Battle Version is pretty damn apt. That's the name of Alex Pfeiffer's operation. He's used to battling. Battling with other drivers, with the circuits, the cars, the tires, bids for sponsorship, and his number-one battle: to get a drift car together. Pfeiffer sourced a '94 SC300, the last Lexus to wear an SC badge and still be considered cool; chassis code: JZZ30, engine code: 2JZ-GE. One of the rare ones with a five-speed manual transmission, too.
It was a three-stage build. Step one was to go back to the metal, and powdercoat the chassis in candy red. Why that particular hue? "I wanted to do something different," says Pfeiffer. "I've built other cars with powdercoated chassis, but always a base color like grey or black, never something as bright as this." Step two: build a 2JZ-GTE engine to replace the car's stock naturally aspirated mill. Final phase: put it all back together. But let's rewind a bit.
Southern California-based AIT Racing makes body kits for racers as well as show cars. Pfeiffer selected the company's Velocity-style kit, consisting of front and rear bumpers and side skirts-all fashioned from fiber-reinforced plastic. He had other plans for the hood. That had to be carbon fiber. In this instance, a TS-II example from Seibon, the same operation that supplied the carbon fiber doors and trunklid. Bodywork was carried out by K&W Autobody of Diamond Bar, CA, painting most of the exterior enchilada in Porsche's Arctic Silver.
Pfeiffer looked to Speed-O-Motive (of West Covina, CA, who did a lot of the head work) and G-Dimension (based in the City of Industry, CA, whose Leon did the tuning) for all his engine renovation. This involved increasing the bore from 86 mm to 87, resulting in a larger displacement of 3.4 liters. The stock crank, connecting rods, camshafts, valve springs and retainers were ditched, replaced by their equivalents from the Brian Crower catalogue. Atop the connecting rods are 9.0:1 CP pistons. Pfeiffer saw no reason to change the stock valves.
The turbo system was upgraded by saying sayonara to the twin factory blowers and replacing them with a single Bullseye Power S368 turbine, along with a Tial V44 wastegate and a Mishimoto intercooler. Mishimoto also takes care of other cooling duties with an aluminum radiator, fans and hoses, while an Earl's unit sees to the oil temperature.
"I got the intake, throttle body, and exhaust manifold from a guy named Jimmy on Club4AG," says Pfeiffer. "He saw my build thread and offered to sponsor the parts in trade for advertising his family business, Sedthee Restaurant Lounge, in Glendale, CA." There's your plug, dude. "He said they came from eBay, so I'm not sure what brand they are." On this evidence, no one could accuse Pfeiffer of being a control freak.
By manipulating the AEM Twin-Fire ignition module, Aeromotive A1000 fuel regulator and pump, Vipec fuel injection, 1,000cc/min fuel injectors ("Not sure of the brand. I ordered them through a friend." Figures.) and Nippon Denso spark plugs, the Vipec V88 ECU whips the engine's six inline cylinders into a 650hp frenzy at 7,500 rpm. Pfeiffer reckons it could see 850 on the dyno with higher boost. One thing he's learned from this build is that "2JZ engines are awesome." So, he put some candy coating on the valve cover.
Work on the R154 five-speed manual transmission was done at Battle Version's headquarters, adding a clutch and flywheel from Competition Clutch, and a Kaaz limited-slip differential. "It was Competition Clutch's test setup for 1J- and 2J-to-R154 configuration. I'm not sure if they have it on the market yet, but when I got it, there were only a couple of people with that twin-disk setup. It comes as a kit with everything, including the slave cylinder and throw-out bearing," says Pfeiffer. "The Kaaz diff is for a Soarer. I got it over five years ago, but never got to use it in my street car, so I finally put it to use. It was painted bright-ass pink as an April Fool's joke."
"The suspension is all fairly custom," says Pfeiffer, "modified to fit those offset wheels. All the bushings have been replaced with Derlin instead of rubber." Our man also fitted some custom subframe spacers. The front and rear coilovers are old-school RS*R I-Shocks, with aluminum bodies, titanium reinforced springs, and two-way adjustment. Pfeiffer installed the suspension, fashioned some rear traction links and rear toe links, set it up, and did the corner balancing and alignment himself. The car sits low, with a -5.5-degree camber and zero toe at the front, and a -1.5-degree camber and 0.12 of an inch toe-in out back.
Those aforementioned wheels are Rays Engineering Volk Racing GTF two-piece forged models, sized 18x9 up front and 18x10 at the back, all with a +1mm offset. They're wearing Nitto NT05 tires, starting off as 265/35 front and 275/35 rear, but eventually being worn down to distressed rubber during the course of a drift event.
