Toyota Chaser JZX100 Body Type
Among the best, best, best ever, ever, drift cars on this planet are the Toyota X-body, mid-size sedans that came with the 1JZ-GTE stock turbo motor. (Earlier versions came with twin turbos, while the later, post ’96 engines, came with a single turbo set up.)
We are talking here about the top end Toyota Cresta, the Toyota Mark II, and the Toyota Chaser, like this white hot unit here that we are exporting now from Japan to a very happy drift car driver in the UK.
Although there were six generations of the Toyota X-body cars, it’s only the last three generations, X80, X90, and X100 that are of interest to serious drifters who want to import a drift car from Japan. Why is this? Two basic reasons: these last three generations have the strongest bodies (especially the X100), and they come with that superb-for-drift 1JZ-GTE motor. And why is this motor so all fired great? 1) It has a very solid iron block. Immensely strong. 2) It’s a straight six with strong, smooth, early power delivery and mega grunt. 3) But it’s a short stroke engine and it’s more responsive and revy than you usually get with a medium to big straight six. (Look at the tachometer in the photos here: 7,000rpm red line.) 4) It’s stock turbo and made to take lots of boost. You’re not going to burst this engine easily. 5) There are lots of power tuning options available. (On a side note, a fellow I know here in Japan who has a JZX100 Chaser has got it boosted now to 550ps (dynoed). He drifts it regularly at Fuji Speedway. The car is quite reliable and is road licensed. He even drives it to work sometimes, although he does admit that some of the drift track mods do make the car less than ideal for long drives or tight spots downtown; specifically the four-point racing harness means that he has less freedom of body movement to look around, lean forward, shoulder check, and so on compared to what he would have with a road standard, extendable, 3-point shoulder/lap belt.)
But it’s not just the strong body and bullet proof motor that make the Chaser a King of Drift, it’s how the two come together. The JZ series motors are somewhat on the heavy side, and that makes the Chaser and its stable mates a bit nose heavy. JUST WHAT YOU WHAT IN A PERFECT DRIFT CAR. The 1480 kilograms of the JZX100 are distributed 840kg on the front axle and 640kg on the rear axle. (I’ve had some laughs watching guys at Fuji Speedway trying to drift supremely well-balanced pure sports cars that have 50/50 weight distributions. Pu-leeeeze! They are not made for this sport, the sport of drifting.)
Once you’ve got that basic nose-heavy, rear wheel drive package, the path to the perfect drift car is paved with modifications. Because the JZX100 is such a classic layout and such a solid build it is easy to work on and easy to modify, and in your tuning work you are supported by a large selection of aftermarket parts, especially parts for suspension tuning such as springs and shocks (here you can go the mix and match route, sourcing your springs and shocks separately, or you can go the suspension kit route, where the aftermarket tuning parts maker has already made what he thinks are the best, most suitable springs and shocks and put them together in a kit for the target car). Other aftermarket suspension parts that you’ll find easily for the Chaser and its stable mates are stabilizer bars and tower strut bars, harder bushes and specially made upper mounts.
But it’s that 1JZ motor in the Chaser that makes it the car that every drifter wants when it comes time to modify. Everything is there: I’ve seen some pretty monstrous aftermarket turbos on these Chasers at Fuji Speedway, along with equally monstrous intercoolers. Special intake piping, braided fuel lines, full throat blow-off valves, and high capacity radiators make some of these 1JZ motors works of art, in my mind. And then there is what you can’t see in a highly power-moded motor: the aftermarket pistons, conrods, cranks and cams, valve springs and cam pulleys. You can put all these things together in your own work-of-art, super powerful 1JZ drift car engine. And you can be sure that the whole ensemble will hold together because that immensely strong straight six iron block is the living heart of this motor. It is when power modding a drift car engine that the phrase “over-engineered” becomes a complement, not a criticism.
To learn more about Japanese drift cars have a look at some of the articles on our main Japan Car Direct site here, and to learn more about the Chaser’s “sister ship”, the Toyota Mark II, have a look on our Japan Car Direct blog here.
Yes, the Chaser was built strong and powerful, back when Toyota used to do that sort of thing, before all the cost cuts and eco designs. Will cars like these ever come back? I doubt it. Am I gonna cry me eyes out over it? No way, because these X-bodies last forever. Parts availability is good and here in Japan at the used car auctions, and at the specialist dealers that we work with, we are finding many good units for export to the UK, the EU, and the USA. And as far as these JZX100 series Chasers and Marks IIs go, in August next year they will become 25 years old and thus easy to export to the USA. YEAH!