This lowered, skirt-wearing Toyota Chaser is a familiar sight on my morning commute and, over the weekend, I was finally able to catch it sitting still long enough to snap some photos. I also had the opportunity to meet its owner, another American expatriate named Dallas, and after talking with him for a while, I’m glad that I stopped to introduce myself. Dallas’ enthusiasm for the Japanese car scene and his love for his Chaser are infectious and our conversation reminded me, once again, why it is that I enjoy cars so much. Learning about cars is a way to learn about people and, along the way, maybe even a little about myself…
Full disclosure: I’ve been a bit of a judgmental prick concerning this car and my previous on-the-road encounters with it have left me less than impressed. It’s noisy, its front end is bunged up and it judders and jolts over every bump as it passes by. Up close and in-person, however, the car is much more impressive and, despite Dallas pointing out the places he got the heat gun a little too close to the faux carbon fiber vinyl applique on the hood, I really like what he is doing here.
Toyota introduced the Chaser as a variation on the Mark II design way back in 1976. This car is a part of the sixth and final generation and was produced between 1996 and 2001. Like many four door sedans, the Chaser came in a variety of trims and, although I didn’t think to ask about what was under the hood, the large intercooler under the front bumper leads me to believe it is the VVTi equipped turbo 1JZ engine. Dallas tells me that the car came from the factory four speed, something I didn’t know was even possible in a four-door sedan in the late ‘90s, and that he has added an aftermarket differential to ensure better slides. Slides are important to Dallas as he actually races this car at the local drift track.
I am sure I will this car again and again on my morning commute and, while it may still be noisy, still have a bunged up front end and still judder and jolt over every bump, I’ll feel better about it because I have a better understanding of the reasons why.
What’s more, I’ll remember to be less judgmental about what others do for fun as I give the enthusiastic young American who has put it all together a supportive wave. I’m sure this car is still a work in progress and it will be fun to see what he does with it in the future. And fun is, after all, what the car hobby is supposed to be all about, isn’t it?