Garage Work Intensifies

Things have been picking up steam for me since my return from vacation in Florida late this past Saturday night. My garage has probably seen more activity in the last week than it has in the last couple of years combined which is pretty exciting.

Tis’ the season… to play with junky old Nissans!

I didn’t have much time in the few short days between purchasing my new donor car and leaving for Florida, but I did manage to get a few things removed from the car before we left on our trip. It was tough to bring the car home and immediately need to leave for eight days, but I wanted to snag it before any more snow came down or someone else could purchase it.

I snuck into the garage in between packing and managed to remove a few simple items like the Silvia front end, replica Bride seats and Buddy Club seat rails, Corbeau harnesses, Mishimoto radiator fans, Circuit Sports catch can, and even a brand new Cusco rear strut tower bar that was mounted in the trunk (this was a surprise to me since it was not listed on the for sale post for the car.) This allowed me to list some of these items for sale from Florida and ship them when I returned home.

This car is your stereotypical S13 drift car build in every sense of the word. When I removed the front end, I found that both headlights and corner lights were held in place with one zip tie each. There were no PS13 brackets for headlight mounting and the front bumper was held in place with two bolts from the crash beam to the chassis. There was no factory hood latch installed, so someone decided to drill into the nearly mint OEM Silvia hood for hood pins. It was clear that not a lot of energy was put into assembling the car, but it felt good to confirm that a majority of the parts were there to meet my original goal of getting my money back out of the car.

It’s OK friend, I won’t let them hurt you anymore…

Upon returning home from Florida, I began to really tear into the car. I put it up on jack stands and removed and sold the Parts Shop max high mount intercooler. It’s a really nice kit and the engineering behind it makes sense, but it’s not really the look or style I am going for on my build. I did find a like new Koyo radiator on the car (despite the ad saying it had a Mishimoto radiator) so that was a nice surprise as I planned to purchase one eventually for the build anyway. I also elected to remove and sell the Chase Bays power steering kit from the car. I’m not sure what I will end up using for a power steering setup for the coupe, but we’ll see what happens.

It’s a shame the side of this new radiator was banged flat for the intercooler to clear. Hopefully I can straighten that back out…

After having the car in the air, I pulled the XXR wheels, EMUSA coilovers, and Godspeed rear suspension arms. I’ll likely install the stock suspension and steel wheels from my project coupe to sell this car as a rolling chassis. It was during this process that there was more rust on the car than I was led to believe (I was told there was none and saw pictures of the frame rails, but I assumed that was probably not likely.) Upon closer inspection, portions of the floor and the frame rails have definitely been repaired. This was a bit disappointing, but I should still be able to find a buyer for the chassis.

At lunch time yesterday I did a quick compression test on the new SR and things seem to be in pretty good shape from what I can tell. I’m planning to go through the engine and do a very light refresh, so hopefully applying the same maintenance to this one will treat me well like it has in my other car. Speaking of the other car, it was fairly nice out while I was home yesterday so I decided to let the hatch run and pull it out of the garage for a little bit. It’s only been about a month and a half since I put it away but I definitely miss driving it. It is nice to have it sitting there while I work on this car though to remind me of what the end goal looks like.

My OEM gasket kit arrived during the compression test yesterday- the first piece of the puzzle for refreshing the new SR20. I am really looking forward to having the engine on the stand and cleaning everything up!

After making steady progress removing parts from the car and selling them through the week, as well as completing the compression test, I was finally able to remove the drivetrain from the car late last night. It’s crazy to me how many nuts and bolts are missing in important places on this car, including the turbo outlet pipe, turbo manifold, and O2 housing. The more time I spent under the car, the more fortunate I felt that I made it home in one piece driving this thing down the highway!

I pulled the transmission off of the engine late last night and am planning to remove the clutch and flywheel to put it on the engine stand tomorrow morning. My four year old daughter Hattie has shown a lot of interest in working on cars and really wants to use the cherry picker, so I decided to put that off until the weekend so that she can give me a hand.

Minion #2 reporting for duty.

Hopefully you’re as excited about this progress as I am- it feels great to be out in the garage and doing some serious work again! I’m looking to continue to stay motivated and make some more progress with the part out in the coming weeks. Thankfully the weather has been pretty mild without much snow so parking my wife’s van in the driveway has not really been an issue. It will be great to get the donor chassis out of the garage and put the Sienna back in until spring time.

Thank you as always for stopping by and have a great weekend!

