He founded the T & E company (which stands for Technical and Elegant) back in 1996. It has since grown to encompass the many sub-brands under his wing, including the Vertex line of body kits, Légerfort exhausts, and SUI:VAX tuning. Ueno established the Vertice Design brand to move his line of body kits up market, targeted specifically at premium luxury vehicles like the Ferrari 360 Modena and Mercedes-Benz CLS. It also caters to the BMW crowd, as evidenced by Ueno’s latest D1 creation shown here: the Vertice Design BMW E92 race car. But why an E92, and why now? In 2007, Ueno realized that he was approaching eight years of racing with the Toyota Soarer. Although he had achieved some success with the car, including placing third overall in the inaugural 2001 championship, he was itching for a new project as an outlet for his creativity. He had become fascinated by BMWs, including his E65 7-series daily driver, and wanted to see what he could do with one in competition. At the time that he began the venture, BMW was fairly untested when it came to drifting. Remember, Mike Essa’s current Formula Drift ride with its M5 engine-swap didn’t exist back then. Ueno could have gone with anything, but chose the E92 coupe since it would offer the most flexibility for performance enhancement. The body style was also familiar in size and balance to his old Soarer, seen as one of the heavier cars to muscle around a drift circuit. Ueno knew it would take a lot of time and custom work to bring the chassis up to his liking, so he started with a bare-bones Japan-spec 320i. Some might find it odd that instead of sticking with German engineering under the hood, he sourced the engine from Toyota. A 3.1-liter 2JZ-GTE motor, usually found in a mid-90s Supra Turbo, was dropped into the front of the luxury coupe with the help of his SUI:VAX tuning crew. If you’re reading this magazine, then you probably already know that the 2JZ is one of the best engines ever produced by Toyota, originally designed to de-throne Nissan’s all-conquering RB-series. It offers endless possibilities for customization, and Ueno’s plan was to make maximum tire-shredding power. Originally the 2JZ engine is a twin-turbo setup. A smaller turbo spools up quickly at low revs for an initial boost, and then the larger unit kicks in for the full monty. For Ueno’s purposes a single turbo would suffice, but not just any turbo. His engine is force-fed by an enormous HKS F51R Kai BB turbine. You could call it the MVP of the all-star team of upgrades. Air is first channeled in through an HKS intake, and then later pushed past an ARC V-mount intercooler. Just before it enters the manifold it is combined with a shot of NOS for even greater combustion. 1000 cc injectors and an HKS fuel rail deliver the proper amount of gas needed to make it all work, while a custom SUI:VAX titanium straight-pipe exhaust lets it out the back. At the wheels, the Vertice Design E92 puts down an astonishing 800 horsepower. That makes it one of the most powerful cars on the D1 roster, a list that includes Manabu Orido’s 850 horsepower Supra and Daigo Saito’s 800 horsepower Mark II JZX100. With company like that, Ueno’s choice of the Toyota power plant doesn’t seem so strange after all. To cope with the tough demands of racing, other engine internals needed to be replaced as well. HKS pistons, cams, and a crank damper pulley ensure that the six inline cylinders continue to fire as requested. A Yashio Factory radiator was fitted to keep things cool under pressure, along with an original T & E surge tank. The transmission was completely redone from the ground up with a new Holinger 6-speed sequential gearbox, ORC Arugos triple plate clutch and Arugos flywheel. It still has the third pedal, but there are no gates to worry about, just easy up or down clicks for each shift. With the engine out of the way, Ueno needed to improve the BMW’s handling and stopping abilities. The suspension was a case of trial and error in which he tried a few sets of dampers before eventually landing with the KW Competition series three-way coilovers. The brakes were upgraded with the Project Mu euro MEVIUS big brake kit that includes six-piston front calipers, four piston rear calipers, and slotted rotors all around. It was good, but in test runs the car still didn’t feel right. Something was still missing: the proper body.
Written by and Photos by Andrew Jennings
Tuesday, 24 January 2012 11:43
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Last Updated on Monday, 13 February 2012 10:09