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Super Street’s Top 10 JDM Toyota Feature Cars of All Time

From the streets and tracks of Japan, our ten most popular Toyota feature cars ever include Supra, Mark II, HiAce, MR-S, and a whole lot of 86.

Bob Hernandez
Jan 26, 2021
Author: Archives

As the world's second-largest automobile manufacturer, Toyota in the last handful of years has seemingly reaffirmed its commitment to making fun cars for enthusiasts while trying to satisfy every other kind of vehicle user. They made their Japanese motorsports arm Gazoo Racing an international household name with the return of the Supra in 2019, and more recently the GR Yaris, not to mention their next 86 FR coupe will be a GR, so it would appear the OEM is indeed striving to get its groove back. As much as we're happy about that, though, you know our soft spot is for the Toyotas that used to be, like the Supra and Corolla of old, and the vans, wagons, and other various JDM fare we didn't/don't get here in the U.S. And it seems like you feel the same way, too.

Bitten by the curiosity bug to see which of our Japanese Toyota feature stories have been the most popular over the years, we weren't surprised one bit at what the numbers showed when they came back, with one exception: we probably wouldn't have guessed a HiAce van to be in the lead spot. The rest is pretty dead on - a couple of Supra, AE86 and other Corolla chassis, a Mark II and more modern 86, even a JGTC-era GT300-class MR-S from almost two decades ago. The entire J-spec Toyota roundup is below, with photos, short descriptions and links out to respective stories a bit further down - let's go places!

Ju Sung Oh's 2016 HiAce
Naohiro Yahagi's 1996 Supra RZ
Masataka Ikeda's 1983 Sprinter Trueno
Keiichi "Drift King" Tsuchiya's 1986 Sprinter Trueno
Top Secret's V-12 Mk4 Supra
ARTA A'PEXi MR-S
Masaru Ishikawa's 1991 Mark II
Masataka Ikeda's 1982 Corolla AE70
Eiji Daito's 1986 Corolla Levin
AIMGAIN International's 86

Maybe Toyota Aren't Your Thing
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001 top 10 jdm toyota ju sung oh 2016 hiace Photo 50/50   |   Super Street’s Top 10 JDM Toyota Feature Cars of All Time

2016 Toyota HiAce - King of the Vans
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As in America, Japanese view vans as supremely utilitarian, more for hauling people and stuff than hauling ass, which is why Ju Sung Oh's 2016 HiAce is so wild. Rather than surrender to the mundane nature of his boxy transporter, Go-san (as Ju is called) built himself a legit JDM hot rod, with a R35 GT-R VR38DETT V-6 engine swap, overfenders and aero, and a totally custom cabin. If we had builds like this running around the US, van culture might be as big here as it is in Japan.

008 top 10 jdm toyota naohiro yahagi 1996 supra rz rear 3 4 Photo 50/50   |   Super Street’s Top 10 JDM Toyota Feature Cars of All Time

1996 Toyota Supra RZ (JZA80) - Joke's On Us
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Built to show off Varis offshoot Hurtling Solid & Joker's more affordable body kit for the Mk4 Supra, Naohiro Yahagi's JZA80 is perfection in Lime Rock grey (oddly enough, a BMW color). The mod list is simple - which is pretty common in J builds - but impactful, the demo car assembled not just from HS&J bumpers, side skirts and spoiler but also a Varis hood and Ridox front fenders, with Volk TE37 Saga wheels the ideal fender candy. For sure there are crazier kits on the market, but Naohiro and Varis's approach clearly resonates with many: "All you need to do is accentuate the original body a little bit, because it's already cool to begin with."

009 top 10 jdm toyota masataka ikeda 1983 sprinter trueno Photo 50/50   |   Super Street’s Top 10 JDM Toyota Feature Cars of All Time

Toyota Corolla AE86: Built 20v 4A-GE Sits Inside the Most Perfectly Shaved Engine Bay Ever
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Like the rarity of built J vans here in the states, tucked and shaved engine bays generally is another area where the two scenes look different, the Japanese not quite yet up to American frequency. Masataka Ikeda from Wakayama has two Toyota on this list essentially for the same reason, because he excels in amazingly clean engine bays (you know, the kind that look like the engine is floating). The first to get everyone's attention was this Trueno, which isn't only a showcase for its remarkable engine compartment and eye-catching 20V 4A-GE; the complete build is also a refinement of the Panda AE86 guise, which has seldom looked this good.

013 top 10 jdm toyota keiichi tsuchiya 1986 sprinter trueno Photo 50/50   |   Super Street’s Top 10 JDM Toyota Feature Cars of All Time

1986 Toyota Sprinter Trueno - Original Gangsta'
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Of course, Keiichi "Drift King" Tsuchiya's personal Hachiroku is on the list; we'd be shocked if it wasn't, considering how much of an icon he's become. What warms our hearts is (again) how basic and low-key the build is, with nary a widebody nor huge wing to distract from its simple elegance. The TEC-ART'S "7AG" mill in the engine bay, which is a mating of a 7AFE block with an AE111 head, might be the craziest thing on the drifting Trueno, but there are other charms, too, like the collab Aragosta coilovers the AE86 rides on, or the apropos Bride King front seats - a fitting throne for Tsuchiya-san.

