Daigo Saito’s Crazy JZX100
Built To Drift

Could this possibly be the wildest drift car ever built? The most minimalistic? The best ever? Maybe all of the above…

If you’ve watched professional drifting come of age in the US, you’ll probably associate the motorsport with million-dollar, manufacturer-backed, V8-powered monsters. In Japan, however, pro drift cars are built with an different mindset; there are things that make them a little more befitting to the type of driving and tracks that they are punished on. The style of drifting is different too, as is the judging, and it all trickles down to the little variations in car spec and setup that differentiate the two schools of thought.


However, I’ve always thought that Daigo Saito’s style of car building somehow combines the two. And that goes for his driving as well. He’s adept at modifying his style to match whatever series he may be participating in, and I don’t need to remind you of how many he has entered in – and won – during his years as pro. Like many drifters out there, Daigo has always had a big hand in creating his own cars and testing out new things, and that’s allowed him to develop his own unique style. There’s no doubt that he’s a true master of his craft, but for me, his finest creation thus far has been the last JZX100 he used in D1 Grand Prix.

Despite the car no longer meeting D1 Grand Prix technical regulations, Daigo’s held onto it, and I was able to grab a few moments with it the last time I dropped by Fat Five Racing in Saitama. And with both a new Formula D series and D1GP about to kick off very shortly, what better way to get us all into a drifting mood.


Aesthetically speaking, Daigo’s Mark II wears a BN Sports aero kit with added featherweight carbon fiber panels to help shed as much weight as possible. The lightweight focus is a Saito trademark, and it’s probably come about through preferring a faster reacting and more twitchy chassis mated to immense mechanical grip and of course oodles of power.


The car sits on forged Prodrive GC-05N wheels painted Monster Energy green to match in with the unmistakable livery that has accompanied Daigo for years in D1. Behind them, Endless brakes, specifically 6-pot monoblock calipers matched to 2-piece E-grooved rotors up front, and smaller and more conventional 4-pots at the rear alongside drilled discs to help dissipate the heat from copious use of the hydraulic e-brake.

I spent a decent amount of time walking around the car and poking at every panel. I can tell you that it’s mostly very thin FRP or carbon.


The BN Sports skirts are there to help smooth and direct air towards the wheels, not to mention play with the clouds of smoke that pour out of the rear arches which themselves have been widened and vented.


I think there is more metal grille that actual FRP material on the trunk lid, but seeing as the radiator is positioned back there, these openings help to keep the air flowing.


It’s the same story at the front, with so much of the hood cut out right above the engine. But beauty is only skin deep; there is pure evil beneath all of this and that’s what I wanted to really sink my teeth into…

Who Needs Intercoolers?

I’ll have to pull out the minimalistic adjective here again. I mean, look at this engine bay. There is no detail that hasn’t been thought about; it’s all geared towards creating the most powerful and agile drift car possible out of a chassis and engine combination that Toyota originally designed to serve pensioners.

What isn’t necessary is simply not there, starting with most of the original chassis forward of the suspension towers. The inner wheel arches have been lopped clean off, only the lower box chassis where the subframe bolts up to retained. Custom tube work now serves as the mounting points for the front end.

The position of the 2JZ engine itself is precisely why the car is no longer legal for D1 Grand Prix competition. It sits rearward of its original placement, with cylinder number six pretty much right under the dashboard. Of course, this modification was made to shift the weight bias to a more central position, benefitting the handling and the way the big sedan switches from transition to transition.


HKS supplied the stunning carbon intake pipe onto which its trademark Super Power Flow filter is mounted, and it extends well into the expansive frontal void of the engine bay.


The externally wastegated Garrett GTX4088R turbo must supply pretty high levels of boost as the 3.5L stroked bottom end lives inside a billet and sleeved engine block. Pretty much indestructible? Highly likely.

This 2JZ’s real party trick, so to speak, is that it does completely away with intercooling. Yes, there is no chunky core attempting to cool the intake charge so as to shove it into the engine at a decent temperature and density. According to Daigo, it’s not something a drift car needs. Because the engine doesn’t run for long periods of time, throttle response should take precedence over intake temps.

I have temperature figures in my head that a limiter-bashing, 1000hp 2JZ will be hitting after it’s been abused by Saito over a run at say Fuji Speedway or Okayama, and it just doesn’t compute. But maybe Fat Five Racing knows something that everyone else building pro-spec drift cars with intercoolers doesn’t. Either that, or the engine is so strongly built that it’s almost impossible to detonate into small bits. I’d also like to direct your attention to the big Hypertune billet throttle body and the beautiful aluminum intake engineered by the same Aussie wizards. Oh, and Adel Wiggins clamps, I do love seeing these in an engine bay.


