Turning A Lamborghini Into A Drift Machine
Supercar Drifter

‘It’ll never work, it just won’t.’ ‘The weight balance is just wrong.’ ‘It doesn’t have enough torque.’ ‘It’s a Lamborghini, it will just break all the time.’ These are some of the comments I heard being thrown around in the drifting scene before Daigo Saito and his team had even finished transforming Wataru Kato’s old Lamborghini Murciélago into a pro-spec drift machine.

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But if you’ve watched Monster Energy’s new Battle Drift video where the Lambo runs with one of Vaughn Gittin Jr.’s Mustang RTRs for a bit of on-camera fun, you’ll know that it works pretty damn well. So how did Daigo do it?

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How on earth did he take a Lamborghini Murciélago and transform it into a competitive slide monster?

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Well, thanks to Larry shooting a set of images at the cool, abandoned Russian village location in Niigata, Japan, where the film was shot by Luke Huxham, we’re able to investigate all the intricacies that make this one of the most bonkers drift projects ever dreamed up.

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If there’s anything I can say about Daigo Saito, it’s that he should never be underestimated. He’s a driver that knows exactly how talented he is, and he’s constantly pushing and challenging himself with crazier engines and chassis solutions. What’s it all for? Well, I’m sure personal satisfaction is one part, but if you think about it, what is the single most important thing about drifting? Making a mark; creating a show; standing out from the crowd; and not only with your driving, but with the cars you drive.

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And with Daigo having proven that he’s pretty much the best out there, where else could he have gone but into the realm of the supercar.

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Some might call it sacrilegious, but what a superb idea it was to butcher up a Murciélago; the haters will hate and the lovers will love and the internet and drifting world will go wild. And it has, especially after its first demo run at the D1 Grand Prix round in Odaiba earlier this fall where Daigo proved that this car isn’t just an exercise in marketing, but a machine capable of competing at the highest echelon of the sport.

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Plus, in its former life with Liberty Walk’s Kato-san, it had already been transformed with LBW aero. The metamorphose from wild street car to D1GP drift weapon has seen most of the kit retained (including the over-fenders, of course) and a few other touches added to the mix, like the three big front intakes on the bonnet that help direct air to the radiator and then dump it out once its purpose is served.

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The original flat white exterior of the Lambo was painted over with a satin black finish which adds great contrast to the livery…

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And its huge forged monoblock Prodrive GC-05K wheels, which have been custom-painted in Monster Energy green. Like on every LBW car, the brake package is courtesy of CSD, with big 6-pot callipers being employed both front and rear, and biting down hard on 2-piece rotors slotted with the CSD logo.

Adding Functionality
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As you’d expect, the Murciélago has ditched its previously fitted air suspension in favour of something more suited to pro drifting, and you’ll see this in a little more detail further down the page. That said, the Lambo’s stance is wild; it sits ridiculously low yet runs the right sort of steering and overall suspension geometry to allow it to react and handle while going sideways.

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The rear end is finished off with a large GT wing that adds further character to car.

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I still can’t get over the ridiculously cool location where Battle Drift was shot at – a derelict Russian-themed park in Japan which looks as picturesque as it does creepy.

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There’s no doubt that this is one very special looking Lamborghini, but as you can imagine, in transforming a big, mid-engined supercar into a drift car, beneath the skin is where the majority of the work was done.

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You begin to understand what was required to make this car competitive in Japanese pro drifting when you lift up the lightweight carbon fiber drivers door. Yes, carbon doors – they’re one area of many around the car where kilograms were shed in an attempt to chisel away at the Murciélago’s 1,665kg stock weight.

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Inside, there’s not a whole lot left of the original cockpit – call it an exercise in pure function.

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With the interior gutted, Daigo’s team went to work fabricating a serious rollcage, something you’ll find in all of his cars these days, and a far cry from most Japanese-built pro drift machines which still lag behind in this area.

