Top Secret was a brand found in literal secrecy. By day, Kazuhiko "Smokey" Nagata worked at Trust, the parent company for GReddy, but by night he worked on engineering parts for his own cars and eventually taking on projects for others under the shroud of darkness. Eventually, management found out but refused to let Smokey leave the company, allowing him to continue to work after hours so as long as he kept it a secret from his coworkers. Only a year later, the doors for Top Secret were opened.
After building quite the reputation for himself stemming from repeat run-ins with the law and blatant disregard for safety and speed, his trademark Supra became the envy of many in the '90s and 2000s. Now, the very same Supra is up for auction in January, and you could be the proud owner of a piece of automotive culture history.
Originally built by speed-chasing legend "Smokey" Nagata, nicknamed for his trademark burnouts before high-speed runs, this Supra was way ahead of its time. Today, it's commonplace to do crazy bastardized swaps that would make purists cringe, but in the '90s, most tuning companies worked with what they had. Smokey decided that this wasn't the route he wanted to take when building Top Secret's Supra and re-homed a 5.0-liter V12 1GZ-FE engine from a Toyota Century into the Supra.
Despite the auction listing the Supra as a 1994, its VIN is coded as a 1998 chassis. This means that the then-$40,000 sports car had its heart removed while still in infancy, and fitted with one of Toyota's newest creations. In 1997, Toyota released its first-ever V12 by cramming into an ultra-luxury limousine to be sold only in the Japanese market. Smokey plucked the 276 horsepower power plant from the $100,000 Century and prepared to replace the Supra's 3.0-liter inline-six. But because the Supra had an extra 54-horsepower on its replacement, some work had to be done.
Smokey outfitted the car with dual HKS GT2835 ball bearing turbochargers, which were able to provide substantial power throughout the rev range. However, the tuner felt that top-end could still be improved, so he fit the Supra with a wet nitrous setup. At the time, there were no engine management solutions for something with 12 cylinders, so naturally, Smokey did what any sane person would do; he used two HKS F-Con V Pro standalone ECUs to tune the car, and then sent it to the dyno where it made a respectable 930-hp and 745 foot-pounds of torque.
The Supra was also fitted with custom aero parts, including Top Secret's Super G-Force kit. It sat atop Aragosta's harmonic drive suspension, which was mated to a Roberuta Cup kit, allowing for the car to raise or lower itself 3-inches on-the-fly.
Painted in signature Top Secret Gold, the car set the grounds for color-coding future cars developed by the garage; white for development, gold for when it achieves enough notable honors of speed and power to receive recognition. Top Secret uses a point system similar to how Dinan badges BMWs based on the number of upgrades it has, except Top Secret looks at how the car performs, not what you've bought for it.
After it was built, Smokey was determined to break the 200 mph barrier and had the Supra shipped to England. After several attempts on the A1 expressway, he reached 197 mph before being arrested and spending "a few days" in jail.
I know what you're thinking; this doesn't look identical to the Top Secret car. The car also set various speed achievements in New Zealand and at the Nardo test track in Italy where it reached 222.6 mph before topping out its motor at 7,300 rpm. While that may not seem impressive given the recent success of the Koenigsegg Agera RS, consider the time period when the car was built. In the '90s when it was built, it was nearly as fast as the McLaren F1. The speed of the Supra wasn't tested until 2008, but by then technology had allowed the Bugatti Veyron to claim the throne.
Last time the car was spotted in 2015 at the Tokyo Auto Salon, it appears nearly identical to the photos in the auction. The auction claims that this is the very car which set the Top Secret speed record in Italy when driven by Smokey Nagata. We reached out to Top Secret to confirm its legitimacy and find out just why the shop is auctioning off the piece of history, but have not yet received a response.
The history of some of the most iconic '90s cars are fading, and it saddens us. Being able to see where the roots of current car culture stem and how they molded the path that our love for cars follow today will be a part of the lifestyle which many collectors miss out on. No matter the price the car fetches at auction, the amount of nostalgia and pure influence that it's had on the world will be forever invaluable.