The History Of Toyota Chaser

The Toyota Chaser is a mid-size 4 door sedan produced by the Toyota Motor Company, Japan. It's a derivative of Toyota Mark II, and only officially sold in Japan. The Toyota Chaser has been known as one of the 'triplets' or 'quartets' of Toyota, because it shares the same chassis with the Toyota Cressida/ Mark II, and Cresta. Most of the models use double wishbone coil springs, especially beginning with the X81 series. The Chaser and its platform sisters are considered a rung below the Crown, but offers more sporty character due to its slightly lower body and powerful engine (in fact, most of the 2.5L Toyotas are powered by the 1JZ engine). The Chaser was the competitor to the Nissan Skyline sedan.

The Chaser was first produced in July 1977 with chassis codes X30, X31, X40 and X41. They were powered by the 4 cylinder 1.8L 3T-U, 4 cylinder 2.0L 18R-U and 6 cylinder 2.0L M-U/ M-EU engines - all single cam engines tuned for economy rather than performance. All models were listed as typical of larger Toyota sedans.

Production swapped to the X51 and X61 Chaser in 1980 with the addition of the 6 cylinder 2.0L 1G-EU (single cam) and 1G-GE (twincam) engines.

The boxy but elegant shaped X70 was launched in 1984.

In 1989, the X81 series of Chasers were introduced to the Japanese market. The following models were offered: XL, XG, Raffine, SXL, Avante, Avante Twin Cam 24, GT Twin Turbo and Avante G, with the GT Twin Turbo model the most powerful variant, powered by the 1G-GTE engine putting out 210PS (207hp/ 154kW) at 6200 rpm. The Avante G model was the highest special edition model in terms of equipment. In August 1989, 2 more models were added to the Avante lineup: the Avante G-L, an even more luxurious model of the Avante G (which was already highly equipped for a car of the time), and the new Avante G, with a 3.0L normally-aspirated 7M-GE engine replacing the 2.0L supercharged 1G-GZE from the previous model.

In August 1990, there were major revisions to the entire Chaser lineup and some of the models received entirely new engines. The top-range models, Avante G and GT Twin Turbo, received the new 1JZ engine, the same type that powers the flagship model JZA70 Supra, although the 3.0L Avante G remained part of the line. The Avante G 2.5 received a normally-aspirated 1JZ-GE engine with a maximum 180PS (178hp/ 132kW) at 6000 rpm, while the GT Twin Turbo received the powerful turbocharged 1JZ-GTE twin turbo engine capable of 280PS (276hp/ 206kW) at 6200 rpm, the maximum horsepower allowed under Japanese regulations. These 2 models were only available in 4-speed automatic transmission.

In October 1992, the X90 Chaser replaced the previous X81 Chaser. It had a larger body, better handling and more engine power. The body was curvier and the car was significantly longer. The Chaser lineup was largely carried over from the X81 Chaser except the GT Twin Turbo, which was abolished and replaced by the new Tourer V. The top-of-the-line Avante G model received a 220PS (217hp/ 162kW) normally-aspirated 2JZ-GE, the next evolution of the JZ series of engines (the most powerful being the 2JZ-GTE twin turbo which powered the flagship JZA80 Supra, released in the same year). The Tourer V was still powered by the 1JZ-GTE engines, carried over from the GT Twin Turbo model. There was also a manual transmission version of the Tourer V, suitable for the car's sporty driving characteristics, and a Tourer S model, which was basically the Tourer V minus a turbocharger. In September 1992, the Tourer models received equipment upgrades, although not to the level of the Avante G, and their prices were correspondingly higher.