Damon

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Worldwide S13 Friends: Florida Edition

I’m going to keep this week’s post fairly short and sweet as I have been on a family vacation down in Florida for close to a week. It’s really nice to get a break from the winter weather at home back in Michigan each year and take a quick visit to stay at my in-law’s condo. The kids always have an awesome time at the pool and we enjoy a quick burst of sunshine before returning to the frozen tundra of the North.

I was fortunate enough on this trip to take a little bit of time for myself and drive three hours North to visit some friends that I have met through the S13 community- Brett, Hayden, Brent, and Dan. All of these guys reside close to each other in the Orlando area and frequently hang out and work on their cars together- something I think has a lot of value since I’ve only got a handful of friends with a similar taste in cars that live within four or five hours of me.

Brett’s cars are very elusive and rarely come out of hiding,
so I had to steal this photo from his Instagram.

I first met Brett (@noisy4ag) through Zilvia back in 2010 or so when he was building his teal 240SX. This car is the most immaculate example of an S13 fastback that I have ever seen in the US. Brett was way ahead of the game on the OEM restoration front, and as a result both of his S13s are super clean with lots of freshly replaced and long discontinued OEM components inside and out. Yes, Brett actually owns TWO fully restored and immaculate S13s, the teal version featuring a tidy KA-T setup. The car was featured in Super Street a few years back.

In addition to his two S13s, Brett also has a really nice supercharged AE86. The fascination with Toyotas has expanded over the last year or two to include a few off road vehicles like this neat ‘Yota pickup truck. I admit that I don’t know too much about this stuff, but it was definitely cool to check out none the less. Brett even dabbles into the rotary world- we took his grandfather’s ultra clean FC RX-7 out for a spin when we went to dinner.

If you’re into S13s, you have probably seen Hayden’s car around on Instagram (@hb_s13). He’s got an incredibly clean example that he sourced bone stock with around 36k miles on the clock a few years back. Riding in Hayden’s car during my visit last time I came down here is partially what inspired me to add some more creature comforts to my car like functioning heat and sound deadening. It’s totally bazar to ride in one of these cars with working heat, A/C, and an automatic transmission. The exhaust is still stock as well and there are almost no creaks or other odd noises while cruising down the road- super cool to experience. He recently added the bronze 17/18 TE37 setup in place of his Panasports which I think compliment the factory paint color nicely. Looking forward to seeing the manual swap in the car sometime soon!

Hayden’s brother Brent (@brrrentbeakes) has built a host of really cool cars over the years including S13s and S14s. His latest project is this JZX90 that he just painted black last week. It was wild riding around in this car as well as it is still NA and automatic for the time being. Everyone always jokes about these cars essentially being oversized Camrys, and I would be lying if the seats didn’t feel similar to the Camrys I have owned over the years. This is another car I am really looking forward to seeing more of in the future as Brent always does a really nice job putting a car together.

Perhaps the car from this dynamic duo that I was most excited to see on this trip was Dan’s S13. Dan (@__dzd__) has been working really hard to piece together all of the components for a refresh of this machine for the last year and I’ve been on board with his plan for quite some time now. Brent and Dan just painted both of their cars last week, so they were still awaiting the finishing touches, but it was still really cool to see.

Dan’s previous iteration of the car included a set of bronze AVS Model Vs and Sexy Style aero. This time around the exterior features an OEM kouki 180SX front bumper with plate cutout and genuine R33 GTR N1 ducts, as well as a Hot Road aero kit consisting of a front lip, side skirts, and rear valence. A Koguchi Power hood really adds to the aggressive feel of the car and compliments the plate cutout and N1 ducts perfectly. I know Dan had his heart set on a pair of Ganador mirrors for the car, but I don’t think the East Bear mirrors could look any better. The whole car has a bit of a Break Itoh vibe to it, which is just fine with me as it’s my favorite 180SX of all time.

The final piece that really takes this version of the car over the top is the set of 17/18 staggered NISMO LMG4 bronze wheels. I still can’t believe Dan managed to get a hold of these in the condition he did, especially with both pairs matching in color perfectly. I know Dan is still tweaking the wheel fitment a bit, but the overall presence of the car is just awesome.

A Bride Maxis and Pivot shift knob reside in the interior. The interior of the car will be Dan’s next area of focus as I know there are a lot of details he wants to add to refine it including a clean dashboard and some brand new carpet. I think he would also like to add a NeXt Miracle Cross Bar if the opportunity presents itself, so here’s to hoping it all pans out at some point!

