I carved out a good chunk of time last Friday night to work on the car and was pretty pleased with what I was able to accomplish. Here’s a quick list of what I was able to install:

  • Alternator
  • Power steering pump
  • Drive belts
  • Clutch fan
  • Chase Bays power steering lines & reservoir
  • Coolant overflow tank
  • GReddy intercooler & piping
  • SPC rear suspension arms
  • Front coilovers
  • Front brakes
  • Rear brakes
  • C’s short shifter & NISMO shift knob
  • Nardi classic 350mm wheel and Works Bell hub

I attempted to install my Koyo radiator and Samco hoses as well, but found that I actually purchased a radiator for a KA24 by mistake. I have the correct radiator on the way from Turn 14 Distribution and expect it to arrive any day now.

Here are some quick photos of how the car sits from my phone:

The next order of business will be running new fuel lines from the tank to the front of the car. The factory hard lines were removed by my friend and replaced with braided lines for the LS setup, but I prefer to run hard lines. I’ll be bending and installing my own lines with supplies I purchased from Jegs.

Once the fuel lines are sorted out, I still have a few things to install before I can fire the car up. The main items include the downpipe, the rest of the exhaust, engine wiring harness, vacuum hoses, blow off valve, intake , MAF sensor, boost controller, and battery. When those items are done, I’ll be able to add the fluids and try firing it up.

Shouldn’t be too long now. I am excited to have the car running so that I can focus on the fun stuff like the interior, exterior, and wheels & tires. I’ll post a more thorough update soon with details and nicer photos of the items I just installed so stay tuned.

Thanks for reading!


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Engine Time

Well, there I go not updating my blog again. The holidays were busy but restful (if that makes any sense) and now that 2015 is upon us I am back at it in the garage when my schedule allows.

Since last time, I finished up the majority of the work I planned to do to the engine. I installed new coolant hoses under the intake manifold and looped the heater core lines as my car does not have HVAC anymore. The inside of the intake manifold was filthy, so I gave that a good scrubbing as well before reinstalling it.

With the intake manifold back in place, I pulled the engine off of the stand and replaced the front and rear main oil seals. I still need to install the alternator and pick up some bolts for my power steering pump as the power steering was not installed in the coupe I sourced the engine from.

My SR was still using the factory clutch and flywheel, so I wanted to replace the clutch at a minimum to save myself some work down the road. Fortunately the good f0lks at Turn 14 Distribution hooked me up with a Competition Clutch Stage 2 clutch and lightened flywheel for my build making life a ton easier. This should be the perfect street setup for the car with minimal complication- that’s the goal this time around, right?

At this point I turned my attention to the transmission, installing a new OEM shifter plate and gasket, along with new input and output shaft bearings. Once the new Comp Clutch release bearing and clutch fork were back in place, I was able to mate the engine to the transmission. The C’s short shifter and Cusco brass shifter bushing will be installed later when the drivetrain is in the car.

With those items out of the way and the NISMO transmission mount in place, I was able to drop the engine in the car. It’s always a great feeling to have the drivetrain back where it belongs, even if a lot of work still remains.

On the parts front, I picked up a couple items around the holidays. My family hooked me up with a Cusco brass shifter bushing, HKS radiator cap, Works Bell steering wheel hub, checkered floor mats, and a new pair of DMAX position lamps for the car.

I also picked up a Cusco/Safety 21 seven point roll cage from someone located up North. Unfortunately it turned out to be a non-sunroof model, but I am hoping to have a friend help me modify the main hoop prior to powdercoating it to fit my chassis. This is lower on the priority list but will be nice when it is finished.

I think that is more or less where things stand right now! I’m hoping to keep plugging away at the engine bay and the suspension to get this car ready for spring. I’m really enjoying having the S13 back again. I’ll do my best to keep the updates coming. Thanks for reading!


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Weekend Engine Work

I spent some time in the cold garage last night and managed to get the exhaust side of the engine back together. Painted the exhaust manifold, installed all new gaskets, cleaned the block, put the new water pump on, and installed the NISMO engine mount on that side.


Next step is to take care of the intake side: clean the block, install new coolant hoses, loop the heater core, etc. Should hopefully have the engine back on the ground and ready to bolt up to the transmission (when the clutch shows up) within a couple of days!


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Here’s how my interior sits at the moment. Jimmy helped me out by selling me his NeXt Miracle Cross bar which I am super excited about. Most of the interior items are here as well, I just need to take the time to put it all together. Defi Link Meters (60mm white face), Bride Zeta II & Ergo, Nardi Classic 350mm, etc. Only items left to acquire for the interior will be a Defi oil pressure gauge, perhaps some red Bride fabric again, and a Bride FG seat rail since the Nagisa rail I had interfered with the trunk/gas tank latch and was driving me bonkers.