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Carbon fiber was used to construct the central tunnel, and also for the custom switch panel. Since the driving position has been moved slightly rearward, the shift lever had to be extended backwards so that it falls to hand easily. Daigo still employs the Lamborghini’s original 6-speed manual H-pattern transmission, but a sequential might be in the works before the car sees proper competition from 2016. Aside from a Racepak IQ3 dash unit and an HKS A/F Knock Amp, there’s nothing much else to distract the man himself from his driving duties.

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The aforementioned cage was designed to not only allow decent access into the Bride Proface fixed-back seat on the driver’s side, but also to ensure there is clearance with the seat itself. A Bride Zeta III is fitted on the passenger’s side, with Prodrive/Willans harnesses for both occupants.

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In the depths of the driver footwell is a fully adjustable Tilton pedal box; a necessity on a car like this, because once the seat has been positioned for optimal driver comfort and weight balance/distribution, only the pedal box will allow for the final fine adjustments. Every time I see the chassis frames of older Lamborghinis I almost cringe at the way they were put together and welded up. Images of rusty and squeaky garden gates come to mind… Thankfully, Lamborghini has really stepped up its game in recent times.

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The more you look at this car, the more it almost doesn’t make any sense. I mean, how the hell do you keep a thing like this sideways? Well, on the steering side of things there was a need to completely rethink the geometry in order to achieve the required amount of angle – lots. Plus, think of the amount of weight in the rear as the 6.2L V12 and its driveline swings around like a big, fat pendulum. In upgrading the steering, the stock rack was binned and replaced with one out of a Toyota Celsior and the spindles were swapped with Supra items. Ikeya Formula stepped in and designed a set of top and lower A-arms for both the front and rear before custom coil-overs were added.

The Oily Bits
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Remember what I said about all that weight at the back?

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Well, that’s why the Murciélago comes with a twin coil-over setup at both corners from factory, so this thing runs six dampers in total; and just like at the front Ikeya Formula arms take care of getting all the angles squared up. Everything is mounted on pillow-balls to eliminate any slack from the linkages, transferring razor-sharp steering and chassis feel over to the driver.

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I would have loved to see Sant’Agata’s V12 work of art breathing through 12 velocity stack equipped individual throttle bodies, but that would have been one massive headache I imagine, so to get the best out of the motor, Daigo’s team pretty much refined what was already there. Topping off each of the two massive intake plenums are a pair of HKS Super Power Flow filters, instantly hinting that the engine could only have been set up in Japan.

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Which is exact what happened after Daigo sent the Lambo over to HKS HQ near Mt. Fuji to be strapped on the dyno and tuned. The 6.2L V12 is managed by a pair of HKS F-CON V Pro Ver 4.0 ECUs; two because these modules are really only able to manage the ignition and fuel maps for engines up to 8-cylinders in size. If you have keen eyes and you know your JDM cars, you might notice that the engine runs four Nissan VR38DETT electronically-controlled throttle bodies right behind those pod filters. These were fitted because they are faster reacting than the stock Lamborghini-spec ones, and also because they are far more compatible with the ECUs, which made things much easier.

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As I mentioned before, cooling is taken care of up front, and underneath the little center bonnet is a pair of pretty big intakes directing air towards the radiator.

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This is also where the ATL fuel cell and fuel system has been located; two external Bosch pumps keeping the V12’s thirst for race gas quenched.

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And as if the engine’s sound wasn’t already sonorous enough from factory, Daigo got rid of everything aft of the headers and called in Kakimoto Racing to design and fabricate a straight through exhaust topped up with a pair of HKS cats on the tailpipes. As you would have seen in the video, the twin exits shoot massive balls of fire. Hadouken!

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In tuning the engine for the best throttle response and mid-range torque, HKS was able to extract 650PS, which under the careful modulation of Daigo’s right foot translates to a lot of tyre smoke. It’s a decent improvement from the Murciélago’s stock 580PS, and on par with the 6.5L version of the motor that was used in some versions.

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The Monster video was one hell of a way to introduce this crazy project to the world!

