Cash Out Season

Wow, two weeks of new posts in a row. What’s going on around here?! My hope is that this is the first step in making posting here a regular habit this winter, but we’ll see what happens. Maybe going into the offseason will afford me a bit more time to post on the blog.

Last weekend was consumed by prepping our home for winter- which wasn’t as bad as it typically is since we had temperatures in the 70s. It definitely felt strange to have that weather in November, but it made the task of cutting the lawn one last time, putting away patio furniture, and installing snow tires much more bearable. After installing the snow tires on my mom’s Accord, I took the coupe to top off the gas tank and take it for one more spin before tucking it back into my mom’s garage for winter. I just need to add some fuel stabilizer and throw a cover on it and the car should be good to sit for a while.

I drove the hatch to work on Monday since the sun and warm temperatures continued into the week. The time change happened over the weekend, so it was weird to arrive home from the office after dark- but it felt great to get one more commute in with my hatch. It’s still having a hard time starting if it sits for more than a day or two, even with a battery tender installed. I suspect this Odyssey battery just doesn’t have the CCA that my old Braille used to have, so I may need to replace it next season- which is annoying. It’s on my list of things to investigate this winter. There also seems to be an exhaust leak somewhere, with a sound reminiscent of when my first T25 turbo let go many years ago. It could just be the four-bolt gasket going bad, but that will need some attention as well. All in due time!

Billy from Wild Bill’s Towing & Recovery showed up with this impressive rig setup. Very cool dude!

On Wednesday, the transporter arrived to pick up Tim’s rolling chassis and haul it to Chicago for the buyer. The buyer is none other than “180 Dave,” a Chicago guy that has been around for a very long time. In fact, I actually had a bunch of photos of his black S13 hatch with kouki 180SX aero saved from over the years – small world. I don’t think we have ever met in person, but we seem to have a lot of common connections and friends. I think he is going to do an amazing job bringing this car back to life and I can’t wait to see the results. The tow driver Billy also turned out to be an awesome guy that shares a lot of mutual friends as well. It’s always cool to be reminded of how tight knit this community actually is.

I got a ton of comments and DMs lamenting Tim’s car being parted out. While I totally understand the sentiment, I thought it was a little interesting how upset about it people were. While it’s definitely true that Tim put together a beautiful example of an S13, I completely respect his decision to part it out vs. selling the car whole. There are a number of factors that come into a decision like that, and I think it comes down to two big ones: the ability to let someone else own “your” car, and the money you hope to get out of it.

For some people, the thought of seeing their car being ruined online or being touted as someone else’s handiwork is too much to bear. While it might seem a bit arrogant to have that mindset, I think a lot of us have it about our project cars. When you spend so much time, money, and energy on building something and making it your own, the idea of someone else owning it just feels wrong. I sort of have this mindset about my personal S13s, and I know a lot of my friends do too. Heck, Jimmy even crushed his white S13 shell just so no one else could have it. It’s a bit extreme, but it is a real thing. I think people that have owned a car like this understand the feeling a bit more than those that haven’t. As weird as it might seem, it’s just the way some of us feel – and it was definitely the way Tim felt about his car.

As for the topic of selling the car whole, while it was a beautiful example, the car wasn’t technically finished. Sure, it looked great online, but there are many things that come with completing a build and getting it roadworthy. The car essentially had zero miles on it after the refresh and a lot of work still lied ahead for it before it was considered road worthy. The engine needed to be tuned, and it was proving difficult for Tim to find a place to tune the Power FC efficiently anywhere in Michigan. While some will say it was an easy solution, for Tim it just ended up being the straw that broke the camel’s back. He’s a mechanic for a living and just doesn’t want to turn wrenches when he gets home at night. He also has a new son at home that takes up a lot of his free time. Tim had thought about parting the car many times over the last three or four years and finally decided it was time to let go. It doesn’t really matter how nice a car is or how close to the finish line it may be – when you decide you’re done, you’re done. I know I’ve been there.

To sell a car like this as a complete car, you need number of things. To fetch top dollar, it’s gotta be running and driving just about flawlessly – which Tim’s car was not. He didn’t want to invest any more time and money into it, so that made the decision easy. The second thing you need is a buyer with a LOT of disposable income to make it worth your while. Let’s face it- not many people have the cash laying around to pay even close enough for this car complete to match what it could net being parted out. The bank isn’t going to give you a loan for North of $25k for a 1989 Nissan with a KBB value of $1200. There might be people out there willing to pay it that have the actual money for it, but finding them is going to be a hassle. Not to mention dealing with any complaints or questions that arrive after the sale.

With the S13 market red hot right now, part values are at a premium. Many people don’t really realize it or understand the concept, but if you were to sit down and total up the value of every single part on your car (and I mean every single thing) the total value would likely blow you away. It was true of my S13 hatch when I parted it out even back in 2012, so just imagine what it’s like with today’s prices. I think I sold my complete OEM kouki 180SX aero kit for around $1400 back then. The same aero kit fetched over $6,000 today. A rolling chassis with a fresh paint job used to be worth $1500 on the high side, but went for north of $7,000 today. It’s much easier to find buyers for a lot of individual parts than it is for an entire car, and the total at the end (even after shipping things across the country) will probably be higher than any price you’d be able to collect from someone buying the whole car. It’s going to take you some work, but the reward is definitely there.

I understand that it’s frustrating and a bummer to see a nice S13 get parted out, but sometimes it just makes the most sense from a financial angle- and when someone is getting out of the game or moving on to a new chassis, that’s the angle that matters most. If you think about things on the bright side, the parts went to helping a ton of other nice S13s get even nicer – and I am confident that Dave is going to do an amazing job giving this S13 another chance at life.

At the end of the day, the owner of the car is the only person that can decide what to do with their car. Tim’s wish was to part it out and move on, so that’s what we did! I remember getting a ton of backlash for parting my car out back in 2012, but I think it’s just something you can’t really understand unless you’re the one going through it. I almost feel like sometimes we are all a little crazy for chasing this goal of building a perfect car (which will never exist) and seeing people bail out on that chase makes us question what we are doing for a second or two. It makes us start to doubt ourselves too, and that’s why we hate to see it. I don’t know – whatever the case, it is what it is I suppose. If it makes someone happy and improves their life, I will always be in support of the decision to move on. Heck, sometimes I am downright envious of it.