I really enjoy Dan’s car because it reminds me of simpler times in the S chassis community. For many of us, the build process ended quite a while ago and the thrill of the chase has long since departed. It has been a lot of fun for me to chat with Dan and watch him go through the process of adding all of these different components to attempt to build the S13 he has envisioned in his head. It’s awesome to see his dedication and I was honored to be able to check out his most recent progress in person with my own eyes instead of just through the internet.

Experiences like these are what this community is all about. The fact that we can all stay connected through the internet and social media to share a common passion about these cars and help each other out is really amazing. The world feels smaller than ever these days and I often feel like I have friends all over the world- even if I have never met them in person. When I do get a chance to hang out in person, it’s always a good time.

I’ll be returning to cold and snowy Michigan tomorrow night- after which it will be time to get the red coupe torn apart and parted out so that I can get my garage back! I hope to check in next Friday with some decent progress on that front. As always- thanks for stopping by!

Damon

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Three’s Company

Well, here we are. In a unique and unexpected turn of events, I now find myself with three S13s in my current possession. How did this happen you might ask? Read along to find out…

The most recent 240SX to join my stable (albeit on a temporary basis) came to me through the local Facebook Marketplace S13 group. The car had been listed at $5k for quite a while which was a a fair amount more than it was worth. The owner lowered the price and still was not having much luck with moving it, so I reached out to him during the Thanksgiving holiday to see if it was still available. After creating a quick spreadsheet to determine the value of all of the items on the car, I decided that it would be worth trying to buy the car and part it out for a fairly quick profit.

After some negotiation, I sent a deposit and we set this past Tuesday as the day I would come and pick the car up. My good friend Tim that I often mention here on the site was kind enough to drive me out to the car since it was located near his home- a little over 100 miles from me. When we arrived it was dark outside, snowing, and about 20º outside. The battery was of course dead so we needed to jump start it, but the SR20DET seemed to idle nicely once the car warmed up. It was covered in snow from the winter storm that had moved through a couple days earlier and equipped with summer tires and a welded differential so I knew I was in for a treat with attempting to make the hour and forty five minute long trip to my house.

After limping the car down the street to the gas station, I discovered that it must have been running on fumes. I have never put more than 12.5 gallons or so into my S13, but this one took just over 14. I of course left the car running while gassing it up so that I wouldn’t have to worry about getting it to start again. After saying goodbye to Tim I hopped on the freeway and started what felt like the longest drive of my life.

There were many issues with this car that made it a handful to drive. There are no heater controls meaning that I was freezing the entire trip home. The windshield was fogging up but due to the lack of heat there was no defrost. No rear view mirror, no wiper motor, no interior of any kind to speak of aside from the replica Bride seats and poorly mounted racing harnesses. The straight pipe exhaust was crazy loud and the fuel tank access cover was not bolted down making for some beautiful sounds and smells the entire drive home. The car was also stumbling and misfiring at certain RPMs so I needed to keep it at a fairly low speed for it to cruise consistently. I am sure this is likely a simple issue with the engine that I can fix when refreshing it. I thought I was going to be pulled over for sure for not having a license plate on the car, but thankfully I made it without a hitch.

I’ve never been so happy to pull into my driveway. I checked out the car a bit more the next morning and moved it into my garage. The plan is to strip it down and sell a majority of the parts on it with the hope that I can keep the SR20DET swap for my new coupe project. I will also be holding onto the Silvia hood for my build as well. Just about everything else is going to be sold off to recoup some funds and hopefully end up with a free drivetrain… for the chassis that I also somehow wound up getting a hold of for free. This car isn’t in terrible condition, but one quarter panel is fairly banged up. It also appears to have had some rust repair done in the past and the chassis harness was messed with to install the switch panel. I am much better off building my other coupe chassis that hasn’t been messed with nearly as much and is virtually rust free.

So yeah- pretty crazy stuff! I never dreamed of having an engine for my project any time soon, but I had to jump on this opportunity. Hopefully things go smoothly in the coming weeks and I am able to part out and sell the car quickly so that I can get my wife’s car out of the snow and back into our garage.

That’s all for this week! I’ll be sure to keep everyone updated on the project’s progress. Thanks as always for stopping by!

Damon

PS- I still have just a small handful of my first run of stickers left if anyone is interested over at the store page. Thank you to everyone that has shown their support!

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Going For Two

Last week’s post about my recent acquisition of a second Nissan 240SX chassis has brought forth a lot of hype, questions, and discussion. While it was really cool to see how excited everyone was about me posting that I have a second one of these cars at my disposal now, I think it is important for anyone in my position to keep a level head and realistic expectations about what the future may bring for these project cars.

