A 300+km/h Blast From Top Secret’s Past
A Supra With A Secret

Can you remember what you were doing 18 years ago? I’m sure that many of you hadn’t even been born yet or you were still crawling around in diapers, hence your memories might be a little hazy; but I can remember exactly where I was.

I don’t have the best memory, but late 1999 is forever etched in my mind – it’s when I got my first real taste of authentic JDM performance tuning. I didn’t have to fly the 9,000+km to Japan to experience it either; it came to New Zealand, or more specifically, a straight, 7km-long stretch of road in the middle of the country’s North Island.


Before drifting took its professional turn in the early ’00s, the Japanese tuning industry had a very different focus: top speed. 300km/h was the magic number, whether it be attained in the quickest possible time at a legitimate Yatabe acceleration test, or achieved outright on an illegitimate late-night Wangan run.

On the back of all this, in late November of ’99, Option magazine brought seven cars from seven different Japanese aftermarket tuners to New Zealand for an unpublicised speed trial event. Individually, each tuner’s goal was to exceed 300km/h on the two-lane country road, but Option’s Dai Inada was also keen to have a crack at New Zealand’s then land speed record of 348km/h, which had been set in 1996 on the very same road but didn’t end particularly well.

The seven cars? From top to bottom on the transporter: Garage Fukui SPL’s 550hp Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution III; Scoot Sports’ 600hp Mazda RX-7; Hokue Racing Factory’s 500hp Mazda Roadster; Veilside’s 1,300hp Nissan Skyline GT-R; Ricoh Racing’s 600hp Toyota Aristo V300; JUN’s 500hp Subaru Impreza WRX; and last but not least, Top Secret’s 700hp Toyota Supra.


Of all the cars that competed in the event, it was the ‘GT-300′ Supra that cut the most imposing visual figure. In fact, looking at this picture now, 18 years after it was taken, the Supra is still an impressive sight to behold. Perhaps the only tell-tale sign of its age here is the wheel fitment.

But there was a lot more to this car than just the way it looked. Beneath the custom JGTC-inspired bodywork coated in Top Secret’s signature gold paint was a very unique JZA80. Gone was the factory-fitted six-cylinder 3.0-liter 2JZ-GTE; in its place a hard-tuned Toyota four-cylinder 3S-GTE stroked from 2.0-liters to 2.2-liters with an HKS engine kit and running a huge Trust/GReddy T88-34D turbo. With a plethora of other high-end performance parts from the likes of RAYS, Öhlins and Alcon, Kazuhiko ‘Smokey’ Nagata’s wild creation embodied everything great about the JDM tuning scene around the turn of the millennium.

Despite having the credentials to go well over 300km/h – a speed it had already achieved in Japan on the highway – a few issues plagued the Top Secret team in New Zealand, and the best they could manage during the event was 290km/h. Supposedly, that speed was achieved with two gears left to go in the custom-geared Getrag 6-speed transmission.

When I visited Top Secret in Chiba a few years later the Supra was nowhere to be seen, and I always wondered what had happened to it. But now thanks to an #IAMTHESPEEDHUNTER photo submission from Daniel Hovdahl, it’s no longer a mystery. The Supra is not only alive and well, it remains largely in the same spec it was built.

2017 IATS Top Secret Supra GT300 Daniel Hovdahl-39
2017 IATS Top Secret Supra GT300 Daniel Hovdahl-11

According to Daniel, the Supra was imported to Norway in September 2005 by Japan Auto, a company some of you will recognise through its sponsorship of a drift-spec Supra named ‘Chucky’, as campaigned individually by Fredric Aasbø and Ola Jæger.

Not too long after it was acquired by Japan Auto as a demo car there was a fire at the car importer’s warehouse, but save for a burnt roof the Supra was spared. After its lucky escape it was kept in storage for a while before being sold and used for a couple of track days. Now it’s back up for sale, this time at a Norwegian dealership called Procar.

2017 IATS Top Secret Supra GT300 Daniel Hovdahl-40

As you can see, it’s not in perfect condition, but the scrapes around the once pristine bodywork and burn marks on the hood tell the story of a show-level performance car that’s seen proper use. I’d almost be inclined to leave it as is for posterity.

