Individuality is very important for those who wish to stand apart from the crowd. It's something that's all but required of public figures, doubly so for any who achieve such status by driving race cars that need to appear as loud, confident and intimidating as their drivers. It's by this quality that Manabu "Max" Orido has become one of the most recognizable Japanese racing drivers of modern times. Despite his respectable repertoire of driving everything from Super GT and Super Taikyu, to NASCAR and the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Orido owes this fame to his passion for drifting, and cars like his wildly modified D1GP Toyota Soarer and Aristo you've seen in Hot Version and Best Motoring videos and magazines like this one for years. And for those of you who think Max's stand-out persona and lust for boosted Toyota JZ muscle is just an act, we take you into his personal life this month, to peek at this Ridox JZX161 Toyota Aristo-his daily driver.
Max was a bit surprised when-standing at his doorstep, where so many had stood before and asked to shoot his race cars-we asked to shoot his daily. "It's . . . nothing special," he said in disbelief. Driving Super GT cars for a living can have that effect on a man. Orido-san teamed up with body kit maker Varis to create the stunning Ridox kit fitted to the JZX161. The idea was to come up with something fresh and modern that would integrate certain features of GT racing into a street-going machine. Up front, the bumper sports a clean and uncluttered design with an aggressive double opening in the center and an integrated carbon spoiler. A strip of chrome runs around the top section, adding a touch of elegance to the Aristo's front end. The standard Toyota grille has been replaced with one from an imported (USDM) Lexus GS, giving that all-important "import" feel the Japanese love. More carbon is used to create the aero hood, which has been designed to expel hot air from the engine bay. To help give a more prominent stance, the fenders are also Ridox-designed parts, featuring a wider and more aggressive contour and full carbon fiber construction. The side skirts continue the carbon theme and sport a more angular and aerodynamic design, especially towards the rear, to promote better airflow over the wheels. The lower section of the rear bumper has been redesigned with an integrated oval carbon section, from which the exhaust pops out, despite the bumper having been cut for a dual system. Completing the Ridox conversion is the small trunk spoiler, held in place by carbon wing stays.
Orido-san came up with his own custom chameleon color for this car, something that would emphasize the lines of the body and look like nothing else out there. The result is a stunning metallic blue that shifts from turquoise to purple, depending on angle of view. To highlight its carbon armor, a thin strip on top of the hood and fenders was left unpainted, only covered by clear coat. The same was done to the lower portion of the side skirts, matching the carbon detailing on the front and rear bumpers. To dress things up a little, chrome door handles join that thin strip of chrome that makes its way all around the car. LED taillights and aftermarket front projectors are a nice touch, bringing the JZX161 in line with more modern cars. The showy 20-inch Weds Maverick 110Ss match the "sporty VIP" feel of the Aristo well, and are wrapped in Continental ContiSportContact 2 tires.
In case you might be thinking this is all flare, popping the lightened hood reveals the 2JZ-GTE that came standard in Japan's V300 Vertex Edition Aristo. Lucky bastards. Orido explains that the engine hasn't been touched; it's strong enough to take a "slight" power boost on its own. Which, to a career race car driver, must mean nearly tripling its power, because Max's HKS T04Z single-turbo conversion is good for just over 600 hp. To support the higher boost, the fueling was beefed up with a Sard high-flow fuel pump and upgraded injectors. The T04Z breathes through custom plumbing and dumps spent gasses through a custom downpipe, Sard catalyst and that straight-through custom center-exit exhaust. Boost is relegated by the external HKS wastegate and EVC boost controller. Full Trust piping was installed, along with the Trust intercooler that exchanges heat with an increased flow of incoming air, thanks to the Ridox front bumper's gaping inlet. And you thought that was all for show! Prepping the car for impromptu drift battles are a pair of Trust oil coolers and a thick Sard radiator. Engine management is a venerable HKS F-Con V Pro, custom-mapped for mid-range torque and fuel economy. Seeing as how Orido drives this beast almost daily through hectic Tokyo traffic, he decided to keep its factory automatic transmission in place, and upgraded it with a Sard Sport A/T Pro kit, eliminating slip and increasing response for performance driving. And in keeping with the oil coolers, a Kaaz LSD was thrown in for the occasional slide.
A soon-to-be-released Ridox suspension takes care of lowering the car as well as offering greater handling. Control arms were left untouched, but the braking was something Orido addressed with Project Mu six-piston slim calipers up front, mated to four-piston items at the rear. Curiously enough, the rear calipers use four small pads-one for each piston, a design that is supposed to make better use of pad material. Two-piece floating discs and stainless lines are further fitted to each corner, all from Project Mu.
Like its stateside Lexus GS counterpart, the JDM JZX161 Aristo features an interior design that simply refuses to get old. However, Orido wanted to spice things up a little, starting with the Bride Stradia II carbon-Kevlar reclinable buckets. Maybe they make him feel more at home during the daily commute. Fitted onto a quick-release boss is the Orido-style Nardi steering wheel, one of the hottest-selling parts in the Ridox catalogue. A top-of-the-line Eclipse hard-disc navi unit was installed, and below it, we noticed something peculiar about the center transmission tunnel-the curious-looking lever coming out at an angle. It's a custom foot-to-hand emergency brake conversion that was done to help Orido-san initiate drifts with the automatic transmission.
If Max's personal Aristo reminds you at all of his current D1GP drift machine, it should-it was built to be a de-tuned, more luxurious replica of it. The same Ridox kit appears on both cars, and power output is roughly identical. What might come as even more of a shock is that Max designed the kit himself to, in his words, "Prove the people how Orido style translate." We get it.
'99 Lexus Aristo
Engine 2JZ-GTE; HKS T04Z turbo, stainless turbo manifold, external wastegate, Super Power Flow filter, F-Con V Pro; Trust front-mount intercooler, piping, oil cooler (x2); Sard radiator, catalytic converter, fuel-pressure regulator, fuel pump, 700cc injectors; custom oil catch can
Drivetrain Sard Sports A/T Pro kit; Kaaz limited-slip differential
Suspension Ridox adjustable coilovers
Wheels/Tires Weds Maverick 110S MPB wheels (20x9.5 front, 20x10 rear); Continental ContiSportContact 2 tires (245/30-20 front, 275/30-20 rear)
Brakes Project Mu six-piston calipers and two-pice rotors (front), four-piston calipers and two-piece rotors (rear), brake pads, stainless steel lines
Exterior Ridox front bumper with integrated carbon fiber lip spoiler, carbon aero hood, front fenders, side skirts, rear bumper, trunk spoiler, chrome door handles, LED taillights; Makino Factory HID kit, projector headlights
Interior Nardi Orido Style leather steering wheel with quick-release boss; Bide Stradia II carbon-Kevlar reclinable seats, low-mount seat rails; custom foot-hand brake conversion
Electronics HKS EVC boost controller, fuel gauge; Maruhama radar detector; Eclipse AVN777HD navigation head unit
Driving, Judging, Orido Style
"What do you mean, you forgot the chicken nuggets?"