Don’t Mistake Spending Money for Motivation

After spending the better part of the last 18 years with a passion for modifying cars and some sort of project goal that I am working towards, I have learned that this time in mid to late November tends to be one of high hopes and high motivation- at least for those of us building cars here in the Midwest. Most of us have just gotten our cars put away for the harsh winter months ahead and no doubt have some shortcomings we experienced with our vehicles during the season that we now finally have the time to address. I know with my own cars, it was often a mechanical failure or issue that forced an end to the season- sometimes a bit earlier than I would have liked.

While it’s not true for everyone, the winter off season provides us with plenty of time to work on the next round of improvements for our builds. If you didn’t managed to get your car out at all this year, it signals a clean slate- a fresh opportunity to spend the next five months or so getting it together to ensure that you don’t meet the same fate next seaspn. I’ve been in that boat as well in the past.

Whatever the case for your specific situation, there’s no denying that one event this time of year can make us all feel a bit more hopeful and motivated for our projects- Black Friday. It’s easy to think that throwing a few thousand dollars at that shell sitting in your garage during the last week of November is going to be the saving-grace that helps you get across the finish line and finally lands you with a car you can be proud of. And hey, you might even save a few dollars and score a free t-shirt in the process.

I’ll be the first to admit that I have fallen prey to this mentality many times in years past. Vendors can convince us that our lack of activity, motivation, and progress during the past year can be cured by capitalizing on special savings. To be honest, it almost makes you feel like you are missing out if you don’t buy something for your car on Black Friday. Only in the last few years have I managed to make it through without spending a dime and feel OK with it.

While there’s no doubt there may be some great deals to be found out there, don’t let yourself get sucked into spending a lot of money on that junky old car that’s been collecting dust for as long as you can remember without first coming up with a plan of attack. I’m not saying it is always a mistake to make purchases during the notorious holiday shopping season, but I’ve seen a lot of people spend tons of money on parts they got during Black Friday sales mistaking spending for motivation- only to abandon the project a few months down the road and sell everything at a steep loss.

My advice to anyone out there trying to build a car right now (specifically an S13) is this: come up with a plan. It’s always best to go into any long-term project with a detailed idea of what you want to accomplish and how you plan to go about it. I always find it helpful to split the build into categories and tackle them one by one: Drivetrain, Suspension & Brakes, Interior, and Exterior. Come up with a blue sky list of what components each category would include, then go back through for a second sweep to rule out things that aren’t must-haves or may break the bank from a budget standpoint. It’s important to prioritize- and even plan for multiple stages of the build if it’s helpful- to get you on the road as soon as possible. There’s no connection with a car you’ve never even driven, and that makes staying motivated pretty difficult.

With my cars for example, I have sacrificed things like having a cool Japanese-branded clutch or suspension arms in favor of having genuine JDM OEM aero components. While I have a specific mentality and set of standards I like to maintain with my vehicles, I’ve had to take a step back and prioritize which things mean the most to me in recent years- especially with owning two of them. I don’t have the funds to do everything I want to, especially not all at once- so I have to make compromises on certain areas to get other aspects of the build where I want them. Compromising on certain parts doesn’t have to mean cutting corners.

Once you have a plan, put in the work on the car itself. Don’t mistake spending for motivation. While it may work for some people to drop some serious coin and harness motivation from it, if you haven’t touched the car in six months and don’t feel like putting in the time and effort, spending a few thousands dollars on parts that are just going to collect dust isn’t likely to make you feel any more love for the project. It’s easy to dig yourself into a hole financially that will only lead you down a bad path- one that often ends in selling the car and quitting the game completely.

I get it – there are sometimes going to be key components that you need to buy in order to make progress on your build. I definitely understand this and have been there many times. You’ll find that there’s just no way to move forward without certain components, and you’ve got to save up and make those purchases when you’re able to to make progress. Those are the types of parts you should be trying to score on Black Friday. Spend the minimum needed to get you through those next several tasks on your to-do list, combine it with a healthy dose of time in the garage, and you’ll probably see massive strides in the project. Sure, you may spend $20 more on a part six months from now than you could have gotten it for this week, but are the savings worth derailing the entire project?

I don’t exactly know where I was trying to go with this post, but I guess I wanted to share my two cents as this has been on my mind a lot watching all of the Black Friday deals fly in on Instagram over the last week or so. I chat with a lot of younger folks on Instagram trying to put their cars together and thought they might like hearing an old timer’s take on the subject. I’ve been there before and it’s still something I struggle with getting sucked into at times.

In any case, do what you will with one guy’s opinion. Have a detailed idea of what you want to create. Make a spreadsheet to track what you need and a checklist with the tasks you need to complete. Once you get rolling and can celebrate some wins, the motivation piece will probably take care of itself.

Thanks for stopping by as always and good luck with your build. Have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving!

Damon

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Season’s End

It’s amazing how redundant the passing of time can feel sometimes when updating this blog. As I took the hatch to the gas station earlier this week through a sea of snowflakes to fill it up for winter storage, I reflected on this being the 13th time I have marched into the off season as an S13 owner. It’s honestly pretty hard to believe, and while it is repetitive in so many ways, I’ve definitely grown accustomed to it being a part of my life. While the blog posts have been a bit few and far between in 2022, it’s not from a lack of passion or enjoyment for the hobby.

My last post was in late September. As you may recall, it took me quite a while to get my S13s on the road this summer due to a number of reasons, the primary ones being road construction and the cost of gas. Gas prices skyrocketed in the spring right before I would have typically gotten the cars out and it felt irresponsible to spend the additional $1 per gallon on driving them around. Combine that with a hefty dose of road construction on my route to the office, and I simply didn’t feel extremely motivated to get the cars on the road. In the end, I ultimately decided to keep the coupe parked for the summer and enjoy the hatch as much as I could. This saved me some cash on insurance and generally made life a bit less stressful as I only had to worry about keeping one of my cars roadworthy.

Looking back, I guess the 2022 driving season was a pretty short one. Fortunately though, it doesn’t really feel like it when I think back on it. I officially got the car on the road August 26th, and once it was aligned I pretty much daily drove it until last Thursday, November 10th. In the 11 weeks I had the car out, I managed to put about 2,500 miles on it. I would of course have liked to drive it more, but I’m happy to report that I didn’t have a single issue during that time. We’ve gotten a solid 3″+ of snow last night and throughout the day today here in Michigan, so I definitely pushed driving it as long as I could.

To backtrack a bit, my replacement rear 5 lug hubs and bearings for the coupe arrived at the end of September. This allowed me to put the car back together and get it on the ground once again. I really can’t stand the look of the coupe on 17/18 wheels and tires. I love the look on coupes with bigger aftermarket aero, but the rake and stance just do not sit right with me at the moment. Most people seem to prefer the 15″ Equip 40s, and I completely understand this sentiment. They simply worked better with the current multicolored state of the car. However, I have faith in the final vision and I’m going to keep marching towards that end goal. If history has taught me anything, it will be worth it in the end.

What a 240SX coupe trunk lid looks like on a USDM car.
USDM trunk lid with the S13 Silvia trunk carpet panel installed. Simple, but pretty cool.

Around this same time, I decided to try to source a piece I have wanted for the coupe for a while now. The S13 Silvia in Japan came with a carpet trim panel that mounts to the inside of the trunk lid, while its USDM 240SX counterpart did not. I’ve always thought this was a piece that would be cool to own, but it’s pretty hard to track them down. Fortunately, I found a smashed up trunk lid on Yahoo! Auctions Japan that still had the carpet panel installed. Jordan from Tweed Auto Garage was able to buy the trunk, remove the panel, and ship it to the states for me. A lot of importers would not have wanted to deal with this, so I am really grateful Jordan was up for it. I highly recommend him for importing parts from Japan, especially if your request may be slightly unconventional. The panel arrived safely and I was able to clip it into place. Sadly, one clip was missing from the trunk. I think these are long discontinued, but if I am able to find anything I will definitely share it here.

I did have a few packages arrive in the last couple months, the first being from trusty RHD Japan. This order included a GReddy oil filter sandwich plate to install the sensors for my Defi gauges, the bolts needed to install my Bride Zieg II in the hatch, and a pair of Cusco solid engine mounts (more on those a bit later in this post.

I don’t think I took any photos when I actually completed the installation (which is hard for me to believe,) but I ‘ve really been enjoying having a Bride Zieg II in the hatch again. It’s definitely the most comfortable seat I have ever owned, and I really missed the headroom and overall position of a bucket seat. Climbing in and out can be an annoyance sometimes, but it just feels right as far as driving an S13 goes. I think I may try to add one to the coupe someday as well to keep the driving experiences in line between the two cars. The steering wheel hub could definitely use an extension so that my arms aren’t as stretched out, so that’s probably another thing I’ll try to add to the mix this winter.

The next package was also from RHD Japan. This one included two pairs of OEM Nissan S13 fender braces that I used to replace my aftermarket Auto Collect Storm fender braces. While the Storm braces are beefier and a great product, I couldn’t resist passing up the OEM ones when I found out they were still available. I also picked up a NISMO oil filter for service on the hatch during the off season.

Finally, I received a small order from Courtesy Nissan that included some hardware for the fender braces and two components for the rear wiper assembly- the rubber seal that goes in the hatch itself, and the plastic cap that covers the nut on the wiper arm. I still need to go back and finish the rear wiper install, so it’ll be nice to have fresh components when I do that.

Back to the coupe for a minute- I elected to install my pair of Project Kics 11mm spacers on the front to keep the wheels from rubbing the front springs. I have the same suspension setup on my hatch, so I am not sure why I am having this issue… but I like the look with the spacers a lot. I’ll probably keep these in place for whatever setup I end up with on the car next season.

The month of October marked four years since I purchased my coupe as a rolling shell. If you told me I would put about 100 miles on an S13 over a 4 years span ten years ago, I would have been pretty disappointed in myself- but life is a lot different at 36 than it was at 26. I know I said it this year, but I really hope to spend time putting miles on the coupe and enjoying it in 2023 once the wheel and tire setup is sorted out. I am absolutely looking forward to it!

Hattie and I on the way to take the coupe to winter storage.

By late October, I took the coupe over to my mom’s house for winter storage. It’s so nice to have the option to keep the car safe with family and free up a spot in our garage for Alicia to park inside and out of the snow during the winter months. My list for the winter is much shorter for the coupe than the hatch, but I do have a few things I would like to address. They’ll likely have to wait until the spring since I won’t really be able to work on it much at the storage location, but I’ll get it sorted out eventually.

Ignore my terrible, lazy ground wire placement.

My friend Frankie from Faction Motorsports reached out to me about the new S13 SR20DET throttle cable bracket he designed and offered to send me two of them to try out. After taking entirely too long to finally install one of them, I finally got around to it and was really impressed with the results. I’ve had a modified OEM bracket on both cars for several years and it always kind of bothered me, so this was definitely a welcome change. Check out the link here to snag one- it’s definitely worth it!