2017 IATS Top Secret Supra GT300 Daniel Hovdahl-18

Under the hood is a similar story; time has taken a visual toll on the once perfectly-polished and presented bay, but it’s almost all still there, the engine itself sitting as far back against the firewall as possible for optimum weight distribution. If the internal specification remains, cracking the 3S-GTE open would reveal forged pistons, a stroker crankshaft, connecting rods and camshafts all from the HKS catalogue. Other aspects of the original setup included twin Bosch 044 fuel pumps, eight Sard 550cc injectors, and an HKS F CON V Pro engine management system.

2017 IATS Top Secret Supra GT300 Daniel Hovdahl-23

We can’t overlook the turbo setup either, which is currently built around a Trust/GReddy T78. Back in ’99, 1.8bar (26.5psi) of boost pressure generated by the originally-fitted T88 was fed into the engine, the result being a staunch 700hp headed for the back wheels.

Speaking of which, those fitted on the Supra today aren’t the original fare, but they are still from RAYS’ Volk Racing family – now-discontinued GT-Ns to be precise.

2017 IATS Top Secret Supra GT300 Daniel Hovdahl-26
2017 IATS Top Secret Supra GT300 Daniel Hovdahl-37

Back in the era of this build it wasn’t hard to pick a Top Secret interior – they all followed a similar recipe with great success. The Supra retains it all: Recaro Tomcat seats, Takata Racing harnesses, gold-painted bolt-in rollcage, Stack dash, GReddy gauges – and the list goes on.


It was cool to learn via #IAMTHESPEEDHUNTER that a car which left such an impression on me almost two decades ago is still around. From Japan to Norway, via a short stopover in New Zealand, Top Secret’s GT-300 Supra legend lives on. I just wonder where it’ll end up next…

In case you’re wondering, Veilside’s BNR34 Nissan Skyline GT-R – which was brand spanking new at the time – was the quickest of the bunch at the Option NZ Speed Trial in ’99. Its top speed? A cool 346km/h, just 2km/h short of the New Zealand land speed record of the day.

Brad Lord
Instagram: speedhunters_brad

Photos by Daniel Hovdahl

Cutting Room Floor
2017 IATS Top Secret Supra GT300 Daniel Hovdahl-9
2017 IATS Top Secret Supra GT300 Daniel Hovdahl-10
2017 IATS Top Secret Supra GT300 Daniel Hovdahl-35
2017 IATS Top Secret Supra GT300 Daniel Hovdahl-6
2017 IATS Top Secret Supra GT300 Daniel Hovdahl-28
2017 IATS Top Secret Supra GT300 Daniel Hovdahl-7
2017 IATS Top Secret Supra GT300 Daniel Hovdahl-25
2017 IATS Top Secret Supra GT300 Daniel Hovdahl-27
2017 IATS Top Secret Supra GT300 Daniel Hovdahl-33
2017 IATS Top Secret Supra GT300 Daniel Hovdahl-30
2017 IATS Top Secret Supra GT300 Daniel Hovdahl-34
2017 IATS Top Secret Supra GT300 Daniel Hovdahl-19
2017 IATS Top Secret Supra GT300 Daniel Hovdahl-17
2017 IATS Top Secret Supra GT300 Daniel Hovdahl-21
2017 IATS Top Secret Supra GT300 Daniel Hovdahl-4
2017 IATS Top Secret Supra GT300 Daniel Hovdahl-5


Add comment

E-mail is already registered on the site. Please use the Login form or enter another.

You entered an incorrect username or password

Sorry, you must be logged in to post a comment.


by Oldest
by Best by Newest by Oldest

Please more of this art of speedhunting!!! Great to see cars from back in the day now!!!


When I viewed the first pictures I was like "no it cant be wow how have they found this let alone it still looks the same". So amazing to see this car that for me started me on my journey of love for all Jap/Tuning/Styling.

As always SH you never have a story I do not love but speech love this one thanks.


I love this article. I had a magazine back then that covered it. I can't remember if it was Super Street or if it was Sport Compact Car. Man, I wish I still had them laying around.
That was not long after I got into cars. I love seeing this old stuff pop up. The funny thing is that I'm more of a fan of the styling of the cars NOW than I was back then. I think it's just because it's so rare now.
Awesome blast from the past!


Super Street had its sibling, another Top Secret Supra with a v12 and weird custom headlights on one of their covers, but I can't remember when that was.


Back in the day I had the MAX Power UK tuner mag which had this car on the cover!!!


Brad those old images from the archive are a real treat! Amazing, it must have been a huge buzz to be around these cars in their heyday!


