Track time is usually the domain of the lightest, smallest cars you can buy, but not among the Dajiban fans. They have Dodge vans. They go on track. Here’s how they make it work.
Noriyaro got the chance to peek under the hood of Naoki Ishii’s van at Ebisu Circuit during a big Dajiban meet-up, and the mods are about what you’d expect for a big, tall vehicle to handle some track time.
Ishii’s van has a 318-cubic inch V8 engine with an upgraded side-exit exhaust, exhaust manifold and air cleaner as the only mods. It’s also been lowered using custom springs and dampers, which no doubt helps it corner better on track. The frame has to be cut into to flip certain suspension components around to accommodate the lower stance. It and most of its track-mates ride on Watanabe wheels. Wilwood four-piston calipers help bring it all to a stop.
Inside is a ratchet shifter and a hydraulic handbrake, along with Bride seats, racing harnesses, and Sport Comp gauges, among other numerous mods to the dashboard. It’s also pretty empty (though not completely!) behind the front seats, as any cargo that goes to a track event will end up well-shaken at the end, for sure.
Speaking of the rear, there’s even a diffuser and a tow hook hanging off the back of Ishii’s van. I love it so much. A Dodge van is the last place on earth I’d expect to see a diffuser, but here it is. The front also has some unexpected parts: a carbon fiber hood, and a fiberglass bumper that incorporates a Rocket Bunny piece meant for the S13-generation Nissan Silvia that’s been modified for the van’s width.
The other vans at this Dodge Van Grand Prix are just as fascinating. I’m especially fond of the little wings sticking on the back of a couple vans at the event. Oh, and of course the drift vans.
I will never get enough of Japanese Dajiban footage. Pour it directly into my eyeballs, please.