Anyway, I guess I am rambling again. I just think it’s an interesting topic that I have been thinking about a lot lately. Parting out a car doesn’t have to be viewed as something sad or a tragedy- it’s just right for some people and can benefit a lot of other people and cars as well.

Alicia is so excited to have her van back in the garage. I kicked it out a few years back when I got the coupe.

I’m just about finished with the part out – I have the Apexi Power FC and boost control kit left as well as the Wiring Specialties engine harness. I’m hoping those items will sell in the next week and I can put this one behind me. I’ll probably try to take things easy a bit through the holidays as life usually gets pretty hectic (and expensive,) but I am hoping to get my thoughts clear on what I want to achieve with my S13s this winter and come up with a plan of attack. I hope to tackle things in quick bursts this year so that I don’t end up with a bunch of things torn apart, waiting for the needed parts and motivation to finish them. I really want both cars to be ready to go as soon as the weather breaks in April. I say that every year, but hopefully I can stick to it this time!

Thanks as always for stopping by to check out the blog. If you know of anyone with some 17×9 +22 NISMO LMGT4, let me know! Have a great weekend.

Damon

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Long Time No Post

My last post here was at the end of July. It always amazes me how fast time goes, especially as I get older. I guess I haven’t really spent a ton of time working on my personal cars since then (which I could sort of argue is a good thing.) Both cars are currently on the ground and drivable for the most part aside from some occasional starting issues with the hatch. Despite the lack of changes or major projects with the cars, I don’t have a ton to complain about at the moment.

I spent quite a bit of time driving my hatch this summer and got to enjoy frequent trips to the office with pretty solid reliability. I eventually burned through my front pair of tires due to a sloppy at-home alignment job when I made front suspension changes last spring, so I ended up replacing those with another pair of 215/40/17 Advan Flevas. My longtime friend Mike (AKA Skud) owns a shop I have mentioned previously called Detroit Drifting Co. and was kind enough to swap the new tires on for me.

I picked up a set of toe plates from Amazon in order to attempt correcting my toe at home so that I don’t burn through this set of tires so quickly. Ironically, I have yet to accomplish this task, but it’s slid down the priority list now that the season is essentially over.

I am still planning to try the 180SX airbox in my hatch, but haven’t installed it just yet. I plan to tackle that task at some point this winter though as well as a couple other items in the bay that would be nice to take care of. I want to return it to more of a factory vibe like the coupe has. More on those details in a future post though…

I decided to swap the Silvia center panel on the coupe for my B-Craft GTR Style grille. I love the look of both so it’s fun to swap once in a while. I didn’t end up driving the coupe nearly as much as I wanted to this summer, but I hope to next season. I have some changes in mind for it that should help accomplish that goal- we’ll just have to see if I follow through with them or not.

In mid September, I took delivery of my good friend Tim’s S13 hatch project. You’ve seen the car here a few times over the years during various trips I took to his house to help out with the car and hang out. Well, Tim ultimately decided after nearly 7 years that he did not want to complete the car and was ready to move on. Tim asked me if I would help him part out the car as he would likely get more money that way and I have a lot of experience with the process. I agreed and took delivery of the car September 18th so that I could get to work on it.

The last month and a half has been a whirlwind while working on disassembling the car, selling all of the parts, packing them, and getting them shipped out. This hasn’t left much time at all for my personal cars, but it is what it is. I am pleased to report that I am finished with removing items from the car.

I received a deposit on the rolling chassis last week and should have it out of my garage this coming Wednesday. Rad Mike and his friend Miguel came to get the SR20DET longblock last weekend, and another local S13 owner picked up the Work Meisters and 180SX VLSD on Halloween which really helped to free up space in the garage. I have a few more engine related items to sell and then the partout will be finished.

I elected to keep the Buddy Club Spec II off of Tim’s car for my coupe as the HKS Hi-Power on it currently is very quiet. The ground clearance with the secondary muffler isn’t the best either. I test fit the Buddy Club and found a couple issues with the fitment for whatever reason that caused the cat converter to hang lower than with the HKS. I ended up putting the Hi-Power back on, but I might see if my buddy Mike can modify the Buddy Club this spring to fit better. I did really like the sound of it though- with full interior, a high-flow cat, and a stock airbox it wasn’t much louder than my hatch. One thing is for certain though- I need a little more ground clearance in general on this car before I feel comfortable driving it all the way to my office.

A few weeks back we managed to check something off my list for the summer- Alicia and I drove both S13s downtown to Dairy Queen with the girls. It was a little nerve racking for me to take both cars somewhere at the same time for a number of reasons. The hatch hasn’t been starting consistently, both cars are low, and I am always worried that someone will hit us when we take the girls with us in these cars. I always limit our drives to very short distances and am very diligent and cautious when they ride with me. However, despite my constant worrying, everything worked out great! It was really cool to drive the coupe and see my hatch behind me in the rear view mirror- a very surreal feeling. It’s a cool memory and I am glad we finally had a chance to do it at least once this year!

My mom was gracious enough to offer for me to store my coupe at her house for the winter. She lives about a mile away and has a two car garage that she is only using one spot in, so this is crazy helpful and convenient for me. Now my wife will be able to park the van in the garage and avoid scraping the ice and snow off of it every morning when she takes the girl to school. She’s been parked outside in the driveway for at least two years, so I am glad to finally get her vehicle back inside.

One final update that’s a pretty exciting one. Back in March of 2020, my friend Matt from Zilvia.net reached out and asked if I would be interested in his set of bronze NISMO LMGT4 after seeing a post here on the blog saying that I was looking for some. He was still living in Japan at the time and the wheels were located in the states, so I had to wait until he came home in late summer of 2021 to get them.

Well, it was a very long wait, but I am happy to say it worked out. Matt bought these wheels new from the Rays factory in Japan in 2011, mounted them on his project, took a couple short drives, and let them sit for years. Two of them included the original boxes, and I also have the four brand new optional center caps for them. One wheel does have a bit of rash unfortunately, but they’re otherwise more or less in brand new condition.