During the first weekend in November, Alicia and I dropped the girls off with family for the weekend and drove the hatch a few hours North to the family lake house for our last trail riding trip of the season before the snow falls. Believe it or not, this was the first time I had ever taken the hatch to the lake house, and also the first road trip we have taken in it since Final Bout Gallery in 2019. Despite being a bit nervous, the car was perfect for the whole trip- even in heavy rains. That weekend marked the 14th anniversary of buying my hatch, which was a very cool milestone that also made me feel really old. I’m so thankful that I have been fortunate enough to enjoy this car for so long.

Fall was strangely warm this year, which almost felt like being rewarded for waiting so long to get my car out. However, last Thursday was the final day in the 60s and the temps began to drop off harshly by the weekend. My friends Nick, LA, Mel (and his family,) Matt, and Simba traveled to my house from Chicago to hang out and watch the Lions vs Bears game last weekend which was a blast. Since I haven’t been to US Air in a few years, it meant I hadn’t really seen these guys either- so it was awesome to be reunited again. I definitely want to take one of the cars to Chicago next summer (and maybe even Shawano if I can stand it) to see all the people I have missed over the last few years.

A KP hood is one of the few aftermarket hoods out there that will wave at you when you stare at it.

LA and Chob were kind enough to haul the Koguchi Power hood that I purchased from 180 Dave (the one that bought my friend Tim’s S13 hatch rolling chassis that I sold last fall) from Chicago to Michigan for me. After waiting a couple months, we finally got together for the game and I was able to take delivery of the hood. While I know there are a lot of things about it that bothered me the last time I owned one, it’s just one of those cool pieces that feels awesome to have in your collection. The quality definitely seems to have gotten worse since the last time I had one, but we’ll see what can be done to make it fit OK and look presentable. This is why I purchased the Cusco solid engine mounts though, since the engine needs to be lowered a bit for the hood to fit properly. I am looking forward to mocking it up on the car and seeing how it looks.

KP hood fitting will likely go down in the next blog post!

Anyway, that brings you up to speed on what’s been going on in my garage over the last two months. I am going to do my best to update this more frequently during the off season with my projects and small updates. I don’t have crazy plans for either of the cars this winter, but there are some things on my list I would like to take care of. If nothing else, it should be fun even if it’s not anything drastic. Winter can be a long and challenging time around here, but I am looking forward to making the most of it.

Thanks as always for stopping by to read the blog- I really appreciate it! Take care.

Damon

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Fall has Arrived

Wow, here we are in late September after another summer has flown by. Evening temps have been dipping into the high 40s here in Michigan, bringing with them one of the best times of year to enjoy driving an S13. All three of my daughters are now attending school and are already wrapping up their sixth week. It’s been a big change and adjustment for all of us, but it’s also a really exciting shift into this new season of life with a fifth and third grader at home in addition to a kindergartener.

The girls are always willing to give me a hand with washing the cars.

I haven’t spent a ton of time working on my cars lately with everything we have had going on, but there have been some pretty exciting developments. As I mentioned in my last post, I wasn’t able to get the hatch to go into gear the night before my S Chassis BBQ and had to push it outside the morning of the event. After attempting to bleed the clutch again later that week, I ended up replacing the clutch master cylinder and adjusting the engagement point on the pedal. This worked like a charm and I was finally able to drive the car around the block for the first time in 2022. The month of July is pretty late to achieve that goal, but the excitement level always remains the same when it finally happens.

After getting the car on the road, I noticed that the blower motor only worked on the high speed setting. This was a bit odd since it worked before I tore it apart, but I did end up throwing my friend Tim’s AC setup in the car during the off-season. I realized his setup had a JDM blower motor resistor installed for the digital climate control (DCC) setup, so I swapped back to my old one (that I had kept luckily) and that solved the issue. This prompted me to get out the DCC setup I purchased from his part out and look things over a bit. As it turns out, I’m missing a couple of the needed components- but I should still be able to get it to work someday. I want to have the AC system charged and confirm it works properly before I attempt the install, so that will have to wait until next year. I’ve owned a couple different DDC setups over the years and have never actually installed one, so it would be really cool to finally make it happen.

My next move (no pun intended) was finally installing my NeXt Miracle Cross Bar that I purchased back in 2020. I think I’ve owned four of these now if memory serves and it’s always been one of my favorite pieces for the 180SX. I’ve been dragging my feet on installing it since it requires you to remove the rear seat belts. I always enjoy being able to take my daughters in the car with me, so I haven’t wanted to do that. But with the girls getting older and being right on the edge of sitting in the front seat (and having a second S13 available to drive) I decided to go for it. Installation can be a bit of a hassle, but I’ve done it so many times now that it really wasn’t so bad. It’s such a cool looking piece!

Here’s a terrible photo of the X bar installed.

While working in the hatch area, I installed some factory plastic clips that attach the rear carpet to the upper portion of the back seat. I’ve been running without these for many years and saved some from a car I parted out a while back. It definitely helps to hold the carpet in place and keep it from looking wavy along the back seat.

The six large plastic clips are what I was missing. This helps the carpet lay more flat.

After all of these projects were completed, it was time to take the car out on the main road outside my neighborhood. When I did, I found a nasty vibration from the rear of the car at speeds above 30 MPH. When I jacked the rear of the car up, I found there was some play in both rear wheels. I messed around for a while with tightening different things, but ultimately found the wheel bearings were causing the issue. This was disheartening as I had just shelled out for brand new OEM S14 rear hubs and bearings, but thanks to the help of some people on Instagram I found that I pressed the hubs into the bearings incorrectly and damaged them. An expensive lesson, but an important one. I did not support the bearings with an arbor plate when I pressed them and this caused the damage as it pressed the inner races of the bearing out the back side.

Hubs and bearings: take 2.

I ended up ordering some cheap bearings from Rock Auto and replacing them. I took the car for a drive again and found the same issue. Next, I swapped the hubs and bearings from my coupe onto the hatch- but the issue persisted. It was during this test drive that I realized I had not tightened the driveshaft bolts back at the differential. I tossed the car up, tightened the bolts, and was delighted to find that the issue was gone. Again, another stupid mistake, but I was so glad to have the issue behind me.

I absolutely love the look of the 17/18 staggered LMGT4 on this car. I can’t wait to see it with everything painted.

Next on the docket was installing the new sub harness for the rear hatch. Back when I got the car, I cut the harness (per the internet’s instruction) to replace my hatch with a rust-free wiperless unit. Fast forward to today and the rear wiper system had really started to grow on me again. I sourced a complete setup from a part out and took the first step towards reinstalling it by fishing the harness through the rear hatch. It was a bit tedious, but a stretched out metal coat hanger and some patience got the job done.

All of these small projects in the garage were a lot of fun. It felt great to get some wins and be back out there again, even if I was only working on quick tasks each night. I kept the privacy cover from a part out to modify for use with my Miracle Bar, so I took some quick measurements and started cutting. A dremel made quick work of cutting the cover, and I was able to make it fit quite nicely. I had done this once before years ago but rushed it and didn’t do a very good job. I prefer the look of the Miracle bar without the privacy cover, but it’s nice to have on road trips to conceal my cargo and keep a cleaner appearance.

Next on the docket was installing my front speakers. I used the same Pioneer units and Amazon templates my buddy Kev recommended and the install was pretty straightforward. I have been dragging my feet on purchasing an aftermarket head unit since choosing one is a bit overwhelming and I hate the look of them, but I’m hoping to do that soon so I can test the speakers and finally enjoy having some music in the car. I had a short stint of using a tape adapter with an iPod and the blown factory speakers many years ago, but it was short lived as the tape deck stopped working. Having a working radio is a pipe dream for me much like having AC, so if I can manage to get both working next summer I’ll be blown away.

Lately I’ve had the urge to add a few cool pieces back onto the car. It’s been through many stages over the years, and while it’s nice to have things feel really nice and factory, I miss the cool parts sometimes. I found an opportunity to snag a super clean set of white face Defi Link Meter II gauges on Yahoo! Auctions Japan via Jesse Streeter and bit the bullet. I must have owned 5 or 6 sets of these now and they’ll always be my favorite, so I was really excited about finding such a nice and complete set. I elected to swap my dashboard back to the car’s factory dash that I modified to house four 60mm gauges some years ago. I’ve done this so many times now that I was able to get it done during a lunch break while working from home, so that was a plus! I haven’t installed the sensors or wired them up yet, but at least the tedious process of swapping the dash is behind me.

I am proud to say it only takes me about twenty minutes to get the interior to this point. Maybe that isn’t something to be proud of though? haha.
I’ve currently got one complete set of Defi gauges and another incomplete set that may end up in the coupe eventually.

While I was at it, I also reinstalled my Trust GREX shift knob to spice things up a bit inside the cockpit. The chrome compliments the Miracle Bar out back quite nicely. With the interior getting a bit more spicy again, I also tossed my black and gray checkered floor mats in. I scored these on eBay many years ago and really like them because the checkers are smaller like all of the old mats from Japan. I wish they were a cool brand and specific to the S13, but they get the job done.

Speaking of cool parts I miss owning, it’s been quiet a while since I had a bucket seat- maybe five years? And while there’s a lot of inconvenience with it, they can actually be quite comfortable. With my rear seat belts removed anyway, I don’t really need the easy access to the rear seat that the factory seats provide. A really clean original FRP Bride Zieg II popped up for sale in Thailand and I couldn’t pass on the chance to own one again. Of all the seats I’ve owned, my Zieg II was by far the most comfortable. I wish it was a kevlar back Pro Type, but I can appreciate the more subtle look with a kouki 180SX passenger seat.

I went with a tried and true Bride FG seat rail that I sourced from RHD Japan, as well as a set of Bride mounting hardware for the seat (that I of course forgot to order when I ordered the rail.) That should be here next week and then I’ll finally be able to install it. I also snagged a really clean original Bride head pad for the seat from a seller on eBay that removed it from their seat when they bought it new and had it sitting in a box in their garage for the last 10+ years. It was even a reasonable price which was a nice surprise these days.

As far as parts go, a couple other items showed up. I have had a few sets of 180SX window visors over the years and I have been worried they’ll be discontinued soon. I’m not sure I actually want to use them, but I found a vendor that hadn’t updated the price in many years and offered $10 shipping to boot. These visors cost a grip to ship properly, so I reached out to them and found that the info was correct and they had one set in stock. I snagged them and put them in storage for a rainy day. Who knows, maybe I’ll end up using them eventually.

The other item that arrived after a 3 month wait was a lower metal garnish for kouki 180SX tail lights. This is another item I didn’t really need, but bought one after hearing all of the fuss that the item had been discontinued. After doing my homework, it seems it is still being produced and I was able to get one for less than half of what other places were selling them for – I just had to be patient. I’m not sure what the miscommunication was, and I’m sure they’ll indeed be discontinued eventually, but from everything I’ve seen all of the kouki 180SX tail light components are alive and well – at least for now. It’s a good feeling to have spare lights and a spare lower garnish in case anything ever happens to mine.

