To the untrained eye, the JZX100 Toyota Chaser might look like any other executive 4-door Japanese sedan from the late ’90s. Some might even throw the label land yacht around. But for those in the know, beauty is more than skin deep.
If wasn’t for the inches-from-the-ground body kit, you might be forgiven thinking this particular Chaser – a sought-after Tourer V variant – is mostly stock. But this is a Total Create E.Prime-built car, and the man behind the Hiroshima-based tuning shop, Eiji Daito, doesn’t do anything close to stock.
While the Chaser I’m about to share with you is more of a comfortable street machine than a stripped-out racer, it’s a perfect example of how versatile the JZX100 Tourer V can be with the right parts and knowhow. For this customer build, Daito-san applied both.
In factory form, the Chaser might not be as luxurious as the Mark II or Cresta, of which it shares the same basic X100 series chassis with, but visually it’s definitely a little more sporty. Cruising through the Japanese countryside near E.Prime, however, the car didn’t initially set off a fever of emotions for me.
Perhaps it was the golden brown metallic paint, an original colour chosen by the Toyota’s owner, but the car made me think of my grandpa and the boiled travel sweets he kept in the glovebox of his Nissan Bluebird. But then, as the Chaser swept around a broad bend in the road, surrounded by mountains, I began to notice its muscular haunches and millimetre-perfect stance, and the admiration started to grow.
Across Chaser, Mark II and Cresta forms, the JZX100 was a popular tuning platform in Japan when new, and with that came a raft of aftermarket exterior upgrades. The Julius Type 2 front lip (applied to a modified original bumper), Aero Palace side steps and Vertex rear bumper speak to this, with custom front fenders, modified rears and a blackened grill pulling the look together in a unique way.
As for the wheels, they need no introduction being of RAYS Volk Racing TE37 breed. These are Super Lap (SL) versions in Pressed Double Black, measuring 18×9.5-inch +-0 up front and 18×10.5-inch +11 in the rear, all wrapped up in Achilles ATR Sport 215/40R18 and Nitto NT555 235/40R18 rubber.
The wheel and tyre combo and aforementioned wide fenders make up two-thirds of the fitment puzzle; the final third comes from the 326 Power Chakuriki Bucchigiri coilovers with super-stiff 60kg/mm front and 20kg/mm rear springs, and Cusco Negative Camber Upper Arms.
It’s not just about looks though. Just as important as how the Chaser travelled in a straight line on the urban expressways around Hiroshima was its drift-ability, hence the number of other suspension and steering upgrades. These include custom E.Prime shortened knuckles, 20mm roll centre adjusters, 110 series tension rods, ARC front and rear stabiliser bars, Cusco tower bars, TRD bushings and a TOM’S crossmember brace.
Perhaps the Tourer V’s best attribute is what came standard under the hood – Toyota’s 1JZ-GTE in latter VVTi-equipped guise. In this form, the turbocharged 2.5L inline six produced 280PS (276hp) at 6,200rpm and 35.8kg/m (377Nm) at 2,400rpm. Marry that to a 5-speed gearbox, of which many of these cars came factory with, and you have the recipe for a whole lot of fun.
It gets even better when you add extra power-making hardware into the mix, and throughout this Chaser’s highly-polished engine bay is plenty of it. Highlights include a Garrett GT2835R turbo (with HKS actuator) on a HPI Ver.1 manifold, a GReddy front-mount intercooler, custom E.Prime intake pipe, Sard Racing fuel pump, Blitz 525cc injectors, a Trust GREX oil cooler and one-off E.Prime exhaust. The whole package gets its firing orders from A’PEXi’s venerable Power FC engine management system.
On top of the Chaser’s factory R154 gearbox, the driveline now features an Exedy Carbon-D twin-plate clutch and Cusco TypeRS 2-way LSD.
In my haste (I had seven cars to photograph on this day), I overlooked shooting the Chaser’s interior, but as you might imagine, all the boxes are ticked in there too: Bride seats, a Nardi steering wheel on a Works Bell quick-release hub and Defi meters – check, check, check.
All this hints at the true capabilities of what left the factory as a very sensible car. Perhaps, somewhat unintentionally though, a star was born. Add some aftermarket performance tuning goodies into the equation, and the Tourer V can live two lives, one as fly-under-the-radar salary man’s commuter, and the other as a tyre-shredding drift machine able to unleash fury on the weekends.