With the retirement of the Cressida model after the X81 generation, only the Mark II, Chaser, and Cresta were sold in the Japanese car market. Each of the members of the Cressida family supposedly had different characteristics: the Chaser was geared towards sporty driving, the MarkII towards luxury, and the Cresta was the baseline model, although the cars mostly differed in front and rear ends (plus doors for the Cresta)

In September 1996, the X100 Chaser replaced the X90 Chaser. By this time, the Chaser had become a more sporty sedan; for many, it was the definitive Chaser and the best-looking model. The product lineup consisted mostly of Avantes and Tourers, with the Avante as the luxury model (with more interior accessories) and the Tourer as the sporty model (with large 16-inch wheels). Toyota's VVTi, the company's version of variable-valve timing, was added to the 1JZ engines; they were also upgraded to give out more torque, since they had already reached the legal limit set by Japanese authorities regarding horsepower. The 1JZ-GTE was powered by a single turbo configuration instead of the twin turbo of its predecessors. New to the lineup was the Avante Four and the Avante Four G Package (basically the Avante 2.5L with a full-time 4WD system). These cars were only available in 4-speed electronic control type (ECT) automatic transmission. The Tourer V and automatic-only Avante G 3.0L models had the option of electronic control flex lockup attaching 4 speed automatic (intelligent) (ECT-iE) transmission, besides the ECT-E automatic in the lower-end models.

In 1997 the lineup remained largely unchanged, although a basic Tourer 2.0L model was added. The Tourer was powered by a 1G-FE engine, capable of 140PS (138hp/ 103kW) at 5600 rpm. It was sold with only the 4-speed electronic control type (ECT) automatic transmission.

In 1998, the basic Tourer received the optional manual gearbox and a 4WD option for basic Avante models; the Avante Four S Package received a higher special-edition interior. Additionally, the Chaser received a facelift. The most significant change was to the rear lights, making it even more sporty than before. Other changes included new fog lights with a slightly redesigned front bar to accommodate them, different interior fabric, a 3-spoke steering wheel instead of 4 spokes, orange gauge lighting instead of white and a grille with 2 horizontal bars instead of 3.

Toyota ceased producing the Chaser in late 2000. It was replaced with a new model called the "Verossa," which shares the same model code. The Cresta suffered the same fate, but the Mark II continued for another generation (X110) before it was also discontinued. In 2004, the all-new X120 Mark X was introduced in Japan, incorporating many characteristics of earlier-model Chasers (and also the models similar to the Chaser like the Mark II and the Cresta). In fact, the aim of the Mark X is to combine the characteristics of the 3 models into one single model.

Although X100 Chasers took part in the Japanese Touring Car Championship in the 1990s, the Chaser truly shone in the form of motorsport known as drifting, due to its traditional front-engine, rear-wheel drive layout. Numerous Toyota Chasers, especially the later X90s and X100s, have been modified for use in drifting. Versions of the Chaser have also been highly modified to take part in the "super battle" time trial series in Japan.

The Hollywood movie The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift featured a Yellow 1998 model Chaser Tourer V which was little changed from stock except for the C-West rear wing attached to its trunk lid, the paint, and the Volk Racing GT-V wheels, 18-by-8 inches up front and 18-by-9 inches in back, inside Toyo Proxes 225/ 40R18 front and 245/ 40R18 rear tires. The lead test/ stunt driver from the movie said "Some other drift cars from The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift movie might have been faster, but no other one did so many things as well as this almost stock Toyota Chaser."


Despite not having widespread popularity outside Japan (the Chasers in other countries are mainly purchased through grey imports), the Chaser was one of the most popular cars for modification purposes in Japan, with examples modified by drifters and VIP tuners. In 2000, Toyota tuning specialists Tom's created a 320bhp (239kW) version of the 1996-97 Chaser, called the X540. Most of the modifications seemed to revolve around the 1JZ-GTE engine, although there have been several Chasers (and similar Mark IIs and Crestas) modified to run on the Supra's 2JZ-GTE engine, usually for drag racing. Although 2JZ-GTE conversions are very popular for JZX90/ JZX100, 1.5JZ(1JZ engine head with 2JZ block) is easier to carry out. Some conversions with other engines can also be found tuners in Japan, such as NISSAN SR20DET engine in JZX100 (Real Dream Super Chaser), RB26DETT in JZX81 Mark II (D West Sports). JZX90 and JZX100 share many suspension parts. And some other parts are interchangeable from other 1JZ/ 2JZ powered vehicles (Soarer JZZ30, Supra JZA70, JZA80, etc).

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