Lexus drift car: how to make a 1,000+bhp monster

After building the world’s first professional Lexus RC F drift car, nobody expected its creators to replace that supercharged V8 monster with an even more radical model. Yet here it is – the most powerful and advanced Lexus drift car on the planet.

Lexus drift car

This must-see sequel represents the second, high-profile collaboration between Lexus, its distributor in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Red Bull athlete Ahmad Daham. The project was designed to build on the regional success of the team’s outgoing RC F with the development of a new, world-class drift car that would stun the global drift community.

And stun it certainly does. The new Lexus vaporises rubber by producing a mind-bending 1,200 horsepower through a vehicle that is an entire tonne lighter and around 260% more powerful than the already high-performance standard Lexus RC F coupe.

Lexus drift car

It achieves this feat through a combination of featherweight carbon Kevlar exterior body panels and the introduction of a highly-tuned, turbocharged 2JZ straight-six motor from a Japanese domestic market Lexus GS built in the late Nineties. The components are outlined below.

Lexus drift car

Interestingly, five-time Middle East drift champion Daham reveals that the influence behind this project was more than just an ambition to achieve world-leading levels of power and speed. Inspired by the skills and craftsmanship of Lexus takumi masters, the team displayed an obsessive attention to detail that has elevated its execution to the realms of exceptional, even within a region renowned for ultimate-level tuner builds.

Lexus drift car

“We learned a lot in 2019 as we kept a kaizen philosophy in our research and development. Building a car like this took so much effort [but it] is so much fun to drive and I cannot wait to push it to its limit. I look forward to another successful season and am confident that with this partnership we will be able to achieve all our objectives,” said Daham.

2020 Lexus RC F drift car specifications

ENGINE 3.0-litre 2JZ-GTE straight-six rebuilt with CP forged pistons, BC H-beam connecting rodslightweight BC billet crankshaftrace-spec BC 272-degree camshafts, BC valvetraincylinder head CNC-machined to stage four, 10:1 compression ratio; Titan dry sump; Hypertune big-port intake manifold, Hypertune anodised cam covers; HGK engine mount 
FUEL SYSTEM Radium Engineering fuel cell and surge tank, Radium Engineering fuel pressure regulator and fuel filter, 1700cc fuel injectors; 200hp Nitrous Express injection 
BREATHING Garrett GTX3584RS turboTial 60mm wastegatecustom 3.5-inch oval exhaust system 
COOLING HGK radiator with carbon fibre shroud, dual Spal fans, dual Mocal 25-row oil coolers, Garrett 3.5-inch intercooler 
ELECTRONICS Link Thunder ECU, Link digital dash, Link fuel/oil/temperature/fuel pressure sensors, Link EGT sensor, Link wide-band sensor, Link four-bar MAP sensor, Link four-port boost solenoid 
DRIVETRAIN Samsonas four-speed sequential transmission, Competition Clutch, Winters Performance quick-change differential, carbon fibre driveshaft and axles 
CHASSIS FIA-spec roll-cage, stitch-welded body seams, custom front and rear crash bars; 9.5×18” (front) and 10.5×18” (rear) Rays 57CR alloy wheels with 255/35 and 285/35 Toyo R888RD tyres respectively; BC Racing coilovers, Figs Engineering suspension arms and knuckles; Wilwood six-piston (front) and four-piston (rear) brake callipers with drilled discs, ASD hydraulic handbrake 
EXTERIOR Rocket Bunny wide-body conversion fabricated from carbon Kevlar, carbon Kevlar roof and doors 
INTERIOR Sparco carbon Kevlar bucket seats, Schroth six-point harnessesSparco steering wheelpart-flocked carbon fibre dashboardTilton pedal assembly 
STATS 1,200hp output, 9,000rpm rev limit, 1,250kg gross vehicle weight with 47:53 distribution 

How do you build it?

