break into a low-compression engine already set up for boost; rather than mess with the factory ceramic-impeller twin turbos that gained a reputation for exploding at high boost levels, Nagahama-san upgraded to a single twin-scroll Kinugawa (Garrett) T67-25G 8C huffer. Though just a single turbo, the twin-scroll design means that the exhaust gas’ kinetic energy is more efficiently scavenged; there’s also better pressure distribution in the exhaust ports, and better delivery of exhaust gas energy to the turbine. Faster spooling and quicker response are the upsides there. This also allows greater valve overlap, allowing a cleaner and denser air charge into the cylinders—which of course means more power. You can also introduce an ignition delay, which keeps cylinder temperature down; lower exhaust gas temperatures mean a leaner air/fuel ratio, which means better mileage to boot. (As if Nagahama-san is worried about fuel mileage.) A bigger exhaust to funnel the gasses, enough fuel pressure to satiate the engine’s hunger, and you get a whopping 450 pferdestrake on the international power scale; about 443 horsepower, or nearly double what was available on the Lexus SC400 when it launched in this country in mid-1991 as a 1992 model. Rather than hope for the best with the stock R154 five-speed stick, Nagahama-san installed a German-built Getrag V160 six-speed, pirated from a twin-turbo Supra; it required little more than a twin-plate clutch to beef it up.

The stock Soarer suspension—double-wishbones front and rear, with coil springs and shock absorbers—are outstanding for the street, but could use a little tightening up for track duty. Out go the springs and shocks, and in come a set of Aragosta coilovers, which both stiffen and drop. Engineering the vehicle’s height was the single toughest part of the build, Nagahama-san reports; the flares, the drop, the camber, the wheels... all had to be carefully sorted, lest he need to go back and do things twice. And you’ll never save time that way.

Now, about that color. It’s a surprising one to Western eyes; the pearl white-painted SSR Professor hoops give it more of a sun-tanned vibe, but there’s little getting around the impression that the color is slightly fleshy. It’s called Milk Tea Beige Metallic, which is as near as we can tell a 2008 home-market Suzuki color, and the name goes a long way toward explaining its presence: calming yet caffeinated, gentle yet flavorful, tea and milk are as traditional a drink as you’ll find in Japan. One of Nagahama-san’s previous Soarers was bright red, and that one was as bright as this one is mild. We leave it to you to divine whether this shade is your cup of, er, well you know.

1994 toyota soarer SSR professor wheels Photo 3/9   |   1994 Toyota Soarer - Sight For Soar Eyes

Yet look more closely, beyond the paint. See those wheel openings? They’ve been flared four centimeters (just over an inch and a half) on each corner, in order to accommodate the super-sized 18-inch rolling stock. Nagahama-san figured that this was the toughest item on the whole car to make look and work right: “Pulling out the fender too much is not a good idea,” Nagahama-san suggests. There’s more: the front airdam remains an early piece, but a later Kouki third-gen Soarer donated its bumpers and side skirts to give a slightly more up-to-date look. That look can frequently be seen driving sideways around the drift tracks of Japan. Although it’s not parked much, and although it’s antiseptic in its preparation, Nagahama-san clearly has places to go and things to do.

One thing Nagahama-san’s quick-build Soarer teaches us about saving time: if you’re not paying attention, then you’re gonna get clocked.

Tuning Menu
1994 Toyota Soarer

Owner Hideki Nagahama

Hometown Oura-gun, Gunma prefecture, Japan

Occupation body shop

1994 toyota soarer 1JZ engine Photo 7/9   |   1994 Toyota Soarer - Sight For Soar Eyes

Engine Toyota 1JZ with reinforced mounts; Kinugawa (Garrett) T67-25G 8C turbo; T25 inlet flange; Trust header, wastegate, downpipe and intercooler; Nissan R32 GT-R fuel pump; HKS intake and 264/264° camshaft; custom exhaust; JZA80 Supra radiator

Engine Management HKS F-Con V-Pro ECU with EVC boost controller

Drivetrain Toyota Supra Getrag six-speed manual transmission; TRD differential; ORC twin-plate clutch

Footwork & Chassis Aragosta coilovers with 26K front, 16K rear springs; JIC front camber plates with 6-degrees negative camber; modified rear camber plates with 5mm extension and 3-degrees negative camber; Largus end-links; Cusco front and rear strut bars; Do Luck floor bar

Brakes TRD calipers; Endless pads

1994 toyota soarer cat airbrushing Photo 8/9   |   1994 Toyota Soarer - Sight For Soar Eyes

Wheels & Tires 18x9" front, 18x10.5" rear SSR Professor; 45mm front, 15mm rear spacers; 225/35 R18 front, 225/40 R18 rear Nankang Kenda tires; BLOX Racing lug nuts

Exterior Kouki bumpers and side skirts; modified Zenki front lip; custom 4cm fender flares; USDM lights; Milk Tea Beige Metallic paint by N-Style Custom

Interior Bride seats; Momo 330mm steering wheel; dash reupholstered in buckskin by N-Style Custom

Thanks You Mr. Fukuda from R Performance

1994 toyota soarer fender flares Photo 9/9   |   1994 Toyota Soarer - Sight For Soar Eyes
By B.K. Nakadashi
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