Japan is one of the world’s biggest contributors to the rise and development of the automobile. Be it the ordinary four-door sedans that are dominating the cheap and cheerful market, the dangerously fast track-bred monsters to take on the Europeans, or the luxury range-topping opulence that’s as good as anything America can conjure up, the Land of the Rising Sun has proven its motoring valor over the years. But the segment that really stole hearts and defused any rational thinking was – and is – the JDM market.

Updated April 2023: Smokey Nagata is revered around the world as a no-compromise builder of performance cars, a calm and collected figure behind the wheel, and a man who pays absolutely no thought towards the punishments he could land for breaking the laws of the road. He is an automotive icon, and one of the most famous cars associated with him is the Top Secret Toyota Supra that he hit 197 mph in along a British highway. In this story, we dissect the makings behind this titanic man and machine duopoly and continue to update it as new details and facts are released about the legendary car.

The Japanese street racing scene – which was essentially born during the JDM explosion of the ‘90s – spawned some insatiable vehicles. One particular car that has left a long-lasting impression is the Top Secret A80 Toyota Supra, built by the legendary performance car artisan Kazuhiko Nagata; best known as ‘Smokey’ Nagata. What makes this Supra particularly special is both what’s under the hood, and also what Smokey attempted to do in it.

Let’s begin with the former: a twin-turbo V12 sourced from a Toyota Century makes the bare bones of the block. He then fettled and tinkered with it, so it was pushing around 930 hp, but the more impressive number was a theoretical top speed of 222 mph. Smokey had created the world’s craziest Supra. Before we move on to the latter, we wanted to break this story down into a few segments and begin by telling you a little bit more about the mind behind the machine.

Smokey Nagata - One Of The Underground Car Scene’s Very Best

Smokey Nagata standing on the street

Born in 1964, Smokey Nagata was practically destined to rendezvous with performance cars from a young age, given that his father was a mechanic and a serial gearhead himself. Growing up, Smokey slowly became infatuated with cars, and at the tender age of 16, somehow got himself a 1970 Mitsubishi Galant.

After getting kicked out of school for underage driving, Smokey decided to pursue his career as a performance car mechanic and a seasoned racing car driver. He started off by landing a job at Toyota, where he got fired for working on his Celica during contracted hours. He then said goodbye to his hometown of Hokkaido and relocated to Tokyo, where he spent the next big portion of his life working for Trust GReddy – an aftermarket part dealer that also had a racing program at the time.

As he progressed with his career and continued to fill his mind with essential tuning tips and engineering knowledge, Smokey would also spend a lot of his spare time either competing on the track or sharpening his driving abilities in the hills and forests surrounding Tokyo. He also developed a reputation for pulling off huge burnouts to please the crowd wherever he went, which is where the ‘Smokey’ title came from. Things were looking good for the prodigy, but he eventually wanted a bigger piece of the pie.

Related: 10 Fast Facts About Smokey Nagata, The Man Who Attempted 200 MPH On British Public Roads

Top Secret Supra - The Wildest Stallion To Emerge From Smokey’s Stable

Toyota Supra
BH Auction

Smokey’s next power move was to create his own brand, which is the now-famous high-performance engineering service Top Secret. Upon formation, Smokey harbored rich dreams of one day turning the brand into a tuning powerhouse that could joust with the very best that Japan has to offer, and it’s safe to say, he’s pulled it off.

One of the most famous cars created by Smokey was a completely reworked and reimagined 1993-1998 Toyota Supra A80 (Fourth-Generation). Smokey wanted to create the most insane Supra around, and as it happened, Toyota debuted its very first V12 engine around the same time too in the 276 hp Century. Just check out the history of JDM’s gentle, luxury giant to find out more about that wonderful Japanese alternative to a Rolls-Royce.

Smokey then got hold of one of these engines, replaced the Supra’s pre-existing 3.0-liter inline-six unit with it, and began to weave his magic. The 5.0-liter V12 had a pair of turbos and custom-forged internals, providing roughly 1,003 horsepower and 745 pounds of torque at the rear wheels. Once finished, the Top Secret Supra was flown to Italy for testing. It performed a top speed lap of the Nardo Test Track, reaching 222.6 mph before topping out its engine at 7,300 rpm. That meant that this tiny, gold-colored Japanese sports car could outrun a McLaren P1 GTR.

Smokey decided the car needed more work, however, and installed dual HKS GT2835 ball-bearing turbochargers that were capable of delivering tremendous power right across the rpm band. Though he felt that the Supra's top-end might increase further, so he installed a wet nitrous system. Smokey did what any sensible person would do at the time, and tuned the car with two HKS F-Con V Pro standalone ECUs. Finally, a dyno run was organized, where the Supra still delivered a respectable 930 hp and 745 pounds of torque through its six-speed manual gearbox.

