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…

fat_five_racing_tour_dino_dalle_carbonare_01

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.

fat_five_racing_tour_dino_dalle_carbonare_34

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!

fat_five_racing_tour_dino_dalle_carbonare_05

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.

fat_five_racing_tour_dino_dalle_carbonare_07

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

fat_five_racing_tour_dino_dalle_carbonare_06

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

fat_five_racing_tour_dino_dalle_carbonare_35

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.

fat_five_racing_tour_dino_dalle_carbonare_11

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.

fat_five_racing_tour_dino_dalle_carbonare_09

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.

fat_five_racing_tour_dino_dalle_carbonare_08

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
fat_five_racing_tour_dino_dalle_carbonare_10

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.

fat_five_racing_tour_dino_dalle_carbonare_13

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.

fat_five_racing_tour_dino_dalle_carbonare_12

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?

fat_five_racing_tour_dino_dalle_carbonare_23

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.

fat_five_racing_tour_dino_dalle_carbonare_17

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.

fat_five_racing_tour_dino_dalle_carbonare_18

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

fat_five_racing_tour_dino_dalle_carbonare_19

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

fat_five_racing_tour_dino_dalle_carbonare_20

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.

fat_five_racing_tour_dino_dalle_carbonare_21

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
fat_five_racing_tour_dino_dalle_carbonare_25

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

fat_five_racing_tour_dino_dalle_carbonare_36

Oh, and a Ferrari!

fat_five_racing_tour_dino_dalle_carbonare_26

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.

fat_five_racing_tour_dino_dalle_carbonare_30

It reminds me of the Dodge Charger that never was…

fat_five_racing_tour_dino_dalle_carbonare_29

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!

fat_five_racing_tour_dino_dalle_carbonare_31

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

ADVERTISEMENT

Comments

58 comments
Therealstig
Therealstig

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.

ford capri
ford capri

why was the "D1GP JZX100" banned?

Twitch_6
Twitch_6

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?

speedhunters_dino
speedhunters_dino moderator

@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 

MechaSlime
MechaSlime

@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…" 

Twitch_6
Twitch_6

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.

AprilexHK
AprilexHK

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

JeremieSunico
JeremieSunico

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...

T3RMINATOR
T3RMINATOR

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

speedhunters_dino
speedhunters_dino moderator

@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 :)

Shaunock
Shaunock

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

awesomefearwave
awesomefearwave

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?

MilesHayler
MilesHayler

I still struggle to see the appeal of the Escalade 

Therealstig
Therealstig

No doubt, fugly and gaudy to the max

deleted_117624410_NismoTom
deleted_117624410_NismoTom

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.

Nickgenerazio32
Nickgenerazio32

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

He's one of the main reasons why this sport exists in the first place.

RedWhine
RedWhine

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!

RedWhine
RedWhine

@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.

Therealstig
Therealstig

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

370 Hemi
370 Hemi

2.5 Liters in a Challenger, oh the LOLs!


-Alex

JoshuaWhitcombe
JoshuaWhitcombe

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.

Ice Age
Ice Age

@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.

Ice Age
Ice Age

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?

speedhunters_dino
speedhunters_dino moderator

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

Ice Age
Ice Age

@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.

Ice Age
Ice Age

@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.

Therealstig
Therealstig

The US has California to ruin everything automotive

icobird
icobird

Where is the bensopra GTR?

CMCurtis
CMCurtis

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

icobird
icobird

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

CMCurtis
CMCurtis

@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

OFFICIAL SPEEDHUNTERS SUPPLIERS