Welcome to a (hopefully) fairly quick and not so in-depth run down of our 1JZ Toyota Altezza build. This is actually my personal vehicle which has been in my possession longer than some people might expect.
The beauty, or in this case, the curse of buying a pre modified car is that somewhere along the ownership line of a modified vehicle owners have 'bodged' jobs and cut corners. It seemed this car was riddled with bodges and unsatisfactory work conducted in the past. As it stands today, not a single mechanical part is the same as it was when originally purchased - from engine all the way down to something as miniscule as a rear brake caliper. Parts were giving up in a domino like effect. However, now, at the end of 2022 it seems we have completely lifted the curse on this chassis and it has presented itself to be able to fill the 'turn key drift car' role I had always hoped.
Now, if all of the above has sparked your interest - the following will summarise the journey this car has had with us.
NOTE: This is by no means an entire build breakdown. Countless hours have been sunk into all sorts of details which won't be listed here. This is just a little write up with some photos of the VISUAL journey I've had with this car.
If you look carefully you can see the tow strap on the front. This is a photo taken by Jake S Media while the Altezza is being recovered back to our premises as 20 minutes prior the engine had locked up. The most frustrating thing about this was that only a few weeks before the gearbox gave way and this was the first ever outing with the brand new gearbox and clutch setup.
We cleaned the engine bay, a fresh engine in the shape of a 1JZ-GTE VVT-i was sourced and "chucked" in over a weekend. I was also lucky to purchase a Marlin Crowler uprated R154 gearbox and a single piece prop saving me having my own made. A few other upgrades got installed such as a set of BC Racing coilovers, my Recaro Pole Position seat, Hardrace front arms and my beloved 330mm Nardi steering wheel which has been with me since my first ever modified car.
The Altezza looked like a bit of an ugly duckling outside of the shop without a body kit an exhaust or a special colour. I threw some Rota's on the back in 18x9.5 ET20 to have a somewhat adequate fitment for the temporary arches. I told myself no appearance upgrades were to be made until the car had actually proven to be reliable.
After a couple of weeks daily driving the Altezza to see if it can withstand the test of time it passed it's assesment phase and earned itself some aero! I managed to snatch up some 30mm fibreglass front arches which flow beautifully with the standard body. I also ordered up some GT-STYLING side skirts and rear bumper lip.
With this, wrap prep commenced for Explosive Wraps to complete a full colour change. With a friend of mine we blanked out the marmite foglights which are recessed into the bootlid. After some welding, fillering and priming the result was as intended.
A previously experienced issue with seeing your car wrapped step by step rather than being presented with the result is that the colour always looks odd and out of place. As much as it looks out of place on this photo - the bonnet was enough for me to know I had made the correct colour choice.
Out of lack of choice, time and being dead set on a Vertex V1 front bumper I had no choice but to buy this from a not to be named company even after negative previous experience of product fitment and customer service. At no surprise - the front bumper did not fit well what so ever. I had to mount it to the car for 3 days for it to even somewhat take shape as it felt like it wasn't even for the correct vehicle. After much sanding, adjusting, cutting, heating the bumper finally lined up better. I still run this bumper to date however it is something I would love to upgrade in the future.
The night of wrap completion we took the car out. I've modified and owned many special cars in my time. But not many cars have given me the wow effect the way this car gave me it when I first got out at this petrol station.
Whenever possible alongside the wrap boys I installed a few other bits to the car such as all sorts of gauges to monitor engine temperature and health, tidied the engine wiring up and added some other visual upgrades.
At Aero Elite we do offer loads of services, however welding isn't one of them and is best left to the professionals. I drove the car over to Ollie who runs Muzzle Fabrication who fabbed me up this beautiful 3" tig welded straight through exhaust system as the old exhaust I had kind of made up with all sorts of old IS200 parts, Altezza parts and S15 piping really didn't do this car any justice. He also made a beautiful bespoke tube slam panel and a hydraulic handbrake mount which we installed a few days later.
As the matsuri clock was ticking and there was a massive delay in our rear overfender being imported we at the time decided to wrap the entire car and then do the work to make the wide wheels and arches fit when these arrived. Which they did... 3 days before we had to load the car up for Wales.
While the livery was being applied I built up my newly acquired pair of Work Meister M1 wheels which were previously black faces with bronze lips. These were built to 18x10 -31 offset with an 0 Disc face.
After what felt like a 48 hour day, all cars including the Altezza were strapped on and ready to leave for Drift Matsuri in the morning.
After two days filled with minor hick-ups the car was chosen as 'Car Of The Event' which was an incredible honor considering the overall high standard of cars presented. I'll dump some drift photos various photographers have managed to capture of the Altezza.
Definitive - Ben Albone