Embracing The American Way
East Meets West

I’m not even going to begin to get into an argument about drifting, or more precisely – the differences between how the Japanese and Americans do it. We can leave that for the comments section below. However, there’s no doubt in my mind that over the last decade Formula D has evolved both its own style of driving and cars. To me, this sort of variety is great. It keeps things fresh and moving forward, which is pretty much the opposite of what’s happened to professional drifting in Japan over the last few years. Is this why the Japanese are looking to the West for inspiration then? Most definitely. And one of the latest tuners to embrace the American way is Michihiro Takatori at Stance Japan.

He’s the man behind the Nissan Silvia that you see here – a car that has been driven by Horiguchi for little over a year in the D1 Street Legal championship. What makes this S13 special is that it’s one of a few professional drift cars in Japan that has gone the V8-swap route. And seeing that Stance Japan is located within walking distance from the TRA-Kyoto workshop in Kyoto, on my last visit there I had Miura-san accompany me to check out the famed blue machine.


If Michihiro’s name sounds familiar, it’s probably because he used to be the driver of the Super Autobacs R34 in Formula D. The Silvia is something he’d been wanting to put together ever since his time competing against all those V8-powered cars in the US.


While V8-swapped S-chassis machines must be a dime a dozen over in the States, they’re still rather foreign – and therefore generate a lot of interest – in Japan. I’m sure many of you are already rolling your eyes and asking yourselves what the big deal is. But if you think about it from a Japanese mindset, this is something quite new and attractive. The sound, the simplicity, and the uniqueness sure makes an argument for itself. And that, along with a few other things, is exactly what Michihiro wanted to accomplish here.


To me, what really makes this car special is that it’s a great fusion of East and West; the looks alone instantly racking up plenty of points for authenticity.


Stance Japan has partnered up with Origin to campaign the car in D1-SL, and every aero add-on can be credited to them.


After an unexpected engine failure in 2012 the car competed in four rounds of last year’s championship.


The Origin treatment begins with a Stream Line front bumper that really emphasises the S13’s square lines, while allowing a good flow of air towards the coolers thanks to the main air-dam and side intakes.


Slightly wider vented front fenders are there to give the 17×9-inch Work CR Kiwamis plenty of space to move – something that’s required seeing that modified knuckles have been fitted for increased steering lock.


Silver carbon fiber canards offer looks and a little functionality, as do the under canards added at each corner. Since the bumper comes off often at pit stops and during maintenance at D1 events, the crossed ziptie is a grassroots touch that saves a lot of time.


Taller and more aggressively styled side skirts help carry the Origin look across to the rear, while the Stance logo sits prominent on the door, publicising the shop’s own adjustable suspension systems which are especially valved and engineered for drift setups.


And that’s precisely what the S13 rides on – Stance GR+ dampers dialled in to squat down at the rear when the V8’s torque hits its peak to aid in mid-corner traction. With the stock S13 body being pretty narrow, Takatori-san decided to fit a set of Origin rear overfenders. They were a required addition that aside making the car look more stout and planted, allow the 18×9.5-inch Kiwamis at the rear to sit just right. Both the fronts and rears run Maxxis Z1 Drift rubber, 235/40R17 and 265/30R18 respectively.


It all combines to give the S13 one hell of a presence. But as that massive scoop hints, the car’s true party trick sits hidden beneath the modified Origin Type 1 bonnet…

Torque & Response Rules The Way

And it isn’t until you lift it up that you realise that the opening in the bonnet is certainly not for show.


That’s because the Corvette C6-sourced LS2 that Takatori has dropped into the bay has been topped off with an eight throttle body conversion kit from Inglese, complete with open velocity stacks.


It certainly looks more presentable than a simple V8 swap where a single throttle is used and plumbed up to a cone filter pushed to one side of the engine bay. But with the need to provide the driver with as much instant throttle response as it’s possible – not to mention extracting every last bit of performance from the current set up – the ITBs do the job rather well.