I know the RB26 one has epic 1,000 horsepower, the 1GZ (V12) one has epic 350 km/h+ top speed... but my heart always love this 3S-GTE one with 720 horsepower (that was the data straight off Top Secret website when they still had data about this car)!

If I have the chance, I'd like to have a 2AR/2AZ powered Supra with somewhat modest 550 horsepower, because the idea is have a Supra that is light-weight & different weight distribution than most other straight-6 one.


Today its probably funny to most that they "threw out" the 2JZ for the 3S, but in '99 that one was still the main WRC engine, it was a state of the art race engine.


I remember reading about it back then. It was still considered an odd choice.

I have a few Sport Compact car mags from this era... So many memories! I still have a JDM Option dvd with some Wangan runs and Mr Smokey.


That's why I mentioned 2AR/2AZ instead, these new 2.5L/2.4L 4-banger are way lighter engine & in the right hand, they are pretty powerful & reliable... well, reliable until you try to make a thousand horsepower.

3S-GTE was seen in the JGTC Supra too... although that engine is a little far fetched to be called 3S-GTE, as 3SG expert will tell you that engine is more of a fusion of old 3T-GTE & new 3S-GTE, not something you'd able to get from dealership.


2Js are very heavy engines. It makes perfect sense to fit a smaller engine you could still extract great power out of and get better balance in the car. It's kind of comical to see how this used to be the standard and reflect on how the stance movement has slowly crept in and diluted the waters. Real tuning is moving to the background much like real racing.


I agree with the lightweight Supra idea. That's not even that out of reach for a 2AZ with some bottom end upgrades and a set of cams plus boost. I think a modern style 222D AW11 would be cool with a 2AZ in the back, possibly with some sort of hybrid drive for the front wheels. It's all possible with the parts available these days.


All you need is a little bit of craziness, and a lot of money.


Or a little bit of money and a whole lot of time lol. The MR2 idea could be done with mostly junkyard parts from a Scion TC and a Highlander Hybrid. The expensive part is controlling the high voltage system.


Great article all around. Daniel, those pictures are wonderful! A bit more focused on individual parts than the usual Speedhunter fare, but they really bring across the moody feeling that perfectly fits this modern "barn-find".
Thanks for the efforts!


HOLY CRAP! I haven't seen that Supra in FOREVER! Loving the old pics! No video links? Those videos were so epic back then. Supra burnouts FTW!

John W Cangieter

Probably the best early Birthday Gift I have ever had (though it is in 3 days). This car brings back soooo much memories. like the Jeremy Clarkson short footage on the Middo Naito Kurabu. And all those days back then scavenging around Morpheus And Kazaa p2p programs to get these videos (good magazines were not available back then where I live). Now thanks to Blogs and Youtube, Legends like this car still live on. Thank you Brad and Speedhunters. This is by far one of the best posts this year. Would be great to see more of these Legends in 2018, and possibly some yatabe footage as well.


I saw this particular Supra at the Gatebil event in 2014 at the Rudskogen raceway (that´s where I met Dino btw - still remember this special moment of meeting my favourite SH editor). It was used as a kind of demo car for "Carglass", or "Hurtigruta glass" ,as this company is called in Norway and was a little bit hidden behind a Celica in the paddock. When we walked by, I just saw a mini piece of a familiar car and started to grin like a championship winner. I never expected to see this car in person and I was blown away by it from the first second. I´m a Supra guy since the age of 6 (this was in 1993), so I was really, really impressed, what Top Secret has built in the golden era. The owner was super polite and showed me the whole car, including the interior and engine bay and he told me the same story about the fire in the warehouse, where the car has been rescued out of. The most special thing is the engine, by far! I knew, what to expect, when the owner popped the hood, but seeing this in person is a whole different story. Thanks Brad and Daniel for bringing back those memories. I truly hope, that this car will stay the way it is.

I can post up the pictures I took, if somebody is interested.


Wow, cool - thanks for sharing!


POST THEM, I WANNA SEE THEM!!! (As you can tell I am nerding out on this Supra. Which is funny because I love weird cars, not superstars like these!)


I STILL have the import tuner Mag at home from this and their R34 Skyline were cover and the feature story. BadAss car.


I have that DVD of the speed trials, it came free with either Max Power or Fast Car magazine years ago!


"High Octane". I stil have those aswell.
Watched it alot back then when there was no Youtube. :)


quite a surprise to see a 3S gte instead of a 2JZ.