I am really thankful to Matt for selling these to me. I haven’t decided how I want to proceed yet. I want to run them on my hatch, but don’t want to run 18×9.5 +12 all around. I have a couple people willing to trade me a pair of 17×9 +22 for a pair of the 18s, which would be ideal- but I hate to break up the set and I am worried the bronze won’t match since most 17s are older than these 18s. We’ll see how things play out, but for the time being I’ve got them tucked away until I decide what to do. I want to keep my 17/18 TE37 though since those are also getting tough to come by. I’m also considering converting the coupe to five lug, but I don’t think I want to run 17/18 on that car.

Anyway, that should bring you up to speed with where things stand right now! It’s been pretty cold this week, but should be close to 60 degrees this weekend. I am planning to winterize the garage and back yard this weekend and get the cars tucked in for the off season. I might sneak one more trip to the office in on Monday in the hatch, but we’ll see what happens.

I had to toss a Meister on the car for the heck of it. I miss the contrast of silver/chrome sometimes!

I’m excited to get back to working on my personal cars and sharing some content with you guys. If there’s ever anything you’d like to see or hear more about, don’t hesitate to email me at Damon@camryonbronze.com or DM me on Instagram (@camryonbronze) Thanks as always for stopping by and have a great weekend!

Damon

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Summer Rolls On

Wow, here we are again- six weeks have flown by so fast! My family and I are definitely doing a good job at making the most of the warmer months here in Michigan this summer. Through June and July, we spent numerous weekends up North at the lake house. There was even a stretch where we were there a total of 4 out of 5 weekends. It’s beginning to feel like we don’t even know our neighbors anymore at this point, but it sure has been a ton of fun.

A few weeks back, Jimmy and his wife Kayla flew up to go to the lake house with us. It’s really cool how lifelong friendships can develop from this hobby. Jimmy and I met at Final Bout back in 2014 and have remained close friends ever since. It was really fun to get together and hang out without doing anything car related. We’re typically stressed out or sleep deprived due to some sort of car event when we manage to link up so it was a welcome change of pace.

Being gone every weekend has of course resulted in not really having any time at home to work on my cars. Despite this fact though, I have really been enjoying both of them. In fact, yesterday was my hatch’s 25th successful commute to and from the office, meaning I have put just about 3,000 miles on it so far since I began driving it in late May. It feels amazing to finally transition from working on these cars without enjoying them for nearly two years straight to more or less leaving them as-is and driving them when time allows.

Last weekend I did an oil change on the hatch and put it in the air to give it a quick once over. I was pleasantly surprised to find that everything seems to be holding up pretty well aside from my front tires. I don’t have an alignment connection anymore since Jaylen switched jobs, so I really need to figure something out for that. I got caught in a heavy downpour the other day and the car was downright scary with the front tires nearing the end of their life cycle. I’, definitely going to need to get this thing aligned and throw a new pair of front tires at it if I want to drive it until the weather gets nasty (hopefully through October and maybe even into November – it just depends on when they salt the roads.

I got a small order from RHD Japan a few weeks back that included a NISMO oil filter for each car and another pair of NISMO rear lower control arms. I ended up using the previous pair I had purchased on my coupe, so I needed a pair for the hatch. I am still planning to install these along with the NISMO rear upright bushings and subframe bushings over the winter months. I tossed the filter on the hatch and changed the oil to some fresh Mobil 1 5W-30, which I am being told is a bad weight for the SR20. It sounds like 5w40 is a better choice, but this is what I’ve always used and have never had an issue. Maybe my engines are about to blow and I just don’t know it yet…

I also ended up purchasing a complete side mount intercooler and airbox setup from Chico down in Tennessee. I only need the airbox, but he wanted to sell it all complete. I am planning to try running a factory airbox in the hatch like I am in the coupe, but I shaved the factory brackets for it when I did the engine bay many years ago. We’ll see what I can come up with for a mounting solution when I find the time to tinker with it.

I installed a factory catch can and some new hoses that I picked up a while back while I was working on the oil change. This is something I did with the coupe when I was building it and wanted to have the same setup in place on my hatch as well.

As for the coupe, I still haven’t had the guts to drive it to the office. I do take it on quick trips around town whenever I can, but haven’t had it on the freeway yet. I haven’t looked closely to see how much lower it is than the hatch, but it seems to scrape a lot more frequently. I am considering seeing if I can raise it up just a hair more this weekend without it looking too terrible, but we’ll see what happens. I need to investigate the strange drivetrain noise at some point as well- I’m beginning to wonder if it is the carrier bearing on the driveshaft.

The coupe feels a bit slower than the hatch for whatever reason. I really need to spend some more time investigating small issues, but I just haven’t had the desire to for whatever reason. It seems this season might slip away for logging miles on the coupe, but maybe some motivation will appear and I’ll start driving it more. I also wish it was a little bit louder- the hatch isn’t loud by any means, but the coupe is very quiet by comparison. Maybe I’ll consider a different catback in the future – though I don’t know what it would be.

So that’s about it! Not much to report these days in the way of new parts or big projects. I’m essentially just enjoying driving the cars as I am able to and spending free time with family this summer. It’ll probably be a couple more months before I consider what sorts of things I may want to tackle this winter, but I am pretty darn content at the moment. I of course really want to see both cars painted, but I am not sure when that’s going to happen at this rate.

Thanks for stopping by and have a great weekend!

Damon

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Summer has Arrived

Greetings! I believe it has been a little over five weeks since my last post. While I was sad to let the streak of posting every Friday in 2021 die, I was becoming a bit stressed out by trying to find the time to create some content every week. I wish I had been able to keep it going as it is a lot harder to remember what I’ve been working on for the last month rather than the last week, but I had to take a break for the sake of my sanity.

When we last left off in early May, I was finally beginning to start driving my hatch around. Since then I have put about 1200 miles on the car, driving it around town and to the office as much as possible. With restrictions beginning to ease up a bit and after my wife and I got vaccinated, I am now working three days a week in the office and two from home. This gives me plenty of opportunities to enjoy the car for extended periods as my commute is over 110 miles round trip.

