“Produced by Rough World, Crazy Performance.” That’s what the rear of Nojima’s business card reads. I’m standing in front of a small workshop that over the last few years has become synonymous with unparalleled Porsche style. This workshop is, of course, Rauh Welt Begriff, or RWB, a name that has become increasingly famous thanks to the unique style and personality of the chain-smoking visionary behind Nakai-san. Once the best kept secret in Japan, these days there are international RWB dealers in Thailand, Europe, and San Mateo, California, to go along with the endless stream of photos of RWB Porsches on just about every car guy’s Facebook news feed.
The Toyota Corolla Levin before me oozes character from every conceivable angle, yet glanced over as a whole, it couldn’t be any simpler. And yet Nojima’s hachiroku is still unmistakably a Nakai-san creation despite not being a Porsche. Truth be told, Nakai-san’s Rough World movement, which has been responsible for setting some very important trends in Japan during the last 20 years, got its start back in the mid-’90s when Nakai’s AE86 crew was drifting on the winding roads that snake up Mount Tsukuba, battling other local drifters with their slammed and tuned Levins and Truenos, sporting aggressive front negative camber and wide wheels with tightly stretched tires, barely contained by rolled or FRP fenders.
This “rough” style was quickly copied and became the look to have on a tough prepared street machine, a style that still today defines the essence of any drift car. Since then Nakai has developed new interests, focusing on the Porsche 911s you’re almost certainly familiar with from Rauh Welt Begriff (German for Rough World Evolution), infusing them with the unmistakable look his AE86s became so well known for almost two decades earlier.
Not that Nojima’s street-driven Levin looks in any way dated. Being a member of the original Rough World movement and Nakai’s trusted painter responsible for the custom matte paintjobs you no doubt associate with RWB builds, Nojima wanted to create something very special with his Levin, going for a look that would hint back at the old times but simultaneously incorporate those more modern Raul Welt styling traits. So his ’86 Levin was stripped of its original body and dressed up in a series of parts that would aid in the transformation.
Run Free supplied the front bumper and side skirts that give the car its ground-hugging stance, while the carbon hood from the same company shaved some weight off the front end. And speaking of weight saving, the FRP doors from J-Blood and the Crystal Body Yokohama rear hatch together with the lexan windows help this hachi shed some serious pounds. The Run Free widened fenders front and back may not save any weight, but they have allowed Nojima to push out the Watanabe wheels as much as possible, increasing the track at both ends.
Little RWB touches include the tilted-up hood for aided cooling and a series of meshed cutouts to the bumpers, something Nakai often does on the Porsches he builds. They are said to aid underbody airflow by allowing turbulent air to pass through the low aero efficiently, instead of slowing the car down. Giving that unfinished look to the front end is the rather large gap left behind by the removal of the stock grille, done to increase cooling air to the radiator and oil cooler.
But it’s the combination of colors that has the biggest impact on this build, the satin-like matte black body providing great contrast against the opaque bronze Watanabe RSes wrapped in sticky Yokohama semislicks. The actual texture of the body is almost rubbery, obtained with careful application of each layer of color, resulting in a stone-chip-resistant finish. Gold RWB graphics adorn the rear hatch as well as the front glass, and like every car Nakai builds, the AE86 has been given a name, in this case “Real of the World,” which has been applied to the side skirts in typical RWB fashion. And just in case you’re wondering, apparently the name is a play on words that hints at the roots of the Rough World style.
As an avid circuit racer who participates in every round of the Idlers Games, a track club that sees participants compete in time attack events at famous circuits like Tsukuba and Motegi, Nojima obviously takes his racing very seriously, something that becomes all the more apparent once you take a look at the interior. Functionality takes precedence over comfort, so what was superfluous to going fast on track, like most of the lower section of the dashboard, center console and trim, was removed. A custom welded and bolted rollcage adds much needed rigidity to the old chassis while complying with circuit regulations. A Sparco Rev bucket seat along with a Sabelt racing harness keeps Nojima tightly strapped in while he steers his AE86 via a thinly rimmed Nardi wheel.
Powering the RWB Levin is a 4AG sourced from an AE92, running some pretty wild TRD camshafts, 308 degrees on the intake and 288 degrees on the exhaust side. Joining the cams are Keihin FCR 41mm motorcycle carburetors that breathe through oiled foam filters to make sure nothing hazardous gets sucked in through the funnels. These carbs actually feature guillotine-type valves, which are excellent for racing use as they provide greater response compared with conventional butterfly valves. Compression has been slightly lowered thanks to a 0.8mm-thick metal head gasket to help get the most out of this setup. The Tec Art’s exhaust manifold channels gases away to the Run Free exhaust system, which features very little in the form of silencing, allowing that unmistakable 4AG scream to be heard at all times. Joining the timing controller is a 6AL module and a Blaster SS both from MSD, guaranteeing powerful and accurate ignition. And on the cooling side of things, a large core radiator from Tec Art’s and a Setrab oil cooler deal with the extra heat generated by the increased engine performance.
Getting the most out of the carbed 4AG is a TRD close-ratio gearset, which replaces the first three cogs with shorter ones to achieve more responsive and immediate acceleration when exiting corners. This joins the TRD clutch and two-way LSD with a 4.7 final drive, all of which help this angry-looking Levin to put every last horsepower to the ground via its Yokohama A048s. Nojima also paid special attention to the suspension by fitting custom valved Nevro dampers and matched springs, which can be changed depending on the track and grip available. TRD stabilizers are the last piece of the puzzle, helping keep body roll in check and getting the most grip out of the front tires.
Nakai and Nojima have once again proven they know how to build visually stunning cars, mixing an optimal blend of that Rough World trendsetting style with a more modern and contemporary Rauh Welt ideology. Needless to say, we can’t wait to see what these guys come up with next!
Specs & Details
1986 Toyota Levin
Engine AE92 1.6L 4A-GE DOHC inline-4
Engine Modifications 0.8mm metal head gasket; TRD camshafts; Toda Racing adjustable cam pulleys; Keihin FCR 41mm carburetors; Carb adapter plate; Tec Art’s exhaust manifold and twin-layer radiator; Run Free exhaust system and oil catch tank; MSD 6AL ignition control, MSD Blaster SS coil pack; SUN Auto Hot Wires ignition leads; Setrab 35-row oil cooler; custom fuel surge tank
Drivetrain TRD special close-ratio transmission (first three gears), clutch system, two-way LSD and 4.7 final drive
Wheels & Tires Watanabe RS 14x9’’ -19 offset (f/r) wheels; Yokohama 195/60R14 Advan A048 (f/r) tires
Suspension Nevro dampers; 12 kg/mm (f) and 7.5 kg/mm (r) springs; TRD stabilizers, 2.5mm extended lower arms
Exterior Run Free Type 2 front bumper, fenders (f/r), carbon hood, and side skirts; J-Blood FRP doors; Crystal Body Yokohama rear gate, acrylic glass; HID headlight conversion; Rauh Welt signature matte black finish
Interior Welded/bolted rollcage; Sparco REV racing bucket seat; Nardi 360mm steering wheel; Auto Meter tachometer w/ shift light, oil pressure gauge and oil temp gauge; Kameari fuel pressure gauge; Edelbrock AFR meter; MSD RPM module selector, relocated battery