I had to source and reinstall another set of 180SX seatbelts, a DIN pocket, shift boot, digital climate control, and center dash vent as those items were missing when I got the car back. I still need plastics for the rear seat area as well.

I’ve been really torn lately on how I want to handle the interior treatment. Part of me wants to run a full interior again since I have virtually everything I need, but another part of me wants to run a more gutted interior like Itai and Itoh. I know that their cars were not street cars though and a gutted interior would probably stink on the street. But at the same time, I won’t be able to drive the car as much as I used to as I pick my kids up from daycare two days a week. Maybe it wouldn’t be that bad?

Here are a couple pics of my interior from years past:

This was in 2010. Bride Zeta III Type L (all black), Nardi deep corn 330mm, NISMO GT shift knob, AEM gauges, DMAX mats, 180SX passenger and back seat, etc. No fancy bars. I kind of like the black/subtle look sometimes.

2011: Added a Cusco dash escape cage, Defi Advance CR gauges, Bride Zeta III black gradation, and a Tomei shift knob.

End of 2011- At this point I think I added a NeXt Miracle Cross brace, Cusco diagonal cage bar, Bride Zeros, Bride Ergo, and digital climate control. No more back seat.

2012 is when things got pretty wild. I added a Do Luck floor bar, Takata harness, Pivot controller, red Bride fabric accents, red DMAX mats, Nardi Classic 330mm, and a Pivot shift knob.

I want to keep some of the same styling this time as I really liked a lot of aspects of the interior in the car’s previous life. I’m considering changing a few things up:

  • NISMO GT shift knob
  • Bride Zeta II
  • Defi Link Meter white face gauges mounted in dash
  • Safety 21 7 point roll cage (picking this up over the holidays)
  • Old school DVD player (Kind of like my tape deck though… lol)
  • Red Bride fabric (how much? Less than before, but undecided…)
  • Gutted rear interior with seat brackets removed (undecided)
  • Mats with smaller checkers (should be here next week)

My hope is that the result will have a similar feel to Itai’s interior, but I really like Itoh’s as well. I’ll probably only do the door cards in red fabric this time, possibly the glove box- but I will not do the arm rest or shift boot. I’m not really planning to run a Pivot knob as it was not very comfortable, people want crazy money for them, and I don’t want my wife to make fun of me again. lol.

Itai’s interior:

Itoh’s interior:

We’ll see how it turns out when it is all assembled, but I am excited. What would you do? Gut, strip, and paint the interior like Itoh and Itai? Or leave it similar to how it was when I had the car previously and keep the full interior? I might try it out, and if I don’t like it I will put the interior back in. Could be a lot of work though, haha.

Have an awesome weekend!


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The holidays are almost here and I am really excited for some time with family. It’s making it pretty tough to get through this week, but I think by tomorrow I should be in pretty good shape.

I had about ten minutes out in the garage last night before I came inside to help Alicia with our Christmas cards. I removed the coolant hoses under the intake manifold so that I can replace them and loop the heater core lines since I don’t run a heater core anymore. I also removed the engine mounts/brackets and alternator bracket so that I can paint them, install the NISMO mounts, and clean the surface of the block behind them up a bit.

Here’s some of the engine parts on the floor right now that I need to clean and reassemble with new gaskets and vacuum/coolant hoses. It’s weird to be working on an SR again, but I really like it. It feels very familiar despite the time that has passed:

I’m hoping to work on it some more this weekend. I want to get the block all cleaned up and start reassembling everything. Hopefully my clutch will be here soon!


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I’m Back

I decided to part ways with my Lexus GS project. I sold it and to my surprise, I ended up purchasing my old S13 back- super excited! I have had it back in my garage for about a month and a half now and I have really been enjoying working on it when I have free time. I purchased the car back nearly six years to the day after I bought it initially.

I parted it out and sold the car as a bare shell back in 2012- no seats, brakes, differential, engine, transmission, front bumper, etc. A friend of mine that I sold it to was building an LS1 for it but decided to abandon the project and I am really thankful that he gave me first dibs on buying it back He installed coilovers, brakes, and suspension arms that I was not going to use, so I sold them for him as a part of the deal we worked out.

Here she is sitting back in my garage last night. It’s a trip to walk out of the house and see this back where it used to always sit! So many aspects of my life have changed since I owned the car so it’s just wild to have it back again.

I purchased a rusted out S13 coupe from another friend of mine that was equipped with a stock Red top SR20DET. I am adding an OEM gasket kit, water pump, new clutch, clutch fan, C’s shifter, NISMO engine/transmission mounts, and a Wiring Specialties pro engine harness to freshen things up a bit before I drop it all into the bay. I got an amazing deal on the coupe and sold a few of the items that were on it (as well as the shell) to leave me with a very reasonably priced drivetrain setup.

