It’s hard to think that the ’08 D1GP season is already more than halfway through isn’t it?. So far we have seen some pretty exciting stuff go down. There have been several new machines that have debuted this season, but the one I’m about to talk about has to be one of the most unique.
In Japan the Toyota Crown has been one of the best selling sedans on the market for years. While the Crown does offer a rear wheel drive platform, it’s weight and softness have kept it from becoming a tuner favorite. The Crown has never really had the tuner following that of other Toyota sedans like the JZX series and the Aristo. The Crown is sort of known as an old person’s car in Japan. Kind of like how the Ford Crown Victoria is known in the states. OK, so maybe it’s not THAT much of an old person’s car, but you still get the idea.
While Bee*R is very well known for their work with the Skyline GT-R, Bee*R owner Imai-san is also a big fan of the Crown. That is why Bee*R has built a Toyota Crown D1 for competition. The new Crown is the second member of Bee*R’s D1 team alongside Tsuyoshi Tezuka’s BNR32 Skyline. The Crown is driven by Masayoshi Tokita, the infamous “bosozoku drifter” from Chiba Prefecture who used to compete behind the wheel of his beloved MZ10 Toyota Soarer. During the new car’s debut at the Ebisu opening round, Tokita made it into the best 16, which was a very impressive performance for what was basically a shake down run.
I finally got a chance to see the new car at the D1 Odaiba event, and after getting an up close look, I can say that Bee*R has done a fantastic job with this car.
While Toyota released the newest version of the Crown earlier this year, this car is built off the previous GRS180 model also known as the “Zero Crown”. The stock Crown Athlete model comes equipped with the same V6 and smooth shifting automatic transmission that is offered in many Lexus models, but as you know that stuff will not cut it for a D1 competiion car.
For the car’s power, the stock V6 was yanked in favor of the proven 2JZGTE engine sourced from a Toyota Aristo. The 2JZ was then stroked to 3.4L using and HKS kit and fitted with a single T04Z turbine kit also from HKS. The fully tuned engine has an output in the neighborhood of 700hp. The transmission is a Holinger sequential with an ORC clutch, and a TRD LSD helps put all that power to the wheels.
The chassis has undergone extensive fabrication work for added rigidity and more precise control, as well as to trim a little of the Crown’s porky weight. Suspension duties on this car are handled by a set of GP Sports G-Master coilovers. For competition use, a set of 18″ Weds SA-70TT wheels in SBC finish are used. The tires of course are Goodyear’s latest RS Sport model.
Inside, all of the stock luxury items from the Crown have been removed and a customized dashboard is in place with a full digital cluster. Of course a race-spec roll cage has been outfitted to keep up with safety standards. It is interesting to see that the stock door panels are still being used though.
If you can see through the tire smoke, you will notice the custom dual exit exhaust set up. If I’m not mistaken, these particular mufflers were special for the Odaiba event because of the noise regulations in Tokyo. A number of cars were forced to run “Odaiba SPL” exhausts for the event.
The four-piece aero kit on this car was recently completed by Bee*R. Another interesting note about the exterior is that this car is one of the few D1 machines that is not equipped with a GT wing.
Since the Crown is commonly used as police car in Japan, Tokita had this flashing red light was attached to the roof during the second day of the Odaiba event. The crowd loved it.
Although I will certainly miss seeing Tokita’s old Soarer, the new Crown is shaping up to be very formidable entry in D1. It also happens to bring some fresh and unique style to the the pro drifting world.