I picked up a second Broadway mirror so that each of my S13s will have one. I purchased one of these for my Camry in high school and have been using it in every car I have owned since. I’ve grown accustomed to the convex viewing angle, so it only made sense to pick up a second one. I also got a fresh set of sidemarkers for the hatch as mine were beginning to yellow again. I just grabbed the cheapest pair off of eBay since they are all stamped Junyan, even the ones that are sold as DMAX, Circuit Sports, etc.

Throughout the month of May, we took the hatch around town fairly often. Alicia and I took Alexi on one of my lunch breaks to run to the post office and to pick up some soil for the garden this spring. We got to spend some one-on-one time with Kinsey and Hattie another weekend, so I got to enjoy cruising with each of them as well- we even had a street bike try to race Kinsey and I when we were on our way to get dinner. I politely declined and mentioned that my daughter was in the car with me- gotta love being old, haha. I even got to take Alexi to her preschool graduation in the hatch which was a lot of fun. Of course, doing all of this meant passing up installing my NeXt Miracle Cross Bar in order to keep the seatbelts installed, but it’s 100% worth it. I may try to find a way to make it work with seat belts at some point, but as of now I am enjoying the privacy cover and the ability to cart my kids around way too much.

Despite my lack of trust in the car and tossing my tools in the trunk each morning when I commute to the greater Detroit area for work, the hatch has been absolutely rock solid so far (knock on wood.) I’m hoping my luck continues and I get to keep enjoying driving it to the office for the duration of the summer. It really feels like a super comfy commuter car at this current stage, aside from the obvious lack of AC. But other than that I really don’t have much to complain about!

As for the coupe, it sat torn apart for quite a while while I sourced my own press setup to replace the wheel bearings. Alicia was kind enough to let me pick up a 20 ton press from Harbor Freight as an early Father’s Day gift which was super cool. After buying the press and assembling it, I found that I needed a bearing separator and some better arbor plates in order to press the rear hubs out of the bearings on the coupe. It took a few more weeks before I could get those items, but once I did it made the task a piece of cake. I highly recommend this setup for anyone looking to press their bearings at home! So far, so good. I’ll put together a more detailed post on the press and the bearing process in the future.

While I was at it, I also decided to replace the CV joint boots on both axles with some aftermarket Beck Arnley boots from Rock Auto. I installed one of these on my hatch recently to replace a torn boot and it has been holding up to the abuse so far, so I figured it was a good thing to tackle while the rear end of the car was torn apart. It’s a terribly messy job and fairly annoying for that reason, but it really is pretty simple once you try it. I can’t believe I have gone so many years without knowing how to replace these boots and press in wheel bearings. It just goes to show that even if you’ve been in the S13 game for a while now, there are always new things to learn.

I got the coupe back together and on the ground the first weekend in June. I was disappointed to drive it down the street and find that it was still making the same grinding sound that I thought was the wheel bearings. As it turns out, the HKS Hi-Power exhaust was scraping on the driveshaft (since I hammered the floor a bit to tuck the whole exhaust system up) and that was the main source of the noise. Frustrated but relieved to know the cause, I dropped the exhaust and took a dead blow hammer to the secondary muffler to create some clearance.

Fortunately, this more or less solved the issue. There’s still a faint rotating noise when driving the car that I can’t put my finger on, but it seems very minor. It goes away when I put the clutch in, so my thinking is it may be something with the pilot bearing- even though I installed a brand new one when I refreshed the engine and transmission. Whatever the case, I’ll likely have to take a look at it this winter when the car is parked for the season. I must have goofed on the rear main seal install anyway as that leaks a bit too, so I’ll likely have to drop the trans anyway to fix that at some point.

Last Thursday night I took the coupe for the first true drive around town since completing the car. I’ve been around the neighborhood and snuck down the road to put fresh gas in it, but this was the first time it felt like a real, actual car that’s turn-key, registered, and ready to be driven. It has been unseasonably hot the last few weeks in Michigan and there was a beautiful sunset that evening. It was insanely motivating to drive this car around and really get to enjoy it for the first time. The coupe is definitely a lot lower and pretty nerve racking to drive with how frequently it scrapes around town, but I still had a great time running up and down the main drag. I don’t know that I’ll really drive this one to the office at this height, but maybe if I begin to trust it I’ll get adventurous enough later this summer.

I ended up just staring at both cars in the garage when I got home, so thankful to have both of them on the ground and drivable. They’re more or less the same car, but are very different to experience in their own ways. If I am every in a position where I need to get rid of one of them, it is going to be a super difficult decision.

My wife and I took a quick trip to Florida last weekend since my family wanted to watch the girls for us which was very refreshing. We’ve got several trips up North to the lake house planned for the next month or so, so I am not sure how much time I’ll really have to wrench on the cars- but fortunately both seem to be in a really good spot at the moment. I’m really enjoying all that summer has to offer this year- especially outside of the car hobby- which feels like a really nice change of pace. I think having nearly two years off from driving the cars has helped me reset and find a better balance between my hobby and my family which is a good thing.

I received a small parts order from Nissan this week and ended up making use of those goodies during an evening in the garage. The first item included was four new key blanks (two for each car) that I need to have cut. Both cars have aftermarket keys currently, and the coupe only has one key that’s bent pretty bad. I’ve always wanted to find a locksmith capable of rekeying my trunk lock to match the doors, so maybe I’ll finally be able to sort that out.

The order also included some screws I needed to properly install the shift boots onto the new shifter trims in each car (I ended up caving and installing my new old stock shifter trim, center console, and ash tray in the coupe a while back,) some new strut top nuts for the hatch (these were supposed to be used with the Cusco OS strut bar I bought a while back, but it didn’t clear my valve cover with my engine mounts-so I sold it,) and a new dome light lens for the hatch. Small items that were all quick to install but were fairly high on the satisfaction scale.

I’ll try to stay a little more on top of the blog if I am able to, but there are lots of busy weeks and weekends ahead. We’ll see what happens, but for now it is feeling great to slow down a bit. I hope everyone’s projects are going well and that you get to enjoy them soon!

As always, drop me a line with any questions or if you’d like to chat about anything and I’ll do my best to reply as soon as I can. Take care!

