It’s March

It’s crazy that a month has gone by since my last update. This February has been one of the coldest on record for much of Michigan with numerous nights in the 0 to -25 degrees F range which has really done a number on my motivation. The car was close enough to completed for me to slow down a bit and only spend time out in the garage when I was really motivated to do so.

Despite the cold, I have managed to make some progress since my last update. The correct Koyo aluminum radiator arrived from Turn 14, so I was able to toss that in the bay and get all of the associated brackets and hoses buttoned up.

I picked up a set of NISMO engine and transmission mounts from a friend of mine, but found that the engine mounts just raised the engine up too much. I decided to sell them and replace them with a set of Cusco solid mounts. I ran these on the car previously and thought they had been discontinued, but was happy to find out that they were still available.

I decided to replace the knock off exhaust that came with the S13 coupe with some higher quality components, the first of those being another Cobra downpipe from Parts Shop Max. The craftsmanship is top notch and the downpipe is tucked as close to the chassis as possible, reducing the amount of scraping and blown turbo gaskets by a huge margin. I also really like the fact that it utilizes the factory downpipe to transmission mount bracket for a stronger overall setup.

Along with the downpipe, I picked up a cheap test pipe from megan. This piece will see the most pavement, so I wasn’t too worried about getting anything nice. This setup worked well for me previously, so I figured there was no sense in changing a good thing. As I mentioned in an earlier post, a friend was able to track down a Kakimoto N1 catback for me and I finally got a hold of it last weekend. I’m really looking forward to getting it on the car and seeing what it sounds like. Finally, I grabbed another set of Circuit Sports exhaust hanger bushings to keep everything mounted up nice and high.

Yury at Wiring Specialties was kind enough to hook me up once again with a brand new wiring harness. This time I am running the Pro edition harness which I am really impressed with so far. Super nice piece- can’t beat the quality of a brand new engine harness!

With the wiring harness and most of the exhaust now mounted up, I turned my attention to the fuel setup. I ran brand new hard lines from the fuel tank to the engine bay. I forgot to snap a photo, but hopefully the fuel setup should be all set. This was not very fun at all and I really hope I never have to tackle a job like that again. Really glad to have that out of the way!

I am very close to being able to try starting the car. I still need to fill all of the fluids, connect a couple more vacuum lines, and install the catback before I can give it a try. Hopefully with the weather warming up next week I’ll be able to complete the finishing touches and try cranking it up.

As for the interior, I received my Bride FG seat rail for the driver’s side and was able to finish installing the interior. I found a pair of rear plastics locally and tossed those in, as well as the hatch carpeting and NeXt Miracle Cross bar. I ended up selling the Safety 21 roll cage I had purchased because it was designed for a non-sunroof chassis. Rather than go through the work of cutting, welding, and powder coating it I decided it was best to make a little cash and address the cage later down the road someday. I still need to install the gauges and Pivot controller, but I’ll worry about that stuff later.

I sourced an OEM kouki 180SX wing from Japan (with cool racing stripe), thus completing the exterior setup. I dropped everything off with my friend Tim to have a buddy of his paint it, so that should probably be done soon. Still waiting on the Hot Road hood to arrive from GTR Garage, but I would imagine that will be here just in time for spring. I am definitely pumped to see the exterior of the car come together and hear it come to life again soon!

Some boxes arrived the other day from Work Wheels. They should contain some pretty nifty doo-dads. Waiting on a set of tires and I will be ready for spring!

I’ll try to keep the updates going, I know I am bad at that. There should also be a lot of new content hitting Speed Academy soon as well, so stay tuned for that! Thanks for reading.


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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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