Combine an omnipresent train of creative thought with a bonafide fetish for the oblique world of Japan’s kaido racer subset, mix in a dash – well, perhaps a little too much spare time, and the completed dish may well resemble the machine laid out here before you. A GX81 chassis Toyota Mark II with a distinctively Japanese outlaw flavour.
Immersed in its ‘home’ context and viewed on a beaming LCD monitor half a world away it’s all too easy to dismiss this automotive sculpture as just another one of those ‘stupid boso cars.’ But witnessed in the metal, plonked smack bang in the middle of a semi-rural yard in North Canterbury, the appeal becomes all too real.
This is cool, recreated a hemisphere apart from the originators, by an individual with the purest of all reasoning – because he could.
Stumbling across images of a GX81 (in its early form, circa 2007) built by Hokkaido-based team Buttigiri Yuusen Duoro (BYD), kicked off a new creative tangent for builder Thomas Gordon. With plenty of spare time and that incessant urge to forge, a project began.
Thanks to New Zealand’s deregulation of imported vehicles in the late-1980s opening the floodgates to a raft of used Japanese cars, finding a willing donor for the build wasn’t a tough ask. In fact, Thomas’ friend Taylor came to the party with a GX81 Mark II hardtop that was surplus to requirements. For the princely sum of a box of beer, Thomas owned his kaido racer dream, and despite having no prior experience in custom metalwork, set about brandishing a welding torch in one fist and an angle grinder in the other.
It’s incredibly difficult to nail down an aesthetic feature that stands head and shoulders above any other design cue. As authentic as they come, beginning at the front the Mark II is bestowed with a classic long-nose treatment. Sheetmetal peeks forward of the bumper casting a shadow across the massive front splitter – itself a hybrid of sheetmetal, scrap box section steel and in true-to-Japan form, body filler.
Flared arches skirt era-correct widened steel wheels – once again, home-made. They measure 14×9-inch in the front with 165/65R14 tyres that are stretched to their limits, while filling out the rear arches are a pair of mammoth 14×10.5-inch wheels wearing 185/60R14 tyres. Ride height? Well, that was simply achieved by removing the springs.
Out the back the waistline flows seamlessly into a steep ducktail-style spoiler; the addition of more panel steel forming a straight ‘chopped off’ profile to the rear quarters. Dominating the rear perimeter however, is the extravagant – and functional – ‘peacock’-style exhaust, once again formed from whatever pieces of steel could be scavenged. And it’s loud – the twangy 1G-FE beneath the bonnet speaking the war-cry of the kaido racer from each of the nine slash-cut stacks.
Small details are abound and add to the authentic feel. A low-slung rear ‘slit spoiler’ and a pair of frenched tail lamps courtesy of a Nissan Figaro (an absurdly Japanese production car in its own right) hide behind the domineering structure of the exhaust. Vents hacked into the front guards and rear quarters add essential visual detail to otherwise untouched panels, typifying the ‘over-styling’ of the genre.
Perhaps the most important visual of all however, is the livery. Developed around a Tamiya theme, Thomas designed from scratch the asymmetric visual assault that ties the whole package together. One side reflects elements of the classic Falken livery inspired by the Buttigiri GX81, while the other echoes a scale model Thomas uncovered. The crucial team insignia adorns the rear screen and dominates the roof, with a range of traditional logos scattered strategically across the bodywork to reflect the race origins credited with inspiring the kaido racer craft.
So, Japan craziness comes to New Zealand shores, courtesy of an inspired individual with a thirst to create. Is it practical? Absolutely not. Is it cool? With a sum total of NZ$1700 (US$1150) spent, achieving more cool for the outlay is a tall ask. Will it evolve? If I was a betting man, I’d be putting money on it. Creative minds never cease…