Guest Blog: Ben Schaffer>>smoky Nagata: The Quest For The Gold

I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Kazuhiko “Smoky” Nagata for many years now. Nagata-san is of course the founder of the legendary tuning shop, Top Secret. Going beyond that, he is also a bit of a worldwide motorsports celebrity, in fact he is a rather unique example of a motorsports star. Not many people can claim celebrity driver status while having no professional motorsports affiliation as a driver. To understand the mysterious Nagata-san it may be a bit easier after some background.

(The pinnacle of Smoky’s tuning, the V12 Twin Turbo Nardo 400 Supra, pictured at Nardo, Italy)

I’ve known Nagata-san professionally for quite some time now. My company, Bulletproof Automotive became his appointed worldwide exclusive distributor for the Top Secret brand in 2002 and since then we have operated “Top Secret III” and “Top Secret USA” to support Smoky and his tuning parts endeavors. Prior to Smoky and I launching Top Secret III together, I of course asked him some burning questions which might yield some insight into the mind of a maniac driver and tuning fiend. One question in particular yielded an answer which years later still serves to sum up the man quite nicely. The question was a simple one: “What is the significance of the gold color you use on your demo cars?”

(The Fusion RR Time Attack BNR34 Nissan GT-R served at Top Secret’s pinnacle circuit machine and was Smoky’s favorite car for many years. It was not only a favorite of Smoky’s but of mine as well. The car now proudly owned by yours truly.)

Smoky thought about it for a minute and then told me that he chose the gold color because as a kid he always enjoyed watching the Olympics and the gold represents first place, being the best in the world. That answer, later on I realized was really all I needed to know about Smoky to understand his motivations and his uniqueness.

(Rare shot of Top Secret’s Super Taikyu Competition DC5 Honda Integra pulling ahead of an Evo in a S-Tai event.)

Since that explanation which was in essence his soft and humble proclamation that he demands to become #1 in the world, everything else seemed to fill into place over the years. I was there with Smoky throughout the season when his S15 Silvia won the D1 GP World Championship. I was there watching him win first place awards at Tokyo Auto Salon multiple times with unbelievable cars like the G35 V8 Twin Turbo and the Nardo Supra. And then there was the countless times I wasn’t there and was damn jealous because I wanted to be!  Since his humble beginnings in the industry as a specialist tuner at Trust Japan, Nagata-san has won the gold at least once, if not more, across nearly every category possible within the world of sports car tuning and motorsports.

(A rare and legendary pairing. At the time I shot these pictures, the S15 D1GP car had just become the D1GP season world champion and was retired with the title in place.)

(Top Secret had then promptly been commissioned by ORC to campaign a D1GP car for them, a RB26DETT powered widebody Z33 350Z shown alongside the S15.)

His “golds” include: First place titles in drifting (D1GP World Champion), drag racing (RH9 Club), time attack (GT-Rs), car shows (Tokyo Auto Salon), one make races like March Cup, top speed runs (Supra, GT-R, G35), even Pikes Peak Hillclimb! Come to think of it, I can’t think of anything that he has not done… Keep in mind, Top Secret also had a team running in Super Taikyu with a DC5 Integra and a S2000 campaigned in Gymkhana. At the moment Smoky is still at it, oddly enough trying to conquer the world of hybrid eco cars, building both a new Prius and Insight concurrently.

(A little discussed bit of history, Top Secret prepared two AWD Z33 350Zs with RB26DETT swaps for Pikes Peak. These beasts finished top of their class, as Smoky expected)

Many people wonder how Smoky can have balls of steel when they watch the notorious street racing videos of him in various countries doing unthinkable speeds on public roads. Whether it’s with our friend Fly, on the wangan in a GT-R with Fly nervously screaming out the speeds or its Smoky getting locked up in the UK after blasting his Supra down the road, Smoky has always been an insanely intense driver. His intensity again points back to that gold color. Smoky wants to be the fastest and the best everywhere in the world, it is quite simply his life’s goal. He builds the craziest and fastest cars he can produce and ships them all over the world to record himself driving the fastest anyone has driven in those countries. New Zealand, UK, Germany and Italy have all been witness to Smoky’s intensity. Whether it is raining or clear, sunny or dark, Smoky does not let off throttle until he is satisfied that he has earned the gold that he proudly adorns his cars with.

(The legendary CPV35 Skyline Coupe V8 Twin Turbo, a car that won best of show at Tokyo Auto Salon and absolutely slaughtered the Autobahn with Smoky behind the wheel. 341 km/h to be exact. That’s 211 MPH for us Americans.)

Nagata-san is a quiet and intense man to those who have met him. I hope this contribution to Speedhunters sheds some light on the real man behind the crazy videos and rumors. Passion is a wonderful and potent thing. Nagata-san has passion and ambition that pushes him sometimes dangerously close to the edge. The scary thing to those close to him is that he is so committed and strong willed that he will not back down even if staring death in the face. I cannot say that about many people. Perhaps that is what makes Nagata-san so famous and admired, deep down everyone admires unyielding courage and dedication. Smoky just takes it to another level.

(No Top Secret story would be complete without mentioning the JGTC inspired 3SGTE powered JZA80 Toyota Supra)

(The rarely seen gymkhana AP1 S2000 rounds off this historical overview of Top Secret.)