So back to the car itself- the next order of business was getting an alignment. I haven’t had one in years on the hatch and it was needed after modifying both the front and rear suspension. To my disappointment, I found that the rear hubs still had some play in the new Rock Auto bearings. I am pretty confident I pressed them correctly this time, so I’m not sure what’s causing it. It wasn’t as severe this time, but I elected to take the ones off of the coupe (again) and put them on the hatch for the time being. The coupe is awaiting a replacement pair that should arrive today- then I’ll have it back together and ready to head to my mom’s for winter storage.

With insurance added to the car and the hubs replaced, I made the 45 mile drive out to Detroit Drifting Co. for an alignment. My friend Mike is the owner and a really great dude. He was able to get the car up on the rack and dial everything in for me. I’ve known for a few years that the rear fender pull isn’t even on either side, so we had to settle for about -3.2° of camber front and rear. I intend to pull the driver’s side quarter panel another 2-3mm to hopefully end up with about -2.5° of rear camber. Up front, I may run a 5mm spacer and add a small amount of camber- but nothing more than -4°. However, I’m happy with how the car looks and drives right now. Wheel fitment is always something I like to have perfect when I can, but I can live with this until my next alignment.

Oddly enough, this is the first time I have ever had this car on a lift.

A lot of what motivated me to get the hatch out was my Vibe breaking down on me one day heading home from work. I lost power and suspected it was the alternator, but it ended up being a healthy dose of corrosion on the battery causing it not to charge. After towing it home, I ordered parts and let it sit for a few weeks, driving the hatch to and from work instead. I did eventually get around to installing a new alternator, battery, and ground cable- so hopefully that solves the issue and it’s ready to complete another tour of duty this winter.

I had dodged the flat bed for far too long…everyone’s luck runs out eventually.

My latest accomplishment is finishing the installation of the factory rear wiper. After testing the motor, I found that it was stuck on and would not turn off, even when pressing the button. As it turned out, the “uncut” harness I was sold had been cut and twisted back together without any solder. Many people told me their harness wiring broke at the point where it travels into the car due to opening and closing the hatch over the years. I was annoyed, but ultimately used my old chassis harness to add some wiring and extend my harness a bit to hopefully avoid it breaking someday. Once I did this, everything worked as it should. I made a template out of cardboard to determine the placement of the wiper hole in the hatch, got some really helpful dimensions from Noel on Instagram, and entered the moment of truth. It hurt a little to drill into a wiperless hatch, but the end result was worth it. I still need to wrap up some details with the install, but I am really happy to say it’s there now and working properly. I used it during a rainy commute this week and it worked like a charm.

A quick cardboard template I used to mock up where the wiper motor would pass through the hatch.
So much for “uncut…”
I definitely like the look of the car with the rear wiper in place! Having a kouki 180SX wing helps a lot.

To be honest, the hatch really isn’t looking it’s best right now. In fact, I would argue this is the worst it’s ever looked. But let me tell you, even with the car needing some TLC, even with crazy construction and tons of traffic, and even with annoying gas prices, I’m so thankful to be driving this car and enjoying it here at the end of the summer. I think a lot of times there’s two paths to take with your build- lower your standards a bit and get to enjoy driving the car in an unfinished state, or tear it apart before you have the means to finish it and wait for the pursuit of perfection. While it drives me nuts, I’m so happy to be on the former level right now. I can’t tell you what driving this car to and from work every day does for my mood and appreciation for it. When you don’t drive a car for a long period of time, you lose your connection with it and it just becomes another unused asset. Another burden. But getting out and logging some miles, even if it’s not complete or what you feel is your best work, is the best motivation there is.

I recently decided to throw a pair of TE37s on the rear to see how the car looks with LMGT4s up front. I’ve never been into the mismatched look, especially because I don’t drift, but this is a combo that is too good to pass up. It’s not a bad look!

As for the coupe, things have been pretty stagnant. I did install new headlight rubber seals and trim rings a while back as well as some bulbs in my temporary brick headlights. One of the housings is broken on the back and the inner shroud was loose. I ended up taking it apart after heating it up in the oven, repainting the black housing inside, and sealing it back up. The chrome was peeling on the shroud, so I painted it with some silver paint I had laying around. I’m not happy with the fix as it doesn’t feel like my desired level of quality, but I have to remind myself that these are temporary. Once the car is painted someday, I’ll install my brand new set and sell these.

I couldn’t resist grabbing some yellow bulbs for the fog lights. They work really well with the Key’d Performance fog light harnesses I picked up a while back. When you depress the button typically used for the pop-up headlights, it turns the fog lights on. I don’t expect them to last very long since they’re cheap ones from eBay, but we’ll see what happens.

I also started sanding my temporary OEM Silvia center grille. It had yellowed a lot over time, so I worked my way from 800 down to 2000 grit wet sanding to try to make it look clear again. I need to try polishing it with something to bring the gloss finish back, but I would say it’s an improvement overall. Again, not too big of a deal since I have a brand new one I can use once the car gets painted, but it will get the job done in the mean time.

The grille prior to wet sanding.
After. Much better, it just needs to be glossier.

As I mentioned, the coupe is sitting right now awaiting some replacement rear hubs. Once those arrive, I’ll move it over to my mom’s house for winter storage. I don’t have many plans for it this year aside from sourcing a set of 17” wheels and tires. Once I am able to accomplish that, I definitely want to finally spend some serious time driving it. The car feels a bit sluggish, like something isn’t right with it, so eventually I need to work that out and get it running better. It starts and idles nicely and doesn’t seem to be breaking up, but generally seems down on power. I would really like to add a bucket seat and some gauges as well, but we’ll see if that actually happens. Next season will probably be the deciding factor on if I keep the car or not. It feels like a waste having it just sit around for another year. Ideally I would like to keep it, but we’ll see what happens. I really think it could be a great car and very rewarding if I am able to stick it out and finally finish it.

I took Hattie for a nice evening cruise last week. Can’t beat it!

Anyway, that just about brings you up to speed for my very busy August and early September. I’m looking forward to enjoying the hatch for as long as the weather allows. I’ve got a couple more exciting things in the works that you’ll hear about next time, but for the most part it should be pretty uneventful.

One final thing- a photo with the car we decided to recreate around Alexi’s recent fifth birthday:

When we brought Alexi home in August of 2017.
2022 – Alexi is now 5! Crazy to see how all of the girls have grown.

Thank you as always for stopping by and taking the time to read the blog. I really appreciate it! Have a great weekend.

Damon

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The First Annual CamryOnBronze S Chassis BBQ

Despite the fact that this event just took place a little over a month ago, the story actually begins way back in 2010. Back when Zilvia.net was the place to be, Instagram was about photography and widely unused, and you sent the big shots a “PM” to ask them about their wheel specs, not a “DM.”

Probably the most well-known photo of my car with the chuki front end.

I bought my hatch in November of 2008 just before graduating college. I ended up making some improvements over the winter and driving it a bit in 2009 despite it being a busy summer (that was the year my wife and I got married.) That phase was known as the chuki stage for me, and though I improved the suspension and exterior appearance of the car, it was pretty unreliable. I tore it completely apart in the winter of 2010 and that’s when the big changes happened. By that summer it had new wheels, a complete exterior transformation via OEK kouki 180SX aero, and a refreshed engine with an S15 turbo setup.

One of the Zilvia driveway photos from when I first got the car put back together.

It was around this time that the car ended up garnering a bit of attention on Zilvia after I shared some photos of it completed sitting in the driveway of my wife and I’s new home- certainly much more than I had ever anticipated. I got a PM from a dude named Kyle that would end up becoming one of my best friends (I even stood in his wedding many years later.) Kyle said he thought my car was cool (well, probably in a round about way that should have been considered an insult, but that’s just how Kyle is) and offered me a place to crash if I wanted to make the six hour trip down to Illinois to attend Toby Broadfield’s Annual Nissan BBQ.

Kyle and Toby working on some photos of the cars in a parking lot during my first visit in 2010.

Toby was a legend on the forums. His white stock body S13 coupe with a big turbo S15 SR20 setup was probably the tidiest on the plant. I had saved tons of photos of his car even before I owned an S13 and looked up to his clean execution and modest style a lot. I couldn’t pass up a chance to meet Toby and see his car in person, so I decided to roll the dice and drive my car down to hang out with those guys (despite the fact that I had literally just finished putting it together.

I ended up having a great time hanging out with Kyle and Toby. Kyle took some cool photos of the cars, and we snapped some of them parked together in Toby’s driveway at the BBQ that day. I met a lot of cool people that I am still in touch with today. Toby would essentially post his address in an event thread on NICO Club and Zilvia inviting anyone local with a Nissan to attend- something that would largely be unheard of in this day and age. He usually had Forza set up in the garage and grilled some dogs and burgers- a very chill event that usually had about 20 cars or so in attendance.

Toby’s car in the driveway alongside mine in 2010.

As fate would have it, I ended up getting a PM on my local Michgan forum from Peter Tarach’s brother asking me to send an email to PT. When I reached out to PT, he explained that he had seen the photos of my car parked with Toby’s in the driveway at the BBQ and he wanted to shoot a feature story for Modified Mag about both cars. He liked the fact that they were clean street cars, built at home in a garage, and had sort of a yin and yang effect representing both versions of the S13 chassis. Alicia and I ended up taking a second trip down to Toby’s for the photoshoot, and we ended up on the cover of Modified Mag together. This was definitely a childhood dream of mine and I still can’t believe it happened to this day. I even got to do some freelance feature writing for Modified after that before the mag was shut down. I essentially owe all of those opportunities to Kyle and Toby’s invite to the BBQ.

One of the shots from our Modified Mag feature.

Fast forward ten years to 2022. My life is now a lot like Toby’s was back in 2010. I’ve got my own home, a few daughters at home, and I am in my late 30s. I don’t get out as much to go to meets or cruise around with other car enthusiasts, but I still tinker with my cars and am just as passionate about it as I’ve always been – even if I can’t quite devote as much time to it as I used to. There are several local S13 guys that I consider friends that I often chat with on Instagram, but rarely have a chance to hang out with in person. If I do see them, it’s usually to buy or sell parts, get something welded, or have a set of tires mounted. Family life is just too crazy to allow me to get out much more than that.

For the last few years I have wanted away to connect with friends new and old that are passionate about the S chassis. After kicking around the idea of hosting my own BBQ for years, I was finally pushed over the edge by my friend Alan. Alan dismounted the tires off of my Work Equip 40s from the coupe in April of this year and refused to let me pay him. He instead said “Host that Nissan BBQ you have been talking about and I will consider that payment.” This was the final boost I needed to get motivated and make it happen.

Most of the gang that attended. Thank you to everyone that made the trek out!

I ended up sending a group DM to about 15 people or so and invited them to come over and hang that day. Most were current S chassis owners, but some of them sold theirs and recently moved on to other platforms. I had met the majority of these guys in person before, but some I had only talked to on the internet. Much to my surprise, they were all really excited and happy to come hang out with an old dad on a Saturday afternoon. They all put a lot of work into ensuring their cars made the trip out.

Seeing my own coupe and hatch in the driveway reminded me of the photos of my hatch with Toby’s coupe that started it all- my coupe is just a lot worse off than Toby’s was back then, haha.