Last year, five-time Middle East drift champion and Guinness World Record holder Ahmad Daham built what was considered to be the world’s first and most powerful drift-prepared Lexus RC F. But for 2020, the Jordanian Red Bull athlete was commissioned to convert another Lexus drift car; only this time one that carried even more superlatives.

Where do you begin with a commission like that? Ultimately, as Daham explains in the video below, it was through a combination of two factors: more power and less weight. However, it must be said that the luxury of a little more time than the 70-day gestation of the previous car was helpful too.

What the above video doesn’t reveal is some of the drama surrounding the development of this project. Work commenced in January, with an operational direction devised from Daham’s experience driving the previous, supercharged V8 RC F in the Oman International Drift Championship.

Few engines have the power capacity or resilience as the iconic 2JZ-GTE, which after a full rebuild with forged components now provides 1,200hp of the motivation behind this drift RC F.

A build schedule was planned and the fabricators and mechanics were lined up and ready to start. But then the global COVID-19 pandemic hit and martial law were suddenly enforced in Jordan. Lockdown banned vehicles from using the roads and all ordered parts that had not yet been delivered became stuck in transit. The schedule was thrown into disarray.

Note that the coolant radiator has been relocated to the rear. This not only shortens the intake routing for the forced induction but improves airflow as the RC F doesn’t spend much time driving in a straight line!

However, as soon as non-motorised travel was allowed, the team members cycled into the workshop to ensure the project maintained some momentum. For Daham, that meant an additional 90-minute exercise every day. But on the plus side, the situation also removed all previously scheduled drift fixtures that would have interrupted the workflow. This allowed the team more time to iron out some of the finer details and elevate the overall quality of the build.

A CNC-machined billet mount provides the means for the 2JZ to bolt into the RC F

Regarding the key factors surrounding power and weight, both elements were initially addressed after a thorough analysis of the stripped and seam-welded bodyshell. A local specialist was commissioned to recreate the RC F’s exterior bodywork – including a wide-body conversion – in carbon Kevlar material. This switch from steel to super-light composite shaved more than 500kg on its own.

A dry sump system ensures an uninterrupted supply of engine lubrication. Without it, the oil could cavitate away from the traditional pick-up during high-speed drifts.

Meanwhile, the power part of the equation was provided by exchanging the RC F’s naturally aspirated V8 for a highly tuned version of the iconic Toyota/Lexus 2JZ-GTE straight six. Tuner support for this legendary motor is unrivalled, which meant the team was able to cherry-pick products from an immense catalogue of options, many of which have already proved themselves within the drift scene.

Although the RC F has been relieved of all luxuries and the instruments have been reduced to one compact digital dash unit, there was still plenty of wiring to get your head around.

Headlining the all-important forced induction system is a single Garrett GTX3584 turbocharger, claimed to be the only mid-frame turbo on the market capable of producing a four-figure power output. While that moderate size makes the turbo highly responsive, a 200-shot of nitrous oxide is used to wind it up like a hyperactive teenager. A triple-pump fuel system is then employed to feed the cylinders.

Lexus drift car
A custom carbon fibre dashboard continues the lightweight, composite theme that so effectively reduced the weight of the exterior body panels.

The engine’s prodigious 1,200hp output is delivered through a competition-spec twin-plate clutch into a straight-cut, four-speed Samsonas sequential gearbox. This torque, in turn, is distributed to the rear wheels through a Winters differential. Interestingly, this tough aftermarket unit is designed to be removed in just five minutes, which allows the team to quickly switch ratios to best suit the track or competition.

Lexus drift car
Super-adjustable suspension and geometry components allows Daham to generate and retrieve the car from extreme drift angles. 

Race-spec Wilwood brakes and Japan’s finest Rays Engineering 57CR forged alloy wheels reduce unsprung weight to a minimum. Meanwhile, the combination of Figs Engineering suspension alignment components and three-way adjustable BC Racing coilovers allow Daham to fine-tune the RC F’s steering and geometry for the perfect drift set-up.

Lexus drift car

All information is correct at the time of publishing.


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