Damon

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Welcome to May

Last weekend once again brought some decent weather to Michigan, motivating me to tinker with the S13s a bit. I began on Friday night by making some adjustments to my kouki 180SX bumper for the hatch. I noticed when I installed the R33 GTR N1 ducts that there were a couple spots where the bumper was rubbing the intercooler and couplers. I marked them with the bumper on the car so that I could trim it a bit when I removed it to install the replacement fenders.

I also elected to install the only two kouki 180SX bumper brackets my setup was missing. I’ve had these stashed away for a couple years now and figured it was finally time to install them. It took me a bit to figure out how to put them on properly, but I think I got them on correctly. It’s a shame that many of these components are not available anymore- and if they are, they’re really expensive. I know you can get away without utilizing all of the brackets, but I am glad to have the complete setup. I can’t say the two brackets I added did much of anything, but at least they’re finally on there.

My wife was gone all day Saturday with her mom shopping for plants, so I was home with 2 of daughters while my oldest was at a sleepover with her aunt. I ended up inviting a couple of their friends over to play so they’d be distracted and I could tinker a bit during the day. I pulled both cars outside and primarily worked on reinstalling the front bumper, lip, and side skirt end caps on the hatch. I decided to spray off both cars to try to get the dust off since they have been sitting for so long. Of course it rained for a couple minutes as I tried to dry them, but that’s par for the course.

I would by lying if I told you I am remotely content with the appearance of my cars right now. It’s actually giving me a fair bit of anxiety that they both essentially need to be painted. I am tempted to just get the fenders, bumper, and lip painted for the hatch but I am so tired of doing things piecemeal for the last ten plus years. I really just want to get the entire car painted and be done with it, but I’m hesitant to spend so much at this stage in life. We’ll see what happens I guess, but for the moment I don’t really have any plan for paint work lined up. If you’ve been here for any length of time though, you know how quickly things can change.

We decided to have pizza with our neighbors down the street, so they watched the girls for me while I drove the hatch to go pick it up. It’s only a mile or two away, but the drive was pretty nerve racking- essentially because I haven’t driven this car on the streets in nearly two years. Aside from needing an alignment though, it went smoothly and I had a great time driving it. I’m looking forward to attempting to take it to the office sometime very soon.

I ended up pulling both cars onto the street to grab some photos as the sun went down that evening. I only had one battery between the two cars at the time, so it still didn’t quite feel like I own two functioning S13s, but it was still a pretty cool feeling that I am only beginning to get used to.

I ended up picking up a second Odyssey battery for the coupe that arrived this week. I also snagged a universal battery tie down that I am going to attempt to modify to work, but I haven’t had a chance to do that just yet- maybe this weekend.

As I think I mentioned before, the rear wheel bearings on the coupe are shot. Last night I began tearing into that project and got the rear upright removed from the driver’s side of the car. I could not get the upright and hub to separate on one side when I redid the suspension, so I figured I would just remove the whole assembly to try to make the process easier. We’ll see how it goes though.

Wheel bearings are on order and should be here next week. I think I am finally going to bite the bullet and purchase a 20 ton press to have at my house. After dealing with sketchy solutions and trying to find people to press things for me for years, it seems like a no-brainer to just get one of my own. Hopefully it will be up to the task and allow me to get things done myself in the future.

If the weather is nice this coming week, I am going to try to put some more miles on the hatch. My historical registration for the coupe has finally arrived, so both cars are legal and ready to go- I just need to get them road worthy so we can enjoy them! We’ll see how it goes. With only three weeks of school left for my daughters, I can feel summer beginning to arrive.

I hope you have an excellent weekend- don’t forget about Mother’s Day! Thanks as always for swinging by.

Damon

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April Departs

As I mentioned in last week’s post, I took the afternoon off last Friday to meet up with my cousin Nick and his girlfriend, my aunt, and my mom to go up to the lake house for a quick weekend trip. My wife’s family purchased a lake house last summer about three hours North of our house and it has been a ton of fun to go up there over the last 10 months or so as an affordable getaway, especially during the pandemic.

My father-in-law bought a Can-Am Maverick Trail last September that I helped him transport up to the lake house. Alicia and I have had an absolute blast with this machine on the trails up there and we’ve really taken a liking to the hobby and the lifestyle that comes with it. We’ve really been wanting to have a four seater version so that more of us can enjoy the trails, but like everything else fun these days they have been very hard to get a hold of. Alicia’s dad recently found a 2021 Can-Am Maverick X3 Turbo at a local dealership that someone had ordered last summer and decided not to purchase. Side by sides are about 8-9 months out if you order them new right now, so we were really excited that it worked out.

The new limousine.

We needed a way to get it up there, so my cousin volunteered his Dodge Ram and a friend’s car trailer to help us out. We loaded up just outside Detroit and made it up the the lake house just before dark. We unloaded the new machine and were excited to try it out the next morning.

Nick and I bibbed up for the trails.

When I first took the new SxS out for a drive, I realized that it wouldn’t let me exceed 25MPH. After some research online, we found that the dealership neglected to reflash the key for us to the performance setting. I figured we wouldn’t get to drive it at all for the weekend, but fortunately we found a powersports dealer about 40 minutes away that was able to flash the key for us before the closed Saturday. This allowed us to get out and enjoy it a bit which was really fun. It’s crazy to ride in this thing- it feels like a limousine.

We encountered this S10 stuck out on the trails and ended up pulling him out.

On Sunday, we loaded up the two seater and took it in for service on our way home. I am eager to learn more about these things and do the maintenance work for my father-in-law myself, but both are currently under warranty so it only makes sense for the dealership to do it. Soon enough though! It will be fun to learn to work on something different for a change.

However, as of now this is not an off-road vehicle blog- this is about S13s! As much as I wanted to sell my cars and get some four wheelers or something last weekend, I forced myself into the garage Tuesday night since it was unseasonably warm out and felt like summer.

I finished tightening everything up with the rear axle and suspension as I sort of quit half way through the last time I worked on the hatch. Then I installed my Auto Collect Storm fender braces up front and rolled my fender lips flat. I thought I remembered having more success with a roller on my coupe, but I ended up using a rubber mallet. After adjusting the ride height and front camber a bit, I was able to sit the car on the ground and take a step back.