Big power equals a large thirst for fuel and the car runs the latest 2200cc/min injectors, making redundant the use of a secondary fuel rail and another batch of six injectors.


Ensuring the dry-sumped, 3.5L billet block 2JZ doesn’t skip a beat is a set of Ignition Projects coil packs. I know how well these function personally as I’ve been using them on Project GT-R for years.


I love the short and sneaky exhaust pipe ending beneath the trunk.


And speaking of the trunk, let’s have a quick nose around in there too.


This is where the rest of the ancillary components that keep that engine bay so clean are located, starting off with the radiator, the big oil tank and the breather for the diff.


There’s also a large ATL fuel cell positioned as close to center as possible. Again, nothing is overlooked for the upmost efficiency and attention to detail.


It all combines to create a proper weapon, one that’s been appreciated by drifting communities the world over.

Simple Office Space

The overall simplicity of the build is carried over to the interior, a heavily boxed space, braced and stiffened by one of the most serious-looking roll-cages I’ve seen in a Japan-built drift car. It’s often said that the Japanese are way behind the times when it comes to roll-cages, and while that may be a fair observation, I don’t think it applies to Saito.


The most comical part of it all was the sheer lightness of the doors; I wouldn’t be surprised if these things weigh in at 1kg apiece. It’s details like this that for me have always defined the Saito approach to building cars. No f**ks given.


Perched right behind the steering wheel is the Racepak IQ3 digital dash/data-logger along with the switch panel and the assortment of modules that the HKS F-Con V PRO always needs to function and add extra functionality.


Seeing the driving position has been shifted rearward to bring the Bride seats pretty much in line with the B-pillars, an adjustable pedal box was a necessity.


So to answer those three opening questions – Could this possibly be the wildest drift car ever built? The most minimalistic? The best ever? – I’d personally say to yes to all. But what do you guys think?

Dino Dalle Carbonare
Instagram: speedhunters_dino



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It's interesting, if not a little bit crude. In saying that, the best car is the car that wins. Any idea what he's driving in FD? The GT-R?

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Yup the one he built with HKS


Is it for certain that he is coming back and competing in fd usa this year? I keep seeing people saying he isn't, and i saw he is competing in a d1 event instead of the first round at long beach.


What is the weight of the car?


Someone correct me if i'm wrong but I may have seen it was 1000kg/1000hp


I have seen that too but I want the real number.


I never had a close look at his JZX before. Unsurprisingly enough, it's probably one of the most serious-built pro drift car I've ever seen a cover on. Good job, Dino.

Dino Dalle Carbonare



With the tucked away exhaust tip, this almost qualifies as a sleeper.


Just ignore the wing, big brake kit, outrageous body kit and the way you can see the 2JZ through the bumper and grill. Beyond all that its defo a sleeper. lol


"Less is more" - Ludwig Mies van der Rohe


Can anyone tell us what the steering angle of the front wheels are on these highly modified cars? I don't think at all that they could be 90 degrees, that would be impossible. But are they at 85 degrees, 82, 80 degrees? We all see that they are at impossible angles for any street car would be and they are certainly extreme. Just what a drift car racer would need, right?


56 to 60 degrees sir!


I would think most top out between 65 and 70-degrees.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

When he was moving the car around it looked like it wasn't too far off 90 degrees lol


Why no Snow Performance like charge cooler via ethanol spray injection? Keep throttle response + cold intake charge=profit


correction:meant to say methanol injection. I must be getting old, I don't remember my alcohols.


It runs on straight methanol,


This engine uses Methanol no?

Saito is using an HKS run Ex-GT3/GT300 Corvette I think. Of course it has an FCon now.


8x 2200cc injectors + no intercooler leads me to believe you are correct sir.

Jay Soh Tsu Chung

I didn't know naturally-aspirated motors need intercooler. LOL!


Where do you see the NA engine?

Dino Dalle Carbonare



Not really sure what to think of this build. The part with the intercooler was intresting, durabality is always appreciated in a car. But that´s pretty much it for me, when it comes to the engine. Reaching crazy horespower with the 2JZ isn´t really newsworthy no more, (btw. Does Daigo really need 1000PS ?) Especially for Daigo Saito who is using this engine for such a long time now. I would like to see something different under the hood. Looking at his garage with all the cars and sponsors, one might think, that he has a little money by now, so why not explore other options ? Abandon the fail safe 2Jz, suprise the scene and fans wth something new !

The cabin looks tidy and that rollcage looks super cool. But I´m not a fan of ripping dashboards out of the cars, I don´t like it that spare in a car, but then again, maybe that´s what Formula D and/or D1 dictates in order to participate. So, is this the best ever ?

