The original form of performance car culture was the hot rod movement after the second world war. Fighter pilots sought for a thrill by swapping the biggest engine to the smallest car chassis. That ideology still keeps inspiring us as a community all these generations later, whether we recognize its roots or not.
Welsh drift driver Huw Gwion Savill has been living the motorsport life since he was 11 years old. With a foundation built from motocross and rallying, he found drifting as recently as 3 years ago.
Starting with a £50 BMW was enough to get him hooked sliding at the local tracks. His current build is not a cheap beater though, so let’s bring in the little Toyota with the biggest engine and take a look at the combination that truly went viral in the Grumblo Car Builds video series.
Video: Huw Gwion Savill competing in British Drift Championship R2
Huw and his crew Dukes of Hafod decided upon the AE86 chassis due to its cult following. They were never planning to settle for the original 1.6-litre engine though. And they were not intimidated by the purists that always exist within the online communities when it comes to a chassis as iconic as this. So in went a V8, boosted with a big single turbocharger to meet the performance demands of current day professional drifting.
When asked about the reason behind choosing the Toyota/Lexus derived 1UZ engine specifically, Huw reminds us that it’s actually very popular in Australia and New Zealand. And if you know where to look, performance modifications exist and the tuning potential of this 4-litre quad overhead cam V8 engine is high enough for any purposes needed. And the cost and availability of a standard 1UZ makes it appealing as a platform.
Huw has not left much of the engine standard either though. The reliability of the boosted powerplant is improved with all forged internals. This gives more resistance to detonation and an overall sturdier and more heavy-duty bottom end that can withstand the heat and stress of 800+ horsepower being delivered through it.
Kelford Cams provided the camshafts to improve the efficiency of the air flow dynamics through the cylinder heads. On the boost side of things, the popular choice today are Garrett GTX series turbochargers. Huw chose the GTX3584 GEN II version that is adequate for the airflow needed to produce the massive power figures with good efficiency.
The drivetrain features yet more candy for the tech nerds among us. A Quaife 69G sequential gearbox with a 1.000 6th gear ratio allows Huw to be at the optimal RPM range in any situation without ever missing a shift. The AE86 comes from the factory with a simple live axle rear end setup. Instead of a complicated conversion to an independent rear suspension a popular hot rod and circle track racing component from North America was chosen in the form of a Winters quick change rear end. A quick change has an additional set of gears at the back of the differential casing that allows for the final gear ratio to be changed in a matter of minutes. This helps dial in the gearing for different speeds of track layouts.
Of the fan reaction to his impressive but controversial build, Huw says: “To be fair, there isn’t much of the original car left now but the original DNA is still there, which is why I think it’s so popular. We do get a bit of a love-hate reaction but I like that, I think the purists think we have ruined it by going V8 and the massively wide and aggressive body kit, but we built it the way we wanted and it definitely gets more good comments than bad.”
“The favourite part of driving the car for me is the torque of the engine and with it being so short and light it can change direction in an instant, it makes it a handful but where’s the fun in having an easy car to drive”, Huw continues.
When asked about his future plans, Huw and the Dukes of Hafod have more tricks up their sleeves. Weight reduction in the form of introducing carbon fibre body parts is on the agenda. The dream setup for them would be 1000bhp and 1000kg. As wild as it sounds, it’s not even that far from the current state of things.
Huw wants to extend his thanks to the friends and sponsors who have made the build possible. Grumblo salutes Huw and his crew for building a truly inspiring mad machine for us all to enjoy!
To stay updated with Huw Gwion Savill’s journey, make sure to follow him on:
Facebook – Huw Gwion Savill
Facebook – Dukes of Hafod drifters
Photo Credits: British Drift Championship, Kevin Wilson,P.R. Photography & Bob Ormiston Photography