Back then people looked to actual racing series for inspiration. The car is inspired by GT-300 JGTC cars of the day. I think it's so surprising to see because drifting and local time attack have become the preferred method of getting into motorsport due to being cheaper and easier to be "successful" and cultivate revenue.


Absolutely love this article. This was the Golden era that got most of us into JDM tuning.


I remember this being featured in NZ Performance car magazine back in '99. I think I still have it around somewhere. Crazy it was done with a 3SGTE


Awesome article. Remember seeing this car when I was getting into cars. I am also curious about the mx5 that was at the speed runs. I can’t find any info, minus one photo on it


One of the best articles on this site in a very long time. This car was so iconic. I was in high school reading all the mags before getting my drivers license. Top Speed battles were so much more exciting than drifting. It's a shame they moved away from it, but being illegal it's pretty understandable how drifting became the predominant money maker.

Love these photos and the article is great. This is a reminder of what SPEED hunting looks like and should be the standard. Blown away. Brilliant.


Vehicles like this initially got me into Japanese cars.

It seems like Japanese hot rodding held so much more appeal for me when it focused on doing what it did in the middle of the night - figuratively and literally speaking.


Such an iconic JDM car from back in the day! Awesome to see it still exists and essentially exactly the same as it was when built by Top Secret. Great find and thanks for sharing Daniel (and Brad for the article).. I agree, if it was in my garage I'd leave it pretty much exactly as it is now.. battle scars and all, and only freshen up/check drivetrain so it can be driven hard safely. Cheers.


Incredible story, Brad. By far and above the coolest feature on Speedhunters in 2017.




Best post in a while!


Wow i remember this from the first(?) High Octane dvd! What an amazing insight into Japanese car tuning that was.
I lived in the waikato back then so we occasionally tried to emulate these hero cars with our own midnight club, maxing out our various boy racer cars of the early 2000s. Dumb but fun!


I forgot to say that was done on the very same road used in the video!


It doesn't seem like the greatest road for land speed record attempts! Sadly it rained for much of this event so that had a real effect; there was plenty of wheel spin in high gears which was super sketchy.


I still have that dvd somewhere! This car is & always will be the coolest thing top secret ever did.
Wonder how much they want for it? £££


One thing that hasen't changed one bit from those days is the fact that option magazine still organizes these speed test in complete secrecy. I've tried to attend to one of the last they made in Nardò circuit in Italy, and even though I knew the exact date the circuit still denied that any event was going to be held there.


This just threw NZs import scene into overdrive!Awesome


Please tell me you have more photos of the Option NZ speed trial


I have a few; I might need to do some scanning!


You should try to find Veilside's Evo V from back in the day!!!!


Brad give us a throwback post of all the cars that entered humble ol New Zealand mate. I was only 10 years old and 3 years off purchasing the NZPC mag at that stage.

Rory Downshiftaus

Not sure how you mentioned the Option NZ Speed Trials and didn't mention the man, the myth, the legend; Ketzal Sterling hahahaha. Awesome article of what is surely an icon of a generation.


nice write up! good times!


Awesome blast from the past!

Is this the same one that did a high speed run in the UK at some point?


I'm not sure; I guess it is possible that the Supra he drove in the UK is the same one, but with the 2JZ swapped out. He was definitely there before this car came to New Zealand, but how long before I couldn't say.


Do you plan to review the Veilside BNR34?


I believe that car is still on display in the Veilside showroom, so maybe Dino can go and take a closer look sometime soon.


I do remember this car. I was 9 when I first saw it. I still think it is a beautiful piece of automotive engineering. This car is still one of my favorite builds ever, and probably always will be. She looks a little rough, but that comes with use, fun, and a little danger.


Why replace a 2JZ with a 3S? Doesn't more displacement mean more reliable power? And weight doesn't mean much for top speed records anyway...


It was inspired by the GT-300 class racing JGTC cars. 2JZ are very heavy and the 3S allows a mid ship layout. Light weight absolutely matters for speed and acceleration. Reliable power has very little to do with engine displacement and more to do with things like material strengths, proper tuning of the motor and avoiding detonation.


I still have this event on dvd somewhere. What a time.


Great article, we need more of these legendary cars featured


BH Auction (A japanese auction house) has the 1994 top secret v12 toyota supra. maybe worth checking em out for a story? Also other cool stuff, like a GT-R 34 V-Spec II Nür with 10km on the ODO (Maybe this post come 2x, dont know if the original with the link is going to work)


great cars




Would love to see someone selling a seat like that, already have one.