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!


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Back In Action

After getting the car all buttoned up a week or two ago, I went through all of the necessary hoops to get the car titled, insured, registered, and plated. Fortunately we don’t have many restrictions as far as cars go here in Michigan, so all I really had to do was present the title and proof of insurance to the Secretary of State and the car was legal for road use.

My family was kind enough to allow me the free time to detail the car on Father’s day. I don’t know a ton about detailing on a professional level, so I basically just used some swirl remover, glaze, and wax I had laying around. My car has a ton of dents, scratches, and other paint flaws but I am always really surprised how decent it looks when I put some time into cleaning it up.

I found that the license plate didn’t fit with the Hot Road rear valence, so I had to pick up one of these license plate angling kits in order to install it. I was skeptical but it seems to do the trick!

With everything in place I was out of excuses- it was time to get this thing in for an alignment. I wasn’t happy with the place that did the alignment last on this car, one of the reasons being the fact that they had to use 2×6 ramps to get the car onto their rack. Fortunately I found out that my friend Ken is a technician at a Toyota dealership in my area with an in-ground hunter alignment rack. I made an appointment for last Friday and committed to getting the car there that day.

Friday morning came along and I pushed the car out into the driveway to avoid waking my daughters up. After the car warmed up I set out on the 35 mile trek to the office. I decided to take back roads to keep speeds a bit lower with the sketchy alignment (or lack thereof.) It felt awesome to drive the car through the twisty country roads between my home and the office. I was paranoid about the various noises the car makes and constantly worried about something going wrong, but I made it without any issues.

The drive from the office to the alignment shop went off without a hitch as well. It was really nice to have someone I trust align the car and the dealership was very friendly. I ended up with around -3 degrees of camber all around. I like to have a bit more in the front than the rear, but this the least amount of camber my rear pull would accommodate out back and I don’t want to go more aggressive up front. Overall I think it looks pretty solid. Everyone at the dealership was freaking out about the car which was kind of funny and felt cool after getting the car back after so long.

I took the freeway for the drive home and the car drove really nicely. I think I was in shock just about the whole time- it feels weird to be back in this car again! Very cool. The first 100 miles of driving since getting the car back went off without a hiccup.

Now that the car was aligned, I was able to install my Hot Road front bumper and DMAX position lamps. Hopefully I am able to keep this bumper together for a while without smashing into anything.

I’m glad that I am essentially done working on the car for a while. I still need to install my aftermarket oil pan, gauge sensors, and my Koguchi Power hood. The hood is scheduled to arrive today, so I took the stock hood off last night to prep for its arrival.

I’m hoping to drive to work a couple more times later this week and into next week on the days that I don’t need to pick the girls up from daycare after work. If that goes well, I am planning to drive the car down to Peoria, Illinois next Friday for Kyle’s wedding. That idea kind of freaks me out a bit, but it will be a great durability test before my wife and I drive the car to Wisconsin for Final Bout in September. Wish me luck!


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The Moment of Truth

Well, it’s about that time again. The time where I am virtually out of things that need to be done in the garage and need to muster up the brass to take the car on its first drive to the office. I’m always more paranoid than most people probably are when I finally take the car on its first drive outside of my neighborhood. There are always little issues that arise, but for the most part I’ve been really lucky in the past (knock on wood.)

Alicia was out on Saturday night, so after I put the girls to bed I had the night to myself in the garage. I managed to knock out a lot of small things I needed to do to the car. I tossed in a fresh set of spark plugs and finished sorting things out in the engine bay- mounted the boost controller, shortened some vacuum lines, zip tied wires together, attached grounds, etc. I’m content enough with the engine bay for now as I am not really going for the crazy show car vibe I was previously. I should probably replace the air filter though. I really want to pick up an additional valve cover and have it done in gloss black at some point, so I’ll probably try to do that soon.

There was a bit of wiring on the front of the car that needed to be sorted and cleaned up so I took care of that as well. I also picked up some bulbs for the position lamps and turn signals. I raised the rear ride height just slightly as it was sitting a hair too low for my taste.

Moving to the interior, I wired up my Defi gauges and mounted my link controller in the DIN pocket below the radio. I found that my oil temp gauge I bought from someone on Zilvia doesn’t work, so I need to find a replacement for that. I’ve decided to just run four gauges in the dash and not add any on the top for now, but maybe I’ll decide to do that later. I also installed a fresh OEM shift boot from Russell at

I’ve always used a Nardi 330mm wheel in my S13, initially starting out with a deep corn and then switching to a Classic later during my ownership. I initially installed a 360mm Classic I kept from the Lexus this time around, but found that it was too large and left me without much leg room. I decided to try something slightly different (Inspired by Koguchi) and picked up a silver 330mm Classic. I was iffy on if it would look good or not but I really like it!

At this point my checklist is looking pretty short. I’m planning to add insurance to the car today and head over to the Secretary of State to handle the title, registration, and get a plate for the car tomorrow. After that it’ll be off to the alignment shop- possibly as soon as Friday, but we’ll see how things shake out. Stay tuned!

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Throwback Thursday

Today I was looking for a photo to post of my car on Instagram for Throwback Thursday and decided to post a similar shot from each year that I have owned the car (2014 didn’t count since it was towards the end of the year and the car was just a shell, haha.)











