The Toyota Soarer, known in the States as a Lexus SC300, was never known as a trackday special. A little too long, heavy, and front-engined meant it wasn’t exactly the lightweight scalpel that an older M3 or a Lotus Exige are. However, it drove its rear wheels, and used a 1JZ-GTE motor, so there was potential.
Some people are committed to proving a point, and it seems that Racing Factory AutoBahn wanted to prove the luxurious cruiser could be a real track weapon with the right budget. Well, AutoBahn—being former members of the RH9 dragsters—know their way around the 1JZ motor. They stroked it to 3.0 liters with a 2JZ bottom end, and bolted on a massive Garrett GT4202 turbocharger to fire it down the straightaway, and a Turbosmart Race Port blow-off valve helps provide the needed response out of hairpins. Overall, it’s a very tractable motor, and with an Albins ST6 sequential gearbox harnessing the broad powerband, there are only a few moments the straight six falls out of boost. When that snail is spinning at full speed, the engine note is sonorous.
Sounds aside, what really steals the show is the incredible bodykit. With every amenity stripped from the Soarer and carbon bodywork inside and out, AutoBahn lowered the weight to 2,500 pounds. With some 800 horsepower propelling the composite car, it’s no slouch down the straighter sections at Tsukuba.
Lightweight Volk RE30 wheels wrapped in 295-section Advan A050 tires help put that power to the ground. Watching the immense traction from the onboard footage above, it’s hard to understand how a front-engined car with a massive turbocharger under the hood doesn’t spin the rears constantly. Once you take a gander at that enormous diving board of a rear wing, it all begins to make a little more sense.
Using the onboard footage as a reference, we begin to get a better idea of how to string a quick lap together with this car. Kunihiko applies the power aggressively coming onto the front straight, but at those speeds, the car is glued to the track. Come the first hairpin, and things change dramatically, since the wings are no longer doing much. Excellent throttle work allows Kunihiko to recover from a snappy slide without losing much momentum, but it demonstrates how much power they’re trying to put through a relatively narrow tire.
It seems Kunihiko gets a sense of this and short-shifts out of the next hairpin, which helps him get a good run into the medium-speed Turn Seven and Eight. It’s in those two corners where the monster torque still overwhelms the rears, and Kunihiko needs to catch the slides while managing traffic. It’s an impressive display of driving, nonetheless, but the discerning pro realizes the time lost through that section is significant.
It’s Kunihiko’s approach into Turns Ten and Eleven that are most striking. Forced to take the inside line by the FD3S on the traditional line, he’s given more reason to shorter the corner. He squares off his approach into Turn Eleven, taking a diamond line, so that he passes the apex with the Soarer nearly straight. This allows for a cannonball launch out of the corner, which will be magnified down the long straight which follows it. Like wrestling a dragster around a road course, Kunihiko chooses his lines and gears carefully, and demonstrates how to harness a well-tuned 2JZ in a car that traditionally spends most of its time spinning its wheels. Now that we know how to control that power, all we need is to find the money to build such a car. Does anyone have $150,000 burning a hole in their pocket?