For the last few years, the annual Goodwood Festival of Speed has welcomed into its ranks a new, highly entertaining addition: drift cars. Although well-known in the U.S. and Japan, drifting remains in its infancy in the U.K., so for many Goodwood visitors watching “Mad Mike” Whiddett’s screaming Mazda RX7 or Vaughn Gitting, Jr.’s growling Mustang tearing up the hillclimb course in a spectacular, smoking, sideways slither was their first taste of this low-profile motorsport.
What amazed most folk is the high speed that these guys travel. It’s a top-tier demonstration of driving skill and superb car control, with inch-perfect lines that caress straw bales and barely miss flint walls, all the while holding the car at ridiculous angles as smoke boils from the rear rubber. It’s a sport born out of kids souping up their cars and hooning around supermarket and office parking lots after hours. But, just like many other now-trendy sports, the early exponents turned professional, the marketing men moved in, and, suddenly, it’s the latest big thing.
This year, the new kid drifting round the Goodwood block was American Ryan Tuerck. His car, which he calls the “GT4586,” is something quite extraordinary: namely, a Toyota GT86 fitted with a Ferrari 458 Italia engine. Perhaps “Frankenstein’s Ferrari” would have been a better name, with that mighty 4.5-liter V8 poking out of the hoodless engine bay, steroidal flared arches, huge tires, a coffin-size rear wing, and a blood-curdling scream when running at full chat at 9,000 rpm. But he was more than capable of taming the brute, and put on a great show to the delight of the crowds.
“I’m a professional drifter from New Hampshire, but currently living in Los Angeles,” Tuerck told me after one of his wild runs. “We have an eight-round championship series called Formula Drift, and we travel around the States in the summer months with that. I’ve been doing it full-time since 2006. In the U.S., I would say there are five to eight guys who are making a decent living from sponsorships and running their own team operations. It’s cool, it’s a lot of fun, and I enjoy the hell out of it. It gives me the means to create things outside of the box as well, such as this car.”
The GT4586 project started with Tuerck’s love of exotics. “It’s an idea I’ve had for a long time,” he explained. “I love supercars and higher-end cars, but I don’t have the means to be able to afford one or race one. The next best option for me was to utilize the engine from one, and build it into one of the GT86 chassis I compete with. No one else has done it.”
The donor V8 came from a 458 that suffered a heavy front-end crash in Northern California. The 6,000-mile engine was fine—and left stock, as Tuerck figured that 570 normally aspirated horses would be sufficient for his need—so was sent down to San Diego’s Huddy MotorSports, which handled the build.
The most important thing was to make the car safe and strong, so a full roll cage was installed. This heavy-duty item runs from the interior all the way through to the front strut tower, and is triangulated back to the firewall, both to add strength and to help rigidly locate the front suspension. Some creative thinking was required to squeeze the relatively large V8 into the Toyota’s tight engine bay, which was intended for a small-displacement inline four.
First, the front wheels were moved outwards. Said Tuerck, “The front has been spaced out so it’s about 100mm wider on each side. That also gives a lot more room for steering angle.” Next, the central part of the windscreen wiper tray was cut away to accommodate Ferrari’s red, crackle-finished intake manifolds, which are fed from hoses that dive down through the Plexiglas windshield to a custom carbon-fiber induction box under the dash. This in turn is fed by air intakes in the inner fenders. A purpose-made adaptor plate joins the engine to a Fortin Racing five-speed sequential gearbox, while Brembo provided the braking.
One the biggest headaches of the entire project was getting the engine to run properly once it had been separated from the rest of the 458’s electronics. John Reed of John Reed Racing was called upon to work his magic on a MoTec M1 42 direct-injection ECU, while Tuerck’s crew installed the MilSpec wiring. “There was a lot of problem solving, but I’m fortunate in having a lot of smart people around me,” Tuerck said. “I know quite a lot about mechanics, but it’s nice to have experts around me that I know, who have the experience to do the work and get it right first time.”
There was no room for a radiator up front, so one was installed in the back of the car, assisted by a pair of high-volume fans. There wasn’t much room for an exhaust system, either, so the headers were directed forward, instead of back, and feed into two large tubes that exit just ahead of each of the front wheels. And, boy, is it loud.
“One of the coolest things about supercars is the tone of the engines and how different they are,” concludes Tuerck. “They are built really well and I liked the sound of them, with the flat-plane cranks making a lot of horsepower at high rpm. I wanted to have something that sounded extremely aggressive. We built this purely as a demonstration car so we didn’t have to comply with the competition rules. It’s all about putting on shows for the crowds and doing ride-alongs. Showing off, really, which essentially was what drifting was in the beginning.”