The first person to arrive was Nick. Nick lives pretty close to me and has a really nice 240SX hatchback with a rowdy KA-T setup in it. I first met Nick at a local car meet back in 2016 or so. I was really impressed with his car, especially for his age. It’s evolved a lot since then and so has his driving- he’s a pretty talented dude!

Nick’s car looks great, especially considering how hard he drives it.

Alan is the one who finally helped convince me to host the BBQ, along with Alicia. He’s owned a couple S13s now and has put a ton of work into his current one. He even daily drives this thing year round in Michigan which is crazy impressive. Al is a part of team D-Walk-In with Nick, and they have been getting quite a bit of seat time this summer. Very nice young dudes.

Alan’s S13

Ethan, a young S13 guy from Ohio, and his fiancée came to hang out. He happened to be in town anyway for work, so things kind of just fell into place. I was really thankful for this since we had only met once before and he lives a few hours away, so this turned out to be a great opportunity to hang out. Ethan does a fair amount of drift events as well. I still want to see your car in person one of these days Ethan!

There goes the neighborhood…

One of my favorite cars at the BBQ was Justin’s relatively stock hatchback. The paint is in amazing condition for the car’s age and it has really low mileage. I think almost all of us loved staring at this car because it reminded us of when we first got our S13s. You just don’t see them in this condition anymore. I am so thankful Justin brought this thing out! We had never met in person before but he is a really nice guy.

Justin’s survivor S13 hatch reminded me what properly cared for black paint can look like…

Aidan was another guy I met for the first time in person at the BBQ. He rolled up in a really cool drift inspired G35 sedan, but had previously owned an S13 coupe and was in the process of finding another one. I am happy to report that he was recently able to trade the G for a 240SX hatchback. I’ve been enjoying reading about his progress so far and can’t wait to see what he does with this one.

The G35 formerly known as Aidan’s.

Jalen is a really good dude that also lives relatively close to me. We met on Zilvia (I think?) when I sold him some parts and realized from his address that he lived in the apartment complex Alicia and I first moved into when we got married. What a small world. Jalen was my go-to tire and alignment guy for many years until he left Belle Tire to work at a dealership, but we still manage to stay in touch. Another great young dude that I am thankful to call a friend. I know he hadn’t really had his car out in quite some time, so it meant a lot to me that he went through all of the effort to bring it.

Work Metal Buff is one of the best wheel finishes of all time. OF ALL TIME.
The gang checking out Jalen’s noble steed.

Eric has been a friend for quite a while now as well. I am not sure when we met, but he has had his S13 longer than I have had mine. He’s very passionate about Hot Wheels and has given me some really cool ones over the years. A super kind and generous dude with a lot of love for the S chassis as well as cars in general. His car has a super unique style that I always get a kick out of.

Eric’s S13 hatch.

Tyler pulled through in his S14 on air suspension. The car has a super nice paint job with a lot of flake in it. Tyler is yet another really young guy with a big passion for these cars, and actually works at a detailer with my neighbor down the street Blake. Blake has a Subaru, but I shot him an invite to walk down and hang out for a bit as well. I love seeing so many young guys that are passionate about these cars and take good care of them. It definitely feels like the torch has been passed!

Tyler’s S14 laid out.

Another car I really loved was Ki’s red hatchback. I actually used to chat with the previous owner of this car quite a bit, and my friend Mike from Detroit Drifting Co did the SR20 swap on it. Ki bought it a few years ago and has been making it his own- the most recent addition being the Work Meister wheels from Tim’s S13 that I parted out last fall. They look amazing on the car! Definitely the nicest kouki 180SX aero car in the state that I am aware of. Ki has a bunch of cars and is always working on them – tons of passion for the hobby and a very nice dude.

I’ll always love a red hatch with kouki 180 aero… can’t beat it!

Speaking of Tim, he was in attendance as well. These guys were the first two S chassis people I met when I got my hatch in 2008. Tim used to chat with me on AIM (remember that?!) when I first got the car and was a huge help with me getting it running properly. We’ve lost and regained touch a few times over the years, but I am definitely glad to call him a friend. I parted out his dark red hatch for him last fall and he’s got an old Camaro now. He seems to be enjoying it, so that’s all I can really ask for! Tim also brought our long time friend Greg out with him. He’s been building a super clean S13 hatch for many years and is deep in the process currently, but it’ll turn out really nice once it is finally complete.

Gotta share this selfie that Greg and Tim were thrilled to take with me.

I met Mike from Detroit Drifting Co when he was just a young dude. I sold him a kouki 180SX bumper in 2009 or so and we became friends from there. I used to go hang out at his parents’ house while he worked on his S13s, one of which he had a short campaign in Formula Drift with. He now runs a successful shop and it’s super cool to see how he has grown up. He didn’t have an S13 in attendance, but Mike and his wife Rachel came out for bit which was a lot of fun. I actually need to get both of my cars in for an alignment with Mike soon, so I am looking forward to seeing him again.

Finally, a gentleman named Matthew came out as well. Funnily enough, he actually owns the old red S13 hatch that Mike owned when I met him. The car is currently at Mike’s shop having some work done, but should be ready soon. I met Matthew last year when he came to buy some parts from Tim’s part out and he is a really solid dude. I am super thankful he came out to hang and look forward to seeing his car in person one of these days.

Hosting this event definitely felt like a passing of the torch for me from one generation of S13 dudes to the next. It’s so encouraging to meet good people that enjoy these cars and have a mind for building them in a way that preserves the culture and does them justice. It was also motivating for me to get my own cars back in a more presentable state and try to bring my hatch back to its former glory. It still feels surreal that this event happened, even a month later. I am so thankful for everyone that came by and pitched in to make this a success! Thank you for making this old timer feel like a kid again.

Thanks as always for checking out the blog. Have an excellent weekend!

Damon

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Back from the Dead: Hatch Update

Alright, let’s talk about the hatch this week and recap what I have been up to for the last four months. With the price of gas and all of the road construction going on in Michigan, I decided to take a more relaxed approach to getting my cars ready this season. It’s such a big additional expense that I figured it made sense to work on the cars as motivation allows and not stress about having them out at all this year. If it happens before the snow flies I will consider it a bonus.

I’m the worst at sticking to my own rule: don’t take both cars apart at once.
My smooshed intercooler core – oops.
Can’t beat a nice big GReddy box showing up.

I ended up deciding to replace my GReddy intercooler kit with a new one. Faction Motorsports offered me an excellent deal on one and had it in stock stateside. Mine was still working great and in decent condition, but I had lowered my car down without remembering to remove the scissor jack a while back and dented the bottom of the core. My friend Kevin in Houston was in a minor crash at Final Bout SSS and needed a new core, so I thought it made sense to sell him my used one to save him some cash and order a new kit for myself. You can’t beat the look of a fresh intercooler kit!

The spare tire bolt was discontinued stateside, but fortunately they still had stock in Japan.
Nothing fancy here – just an Amazon battery tie down I cut up and modified to work with my Odyssey battery.

While replacing the chassis harness and moving the fuse boxes back to the engine bay, to re-re-locate my battery back to the engine bay. This meant that my spare tire was sliding around in the hatch, so I purchased a new spare tire bolt from Japan since it was discontinued in the USA. A silly thing to order, but it’s cool to have. I of course can’t use the spare tire because of the ride height and the fact that the car is no longer four lug, but I like having it in there to support whatever I am hauling in the trunk. I ended up ordering and modifying the same generic battery tie-down from Amazon that I used on my coupe. The battery tray is removed on my hatch, but it still mounted up OK. It feels good to have the rear hatch area empty again and not worry about something metal contacting the battery terminals back there.

Fresh speakers?! What an odd sight. Can’t wait to finish the sound system and give them a try.

With things torn apart in the rear hatch area, I installed a new pair of Pioneer speakers. Believe it or not, I have never installed aftermarket speakers in any car I have ever owned. It seemed relatively straightforward, so hopefully they work. I have a pair for the doors as well but have not installed them just yet. I also still need to select and install a head unit, but I’ll get to that later. I have never really had a working sound system in either of my S13s, so it feels pretty surreal to think about it actually working. I’m looking forward to enjoying it eventually!

I pray to the Gods of SR20 that this produces cold air in my interior.

Speaking of things I can’t imagine having in this car, I installed the AC compressor on the engine. I kept the CodyAce AC adapter bracket from Tim’s car, but found that it located the pulley for the AC compressor too far forward with it installed. I ended up bolting up the compressor directly and it lined up nicely. I am still not sure what AC components I have on the car, but I have a feeling someone must have modified US lines to work with the JDM compressor at some point. Whatever the case, I am really hoping it works without any leaks when the time comes to get it charged! I still have one wire from the compressor that I need to figure out how to wire up and then I should be ready to give it a try.

Buying OEM drive belts from Japan is a super nerdy thing to do, but it’s a cool feeling.

I sourced all new OEM drive belts for my coupe from Japan since I needed the correct AC belt and my other belts were aftermarket. I did the same thing for the coupe and figured it was worth doing on the hatch as well.

The passenger side harness is a piece of cake to tuck, but the thicker driver’s side is a bit more difficult to tuck up without bending your fenders.

To finish the new chassis harness install, I had to tuck my wiring harnesses up above the chassis so that the wiring doesn’t get eaten alive by the tires. I have done this a few times over the years now so it wasn’t too terrible of a process. I may need to revisit the driver’s side since I am not totally confident that I got it tucked up enough, but I was really worried about bending my new OEM metal front fenders. Fingers crossed there is just enough clearance and it works out OK.

The beginnings of the rear wiper harness being reinstalled. I ended up using a straightened coat hanger to route the harness through the inside of the hatch.

A while back I decided to reinstall the rear wiper. I hated the look for a long time, but a lot of kouki 180SX I see online still have it and I think it is a pretty cool option to have. I sourced a full setup from a partout and began fishing the harness through the interior. I still need to source a wiper button, test it, and drill a hole in the hatch for it. This is one of the many things still on my list to finish, but I will hopefully get to it soon.

Brand new 180SX headlight covers I have been holding onto for a few years now.

Another item that my friend Kevin damaged in his crash was his passenger side headlight assembly and metal headlight cover. I’ve had a pair of brand new 180SX metal headlight covers in storage for a while, so I decided to use them and send my old ones to Kevin. My headlight assembly had a few broken bolts in it, so I sourced a replacement one of those as well from a part out. As it turns out, I broke a bolt off in the new one during reassembly and one of my brand new metal covers already had a dent in it when I opened it. I ended up back where I started, but that’s the way it goes sometimes. Gotta love it! I’ll leave those issues alone to deal with another time.

I love the difference a fresh cluster lens makes!

Back on the inside of the car, I finally got around to painting my gauge cluster trim with some SEM trim black like I did when I built my coupe. I love to avoid painting interior parts whenever possible, but the results were nice enough on the coupe that I gave it a shot. I also installed a new old stock gauge cluster lens that I have been holding onto for a while. The refreshed cluster and trim looks really nice. I need to source a switch for the rear wiper assembly since I seem to have lost mine at some point, but otherwise it’s good to go.

