Simple Style: ‘That’ Drift Cressida
An unlikely choice

The first time I saw Fredrik Sørlie’s Cressida was in Jonathan’s Gatebil on Ice post earlier this year. The image of the car; wheels steered full lock as it powered through a massive ice slide, really stood out, and I remember thinking, ‘Damn, what a cool drift car that would make.’ Living in Japan I see plenty of old Mark IIs (the JDM Cressida) around, but they are usually more popular with the shakotan and kyusha guys who restore them, slam them to the ground and then take lots of pictures of them. Of course, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that but…


… it just all makes Fredrik’s car hold even more appeal. So when I actually got to meet him and see his car at Gatebil in Mantorp earlier this year, I knew I would have to do a lot more than just look at it…

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… and check him out in action.

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Why do I like this car so much? Well, first of all it’s cool and refreshing to see an old school Japanese car modified in this way, with the right parts, and being put to good use on the other side of the planet that it originated from. Secondly, it’s a perfect example that you don’t necessarily need a crazy amount of money to go drifting. All it takes is a few choice modifications, a bit of know how and lots of will. Of course, having some of Fredrik’s skill behind the wheel helps too!


One night after another day of Gatebil mayhem had come to an end and the midnight sun was on the verge of setting, Fredrik and I took his Cressida out onto the deserted corners of Mantorp Park and chatted briefly about his project.


Fredrik picked the car up two years ago from a widow. Her late husband had bought the Cressida RX30 brand new back in 1977 and had used it all his life. Aside from a few dings and minor scratches, the chassis was clean and solid.


Put together with help from the guys at Underground Garage, the idea was to keep the project simple and concentrate only on the things that would help to turn the 36-year old car into a proper drift machine, without breaking the bank. While the idea to keep the body completely stock was one of Fredrik’s main idea…


… in no way did he intend to skip out on the right sort of wheels. The 14-inch SSR XR4 Longchamps measure 7 inches wide sizes all round….


… wrapped in 185/60R14 Falken Ziex 912 rubber at each corner.


The Cressida’s stance is nowhere near as extreme as some of the cars we come across in Japan, but here functionality came first and the tighter offset certainly gives the wheels a nice fit…


… instantly making the old Cressida pretty cool.


There are no other exterior modification, except of course a #MAXIMUMATTACK bumper sticker!

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#ZENKAI all the way!

Who said power is everything?
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As Fredrik told me, the factory 2.0-litre 18R engine was just not going to cut it in the performance department. At the same time however, there was no intention of coming up with crazy modifications to extract silly amounts of power…


… which is why when you lift up the hood…


… there are no big top-mounted turbo chargers to greet you, but rather a well executed 2JZ-GE swap. David Riiber, Fredric Aasbø’s mechanic from Underground Garage, was the man that transformed the Cressida; taking care of fitting the new engine along with the W58 Supra five-speed manual transmission.


Fredrik didn’t quite understand why I wanted to take shots of the engine considering how filthy is what from days of drifting on track, but to me, the way it looked was much more appealing than shooting an engine bay that had been wiped down clean. If this doesn’t show you the sort of use the car gets, I don’t know what does! Props to Fredrick for using and abusing his Cressida on a daily basis. As you can see, there have been some minor modifications made to get the engine performing its best. Along with a custom exhaust system, the intake runs an HKS Super Power Flow filter and a custom GRP4 Fabrications radiator to keep everything within operating temperature. In this guise the naturally aspirated 2J develops 207hp, which is enough for Fredrick considering the chassis only weighs 1,090kg. The Cressida definitely has no problem getting sideways, as you probably saw in this video last week.


Drifting, of course, is not all about power, and what you don’t see is probably what actually makes the most difference. Suspension-wise the Cressida runs a set of custom built Tokico HTS adjustable short-stroke dampers complete with Öhlins springs and custom camber plates. Up front these are bolted onto Cusco lower control and castor arms, along with roll centre adjusters and steering arms from T3. The steering rack and tie rod ends are Toyota Carina items, while the actual steering column is from a KE70 Corolla. This whole lot is bolted onto a Underground Garage custom cross member with repositioned suspension mounting points for better geometry and steering lock. The later, without wheels fitted, measures +70-degrees, but more space is required under the wheel arches to take full advantage of this range.