I think we have all seen this happen way too many times in the past- wasted enthusiasm poured into a new project, often someone’s second, third, fourth, or even fifth S13 in addition to the other unfinished cars they already own. For whatever reason it seems to be a trend among 240SX owners that owning one is simply not enough. However, more often than not this ends in a collection of partially parted out cars scattered about in someone’s backyard, the owner holding onto a dream that will likely never come to fruition. It’s not a bad thing to have dreams and ambitions (as well as the patience to pursue them no matter how long it may take) but it’s also important to be realistic. Believe me, even sharing with everyone that I had a new chassis was a decision I did not take lightly for that very reason.

For me, the coupe chassis is like any other spare part on the shelf. Sure, it’s a physical car and not a pair of wheels or an extra bumper, but it really should not be treated as anything more significant at this stage in my life. If I truly call it a second project car, I am at risk to lose not only the new chassis but my S13 hatch as well. There are numerous larger priorities in my life at this moment that require the coupe to remain a support item that is saved for a rainy day rather than a second full-blown project.

A few people have asked me if picking up a second S13 means my first one is finished. While we all know that no project is every truly completed, I do feel the most comfortable and content I have ever felt with my original 240SX. I’ve made very minimal changes to it over the last few years and I think that is showing both a new sense of maturity for me and the build, but also that I may have finally settled into what I feel is a good balance for what I want from that car. Sure, I still really want to give it a perfect paint job and install all of the moldings and weather stripping I have collected for it, but the car really is ideal for what I use it for at this point in my life. As much as I may be justifying not doing something that I simply don’t have the money for, it really does make sense to wait on painting it until further down the road. It’s awesome to be able to gas the car up and drive it anywhere I’d like without being overly concerned about paint chips or any weather I might encounter along the way. As difficult as it is, being comfortable with the car being just “OK” and remaining in the condition it is now makes a ton of sense. I guess what I am realizing is that in a way the car is “finished” for the time being. I’d like to tackle a few suspension improvements to replacing aging items that were upgraded nearly ten years ago and maybe get the audio system working if I am motivated enough, but aside from general maintenance and enjoying it I don’t feel the need for any big, elaborate plans.

I think the fact that I feel this way is making it easier for me to justify keeping the coupe around for the foreseeable future. I’ve watched way too many people attempt to build a second car or even modify their daily driver in the past only to see them lose a sense of balance and have to retreat. My hope is not to become another member of this statistic. I’ve always sought to keep my daily vehicles as boring and reliable as possible. I tend to choose a vehicle that I have no interest in modifying (and believe me, I am STILL always tempted to modify them in some way) to ensure that I am not going down a second rabbit hole before I have surfaced from the first one. Having a vehicle you haven’t messed with that you can rely on every day is one of the keys to owning a successful project vehicle. It’s just too stressful for most of us to deal with modifying and maintaining multiple cars.

But anyway, I hope this helps to give you a bit of my perspective on the second car. I’d love to have the resources to immediately dive in to building it from the ground up as heaven knows I’ve got plenty of passion and motivation to do that, but it’s really not realistic from a financial standpoint. I hope to have a clear, methodical path for it laid out from the very beginning so that I’m never tempted to stray from the plan and execute on it only as life allows me to. Should I ever be faced with a situation where I need to make a sacrifice, it will definitely be the first thing to go. With the end goal being owning a clean and positive representation of both variants of the S13 chassis, I hope that I’ll one day be successful enough to make that goal a reality- it’s just going to take some hard work and a HUGE amount of patience to make it happen. If it’s meant to be I think everything will pan out in the end.

Thank you to everyone that has shown their support by purchasing stickers! I’ve been overwhelmed with the positivity and kind messages of support. I used the proceeds to purchase a premium Flickr account to ensure that all of the photos on my blog and Zilvia build thread stay active for another year. I hope to offer some new merchandise in the new year including new stickers and maybe even some shirts if people are interested. 2019 is going to be a great year!

I hope that all of you enjoy some meaningful time with family this Thanksgiving. Thanks for the support!

Damon

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Cooped Up

While on the subject of unwavering passion for S13, it’s no secret that I have had a strong desire to build a coupe variant of the chassis (often referred to as the PS13) for the last couple of years. I wasn’t too fond of them compared to the fastback/180SX variant when I first had a desire to own one of these cars years ago, but the desire to try my hand at building one has been growing. I always felt that the Silvia just looked a lot less exciting than the 180SX, especially when equipped with their respective OEM Nissan factory optional aero setups. But as I have gotten older I have grown to respect the relative simplicity of the PS13 body.