I reinstalled the Koyo radiator with a set of brand new OEM SR20DET radiator hoses and clamps. Next was the clutch fan and shroud as well as the front fenders, bumper, and lip. It felt amazing to see this thing looking like a car again, even if the paint didn’t match. It had only been apart since March, but it was definitely a sight for sore eyes seeing it look relatively complete again.

Two dream wheel setups realized right here – a very cool feeling!

After going back and forth on what I was doing about wheels and tires for both cars for a very long time, and being worried that my 17″ & 18″ pairs of LMGT4s would not be a good match from a bronze standpoint, I decided it was time to pull the trigger and give it a shot. I ordered a set of Kumho Ecsta PS31 tires from my buddy Mike at Detroit Drifting Co. and had him mount them up for me. I really wanted to run Advan Flevas again, but they discontinued the 225/40/18 size. The Kumhos were the best looking street tire we could find that also came in a 215/40/17, so that’s the route I went. I think they will fit the bill OK since all I really do is street driving.

Can’t beat all new exhaust gaskets!

With the date of my S13 BBQ looming, I had about ten days to finish the car. I spent some late nights reinstalling the interior, finishing the rear suspension upgrades from back in February, setting the ride height, and dialing everything in with the new LMGT4s on the car. I also elected to replace all three of the two bolt exhaust gaskets since I remembered having a leak somewhere last fall. I suspect it’s the four bolt gasket up at the turbo, but we’ll find out once I get it back on the road. One thing I am really bummed about is the fact that I tapped my windshield with a ratchet when reinstalling my dash and cracked it. I’ve done this countless times over the years, so it’s no surprise that it finally gave way. Better to crack the windshield than the dashboard though!

Finally, I reached the moment of truth- would the car start with the new chassis harness in place? Fortunately, it fired right up first try. The car seems to crank a bit faster and sounds really healthy, so I am hoping the old, hacked up tucked chassis harness was the cause of the starting issues I was having last summer. From what I can tell so far though, things seem to be working as they should! This is a huge relief since replacing the entire chassis harness was a pretty intimidating endeavor.

When I dropped the car down on the ground and attempted to drive it off of the ramps, I couldn’t get it to go into gear. I had ended up having to roll it into the driveway for the BBQ, but at least it was back together and looking decent enough on the new wheel setup.

First look at the car on the ground with the LMGT4 installed.

During the week after the BBQ, I rolled the car out to try to capture some decent shots of the car on the new wheel setup. Bronze 17/18 Nismo LMGT4 in these specs are sort of the final frontier for me, so it feels amazing to check this off of my bucket list. I think the bronze match is about as good as my TE37 which is about all I can ask for. I really dig the look! I still have an extra pair of 18×9.5 +12 LMGT4, but I haven’t had any bites on those just yet. I may hold onto them until the right opportunity comes along, but we’ll see what happens.

Here’s a good view of my broken windshield, lol. Stuff happens!

So there you have it! That’s what went down with the hatch over the last four months. I am trying to knock out the list of remaining tasks to see if I can insure the car and get it out to enjoy for the fall this year. It definitely seems doable if I can buckle down a bit, so that’s the goal!

I’ll step back a bit in next week’s post and talk about how my S-Chassis BBQ went. It was a really important and cool event for me so I want to take some time to ramble about it. Thank you as always for stopping by- I appreciate it!

Damon

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Back from the Dead: Coupe Update

Whew, what a whirlwind the last four months have been. I can’t believe it has essentially been 1/3 of a year since I last made a blog post! It’s been really difficult to find the time to put into documenting the progress on my cars lately, let alone finding all the time needed to actually work on them. But when I really think about it, I have gotten a fair amount of work done since my last update. Since I have so much ground to cover, I am going to split this update into three separate posts: one about the coupe, one about the hatch, and one about my first S13 BBQ that I hosted in early July. Let’s dive in!

So, the coupe. Back in March, I had just brought the car home from winter storage at my mom’s house. Shortly after I shared that update, we took a family trip to Florida which was a lot of fun. My daughter Hattie also turned 8 years old just after we got home which is very hard to believe. Time is flying!

The first thing I did when I got home was sell the pair of power East Bear mirrors I had sourced in order to buy back a pair of black manual ones I had owned previously. I sold this black set to a friend in Chicago way back in 2016 or so and he never used them. The red pair I had was decent enough, but they had a few cracks that needed to be repaired. Since the coupe never had power mirrors anyway, I figured it made sense to sell them and get my cleaner, manual black pair back. I am glad it worked out!

The last night the car was 5 lug.
I loved the look of the Work Equip 40s even if it was a short-lived stage.

In early April, I finally decided to commit to converting the car to five lug. It took me a few weeks to sell my Work Equip 40s, but eventually they sold and ended up on a really cool Miata down in Austin, Texas. Shoutout to my friend Allen for dismounting the tires for me. With the car on jack stands and the wheels gone, I started removing all of the suspension components I didn’t intend to use with the new setup. This was a little bit silly since I had just installed all of those parts in 2020 when I built the car and had put about 80 street miles on all of it, but that’s just the way it goes for me sometimes. Fortunately everything sold fast and I was able to order the new parts for the conversion.

Who can resist a good mock up?!

Once I saw the car mocked up on my 17″ TE37s, I knew I had made the right choice. I spent most of the month of April sourcing the parts I needed for the conversion. I ended up essentially mirroring the setup on my hatch: NISMO S14 lower control arms, S14 knuckles, DIF knuckle bolt adapters, KTS S14 roll center outer tie rods, OEM S14 hubs and wheel bearings all around, and some new OEM hardware to finish things off.

As for the brakes, I went with Parts Shop Max Z32 calipers this time around as the OEM ones are becoming more and more difficult to find for a reasonable price. I didn’t want to deal with rebuilding and powder coating them either, so this option made a lot of sense. I didn’t love the gold color at first, but it is growing on me a bit. I went with Stoptech Street pads and stainless steel brake lines as I have had good luck with those over the years. I utilized the Z32 rear e-brake assemblies and cables that I held onto from Tim’s part out and picked up a GK Tech cable adapter bracket to round out the brake conversion.

The front suspension went together without any major snags. One tip to note- you can use S14 ABS front wheel bearings & five lug hubs even if your car does not have ABS. This saves you a lot of cash as the non-ABS version is much more expensive. It felt super cool to bolt up one of my TE37s and step back to see the car with a five lug setup and 17″ wheels for the first time.

When it came time to do the rear suspension and brakes, I ended up taking a day off of work strictly to work on my cars. I thought this might help with my motivation a bit since I had been having a hard time finding enough energy and free time to work out in the garage. And of course, I ended up hitting a few snags that day. The first issue was the GK Tech e-brake cable bracket. Once installed, the cables contacted the driveshaft. I ended up having to heat it up and bend it to get it to clear. While it wasn’t a huge problem to solve, it was still pretty annoying for something touted as a bolt-on solution. A few people told me they had the same issue, and others recommended the Street Faction bracket instead. Just a tip for anyone out there planning to do this conversion!

Be prepared to heat this thing up and bash it with a hammer to get it to clear your driveshaft.
If you go with OEM rear bearings and hubs, you’ll need to assemble them with a press.

At last, after using my trusty press to assemble the rear bearings and hubs, I had the car on the ground and ready for a test drive. When I attempted to pull the car forward, the car made a strange noise and wouldn’t move. I was pretty baffled by this, but decided to come back to it the next day. When I took the rear wheels off, I found that the inner lip of my brake rotor had shattered on one side. There were small pieces of brake rotor in the drum assemblies and on the ground. Very strange! As it turns out, the Z32 rear drum assemblies on my coupe were different than the ones on my hatch. I can’t remember which was NA and which was turbo unfortunately, but the ones on the coupe had a crude metal washer/spacer in them to simulate a metal tab the Z32 rear wheel bearings have on them. There’s supposed to be a centering pin that holds the anchor bolt in place on the knuckle, but these spacers did not have that. When I tightened the large nut on the drum assemblies, it twisted the anchor bolt causing it to contact the inside of the brake rotor.

This was a first for me…
You can see how the anchor bolt rotated when I tightened it down, causing it to rub and destroy the brake rotor.

It can be really frustrating when you run into issues with something you’ve already done once before. I thought I knew what I was doing, but I guess that was not the case! However, it was really rewarding to find the solution. I destroyed one of the large nuts on my e-brake assembly when taking it all apart to solve the issue. It was discontinued stateside, but luckily still available in Japan. I stole one from the hatch while it was taken apart so that I didn’t need to wait for the new one to arrive from Japan.

When the replacement brake rotor arrived, I hit all of them with a coat of paint and some templates I made in Illustrator. I like to paint my rotor hats since the temp swings during the winter seem to cause surface rust to form. Sure, I could just spray the whole rotor and let the pad remove the paint, but this just feels a bit less sketchy to me.

Finally, I had the car back on the ground with the brake issue solved. I got to drive it around the block a few times and everything felt really solid! I love the look of the car on the bronze TE37s, I just really want to see this car on 17″ wheels all around. I prefer 17/18 on my hatch, but the OEM aero on Silvias is so subtle that I feel they look better with 17″ wheels front and rear. I’ll figure out a way to run 17s when the time is right, but this works for the time being.

Having my brand new Silvia brick headlights, corner lights, and center grille on my car was driving me nuts. The car is not going to be painted anytime soon and it felt like a waste to have them on the car in this state. I ended up putting them back in their boxes to save until the car is properly painted one day and sourced a used setup to run in the mean time. I got lucky on some really clean corner lenses with good brackets – one from Richard of GTR Garage, and one sourced through YAJ via Jesse Streeter. I found some bricks through an IG contact that had a bit of damage, but all of the mounting brackets themselves are intact. That seller also had a center grill with a good amount of sun fading, but I decided to grab it. Maybe I’ll try to clean it up at some point.

The temporary brick setup is in pretty solid condition aside from the damage shown here.

While the brackets are all intact on my temporary bricks, one side is broken on the back of the housing where one of the bulbs goes. The rubber seal and plastic ring are missing, and it looks like the relfective inner housing has water damage as a result. I was able to source all new rubber bulb seals and plastic trim rings from Japan which should help refresh these a lot. I also gave the top of the lenses a fresh coat of SEM Trim Black to make them more presentable. At some point I will need to open up the driver’s side headlight and see if I can repair the damaged reflective housing, but that’s a project for another day!

Finally, a local friend of mine was getting rid of his project and sold me a brand new Silvia corner lens. I have a new pair of these in storage and didn’t really need it, but couldn’t pass it up.

So that just about brings you up to speed with the coupe! Last night I put the car up on stands to swap out my front springs. I ordered shorter, stiffer springs when I got these coilovers knowing the car was going to be very low on 15s, but found that the inside of my wheel was contacting the spring with the 17″ wheels on. I elected to swap out the shorter 10k springs in favor of the standard, longer 8k springs. I am also in the process of finally installing my front fender liners while the car is in the air.