They’re definitely not the only upgrade the LS2 has seen either. There’s stronger conrod bolts to make sure the bottom end can take the abuse in competition, a high-lift camshaft, as well as chromoly pushrods, roller rocker arms and dual valve springs so that the valve gear can handle hard use.


Injectors are kept topped up with a high pressure fuel pump and an Aeromotive adjustable regulator, all managed via the Adaptronic engine management system.

The LS2 is actually the second V8 engine to be used in the car. As you can see in the above video, the close-to-stock LS1 that was fitted for first D1-SL round that Horiguchi drove it in, ended up blowing itself up in spectacular fashion.


Now the LS2 runs an upgraded oil pump and extended sump to guarantee optimal lubrication at high speed and during high-G turns. On top of that, the Accusump that’s fitted in the trunk keeps the oil system adequately pressurised for a little more piece of mind.


When Takatori realised that a bonnet scoop was needed for the new setup, he approached Miura-san, who consequently knocked-up this FRP item in a couple of days.


This is one S-chassis engine bay that may look pretty boring to you US folks out there, but here in Japan it’s still something that’s new and generating a lot of interest. In fact, after D1-GP driver Kumakubo tried out the Stance Japan S13 for an Option Video segment last year, he liked it so much that he concluded by stating, “I want one too.” I guess that’s why his D1 S15 has just been fitted with a highly-tuned V8 of its own…


I just love how the whole character of the Silvia has been completely changed by that massive bonnet scoop. Those in the know will know what’s up, others will just have to hear the engine being cranked into life to realise that this definitely isn’t your average drift-spec jyu-san.


And to really emphasise that V8 rumble, Takatori had Kakimoto fabricate a custom exhaust system which included a pair of headers especially designed and constructed to clear the S13’s steering column. That’s one of the biggest hurdles in shoehorning the LS2 into the engine bay.

I thought I’d share a quick video of the car as it drove off down the street after I finished this shoot. No sideways action of course, but at least you get to hear that unusual sound coming out of the downward-turned exhaust tip.

Street Legal A Must

D1 Street Legal regulations require that cars be roadworthy, which on top of things like having to run a catalyst in the exhaust to satisfy emission controls, means they must maintain a close-to-full front interior. Horiguchi has a nice and supportive Bride seat to pilot the S13 from, flicking it sideways via the Nardi steering wheel and controlling the V8’s torque through a T56 six-speed gearbox borrowed from a 2002 Camaro.


A big upturned Defi tachometer sits in front of the stock instrumentation, with its 7,500rpm redline highlighted.


Three additional Defi gauges are set in the usual dash-top position, relaying vital temperature and pressure readings to the driver.


The 2DIN space in the center console has been utilised to house the AFX air/fuel ratio meter and the Defi control unit. Just below that is the switch for the Accusump, and if you are wondering why there’s a white piece of paper with the gear pattern drawn onto it, that’s a necessity to pass the shaken (or Japanese roadworthiness test) – something I once found out about the hard way when the test center failed my GT-R because I hadn’t stuck the pattern decal next the Nismo shifter!


Is this a far too predictable swap to be running in an S13? Is aspiring to what the West is doing a bad thing for the Japanese, who are after all the pioneers of drifting? Takatori certainly doesn’t think so. He built this car for reliability; for easy and accessible mid-range torque and that instant response that naturally aspirated and individually throttle-bodied high performance V8 engines are famous for. Make of it what you will; but at least in Japan this is one car that a lot of people are talking about. V-hachi all the way!

Dino Dalle Carbonare
Instagram: speedhunters_dino



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What happened to the first motor? I see smoke which could be anything, including just a broken hose. Spectacular to me means threw a rod, etc... What did he do? Great car.


Derelict Judging by the video and the debris sounds coming from under it I'd say oil-starved mains = tossed rod = grenaded motor.


The video addition gives a bit more perspective on the feature. Thanks a bunch for adding that in Dino!


Its about time this easy approach to a fun car went global.