A match made in heaven

The rear end has received just as much attention as the front with an Underground Garage four-link set up with rose-jointed equal-length rods. Braking-wise the Cressida runs a few budget upgrades, but ones that Fredrik is quite happy with. The front calipers are from a SW20 MR2 and the front discs from a S14 Silvia. The stock drum brake set up remains at the back as Fredrik likes the e-brake feel it provides, but eventually he’d like to do a disc conversion here.


The interior is spiced up with a few choice upgrades that include that must-have Nardi steering wheel and a JDM torakkuyaro-style shift knob…


… although I prefer what Fredrick refers to it as in the specs (below). The previous owner certainly looked after his car because everything from the stock instrumentation to the dashboard is in an original and clean condition.


A pair of Bride seats were a necessity; those high-bolsters keeping Fredrik and his passengers…


… tightly strapped in through harness belts from Takata and MOMO.


Along with the vintage Pioneer head unit a pair of TS-X9 speakers were also fitted into the sticker-bombed rear parcel shelf.


Fredrik never goes anywhere without his two helmets and always ready to put his drift-spec Cressida to good use, on and off the track.

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Having seen him out in action at Gatebil I have to say that his style really suits the car, and that the car really suits his style! It’s a match made in heaven you could say.



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I have to be honest, that video, and this feature, made me reaallllly want a Cressida.


About time. Would have loved to hear more about the man himself. Been waiting for a feature on this little monster for a bit :)


I wonder if that is possible with an old Ford Granada ^^ hahahaha, would piss of the classic Ford Scene but hell.... The Cressida is spot on !


japanophile25 Go and get one, must be an affordable proposition no matter where you are in the world.


They go for good prices in Dallas from what I can tell, it's mostly a matter of having the money to buy it with haha. Being unemployed sucks.


Not a lot of power which means it has got to come down to the driver and the pics and video suggets it's not a problem at all
Love it !


JustinOdijk Yep, lots of skill needed to pilot car like this as Fredrik does :)


Onecton Depends if you have the US or Euro version. The Euro version (especially MK2) is quite a popular choice for modding in Scandinavia. The US version not so much :P


This is the one from YouTube where it's drifting while exiting the freeway isn't it. :P


Really nice. I just picked up a straight old MS65 Toyota Crown that a 2jz-ge would go nicely with. This build is a real inspiration!




@__Lightning__ Yes it is! :)


Andreas H Husby I knew it! Naughty but awesome.


I wonder if Cressida will be gaining similar status as Datsun 240Z (which is IMHO the most popular japanese classic car worldwide).


staryjaponiec I doubt it. Though I love the design of the X3 (and the four door in particular), it's not an icon the way the Nissan S30's are. The 240Z was a legend from day one with it's sleak, sexy sportscar body. The Cressida will always be a cheap family saloon, even though it's very cool when modded slightly. Just two different categories I guess.


staryjaponiec I doubt it. Though I love the design of the X3 (and the four door in particular), it's not an icon the way the Nissan S30's are. The 240Z was a legend from day one with it's sleak, sexy sportscar body. The Cressida will always be a cheap family saloon, even though it's very cool when modded slightly. Just two different categories I guess.


JustinOdijk Thanks. It's down to a combination of weight, setup and my input. Even though I've only got 211whp, I have almost 300nm of torque, and the car only weighs 1250kg with full tank and me inside. It doesn't scare anyone, but it pulls quite hard. 
The main thing is the setup. It's basically a time attack car with lots of traction and great steering angle. This means I can throw the car hard into the corners whitout over rotating into a spin. And angle is the key. Once you have decent angle, you don't need much power to keep the rears spinning. Also, I run pretty small and light wheels. Overall the car is very well balanced, and that allows me to play with it and adapt my driving to get the most out of what I have. A lot more fun and challenging than just flooring a 600bhp car. And way cheaper too! :D


how much did the modification cost approx?


What motor is in the cressida, and what modifications did you do to the gearbox, Fredrik?


@SunHome Says right there on the last page, mate :)


olalala Never really did the math, but I'm guessing that the total cost, including purchase of the car, the parts and development (trial and error), would be around $15,000 or thereabouts.


@__Lightning__ Andreas H Husby  I can neither confirm nor deny that it's the same car...

Eivind Ellingsdalen

Fredrik Sorlie How can you describe the final ratio, like what kind of rpm do you have at 100km/h?


Only 1090kg? Even for a old car thats impressive low. 
Good looks and it's pretty straight forward (or sideways). I like it!.


Fredrik Sorlie Hey mate if I were to request coilovers or a custom built set of coilovers for this car would you be able to source it for me?


how is he able to maintain so much speed on skinny 185 width tires?