I really want a set of 17′ LMGT4 for the coupe, but it’s just not in the cards right now.

There’s still a weird rotating noise when I drive the car that I haven’t tracked down. I almost wonder if it’s the bearings in the diff since the car has so many miles on it, but I’m just not sure. It’s also still leaking a bit of oil from the rear main seal, but I haven’t had the energy or time to dive into that yet. Aside from those problems and needing an alignment, the car should be ready to log some miles. I haven’t even bothered to insure my cars this year since gas prices are so high and there is some massive construction going on throughout my entire commute to work, but if I can get at least one of the cars road worthy by September I may get it out and enjoy it a bit before the snow flies.

Thanks for popping by to check out the update! Next I’ll share what happened with my hatch between March and July to bring you up to speed on that car. When I step back and think about it, it’s actually a decent amount of stuff! Thanks as always for stopping by.

Damon

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Let’s Keep it Moving

I am pleased to report that I have made decent progress since last week’s update after spending a few of evenings in the garage. Michigan brought us some really nice days this past week that allowed me to clear all of the patio furniture and the girls’ trampoline out into the backyard- which buys me some much-needed garage space.

The first item I tackled after my previous update was re-drilling the holes in the firewall for the engine harness and the AC evaporator. I had welded all of these shut when I shaved the bay since I was never running AC and routed my engine harness through the trans tunnel for a cleaner look. It hurt a little bit to drill through the nice, clean firewall, but it’s all in the name of achieving what I envision for the car in my mid-30s. I also cut through the passenger side chassis harness pass through up near the core support and got that sorted out.

With all of the needed holes redrilled, I was able to install the evaporator assembly behind the dash. I had installed a gutted version of this that was essentially just an empty housing back when I reinstalled my heating system in 2017 or so, so I simply swapped that box with the complete evaporator assembly I kept from Tim’s car when I parted it out.

How is it possible to make this big of a mess EVERY TIME?

In order to finish routing the chassis harness and install the AC condenser, I had to remove my clutch fan, shroud, and radiator. While I had the radiator out, I decided it would be a good time to swap from my aftermarket Samco hoses back to a set of OEM Nissan SR20DET radiator hoses and clamps like I am using on my coupe. No specific reason for this other than a desire to keep things as simple and factory as possible.

I also removed my custom tucked coolant overflow tank that I had mounted on the headlight bracket between the intercooler and radiator. It was a cool piece, but again- I want to return things to a more factory look like on my coupe. I’ll be replacing it with a GK Tech OEM-Style coolant overflow that I mentioned in a previous post.

I bolted up a pair of factory horns that I kept from a previous part out. This is another item that has never worked on this car during my ownership. As cheesy as it is, I was so excited when I got the horn to work on my coupe. It’s little details like this that I get way too excited about in my old age.

Chase Bays PS kit… I am coming for you next.

After getting the chassis harness in pretty good shape, I moved on to installing the AC condenser. It was neat to see where this item mounts up since the AC was removed from my car by the previous owner that did the SR swap many years ago. This was my first time seeing my car with a condenser on it which is a bit weird. It’s definitely not as clean of a look, but if it provides me with cool air on a hot summer day it will absolutely be worth it.

I could have taken the time to clean and paint all of this stuff… but I didn’t. Maybe I’ll regret that later, but it is what it is for now. If I finish this whole project and the by some miracle the AC works, I’ll address it one day down the road.

I had to do a bit of research about which condenser fan to run. From my understanding, my entire AC setup is from a 1989 chassis, since that’s what year Tim’s car was. I learned from Nick (@nscardingo) down in Florida that the KA24E cars use this fan, but KA24DE cars had a condenser fan placed between the clutch fan and radiator shroud. I thought I needed a DE fan, but he later informed me that all 180SX and S13 Silvia use this style fan on the front of the condenser. With that knowledge, I bolted it into place. This particular fan uses two plugs while the DE only uses one to accomplish the task of sending two different bits of info to the ECU, so only the one plug on my 93 chassis harness is needed. I did have to extend the pigtail a bit to reach the front of the condenser since the 91-93 fan is typically on the back side of the radiator. But once that was done it was smooth sailing!

I’ll go back and clean things up in this area later. I’m just about done figuring out where everything plugs in.

After finishing the fan install, I cleaned up some rust on my fuse box bracket and installed the passenger side fuse box. I was also able to bolt up the AC dryer and connect the line from the dryer to the condenser. I have my battery mocked up in place at the moment but need to order a mounting kit for it. I decided to keep my circuit breaker in place, so I shortened my positive cable and got all of those items situated. I previously had the battery relocated to the trunk on this car, but moved it to the original location during this refresh process. It will now be mounted in the same place as the battery on my coupe. Having the battery in the trunk was always kind of annoying so this should be pretty nice.

Back on the inside of the car, I was able to finish routing the chassis harness after reinstalling the dash bar. Everything seems to be sitting correctly and it feels great to have this portion completed. I also reinstalled the carpet, blower motor, and ECU. All that’s left to do in the main cabin is to connect the battery properly and check for power. Once I confirm that things are working as they should be, I can go ahead and reinstall the dashboard and the rest of the interior.

I installed a new hood release cable while I was at it. I needed one for my coupe when I built it, so I ordered a spare for the hatch and have had it sitting around for a while now.

So that’s about where things stand currently. I’ve got to finish cleaning up some wiring in the bay and complete the AC component installation before I am able to put the intercooler, radiator, and clutch fan back in. After that things under the hood should be in good shape. I made a long list tonight of everything left to do before the car is road worthy again. It’s likely going to take me all of April to finish it with the way life goes, but I would feel great about having this car back on the ground in early May. It might be too lofty of a goal, but we’ll see how things shake out.

As for my coupe, I brought the car back to my house from its winter home at my mom’s place this past Friday night. I was shocked that the car fired right up and made the short trek over to my house without any issues. It felt amazing to see, smell, hear, and drive an S13 again as it always does after a long winter. We aren’t out of the woods yet, but just being able to see it in the garage again is awesome. I have also been referencing the car a lot to solve chassis harness questions and copy how I went about some of the things I did when I put that car together back in 2020. There are a couple small items I want to tackle on the coupe this spring, but nothing too taxing right now. I’m considering trying to raise it just a bit to see if I can’t put some more miles on it during the summer. We’ll see if I can get away with it without making it look too lame though. I’ve still got a five lug conversion and 17s all around on my mind…

The weather is slowly getting nicer and things are falling into place. I am hoping to keep plugging away a couple nights a week and check things off the list until the hatch is finally running and on the ground once again. Here’s to hoping this motivation continues!

Thanks as always for stopping by to check things out- have a great week!

Damon

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No Turning Back

Well, I decided after last week’s post that it was time to dive into replacing my entire chassis harness on my hatch. I was a little hesitant to tear into it this late into the offseason, but with all of the other “OEM-inspired” things I was taking on during the winter months it seemed like the right thing to do. I was greeted by a surprise 3″ of snow this morning which was a good reminder that we still have a ways to go before nice weather arrives- not to mention the terrible condition that Michigan’s roads are in right now.

Tough to rip this apart again, but it needed to be done…
It’s sad how quickly I can tear an S13 down at this point. Putting it back together always takes much longer…

The first order of business was stripping the interior. At this point in my life I have lost track of how many times I have removed the complete interior of my S13s, so it almost feels like second nature. I spent a few hours in the garage last Saturday night, and before I knew it I had the entire interior – dash and all – out of the car. I always breathe a sigh of relief any time I successfully remove my defrost vents from the dash.

Here’s what you see behind my faux glovebox- yuck. Can’t wait to have a functional glovebox again.
Bad screengrab of a video here, but I forgot to take a photo of the donor harness all laid out.

I took a bit of time to clean up the donor harness as it was of course covered in years of dust. A lot of the electrical tape on the harness had began to lose adhesion and fall off, so I also spent some time wrapping a few sections of it. Once that was taken care of, I began removing my existing body harness from the car. Most of the back half of the interior harness is still in pretty good shape with the exception of the wiring that runs through the hatch itself. I cut that back in 2008 or so when I bought the car and replaced the rusty hatch that came on the car. My tail light harness had also been cut up when I wired kouki tails around that same time. It’ll be nice to have fresh wiring in place going forward.

A while back I sourced a complete rear wiper assembly and harness from someone parting out their S13. Once I finish replacing the chassis harness and confirm it all works properly, I’ll likely go ahead and reinstall it. This isn’t something I ever thought I would want to have on my car again from a looks standpoint, but I kind of dig it in my old age. It would be great to have a functional rear wiper again. More details on that project to follow.

Replacing everything from the driver’s seat back was surprisingly easy and pain-free. All of the plugs and wiring matched up which was a big relief. I elected to remove my battery from the trunk area and will be putting it back in the engine bay again like I did on my coupe. It has always annoyed me to have the battery in the trunk so this should be a welcome change. I should be just about ready to install the back half of the interior now, but I am thinking about replacing my rear speakers and finally getting a working radio in this car. I’ve said it many times and never done it over the years- maybe it will finally happen this time?!

The calm before the storm began…

This is the point where things started to get scary. I ended up removing the dash bar and all of the chassis wiring that I had stashed behind the dash when I did my wire tuck ten years ago. I had routed it a bit wonky when I did the tuck, so some things had to be cut out completely. It’s always a scary feeling chopping into the wiring harness of a functioning car.

With everything on the interior ripped out, I had to remove the front fenders and bumper to access the rest of the chassis wiring. Since most of my harness and the fuse boxes were tucked behind the dash, I didn’t have much wiring running through the fenders- the headlight motors and plugs for the front lighting were just about the only items.

Not much wiring left here compared to in its factory form. It’s going to be annoying to go through tucking the larger harness again for tire clearance, but it shouldn’t be too bad.

I stepped back and looked at what I had done to my car. The entire interior was removed as well as most of the front end. All of my chassis wiring lay on the garage floor in a tangled chopped up mess. I only paused at this moment for about five minutes, but I definitely started to panic. Was this the end? Would I part out the car and move on for good? After my miniature panic attack, I started routing and plugging in the new donor harness along the dashboard area. About an hour later, I had almost everything plugged in and in place- what a relief. It took a bit of trial and error, but I eventually found a match for each plug. I was worried the donor car may not have had all of the same options as my car, but from what I can see so far everything seems to be in order.

I used some old fender liner plastic and silicone sealant to seal these holes up when I shaved the bay. Time to remove it so I can utilize these holes again…
Fortunately these were never welded shut – that made things a lot easier.

After connecting the engine bay portion of the chassis harness to the large white connector behind the dash, it was time to begin undoing all of the areas my friend Mike welded closed for me back in 2012 when I shaved the engine bay. I removed my faux AC box from behind the dash to see where the holes for the AC system used to reside. In order to run AC in the car like I hope to, I would have to recreate all of those same holes in the chassis. I decided to start with the drain tube for the evaporator. I used a hole saw bit, a dremel, and a file to recreate the hole. After messing with it for a while, I was able to reinstall the rubber drain tube that I saved from a parts car. Fortunately it fits well and you shouldn’t be able to tell I ever messed with it when glancing at the engine bay.

