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1991 Toyota Mark II (X70) - Off the Wagon

Built for one of Japan's most elite car shows, then transformed into one of the most feared grassroots drift wagons

David Ishikawa
Dec 13, 2017

One month isn't a lot of time to build a captivating show car, especially for a show as competitive and well attended as Wekfest Japan. But Masaru Ishikawa set out to create something special to debut at the fourth annual event held in Nagoya last May. After consulting with his friend Kousuke Mori, he drew a rough plan of what he was going to build—a Toyota X70.

The Toyota Mark II was available in the U.S. as the Cressida, and the X70 is the fifth generation of the Mark II with the G designation used to identify its engine.

1991 toyota mark II rear bumper Photo 2/26   |   1991 Toyota Mark II Rear Bumper

As the owner of his own auto body repair shop for the last seven years, Masaru had all the tools and no shortage of skill to turn his idea into reality, but time would be the challenge. Spending every available minute between working on his customers' cars, it was a stressful month, but he somehow managed to pull it off, well enough to be accepted at one of the industry's most selective show series.

Walking through the domed hall of Port Messe, Nagoya, it was definitely hard to miss Masaru's Mark II. First of all, it's not exactly a small car, but rather an extra-large wagon that easily takes up more space than a typical display vehicle. Second, the illuminated red and blue LED lightbar on the roof and police markings along the side had crowds of enthusiasts and photographers around the car for the entire show. In a matter of one month, Masaru had created a showstopper, but there's more to his police-themed wagon than meets the eye.

1991 toyota mark II 1JZ swap Photo 6/26   |   1991 Toyota Mark II 1JZ Swap

Take a closer look and you'll notice the police markings draw inspiration from a certain movie about cars that are actually robots but in disguise. Masaru explained that he wanted to build a police car, and since Wekfest is an American-style car show, what better police car to base it off than the Mustang from the Transformers movie. But if you think Masaru's wagon is just lights and livery, you'll be surprised to find the foundation of this battlewagon is a purpose-built drift machine.

Under the hood lies a 1JZ swap that's been beefed up to produce 350 hp. The wagon's wide stance is due to 11.3-inch-wide BBS wheels that Masaru re-barreled himself, as well as custom metal fenders all around. He tells us the original plan was to repurpose a set of N2 fenders from an AE86, but that idea was scrapped because metal was much easier to work with than fiberglass, and he was also able to get the exact look he wanted. Continuing with custom metalwork, he fabricated side skirts and a front lip, resulting in a true one-of-a-kind exterior.

1991 toyota mark II masaru ishikawa Photo 10/26   |   1991 Toyota Mark II Masaru Ishikawa

Just a few days after Wekfest, I met up with Masaru at Suzuka Twin Circuit for the annual Drift Dressup event featuring the best-looking drift cars of Japan. The X70 was giving all of the Silvias, Skylines, and Chasers plenty to fear in their rearview mirrors. At one point during the event, Masaru ended up making contact with the wall, which resulted in minor damage to the rear taillight. It highlighted the limitations of the X70's handling due to its solid axle rear end. After Drift Dressup, the wagon went back on the lift where he replaced the solid rear with a multi-link setup from an S15 Silvia. The idea of swapping out a full system for a completely different one would be daunting for most, but Masaru has plenty of experience; in fact, he's done a similar swap to his previous AE86 project car.

Finding time to work on the rear while still running a business slowed things down and it wasn't until three months later that Masaru finished the swap, at which point I headed out to his shop located in a small town in Shizuoka to do our shoot. Set between a lake and the mountains, this region of Japan is beautiful and all throughout the area were groves of mikan (tangerine) trees that the prefecture is well known for. When I arrived at his body shop, you couldn't find a spec of dust or any loose parts anywhere inside. He tossed me the keys to his X70 and told me to do whatever I needed while he finished up some work on a customer's car.

1991 toyota mark II bride seats Photo 14/26   |   1991 Toyota Mark II Bride Seats

Jumping inside, I was pleasantly surprised at how clean everything was, thanks in part to the new felt covering the dash and door panels. I was also admiring the Saito rollcage, custom ignition panel, fuel cell setup, and a plethora of gauges that he'd installed. Although built for drifting, all of the details are well thought out and executed to suit Masaru's taste.

After he grinded to get the car done for Wekfest, we wouldn't blame Masaru for wanting to take a bit of break, but when one loves cars as much as he does, the fun doesn't stop. That fun shows through in all of his projects, and we're looking forward to what he brings to next year's Wekfest. He tells us it will be a lot less "five-o" and much more classic Toyota.

1991 toyota mark II ishikawa family Photo 18/26   |   1991 Toyota Mark II Ishikawa Family
1991 toyota mark II fuel cell Photo 22/26   |   1991 Toyota Mark II Fuel Cell
1991 toyota mark II custom front fender Photo 26/26   |   1991 Toyota Mark II Custom Front Fender
By David Ishikawa
19 Articles
1991 Toyota Mark II (X70) - Off the Wagon
Tuning Menu
Owner: Masaru Ishikawa
Hometown: Mikkabicho Shimoona, Shizuoka, Japan
Occupation: Owner of Ishikawa Body
Instagram: @masaru2236
Power: 350 hp
Engine: 1JZ swap with Garrett T04E turbo; HKS cams
Drivetrain: R154 five-speed manual transmission; ORC metal clutch; NISMO limited-slip differential
Engine Management: TRUST ECU
Footwork & Chassis: TRD shocks; Swift springs; S15 subframe with rear multi-link suspension; KTS S13 rear coilovers
Wheels & Tires: 16x11.3" -20 BBS RS rebarrelled BBS RS wheels; 225/45R16 Toyo 888R tires
Exterior: custom metal 70mm front and 80mm rear fenders, side skirts; Barricade-themed livery
Interior: Bride seats; Defi gauges; Saito Racing rollcage; felt upholstery; fuel cell; custom ignition panel
Thanks You: Everyone who helped me; my wife and daughter

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