The Supra also received custom aero parts, notably Top Secret's Super G-Force kit. It was mounted on top of Aragosta's harmonic drive suspension, which connects to a Roberuta Cup kit, allowing the car to raise and lower itself three inches on the fly.

But before slotting a V12 into the Supra, Smokey’s primary concern was that needed a way to put Top Secret on the map. He had to dream up an ingenious PR stunt to cause a big ripple in the automotive ocean, and despite the growing fame associated with his name, he knew he needed to do something properly spectacular if people were going to associate his brand with genuine performance and unmatched thrills. And as ever, Smokey had the perfect plan.

Related: Here's What Happened To Smokey Nagata's V12-Powered Top Secret Toyota Supra

One Night On The A1 - Smokey’s Legendary 200 MPH Attempt

Via: Smokey Nagata

Smokey decided that he would take the Top Secret Supra over to Britain when it still had its original 3.0-liter inline-six engine, and attempt to do something that was as dangerous as it was impossible: break the 200 mph barrier on a public highway. Specifically, he wanted to do this on the A1 stretch of tarmac, located around the Midlands. The reason for this was thanks to the road’s mix of both long stretches and minimal bends and also because it was fairly quiet – minimizing danger to both himself and fellow road users.

So, as the pitch black of night was at its peak, and most of Britain was in slumber, Smokey Nagata pulled onto the hard shoulder of the two-lane A1 highway and prepared himself to do something that even the most reckless gearhead wouldn’t dare dream of; not least because it was pouring with rain.

As he engaged in a signature burnout and got some traction into his tires, he jammed his right foot as far down to the floor as he could, and let the Top Secret Supra sing the song of its people. He required several attempts to try and hit the 200 mph goal, thanks to a mix of the conditions and the fact that the car was slightly temperamental, nearly blowing its hood clean off at one point.

In the end, he fell slightly short, with Smokey Nagata hitting 197 mph on the public UK A1 road. It’s still a ludicrous achievement and something that ultimately worked a treat in boosting the credentials of his Top Secret brand. No one was surprised when the cops apprehended him after pulling him over. Smokey Nagata's imprisonment was at Her Majesty's Pleasure, which translates to "we're going to keep you in jail indefinitely".

Fortunately, Smokey only spent one night in a cell – a relatively light sentence that, quite frankly, would not happen today. The day after his release, Smokey booked the next flight back to Japan, and word of his double-ton run – documented on high-definition VHS – began making the rounds in the underground racing scene, and thus the Top Secret Supra’s legend was born.

The UK top-speed run took place when the Supra still had its original inline-six engine and standard(ish) bodywork, and it was only a few years after this that Smokey and Top Secret decided to transform it into a V12-powered wide-body monster for the 2007 Tokyo Auto Salon, owing to their dissatisfaction with the then-stagnant OEM Japanese performance-car market. Remember that the Nissan GT-R was still in development, and Toyota had no plans for a Supra replacement.

Related: 10 Things You Didn't Know About The Smokey Nagata Toyota Supra

The End Of A Special Relationship - Smokey and The Supra Part Ways

Smokey Nagata's V12 Mk4 Supra was based on a Toyota Limousine
Via: Lonely Driver's Club

Like any good love story, this one also has a bittersweet ending. Smokey had achieved everything he wanted to with the Top Secret Supra, and to this day it probably remains his most iconic and groundbreaking build. But sadly, the time had come to move on, and Smokey’s pride and joy were auctioned off at the Tokyo Auto Salon in 2018. For those that want an idea of just how crazy the event is, check out these wild cars at the 2023 Tokyo Auto Salon.

What may surprise people is the price it went for, though. You’d expect that a car with this much heritage and performance to its name would easily fetch a six-figure sum, but in reality, it was sold for just $90,000 (¥9,000,000). Smokey also previously stated that he may have considered a rebuild if it had been sold for closer to $100,000, so we’re staying hopeful for now.

These days, Smokey continues to solidify the reputation of himself and his brand, creating as many unique, crazy builds as possible for customers. He also hopes to build a GT-R that can reach close to 250 mph someday, which is one of the reasons why we never want the R35 Nissan GT-R to die.

So, even though we don’t know if a second coming for the Top Secret Supra is on the way, we are certain of one thing: regardless of how long Smokey continues to go on, he is the living embodiment of what it means to have a need for speed. One very fast, and very furious top-speed run at a time.