Drag racing was officially classified a motorsport in Iceland during the 1970s, but back then it wasn’t the kind of drag racing we know today. Instead of going heads-up on a paved quarter mile, the country’s small but passionate drag racing community raced on sand. That’s changed now of course, and in the time since its Icelandic inception the sport has seen many generations of local racers come and go.
Guðmundur Þór Jóhannsson‘s quarter-mile journey started in Reykjavík, Iceland with a Honda Civic when he was young. Front-wheel drive pocket rockets were extremely popular in Iceland at the time, but the only things he could initially afford to do to his Honda weren’t going to make it much faster. When the funds ultimately came though, Guðmundur had a choice to make: Upgrade the Civic for the street, or try his hand at motorsport. There were a number of routes he could take, including Formula Offroad, rally, rally cross and drag. He ended up choosing the latter, as according to Guðmundur, drag racing is “more of an engineer’s sport”, and that suited him best.
Guðmundur acquired a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VIII and raced it for a couple of years, but with this platform he never achieved the 9-second ET goal he set for himself, drivetrain issues being the biggest challenge to overcome. By this time though, Guðmundur had a real taste for straight-line speed and wanted a whole lot more of it – more than the AWD Evo could cost-effectively deliver. For him, the choice to go rear-wheel drive was a simple one.
In fall 2015, Guðmundur found a good place to start – a 1996 Nissan Silvia S14 came up for sale, and there was a lot more to it than just its S15 front-end conversion. The original SR20 engine was gone, but in its place was a light-tuned Toyota 1JZ-GTE backed up by a Toyota R154 5-speed and Skyline GT-R differential. Although the S14.5 was set up for drift duty, there were strong foundations for a drag build.
Over the course of 10 months, Guðmundur and his friends sorted out all of the car’s gremlins and readied it for the street. But by this time it was almost fall again, so there was another decision to make: Guðmundur could put his feet up for a while, or use Iceland’s cold and dark months to start going all in.
There’s no guessing which option he took.
During fall 2016, the car went back under the knife. A 2JZ-GTE was acquired, stripped down, and its cast iron block and aluminium head were sent over to Mazworx Manufacturing in Florida, USA for all the required machining and prep work. When the engine returned, no time was wasted building it up into the work of automotive art it is today.
Promotors/Samvélar was responsible for most of the work under-hood, and you don’t need to know much about engines to realize that this one is packing some serious firepower. The block now features Custom Max Effort 10:1 compression forged pistons, Manley Turbo Tuff I-Beam forged rods and Mazworx billet main caps. Up top, the cylinder head was CNC-ported by Mazworx before being fitted out with GSC S2 274/274 billet cams and bolted back on the block with ARP CA625+ head studs.
The turbocharger is a huge Work Turbo 80/81 unit running a Turbosmart wastegate and a dump pipe that exits straight out of the hood. Other engine bay highlights include the Pro-Jay intake manifold, and Nitrous Express nitrous oxide kit, which is not used for extra top-end power, but to help spool up the turbo when the car is staged and sitting on the trans-brake.
The bulletproof engine package is backed up by driveline of equal measure. Getting the power to the ground is an ATFSpeed ‘Stage 5′ TH400 automatic transmission, ATFSpeed billet SFI flywheel and transmission adapter, an ATFSpeed GM 10-inch race torque converter, plus a 8.8-inch Ford differential and Driveshaft Shop axles.
One of the defining aspects of Guðmundur‘s S14 is the minimalistic exterior. The full S15 front conversion remains – albeit now with the exhaust sprouting from the right front fender – but is joined by a Masfab drag wing and Stroud parachute out back.
The wheels are pure drag spec, with narrow RC Comp Exiles wrapped up in M&H 26-inch Front Runners at the pointy end and Belak Industries Series 2s in a 15×10-inch fitment with Mickey-Thompson ET Drag 28×10.5 slicks out back. For brakes, there’s an IDS drag kit in play with Wilwood calipers and rotors at all corners.
All of this work didn’t happen overnight, and it was winter 2018 when the car was dropped off at True Performance where the full assembly took a further three years to complete.
Absolutely no corners have been cut with this build, and no place perhaps shows that more than the interior. Here, True Performance built a full SFI 25.5-spec roll cage, constructed a new floor section and completely custom-wired the car. Other cabin features now include Kirkey 41 Series aluminum seats with Sparco 6-point harnesses, a Grant Racing 13-inch steering wheel and M&M shifter, plus an ECUMaster ADU7 digital display.
Early this year, Guðmundur’s S14 finally hit the dyno. Tuned through a Haltech Elite 2500 T engine management system, the first run produced just shy of 1,000whp on ethanol. The second run a couple of months later saw that number increased 1,100whp.
Dyno numbers are great in all, but what Guðmundur really wanted to see was how the car performed on the strip. This past summer he got his first taste with a 9.09-second ET at 105.28mph (169.43km/h) straight off the trailer. That was a pleasing result, especially given the car was set up for the 1/8th mile, not the full 1/4 it ran. The next run showed even more promise – an 8.75 at 139.25mph (224.10km/h).
Following the shakedown meet, the S14.5 was fine-tuned for the 1/4-mile and Guðmundur ran a best pass of 8.48 at 164.82mph (265.25km/h) before the season came to an end.
Since then, there have been even more improvements. The engine was switched to methanol, and subsequent re-tuning netted 1,257whp, which equates to around 1,500hp at the 2JZ’s crank.
This first season of racing was a huge learning curve for Guðmundur and his team. As I mentioned, he is no stranger to drag racing, but this car is on a whole new level.
It’s about to get a whole lot more wild too. During this winter, Guðmundur and his crew chief wife are taking the car even further with a Bullet billet block and other upgrades. 1,400whp is coming, and I cannot wait to see the car in action next summer.
This feature wraps up my initial series from Iceland, but I can’t stop here. Planning for next year’s trip has begun and I already have some ideas, one involving a glacier and a turbo 4×4. If that sounds exciting, make sure to keep an eye out.