Seeing both cars on the ground together again for the first time in a few months sent my motivation through the roof. It’s funny how you can put something off that will only take an hour or two for weeks, causing your mind to wander and making you feel like you should be giving up. I continually let this happen without learning my lesson.

On Wednesday when I got home from work I managed to toss the battery in the hatch and pull it out of the garage to drive it a bit. I completely forgot how much fun this car is since I’ve only really been focusing on the coupe lately. The hatch is a bit louder than the coupe and just feels and sounds a lot sportier. I forgot how cool power windows are too.

The past couple days it’s been starting to sink in: I have two functional S13s. Neither of them are without issues that need to be addressed and things I need to finish, but I sat down, turned the key, and drove both of these cars on public roadways in the last week. I really can’t believe it! I definitely have a huge feeling of accomplishment and am really looking forward to continuing to button things up so that I can finally start enjoying my cars properly.

The registration document should finally be here for the coupe next week. Aside from that, I just need to get some details hammered out before I drive one of the cars to work for the first time. I’ll likely begin with the hatch since I trust it a bit more and stick to shorter local trips for the coupe until I get it a bit more reliable.

Thanks for bearing with me through the ups and downs as of late- I know it is probably annoying to read sometimes, haha- but hopefully you can relate to my madness. I hope you have an excellent weekend- see you next week!

Damon

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No Update!

The past week has completely flown by- I can’t believe it is already Friday! Needless to say, despite the best of intentions I got absolutely nothing done related to my cars this week. It was a bit crazy after returning home from vacation in Florida and getting back into the routine of work and school. Add getting summoned to appear for jury duty to that craziness and I just didn’t have any time. I had hoped to work on getting the hatch on the ground, but it just didn’t come together.

I received the registration document for my hatch, but not for the coupe. It seems they have not processed it yet, so I think it may have been lost in the mail. I’ll have to send it in again I guess since historical registration can only be completed by mail for some reason. Of course the one that arrives is for the car that I don’t have quite ready yet.

Alexi was impressed with how soft and comfy the back seat was…

Alicia has been wanting to drive the coupe for a few weeks, so we took it out with Alexi on my lunch break earlier this week. It was fun to ride in the car as a passenger. It began making some sort of grinding noise during our quick cruise, so I parked it back in the garage. It almost sounds like a brake dust shield is dragging on a rotor or something, but I haven’t had a chance to diagnose it.

I am taking the afternoon off today to head up North to the lake house since my girls do not have school today. It should be a good time! I’ll try to include some photos of what we are up to in next week’s post.

I hope you have a great weekend!

Damon

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What’s Going on with S13 Stuff These Days?

Well, since I currently find myself on vacation in sunny Florida this week, I don’t have any updates to provide about my cars. We’ve been down here since last Friday and it has been a great break for all of us to escape the Michigan weather (though it has been unseasonably warm lately, I did see from a friend that we had some snow on the ground up there this morning) and the first family trip we have taken out of state in about 14 months. We’ve been having a great time and are trying to soak up all the sun we can as it sounds like the pandemic has been flaring up in Michigan again the past few weeks.

Speaking of the pandemic, I am still completely blown away about what it has done to the market for S13s and parts for these cars that have become very difficult to find. As you probably recall, I parted out a number of S13s from 2018 to early 2020, essentially to fund my coupe build. I was able to snatch up cars locally (or at least within a three hour radius) and tear them down, keeping items I needed for my build like black interior plastics and an SR20DET swap, but selling the things I didn’t need to raise extra funds to build the car. It ended up working out much better than I could have anticipated, and I managed to build the coupe from a bare shell within about two years or so- much faster than I ever thought I would be able to.

When COVID crept in early last year, I expected the economy to completely tank. I thought people would lose their jobs (like I did) and be forced to sell their unfinished project cars. However, it ended up feeling like the opposite had happened. After finishing my last part out in March 2020, I never really saw another S13 for sale near me that seemed like a viable option for a part out. Granted, with everything going on I didn’t spend as much time looking as I used to, but the market really did seem to dry up. Even the junkiest S13s were listed for prices so high that there’s no way you’d be able to make your money back parting the car out, let alone turn a profit. And the craziest part is that most of them were still being snatched up.

I’ve watched S chassis prices increase for years now, especially for parts that are getting harder to find- things like Bride seats, JDM OEM aero components, Ganador mirrors, etc. It wasn’t totally unexpected. From 2009 to 2018 or so, the price of most of these parts doubled. But since then, it seems like everything has doubled again- which is really mind blowing. My first pair of genuine kouki 180SX side skirts set me back about $240- now they sell quickly for over $1200. I remember my mint condition red Bride Zeros was priced on the high side at $900 in 2012- now one in that condition would easily fetch $2500 or more. $250 Ganadors now sell almost immediately for $1250.

I don’t totally understand what has driven all of the increases other than the fact that these cars and parts were treated as disposable for far too long. I remember people ranting on Zilvia that S13s are a dime a dozen an they aren’t true sports or collector cars. Any time someone complained about them being crashed or destroyed, they got criticized about caring. It seems that the disposable mindset has finally caught up to us- even basic stock parts are getting really hard to come by, let alone the more desirable aftermarket and JDM parts.

I think another factor may be that many people that had S13s when they were younger are now coming back into the hobby. Maybe they got married, bought a house, had a kid, and decided to sell the car to make ends meet (something I have nearly done many times.) Now that they’re older and more stable financially, they can finally come back to the scene and build another S13. Sure, everything is more expensive now, but people often have the means to do it anyway.

Whatever the cause of all of this, there’s no denying S13s and parts for them are the hottest they have ever been. I was discussing the situation with my father-in-law last night as he was helping me with some retirement account stuff, and we talked about trying to capitalize on opportunity when it comes along. I feel the same way he does about taking opportunities to gain financially when they come along, especially with three kids at home and being a single-income household. It really makes me wonder what the future holds for this stuff and where the ceiling is- and if and when the bubble is going to burst.

