If you're an avid import enthusiast, there's a better than average chance you've heard of popular Japanese automotive tuners and brands like Spoon Sports, Mugen, Volk and others. Their stories are pretty common knowledge among a certain strata of car enthusiast. Toda Racing of Japan, on the other hand, is a brand not everyone is entirely familiar with. Some of the more well versed among us might recognize their parts, like adjustable cam gears and individual throttle bodies for Toyota and Honda engines, but the tuning firm's also got a good amount of history under its belt that you might not know about, especially in motorsport.
Toda Racing's founder, Yukio Toda, created a maintenance company that specialized in race chassis and engine service way back in 1970. Eight years later, Toda Racing jumped into Japan's Formula 3 open-wheel series and spent countless hours working on the Toyota 2TG power plant that F3 cars relied on. They would later introduce their F2 engine derived from the BMW EM12 power plant, a design that intrigued Toda-san with its unique design and overall precision. Wanting to match that precision with his own engine development programs, Toda began to use the same IBM CATIA CAD design and engineering system that BMW relied upon for success, as did Honda Motor Co. and Boeing aircraft engineers.
Mugen's close ties to Honda landed it in a position to offer its MF204 F3 engine for competition in the late 1980s. However, Toda Racing was brought on to handle maintenance, and after digging into the new power plant over the next year, its research and testing found a 25-horsepower increase while still meeting strict guidelines from an engine that was thought to be "maxed out."
The name of the engine was then modified to include the Toda name (Toda Mugen MF204). The development turned into new opportunity as Toda was asked to begin maintenance on the Mugen MF308 8-cylinder power plants.
A few years later, in 1992, Toda began examining the engines being used for the Japanese Formula 4 race series. Based on the Honda B16A, Toda found more power and actually developed its own version of the engine dubbed the F4 Race Engine. This led to parts development for the B-series engine family that would trickle down to street-level enthusiasts, including what's said to be the first billet VTEC cams for the B-series.
Copies and replicas began flooding the market as the B-series engine caught on with enthusiasts worldwide and the performance parts business was booming. Rather than continue developing parts and save a fortune by outsourcing the production like everyone else was seemingly doing, Toda-san vowed to maintain complete control of the production of the parts lineup in order assure the accuracy and quality the Toda name has been associated with for decades.
Beyond parts development and manufacturing that Toda Racing continues to do today, it's also heavily involved with racing engine development for various series, including F4, F3000, GT300 and a host of others. Toda may not be one of the more popular names in the Japanese tuning scene, especially to American audiences, but with its relentless pursuit of perfection, and successes achieved thus far, they don't need to be.
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Photos courtesy of Toda Racing