Once again we find ourselves on Craig Lieberman’s YouTube channel. Not only is Craig mightily knowledgable about the tuner scene, especially of the late ’90s and 2000s, but he was also a consultant for the initial Fast & Furious films, with a number of his cars actually finding themselves on screen. And no, I don’t just mean in the background, I mean as a hero car. Brian’s R34 Skyline GT-R? Yep.
In this video, he’s telling us all we need to know about the 2003 Mazda RX-8 from Tokyo Drift. It was driven by the character Neela, who was the love interest of the film, and featured rather tame styling with blue ombre paint design. The bodykit was specially made by Veilside in Japan, like Han’s RX-7 and DK’s 350Z, and was built around the idea of drifting with plenty of room for a large front-mount intercooler by GReddy to keep things cool while the engine revs high.
Sitting behind this intercooler was a Renesis rotary engine, boosted by a T618Z turbo kit, but because of the limitations and the lack of reliability of the rotary under boost, the turbo only ran 5.6PSI of boost. Despite this, it sat looking very pretty under the carbon Veilside hood and sounds equally as good thanks to a Tanabe Super Madallion Hyperspec cat-back dual muffler exhaust system. According to Lieberman, the car produced around 305 horsepower, which sits equal to Dom’s red RX-7 from the first film. Of course, since the car was abused for the film, it now makes much less. The suspension consisted only of a set of lowering springs by Tein, with these hidden behind Volk GTAV 19-inches, wrapped with 275/30 and 245/35/19 Toyo T1R tyres.
Craig expresses his disinterest of the car graphics used on Tokyo drift, explaining how he would have much rather seen influences from Japan’s love of anime and manga. Instead, the designs were very western-styled designs.
Now, inside the car was very simple. Takata harnesses were used along with a Nardi steering wheel. He explains that this is due to Universal no longer dressing up the interiors of movie cars after the second film unless it was going to be seen on film. This saved money and time, and allowed most of the cars to be used as stunt cars if needed.
Towards the end of the video, Craig admits that the majority of Tokyo Drift was actually filmed in Califonia. The night drifting scene, where Neela’s RX-8 really shines, was actually filmed on the San Gabriel Canyon Road. And if you look closely, you’ll see that the road was wetted down. This allowed the RX-8 to drift despite its low power, while also allowing the more powerful cars in the drift train to maintain a slower speed to allow the RX-8 to keep up.
While the RX-8 may have been one of the lower performance cars found on the set of Tokyo Drift, like Han’s RX-7 and the RB-swapped Mustang, it’s become an iconic car from the franchise with its bright paint job and interesting design.