Peeling back the Dynamat to reveal where the factory holes for the evaporator are located. You can see the new hole for the drain hose grommet in the bottom left.
Evaporator drain tube installed. If the AC ever actually works in this car I will be completely floored.

I then moved on to the pass through for the chassis harness up at the front of the car. You guessed it- I welded those shut too when I shaved and repainted the bay. I want the chassis harness to route the way it did from the factory, so I had to recreate the factory holes once again in order to achieve this. I made a template and started hacking into my beautiful engine bay. After working on it for quite a while, I was able to pass the fuse boxes through and install the rubber grommet in the hole I recreated. It’s not as beautiful of a cutout as it was from the factory, but again- with the grommet installed you can’t tell I ever messed with it.

You can still make out where the factory cutout was on this side- time to cut it out again.
Paper template in place.
Rough cut prior to being trimmed and cleaned up.
Ahh… back to stock.

So that’s where things stand with the chassis harness replacement at the moment. I still need to drill two new holes for the evaporator lines in the firewall, as well as a new hole for the engine harness to pass through. I also need to recreate the large cutout on the passenger side of the engine bay. It’s a fairly noisy process and I am always afraid I am keeping the girls awake, so I hope to sneak into the garage during the day this weekend to try to make more progress while they are awake.

Everything back in its factory location. Once I am finished with installing the harness, I’ll have to circle back to this portion of the harness and mess with it to ensure proper tire clearance and fender fitment.

This is definitely a daunting process, but I am very pleased with the progress I have made so far. I am hoping to devote three nights a week to working on it so that I can have it in good shape by the end of April. I am notorious for missing deadlines that I set for myself, but it certainly helps with motivation to have these goals in mind. With any luck I will be nearly finished with the wiring by my next update and can move on to putting the car back together.

Thanks as always to everyone that stops by to check this out- it means a lot every time! I hope everyone has a great weekend.

Damon

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Winter’s Final Push

March is a traditionally unpredictable month here in Michigan from a weather standpoint. It’s often when we get teased with our first peek at what spring will hold, and even though it comes in short spurts of sun, it’s typically enough to ignite my passion and motivation for working on cars again. While we are only four days into March, I have already seen this beginning to take place. It’s awesome to see the sun today, even if it’s only 37 F outside. This weekend will be one of those previews where we see temps in the high 50s- though it will be snowing again by Monday. However, it’s a great reminder that warm weather will arrive once again and that I should begin to prepare for it’s arrival more seriously.

An order from RHD Japan including some additional rear NISMO bushings, a NISMO clutch slave and line, and a pair of GReddy air filters for the factory airboxes on my cars.
The left bushings is what NISMO designates for the rear uprights where the toe arm connects. These are very difficult to press without damaging. I elected to use the bushing on the right instead- the one NISMO utilizes on the other two mounting points on the rear upright. Now all three will use the same bushing with the metal sleeve.

My last post was back in Mid-January, so let’s travel back in time a little bit to recap what has been going on. January and early February saw higher motivation levels than usual for me which was a good thing. I started by reassembling my rear subframe. The first order of business was pressing the NISMO bushings into my rear uprights. The ones with metal sleeves went well, but the rubber bushings for the rear toe arms gave me issues just like they did on my coupe. There’s something about this design that is just incredibly difficult to press without damaging the rubber. After doing some research, I found that some aftermarket bushing kits use the same metal-sleeved bushings for all three locations on the rear uprights. Despite it not being what NISMO says to do, I ended up ordering two additional metal bushings to use in that location. They pressed in with ease and seem to work just fine. I ordered an extra pair to replace the ones on my coupe at some point as well. Definitely makes life much easier!

After pressing the upright bushings, I was able to bolt up the NISMO rear lower control arms, rear uprights, and SPC suspension arms to the subframe. The next order of business was replacing the CV joint boots on my factory axles. None of them were torn at this time, but I did this as preventative maintenance on the coupe last summer and wanted to do the same for the coupe. A word of advice for anyone taking on this task- order extra metal clamps for the boots. I rarely seem to install them correctly the first time and end up cutting the clamp too short. They’re cheap and it is helpful to have extras on hand.

No wild colors here- just the way this old man likes it.

After hitting my diff pumpkin with some Rustoleum, I nearly had the whole subframe back together and ready to install in the car. The final order of business was replacing my tired Ichiba rear hubs with OEM Nissan S14 rear hubs and bearings. These things are annoyingly costly, but I wanted to match my S14 front hubs with these and hopefully avoid taking on this task again for a very long time. My Harbor Freight 20 Ton Press made quick work of pressing these together, allowing me to finish the refreshed subframe assembly.

Factory hard lines from a donor car awaiting installation.

However, before the subframe could go back in, there was another task that had been on my list for years that I wanted to address. When I parted out the car in 2012 and sold the shell to a friend, he removed the factory metal fuel lines and replaced them with braided hose for the LS1 swap he had planned. When I bought the car back in 2014, I removed those lines and installed my own hard lines- which were pretty crude at best, but got the job done. I ended up keeping the factory hard lines from a car I parted out years ago and finally decided to install them. It felt great putting OEM lines back on the car. I also replaced a bunch of worm gear clamps I had used on my rubber fuel hoses with the correct fuel injection clamps to avoid the risk of dangerous leaks in the future.

Poorly bent fuel and brake lines at the back of my car prior to replacing them with factory Nissan hard lines.

As for my brake lines, the same story was true with those. Nearly all of my brake lines were removed at one point many years ago when I installed a Chase Bays brake line tuck. I have slowly been reverting them back to stock, but the lines under the car and at the brass T fitting in the rear of the car will still crude aftermarket lines. I saved these from a parts car as well and was finally able to swap back to a complete set of OEM metal brake hard lines. Again, it was really satisfying to get everything converted back to the way Nissan intended.

Fortunately I saved a factory clutch line bracket from a parts car as well for a seamless install. You can see my junky fuel lines that I replaced with OEM hard lines in this photo as well.

Finally, the last line to convert back was the clutch line. I was running a braided line on the car during my shaved engine bay phase but really wanted to go back to the stock hard line. I kept the clutch line out of a parts car and swapped it in along with a NISMO slave cylinder and clutch damper bypass hose. This is the same setup I have on my coupe and the pedal feel is great, so it only made sense to give the hatch the same treatment.

By mid February, I was able to lift the subframe back into the car just before we took a trip up North to the lake house. It would have been nice to completely finish the job, but I thought it would at least be good to have the subframe in before our vacation. I need to circle back and attach the lower coilover mounts, install the rotors and calipers, adjust the ride height, attach the e-brake cables, etc. Hopefully this weekend I will manage to get most of those things taken care of.

2007 production date 17″ GT4 on the left vs 2011 production 18″ GT4 on the right.
17×9 +22 fits perfect with S14 FLCA in my opinion. Perfect fit for the look I am going for.

As most of you know, I have really been wanting to score a pair of 17x9j +22 bronze NISMO LMGT4 to use on my hatch with the 18″ set I got last fall. Fortunately, I came across a pair that looked like a decent match on Yahoo! Auctions Japan and was able to win the bid. I was bummed to see that they aren’t a perfect match like I had hoped, but it is so difficult to piece together 17/18 sets of bronze Rays wheels these days. The color always varies so much depending on the year they were manufactured and their exposure to sun. My TE37s aren’t perfect either, so I am hoping that once these are installed they will look OK. We’ll see what happens though!

Always have to try a quick test fit…

I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to grab a photo of all of these wheels being in my garage at once. It’s definitely a pretty surreal sight. I have always wanted to have two sets of wheels for my hatch, and did have a set of bronze AVS Model V with my bronze TE37 a few years back, but it was very short lived. I’m still debating what to do with my extra pair of 18″ LMGT4… more on that in a bit though.

Looks like fun already…
I once tucked my fuse boxes in my fender well area. The fuse boxes were upside down and filled with water, so I drilled holes in them to let the water drain- hence why I needed replacements. Live and learn!

The next big project I want to tackle on my hatch is replacing the chassis harness. I hacked up my factory harness many years ago when I shaved the engine bay and moved the fuse boxes behind the glove box. I haven’t had any major issues with this other than the lack of functionality for the glove box driving me crazy. I ended up finding a nice chassis harness from a car that was the same year and trim level and mine through Nikko in Chicago and decided to snag it while I could. I also sourced some fuse box covers since mine have holes drilled in them, and the plastic grommets for the wiring to pass through in the engine bay. I welded up many of these holes when I shaved my bay, so this is going to be a fairly tedious process- especially since the entire interior has to come out. I am debating if I want to get into this so close to spring, but I think I may just go for it. Maybe I’ll regret it, but we’ll see how things play out. Starting from square one with a factory wiring harness definitely sounds nice at this stage in the game!

Adapter harness from the USDM turn signal plug to kouki 180SX position lamps and turn signals.
USDM to JDM sidemarker harness.
Silvia fog light conversion harness. These plug into the headlight motors. Interested to see how they work!

I elected to pick up JDM light adapted harnesses from Key’d Performance to compliment the new chassis harness. My wiring was hacked up and cobbled together, so this should work out really nicely. I picked up their adapter harnesses for the JDM kouki 180SX sidemarkers, position lamps, and turn signals. I also snagged their fog light harness for my coupe to turn the high beams on the bricks to fog lights. They’re super nice quality and I am looking forward to installing them!

Fresh clear sidemarkers and OEM bulb sockets awaiting installation.

While on the subject of lighting, I found that one of my bulb sockets was damaged on my sidemarker lamp. I bought some new bulb sockets as well as brand new clear sidemarker lenses to freshen things up. The wiring for my front lights is actually what tipped me over the edge with my chassis harness. I was having a heck of a time getting my new hybrid position lamps to work properly and tore into the mess of wiring to try to figure it out. This is right about when I saw the new chassis harness listed for sale and decided it would be awesome to just go back to square one. Again, I may regret it, but ideally the end result will be cleaner, simpler wiring and the return of some functionality that my car has not had for many years.

If this goes well, I am sure the coupe will be begging me for one next. Seriously, I do not recommend owning two of these cars. You’re just asking for a headache.

One final thing I picked up for the hatch is a replacement driveshaft carrier bearing. The noise from the driveshaft with solid subframe bushings has bothered me for years, so I thought it would be a good time to replace this while the driveshaft is out. I have no idea how to go about this, but hopefully I can figure it out!

I’m not going to lie… these wheels do look pretty cool. I hate being so indecisive.

But what about the coupe you say?! Well, it’s still nestled in my mom’s garage across town at the moment. I am really anxious to bring it home and mess around with it a bit, but I should probably wait until the weather gets a bit nicer. Now that I have two complete sets of 5×114.3 wheels, I would really like to convert the coupe to five lug. I’ve started casually putting out my feelers to sell the Work Equips, but haven’t had any bites just yet. If I do manage to sell those though, I’ll likely begin ordering the remaining components needed to make the switch. If I could choose, I would really like a square 17×9 setup on the coupe- white TE37s or bronze LMGT4 would be really cool. I could definitely make do with the 17/18 TE37 from my hatch in the mean time, but I think a square setup would suit the car better with factory aero. With the way the world and global economy are trending right now, it might make sense to wait before diving into this project. I’m going to feel it out and see what happens.