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Needless to say, we want to see more of this car, and I really do hope that Daigo runs it in D1GP next year as a replacement for his trusty JXZ chassis.

I for one, just like the fact that there are people out there who are never content with what they achieve and are always striving to push the boundaries. Daigo, and all the people involved in this project, we salute you!

Dino Dalle Carbonare
Instagram: speedhunters_dino
dino@speedhunters.com

Photos by Larry Chen
Instagram: larry_chen_photo
larry@speedhunters.com

Cutting Room Floor
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Comments

69 comments
Will
Will

Lovely execution and an amazing piece of work to create something "just because they can".

But as a drift car it just looked like such a handful. The video is edited to make it look like he's just drifting it from corner to corner but it just looks so unnatural and awkward. Obviously he's an amazing driver but as far as the Lambo as a drift car? You can't polish a turd!

Makini90
Makini90

As someone who is into the whole over-fender/widebody trend we have going on now, It puts a huge smile on my face to see someone make those LB and Rocket Bunny kits functional for the track. Still want to see a track focused 458 or Aventador with Liberty Walk kit, but I feel that can only exist in the land of dreams....


Major hats off to everyone who worked on this Lambo and to Larry for the fantastic shots. This is a fantastic drifting machine :)

OswaldH
OswaldH

Damn! They even swapped from left hand drive to right hand drive! The amount of work that has gone into it is ridiculous! Kudos to Daigo and the team behind him

AndrewCinch
AndrewCinch

Probably not a swap; it was likely bought from dealer in Japan so it was already RHD.

IRONWOLF RD
IRONWOLF RD

I am fairly biased when it comes to the Murcielago or Gallardo models, in that I couldn't find a more bland example of a company that is meant to make waves in their design.

But taking it back to the roots of the phrase "Lambo Drift car", it shouldn't make sense. That is what the appeal is with this machine. All of the work that has gone under that body to make it a viable contender, as well as giving the reins to Daigo Saito, is definitely worth the notice. Truly making something outta nothing.

josephgroves99
josephgroves99

man daigo is living the dream , a gtr for fd and a murcialgo in japan 

Matt Khoun
Matt Khoun

‘It’ll never work, it just won’t.’ ‘The weight balance is just wrong.’ ‘It doesn’t have enough torque.’ ‘It’s a Lamborghini, it will just break all the time.’

During the early days of also hearing such comments... I was quietly just like... "But he's Daigo Saito?"


Look at his previous cars... 5 of them (as base models, shouldn't even work well in competitive drifting without a lot of engineering) were engineered to be competitive to the point where he won races.

jay8393
jay8393

@Matt Khoun I was more of, "could this be yet another over-hyped build that would never see action at all?"

If you remember, he had shown off a Mustang, a Ferrari 550 and the Dodge Viper, which all 3 never saw any outings.

icobird
icobird

this build is out of the norm and hats off to all the persons involved in this project!

InnerToxicity
InnerToxicity

May have already been covered, but wasn't Daigo working on a Ferrari 599 drift car as well at some point? That I would love to see too =P

rahoffmann22
rahoffmann22

I love the idea.  Take the most bonkers off the wall car you can think of and make it work.


One point I am curios about not being touched on is how they went about taking it from AWD (which the Murcielago is from the factory), to RWD which I assume it must be in order to work as a drift weapon.


Any info on this?

stephendmeggitt
stephendmeggitt

There was a - 2 (2wd) version made from factory if im not mistaken

yusufadams
yusufadams

Is this the same car that was used to demo the HRE lambo wheels? That was a liberty walk car with air suspension as mentioned in the write up. If it is then the transformation is amazing! (Credit goes to stanceworks for the image I am posting)

Stubsnz
Stubsnz

I want to hate it but I love it.

greenroadster
greenroadster

What a big difference between Daigo Lambo and Vaughn JR Mustang. Feels like Japan and Daigo are 20 years ahead of everybody else in the world. And they probably are.

benjaminN
benjaminN

@greenroadster I feel the complete opposite, they look like 10 year behind !