That's a very Japanese take on an American themed drift car! Love it. I want an LS powered R32 next.. It will happen.. soon!


Wasnt expecting that.
i just love those curvy front legs on the roll cage.
Sad i know!!!!!! :-)


The car looks beautiful, but am I the only one around here that doesn't like the sound of a V8 coming out of an S-chassis? Or japanese cars in general? Well, maybe I'm just not in trend ;D


OK Dino, you've won me over with this one.  I'm all for the OEM+ look, but this would just be a blast to romp around in.


Kinda looks like a scubie with that hood scoop, emotions, and blue paint.


Nope. Please Japan, retain your integrity...don't do this.


I was imagining this thing sounding pretty nasty in person, and Dino you've answered my thoughts by including that video. Thanks!


You guys need to get over this weird thing you have against the LS engines.


@Jake Laird it's nothing weird being against this entire car ruining using LS engines. Seriously , it's becoming more and more annoying and so each time I see an article on any website with a beautiful car with an LS swap I just insta-skip most of it.


Novac Darius What's weird that you "insta-skip" most of it but still take the time to voice your displeasure.  I happen to find whining "more and more" annoying.


I'd prefer it without the scoop.


great project


Not bothering with discussing v8 swaps since it's just a subjective matter in the end. Everyone is free to do whatever they want to their cars a no one really cares what some random dude in the internet like my self thinks.
But can someone please explain
1. Why American manufacturers still use push rods? (And leaf springs, drum brakes etc. while you're at it)
2. Did he build this just to be different?
I mean, it must be more expensive with this being his second v8, so the "ls is cheaper" argument really doesn't make sense here. SR20's along with RB's,2jz's etc. grow on trees in japan and so does the aftermarket parts. I really don't get this swap unless it's simply to be different...


Novac Darius Please explain to me how installing an LS engine ruined this car. First off, it's an S13. It's hardly God's chariot. Secondly, what is so bad about the LS? I don't get it. It WEIGHS LESS than an SR20, makes a lot more power, is NA so there's no turbo lag or turbo problems, it makes gobs more torque, has massive aftermarket support, and it's been proven to be supremely reliable. There is no reason on earth to dislike this motor. 

I know some of you subscribe to the archaic import vs. domestic rivalry bull crap, but if you just open up your minds for a second, you'd see that the LS is the perfect swap for a drift car, and it's easily one of the best engines ever built.

But please, go into detail about how the LS ruined this car.


AGR LOL are you serious? Do you hear yourself?

Okay, push rods are still used because they've been proven reliable. There is no reason to make the switch and invest in new technology when current technology is perfectly sufficient. You can't honestly tell me the C7 is being held back because it uses pushrods.

Second, find me a current American car (not truck) that uses leaf springs. Go ahead, I'll wait. By the way, contrary to what the automotive geniuses at Top Gear say, the Corvette does not use leaf springs. Sorry to burst your bubble.

Also, every car maker on the planet uses drum brakes. That is not a legitimate complaint to level against American cars.

Finally, you'll find the LS sh!ts all over its Japanese and German rivals. The Japanese have never really made a good V8, and the Germans' are overly complex, expensive, and unreliable.


@Jake Laird AGR The only Japanese V8 I can think of in motorsports duty is Nissan's VK56. Then again I'm pretty sure they aren't cheap or abundant as the LS. And German V8s can only be tuned if you have a top engineering degree and stacks of cash lying around.


I actually like the hood design of the S13 as it gives a comical character to it.


My problem with the swap is that your mixing manufacturers. I hate that crap


@Jake Laird AGR 
Even the new Corvette uses leaf springs, but definitely not like a truck.  It's a composite material that spans the width of the car.  The folks at Chevy have said for years that it takes up less room and allows for a lower height than a coil over.

However, when they go racing coils are used to suit the track.


AGR Google something to the effect of pushrod vs DOHC side by side and you will see why. The Chevy small block (LSx) is extremely compact and light for its displacement.