I’ve had the pipe dream of building a second S13 chassis for a while now. “I’ll get a chance to do that when my house is paid off in a few years or after all of my girls are away at college,” I often tell myself. This thought is immediately met by an overwhelming sense of dread and urgency when thinking about just how hard it will be to obtain a decent rolling chassis to begin a build from in those 7-10 years. Surely all of them will be rusted out or crashed beyond repair by the time I am ready to build one, right?

A photo from the for sale listing.

I always keep my eyes open for deals and opportunities with buying and selling parts that might be beneficial to me. My budget at home is tighter than ever these days with me being the sole member of the family going to work each day, so finding deals occasionally allows me to put a little extra cash in the bank- or into my car. My good friend Tim that is building this red 240SX I shared a while back has recently grown a bit tired of trying to complete the car and has taken an interest in drifting. He picked up a rough looking 240SX coupe shell a couple weeks back to use as a drift beater but needed to find a KA24DE engine or two for it to get it running and on the track.

The car and truck were both loaded to the brim with spare parts.

While browsing the 240SX Facebook for sale pages, I came across a beige S13 coupe for sale in Indiana. The owner had purchased it a while back from someone in South Carolina and began tearing it apart to build it, only to lose interest along the way. He had collected a decent amount of spare parts for it including two KA24DE engines and a manual transmission swap. His asking price was much lower than the sum of the parts he was selling and his main stipulation with selling it was that whomever bought it had to take everything with them- the chassis and the entire pile of parts. I sent the link to Tim and told him we might be able to end up with a couple of free engines and a free S13 rolling chassis if we played our cards right. I decided I would buy in and help by selling all of the parts if (and only if) the chassis checked out to be as clean as the seller described. Tim ended up driving down to Indiana and bringing everything home to his barn.

The chuki popup front end was stripped and sold as I won’t have any use for it.

I wasn’t available to drive out to his parents’ barn where the car and all the parts have been stored until a couple of weeks later, but I spent the day going through everything with Tim last Saturday. We took inventory of everything we had with the car, which items each of us would want to keep, and what we could sell to get our money back. I spent the day taking photos of everything and hauling as many parts home with me in my Pontiac Vibe as I could to begin getting everything sold. I’ve been working on this through the course of the week and am pleased to report that I have now sold enough items to have this bare-bones chassis at a total investment of $0.

As for the car itself, it’s in much better condition than I had anticipated. It’s definitely my least favorite color for an S13, but beggars can’t be choosers right? The car was bone stock before it was taken apart and has not been modified in anyway. When removing the gross old seats and carpeting from the car, it appeared that none of the interior panels had ever been taken out before- very cool. I checked each major area that is known to rust on these cars and was consistently surprised with the condition of each- the spare tire well, floorboards, rocker panels, rear fender wells, and frame rails are all free of rust of any kind. The rear quarter panels have not even been rolled!

Here you can see the area of rust above the frame rail that needs to be addressed. This is just about the only rust on the entire car. It even still has the stock exhaust!

The only area of rust on the car is in the engine bay below the brake master cylinder along the frame rail. This area will need to be cut and patched properly to remove the rust- just like I needed to do on my current S13. There’s also a very small spot on the passenger strut tower that would also need to be addressed. Pretty funny since both of these spots were areas I fixed on the black car when I painted the engine bay. The body definitely has its share of dings and does have a decent dent from dragging along something in a parking lot on the driver’s door, but it really is in remarkable condition for being a 1992 Nissan with over 300k miles on the chassis- especially considering the price.

So what’s the plan for this second S13? That’s a great question. My wife and I had a lengthy discussion about the idea of keeping it set aside for when I have the means to build it up, but the size of our garage presents a storage issue. Tim and his parents were gracious enough to allow me to store the car in their barn for the winter, so I should be all set with that until March or April of 2019. I’d really like to bring the car home to my house for the spring and summer months of next year to tinker around with it and clean it up a bit, but we’ll see what happens. When winter arrives next year I would either need to move it somewhere else or find another place to store my current 240SX on the cheap. We’ll see what happens.

Nasty beige carpet and seats removed- looking better already.

