“In 2013, Keita Suzuki came to my garage [Fujii Engineering] to join my racing team. I knew he was a quick driver around small circuits, but he wanted to try his driving skills at a higher competition level. He was always quiet and kept to himself, but when he would talk, it was only to utter these words: Please let me drive your racing cars.”
Mitsuru Fujii, the owner of Fujii Engineering, continued to explain how Keita became particularly interested in building cars while working at the garage, which led to him working on a special project in his free time after work and on the weekends. That special project is this very cool Toyota MR-S.
Having previous experience with the MR-S and even sitting his drivers license test in one, it’s little wonder Keita chose this Toyota model as a base for his build. The lightweight, mid-engine layout of the MR-S made it the perfect car in Keita’s eyes, one that both challenged and rewarded him as a driver.
So what did Keita do over the course of 12 months to extract the maximum potential from this chassis? A lot…
He started off by stripping the car down to a completely bare shell and undertook repair work where necessary. Then he improved rigidity and safety by strengthening the chassis with braces and a roll cage.
Next came the suspension, Spirit Racing shocks and aftermarket springs – 6kg in the front and 10kg in the rear – to provide the optimum balance of stiffness and compliance.
Notable changes to the exterior include a full set of overfenders that now contain lightweight RAYS Volk Racing CE28N forged monoblock wheels with a staggered 16×8-inch front and 17×9.5-inch rear fitment. There’s also a carbon GT wing and carbon air scoop, both of which Keita made with the help of Fujii-san.
Inside is typical race car luxury with most of the original interior stripped out to save as much weight as possible. A carbon-Kevlar Bride seat for Keita and a few gauges to relay vital information is about the extent of it now.
A custom carbon fiber rear firewall was also added, and here’s why…
The MR-S’s original 1.8L 1ZZ-FE inline-four engine was good for around 140hp from factory, and that combined with the car’s sub-1,000kg weight provided pretty decent performance. But Keita knew that if he and his MR-S were going to be a real threat on the track, more power was never going to hurt – especially for the bigger tracks like Suzuka Circuit.
If you needed a hint at what now resides in the engine bay, this STI GeNome boost gauge is it.
Yes, there’s an EJ20T from a Subaru WRX STI out back, and with almost double the output of the 1ZZ, it’s turned this little Toyota into a proper track weapon. It’s not just the power though; the EJ’s boxer design sets the engine weight low, allowing Keita to keep the balance as neutral as possible.
You have to love the custom exhaust that exits directly out the center of the rear bumper.
To keep things simple, Keita also swapped out the Toyota transmission for a Subaru FWD unit. To suit his driving style, he then swapped in the gear ratios from an AWD Subaru gearbox.
It’s one thing to talk about this MR-S and show you photos of it shooting flames around Motorland Suzuka Circuit, but it’s another to have onboard footage of Keita attacking the main Suzuka track. You can check it out above.
This is one of those projects that will likely never be finished, as Keita is always tweaking things to improve the car. He says he has no desire to become a pro driver, but still wants to develop his skills both as a driver and builder.
I just want to know if Keita will let me take his MR-S for a few laps around Suzuka next time!