Maybe I’ll make some more photo groupings like this! Kind of neat to see.


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First Wash

After cruising around the block a couple times on Sunday I found that the car was beginning to run a bit strange. It sounded like it was on three cylinders and there was some white smoke coming from the exhaust. After doing a bit of research I found that this can be caused by a stuck injector or a bad injector o-ring. I replaced all of the o-rings when I had the motor apart, so I suspected a bad injector. I pulled all of the plugs and found that the #3 plug was wet and there was a puddle of fuel on the piston.

I took out my #3 fuel injector on Monday night and found that the o-ring was torn despite the fact that I just replaced them. I must not have greased that one well enough and pinched it somehow during the install. After letting the fuel in the cylinder evaporate for a day, I swapped in a replacement injector and put everything back together. I am pretty sure my spark plugs are in rough shape now so I’ll need to replace those as well (even though they were brand new… bummer.)

Last night I was able to pull the car into the driveway and give it its first proper wash since October of 2012. Pretty crazy to be washing this thing again. It’s definitely in need of some attention, but at least all of the initial grime is off of it now. My oldest daughter and all of her neighborhood buddies were excited to get in on the action. Needless to say I had to redo all of it after they went to bed, but at least they were getting a kick out of it.

It’s pretty tough for me to troubleshoot anything with the car that requires the engine to be running as it always wakes my kids up. I’m typically too distracted to get anything done while they are awake so that can be a challenge. I was only able to let it run and take it up and down the street for a few minutes, but the car still seemed to be burning some fuel off and smoking a bit during that time. I am hoping it’s just residual and it needs to run a bit longer to be rid of it, but we’ll see if I get lucky or not. I pulled the plugs again and none of the o-rings appear to be leaking now. I’m sure a fresh set of plugs will only help matters.

My brother got me a cheap HID kit for the car for my birthday that I installed last night as well. This is more or less the same setup I had on the car previously.

I didn’t get any pics, but after that I reinstalled some of my interior plastics and the glove box that had been removed during the rebuild process. I just need to wire up my gauges and Pivot controller and then the interior should be set. I also sold my Nardi 360mm steering wheel and picked up a different one that will be here Friday, so that will be installed over the weekend.

I’m hoping to keep plugging away at the small details I have left through the rest of the week and with any luck start driving the car soon.

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Finally Home

Wow, what a weekend! I’m thrilled to say that I was able to drive my S13 again for the first time since I parted it out back in October of 2012. It was an amazing feeling to take a spin around the neighborhood in my car again. I don’t think you could have convinced me that I would get another chance to do that back when I sold it two and a half years ago.

I spent a couple hours late on Thursday night trying to get the suspension and ride height dialed in so that I could pull the car out of the garage on Friday. I knew I was going to be able to get the car out soon and decided it was best not to go into the office so that I’d have some time to putz around with it. After making some adjustments I had the car on the ground in the garage by the time I went to bed early Friday morning.

Friday was fairly hectic with attending my oldest daughter’s dance class in the morning and hanging with the family, but after nap time was over Kinsey and I were able to┬ámake some modifications to the front bumper, install the position lamps and all of the brackets needed, and finally mount it on the car. With the bumper in place, we fired it up and back the car out into the driveway for our first look at the (more or less) finished product. That’s when we snapped these photos and videos you’re viewing now.

I’ve gotta admit- I was pretty blown away with the outcome. I am pretty indecisive and change my mind all of the time when it comes to my cars, so to see the final product and to be so happy with it is a great feeling. I am really digging the Hot Road aero now that it’s all painted and on the car. I really wanted to try it and almost went ahead with it in 2012, but ultimately sold the car instead. It feels great to have this car back in the driveway!

I am also really happy with the wheels. I like Work XT7s a lot, but I just felt iffy about them. I’m glad I decided to go with the Blitz Z2s. Both the front and rear are .5″ less wide than my Blitz 03s were and I think that was a great choice. I should have a lot less trouble with these specs. I said I wouldn’t do lipped wheels again and would only go with monoblocks this time, but man… I really like it!

We were busy all day on Saturday, but last night I was able to drive the car around the block. A lot of my neighbors recognized that my project car was out and about and were quick to greet me with verbal compliments and thumbs pointed towards the sky. It didn’t take long before the neighborhood kids were yelling things to me either. Definitely one of my favorite trips around the block!

Unfortunately, the car began to run as if it were on three cylinders and was blowing white smoke a bit later in the night. I pulled it back in the garage and was really bummed out and concerned. After a bit of reading it sounded like either one of my injectors was stuck open or one of the o-rings may be bad. I pulled the plugs and found that cylinder number three had a small pool of fuel on the cylinder. I replaced the o-rings when the engine was apart, so I suspect a stuck injector. I’m going to throw a spare in tonight and hopefully that will solve the problem.

Despite a couple of kinks to work out and details that still need to be completed, I’m really pumped about having the car out and about. Hopefully this week I can work out some of the bugs, get the car plated and insured, and try venturing around town a bit!

Thanks as always for reading and sharing in the experience with me. It’s of course enjoyable for me to wrench on the car by myself in the garage, but sharing the build with the masses and talking to people about the car is always rewarding as well!


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