Guest Blog: Rory Johnston>> The Elgrand Circuit Racer

Elgrands are immensely popular here in Japan among the 'vanning' crowd. Most of the time you will see them hauling a family or even decked out in neons to attract as much attention as possible. However this Elgrand isn't meant to do either. The owner enlisted TRIAL to make it able to attack the local circuits. And, attack them well.

This van is such an oddity that OPTION VIDEO picked up on it and gave it some time in one of their DVDs. Well known Japanese driver Nobuteru Taniguchi put it through its paces and was able to lap Okayama Circuit with a best time of 1:56. To put that laptime into perspective, it's comparable to the likes of lightly tuned Skylines and RX-7s. Not too shabby for a van!

Racing parts for the Elgrand aren't exactly made in mass quantities and some improvisation was required. Such as these spacers for the front fenders…

…As well as the rear overfenders. No sliding doors for this van!

Obviously the Elgrand's standard brakes wouldn't fare too well on the circuit. To help slow it down, 6-piston Endless brakes have been fitted. The 18-inch Volk CE28N wheels are wrapped in 265 series Potenza RE-11 street tires. 

HKS coilovers and an ATS LSD have also been installed. With such a high center of gravity, it takes some time to get used to driving this Elgrand at the limit. The van's owner was only one second slower around Okayama than the former GT300 driver, Taniguchi.

Luckily for the owner, the E51 Elgrand comes equipped with a VQ35DE engine but more power was needed…

…So the owner had an HKS supercharger system installed to bump it up to 350hp at half a bar of boost. Custom straight-through side exit exhausts have also been fabricated. 

Gone are the luxurious leather seats and surround sound stereo. The driver sits snugly in a Recaro seat and is held back with a Takata harness. In front of him, not much of the dash remains! 

A total of 345kg of 'junk' was removed to make way for this unique roll cage. 

Is this the fastest vehicle to be found at the circuit? Probably not. Is it a van that will make you do a double take when it's roaring past stock sports cars? You bet. 

- Rory Johnston


Pacific Coast JDM




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That seems sooooo dangerous. lol but seriously...


mind blown. too much awesome. I don't fully understand this thing but I like it!


Ya... would have been cool if it had an interior and minus the roll cage. Now it's just pointless. :S




What is it with Japanes tuners and the lack of safety when mounting the drivers' harness? Surely a short horizontal bar could've been welded in to that scaffolding that they call a "rollcage" behind the driver.

Typical half-arsed stuff.


It's one of those "it's so wrong it's right" cars, hahaha


Half arsed?? not even close,, this "van" wasnt built to break time attack records, its obviously a fun build aimed at getting smiles and the occasional dropped jaw,, U try building a rollcage in a minivan thats main purpose is to improve rigidity on such a high center of gravity and have it not look like "scaffolding"..good luck buddy!


Dope. Nuff said.


But...why? If he wanted a track toy, why not use something designed to be faster from the get-go?


Taniguchi is still in GT300 with Goodsmile Racing and won the championship this year.


I second what Adrain said. We have too many narrow minded people here in north american. miatas and mr-s being girly cars, fwd is wrong wheel drive etc etc.


@OskarPreo - I think the point Stuart is making is that if you are going to put in a massive "scaffolding" style roll cage do it right, instead of the backyard engineering that has gone into this one. You only have to look at the weld in the 3rd photo from the bottom to see that the quality is not great.


First van that I like :)


holy crap... new dream car lol


Whats the point of this again?

Its like asking Oprah to train for a marathon. Im sure its possible, but why?


HAHA that's awesome!!! Now that's a big "f*ck you" to the haters and big thumbs up to modding a car the way you want cos it's your car and it makes you happy!



Cool van, it's definitely something different... it's good to have some variation. But I think prefer Elgrands with neons and lots of audio parts. :P


this is definitely uniquely Japanese


I like it but i am with Boss427 on this one, with the full interior, tricked up sound system ect it would have been super cool. At the end of the day it was never going to be a track monster anyway.

But it is his van at the end of the day and this is obviously how he likes it.



that is sick...

take the kids to school while they play in the jungle gym .... then boost home. stay at home dad style.


so cool... might do it as well when i buy a van... wait, didn't you guys post a van similar in concept? the mazda van guy who made his van a sleeper?


ToytaSupraMan: if u r japanese u will know what hes thinking =D


Some of you guys just don't get it.....ha ha...

The best thing about the scene here in Japan is that people will try ridiculous stuff like this for

fun, to push the boundaries, to get a laugh, and to have fun trying something new.

You really think this is his only car?!?!

I raced against this thing at Central Circuit in pouring rain 3 weeks ago in my old Subaru WRX was the loudest car on track. Very quick, too. Seriously....and anyone who was there, had a smile on their face every time it flew past.....

That is the point!! This is meant to be fun.....


damn lovin this!!


I dig it, but laziest roll cage install ever, and the harnesses are installed wrong. Looks like a rushed job, and done half assed.


Those are not even normal Potenza RE11 tires... it's the semi slick version RE11S! Dear Sweet Mother, this is just crazy but I like it!


curious, how would you all do the roll cage? and why is the harness wrong? I thought as long as the straps dont compress the spine in a crash its fine no? i assume the driver is small and the tops of his shoulders dont go past the bottom of the opening in the top of the seat for the belts.


nice van, great work. but a little ugly roll cage :S


Hey guest blogger; RORY!!

Thanks for coming to the shop yesterday.... It was good to meet a petrol head in osaka, and keep up the good work representing the Japanese scene!! Let's go for a blast one night soon....Nara, or rokko??:)


Nice blog post, I heard about this from Derek and thought it was well written and this sleeper van is something I never thought would be possible or would see. It could clearly put a lot of sportscars in their place.


@tomtom: The harness should be installed at approx 10 degress below horiztonal. (straight back and down at a slight angle)


Welcome to our new Nissan Elgrand Owners Club Australia.  We are Aussie based website for owners and prospective owners of Nissan Elgrand. This site you can  share information and experience  about Nissan Elgrand. The driver sits snugly in a Recaro seat and is held back with a Takata harness. In front of him, not much of the dash remains!


The driver sits snugly in a Recaro seat and is held back with a Takata harness. In front of him, not much of the dash remains!


Hi, I can vouch for these trucks owning a road going E51 myself with mild performance mods such as 2 cats removed, low resistance stainless exhaust, 350Z induction kit and a D1 Throttle Controller. I love the tailgate wing where can I get one?