Then n Now

I just realized yesterday that these photos happened to be taken four years apart.

August 21, 2011 vs. August 21, 2015:

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New Wheels

I’ve had a vision in my head of what my ideal 180SX would look like for quite some time now. I’ve enjoyed all of the various iterations of this car immensely, and having the chance to own this car again is something that I continue to be grateful for.

It’s no secret that the summer of 2011 was arguably my favorite version of this car. OEM kouki 180SX aero, staggered TE37s, a well put together and reliable engine setup, and a nifty interior with just the right touch of wild to bring it all together. No impractical wheel specs, no shaved bay, and the car still had heat (even if the blower motor didn’t work.) When I look back at the car over the years, this is the time when I wish I would have stopped and left the car exactly as it sat.

As happy as I was with the car back in 2011, I really wanted a few different things at the time. I desperately wanted to run Hot Road aero and a Koguchi Power hood at the time, but the exchange rate made it all but impossible for me to achieve. I also really wanted to see the car with bronze TE37s on it but never got a chance to borrow Kyle’s to see what it would look like. I was constantly torn between black and red seats and which I like better back then just like I am today.

It’s pretty cool to walk out to the driveway and see what is more or less my dream 180 sitting out there. I sold my Blitz wheels this weekend and picked up a set of 17/18 bronze Volk TE37s for the car. To see my old car back home with Hot Road aero, a Koguchi Power hood and a set of bronze TEs on it is pretty awesome!

My current front pair of TEs are a bit lighter than the rears. Rays changed their coating process at some point over the years and things don’t really match between the two pairs. I guess Adam from C’s Garage had the same issue back in the day. I picked up a different pair of TEs on Yahoo Japan that were manufactured the same year as my current rear pair, so hopefully when those arrive I can swap them out and sell this pair. I’m super happy with how it sits now, but I’ll be even more excited when I have a proper matching set.

The specs are 18×9.5 +22 and 17×9 +15 with a 5mm spacer up front (+10 effective.) I really wanted a +12 pair for the rear, but these were too clean to pass up. I am also running a chunkier 235/40 out back leftover for the blitz, so they don’t look too bad. I will take a little camber out of the back this week and that should help a little bit. I wouldn’t mind some more front camber but have decided not to really mess with it right now. The car has -3.5 all around from my last alignment. While more aggressive front camber looks cool, I do like how well it drives right now. Hopefully removing some rear camber will help a bit with how the car looks overall.

Anyway, I am super happy with these wheels. The Blitz were great, but I think these could be the wheels I hold onto for this car. Say what you will about TEs being played out or “everyone having them,” but they’re just perfect for a kouki 180SX. So happy with how the car has turned out since getting it back last November!

I’ve got some work to do on the car before we leave for our long trek to Final Bout II next week. I’ll try to document some of it and post again later this week! Thanks for reading- I decided to post the new wheels here on my blog before posting anywhere else for a change. If you still read this I truly do appreciate it!

Damon

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Koguchi Power

Well, I figured that if I put my stock hood back on (which caused me to need to remove the hood pins and move the factory latches back) the body shop would finish my Kogichi Power hood, and my hypothesis was correct. I was hoping they would call me a day in advance so that I could drive to work without my hood on and pick it up, but that wasn’t the case. The body shop called Friday afternoon and said the hood was ready to be picked up. 

  
I left the office and drove to my cousin’s house to pick up his huge Dodge truck. He lives on a dirt road in the country and I was worried about my car making it, but luckily the roads were in pretty good shape. I put the hood in his truck and dropped it off at my mom’s place to install later in the weekend. 

  
I spent some time Saturday night vacuuming out my car. I hadn’t really cleaned the interior since getting it back on the road so that was nice. I’ve been thinking about putting a back seat in it again, but it looks really cool with just the X brace in there.

  
My friend Tony gave me this privacy cover when I was in Indiana at his place so I figured it would be a good idea to notch it for this X brace and use it. It will be nice to block our luggage and stuff on the Final Bout II trip. 

  
Yesterday we went to my mom’s house to visit and I was able to install my hood. I’m pretty pleased with how the car looks. I was able to get the stock latch to fit along with the Cusco pins so that will add some extra reassurance about it staying in place. 

  
The girls ended up playing in the car for a while and seemed to be having a good time. 

  
I picked up some new wheels that should be here this week and plan to sell the Blitz as long as I’m happy with them. I have a couple pairs of mirrors coming too that I need to choose from. 

