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 make 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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Out of the Garage

Here’s a quick walk around video of the car out of the garage. Pretty stoked! I’ll post more details soon!

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Photo Dump

Took some shots last night when my rear wheels arrived from VR wheels after being relipped. I am leaving work in a while to have the rear tires mounted up. Can’t wait to see it finally on the ground!


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My wife had to do some work from home last night after the kids went to bed. Since it was a nice night I decided to go out in the garage and get organized. I’ve been gradually cleaning out various areas of my house this spring and throwing away things I don’t need anymore while doing a bit of organizing in the process, with the garage being my latest area of focus.

I typically work pretty late into the night when I do manage to work on the car since I can’t really get started until the kids are asleep, the house is picked up, and other priorities are sorted. By the time I am finished working on the car I don’t really feel like putting my tools away. So last night I put everything away and organized the “shop” a bit to be ready for the work sessions that are sure to go down over the next week as the final parts I have been waiting on to test drive the car arrive.

I’ve virtually lost hope for my hood arriving, so I decided to bolt the stock one down. My theory is that by taking the time to install my stock hood, the Hot Road hood will inevitably arrive. I guess the container is finally supposed to be at GTR Garage today or tomorrow for unloading, but it has been delayed so many times that I am not really getting excited about anything until it is physically in my garage.

My rear wheels have left VR wheels and should be here on Monday. I’ll take them along with my tires to be mounted Tuesday and pick them up Wednesday after work. I had to pick up a pair of spacers for the front wheels as they are just barely touching the coilover springs right now. I’m not sure why as they are 17x9J +15, but regardless those will be here Tuesday. I’m making a hardware store run tonight to get a few odd nuts and bolts that I need to finish off the final details.

I’m hoping to finish the aero and a bleed the brakes this weekend to be as close to ready as possible to put the car on the ground next Thursday or Friday. With any luck I’ll be able to pull it out of the garage, give it a wash, and take some photos of my car for the first time in a few years. Can’t wait!


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The decisions I have been making around my build this time around have been heavily influenced by cars of the past, primarily the 180SXs of Koguchi and Itai. I’ve been changing my mind constantly through the process about if I want to try to replicate one of these cars more closely than the other, or if I want to try to do my own thing while giving a nod to both of these iconic cars.

As soon as I got a hold of the Hot Road aero kit for my car, my plan was to try to replicate Itai as closely as possible. I chose the Hot Road hood because it doesn’t have the “swoosh” at the top of the cowl area like the newer Koguchi Power hoods do. My plan was to fill the two vents near the top of the hood to achieve the look I wanted, but now I think I might leave them. I keep changing my mind about it. I guess I’ll see what the body shop would charge and if they are able to do it. I even went through a phase of wanting to paint my car blue, but I think that phase has run its course for me. The car has always been black and I believe it will stay that way over the years to come. I chose to run OEM mirrors this time around like Koguchi instead of Ganadors. I don’t think many people do this, but I really like the look. I think Hot Road looks better with mirrors that stick out more like OEM and the motorbike mirrors Itai ran.

In  my initial quest to replicate Itai’s blue machine, I wanted to source a set of 17/18 Bronze TE37s. I became discouraged due to the price and how sought after they are right now and ultimately settled for the Work XT7s that I sold about a week later when I found the 17″ pair of Blitz Techno Speed Z2 like Koguchi’s for sale. I decided on a happy compromise between the two cars- Blitz Z2 like Koguchi in 17/18 specs similar to Itai ran on his machine (Koguchi, of course, ran 18s all around. One other subtle difference is the fact that my Z2s are the darker finish like those found on Nomuken’s R34, where Koguchi’s were the brighter silver finish. I was pleasantly surprised by the darker finish and really like these wheels. My tire sizes ended up being closer to Itai’s than Koguchi’s.

I found a Kakimoto 180SX catback exhaust to attempt to match Itai’s car. I had a Trust DD on my car prior to this after looking at endless photos of Koguchi’s car, but kind of wanted to try a canister-style exhaust again. I like the sound of it, but at times I want another dual tip like the Trust DD. I’ll probably leave it alone for the time being and see what happens down the road.