I was even able to get my old valve cover back (you can sort of see it in the first garage photo) which I thought was really cool.

I got some kouki tail lights and Hot Road aero for the car. I’m really excited as I have always wanted to run Hot Road like Itai’s 180SX. A friend from Zilvia imported it from RHD Japan back in 2010 and had been holding onto it for a rainy day. I’m really grateful that he decided to pass it on to me. I’m really excited to see it all come together.

Don’t mind those blue wheels.- I borrowed those for transport, haha.

Here’s the inside right now. I kept my Bride Zeta II and Ergo from the GS project. I’ve been working to source a few of the small interior pieces I was missing, as well as a couple other cool things I stumbled upon. I’m really pumped to see this come together in the next couple of months. I’m debating if I want to gut the hatch area or not… we’ll see what happens!

With the help of a friend I was able to find a Kakimoto exhaust just like the one Itai ran on his car. Pretty excited to have a canister style exhaust setup again! I’m hoping it sounds similar to the DMAX unit I had way back when. It’s up in Canada now but it should make its way here very soon.

A lot of things will be similar to the car’s previous life, but I am changing up a few things as well. The engine will stay stock for the time being, so it will be down a lot of goodies in that department. It should still be a lot of fun though. I’m the most excited about the interior and exterior right now. I’m really trying to scale back on the excess and focus on the details that I really enjoy- not take anything for granted and be content with what I am given. I’d like to imagine that I will not let this car slip away again.

I’m hoping to have the drivetrain in the car by early January. I would like to have it ready to drive by the time the snow melts in April or May, but we’ll see how it goes- family and day to day things are always the priority. I don’t think it should be too much of a stretch though. I’m really excited to drive it to Final Bout in 2015, so hopefully that works out OK!

I’ll start posting pictures on here as I make some more progress! I’m going to try to at least post a photo every day if I can. Thanks for reading!


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August GS Update

Welp, here we are again. Another month has passed and I have not managed to find the time to update everyone on the progress with the GS build here on my personal blog. I tend to post photos as parts arrive or I make progress on Instagram (@camryonbronze), but when it comes to the detailed writeup portion of this build I’ve been falling a bit behind. My posts over at Speed Academy share the most technical info and are split into specific areas of the build process, while my posts here tend to be a bit more of a personal and chronological look at the build journey (AKA less organized.)

When we left off about a month ago, my GReddy T78 turbo and Type R wastegate had just arrived. I had finished assembling the bulk of the engine, but was hitting resistance when I turned it over by hand. This was really frustrating, and after resetting the timing about six or seven times I finally caved in and removed the head from the engine block a second time. With some helpful advice from my friend Liam, I rigged up a makeshift engine head stand and installed the cams individually, then turned each one over slowly to see if I could pinpoint where things were binding up.

As it turned out, there was one particular valve on the exhaust side that was “stuck” and would not depress when the corresponding cam lobe was rotated over it. I was relieved to know that the valves had not been contacting the pistons like I had feared and that I had been setting the timing correctly all along. I took the head back to the machine shop and they took that valve assembly apart, reassembled it, and the binding was gone.

That being said, a lot of August was lost to sorting out that debacle. It only took me a couple of hours to have everything put back together when the engine returned from the machine shop and I was back to where I had left off about two weeks prior- except this time, the assembly rotated properly. When I was removing the head, I realized that my timing gear had been damaged at some point during disassembly or reassembly after replacing the oil pump, so I promptly ordered a replacement and installed it.

The next order of business was to install my SARD 840cc fuel injectors. When removing the factory injectors, I found that all of the o-rings and isolators were brittle and cracked. After another order from Toyota arrived, I was able to install the new injectors with the freshened up o-rings. After tossing on a new intake manifold gasket, I bolted up the lower intake manifold and fuel injectors.

My hope was to install the main engine harness next, as a few of the connectors are a bit tricky to get to with the upper intake manifold installed. When I attempted to do so, I found that one of my fuel injector clips was damaged and no longer locked in place. I ordered a replacement from Wiring Specialties and wired it up when it arrived a couple of days later, only to find that another injector clip was failing. I decided to replace all six, so I’m currently waiting on those to arrive before I can install the harness, upper intake manifold, and throttle body. It’s always something with this build!

I removed the stock fuel pump assembly from the car and installed the Walbro 255lph fuel pump. I’m currently in the process of installing the SARD jet pump killer and -6AN return fuel line, but I need to order another fitting to connect everything and drop it back in the tank. Once the braided lines have been run to and from the engine bay to the tank, I can begin to piece together my fuel pressure regulator setup. Most of that work won’t actually go down until the engine and trans are situated in the bay though.