  
I’m really happy with the car right now and looking forward to Final Bout. It’s going to be great to see everyone! I’ll post the new wheels soon. Drop me a line if you might be interested in the Blitz!

Damon

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It’s August

Summer is flying by too quickly as usual. I lost a lot more of the month of July than I had originally anticipated. When installing my new oil pan I botched the RTV seal during the first attempt and ultimately had to remove it and redo the whole process to get it to seal properly. It was a huge hassle, but I am glad that it is finally on the car and sealed up properly.

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While the car was apart I also installed my GReddy sandwich plate for the oil pressure and oil temp gauge sensors which went rather smoothly. My oil temp gauge was broken and missing the cable between the gauge and the sensor, so I finally managed to find a replacement gauge and cable on Yahoo Japan and got those installed as well. I gave my garage floor a bath with some fresh coolant while installing the GReddy coolant temp sensor as well. The coolant leak turned out to be a loose clamp on one of the lines under the intake manifold, so I got that fixed up too. Hopefully this is the end of the car leaking fluids for a while. It feels really good to have all of the gauges working properly now!

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It’s been about sixteen days since I took my Koguchi Power hood to the body shop. I guess they have been really busy with deer related crashes and whatnot which I suppose is understandable. Really hoping they have it done in the next couple days so that I can see it on the car. The car has been back together and sitting for a little over a week waiting for the hood which has been bumming me out, so last night I finally gave in and put the stock hood back on and drove it to the office today. It feels great to be driving the car. I just want to put as many miles on it as I can before winter arrives!

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We leave for Final Bout 27 days from today. Hopefully the car is in good shape for the trip! I can’t wait to see everyone again. Road trips are the best.

Damon

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Maintenance

I didn’t end up doing much of anything with my car last week aside from washing it after the Illinois trip and parking it back in the garage. Last night I removed the hood and strapped it on top of the Highlander to deliver it to the body shop to be painted. I’m really excited to see it on the car. Hopefully it will be done later this week.

I snapped this photo downtown on my way to work while checking the straps before getting on the highway and I thought it turned out kind of cool. I’ll have to come down here and take some pics on my way in some morning with the S13. Makes for a nice and quiet backdrop when all of the parking spaces are empty.

While the hood is being painted, I decided to finally install the oversize oil pan that Canton Racing sent to me. I am also installing an S14 oil strainer while I am in there. I got about half way done last night. Hopefully I’ll have a chance to get the new pan on there tonight or tomorrow at the latest.

I am also going to install my GReddy sensor adapters for the oil sensors and the water temp gauge sensor so that I can get those working. The oil temp gauge I bought from someone on Zilvia doesn’t work, so I still need to grab a replacement for that at some point and then the gauges will finally be sorted out.

Aside from finishing those tasks up this week I don’t have a lot on the horizon. There’s a coolant leak somewhere on the passenger side that I need to find while the car is in the air. I am worried it’s one of the lines under the intake manifold that are a huge pain to get to. I sure do miss my GReddy manifold at times like this, haha. Shouldn’t be too bad though hopefully. I’m just planning to enjoy the car and be content with it for the rest of the summer. Really looking forward to Final Bout II as well- I can’t believe how fast it’s coming up!

I’ll take some photos and post them up when the car is back together, hopefully be the end of the week. Thanks for reading!

Damon

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Survivor

Well, I am happy to report that the car survived the 800+ mile trek down to Illinois and back this past weekend for my friend Kyle’s wedding. I was a bit nervous about the whole ordeal having only driven the car to and from work twice since buying it back and rebuilding it from what was essentially a bare shell, but the car held up really well and didn’t present me with any issues along the way.

I left town at around 11 AM on Saturday in perfect weather. I was really relieved that the skies were clear, it wasn’t too hot out, and there was no rain in the forecast for the drive down to Peoria. I made my usual rest stop and gas station stops at the same points I always used to stop at along the way on my drives down to Illinois, so that was a bit surreal. I arrived at Kyle’s house without issue around 5 PM or so. I had definitely forgotten how much the fumes, loud exhaust, and sun take the energy out of you on long trips in this car- but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Unfortunately, it rained heavily on Saturday for virtually the entire day and into the night. The wedding was moved inside, but I think it still went really well overall. I left the venue around midnight and it was super foggy out which made driving to where I was staying a bit sketchy, but I managed to get there and get some sleep before heading home early the next morning.

The skies began to clear during the drive home Sunday morning and it got fairly hot when the sun finally peeked out. After about two hours I stopped at the Illinois/Indiana border to hang out with my friend Tony of BLOODRUNNER fame. Tony is a super nice dude and just so happens to own a very cool S13, so we had a good time cruising around, getting lunch, and nerding out about all things 180SX.