On the flip side, why would you want the machining costs and weight of four cams and valves when one cam and two valves per cylinder serve just fine? The extra displacement means the engine can be tuned for a flat torque curve that is easy to drive with, and it can drone along on the highway at ultra low RPM with plenty of power on tap while getting great fuel economy.The Corvette is incredibly fuel efficient for its performance, and the small block trucks aren't bad either.
Leaf springs, because why not? The Corvettes springs are pretty unique, in that they are composite and span the width of the car, not the length. They save space and work as an anti roll bar as well.


Brad_S OCD? haha


@Jake Laird Novac Darius I honestly don't care which engine is lighter and all that. At the end of the day that car is no longer an S13, it's heart's gone and swapped with something unnecessary and stupid. A ruined car. 
That old talk about the lightness and all that about the LS is overused , there's plenty of better engines out there along with plenty of better options. 
FD US ruined the entire drift scene in my eyes and in so many others.


Brad_S Heaven forbid performance get in the way of brand loyalty.


AGR I think the main argument was that you buy the engine, upgrade simple things and run it as is. Japanese engines require upgraded bottom ends, strokers, turbos and so on. Both applications have their arguments.


JakWhite But it's a race car, it needs the scoop #becauseracecar lol


jah1mon Glad someone appreciated it :)


AceAndrew2 Yeah it's something that I'm still not completely sold on, after all I love old Japanese turbo engines, but I see where they are going with these things. I'd love to have a chance at driving one, then I can make up my mind


jdmRob It is strange, but I always though in a good way? No?


@zz thanks for the feedback, was wondering if anyone actually cared about that lol


FunctionFirst Derelict Yes I believe it was oil starvation. Aren't these engines engineered to sustain high-G cornering ?  lol


j_tso AGR That's not leaf springs in the traditional sense. When people like AGR say "leaf springs" when referring to the Corvette, they're thinking truck leaf springs because that's basically what Top Gear said.


And now do it the other way around, put a rb26 or a 2jz into a camaro or mustang. Just for the heck off it.


Novac Darius It's an S13. As cars go, it's pretty generic, bland, and nondescript. There's not much there to ruin. And yeah, a car that has over 3X the power and torque it had when stock is totally ruined. 

Also, how is the LS stupid? How is it unnecessary? The owner wanted a leg up on the competition, and so he opted for the motor that would give that to him.

"The old talk about the lightness and all that about the LS is overused". WHAT???? The attributes of the LS aren't opinions, they're facts. And do please name a better engine at the low end of the budget spectrum than the LS. Protip: you can't. 

You sound like just another closed-minded import fanboy that refuses to acknowledge a single good thing domestic manufacturers have done. Know how I know? Because I used to be exactly the same. Trust me, your world becomes so much better when you stop harboring blind hatred towards car companies.


Oh, where to start.
First of all - the automotive hobby is about personalization. If the owner wants a LS - more power to him. The car still has oodles of personality despite having a "common" swap by US standards.
The WORST kind of enthusiasts are those who cannot offer constructive criticism, but rather take the tried and tired hatred of something based on their idea of how it should be done. The best part is that these people usually don't drive/own anything that is near the level of what they feel the need to comment on. Everyone has an opinion - how you present it is everything. 
Manufacturers from all over the world use drum brakes. That is not an "American" thing. Sorry - stop watching Top Gear for facts.
You cannot lump the Corvette's suspension in the generalized "Leaf Springs" category. The Corvette's suspension is actually quite high tech. I love how the people who spout off about it never have anything to say when you point out that the "leaf spring" suspension on the Corvette has been embarrassing much more expensive, and more "advanced" sports cars for decades. I have personally driven C5 Z06s around the local race track (Firebird International - now Wild Horse Motorsports Park) and took a great deal of pleasure when the "horse cart" had zero issues passing much more "advanced cars."
Pushrods are great. Not everything has to have DOHC to be awesome. Once again, tell me how inferior pushrods are when the LS series engines in STOCK form can make anything from 430 - 700HP. Explain how pushrods are so horrible, yet cars that use them dominate so many racing series?

