Racers, Start Your Engines!
Where the big time movies were seemingly made by a roster of car enthusiasts, Initial D was made more by and for car experts. Not only do you get to see those heart pounding races you tuned in for, but you also get immersed in a pretty interesting racing culture. The real gem of the series isn't the cool races. That's mainly because, while unquestionably cool, their fairly common. What isn't so common However, is the sheer amount of thought that goes into these races. Weight, height, transmissions, tires, model, custom parts. They all play a factor during each and every race. Initial D isn't just a layout of really awesome cars. Each car is carefully chosen and specifically paired with a fitting driver. When you dive into the histories and capabilities of these vehicles, it becomes clear that the audience isn't going to be treated to one fast cars with different looks. In Initial D, cars matter. Car lovers, especially car historians, are in for a real treat when watching this series. But you don't have to be a car expert to enjoy the beautiful marvels of machinery on display here. So sit back and enjoy the twenty-two sweetest rides from Initial D.
First, here's a little something to get you in the mood.
Nissan Skyline 25GT Turbo
This sleek little number stars in Initial D as a dark pearl blue racing machine driven by Atsuro Kawai. The Nissan Skyline is a popular line of compact sports cars and has a pretty interesting history. It was actually originally produced by the Prince Motor Company, known as just a Skyline, before the company merged with Nissan back in 1966. From then on, it was deemed the Nissan Skyline. Other than its big time celebrity on the big screen, this bad boy also earned itself the nickname "Godzilla" after one make dominated the JTCC and won all 29 races it entered from 1989–1993. The model is currently available in Japan through the Nissan Prince Shop and comes in either coupe or sedan body styles.
Nissan Silvia K's
The Nissan Silvia is the car driven by Koichiro Iketani in Initial D, humble gas station worker by day and leader of the Speed Stars racing team by night, this car model holds the record as one of Nissan's longest running line of sports coupe. The term Silvia is actually a reference to the genus name of a class of bluebirds. That, in turn, is a reference to another Nissan model: the Nissan Bluebird. The model shown in the series is an S13 which comes in two flavors, coupe and convertible. The S13 was responsible for introducing one of the first uses of Nissan's multi-link rear suspension along with a four wheel steering system.
Honda Civic SiR II
A milano red Honda Civic SiR II is the model driven by Shingo Shoji, one of the most dangerous members of the NightKids of Intial D. The Honda Civic was introduced in 1972 in a two door model and a three-door hatchback. It eventually was bumped up the scale of the social elite when it tossed in a few extra bells and whistles like air conditioning, power locks, power windows, leather upholstery, satellite-linked navigation and a six-speed manual transmission. These might seem pretty mundane these days, but back then, having these luxuries were considered pretty awesome. Sort of like having wi-fi and built in televisions in your car these days. Best of all, the Honda Civic is a relatively cheap and easy car to modify. Parts can be found and provided by almost every performance company.
The Mazda MX-5, better known as the MX-5 Miata in North America or the Euno Roadster in Japan, this was one smooth operator. Built by Mazda in Hiroshima Japan, this model is a light weight sporty little car with a front-engine and rear-wheel-drive. It could be a held as a bold step in minimalism. Along with its light weight, it's technical complexity was stripped down to its legal limitation, making it light and simple to use. Maybe that's for the best. In the series, a red Eunos Roadster is driven by Toru Suetsugu. Suetsugu is a racer for the Seven Star Leaf team and much like Shingo Shoji, who's known in Initial D for his reckless downhill racing. His driving style is described as "kamikaze." Miata is by far the world's best selling sports car and world's best selling two-seat car, even beating out the Ford Model T.
Savanna RX-7 Infini III
The Mazda RX-7, also known as the Savanna RX-7 Infini III, is the snazzy sports car model of choice for Takahashi Ryōsuke who's one of the most skilled and talented drivers in the entire Initial D series. The original model had a front-midship, rear-wheel drive, a Wankel rotary engine, and iconic pop-up headlamps. The Mazda RX-7 can possibly be considered the celebrity of sports cars, quickly becoming a pop culture icon by being featured in epic adrenaline pumping franchises like Initial D, Need for Speed, Gran Turismo, and the Fast and Furious series.