The pod filters directly over the headers, the basic rollcage, the suspensions look like they were designed in the 70's (so much offset that the discs sit out of the rims !) and so on...

Sure, it works, but it's far from refined or ahead of anybody !

Trentworth
Trentworth

Larry Chen is probably the best shooter out there, these pics are outstanding. If you're ever in my neck of the woods or vice-versa, Mr. Chen, I want to buy you a whiskey. Is there a place we can get a few more pictures of "the oily bits" and maybe a better explanation of how they work?

jay8393
jay8393

Wait Dino, doesn't F-Con VPros manage up to 8 cylinders?

jay8393
jay8393

@archivinhos What I meant was, Dino said it can only manage up to 6 cylinders, not 8. LOL!

Anthony959rs
Anthony959rs

This is probably the MEANEST drift car I've ever seen.

Since this Murcielago is built straight for performance, there's no need of those fancy, luxury stuff at all. This is a proper RACE CAR.


echology
echology

how the hell he's managed to see outside from the cockpit

Blake Jones
Blake Jones

Amazing car, photography and story. Great work Larry & Dino!

BenCamilleri
BenCamilleri

Can someone elaborate on the exhaust. I understand it is a straight through exhaust from the headers. but I have been wondering for a while as too the purpose of the exhaust exits with the mesh in the tips. I have seen it in a lot of builds and I am building 2 cars currently an LS3 powered 86 and a Track spec RX8 build where I would prefer a straight through exhaust on it and looking at options. (hotdogs just make rotaries sound poo).


Appreciate the help :)


Shaunock
Shaunock

@BenCamilleri I've only ever seen them on MotoGP bikes, where they are used to prevent dust/gravel/kitty litter entering the engine in the event of a crash.


I'm not sure if that is a hazard in drifting or not but crazier things have probably happen.

jay8393
jay8393

@BenCamilleri Those are silencers. Instead of employing mufflers, those will keep noise down a little.

linken200
linken200

@BenCamilleri They are catalytic converters, also used on Rally cars, rallycross cars etc. They silence the sound a tad but keep the car compliant with exhaust regulations without restricting to much flow. Look at a RX video and you'll see the glowing tips on the cars are the same as this

Acc
Acc

@linken200 @BenCamilleri I know what you mean, but this Lambo has no catalysts (cats are longer and the "mesh" appears to be finer). Guess that metal mesh here is part silencer, part pure aesthetics.

BenCamilleri
BenCamilleri

Thanks for the responses guys (@Shaunock, @jay8393@linken200, and @Acc). Has anyone seen where one could buy these or find them. I am happy to make from scratch but I would like to see what is on the market and know I am on the write track. 


Cheers

Ben

GregFentonHNHS
GregFentonHNHS

I don't know why but it doesn't have as big as an impact as I first thought it would, maybe it's the stance, wheels and livery but if someone said there was a matt black prospec liberty walk lamborghini you would think it was the best thing ever but this just seems a little average. Its the same as lfa that's been set up for drifting.


I do however like the concept of supercar drifters imagine an one77 banging doors with silvas

3nigm4
3nigm4

@GregFentonHNHS You're probably desensitized to liberty walk cars these days. They're great looking cars, but pretty much the same appearance every time. 

CJC_Matty
CJC_Matty

Awww, I was waiting for the bit about an LS swap. :( :p

Gorgeous car though. I may have missed it, but do you know how much weight they got out of it in the end?

SW1
SW1

I'm super curious about this location, great photography!

I'm also happy to see a drift car that doesn't have it's front tires sticking out waaaay past the over fenders :)

#blameitontheWiseFab

open your eyes
open your eyes

Butchering a Lambo, one thing that only those weird japanese will do.

James1010
James1010

@open your eyes I take it you've never heard of Mansory in Europe or West Coast Customs in the US?


Anthony959rs
Anthony959rs

@open your eyes Just like your ID name, YOU have to "open your eyes". LOL

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