Chilling At Daigo Saito’s Fat Five Racing
Where Drift Dreams Are Built

A couple of months ago I brought you a preview look at Daigo Saito’s next D1 Grand Prix machine, a Z06-R ex-GT300 race car. With D1 changing up a few rules for 2017, mainly stating that engines may no longer be moved back into a chassis, Saito has obviously found the right solution in maintaining the sort of weight balance that he’s come to love in his drift cars.

While it will be interesting to see him transform the ex-circuit racer into a fully-fledged drift car, what he had sitting around at his shop also proved to be pretty damn cool. I mean, this guy is the king of drift, so every car he surrounds himself with needs to be pretty exciting. Let’s take a quick look around Fat Five Racing…

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What surprised me the most since my first visit a few years ago with Larry, is that it looks like Saito’s greatly expanded the operation. Fat Five has grown to be way more than just an extended man cave where one of the world’s top drifters can play around with his project cars; now he’s actually doing work and taking on builds for customers interested in having their cars prepared with the same philosophy that has always set his creations apart. Plus, in the yard in front of the actual workshop there’s now a colorful selection of cars for sale.

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As soon as I drove in it was a little hard not to miss the bright red Ferrari 458 sitting next to one of Fat Five Racing’s support trucks. Saito picked it up in a damaged state, but as you can see, it’s really been given a new breath of life.

The whole point of the exercise was to fit a Liberty Walk aero kit and create a fun car to runaround town in. Job well done, I’d say!

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A quick look inside the main workshop revealed the soon-to-be-drifted GT300-spec Z06 and the spare chassis next to it. We’ll venture inside shortly, but first there are a few more things I want to show you outside.

As I said, there were a lot of cars worth taking a quick look at, like this pair of JZX100s, the white car sporting wider front and rear fenders.

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This Soarer could do with some more well-sized wheels, but the Z30 still holds a lot of allure.

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This S15 chassis sitting on four rims however, looked like it was well past its sell-by date!

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Down the side of the shop there’s enough space for Saito to park another support truck as well as this cool JDM two-car transporter.

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Alongside the stacked containers that double up as more storage space, there’s always a bunch more donor cars in the process of being stripped down for parts. Maybe at one point they were practice cars, or Saito’s friends simply dropped them off at his shop, but now they sit here awaiting almost certain death.

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Ever wondered what Saito drivers as a daily? Yes, the 458 does get used often, but his go-to vehicle for the daily grind is actually this new-gen Cadillac Escalade.

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You wouldn’t for one second think that he would drive something like this and keep it stock though, right? The massive body-on-frame SUV has been lowered on 24-inch wheels and fitted with over-fenders, a simple bodykit and an aftermarket exhaust. It probably won’t be the most effective off-road vehicle after those changes, but there’s no questioning the boost in style!

So Many Projects On The Go
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Another car from the US of A is the thoroughly weathered Viper GTS-R shell that’s been sitting on top of a container for a few years now. That was another project that was meant to be turned into something cool and drift oriented, but it was probably way too complex to put into action.

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Something curious I found in the new pre-fab garages that have been built opposite the container stacks was this rather familiar red Toyota Altezza.

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This is Nobuteru Taniguchi’s HKS RS200 that was probably last seen at the HKS Premium Day back in 2014. Did Daigo buy it? Or is he evolving it for HKS? It’s all a little hush-hush, but seeing that HKS are pretty adamant about stepping away from the ZN6/86 chassis, maybe Daigo has got some interesting plans…

We’ll be seeing something else come of another HKS x Fat Five Racing collaboration at this year’s Premium Day, which is coming up at the end of the month. It’s got to do with drifting and Taniguchi – can you guess what it is?

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It was over to the actual workshop next where the man himself was busy working on a couple of cars alongside his mechanics.

One was this JZX90 which has obviously bought off a retired couple, still sporting the Toyota dealer option lace trim for the seat backs and head rests. Seeing the high-mounted single turbo sitting alongside the 1JZ certainly made for a comical contrast.

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While the silver JZX looked like a fun street or practice car, there were a couple of far more serious builds in the works a little further down the garage line-up, starting off with this purple JZX100.

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The bare chassis was being stiffened up with a custom cage and lots of spot welding.

