Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Midnight Mechanic's Adventure to Meet MotorFIX

Anyone who has any interest in drifting and E model corollas will have heard of MotorFIX.
For the last 6 years of building my Corolla, MotorFIX has been a constant and ever increasing inspiration for myself. I have always been in awe of every car that has had this workshop's name associated with it. Whether it be a rusty corolla wagon or immaculate sedan that has been built by this crew.

Recently I was in Japan for a holiday and on the 18th of June I was incredibly privileged to attend an Event at YZ Circuit in Gifu that was held by Nozomu Sakai, the owner of MotorFIX. Having accommodation in Osaka approximately 180k's away meant that the day was by no means going to be a short one but it was well worth it to meet these guys. Not only to watch them drive, but also to have had several passenger rides in Nozomu's new 1uz ke70!

Before I start with the pictures and the story I would like to extend my extreme appreciation to both Shane Bingham and Ewan Paterson of K-Tours for making it possible for me to get to this event. Especially to Ewan for driving us up on the day!

Onward to photos!

For both my girlfriend Emily and I the day started at about 4.30am... Typical drift morning wake up time.
We had to get up to take the local train from Namba to Shin-Osaka station so we could catch the Shinkansen to Nagoya where we would meet Ewan at 8am.

The countryside in Japan is just amazing, I can't get enough of watching the rice patty fields as we fly by on the Shinkansen. Which is a good thing because there were plenty of them!

Ewan picked us up from Nagoya station in his newly acquired JZX90 chaser. Actually knowing a few people with 90 and 100's in Australia I knew how much more comfy the 2.5 hour trip (which was only 40 kilometers!) was going to be in something like this. Unfortunately for us and especially Ewan, we got pulled up by the local police in Gifu due to the car being too low, too loud and the dealer plates not being fixed to the bumper. Standard stuff, but the police were quite nice to us so it wasn't too long before we got on our way again.

Finally arriving at YZ Circuit we quickly caught up with the MotorFIX guys. Nozomu is an amazing driver and is far too humble about everything. I had been having talks with him on facebook about meeting up in Japan prior to this date so he had an idea that I would be coming to this event. Even though we had a bit of a language barrier on the day I really enjoyed discussing as much as I could with him about each others corollas. I also made sure to bring up plenty of Midnight Mechanics stickers for him as well as a Zoom magazine with my car featured in it. 

As I walked around the paddock to have a look at some of the cars I found it impossible to decide what to look at first. There were so many amazing cars here!
This Ae70 had the typical beater approach that you see with a lot of the cars. Just look at the camber on the front wheels! 

Inside it was running a silvertop 20v 4age. So many people have headaches about the dizzy on these previously fwd motors, I would say this guy has found the most appropriate solution!

I had to keep pinching myself every time I turned around to see the line up of these three cars. Until this year I would never have dreamt I would see these in person. I've always been a big fan of MotorFIX for their rusty cars, but when the maroon sedan was built I fell in love. So much time and effort has been put into this to create a seamless corolla and to top it off they put a Beams 3sge with ITB's in it!
Unfortunately though, neither the maroon or beige wagon were driving on the day.

I remember when they first built this car they ran 15" Watanabe's, however they have now changed to 14" Work Equipe 03's. Perfect choice!

Of course, until recently the maroon car had been the cleanest corolla MotorFIX had built. 
Anyone that has been keeping their eye on all things MotorFIX will know about the latest creation - A 1uz-Fe powered 2 door ke70. 

The 1uz motor has made its way into a few E series chassis corollas in the drift scene across, but its still not a common conversion. Understandably it would not be a very easy conversion either considering it is 3 times the capacity of the original factory motor.

It certainly does wonders for the power to weight, and having gone for several rides in it during the day I can assure you it does not run out of puff.
See for yourself here.

I have also been a huge fan of the wagon since it was build. I love their idea of using a sedan chassis and welding a wagon on top of it. A perfect solution to get rid of those nasty leaf springs!

Of course in true MotorFIX style the car has been salvaged from the junk yard and no regard for the quality of the panel work has been given.  

It's probably a good thing too because as some of you may know they have already put it on its roof.
To my disbelief (and joy!) they just belted it out and got it back on track.

I love the idea of having an absolute hack of a car running quite possibly one of the most sought after 4age conversions from a  20v Ae101 Levin, and a very clean one at that!

Incredibly, in a huge contrast to the outside, the inside of the car has been made immaculate. The engine bay is painted a tidy primer grey, where the inside of the car has been completely caged up and sprayed white.
I also spotted some full length 4-link in the back of the car, I would say that's pretty out of place for a wagon wouldn't you?

Aside from the MotorFIX cars, this has to be my favorite car on the day. An AA63 carina. These things come with a 16v 4age as standard, and I would have to say it was easily the loudest car on the day! Probably even louder than my corolla... So I don't know how he managed that.

This 86 with a BRIDE livery was incredible to look at. I would say it for every single car I saw on this day, but if this turned up to a track day in QLD it would attract A LOT of attention!