The chassis was originally an automatic transmission with brown interior, so my first order of business would be to alleviate those issues. I have a number of black interior panels from my own car and that were included as spare parts, so I actually have a pretty good start on converting the interior to black. The car also included manual brake and clutch pedal assemblies, so I can drill the hole in the firewall for the clutch master and install those items too. If anything, converting the interior to black and setting up the chassis for a manual transmission will likely increase the value of the car, so I’m not too worried about putting in the effort to accomplish those things should I decide to sell the chassis later down the road.

At least the inside of the trunk looks presentable.

If I do end up deciding to keep this car around, the build won’t be remotely like the pace of my current car. Life looks much different these days and I simply do not have the means to build a second car, as much as I would love to. There are very simple tasks that I could take on to clean it up and prepare the car for the future though that would keep me busy and bring me some enjoyment. I also have a number of spare parts from my current car that I could use to partially assemble this one. We’ll have to see what life throws at me to determine how I proceed next, but I am excited about the possibilities. Fingers crossed that I can one day join the ranks of those that have a nice, clean example of both variants of the S13 chassis in their garage.

Thanks for reading- feel free to drop me a comment or email any time if you have questions!

Damon

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A Decade of Unwavering Passion for S13

It truly is hard for me to comprehend that this past Sunday marked ten years since the day I brought home my 1993 Nissan 240SX. I’m honestly not sure I would believe you if you told me then that I would still be driving and putzing around with this same car ten years later after graduating college, starting my career, buying a home, getting married, having three daughters, and parting the car out and selling the shell only to buy it back and rebuild it all again two years later. And though it hasn’t been without its challenges, I am beyond grateful for everything the experience has taught me about not only building one of these cars, but about navigating life in general. The friendships I have made through a mutual interest in these cars are ones that I will likely cherish for a lifetime.

As I do every year, I snapped some photos of the car from the same angles as the pictures I took of it the day I bought it to remind myself of how far it has come. They aren’t so much progress pictures anymore as they are a comparison of where it was then and where it is today. It’s always fun to remind myself of where I started with this car.

My passion for this hobby has grown over the years, leaving me with the overwhelming sense that it isn’t just about a car anymore. Though I started this blog as a means to document and share my progress on the car itself, it showed me that I really do enjoy writing and sharing my thoughts with others online. Whether I am any good at that or not remains to be seen for me, but as the actual build process has slowed over the last few years it has presented me with an opportunity to speak with other car enthusiasts about bigger-picture topics like the every day struggle many of us face surrounding being a part of the hobby at all. I feel some of the most meaningful posts I have shared here on my blog have been the ones where I just sat down and started rambling without any sort of clear ending point in mind. I’ve always questioned if I should even press the publish button on those posts at all, but those very posts have always been the ones that generate the most positive feedback. It’s still just as surprising for me as it is validating.

In the beginning, I never set out to try to achieve fame or internet notoriety. The purpose behind my build thread on Zilvia and creating this blog alongside it was always to document what I did with my car and share it with others to solicit feedback. Sure, I of course wanted that feedback to be positive and was seeking validation and recognition to some extent, but Instagram, having the most followers, and “YouTubers” weren’t even a thing back in 2008. The landscape was different. I was simply a guy that was passionate about cars and wanted to share what I was doing with others.

The car scene and the world as a whole have greatly evolved since then. A few people have managed to get rich quick by becoming YouTubers or creating a brand on Instagram- and far many more are trying to do the same. It’s easy to feel it’s all a bit insincere, isn’t it? I don’t knock people for having goals and trying to accomplish them, but as this path has slowly become the norm I have wondered what my role in all of it is. Sure, no one maintains a blog anymore, but it’s what I have always enjoyed and felt the most comfortable doing- even if no one reads long-winded posts from a guy in his early thirties anymore. Writing words and preserving them for future generations feels like a very important part of the car community for me.

Many of my friends regard my following on Instagram to be something outside of the norm. I never set out to reach X number of followers and haven’t really wanted to market myself in that way- it’s just something that has sort of happened organically. Compared to most people I feel I really don’t even have very many. I’ve always felt that continuing to share my build progress and attempting to lead by example in both life and in modifying my car was the best course of action to take- and if people enjoy it and decide to come along for the ride then so be it. My wife and a few of my friends have always encouraged me to try to capitalize on the small following I do have from a monetary standpoint, but for whatever reason I have never felt any degree of confidence in that. I never wanted to lose my sense of authenticity or make people feel I am simply out to make a quick buck like the endless sea of YouTube channels and Instagram repost pages we see in this day and age. I wasn’t a shop or a drift team- I was just a guy building a car. It never felt like it really fit for my situation. Many of these pages start out from the beginning as a brand without having any sort of history to back it up or creating any original content. They try to reap the reward without actually contributing or creating anything. Everyone wants the end success, but most don’t want to put the time or work in to achieve it within the car community today. I don’t mean to sound pessimistic, but these are the thoughts that run through my head from time to time.

