Ueno has been a familiar fixture on the international drifting scene, and he’s only ever competed in one car: the Toyota Soarer. Fans are familiar with the blur of red as it streaks along the circuits, always rear-end-out in thick clouds of smoke.
It’s become its own legend and Ueno is known for confessing that the car is the biggest advertisement for his business: should he decide to sell the car, the business might actually fold!
Ueno’s Soarers have undergone three metamorphoses since he started drifting competitively. Now in its third phase, it promises to be better than ever.
For a long time Ueno’s drift Soarers were driven by the 1JZGTE motor, but the third stage in the development made way for the 2JZGTE lump from its cousin, the Supra.
Surprisingly, Ueno and his people at Sui Vax (where the engine was put together) elected to keep things on the bottom end relatively standard. Besides the goods from HKS and the bolted-on T04Z turbo, it’s pretty much all Supra in the engine bay. The new philosophy here is ‘less is more’, and it extends to other aspects of the car too.
In standard form, the Soarer is by no means a small vehicle, and in the drifting game, you need your ride to be as lightweight and aerodynamic as possible.
The car’s exterior is fashioned mostly from dry carbon and acrylic, and inside it’s not exactly plush and comfortable. Except for the 6-point rollcage, in-cabin festooning is kept to a bare minimum.
As for driveability, the Soarer’s steering also presented a problem: throughout the development of his drifting vehicles, Ueno found that he wasn't getting a quick enough reaction time when aiming for the perfect angles in and out of corners.
To remedy this, he replaced the factory steering rack with one from the Toyota Celsior to allow for more steering freedom and more precise angles.
The aesthetics is one area when Ueno let it all hang out. The Soarer retains its signature red, and the decals declaring its heritage are still all there too. The wide-body kit is an original from Vertex, a line of aero kits produced by Ueno’s own Car Make T&E.
The rims and tyres are probably the only sacrifice to bling. The gorgeous 18-inch Volk Racing rims hiding the Project brakes are custom-designed for Ueno by Mankin Industries, and you can only ever get that kind of service if you're in the same league as Ueno.
He says his car is a rolling ad for his business, and if the Soarer delivers the kind of performance we've enjoyed from its predecessors, then business will be good.