When Speedhunters Taryn Croucher and Peter Kelly decided to pay a brief visit to Finland last spring in order to shoot a couple of cars they’d seen at the Elmia Bilsport Performance & Custom Motor Show in Sweden, a group of Finnish enthusiasts (myself included) decided to show them some hospitality and a peek into the local scene in the form of a small parking lot meet.
One of those locals was Toni Mård with his radical JZZ30 Toyota Soarer. Toni is a familiar character amongst Finnish tuners and people have come to know his car pretty well. Over the years he’s owned the XL-sized coupé it has seen several rebuilds, each time bigger and better.
Toni is no rookie in the performance JDM scene as he’s previously imported a plethora of different cars for himself and his friends to enjoy. Most notably, he had a R33 GTS-t he used for drifting and another Soarer that was originally built by a Japanese body shop called Freedom Body Service, so the JZZ30 chassis was already very familiar to him.
When he first imported this particular Soarer from Japan in 2009, it had already been basically modified with an exhaust, Vertex body kit and a colour change.
However, what really sealed the deal for Toni was the fact that the original powertrain had been swapped out in favour of a more potent 2JZ-GTE and a V160 Getrag 6-speed from a JZA80 Supra.
After keeping the car for two summers in more or less the same condition he’d bought it in, Toni decided it was time to do the first major overhaul and to showcase a new race-inspired look at a Finnish car show in the spring of 2011.
However, just weeks after the show fate stepped in and forced a sudden turn in the course of events. Toni was at his workplace when people came in screaming, ‘there’s a car outside with a big wing on it that’s on fire!’ At first, Toni thought he was being pranked, but when he rushed outside to see what was going on he was faced with the worst nightmare of every car builder – his pride and joy was indeed ablaze in the parking lot.
Naturally, Toni was devastated. In mere minutes, all of his hard work had gone up in smoke no thanks to an electrical fire that had started from a short in the rear light cluster wiring loom. After the initial shock had faded, Toni decided to brace himself and not to fall in despair. Plans of resurrecting the Soarer in a more hardcore form started emerging in his mind.The Resurrection
As the Soarer had to be fully stripped and cleaned in order to fix it anyway, it made sense to begin transforming it into a ”race car for the streets,” as Toni himself describes it. First, the car was completely disassembled to a bare shell and washed clean with high-pressure hot water.
To get the car back on the road as quickly as possible for the summer season, Toni decided to only replace the destroyed parts and respray the burnt back end to keep the blue colour. After refurbishing the body back to shape, the following winter the engine was rebuilt and converted to a big single turbo setup.
Toni did the engine rebuild with the help of a couple of his good friends. In fact, besides engine machining, which had to be done in a shop, the only other work on the car that Toni did not tackle himself was the paint job. For the engine, Toni used new hardware everywhere except for the stock crank and pistons which were retained because of time constraints. However, the connecting rods were upgraded to forged items. On the turbo side you’ll find a Holset Pro55. Holset is commonly known for its industrial turbos, but in Finland they are fairly commonly used by tuners as they offer good a performance-to-price ratio and reliability.
With everything dialed in, the package churned out a respectable 888hp on the dyno at 2.1bar (31psi) boost, albeit with the ignition being insufficient in the top end and thus limiting max power. With the ignition sorted and the boost turned up to 2.3bar (34psi), Toni suspects that 950hp is a realistic guesstimate of the current performance capability.
In order to quench the thirst that comes with these kinds of extreme power levels, Toni installed a pair of Bosch 044 fuel pumps to feed the enormous 2,200cc Bosch injectors with fresh E85. With a lightweight JAZ fuel cell that’s only half the capacity of the original steel tank, one might think this would prevent the owner from actually driving the car anywhere. After all, Finland is a land with relatively long distances between locations. It’s obviously not the case though, as Toni’s Soarer has been a frequent sight at events during the past three summers.
After enjoying the car and the more powerful engine for the summer of 2013, it was time for a yet another remake. From day one, Toni had wanted the car to be red instead of the colour it had been painted by the previous owner in Japan. So with the engine and rest of the car now pretty much sorted, he decided it was time for a full respray in vibrant Lamborghini Rosso Andromeda.
Despite most of the sound deadening and interior panels being removed during the fire damage repairs, Toni felt there still was dead weight in the car. Thinking that air conditioning is a luxury a race car shouldn’t have, he decided to chop the whole system out. In the process he also ditched the heavy window elevators, so during intense driving sessions the windows stay shut and all of the excitement generated by the occupants reamins trapped in the cabin.
Like every good Finn, Toni enjoys relaxing in the warmth of a traditional Finnish sauna every now and then. However, in order to prevent his car turning into one, he made an opening in the roof skin and installed a carbon fibre air intake to allow a gentle breeze to enter the car.
Filling the gap left by removal of the conditioning controls, Toni made a custom control panel and installed a pair of Defi gauges. The fuses, relays and most of the wiring loom in the car are also custom.
The rear side windows were swapped out for custom-made polycarbonate equivalents which also provide a place for the NACA ducts that feed cool air to the rear brakes to be mounted. Similar ducts are also installed behind the front bumper to cool the front brakes accordingly.
All the little things add up, and in total the curb weight was eventually reduced down to just 1,340kg from the original 1,750kg. Considering that the really heavy doors and trunk lid (Toni made a custom bonnet out of FRP) still remain stock, it’s clear how heavy the OEM interior and A/C system really are in these cars.
To add more character and width, the car was first fitted with ZG fender flares, but Toni later made his own even wider one-off flares from carbon fibre to give the car a more aggressive and unique look. To fill the fenders and add more width to the track, Toni installed custom wheel spacers between the hubs and the Work Emotion CR Kai wheels.Through Hardships Comes Improvement
Although the Soarer now sports somewhat extreme looks, Toni confesses he doesn’t really track the car. ”It’s not what I built it for,” he says. “I’ve tracked my previous cars and have had my share of racing and drifting. This car I built to just enjoy it on the street and drive it as much as possible.” Just for fun, Toni did run it on the quarter-mile, and with low boost and Hoosier slicks on the rear the Soarer clocked the 0-400m in 10.4 seconds.
Toni can’t name just one single aspect he enjoys over the car as a whole and the reaction it receives. ”Two years ago I would have said it’s the power level of the 2JZ, but now I’ve become used to it”, he explains.
In the early ’90s, Toyota became known for implementing the kaizen or ‘constant improvement’ philosophy in its car production. It’s a philosophy that resulted in the high-quality reputation Toyota is now known for worldwide and mirrored by many other companies in other industries too. When Toni is asked about the future for his car he answers; ”I’m just going to constantly improve it little by little. More weight reduction, redo some things with better quality and precision, and so on.”
The first thing on to-do list are the brakes. As Toni doesn’t take it to the track, he’s made do with the stock brakes until now, but realises that they definitely need to be brought up to spec.
Along with the rest of the A/C stuff, into the trash bin went the cabin air blower motor that is integrated into the air conditioning unit. If having 950hp under your right foot wouldn’t be exciting enough, driving this car in the rain can now be a challenge as the windscreen tends to fog up. This is another area that Toni is going to address during the long winter.
Talking about driving in the rain, wet or dry he really does use Yokohama Advan competition slick tires on the street! If it hasn’t been already clarified, Toni as a person is equally radical as is his car.
Toni’s Soarer is a fine example of what I think Nordic performance tuning culture is all about. Hardcore modifications, strong DIY mentality and a no-compromise style of approach where cars are built to be enjoyed to the max.