Recently I realized that the things I share here are of great importance to me. While it’s all centered around a hobby that I do for fun, I am very passionate about it. I felt it was time to start taking the site a bit more seriously and decided to create a bit of branding around CamryOnBronze.com, as I am sure you have noticed during your visit here today. These changes come not out of a desire to change what I represent, but to strengthen it. I care a great deal about the small audience I have managed to obtain over the years which has motivated me to give it my all and put my best foot forward when it comes to this website and the message I hope to convey.

After receiving a growing number of positive messages both through Q&A sessions on Instagram and comments on the pieces I write here from S13 enthusiasts all around the world, the ten year mark feels like a great time for me to shift the momentum a bit in a positive direction. I think it makes sense for me to develop my website into something more serious- to harness the passion I have for this hobby and assist the future generations in any way I can with their own builds. I take it all very seriously and get a great amount of enjoyment from it, so I feel it is time for me to give it the attention it deserves.

In addition to the branding changes I have made to both this website and my Instagram page, I will also be offering a small amount of merchandise moving forward should anyone have the desire to show their support for what I am trying to accomplish- the first being the sticker shown below. I’ll be using any proceeds from these items to continue to generate future S13 content, fund my website hosting, and Flickr image hosting account. (Some of you may not know this, but all of the photos here and on my Zilvia build thread are hosted through Flickr. They were recently acquired by SmugMug and they are going to limit free accounts to only 1,000 photos. I will now need to pay for their services to ensure all of my image links remain functional- similar to the PhotoBucket debacle from earlier this year. I knew this day would come eventually, but hopefully the new leadership at Flickr keeps things rolling smoothly for years to come.)

I sincerely hope that you’re on board with the changes I am hoping to implement. My goal remains to not only document my own personal journey with building an S13, but to share my knowledge and mistakes with any members of the younger generation that hope to build one of their own. I want my website to not only be a place that people can come to learn more about these cars, but to also represent a certain mindset and methodology with the way I feel these cars should be built and preserved. If it’s something you have enjoyed over the years or feel represents a similar mindset to your own, I’m forever grateful of your support.

I would love to hear your feedback and thoughts on this, so feel free to drop me a line any time at Damon@CamryOnBronze.com or via Instagram. I’m always up for lending an ear to questions about the build process or details around the car. I hope to have an actual storefront up and running in the not too distant future with some stickers and maybe even shirts available if there is interest. In the mean time, if you’d like to order one of the URL decals shown above check out the temporary store page for instructions on how to do so.

Thank you for all of your support and readership over the years. Being able to share my journey and passion for building these cars with people from all over the world for the last decade is truly a privilege I do not take for granted. Thank you, as always, for reading. Here’s to the next ten years!

Damon

 

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Where the Magic Happens

I recently came up with the idea to share what my workspace looks like with everyone as I’ve gotten a couple questions about it over the years. I think showing what I am working with might help to encourage some people and show that you don’t need a ton of fancy and expensive tools to get the job done.

My wife and I purchased our home back in the spring of 2010, just under a year after we got married. I was really excited about this as I had been storing my car at my cousin’s house in his pole barn about an hour away- and in my grandpa’s garage before that. It used to be really difficult for me to work on the car with needing to travel to do so, so having my own space attached to where I lived really helped me a lot.

Though I do often wish it was a three car garage, it is a pretty good size for what it is. It seems to be a bit larger than a lot of my neighbors’ two car garages so I am appreciative of the extra space. The garage was drywalled and hastily taped and mudded when the home was built, but was never fully sanded and painted. I have planned to do this many times over the years but have never devoted the proper time and money to doing so. With three kids at home now it’s tough to find the extra cash and motivation for such a project, so I’ve ultimately decided to live with it. Some day I will have a nice coated floor and painted walls, but for now this suits my needs just fine.

My wife parks our van on her side of the garage, along with the majority of the kids’ toys. It’s a bit less organized right now as it is set for winter storage mode. A number of their toys have been moved to the basement and the patio furniture now resides inside until the weather breaks in the spring. The system I have in place for separating the project car side from the family side seems to work pretty well and allow me to have the space to work should I need it.