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The motor had been dropped in the engine bay with its new turbo to check clearances.

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A couple of cars away was this JZX100 which was obviously a few more steps up the build process than the purple one. Sporting a fresh few coats of brilliant white, the chassis along with the cage and gusseting was looking very sexy indeed.

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And the 2JZ was looking like it was mostly built up and requiring only to be plumbed up and wired in.

The Best Has Yet To Come
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Sitting pretty was Saito’s 1300hp Formula D R35 GT-R, the only Nissan in a what seemed a sea of Toyotas.

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Oh, and a Ferrari!

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It’s unclear what Daigo is doing with this F430 GT3. Maybe he’s fixing it up to sell on, or perhaps he’s doing the unthinkable and turning it into something to slide. Time will tell!

And that’s one of the coolest things about Fat Five Racing – there’s a huge variety of cars sitting in the shop, but you never know which ones will end up being transformed into crazy drift machines. It’s obvious that Daigo likes to keep his options open.

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It reminds me of the Dodge Charger that never was…

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The last time I saw this car it was red and had a V8 in it, but that’s not the case now, so the build has far from stopped. It just blows my mind how many cars Saito is building at the same time!

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I finished up my tour with a look at the impressive line-up of carbon fiber Formula D trophies that pretty much go all the way around the office. This happened while Saito was bringing out his crazy D1GP JZX100; you know, the one without the intercooler. I thought it was about time I ran a feature on that car, a pretty epic machine that’s now banned from D1. Stay tuned for that…

Dino Dalle Carbonare
Instagram: speedhunters_dino
dino@speedhunters.com

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75 comments

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1

Ex-racer Corvette turn into drift car ?

I'd swap a rotary in just to make fun of it . XD

2

Waiting for the D1 JZX100 Article...

3
SebAgentOrangeBetts

Always wanted to know more about that JZX

4

Where is the bensopra GTR?

5

Talk about an inversion of personal freedom...

The Tokugawa Shogunate was arguably the world's first modern totalitarian state (and one of the most repressive to ever exist), whereas the United States of America was founded on the belief that people should be as free to live their lives as possible.

Now, at the beginning of the 21st Century, you can have an Escalade if you're Japanese but you can't have an R34 if you're American.

WTF?

6

icobird That is the Ben Sopra GTR in the Photos with a Liberty Walk kit on

7

Ice Age And you can't even own your slaves anymore...

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11

Kind of sad that the Challenger no longer has the screaming Mopar V8 in it, it was one of my favourite things about the car, but at the same time I'm also kind of excited to see a JZ in a muscle car.

12
Becauseracetruck

D1 JZX100 article please!

13

RDS I like your idea.

14

I see. Why did he change from bensopra to liberty?bensopra is a much nicer kit.

15

RDS ask Daigo to sell the chassis to madMike and he might do it (with mazda's sponsorship of course)

16

2.5 Liters in a Challenger, oh the LOLs!

-Alex

18

Agh.  That GTS-R shell sitting rotting hurts to look at.  Those are extremely valuable cars in almost any condition.  That aside, excellent article and pics as always!

19

Correction: Keiichi Tsuchiya is the "king of drift". They don't call him, 'dorikin' for no reason..

20

icobird Sponsors. I don't think he was actually sponsored by Ben Sopra. But he was sponsored by Liberty Walk when he made the Drift Lambo so only makes sense they would sponsor him for his GTR too

21

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22

I am not sure if anyone else can agree with me on this one but there is just something so cool about seeing a bare shell of a car or a car that is about to be built into something cool. That jzx100 is a clear example of beauty to me. its not finished but there is just something beautiful about it. maybe its because I would love to one day completely strip my car to bare shell and build it back up again or maybe its something else. If anyone else feels the way I do let me know.

23

Nickgenerazio32 If Tsuchiya is the king, Saito is the prince.

24

amirulmkhtr Probably the next feature.

25

RDS it'd be cool to see Saito do a rotary.

26

I still struggle to see the appeal of the Escalade

27

damn, i would love to have a garage full of cars like that, especially chasers. those are some pretty nice gems, considering the states never got them.


and dino, a question for you..

how do you normally communicate with these people, seeing you're an italian living in japan? can you speak fluent japanese, or can the people you talk to normally speak english? or is there some kinda interpreter when you travel?