Although not exactly a racing vehicle, it's hard not to describe this car as pretty awesome. During the Initial D manga, this high class ride is driven by the mysterious sugar daddy known only as Natsuki's papa. The 190E model was the result of six hundred million English pounds worth of research of development. One of the best end results made this particular model more powerful and more fuel efficient than other models of its line, thanks to its Bosch Jetronic multi-point fuel injection system. In the anime he drives the Mercedes-Benz E300. Lastly, this is also the only car in the series that is manufactured outside Japan.
Toyota Celica GT-Four
The big selling point of the Celica GT-Four is it's turbocharged 3S-GTE engine, making it a high performance racing beast. Maybe one of the more interesting things about this model is its origin. It was originally created for the World Rally Championship. Unfortunately, it didn't win on its debut year. However, things would stay down for this baby for long. The following year it managed to pull out a win during the 1989 WRC Australia. The ST205 variation is the one you get to see in Initial D, driven by Miki, they guy who dresses like he's always pulling overtime to get accepted into douche-bag academy.
Subaru Impreza WRX STI Coupe Type R Version V
Bunta Fujiwara is probably one of the coolest characters in all of Initial D. He's just a humble owner of a small tofu shop who happens to be the Mr. Miyagi of downhill racing. Given that information, it's no surprise his weapon of choice is the Subaru Impreza. The Impreza replaced the Leone and sported the newer EJ series of engines, replacing the old EA engines of the Leones. Some markets actually restricted the all-wheel drive model which made it somewhat a commodity, except in Japan where both versions are freely available.
Toyota MR2 G-Limited
The Toyota MR2 was produced by Central Motors, a part of Toyota, from 1984 to 2007. This hot two-seater sports car had a mid-engine and rear-wheel drive. If that was all, it's other models went on to share similar features to Ferraris and Porsches, making it a pretty nice car to own. In the series, the car is driven by Ken Kogashiwa was the rival to racing guru Bunta Fujiwara. Although, Bunta went with a more modest Subaru while Ken went with the flashy Toyota MR2 which just screams mid-life crisis. But it's still pretty awesome.
Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution III RS
The Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, also known as the Evo or Lan Evo in some local circles, is a high performance machine. Each of the ten official versions of the vehicle share a two liter, turbocharge engine and a four wheel drive system. In the series, the Evolution III RS is driven by Ren Nogami, a member of Emperor.
Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution III GSR
Although pretty similar to the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution III RS driven by Ren Nogami, there are some pretty significant differences between the Evolution RS and GSR. For example, the GSR has longer gearing. The GSR is also around 70kg to 100kg heavier than the RS model. In other words, the GSR is a much heavier monster and in speed, the RS has a noticeable advantage especially since the RS' gearing is shorter which helps with acceleration. In the series, the GSR is driven by Kyoichi Sudo who is the team leader of the Emperors.
Nissan Skyline GT-R V-spec II Nür
The Nissan Skyline GT-R V-spec, Victory specification, was a follow up model to celebrate the success of the GT-R. For the V-spec, Nissan added Brembo brakes and a re-tuned ATTESA E-Ts S system. The ATTESA, or Advanced Total Traction Engineering System for All-Terrain, was introduced with the Nissan Bluebird and is basically responsible for the four-wheeled drive in some models produced by Nissas. They also included 17" BBS wheels with 225/45/17 tires. The V-spec II didn't add much of a difference other than a larger set of wheels. In the series, this model is driven by Kozo Hoshino, who is one of the top two racers of a racing group for middle aged racers called the Purple Shadow.
Honda S2000 Type-V
The Honda S2000 Type-V arrived in Japan around the mid 2000's. It had an interesting steering system called the VGS or the Variable Gear Ratio steering system. VGS continuously changes the steering ratio based on speed and steering angle of the vehicle to provide improved handling. When the Honda Type-V was announced, it was hyped up as the first of its kind. Along with the VGS system it was equipped with revised damper units, stabilizer and limited slip differential. In the series, this fancy piece of hardware is driven by Dr. Toshiya Joushima, another member of purple shadow.
