Show me a car that doesn’t look good in the iconic ‘90s HKS livery and I’ll show you someone who doesn’t know what they’re talking about.
I’m joking, of course – you’re entitled to your wrong opinion.
And while opinion in general on the new A90 Toyota Supra is pretty divided, and discussions at times heated, I defy anyone to say that this particular example doesn’t look damn good.
When I heard that HKS was set to debut their new A90 Supra – complete with the HKS livery – at the 2019 Goodwood Festival of Speed, it was one of the first things that I rushed to see upon arrival.
The uber-rare vintage Porsches can wait, the throngs of Aston Martins are here all weekend, and the F1 cars are ten a penny – give me 700hp of widened black, green and purple JDMness and I’m happy.
The Duke of Richmond’s – fairly recent – infatuation with the sport of drifting has seen it take an increasingly prominent position at the Festival of Speed. Mad Mike Whiddett can be thanked for this in large, having introduced His Grace to the drama of thrashing a drift car up the hill sideways in 2014.
Since then, a handful of big names in European and US drifting have done their part in promoting the sport, but there had been one thing missing from the Festival of Speed: Japanese representation.
After all, drifting was born in Japan, and Japanese drift culture can be credited for everything from the sport itself to the cars chosen and the styling cues used all around the world. So, HKS bringing their new Supra – along with Nobuteru ‘Nob’ Taniguchi to pilot it – to this year’s FoS was a welcome sight.
He’s kind of a big deal in drifting, you know.
Nob firmly in place, let’s turn our attention to the car. The most notable change to the HKS A90 over the stock car is obviously the 2JZ-GTE swap. Actual engine swap aside, this is largely a catalogue-parts engine, which makes sense given the name down the sides of the car. There’s a HKS stroker kit increasing capacity to 3.4 litres, HKS camshafts, and a HKS GTIII-4R turbocharger providing the boost.
It’s always worth noting just how at home the 2JZ looks in the A90 engine bay; hardly surprising I guess given you’re swapping inline six for inline six, but still. Power is 690hp and there’s 651lb-ft torque.
HKS didn’t hang about in developing parts for the new Supra when it was first unleashed. Suspension is HKS’s own Hipermax system, with Advan wheels encompassing an Endless brake setup. So far, so JDM. (Waits for someone to explode in fury all over their keyboard at the rear spacer size)
What interested me most when nosing around the Supra in the paddock was that HKS seems to have looked to the rest of the world for some guidance and/or inspiration in the way that it’s been built, and the parts used – something that I can’t recall seeing much of at all in other Japanese drift builds.
For example, underneath the car sits a Lithuania-built Samsonas sequential transmission in lieu of HKS’s own (albeit discontinued) sequential gearbox. The Samsonas gearbox is incredibly popular and proven in European drifting, and I’m guessing that’s exactly why HKS opted to use one. That’s an all-American ASD Motorsports hydraulic handbrake too, you might have spotted.
Delve further into the widened Pandem over-fenders and you can see the recognisable blue of Wisefab suspension and steering components scattered around the car. Based in Estonia, Wisefab’s knowledge in drift suspension and geometry is unrivalled, and while they adorn pretty much every pro-level drift car in competition these days, it’s great to see their products being recognised and utilised by Taniguchi and HKS.
Those of you that attended FoS or watched the livestream will have noted that the HKS A90 isn’t quite there yet in terms of drifting performance. Taniguchi seemed to struggle to keep it sideways on the tricky hillclimb.
The car seemed to be running a massive amount of front camber, even for a pro-level drift car. Whether this was done for impact, clearance, or was fully intentional, I’m not sure.
To be honest, given just how narrow and unforgiving the Goodwood driveway is, and with the eyes of the automotive industry upon him, I suspect that Nob was told to take it easy and bring the car home in one piece.
Even when driving straight, I have to say the car has a ridiculous amount of presence sitting as low as it does, and with that wide Pandem bodykit. Speaking of the kit – I’m not a fan of these over-fender kits in general, but it works for me here. And as good as the HKS livery is, I can’t help but wonder how good this would look in an OEM colour, minus the huge rear wing…