Equally important, but not taking so much of a pounding, is the Rotora braking system, with 14-inch rotors at the nose and 13-inchers bringing up the rear, with lines and pads from the same company.
Pfeiffer is known as a bit of a fabricator (or should that be pfabricator?) and we can see his handiwork inside the cabin. That six-point roll cage? A Pfeiffer pspecial. There's nothing in there that isn't necessary for racing, so two Sparco Corsa seats, a suede 330mm Sparco steering wheel, and G-Force racing harnesses make up most of the inventory. Plus that shift lever. "It's a B&M T-handle that I've run in my personal cars for the last 15 years," says Pfeiffer. "The same one. It just feels like home to me, so it has ended up in many of my cars."
As for the electrics, Pfeiffer puts his hand up to that too. "I bought a bunch of wires, a small fuse box, some switches, some relays, a blinker relay, some terminals, a lot of heat shrink, and I made a harness." Connected up in there somewhere is an Auto Meter rev counter. A quick look in the trunk reveals a Summit Racing 15-gallon fuel cell.
With a worth attached to the car in the region of $75,000, Pfeiffer's hoping to recoup some of the investment scrill in the 2010 Formula D series, now that he's out of the judges' tower and back in the driver's seat. The catch is that he'll be doing it from behind the wheel of an entirely different car. "I built the SC for the 2010 FD season, but a last-minute sponsorship deal put me in another car," he explains. As for the future of this SC: "I'm just trying to keep it in one piece for now," he says, "but its day will come."
Pfeiffer Pfacts It's been a long, tough road for Alex Pfeiffer. But it hasn't been without its high points. It even started on a high, by being born in Hawaii (in 1975). "My father was a fan of the local circle track where he would take us every weekend to watch the races," he says. "That's where I started to enjoy motorsports, week after week of watching V-8s bang their way around the track, falling asleep in the stands. I was five or six, but knew I wanted to race. My first car was an '80 Mercury Zephyr my grandfather gave my dad. I tried everything I could to get it sideways or to burn out. I'd take it to the pineapple fields where it didn't take much power to get sideways."
Before long he was in SCCA races, working at a local speed shop and drifting around the local mountain roads. Then he heard the call of the mainland-a kind of mechanics training course/racing school. It wasn't the happiest of times for him, but it led to working with a team that raced Porsches, then a job fabricating custom parts and servicing Stuttgart's finest. By that time, he had an AE86 and was driving around the hillier parts of northern California. Then he found out about a drifting event at Buttonwillow, which he took part in with borrowed tires (lending tires for a drift event must be the height of generosity).
The start of the drifting affair coincided with Pfeiffer making his own parts for sale and the name Battle Version coming into being. He also procured a drift gig in RS*R's S2000, taking a win at the 2004 Need For Speed launch party at Irwindale. He subsequently spent two and a half years as one of the Formula D judges, but 2010 will see him back on the track in Tanaka Racing's Corvette, which leaves the SC featured here in something of a limbo.
'94 Lexus SC300
650 HP @ 7,500 rpm
Drifting, video games
"Projects like this are not easy. Don't attempt one unless you have a large bankroll Or you're good at building cars."
Engine Brian Crower 272-degree camshafts, crankshaft, connecting rods, valve springs, retainers; CP forged aluminum pistons; Bullseye Power S368 turbocharger; Tial V44 wastegate; Mishimoto intercooler, radiator, pipes, hoses, fans; Vipec V88 ECU; Aeromotive A1000 fuel regulator, fuel pump; limited-edition Battle Version exhaust; Nippon Denso spark plugs; AEM Twin-Fire ignition module; Earl's oil cooler
Drivetrain Competition Clutch clutch, flywheel; Kaaz LSD; B&M T-handle shift lever
Suspension RS*R I-Shock coilovers w/titanium springs; Battle Version rear traction links, rear toe links; custom Derlin bushings
Wheels/Tires Rays Engineering Volk Racing GTF wheels (18x9 front, 18x10 rear); Nitto NT05 tires (265/35 front, 275/35 rear)
Brakes Rotora 14-inch front rotors, 13-inch rear rotors, stainless steel braided lines, pads
Exterior AIT Racing front and rear bumpers, side skirts; Seibon TS-II carbon fiber hood, doors, trunk lid
Interior Sparco Corsa seats, 330mm steering wheel; Auto Meter tachometer; Battle Version six-point roll cage; G-Force racing harnesses; Summit Racing 15-gallon fuel cell