Words and Photography: Michal Fidowicz
Do you guys remember Need for Speed Underground 2? Not to brag but I remember it pretty well. Something I found hilarious about it was that it featured a whole lot of small European hatchbacks, which at the time didn’t really add much to the game for me. Of course time has changed this, and now they’re largely accepted as an iconic part of the game which contributed to that character which we all remember fondly.
Alongside all the small European junk though, there were of course a lot of more sporty, more thorough bred motors in there too. One type of car the game really slacked on though were the big body saloons. We got the more sporty stuff like the Imprezas and Evos, and we also got the huge SUV monstrosities like the Hummer and the Escalade. What we did not get though, was that gap in the middle. I’m thinking GS300, I’m thinking Chaser.
While these decades old, virtual car list restrictions exist in a video game, they by no means define what we could, should, and will do with cars in the real world. The reality is that the video game spawned off the back of our car sub culture, and whilst not featuring in the game directly it’s cars like the Toyota Chaser that allow these nostalgic racing and customising games to exist.
Out of all the cars my close friends own, if there is one car that defines to me what the old NFS games try to replicate, then it’s Austen’s 1999 Toyota Chaser. A genuine, intimate Japanese import, which in the last year transformed from head to toe into the car you’re seeing today.
Rightly so, the car gets used at a track for its purpose too. This isn’t just a catwalk model in designer clothes. Despite it’s family saloon size, this Chaser is a full, professional athlete built by Austen, catering to all his needs at drift days. Sporting a 1JZ VVTI lump from factory, the car was designed by Toyota for smoothness and chosen by enthusiasts for reliability, aftermarket support and efficient power delivery. No stone was left un-turned when Austen built this car for his use, with a spec list to prove it. Speaking of which, I’ll have the full spec list attached at the bottom of this article.
Austen is an engineer in every sense of the word. Once he sees opportunity for a machine to function better, he’ll design and manufacture the parts needed to do so. So much so that Austen has started his own business, @dausfab, specialising in metal fabrication work. Having the interest and ability to interpret, visualise, and work out how his Chaser could work better has allowed Austen to piece together the impressive spec list on his own drive. Having mastered the engineering, Austen decided to bring the paint shop to his house too.
With the car originally arriving to him in a dark brown colour, he wanted a change to a colour that suited him more. If picking a colour to repaint your car is isn’t hard enough, Austen then decided to paint the car himself on his own drive with no prior painting experience. As you can see, he’s done a cracking job, both choosing a colour and figuring out how to use a paint gun. With that little job sorted, Austen decided to push his knowledge further by diving into the world of split wheels. He went for a set of SSR SP1s and split them up, relipping them to an overall 9j in the front and 10j in the rear. Tyre details can be found below.
There are note worthy details about this car scattered everywhere. The interior is trimmed in a flowery, soft material which I don’t know the name of. The windows still have all the import stickers on them. The gauges on the dashboard light up various important readings in bright colours and the climate control vents will speak to you in Japanese before dancing from left to right at a press of a button.
The Porsche green’s metallic flake shines beautifully under street lights and in the sun. Visually, this has to be one of my favourite parts of the car. This along with the front end, the low hanging lip and the mounted intercooler which looks right at home filling in the right gaps in the bumper.
But my absolute favourite thing about this car is how hard Austen drives it. You will see this car at UK drift days, and it will be on the door of one of Austen’s pals. The same way you’d see a stylish car drifting along on a video game today. And so the cycle continues.
To see more of Austen’s chaser and see footage of him driving it hard, head over to his Instagram by clicking here
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