It feels awesome to write a blog post! I have been really anxious to do this but just haven’t been able to find the time lately. Here’s to hoping I can get the momentum going again and make some good progress on the cars before the nice weather is here to stay.

Thanks as always for stopping by. The fact that people reach out to me and tell me they still enjoy this content after so many years in the game is motivating and very humbling. I’m still having too much fun to quit just yet. Have a great weekend!

Damon

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Welcome to the Future – 2022 is Here

Well, here we are again- another year has arrived. I’m not sure it’s related to the new year at all, but I have been feeling highly motivated when it comes to my cars lately and I’ve been pushing myself to suit up in warm clothes and spend some time in the garage a few nights a week. This is no small task as it’s been in the single digits many nights with wind chills below zero. I’ve also really been wanting to update the blog, but just haven’t found the time until now. Before we dive into what I’ve been working on, let’s backtrack a bit to cover what happened since my last post in November 2021.

I ended up waiting a bit too long to gas up my hatch and tuck it in the garage and some snow snuck up on me, but I managed to get to it before the roads got salted. I had the cars together for one last time this season over at my mom’s place before grabbing a few photos in my driveway and pulling the hatch into the garage to put it on jack stands.

I tossed one of the LMGT4s on the car again to take a couple mock up photos. I still haven’t decided what I want to do with these knowing that I would only use them if I could find a way to score a 17/18 setup. I lost a bid on a pair of 17×9 +22 that would have been perfect, but I guess it wasn’t meant to be (or I’m not as crazy as some people are.) The prices that these wheels have been fetching in the past couple months make me wonder if I should be using them at all. I’m still considering trying to trade someone a pair of them (and have a couple people interested in doing just that,) but I’m really having a hard time justifying splitting up the set. For now they’ll hang around while I decide what to do, but I definitely want to see my hatch on a full 17/18 set at some point. This is the last big wheel setup I wan to see on the car and it would feel great to check it off my bucket list.

By late November, things got busy as they do every year around this time. My wife and I took a trip up North to the lake to celebrate her birthday, and surprisingly we were still able to take one of the side-by-sides out on the trails due to a lack of snow. I’ve gotten more comfortable taking the family’s Can-Am Maverick Trail on the smaller 50″ trails (as opposed to the larger 72″ routes we usually frequent) and I am excited to do more of that in the spring. I would really like to get a couple four wheelers to keep up there, but that’s likely not going to happen unless one of the S13s goes bye-bye- which is unlikely at this point!

In early December, I celebrated my birthday and took a solo trip down to Houston to visit Jimmy and our friends down there. My flight was about $60, so it was difficult to pass up. The Knuckle Up Friday Night Lights event was happening just a few weeks later on New Year’s Eve, but I wanted to come down prior to that to enjoy a low key weekend of hanging out. It’s fun going to watch friends drive at events, but sometimes it’s nice to sit car stuff aside and spend some time hanging out like normal people.

The rest of December was a blur with all of the hustle and bustle of Christmas. It’s always a chore getting everything done and attending lots of gatherings, but it’s fun when it finally happens. We were fortunate to see most of our families despite everything going on in the world and everyone made it through relatively healthy, so we were very fortunate.

My in-laws got me a new lawn mower for my birthday which I am very excited about. I’ve had a couple beaters for the twelve years since we bought our home, so having a brand new one is going to be amazing.

With the holidays behind us, I committed to make a push to get to work on the tasks I have wanted to complete on my hatch for quite a while. The first of those was creating a set of custom front position lamps. Ever since I went with kouki 180SX aero back in 2009, I’ve wanted a way to utilize the factory position lamps as both running lights and turn signals like they do in Japan. I’m pleased to say I finally tackled this project and it’s nearly complete. I took a fair amount of photos, so I’ll do a separate post soon detailing the process. Hopefully it ends up working well though.

Nothing like hacking up two sets of brand new turn signals… more on this in a future post.

As for new parts, I picked up a couple small things over the last few months. I saw someone share that GK Tech was having a sale on their OEM style coolant tanks and the price was too good to pass up, so I grabbed one of those for my hatch. I currently have an aluminum tank that is tucked down by the radiator, but I eventually want to make the engine bay more factory again. Maybe I’ll get to this at some point later this winter, but for now I want to leave the engine bay alone until the suspension is sorted.

The next item I picked up is a pair of East Bear mirrors. I have owned several pairs of both East Bears and Aero Markers over the years, and most recently sold my last pair in the spring of 2020 to fund the suspension and brake refresh on the coupe. Those funds allowed me to get the car on the ground and across the finish line, so it made sense at the time- especially considering I was on furlough back then due to the early days of COVID. I’ve been hoping to snag another pair for the coupe, but was having a really hard time finding any for less than $1,000- which is crazy considering they used to be $200 just a few years ago.

Eventually I was able to find this pair from someone on Instagram. They’re in sort of rough shape, but I should be able to save them. I took them over to my mom’s house last weekend to throw them on and see what they look like. I think it’s a cool option to have for the future. We’ll see if I actually use them this time, but it feels good to have both a pair of these and some Ganadors stashed away should I ever decide to use them again. With prices the way they are, it makes sense to keep them since I got a pretty decent deal on both pairs.

One more color doesn’t hurt right?

Speaking of the coupe, I have been heavily considering converting it to five lug hubs and Z32 brakes like my hatch. I change my mind about it daily, but I have casually started to gather some items for the project as they pop up. I currently have a set of Z32 rear drum assemblies and e-brake cables as well as a Gent5 Z32 brake master cylinder. I’m trying to make the hatch my focus this winter, but we’ll see what comes of this notion later this year.

Finally, I ended up grabbing a pair of new kouki 180SX tail lights and another kevlar RPS13 panel. As I am sure many people heard, Nissan discontinued the lower metal trim panel for kouki 180SX tail lights recently and it caused a bit of a frenzy. I’ve wanted to have a fresh pair of lights and a new kevlar panel socked away for whenever I finally paint the car, so this seemed like the perfect time to snag them before prices go up. I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before the lights are gone too. And who knows, maybe they’ll end up like Silvia bricks in a few years. Worst case I can sell them (or my current used ones,) but this is another item I am glad to have stashed away.

And now, on to the actual project work that’s been going on. I dropped the subframe on the hatch and tore everything apart for the refresh. I have had a few NISMO items sitting aside for close to a year now that I’ve been wanting to install, including subframe bushings, rear knuckle bushings, and rear lower control arms. After installing these items in my coupe during the build process, I really wanted to add the same to my hatch. I’ve always had solid subframe bushings in my hatch since I replaced the factory ones in 2009, but the driveshaft and diff noise has always been annoying. My rear knuckles got the Energy Suspension polyurethane treatment at the same time, but I didn’t keep up with greasing them, causing the rear suspension to creak. All said and done, I am older now and really just wanted to go with something simpler and less harsh. The NISMO rubber bushings fit the bill perfectly.

Here are the part numbers and quantities needed for the NISMO bushings for one car. I ordered all of these items through RHD Japan as they have the best pricing. Nothing but good things to say!

After tearing down the subframe, I gave it a good scrub down. The Parts Shop Max subframe risers tapped out easily with a hammer which was a relief. Over the span of two different nights, I used my 20 ton shop press that I bought back in the spring to install the new subframe bushings. The process was a bit tedious and nerve racking, but it went very smoothly. It’s tough to hold the subframe in position alone, but I was able to prop it up and figure it out. It felt great to have this task taken care of as I’ve been worried about it for a while now.

Setting all of this up to press in straight without tipping over was a chore by myself, but I am glad it worked out.

The next order of business was pressing the old Energy bushings out of the rear knuckles. I tackled that with my ball joint press kit which worked pretty well. Once those were cleaned up as well, I hit both the rear knuckles and subframe with a fresh coat of satin black. For many years I have wanted to powdercoat my subframes, but I always get impatient and spray paint them. As time has gone on, I’ve grown happier with this decision. For a car that sees a lot of street driving and isn’t meant to be a show piece, it works out just fine. It’s easy to touch it up and refresh it every few years if necessary. Powdercoating is definitely the nicer way to go, but this solution works fine for my needs. I’ll have to circle back to the knuckles soon to press the new NISMO bushings in which I’m sure will be a task, but fingers crossed it goes well.

Whenever I find myself back in the garage again, I am planning to replace the boots on my CV joints. I did one of them on my hatch back in the spring, as well as all four of them on my coupe, but I want to do the other three on my hatch while I have the subframe out of the car. I went with these Beck Arnley boots from Rock Auto again as they are much more affordable than the OEM Nissan units and are likely going to end up torn at some point in the not too distant future.

The clamps pictured seem to be the incorrect style- weird that only this one came with these. All of the others I bought came with the same clamps that Nissan uses. Pro tip- buy spares if it’s your first time installing them. I always manage to mess them up, but I’m getting the hang of it.

My SPC suspension arms are showing their age a bit, but seem to be in decent enough condition overall. I am tempted to replace them with a combination of Cusco and NISMO units, but I think I will try to clean them up and make do for a while. I like the SPC stuff because it isn’t funky colors, the bushings are rubber, and they’re an affordable alignment solution. The rubber does seem prone to cracking on low vehicles, but I guess it’s to be expected a bit. I would love to replace these with something Japanese again someday as I don’t really love having more American parts on my cars, but for now it makes sense to save as much money as I can for paint work. I’d also really like to install some sort of aftermarket LSD, but again- it’s just not in the budget right now. Someday I’ll get around to doing this on both cars- it’s high on my list to get them to a point where I’m fully content with them.

My goal is to keep spending a few hours in the garage 2-3 nights a week to try to get this subframe project wrapped up as soon as possible. I often tear my cars apart at the beginning of the off season and don’t get around to finishing the things I start until well into spring, so I am hoping to avoid that this year. To be honest, after working all day, helping around the house, and taking care of the kids each night the last thing I want to do is go in the freezing cold garage. It’s been a struggle and I’ve literally had to drag myself out there, but every time I do I am glad I did it and come inside feeling motivated and fulfilled. I’ve had lots of motivation and a desire to continue improving my cars in the last two weeks, so I’m working hard to see that it continues.

It’s easy to consider calling it quits on the blog and this hobby in general at the stage of life I find myself at, but somehow I’m still hanging in there. I hope to have my hatch presentable again and running well when the weather turns to enjoy it to the fullest this year. I’ve been content to stay a bit stagnant since the pandemic began as it causes a lot of uncertainty and makes you question what matters most in life. However, I’ve felt a renewed sense of motivation to continue improving these cars lately- we’ll see how long it lasts, but I am feeling good right now.

Thanks for sticking around and still swinging by to see what I am up to. People reaching out to me about finding enjoyment and useful info from this blog this many years into it is a huge source of motivation for me. I sincerely appreciate it! Onward and upward in 2022.

Damon

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