No, not in my book. Something from D1 Street Legal however totally would. Having a jack of all trades kinda car is much more intresting for me, because its more relatable. Owning a car that is street registered and therefore should work as your trusty steed through the day AND is able to participate in the competition is a much more worthy candidate of the "crown".

Best wishes



Well the headline did ask whether this was the "wildest" drift car ever built, so I don't think SL cars would even fit in that category, so I'm not sure what you put down here really is applicable to the question that was asked here based on the context.

Why can't Saito have 1000PS? He's in a competition to win, it's not some soukokai event where you can just manji through the straights - it's a different environment. Not that I have anything against soukokai/free run events.

In Both SL and GP all competitors are there trying to win. The only difference between pro and SL is that SL has restrictions that ends up allowing the car being driven on the road. Eventually those that do well in SL make it into GP. However, of all the grassroots event I have been in Japan, it's very rare to see "winning competitors" of SL cars drive it on the daily, they mainly have trucks towing them. MCR, Burst, Ito Auto, etc all have trailers towing them from home to track. I wonder why that is? Could it be that even a street legal car that is used to compete isn't utilized as a a-b/grocery car that can do everything?

I know KDF is all about the fun, but i think its important to see it from a different perspective because even in Japan - there is the fun element, but there is also that drive to be number 1. Whether it be driving as hard as hell, best flicks, best angles, being the best is a very important part of their culture.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

He's running an R35 GT-R in FD and a Corvette in D1 so I'd say he knows how to challenge himself. That said I was referring to the best pro car, SL is street legal by definition so it would have to comply to many restrictions, one of them being that it's able to be registered for street use. Anyway we all have our own taste and ideas, whatever those may be it's hard not to appreciate what he's done with this car


@dino dalle carbonare

I read the ATS differential, but what housing is he using?? Stock housing and stock subframe??

What about axles?? Most of the U.S. builds are using Winters quick change with some sort of porsche or custom axles.


"Take only what you need to survive!" - spaceballs.

This thing is kinda nuts. It must feel weird driving a feather with a bazillion horsepower.


I wonder if he didn't use intercooler mainly because he has a strong billet block 2JZ?

Jay Soh Tsu Chung

One word: nuts!

Thanks for finally featuring this stupidly crazy machine Dino!


It's hard to think of another drift car that ends up being more capable than this car as most are built to a pro spec. Vaughn Gittins RTR is definitely comparable but at that point it comes down to preference more than anything.

IMO Engineered to Slide's drift truck is more "minimalist" as it has a full tube chassis which is damn near perfect. That vehicle doesn't have a thing it doesn't need, with superior fit and finish. I can't imagine it's as capable as Daigo's JZX though, as it has nowhere near the power figures which are really what define Daigo's ultra-aggressive style.


With some much airflow across the engine bleeding off temps he's probably doing just fine with all that coolant running back and forth to the trunk helping quite a bit too.

Too bad things have gone so far from cars sliding sideways to this, I don't understand the point anymore, but the cars are coolish.


Hey! Can you make a feature of the Soarer he has built. The one F. Aasbo is using for D1

Devon Bartholomew

isn't that robbie Nishida's old FD soarer with the green eyes?


I like the exterior styling of the car but I think its lacking a bit of character on the inside. But that's my taste, and I'm not a professional drifter. Function over form I guess.


Yes, yes, yes this is the car that crushed D1, so it's the best. Ultimate evolution within rules.


Wanli SR390, deisgned by Daigo Saito. Interesting tire i wonder how they are for grip.


Depending on your definition of "wild" I'd say this is one of his tamer builds. Personally I dont think minimal can be too wild. How is an Ex Gt300 drift car not wilder, or a Murcielago drifter for that matter? As for the most minimal drift build, I present to you the RoadKill Drift Kart Vette. Who needs a body anyway?!


Everything looks fine.. then i see the back end


"Because the engine doesn’t run for long periods of time..." Exactly my reaction when I hear this car has no cooling systems


Seeing that wirring, I'd have to go with HGK cars - that is there the detailng is everything. Compared to them, Daigo made a ghetto build. All cool, but it's not the best car for me.


Hey Dino. Do you know if he plans to use the car for a demo at D1GP Rd1? I would love the see it in action at the event, or the lambo.


Federico Barutto

1000hp and no intercooler and/or water/methanol injection????? What the hell????
I'm really curious to see how that engine goes, because drift cars aren't really known for going straight, so no airflow on that pipe....


He used the car in 2015 and part of 2016. You can see it all over Youtube. The car IS running methanol which is why it doesn't need an intercooler. 12:1 Compression and 2200cc injectors are a give away buuuut it was mentioned when it debuted.


2nd only to his vette! Never seen a 2J that far back. Wonder if he runs methanol injection to cool intake.