Toyota Supra RZ
The Toyota Supra was modeled after the Toyota Celica except bigger. The supra was both wider and wider than its predecessor. The Supra didn't become its own model until the Mark III came out in 1986, getting its own look and style. In the series, the Toyota Supra RZ was driven by Hideo Minagawa, a professional racer for the Katagiri uphill racing team.
Toyota Altezza RS200
The Toyota Altezza is the original name of what would eventually be renamed the Lexus IS, a line of entry-level luxury cars and compact executive cars. The first generation of the Altezza entered Japan in the October of 1998. The model didn't make it to the west until the following year as the Lexus IS 200. In Initial D, the car is driven by Nobuhiko Akiyama.
Nissan 180SX Type II
The Nissan 180X was a hatchback coupe based on the S13 chassis from the company's S platform. In the US, it went under the name Nissasn 240SX. The Nissan 180X is driven by Keni of the Akina SpeedStars and the best friend of Iketani.
Nissan Fairlady Z
The Nissan 350Z, also known as the Nissan Fairlady Z Z33 in Japan, is a sporty two seater manufactured from 2003 to 2009. The Z line was introduced as a coupe only vehicle. A roadster version, however, came out in the following year. There were some differences, though. The coupe came in Enthusiast, Performance, Touring, and Track versions. The roadster, on the other hand, was limited to Enthusiast and Touring trim level. During the course of Initial D, this car was driven by Ryuji Ikeda.
In Initial D, the Nissan Sileighty is driven by Mako Sato, one of the few significant female racers in the series. The Sileighty is Frankenstein type mash up of two other Nissan models. It had the body of a 180SX and the headlights, front fenders, hood, and front bumper of a Nissan Silva. It pretty much born into the racing family as it's development originated through early streets racers in Japan who popularized the Nissan 180x.
Honda Integra Type R
Smiley Sakai is a racer from Todo School. He's best known for his tricky driving techniques and his ability to manipulate other drivers while on the road. The Honda Integra, also known as the Acura Integra, was a compact luxury sports car manufactured from 1985 to 2006. The type R, in particular, had quite a few differences from other Integra models. Specifically, major changes were made to the engine, transmission, body, suspension, brakes and interior.
Toyota Sprinter Trueno GT-APEX
Finally we get to Takumi Fujiwara, the main player of Initial D. His car of choice is the Toyota Sprinter Trueno GT-APEX, which shows how awesome of a driver he is. This model came out in 1983, so in car terms, this was practically a dinosaur compared to the other cars on the racing scene. This model had rear wheel drive, in fact, it was one of the last rear-wheel drive cars of its type. In Japan, it got the nickname eight-six, a shortening of its model type: AE86.
The Suzuki Cappuccino is driven by Sakamoto, a rally driver who exclusively races on mountain passes. His real talent, though, is the ability to take pretty much any car and make it drift on a mountain pass. The Suzuki Cappuccino is a small two-door, two-seater demountable hardtop roadster. This model is powered by a turbocharged, three-cylinder, 657 cc DOHC engine which is about teetering on the brink of the legal maximum for a Kei car.
Todo School Spoon Civic Type R Demo Car
The Todo School Demo Car is actually a modified Honda Civic, a subcompact car which, along with the Honda Accord and Prelude made up the company's roster for cars sold in North America. The key difference between the original Honda Civic and the Todo School Demo Car is its unusual redline of 11000 rpm with a very unusual rev limit of 20000 rpm. This essentially means, in theory, you can push this particular engine harder than your average engine without risking damage.
Regardless as to how you feel about cars, even the most indifferent person might be tempted to pick up a copy of a high end car magazine. For those of you who haven't run off to do just that, should probably at least check out the series. The cars and races are just the tip of the metaphorical iceberg. If this article interested you in the least, then it'll definitely be worth your time. It'll be like watching the movie of a book in one of those rare cases when the movie is better. The point is, there are plenty of high octane racing movies and shows out there, but only in Initial D will you be as interested in the cars as you are in the races.