Don’t get me wrong, the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX is an iconic Japanese car, but did it really fit the drift scene of Japan in Fast and Furious Tokyo Drift? I’m not so sure.
The Lancer made its name in rally racing with a trick all-wheel-drive system and a lightweight and rigid body. Add to the mix a talented driver such as Tommi Mäkinen, and you’re set up for success. They were, and still are incredible cars, but it’s not quite a drift hero. In fact, thanks to the AWD powertrain of the car, the front driveshafts had to be disconnected in order for the car to behave how the production team wanted it to in the corners.
This got me thinking… was this really the best car to use for the hero car in the movie?
So, I thought hard about what Sean should have been given by Sung Kang’s character Han, and I came up with a few things the car needed to be:
- It needed to be cheap. Han knows Sean has a thing for destroying cars, so he’d need something cheap to repair when he does eventually crash it.
- It needed to stand out compared to the other cars in the movie. The Lancer did this well because not only does it look great, but it’s also one of the few 4-door cars that’s seen drifting throughout the movie.
- While it needed to be a cheap car, it needed to have potential to make huge power, so a strong engine is a must-have.
- It needs to be a Japanese manufacturer.
There’s only one sensible option. A Lexus IS300.
This Japanese saloon is powered by the legendary 2JZ engine, the same engine that powers the iconic Toyota Supra. Not only does it have an extremely durable and tunable engine, but it has a sound like no other engine produces that is unmistakable to the listener.
Plus, it has a very similar bodyshape to the Lancer, albeit a slightly lower roofline. Match this with the many bodykits available, and Sean would be driving one hell of a good looking car that is rear-wheel driven from the factory and also a favourite for many drifters across Japan and the United States. In fact, Ken Gushi, the most successful drifter to ever come from Japan, daily drives a highly modified IS300. Take from that what you will.
This leads me on to something quite important. Sung’s Garage is building a drift car, and we want you to be a part of it. It’s a Lexus IS200, so while it isn’t powered by the 2JZ of the IS300 variant, it still has engine swap potential. This is the car below in my tweet. Check it out!
— Alex Harrington (@AlexDoesCars) January 1, 2021
Let us know below in the comments what you want to see from the build, and we’ll hopefully all learn along the way as we build it up to be a potent drift car.