While it’s been super tempting for me to try to capitalize lately, I just don’t think I am ready to leave the hobby behind yet. I’ve seen lots of people come and go over the years, and I know many of us reach a point where it makes sense to move on. I wonder sometimes if that’s happening to me, but I think I’ve still got some gas left in the tank. Tinkering with these cars has become such an outlet for me that is a part of my identity. I don’t doubt that a day could come where I decide to bow out, but I don’t think it’s time just yet. I definitely didn’t expect to find myself up much on my investment into these cars, but current prices have made that a reality.

I don’t see S13s or the parts for them getting cheaper any time soon. I think prices are close to stabilizing for a while right now, but I don’t know that I see them going back down much at all. As long as these cars still have a cult following and people want to restore them properly, prices are probably here to stay.

For the time being, my plan is to stay the course. I really want to have both cars out and drive them as much as possible this summer to see how I like it. Owning and maintaining two of them is definitely no small task and something I have always advised people against since it’s just so hard for most of us to keep up with the time and expense required to do it right. If anything I could see parting with one of the cars, having whichever one I keep painted properly, and keeping a few sets of wheels for it- then putting the rest of the money away. At this point though, it feels like I’m more or less where I want to be- and it is difficult to think about giving that up after working so hard towards that goal for many years. In any case, I think this summer is going to tell me a lot about what I want to do moving forward.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the current market- is it just a bubble that’s going to burst soon? Have you been tempted to get out? Maybe you already did cash out? Drop a comment or shoot me a DM on Instagram if you’d like. I always love hearing what others in the community are thinking and chatting about these cars.

Thanks as always for reading the blog. Have a great weekend!

Damon

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Renewed

As it turns out, like many of you have suggested, actually driving your project car has a major impact on your mental state and serves as a reminder of why you put yourself through everything that comes with this process. Though I didn’t spend virtually any time in the garage over the course of the last week, it proved to be just what I needed to remember there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Last Saturday was our family birthday party for Hattie, followed by visiting family and having our own Easter celebration on Sunday. Needless to say it was a very busy weekend. However, I did get the coupe out of the garage Saturday morning before the party for a quick trip around the block. That was just about the only thing I had time for through the course of the weekend, but it was enough to remind me of why I enjoy these cars. After last Friday’s blog post, I knew I needed to do it.

I determined that my Braille battery had finally given up the ghost. I was frustrated initially, but realized I have had it for about six years now. I ended up ordering an Odyssey PC680 as a replacement after hearing good things about them from Liam and Kev. I also purchased the terminal kit as well for installation.

I still need to come up with a solution for mounting the battery, but I’ll work on that soon. The Odyssey is actually a decent bit smaller than the Braille battery I had which is kind of wild. I will actually be purchasing another one soon for the hatch. I’ll keep you posted on what I come up with for securing the battery in both cars.

I need to roll the front fender lip on my new fenders on the hatch. In the past, I have done this with a rubber mallet while the fender is off of the car with mixed results. It seems to warp the fender and it just never fits right afterwards. When I rolled the lip on the Slivia fenders last summer, I decided to try using a roller like I do on the rear quarter panels. I found that with taking my time and pressing on the outside of the fender while using the roller, the fenders retained their shape and it worked quite well.

I’ve borrowed a fender roller many times over the years. I think when I first got my hatch, I even bought one and then sold it after I was done. It used to be one of those tools that was fairly expensive and everyone used to rent. I borrowed one from my friend Greg last summer for the coupe, and decided it would be nice to finally just have one of my own. As it turns out, the price has come down drastically on these tools since I last looked into it. I also found that tons of brands offer them which was surprising to me. Since I was ordering the battery from Summit Racing anyway, I decided to get one of theirs since the shipping was free (and very fast.) We’ll see how it works, but it seems like it should be great for my limited needs.

The weather was incredible once again in Michigan this week and very unseasonably warm. It hit 80 degrees on Wednesday, so I decided to take the coupe on its maiden voyage to fill the tank with fresh gas. It’s always terrifying and incredibly exciting to drive a car that you more or less assembled from scratch, but it can be very rewarding if things go your way. Add to that feeling of anxiousness that my registration documents technically haven’t arrived yet, and I was freaking out a bit. But it was too nice out not to do it!

My initial impression is that I am very happy with the overall feeling of driving this car. Sure, it’s basically the same formula has my other S13, but it feels very different for some reason. The coupe just feels more solid. The exhaust is very quiet with the factory aribox and HKS Hi Power exhaust. It almost feels too quiet, but it is also very refreshing. The clutch pedal is lighter than the hatch even though they have the same clutch- maybe because I have a NISMO slave cylinder on the coupe? It shifts smooth, idles nicely, and just generally feels pretty sorted.

The overall ride quality on the coupe feels better too for whatever reason. This might be partially due to the NISMO subframe bushings vs. the solid risers on the hatch, but it’s likely just because of running a tire with a lot more sidewall. It doesn’t feel like a 28 year old tin can though which is a big plus.

There are still some kinks to work out of course. The power steering pump is still making more noise than I would like and steering takes a little more effort than it should. The rear wheel bearings are noisy and need to be replaced much like the fronts did, so I need to take care of that. For some reason my running lights are always on, and the cluster gets power with the car off when I turn on the headlights. I also noticed that my rear main seal seems to be leaking, so I likely goofed on the install when I replaced it. That will likely wait until next winter to be addressed though.

Cruising in warm weather with the windows down in an S13 reminded of my why I do it. Even just a quick four or five mile drive was enough to kick start my motivation and renew my passion for these cars and this hobby. I even took it to the bus stop to pick up my daughters from school which they were excited about. With the coupe more or less sorted out, I hope to turn my attention to the hatch to finish the outstanding items I have lingering and get that car out of the garage as well. If I can find a couple evenings to spend in the garage it shouldn’t take too long.

But first, a much needed family vacation! Thanks to everyone for that stops by to read this and provides insight and encouragement- I genuinely appreciate it! I hope you have an excellent weekend and are able to make some progress on your own projects.

Damon

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Wavering Passion for S13

The catchphrase has for my blog has felt a bit ironic lately. It seems that motivation comes in quick spurts, but there are also plenty of days where I am just not feeling continuing to wrench on the cars. I’m not sure if it’s just due to the general busyness of work and life these days or what exactly is causing it, but I have felt like I need to drag myself into the garage lately. Spending more than one evening per week in the garage feels like a total chore.