Even with no bumpers on this car looked stunning!

R31 House is just around the corner from YZ circuit, so this car was in attendance. After spotting the Australian flag on this I was very interested to find out that this car was built specifically for a drift event in New South Wales! The car was brought over by Shibata-san of R31 House with the help of Powerplay Imports.
Don't believe me? Check this out. Looks a bit like Australia to me.

I have to say I'm ashamed to admit this is before my time, I was just finishing school when all this was happening. I do know that 2004 & 2005 were pretty good years for drifting in Australia.. It would be great to see more cars of this quality being brought over for events again, but I just don't think it will happen.

As you can see the car looks just as amazing as it did 7 years ago! Anyone that owns an active drift car will know how much of a remarkable feat this is.

Being such a wet day there were a lot of spills on the track. Yz is a great little course. There isn't much run off but who needs it anyway! If a course is as good as this I'm happy with a block wall and someone to pickup your taillights once you've left the corner.

I kept watching in awe the entire day as Nozomu powered this beast through the wet corners. Every time I went for a lap with him he kept telling me "Kowai!" Meaning scary. I suppose 190kw in something that weighs about 900kg would be quite scary, but I'm used to Josh Young's old 1uz 86 so I just kept telling him how much I enjoyed it.

Of course this being the first track day for this car, they were still testing it out. While in the car I had my feet buried in wiring and at the same time I was looking at the dash and watching the digital air/fuel readout bouncing around and quite often hitting lean. The car has also been overheating quite a bit, but I hear Josh has a solution for them.

I had a soft spot for this Gx71 Cresta on the day because I actually used to own a Mx73 Cressida. Essentially they are the same car but they are so different it will make your head spin. 
My car came with a 5m-ge, where the cars over here come with a 1g-ge. I wouldn't say by much, but it's an improvement!
The front looks exactly the same, however the Australian model only has one orange indicator.

The rear however is completely different to the typical Australian Cressida.

This beige 86 coupe was incredibly tidy. It actually looks very similar to one I have seen quite regularly on Speedhunters, but with different wheels and panels I would doubt it is the same car.

Every one of the drivers at this event were good friends of MotorFIX. Nozomu is apparently an old student of a technical college that most of these people are studying at. This event was just a fun track day to bring everyone together.

I found the engine bay of this car very interesting to see how differently 4agze conversions are done in Japan. Obviously the heat is not as bad for Japan's summer. With a setup like this in Australia you would get a lot of heat soak in that top mounted intercooler.

I also had Nozomu ask me why I run 4agze in Australia. Ewan and I had to explain how much wider and larger the tracks in Australia are. Obviously YZ is quite larger than the go kart courses we have been using as of late, but for the actual fun tracks like Queensland Raceway a standard N/A 16v just does not suffice even with the most slippery setup.

This FC was just gorgeous. There is no other way to explain it. It is quite simply the most perfect Series 5 I have ever seen.

It was also very cool to not see it sit in the paddock all day like I am so used to seeing with cars of this perfection. 

This Crown was very calm at the start of the day and the driver didn't push it too hard. Throughout the day though it got more speed and more angle which made me start to wonder what was powering it. 

A vvti 1jz-gte will certainly do the job!

As said though this Carina was probably my favorite to watch on the entire day. Such a tidy looking car! 

The first corners at YZ circuit have got to be one of the most awesome collection of corners I have ever seen. You build as much speed as you can along the straight, give a yank of the steering along with a quick clutch kick into the first corner, flick it back the opposite direction at full throttle and then flick it back again in order to link it through these two corners.

The tandems that we being had between the Carina and Nozomu's ke70 were amazing! Especailly when they linked these two corners and sprayed up all the water that was building at the edge of the track!

There was also some amazing tandems between these Ae86's. I would happily own any of these three!

I still can't get over the cars at this track day. I much as I am a fan of clean cars I love the deterioration that is allowed to happen to these cars. This model of Ae86 would be very desirable in Australia, however the owner has just left it to rust. Despite this though the car still looks awesome and drifts hard.

Just getting to this track day and seeing these cars in action in person is a complete dream come true for me. My love for these cars and my corolla as well has been increased so much from being here. I'm also incredibly inspired to better my car from meeting Nozomu and the rest of these guys. I serious hope to get back to this area some day and actually tandem with these guys. 


  1. Best post I seen on the net in a long time!

  2. Wow, what a great trip you had. Meeting the Motorfix guys it surely is a dream come true to all E owners! Thanks for sharing and the photos.

  3. Great post man, loving the motorFix cars :)

  4. Great post Grant.
    Makes me want another E chassis!

  5. That's a really great post man. Great Pics too.

  6. Does anyone know what type of side skirts the Red Ae86 had? the one without the bumpers? thanks a lot here is my thread of club4ag for it

    or just email me at or ill just check back here, thanks a lot

  7. Awesome Stuff mate well done
    Great photos and great write up

  8. Nice shit man. Would love to meet those guys very much. Also lol at the dizzy through the firewall, doesn't make me feel so bad for cutting mine out now haha.