28

That van, I need it.. Give it to me!

29

Is there any word on the Mid Night racing team's 930 that was featured here a while back? Did it ever sell?

30
speedhunters_dino

T3RMINATOR Dunno, I'm assuming it's still tucked away back in that shop. I'll have a look for you next time I pass by :)

31
speedhunters_dino

awesomefearwave I don't speak fluently, but I get by!

32
speedhunters_dino

MilesHayler I'd rock one. Now that I have 3 kids and 2 dogs the appeal is real lol

33

speedhunters_dino MilesHayler I understand the size thing, but this thing is fugly! give me a RangeRover or G Wagon any day!

34
speedhunters_dino

Nickgenerazio32 I'm quite aware of that lol But if K1 is the Drift King, Daigo is the King of Drift

35
speedhunters_dino

RedWhine Does plastic rot?

36
speedhunters_dino

amirulmkhtr Was on its way back from Australia I believe

37
speedhunters_dino

370 Hemi And it'll go harder haha

38
speedhunters_dino

Becauseracetruck :)

39
speedhunters_dino

Ice Age The Japanese have been enjoying American cars for a very long time... cars from any country mind you!

40
speedhunters_dino

Vittorio Jano Ice Age haha

41
speedhunters_dino

RezboaDog RDS Think he needs torque :D

42

speedhunters_dino Ice Age I think it's a great thing that the Japanese can have any of the world's car that they want. I was only commenting on the irony of the people of The Land of the Free being denied the same freedom.

43
speedhunters_dino

Ice Age speedhunters_dino Not sure they'd enjoy the Kei cars we have over here haha

44

speedhunters_dino Ice Age I don't know, man - I'm as patriotic an American as you'll find, and I'd rock a City Turbo HARD.

I'm not the only one, either.

45

speedhunters_dino RedWhine Keep it out of the sun and it'll be fine.

46

JoshuaWhitcombe Did a double-take when I realized what I was looking at. 1JZ Challenger. Far out, man.

Gonna be a bit of a mismatch - peaky little plant in that hulking brute of a car. 

Should be interesting, though. At least there's plenty of room to work under the hood.

47

MilesHayler It stands proudly and proclaims, "I AM."

48

deleted_117624410_NismoTom It's like the car led a very moral previous life and is being reborn into a higher form by an automotive god.

50

The livery of the GTR changed recently and brought it out to the holiday event. I wonder if Saito is returning with it to FD...

51

Still doubletaking the Challenger. Complete nuts to begin with and has a nuttier engine inside.

52

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54

Could someone expand on this idea that HKS wants to step away from the 86 platform. Is it that they don't want to invest in developing more parts, or do they feel they've hit the limit/dead end?

56
speedhunters_dino

Twitch_6 Who said they want to step away? They've just built 2 new cars on it which we will see in a few week at Premium Day

57

Ice Age speedhunters_dino RedWhine So not on top of a shipping container outside.... haha.  Not sure if it can rot per say, just tough seeing such a rare car, even if it is only a shell in such rough shape.  But I'm guessing it wasn't a pristine example when they started either as the clean ones command pretty serious money.

58

speedhunters_dino Twitch_6  "It’s all a little hush-hush, but seeing that HKS are pretty adamant about stepping away from the ZN6/86 chassis, maybe Daigo has got some interesting plans…"

59

Hands down, still the sexiest beast in the market. Just need to make sure it gets serviced by reputable companies. Mine is still handling like a dream thanks to these guys http://www.turbokraft.com/.

60

As MechaSlime said, it says right in the article that HKS are wanting to step away from the 86. You got me confused as hell right now Dino lol. In the article you say one thing, in the comments you say the opposite.

61

speedhunters_dino 
4 rotor should have plenty. :P

62

why was the "D1GP JZX100" banned?

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66

Somebody get that viper gtsr the fuck away from this dude. I almost got sick when I saw that pic of it and what he's done to it.

67

No doubt, fugly and gaudy to the max

68

Oh why yes it does my friend. One day it will just crumble

69

The US has California to ruin everything automotive

70

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74

is Daigo still under contract with nissun?

75

that roll cage in the ferrari lol

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