Historically my career in graphic design has afforded me with a decent amount of time for research and multi-tasking during the day to spend time learning about S13s and researching my next moves. After being laid off at my last gig last summer due to COVID-19, my new job has placed much more responsibility on my shoulders than my previous roles. Not only am I the only designer vs. a member of a larger design team, but I am also the only design resource for an entire family of companies. Add to that the fact that my boss and manager of the marketing department (which consists of the two of us) is currently on maternity leave, and it leaves me pretty busy each day of the week.

Home life is also an area where the responsibilities are never-ending. With three daughters in the house, there’s always an infinite list of things that need to be done to keep our family running somewhat smoothly. My middle daughter Hattie celebrated her seventh birthday this week, so we have been busy with lots of festivities including three different parties- a sleepover with school friends, a neighbor celebration, and a family party tomorrow. Hattie kind of got robbed of a fun birthday last year due to COVID just getting under way, so we wanted to try to make up for it this year, Add to that a late night devoted to assembling her new loft bed that she got for her birthday and there just isn’t much time left! Any remaining free moments are spent trying to enjoy some downtime with my wife and finding sleep when it is available.

Neglected garage ornaments.

Don’t get me wrong: this is the life I chose and I would never change it for the world. I have always wanted to have a family and I am so thankful to be where we are in life. However, lately I’ve definitely come to appreciate the fact that most people have tapped out of this hobby by their late twenties, let alone their mid-thirties. As I’ve talked about in posts with a similar tone in the past, it just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to continue with an in-depth project car when time and money are such difficult resources to come by. Add to that the continued increasing prices for these cars and the parts associated them since the pandemic began, and there’s no denying that cashing out is the wisest choice for so many reasons.

I’d be lying if I said I have not heavily considered cashing out on the hobby completely in the past few weeks. I’ve been chatting to a few friends about this lately and I know many of them feel the same way. I do think that the fact that I have not truly street driven my cars in nearly two years is a major contributing factor to that mindset right now. I always felt that driving my cars was sort of a side benefit for me and that building and wrenching on them is the primary enjoyment I see from them, but maybe that mindset is in the process of starting to shift a bit right now. This is by far the longest I have gone without driving my hatch since I bought it.

Don’t freak out though- I am not ready to throw in the towel just yet. My plan is to stay the course and get both of the S13s roadworthy for the 2021 season. They may both be in need of having some aero components painted, but I do want to get them running and driving well so that I can actually enjoy driving them and see how that affects my mental state. If by the fall of this year I have failed to realize that goal or driving the cars has not improved my feelings towards the hobby, then maybe it’ll be time to reevaluate things a bit.

That being said, this week I finalized the process of registering both S13s as historical vehicles in the state of Michigan. I just wrapped up switching to a different insurance carrier late last week which was the final piece I needed to send in the applications. Historical vehicle registration must be completed by mail for some reason, so I wasn’t able to take care of it when I applied for a title for the coupe a couple weeks back.

What’s the benefit of a historical registration in Michigan you ask? Well, for starters, it’s only $30 and it’s good for ten years if you choose to have a historical plate issued. If you decide to run an “authentic” license plate ( an actual plate from the year your vehicle was manufactured) the fee is $35, but it is valid as long as you own the vehicle. I was able to source old blue plates with ’93 and ’92 registration tabs on them from eBay that I can use, so I decided to roll the dice and apply with authentic plates on both cars. The nostalgia of running the classic all blue “Great Lakes” plates from my childhood was too cool to deny.

There is a catch though. Historical vehicles are supposed to be owned purely as a collector’s item and should technically only be driven to car shows, swap meets, events, parades, etc. During the month of August when the Woodward Dream Cruise takes place, you can drive them as much as you want. The primary reason for this is to prevent people from registering a generic 26+ year old car as a historical vehicle that they use as their primary means of transportation. I am hoping that I drive the cars a fairly limited amount each year anyway and that I won’t be hassled about it, but we’ll see. Worst case I have to switch back to a standard registration which isn’t the end of the world.

Alicia spent an evening with some girlfriends this past week, so I decided to try my hand at replacing a CV boot for the first time. This is a job that has intimidated me for many years, but with OEM axles getting more and more scarce, I decided it was time to finally give it a try. I’m glad I did because the process is much simpler than I imagined- despite it being really messy. It’s essentially just one small C clip that holds everything together which really surprised me.

Fortunately I keep a spare pair of axles in the basement to reboot and swap in whenever they’re needed.

Based on a recommendation from a few people including @poweredby.jonel I went with Beck Arnley CV boots from Rock Auto. They are advertised as being compatible with both the inner and outer S13 CV boots, but I only installed one of the inner ones so far. The OEM boots are still available, but at about $45 a piece, I didn’t want to end up with them just tearing again within 1,000 miles. I also went with Redline CV grease per other people’s recommendations.

Disassembled- pretty simple fortunately! Just a hassle to clean.
The Beck Arnley boots also come with grease, so I probably didn’t need to buy the Redline stuff. Live and learn.

I ended up only replacing the inner boot on a spare axle I had since the outer was still intact. I probably should have done both at once, but again- I didn’t want to go through the effort just yet if the existing boot is still OK and these replacements end up not working out well for some reason. I also picked up some CV boot clamp pliers from amazon that worked well for installing the clamps. I swapped the axle onto the hatch, I just need to finish bolting everything back up.

Fresh boot installed and ready to go.

Anyway, that is just about all I had time to get done this week! I need to make getting the hatch on the ground my next priority so that both cars in are in a drivable state. I just haven’t decided if I want to leave the brand new fenders on it, or swap back to my other set. This weekend will be very busy with Hattie’s family party and Easter festivities, in addition to preparing to a family trip to Florida very soon. We’ll see what happens, but I don’t anticipate getting much done with the cars for a couple weeks.

Thanks for swinging by as always- I appreciate it! It really does motivate me to continue when people reach and say they enjoy the content and get excited to read it every Friday, so thanks for taking the time to do that. I hope you have a great weekend!

Damon

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