Among the pantheons of car-based media, Initial D sits as one of the most influential.
This manga-turned-anime focuses on the coming-of-age story of Takumi Fujiwara, son of a tofu shop owner and unexpected downhill racing god behind the wheel of a Toyota AE86. Though a cult favourite among car enthusiasts, Hollywood will soon be bringing Initial D to the big screen - and that project is in pretty special hands.
The anime has 6 ‘stages’ worth of episodes, during which almost every Japanese performance car you can think of has made an appearance. Amidst excitement for the new film and the arrival of follow-up series MF Ghost, we’ve taken the time to give you a full list of every car in Initial D - plus our top 10 picks.
10. Spoon Sports Honda Civic Type R EK9 - owned by Todo School
Todo School is introduced to us in Initial D’s Fourth Stage, a place for up-and-coming mountain racers to learn the trade.
Painted sunlight yellow, it’s equipped with a Spoon Sports-tuned B16B making 197bhp. We see it in action against Takumi’s AE86 early in Project D’s quest to conquer every mountain road in Japan, with Todo School graduate Tomoyuki Tachi pulling a sensational hairpin overtake on Fujiwara.
However, not beaten easily, Takumi debuts a new technique - Blind Attack - switching off his AE86’s headlights to disappear into the darkness before slinging it up the inside of the EK9. It’s the last time we see a Civic in Initial D, but not the last one on this list.
9. Nissan Skyline GT-R R32 - driven by Takeshi Nakazato
Before the R32 burst into Initial D, Takumi’s opposition had only been lightweight, low-powered RWD cars.
So then, the introduction of Godzilla itself is a seismic one. Serving as Takumi’s introduction to all-wheel-drive racers, NightKids leader Nakazato’s R32 is one of the most menacing in the whole series.
It’s not heavily tuned, though upgrades a Nismo front bumper, Work Meister alloys and a custom exhaust.
On a mission to prove drifting is for show and not for speed, Nakazato challenges Takumi to a battle on Akina. Despite holding the lead for much of their race, his R32’s tyres eventually give way, allowing Takumi and the ‘86 an easy passage through to win.
8. Honda Civic EG6 - driven by Shingo Shoji
Directly after Nakazato’s defeat to Takumi, NightKids driver Shingo Shoji decides he needs to beat Takumi to prove himself as the best driver in the street racing team.
His EG6 Civic may seem like a step down, but some serious modifications are made - including a new ECU, a new exhaust manifold, an increased compression ratio and a lightweight flywheel.
Not content with any normal race, Shoji challenges Fujiwara to a ‘duct tape deathmatch’ - requiring them to control the car with just one hand, duct taped to the steering wheel. Outpaced early on by the AE86, Shoji tries to get dirty - but his attempt a wreck ends up with putting himself into a guardrail.
7. Nissan Silvia S13 - driven by Koichiro Iketani
In a series packed with Nissan Silvias, one of the best is the first we see. Introduced at the very beginning of Initial D, Iketani’s super-clean S13 is something to appreciate.
Before we even find out Takumi has been driving the AE86 along Akina for years, we’re led to believe a passenger ride in Iketani’s Nissan is his first taste of mountain racing - naturally ending in a pile of vomit.
The lime green two-tone Silvia gets a few tasteful mods - including Silvia K aero parts and a set of SSR Mark II wheels - soon swapped out for a set of Nismo LM GT2 wheels and then again for LM GT1s later in the series.
6. Nissan Sileighty - driven by Mako Sato
Beating out Iketani’s S13 though is the one driven by his love interest, Mako Sato.
We’re introduced to Sato’s Sileighty towards the end of First Stage - the show’s first series - along with co-driver, Sayuki, known together as ‘Impact Blue’ after their RPS13’s colour.
Few changes are made to the Sileighty - though itself a wicked mash-up of the S13’s front end paired with a 180SX’s rear - but subtle mods include a B-Wave rear spoiler plus a lovely set of gold Rays Volk Mesh wheels.
Sato and Sayuki’s race against Takumi is an epic one, but the real heartbreak is Iketani initially standing Sato up for a date - and arriving too late after changing his mind. Forget Twilight, this was our formative romance story.
5. Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution III - driven by Kyoichi Sudo
Mitsubishi Evos are a common sight in Initial D, but our first experience comes in Second Stage - with team Emperor’s leader Sudo and his Evo III.
Following another Emperor driver’s defeat to Takumi (Seji and his Evo IV, shout-out for him cutting up the stickers of teams he’s beaten and putting them on his car’s spoiler), Sudo brings out his big guns to put the AE86 in its place.
Upgrades include include an anti-lag system, a boost controller and an improved turbine housing for the turbocharger.
Sudo does manage to beat Takumi - a rare feat - though only because of his ‘86s engine blowing up. They do have a rematch, with Takumi driving the reworked Trueno and winning a tight battle.
4. Mazda RX-7 FD - driven by Keisuke Takahashi
Along with his brother Ryosuke, Keisuke Takahashi is one of the top guns in Akagi RedSuns, and later a driver in Project D.
Being the first man to go on a hunt for Akina’s AE86, Takahashi’s FD RX-7 immediately hits as a stand-out in the series and undergoes one of the biggest transformations of any car throughout.
Starting out with a few modifications, there’s something new almost every time we see it - eventually winding up with a full RE Amemiya bodykit with all the carbon fibre trimmings and 335bhp from its twin-rotor 13B.
It’s not the coolest RX-7, though…
3. Mazda RX-7 FC - driven by Ryosuke Takahashi
That honour goes to his brother Ryosuke and his FC.