Tony’s car is insanely low. It actually makes mine look like an old man’s car with virtually no camber and manages to make my car look really high off the ground. I have no idea how he manages to drive this thing around, but he definitely does it. It kind of made me a bit bummed out about my car, but I do really appreciate that I can drive mine on long trips into unfamiliar territory and not have to be too stressed about it. He also made me want bronze monoblocks, but I don’t want to get rid of my Blitz right now. Maybe this winter I will change them out for something else.

The rest of my trip was fairly uneventful. There were some guys from Motor City Gumball driving back from HIN in Chicago (which I heard absolutely nothing about) that ended up cruising with me for a couple of hours. Really happy to have some serious seat time under my belt without running into problems. That makes me feel a lot more confident about Alicia and I driving the car to Final Bout in September!

The next order of business is to get the hood painted and install my new oil pan, along with the sensors for my water and oil gauges. Aside from that I don’t have much on the agenda and that feels kind of nice. I’m looking forward to washing the car, driving it to the office, and just generally appreciating the fact that the car is in my garage once more. Feels great to have it back and be at this point with it!

Thanks as always for reading.

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Test Run

Well, my Koguchi Power hood was delayed a day due to a DHL issue, so I put the stock hood back on and drove the car to work on Thursday last week in celebration of the approaching holiday weekend. I ran some errands after work and everything went well aside from the occasional exhaust scrape here and there.

After nearly 6 months of trying to source a vented hood, my KP hood arrived safe and sound via RHD Japan. The process took almost exactly a month from the time a placed the order to when it arrived on my door step, so no complaints there.

I have to say, while I really like the hood and have always wanted to have one, I wasn’t terribly impressed with how the hood fits. To be completely honest, my DMAX hood fit better than the Koguchi Power hood. I like the design of the Koguchi Power much better though, and the materials are much nicer- so it’s a bit of a toss up.

I was watching the girls on my own most of the holiday weekend while my wife was out of town, so I didn’t get much of a chance to mess with installing it until this week. Last night I managed to wrap up the installation of the hood and the Cusco hood pins I ran previously on my DMAX hood. My friend Loren ended up with my old hood and decided to run Aerocatch pins, so he sold me my old Cusco pins back.

I had to drill new holes in the bottom of my hood latch to slide the hood further toward the front bumper. There is still a bit more gap than I would like to see all around, but the gaps are even from side to side. Fortunately my car is black, so the gaps and imperfections should be hidden fairly well. I was never crazy about the sloping cowl on the top of the Koguchi Power hood, but now that I see it in person I really don’t mind it too much. I elected to remove my factory hood latch this time and only run the Cusco pins which I think helped with the fitment a bit.

An internet friend of mine named Maqshood from Australia contacted me after I posted on Instagram trying to find another GREX shift knob like I had during my previous ownership of the car and mentioned that an auto parts store near him had tons of them brand new in a sale bin for next to nothing. I couldn’t believe it as these have been discontinued for several years. The only catch was the fact that they were Subaru and Toyota thread pitch. I did some research and found a shift knob adapter from Touge Factory that fit the bill and had him send me one of each color as well as a couple for my friends.

Last night I had a chance to install one of them and I am really stoked with it. I had to grind down the knurled lip of the shift adapter a bit to allow it to fit into the shift knob, but once I did everything went together like a charm. I love these shift knobs aside from the fact that they get really hot in the sun. Pretty cool to have a few of them brand new to hold on to!

My other task that I completed last night was the installation of some Stoptech slotted rotors and street performance brake pads on all four corners. My Z32 brakes came with Brembo blank rotors and Metal Master OEM equivalent brake pads, so these are definitely a great upgrade. Look for a full writeup with installation photos and details on Speed Academy in the very near future.

I finished things up fairly late last night but needed to have the car done in order to drive it to work today for a test drive. Weather conditions were less than ideal this morning, but the car did fine in the rain. There are so many quirks I had forgotten about, like the fact that the first setting on the wipers doesn’t work. I also forgot how foggy the windows get in the rain. All in all it wasn’t a bad drive though.

I am planning to drive down to central Illinois tomorrow to be in Kyle’s wedding despite the fact that I’ve only driven the car to the office three times now. I’ll be sure to pack my tools and good luck charms but hopefully the trip goes off without a hitch! *knock on wood* I’ll be sure to post lots of pics and details from the road trip next week. Have a great weekend!

Damon

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