017 top 10 jdm toyota top secret v 12 jza80 supra Photo 50/50   |   Super Street’s Top 10 JDM Toyota Feature Cars of All Time

Top Secret's V-12 Twin Turbo Toyota Supra
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Another feature we sort of expected to show up here, the Top Secret Century-powered JZA80 is no doubt on the extreme end of J builds, and also happens to be from a much earlier era of Super Street, not that we're any less impressed by it more than a decade after it first got published. Even today, if a V-12 swapped, Ferrari-nosed, bright gold Supra came across our inbox, we would not be able to resist going in for a closer look. While the face of the TS kit may have been too much for some to bear (and sadly, has not aged well), the more natural lines of the widebody arguably still hold up today.

021 top 10 jdm toyota arta apexi mr s spyder Photo 50/50   |   Super Street’s Top 10 JDM Toyota Feature Cars of All Time

Custom Toyota MR-S Spyder Race Car - Attack of the Arachnid
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Our story on the ARTA A'PEXi MR-S prepped for the GT300 Class of the Japan Grand Touring Car Championship (or simply JGTC) goes back even further than the Top Secret Supra, to 2002, and is pure race car porn. Builders gave the under-loved W30 (even today!) the full motorsports treatment, with a tubed and gusseted chassis, 3S-GTE built and tuned by Toyota Technocraft TRD, and 6-speed sequential trans. Toyota Racing Development further added to the mix with widebody aero and other bits, as did A'PEXi with their turbo, exhaust, and suspension mods, and the mid-engine sportscar was finished in BFGoodrich-shod 18-inch Volk Racing TE37 and unmistakable ARTA orange livery. For the era and application, it gets no gnarlier.

025 top 10 jdm toyota masaru ishikawa 1991 mark ii Photo 50/50   |   Super Street’s Top 10 JDM Toyota Feature Cars of All Time

1991 Toyota Mark II (X70) - Off the Wagon
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Where do we even start with Masaru Ishikawa's one of a kind Mark II station wagon? The body shop owner had just a month to put it together for Wekfest Japan and swung for the fences, creating a custom widebody X70 that drifts and looks like the cop car themed Decepticon Barricade from the Transformers universe. Masaru swapped in a 1JZ engine, performed all the metal fender work, even re-barreled himself the wagon's 11.3-inch-wide BBS wheels - and if you think this thing is wild, you should check out his wife's Nissan 180SX Type X.

032 top 10 jdm toyota masataka ikeda 1982 corolla ae70 rear 3 4 Photo 50/50   |   Super Street’s Top 10 JDM Toyota Feature Cars of All Time

AE70 Toyota Corolla Sedan w/ Air Lift Suspension & SSR Longchamp Wheels Has the Smoothest Shaved Engine Bay in Japan
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Masataka Ikeda's Corolla AE70 might be as awe-inspiring as his AE86 listed earlier and it's all because of his obsession with what's under the hood, or rather what's not. In fact, many of the areas of the car you can't see at first glance get all the focus in this project, from built 4A-GE and full airbag suspension to a completely redone braking system from rotors and calipers to master cylinder. The Corolla's body has barely been touched, but when you're on SSR Longchamp XR4 wheels with the proper stance, a little goes a long way (#shakotanlife).

033 top 10 jdm toyota eiji daito 1986 corolla Photo 50/50   |   Super Street’s Top 10 JDM Toyota Feature Cars of All Time

1986 Toyota Corolla (AE86) - Prime Time
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If anything, this list proves the Japanese like their AE86 lean, and while we've shown you one for show and one for drift, E.PRIME's Levin is significantly spare for circuit work. Built by E.PRIME head honcho Eiji Daito, it's hard to mistake the Toyota's purpose once you lay eyes on the gutted interior and roll cage, but very few racers are ever as clean as this. Eiji also had to fashion many one-off parts and chassis modifications to handle the extra horsepower from the built 1.6L 4AG, which includes a custom transmission bellhousing to fit a Skyline 71C transmission, a 7.5-in. rear axle, and weight reduction wherever possible employing fiberglass replacements for the hood, doors, bumpers, and fenders.

038 top 10 jdm toyota aimgain international 86 front 3 4 Photo 50/50   |   Super Street’s Top 10 JDM Toyota Feature Cars of All Time

The Most Underrated Body Kit for the Toyota 86 & Subaru BRZ
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Can a body kit be central to a popular feature car? The Supra in the number two spot above says yes, as does this Toyota 86 done up by AIMGAIN Int'l. In fact, we still stick by our claim that the AIMGAIN GT-F kit for the ZN6 is the most underrated aero setup for the platform, sporting a unique Lexus-aping grille unlike any in the body kit universe. The widebody version we showcased pushes out the front fenders 50mm and the rears 80mm (there's also a non-widebody version) and to complement the package AIMGAIN developed its own front and rear big brake kits as well as an exhaust with titanium tips. Work Meister M1s in 18 inches (finally, something else besides S1s!) tie into the build nicely.

 

By Bob Hernandez
963 Articles

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