While I was waiting for fuel system parts to arrive, my Works Bell SPLASH steering wheel hub showed up and I was finally able to install my steering wheel. I’m really happy with how the interior is coming together. There’s still some work to be done here, but it should be fairly complete once the drivetrain is installed. In fact, there should be a pretty cool change coming along in the near future by way of the return of an old friend if you will, so stay tuned for that…

Here’s a bad photo of the wheel installed:

When I had my six speed Toyota Matrix, I bought this genuine TRD duracon shift knob from Japan. After I sold the car, I sold the shift knob to my friend Peter of Modified fame since I no longer had a use for it. Of course, by the time I started this project the shift knob was nowhere to be found online. Fortunately, Peter is a really cool guy and I was able to convince him to sell it back to me. Really excited to have this piece back! I might need to hit up Broadfield to come up with a solution for my shifter trim and shift boot for me once the transmission is in the car.

With some more interior stuff sorted, it was time to get back to the engine and transmission. I confirmed that the oil feed and drain line that came with my turbo were going to work with my engine, so I ordered a drain fitting for the block to allow me to connect the -10AN drain line for the turbo. The kit also included a -4AN fitting to attach the oil feed to the block and a block off bolt for the other oil supply hole in the block that is no longer needed with the single turbo setup.

The addition of those items essentially takes care of the oil side of things, topped off by the TRD oil cap I picked up from the Supra forums. My factory oil cap had a crack in it, which was a great excuse to add something that looked a lot cooler.

The next thing I needed to address was the coolant system. I picked up some replacement gaskets for the water neck and coolant crossover pipe, so I went ahead and installed those items.

Since my turbocharger is a journal bearing unit, it is not water cooled. This leaves me with about four or five open water ports that I no longer have a use for. It would probably be best to weld these shut, but I opted to install rubber caps with hose clamps since some of the ports are on the water pump and I did not want to go through removing it to have them welded. Some will surely scoff at this, but it will get the job done.

All of the ports have been capped off except for the water neck, so I’ll either need to have mine welded up or purchase one from Supra Store to take care of those in the near future. I still need to source a radiator and hoses, as well as hoses for the heater core and then everything coolant wise should be complete, aside from the addition of a water temp gauge at some point down the road.

After messing with those items for a while, I decided to install my Exedy twin disc clutch along with a new OEM pilot bearing and ARP flywheel bolts. I’m ready to mate the transmission to the engine at this point, but I’m having a heck of a time getting the trans into position by myself. I’ll have to keep messing with it, and if I can’t get it alone I’ll have to bribe my cousin to come over again and help me out.

I noticed that my serpentine belt tensioner pulley had some play in it, so I decided to replace it. I believe that Toyota only sells the complete tensioner, so I sourced a pulley and bearing from Autozone for a JZA80 Supra. As it turns out, the pulleys are slightly different between the two. I was able to remove the defective bearing, but I will need to press the new bearing out of the Supra pulley and into the Aristo pulley when I find the time to use my cousin’s press at his work. Another hangup with something that should be very simple…

As for parts showing up, I’ve had some pretty cool things arrive lately. Motivicity Distribution (AKA HKS USA) hooked me up with an SSQV IV blow off valve and flange for the build. Huge thanks to them for helping me out!

In addition to the blow off valve, I also picked up an HKS Hi Power muffler with titanium tip. All of the aftermarket exhaust systems for this car utilize dual mufflers and I’m not really crazy about the look. I noticed that Orido and NOB both use custom single-muffler setups on their cars, so I decided to follow in their footsteps and do the same. I’ll have my friend Mike fabricate a turboback system with this muffler when the time comes- probably some time this winter.

After nearly six months of waiting, my TRUST/GReddy intercooler kit for the Aristo finally arrived at Evasive Motorsports in the states. I’m really happy with the looks of the kit. I was also able to source the original GReddy T78 piping to utilize this intercooler kit with the single turbo setup, so that should arrive sometime late this week.

My hope is to source the remaining supporting items to complete my piecemeal GReddy turbo kit in the coming weeks. At this point I mainly need the turbo manifold and intake pipe to complete the setup, but I would love to find a downpipe as well. Even if it doesn’t fit perfectly, it will be a good starting point for a custom setup. I was able to find most of the gaskets I need for the kit, with the last one on its way to my house right now.

Finally, I scored a set of second hand Toyota Aristo emblems from the motherland. I’m not sure if I will run some or all of these yet, but we’ll see. I guess I probably have more important things to work on and sort out at the moment…

Wow, that was a massively long update with what I feel like was a small amount of progress. There’s so much research that goes along with every step of a build like this, so it sometimes feels like I have gotten a lot less work done than I thought I did. But with a long term project that’s just the way things go! Hopefully by the next update I’ll have the transmission bolted up, the intake manifold and turbo installed, and the drivetrain bolted into the car. Fingers crossed!

Thanks a lot for reading and following along. Keep an eye on Speed Academy for more detailed tech and swap info on this project over the coming months!



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