For additional information, check out the Top Secret Section of my blog here:

-Ben Schaffer

The Real JDM



Comments are closed.


by Oldest
by Best by Newest by Oldest

can we get a desktop of the first picture of the z33 and s15 together!! beautiful picture!


very good, waiting for the next one.


Great article!


is that right? a 3SGTE in a supra?


Thanks guys, it was a pleasure doing this for Rod and the crew at Speedhunters.

I have some hi-res pics of the Z33 and S15, but we'll see if Rod wants to hook that up. Its up to him for the wallpaper.

And absolutely yes it is a 3SGTE into the supra. The motor is stroked using Garage Fukui (Phoenix Power) engine internals (they're legends at SW20 tuning). The concept behind the GT300 Supra was to build a street legal Super GT (then JGTC) car. The body proportions were made identical in width to the JGTC counterpart although with unique styling, and much like JGTC car the 2J was swapped out for a lighter and more compact 3S motor which was mounted rearward for better balance. That motor made plenty of power, making the 2J unnessasary. I wrote an article a while back explaining the range of swaps Smoky has done with the JZA80. They include the full spectrum. 4cyl 3SGTE, GT-R's RB26DETT, of course the stock 2J and then the legendary Century V12 madness that is the Nardo Supra. Everything from 4 to 12 Cyl. Its all fun and games man.


Yes, 3S-GTE. I believe it had like 800hp.?

And, T H A N K Y O U B E N!

You're still the man!


Awesome Post Ben! I wihs you added thr crazy RB-26 Swapped Supra from a couple of years was white, Top Secret Graphics, and riding on Volk GT-C's cover car on Super Street...awesome coverage nonetheless...


Thanks guys. You'd be surprised how hard it is to trim down so many years of experiences and pictures into one cohesive post. There is a lot I wanted to add but I didnt want to make to too bloated. Personally I love the VQ NA tuned R32, of course the RB powered Supra, R34 GT-R 4 Door, ORC/Top Secret twin charged 350Z, on and on it goes. I just tried to select a good cross section to give a feel for Top Secret with this post. Hope everyone likes it. Oh and yea, the 3S Supra ran approx 800ps depending on the various tunes it had at different periods of time.


great write up! The Skyline is one of my fav Skylines to date!!!


Epic post Ben, glad to see you on Speedhunters!


Great write up !! Smokey is always my favourite tuner =]


my favorite japanese tuning shop along side with VeilSide

every single car they creat turns out to be a monster

but if i had the opportunity to own one

i would have to go with V35 Skyline or the V12 Supra


One of the best Speedhunters post in a long time! Smoky is my idol. One can only dream of being as cool/badass as he is.


always love top secret skyline and others..but i remembered that's another skyline too,its a R34 4-door with a RB26 swap i think (:


Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. I don't remember where I got it but a poster of the Top Secret Supra still adorns my wall...


Smoky! You are my hero!!!!


can we get some more info on the Top Secret Nissan March please....or March/Micra in general please! It not just the bigger cars that are cool!


"Smokey" Nagata = Tuning God

Also where is the RH9 R33 GT-R. That is the GT-R of truely epic stats and speed. When The TOP SECRET D1GP Champion Silvia S15 is on the list for my dream garage. There is no reason to not have it.


Like many others said it already; great post Ben !

And like you, among all the crazy cars Smoky has worked on, I think the white R32 with the VQ35DE with gold ITB's takes the cake ! Going against the stream and thinking outside the box. I like it !

20 - video of the JGTC inspired supra. - another video this time from a max power photoshoot.


Anymore pics of his other Supras besides the recent one?


V12 Twin Turbo Supra wallpaper please!!!!!! :)


Love the DC5.....................any specs on that car?


Very awesome post, I dig it. My friend has driven the Top Secret Supra, he said the triple plate gearbox took some getting used to, but after that, no worries :)


Cool post!!! those cars from top secret are crazy... my favorite would have 2 be the skyline r34 and the s2000!!!


Well done Ben, cool to see you posting here, i check The Real JDM often....


love your article about Somkey-san. in fact he was my idol in building and tuning rad JDM sportcars...

btw, hope u will do a cover up on Sasamu Koyama (the Hands of GOD!) of the JUN Auto fame too!


Hola...desda aca Chile...realmente increible el comentario haciendo idolatria hacia el señor Smoky...realmente se necesita estar un poco loco para alcanzar esas velocidades en la Wangan..realmente admirable lo que ha creado..una compañia que ha ganado en casi todo, no todos las empresas logran eso...desde D1 hasta Pikes peak's...creando unos vehiculos de miedo.

el vehiculo que falto mencionar que es importante es el TA22 de Smoky con los full para morirse.

saludos desde Chile


awesome post ben , always love top secret stuff love that you got some of the rare projects in there , especially the gymakana s2k and the pp rb26dett 350z's ;)


great post. can anyone get any info on the 350Z's that ran on pikes peak?


I had the pleasure of meeting the great man when I went to see the tuning shop in '05, it was tuning car heaven and the guy was so nice, I walked in off the street and he showed me around and posed for a few pics, it made my trip to Japan!


Great Post as always Ben. Top Secret is undoubtedly the premier tuner in the world. I say that with the thought of how just how creative Nagata-san in his builds. The man is a genius.



the gold 350z kind of reminds me of a porsche


great article about top secret. i see articles about the Bonneville salt flats and i see articles about smoky's need for speed, but no articles of smoky at bonneville? Im sure one of his masterfully tuned machine would do nicely out there.