RBs, 2JZs, etc all may be common in Japan - but that does not mean it is cheaper in the long run to have them in a track car. The key to reliability and longevity is the stress on the components. A big NA V8 will always be somewhat more reliable in hard use than more stressed turbocharged powerplant. Let us also not forget the simplicity of an LS swap.
I love RBs, SRs, 2JZ, etc - but I also love big, "dumb" V8s. Equally. I have been ridiculously lucky to have experience with them all - and they all have their own character, advantages, etc. 
Each country's dominant drift competition has it's own international flavor. Japanese drifting, American, Australian, New Zealand, etc. All have their own unique identity. I for one, am GLAD they are this way. If everything was the same, all around the world - it would be a very boring place. The only downside is that we will never get to see each "flavor" on the track together. There should really be a "Drift All-Stars" event where crowd chosen candidates come together to battle it out in an ultimate Drift Battle Royale. I watch D1, I watch/participate in the pro-am stuff. I watch / participate in the small local drift scene. I love the coverage of the same events in different countries.
If you are tired of seeing V8 drift cars, maybe YOU need to diversify what you watch/follow.
Great feature, great car. All you kids bickering need to open your minds and expand your horizons.


Yes, I'm serious. Not really seeing what you're so surprised about..?
I was asking questions. Not criticizing.
I'm not going into any pointless discussions over the internet.
Current corvette uses leaf springs.
Not one car manufacturer outside of the us has used drum brakes on a performance car since god knows when.
As for the Japanese and Germans building bad, expensive and overly complex (are you serious?) v8s well that's just very ignorant. Yamaha has produced v8's used in everything from Lexus, Ford, Volvo and even Koenigsegg. BMW receive awards almost every year for their engines...
Here's another question for you,
If pushrods are so awesome, how come they aren't used in cars where money is no object? (Pagani, Lamborghini, Ferrari or F1?


There are plenty of Japanese v8's that could easily be tuned to the same spec as this ls.
It's a myth that German v8's would be more expensive to tune. You just approach it from another angle.

Michael Atwell

I was putting hood scoops on my drift cars in Need For Speed: Carbon before it was cool. Hipster jokes aside, this car oozes presence. No doubt about it.


Thank you, for an informative, mature answer.


A 400hp RB or 2jz won't need any internal upgrades. Slap a slightly larger turbo and injectors on there and you're good to go :)


speedhunters_dino FunctionFirst Derelict This is the reason I put an Accusump, CM Filter, oil cooler, and surge tank in my car.  Not risking anything this time around.


Whoa, where to begin??? Oh yeah the amazing LS2 with the throttle bodies, now that's how one get all the horses to the wheels! The scoop isn't what I would go for, but who cares?! It's functional and that's all that matters in my book. Stance, perfect! Setup, top notch! The sound...OMG, the rumble! Had to let my folks hear it, they were blown away and this is a Chevy family here. 
I tip my hat to the driver/builder. This bad boy is top of my list, can't wait to see more post like this. Thank you SH's!


earmenau I thought the same thing!


Novac Darius You wouldn't be saying it wasn't an S13 if it had an RB swap, or probably even if it had a 1UZ swap. You're just hating on the LS pointlessly. The LS isn't what I'd do with the car either, but thats what make cars great, if we all did the same things with our cars it wouldnt be much fun.


AGR Point out a serious American car with drum brakes. Manufacturers of all nations have gone back and forth on different generations of the same car. It's not an American thing, plain and simple.

Those companies use non-pushrod engines because that is the norm for them. Compare any of those engines on a performance per dollar and performance for fuel economy and then you'll see why no one is swapping those engines. Pushrods are simply a way to a compact, light, large displacement engine. Nothing more, nothing less, and certainly nothing to be scoffed at.


Awesome sound!


Love it, used to hate v8 engines but now they have grown on me to the point of wanting one.