As for the interior, my immediate thinking was to go with an Itai/Ito vibe as I already had a pair of red seats on hand from the Aristo. I was even considering replacing my seats with a pair of red Brix and adding the red bride fabric, stripped interior, pivot knob, gauges, and cage. About mid way through I decided I wanted to try black seats again to keep things a bit more simple. The car now has black seats and most of the interior is black, but that’s about the extent of the Koguchi influence here. There is still a heavy Itai influence with the steering wheel, meter placement, checkered floor mats, and NeXt Miracle cross bar in the back of the car. I also have a Sabelt harness like Ita’s that my friend Jimmy gave me. However, I decided to keep my interior panels in place aside from the rear seats. I would still like to add a Safety 21 cage and might consider going with the through dash version this time like Itai as I already cut my dash up to fit my gauges, but we’ll see. I would also like to add a DVD player sometime soon.

Now that the car is beginning to come together, it’s tempting to sway more towards an Itai or Koguchi specific replica. But at the same time, I really like taking aspects from lots of cool old 180s and picking the pieces I like to create my own car. I posted this photo I found of Koguchi’s car last night and everyone told me I should run all of the same stickers he did. It’s a tempting proposition, but I don’t feel worthy of doing that in a lot of ways. My car isn’t nearly as close of a replica as it could be and I can’t drift, so I would sort of feel like a loser if I did that. It’s a really risky thing that I am just not sure would be cool or not. I also really like the body of my car without any vinyl on it, but I have never tried a livery before.

I think if I were really going to try to do a Koguchi replica, I would have to do the following:

  • 18″ Blitz Z2 up front
  • Window tint (very dark, which is illegal here in Michigan)
  • OEM Kouki side skirts
  • OEM kouki rear valence
  • TRUST DD exhaust
  • Shave rear sidemarkers & center brake light
  • OEM front position lamps
  • Fill Hot Road hood vents
  • R34 Brembo brakes ($$$)
  • Decals
  • Nardi Classic w/ Silver spokes
  • Through dash black roll cage
  • No meters in dash (too late, lol)
  • GREX Shift Knob
  • Full Koguchi livery

I am too detail oriented and I know if I really was dedicated to a Koguchi replica, I would get sucked into trying to copy every interior and exterior detail. For the moment I am really happy with doing my own thing and choosing the things I like the best for the car. I am always on the fence with tinting my windows because I like being able to see my cool seats and bars from the outside. I am always worried about being hassled by cops because front window tint is illegal in Michigan, and I really don’t like the dark interior feeling I get from tinted windows, especially at night. But I have to admit, Koguchi’s car does look SUPER cool with it.

Part of me is always tempted to run OEM sides and rear like Koguchi did, but I always wanted to have Hot Road aero when I had the car years ago. Ideally I would like to collect OEM Kouki aero over the next year or so, but keep the Hot Road kit as well. My hope is to repaint and restore this car someday when I can afford it and I would choose to have OEM aero again when I have that done. I haven’t decided what I am going to do about stickers. I will probably just run a couple on the window if anything at all, but maybe I’ll run a couple on the sides that pay homage to Itai and Koguchi at the same time. Really hard to decide. We’ll see!

Anyway, that’s my rambling for today haha. Can’t wait to get this car on the ground next week!


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Why I Like Blitz Z2

VR wheels finished my rear Blitz Z2 yesterday and sent me a photo. Final specs are 18×10 +21. Hopefully they’ll be here next weekend but I’m not sure with the holiday. Can’t wait to see these things in person!

I worked on the car last night for the first time in a while. I made a bracket for the Defi  boost gauge sensor, sorted my vacuum lines, filled the diff, and worked out a few other small details. Should be ready to go soon I hope. It always astounds me how long the small details take to complete.

I put the front wheels on for a quick peek. So excited to see the aero on, wheels on, and the car in the driveway!  



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A friend sent me this photo after mounting up my front tires for me today. 215/40/17 Kenda Kaiser on 17×9 +15 Blitz Techno Speed Z2. I tried really cheap tires this time because I’m just going to ruin them anyway.


I heard from VR wheels that the lips arrived last week, have been machined, and should be back from polishing tomorrow. Pretty stoked! So anxious to have them back, mount the tires, and get this car on the road!

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