Reflecting its driver’s personality, this RX-7 remains pretty subdued at the start with only subtle modifications made - though expertly piloted by RedSuns leader Takahashi.
This suffices for Ryosuke’s mission statement of the RedSuns setting records on every course in the Kanto Plain region, that is until he meets Takumi Fujiwara. After a sensational battle, Ryosuke is beaten and decides to retire from racing and instead watch from the sidelines.
He does eventually overhaul his FC for Project D, do uses the bewinged RX-7 to sight out courses ahead of the team’s races, and one final, emotional race against Rin Hojo.
2. Toyota Trueno AE86 - driven by Takumi Fujiwara
There’s no introduction needed for this AE86, is there? Without the Fujiwara Tofu Shop delivery car, there is no Initial D. We’ll give you a summary, anyway.
Despite having no care for racing at the start, it’s the AE86 and Takumi that earn the title of ‘Ghost of Akina’ from Fujiwara’s skilful late-night tofu runs - something he’d been doing since just 13 years of age.
As Takumi evolves as a racer, so too does the ‘panda’ Trueno. The first major upgrade comes after the original engine blows up during Takumi’s showdown with Sudo and his Evo, which is swapped out for a TRD Group A-spec 4A-GE. Once Project D forms, over time the Trueno gains new brakes and a carbon fibre bonnet, among other little tweaks.
The AE86 does meet an untimely end in its final race (appropriately against another hot shot in a Trueno), with its engine once again detonating.
Prices for the real thing have skyrocketed since Initial D took the car world by storm but, and it’s a hard call to make, we don’t think it’s the coolest in the whole series…
1. Subaru Impreza - driven by Bunta Fujiwara
The top honour goes to the choice of Bunta Fujiwara, Takumi’s dad, namesake of the tofu shop, and arguably the coolest character in the whole series.
If you haven’t seen Initial D before, the AE86 is actually owned by Bunta. Once Takumi gets serious about his downhill racing and takes the ‘hachiroku’ effectively as his own, old man Fujiwara decides to find himself a new set of wheels.
He finds himself with the keys to a Subaru Impreza WRX STI Type R for a test drive, and ends up in an impromptu race against his own son on Mount Akina. Without Takumi realising who was behind the wheel, he eventually loses to the Impreza - sealing Bunta’s decision to buy it.
Unlike most cars used in Initial D, the Impreza remains practically stock - with the exception of a custom exhaust. It pinches top spot from the Trueno AE86 in our eyes, and clearly in Takumi’s too, as he borrows it for a few dates in the series…
Honourable mention: Toyota Levin AE85 - driven by Itsuki Takeuchi
Oh, Itsuki. Takumi’s best friend is probably the biggest AE86 fanboy out there, and channels every one of us through his anger at Fujiwara’s early ignorance of the car.
Longing for one, Itsuki does eventually muster up enough yen to buy the Levin of his dreams - only to realise later he’s bought an AE85 with the weedy 3A-U engine - producing about 79bhp.
After a few series of mocking, he does eventually buy himself a turbo kit for the 85 - almost doubling its power and bringing everyone’s favourite lonely driver a small amount of success.
Every car featured in Initial D
Honda Civic EG6 - driven by Shingo Shoji
Honda Civic Type R (EK9)
Honda Civic Type R EK9 - driven by Daiki Ninomiya
Spoon Sports Honda Civic Type R EK9 - owned by Todo School
Honda Integra - driven by Smiley Sakai
Honda NSX - driven by Go Hojo
Honda S2000 - driven by Dr. Toshiya Joshima
Eunos Roadster - driven by Toru Suetsugu
Mazda Roadster - driven by Satoshi Omiya
Mazda RX-7 FC - driven by Ryosuke Takahashi
Mazda RX-7 FD - driven by Keisuke Takahashi
Mercedes-Benz E-Class W210 - driven by Papa
Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution III GSR - driven by Kyoichi Sudo
Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IV RS - driven by Seiji Iwaki
Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution V RS - driven by Aikawa
Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VI GSR Tommi Makinen Edition - driven by Ichijo
Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VII GSR - driven by Kobayakawa
Nissan 180SX - driven by Kenji
Nissan 180SX - driven by Tsukamoto
Nissan Fairlady Z Z33 - driven by Ryuji Ikeda
Nissan SilEighty - driven by Mako Sato
Nissan Silvia S13 - driven by Koichiro Iketani
Nissan Silvia Q’s S14 - driven by Kenta Nakamura
Nissan Silvia Spec-R S15 - driven by The Two Guys From Tokyo
Nissan Silvia Spec-R S15 - driven by Hiroya Okuyama
Nissan Skyline 25GT Turbo ER34 - driven by Atsuro Kawai
Nissan Skyline GT-R R32 - driven by Takeshi Nakazato
Nissan Skyline GT-R R32 - driven by Rin Hojo
Nissan Skyline GT-R R34 - driven by Kozo Hoshino
Subaru Impreza WRX STI Coupe Type R Version V - driven by Bunta Fujiwara
Suzuki Cappucino - driven by Sakamoto
Toyota Sprinter Trueno AE86 (3 door) - driven by Takumi Fujiwara
Toyota Sprinter Trueno AE86 (2 door) - driven by Shinji Inui
Toyota Corolla Levin AE86 - driven by Wataru Akiyama
Toyota Corolla Levin AE85 - driven by Itsuki Takeuchi
Toyota Altezza RS200 - driven by Nobuhiko Akiyama
Toyota Celica GT-Four ST205 - driven by Miki
Toyota MR2 SW20 - driven by Ken Kogashiwa
Toyota MR-S - driven by Kai Kogashiwa
Toyota Supra A80 - driven by Hideo Minagawa