While the style of the vehicle is definitely not something i would ever choose, i can always appreciate the cleanliness and attention to detail. Japan never fails to pay attention to the little things, and this car is an excellent example. It looks complete and well sorted. Nothing half assed and no corners cut. Too many american "professional" drift cars can't make the same claims.


There's some 4G63 Mustang swaps out there.


F**k makes me want my own RX-7 V-hachi swap as well :)


Don't know what it is about this article but I thoroughly enjoyed it! The lighting on these shots is bliss! Neat setup, clean to say the least!


Saying LS are cheap, is fine if you're from the states, everywhere else they are still reasonably expensive (NZ and Aus) and we have shit loads of LS powered cars (commodores etc) I cant imagine how much it would cost to ship 2 engines and a T56 to japan, plus the ITB stuff etc....


AGR It does not use leaf springs. It uses a single, flexible bar that spans the length of the rear suspension, which is an independent rear suspension, by the way. That bar is made of reinforced glass fiber composite and serves to allow minute adjustments in the suspension settings. Oh, and by the way, the C7 also makes of megnetorheological dampers. That's something you won't find on most performance cars that costs hundreds of thousands more. 

Now, show me an American performance car built within the last 20 years that has used drum brakes. 

And yes, I am serious. Japanese V8s, by and large, have been unimpressive. There have been exceptions here and there, but they always fall short of their American rivals in terms of power, torque, and reliability. German engines are very complex and are far more maintenance intensive than an LS motor. In addition, they're hugely expensive for your average enthusiast. They make good power and torque, but so does an LS, and for much cheaper. 

Finally, pushrods are still used because they keep costs down. They are a reason why a world-class performance car like the C7 can still be owned by your average enthusiast. It's a reliable system that doesn't have really any downsides. Now, tell me why they're bad. Give me a reason. You know what? You can't. Because you once heard Jeremy Clarkson say they were bad, and now you believe it.


AGR Or you could just buy an LS6 and make 405 hp and 400 lb. ft. or torque without having to change a thing or deal with turbo lag.


Brad_S  did you know the LSseries is all metric?  I learned a lot about them during my LS1 FC rx7 swap, the LS engines are great.


AGR  the use of pushrods keeps the weight down low and more centered inside the block compared to an OHC motor, there are a lot of benefits explored and exploited to good use on the LS series... the plastic intake manifold saves weight, using just one single cam saves weight, etc.


Doesn't the Ferrari enzo v12 use a pushrod to keep it narrow?


Man, I must be old. Anyone remember his SR powered A31?


You couldn't be more wrong about the intake setup.  On carb'd V-8's, individual runners work better vs. single four barrel manifolds due to intake valve reversion.  However, given fuel injection, plenums undeniably make better power.  Not to mention short velocity stacks, like on homeboy's setup, benefit high end power.  Longer stacks increase port velocity, which intern boosts low and midrange power, sort of like the factory composite LS1 manifold...

The only reason to run a setup like that is to make a V-8 motor look tits, and to hear the glorious intake music from that fat multi-cylinder instrument of joy!!  Nonetheless the car is cool, photo's are gorgeous, and anything with a swapped V-8 is rad!


speedhunters_dino it adds an extra dimension to the features. It puts together all of your words and images!


No, not really. Plenums can make more power, but in all reality power is much more dependent on runner CSA and length. And th whole shorter is better for top end hp is such a blank statement. One can tune for 2nd or 3rd harmonics which make the runners much longer than you normally see.


RickRau5 Very informative reply, that was 99.9% better than any other post on this car!  All very true info, but I hesitate to accept that info while looking at those skinny Weber IDF style throttle bodies.  I mean, have you seen the women at drift events?  The car's gonna rip tires with that motor regardless of intake nerdiness, but those stacks have got to be panty-droppers in Japan right!


@Chris I do!


Lachys114 Thanks!


theAngryMarmot Amen!


speedhunters_dino JakWhite It adds Horsepower!!


S-Chassis shoulda came stock with LSX power plants.


Technique over power fuck v8's