The BDC Engine Wars: The JZ

The BDC Engine Wars: The JZ

Throughout the BDC grid, there are a multitude of different engine choices among the dozens of cars. Everything from small 250 horsepower turbo four-cylinders to 1000 horsepower supercharged V8s line up to go drifting in the championship, and drivers and fans alike all have their preferred propulsion.

 However, in the UK competition world, one engine configuration reigns supreme over all of its competitors in terms of popularity – The JZ.

When drifters talk about a JZ, They are not referring to the Brooklyn-based rapper. They are referring to the family of Toyota inline six cylinder engines. These engines are famed for their strength and reliability, and were available in both turbo and non-turbo configurations. 

The engines were delivered in Toyota and Lexus vehicles from 1990 until 2007, and graced most of the upper echelon of Toyotas models, particularly in Japan. Cars such as the Toyota Soarer, Toyota Chaser and Toyota Cresta were fitted with the 1JZ, with slightly different configurations depending on model year, whereas the Toyota Supra and Toyota Aristo were the only cars fitted with the legendary 2JZ-GTE engine. The much less exciting non-turbo 2JZ-GEs were actually fitted to UK spec vehicles too, such as the Lexus GS300 and IS300, although practically always with slushbox auto gearboxes.

The popular choice for drifters is the early 1JZ engine, which is simpler to wire up due to its lack of variable valve timing. They have been known to withstand over 500 horsepower on stock internals, and the engines have an incredible note when revving to the limiter. 

The JZ engine is, by far and away, the most popular engine on the BDC grid, with over a quarter of the 2020 competitors running them. The engines find their way into anything from BMWs to Nissans, and are revered as the drifting zenith. 2019 champion Oliver Evans and 2017 champion Matt Carter were both packing JZ powerplants under the hood, with Ollie’s being put together by engine-building wizard Dave Yandell at DY Engines. 

JZ engines unfortunately are becoming significantly rarer now, as the engines are no longer in production and the cars that were delivered with them are becoming increasingly scarce. As such, the prices have begun to skyrocket, with a good condition 2JZ-GTE now being worth well over £3000. Many drifters itching for their JZ fix have resorted to buying the much cheaper and weaker GE version and forging the internals. Drifters where money is no object can purchase a fully billet bare block to build their engine from Titan Motorsports, a snip at just under £10k. 

2020 Pro podium finisher Luke Barker has a 2JZ-GTE under the hood of his savage 350Z:

When choosing the engine upgrade for the drift car we had two options: the 2JZ GTE VVTi or the LS Crate package, both are extremely good engines and very popular in the current drift scene. After doing some research about the engines we decided that a straight 6 would be the way to go mainly for the simplicity of doing any work on it. Furthermore the the VVTi version of the 2JZ not only had the top end power but also had a lot of torque. And lastly with almost every 2J there is a sweet crisp sound and adds to the show of the event.” – Luke Barker

A quick wander around the BDC pits will tot up over 25 cars which use the powerplant, so it’s obviously popular among the drivers. The question is, are you Team JZ, or is there another engine which is closer to your heart?

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