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2016 Toyota HiAce - King of the Vans

If Godzilla Decided to Drive a Van, This Would Be It!!

David Ishikawa
Aug 1, 2019

When you think about vans, the idea of hauling a lot of little kids around comes to mind, or perhaps transporting furniture or hardware home from Ikea or Home Depot. Whatever it is, there's no argument that the majority of fullsize vans and minivans are utilitarian vehicles designed to carry things reliably. This also usually means they're boring and slow as hell. Well, that's all about to change, as we encountered a van that doesn't just break all these stereotypes—it traumatizes all who underestimate it!

2016 Toyota HiAce Kitz Racing Bodykit 01 Photo 19/19   |   2016 Toyota HiAce - King of the Vans
2016 Toyota HiAce CRS Hood 01 Photo 19/19   |   2016 Toyota HiAce - King of the Vans

Ju Sung Oh, or "Go-san" as he likes to be called, is very familiar with the mundane nature of vans, as he has to drive in one between Tokyo and Nagoya several times a month. Taking about four hours each way, the road trips give him a lot of time to think and reflect. It was during one of these trips that he asked himself, "Why does my trip always have to take so long and be so boring?" Turns out, it didn't have to be for much longer...

The first thing Go-san did was purchase the right van that would make the perfect transporter: this '16 Toyota HiAce. Unfortunately, it came with a gutless 2.0L. How gutless? Well, the 1TR-FE straight-four makes about 134 hp and 135 lb-ft of torque. The van culture of Japan is quite large, and it's common to see HiAces cruising around with various body kits, high-quality wheels, lowered suspension, and even full custom interiors, but adding serious power was unheard of, especially the kind of power Go-san was after.

2016 Toyota HiAce VR38ETT Swap Photo 19/19   |   2016 Toyota HiAce - King of the Vans
2016 Toyota HiAce Nissna VR38DETT Swap Photo 19/19   |   The passenger front seat and center console flip up to reveal the stolen heart from Godzilla.

It took a year to complete, but it was well worth the wait, as Go-san successfully swapped in a Nissan GT-R engine that still fits within the original engine compartment under the passenger seat and center console. In order to make the twin-turbo V-6 work without tearing out or modifying the entire chassis, the stock transmission and rear drivetrain HiAce were reused. With more than 600 hp needing to be transferred, the transmission was upgraded to another factory HiAce tranny out of the turbodiesel model then strengthened with OS Giken components. Getting everything to mate up properly was the most difficult part, which involved cutting and combining the front and rear sections of the bellhousings from the HiAce and GT-R transmissions. It was an insane task, but when all was said and done, Go-san had created not just a supervan, but the Godzilla of supervans!

With Godzilla's DNA pumping through the van's bloodstream, Go-san shifted his efforts toward the rest of the build in order to make it look the part of a monster. The most notable upgrades are the over-fenders, which accommodate the 19-inch wheels. Some minor chassis improvements come by way of custom Final Konnexion coilovers and AP Racing big brakes—two very important modifications, as Go-san explains he doesn't just drive his HiAce fast in a straight line but also quick around the corners. A pair of TRUST intercoolers was modified to sit in plain sight within the front bumper, and a URAS rear wing along with quad tailpipes gives you just enough of a hint that there's more to this HiAce than meets the eye.

2016 Toyota HiAce Recaro Seats 01 Photo 19/19   |   2016 Toyota HiAce - King of the Vans
2016 Toyota HiAce Recaro Seats 02 Photo 19/19   |   Typical rear van seats aren't going to cut it when Go-san hits the Wangan, so he mounted a set of four Recaro seats, which match the rest of the interior.

Go-san concluded that his GT-R-powered HiAce has surpassed all his expectations. Next, he wants to share it with the world, which is one of the reasons why he ripped out the backrow of seats in favor of four Recaros. He's ready to play Uber XL on some of Japan's most popular circuits; even legendary driver Keiichi Tsuchiya has requested to take it out for a spin on Tsukuba Circuit. Not too many people can say that about the Drift King, but Go-san can with his King of the Vans.

By David Ishikawa
66 Articles
2016 Toyota HiAce - King of the Vans
Tuning Menu
Owner: Ju Sung Oh
Hometown: Tokyo, Japan
Occupation: Entrepreneur
Power: 616 hp
Engine: Nissan GT-R VR38DETT engine swap; TRUST intercooler
Drivetrain: 3.0L diesel manual transmission; OS Giken clutch, flywheel, differential
Engine Management: Link ECU; AiM MXS Strada tachometer
Footwork & Chassis: Final Konnexion coilovers
Brakes: AP Racing Pro 5000+ six-piston calipers
Wheels & Tires: 19x9 +20 T-Style X-Three wheels; 265/35R19 front, 275/35R19 rear Yokohama Advan Neova tires
Exterior: KITZ-RACING bumpers; CRS hood, over-fenders; URAS rear spoiler
Interior: Recaro seats; Nardi steering wheel; reupholstered red interior

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