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.
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.
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.
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.
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.