For years I have worked in this garage under the light of only a couple light bulbs and the fixture connected to the garage door opener. The lighting has always been terrible, but I guess I sort of got used to it. My family surprised me with some cheap LED lighting from Amazon on Father’s day this year that I quickly tossed  up and have been enjoying immensely since then. It’s so nice to be able to see! I also have a Craftsman shop light hanging from the ceiling, but the wiring is messed up and it rarely works properly anymore. I usually just end up using the flash light on my iPhone if I am working under the car. You can see the piece of missing drywall due to a leak in my siding that I have not been able to track down yet.

The basis for my tool set consists of this cheap Craftsman 125 piece set I bought in college. It is always a total mess as my daughter’s like to “help” me when I work on things and I am usually too lazy to put everything away properly. A number of the ratcheting wrenches are broken and have been waiting to be replaced at Sears for years, but that could probe a bit difficult now that they are going out of business. I’ve gradually added odd sizes to the set over the years and typically have just about everything needed to wrench on an S13 at this point.

In the corner you’ll find my other tool box, a Husky setup my wife got me for Christmas one year. It’s the perfect size for the amount of tools I own and garage space I have to work with. Let’s have a look inside.

The top drawer includes screwdrivers and box cutters. It also has random things like razor blades, scrapers, “claw” tools and magnets for nuts that I drop in places I can’t reach, and even old skateboard tools.

The next drawer down consists primarily of various pliers, clamps, and allen wrenches.

The third drawer includes specialty tools like pulley pullers, oil filter wrenches, clutch alignment tools, brake caliper piston tool, some random sockets, hack saw blades, and some Team Losi RC car wrenches that I haven’t needed in over a decade.

The fourth drawer is for electrical work and includes my broken volt meter, random pieces of wire, various electrical connectors, a soldering iron, and electrical tape. Teflon tape is also stored here for some reason.

Moving on to the larger drawers, the first includes safety glasses, gloves, and masks. This is where my breaker bars, torque wrench, pry bars, and C clamps are also located. Hammers are found here as well.

The second large drawer includes a host of power tools I rarely use aside from the drill. I wired the drill battery up to my daughter’s power wheel at one point and now it doesn’t hold a charge for longer than a couple minutes. I have a few different Harbor Freight electric cutting and grinding tools in here that have served me well over the years. My rivet gun and drill bits are here too.

The third large drawer has some random items like my brake line flaring tools and my trusty Dremel. I think my compression test kit is here too.

And finally the bottom large drawer holds my Harbor Freight electric impact and impact sockets. That’s right! I do not have an air compressor unfortunately so this bad boy has to do the trick. I rarely use it- usually just for hub and axle nuts really. Also included are various brushes and my Ott light, which comes in handy when working in the interior.

As you can see, my shelving units are a mess. They house all kinds of stuff like fluids, cleaning supplies, extension cords, blankets, and other knick-knacks. I organize these once in a while, but it has been a minute. They could definitely use some help. But, I think I do know where just about everything is, so that’s good!

In the corner are my various jack stands, scissor jack, and floor jack. I still have not bought a low profile jack and really should one of these days. Lots of scrap pieces of wood are used to get the car in the air as well as my race ramps that my mom got me for Christmas one year- those always come in handy! I also have my grandfather’s bench vise that I need to mount on a workbench one day if I ever manage to build one.

Up towards the front of the garage is our trash bin, a broom and dust pan, and my shop vac. The vacuum is getting pretty tired since I got it for my wedding and needs to be replaced at some point. I hate having the trash bin inside my garage, but our homeowner’s association is really uptight about them sitting outside for some reason. You have to build an enclosure if you keep it outside and ain’t nobody got time for that!

Lastly, this is my trick for hauling tools with me on road trips. I am not sure why I came up with this method but it seems to work pretty well. I lay out all of my tools on a blanket, roll it up, and secure it with a bungee cord. That way it doesn’t take up too much space in the trunk and has saved me in a pinch a couple times. My theory is that if I bring my tools with me, the car will not break down. Seems to be working so far!

So there you have it- the garage where most of the work was completed on my S13. It is far from ideal and doesn’t really have any nice or name brand tools, but it definitely gets the job done! Once you get used to the tools you have and where they are located it makes tackling most tasks go fairly well. Having nice equipment is definitely a plus, but nothing will replace experience gained from working on your car.

A quick aside- I ended up attending Jake’s memorial service outside of Chicago last Friday night in the S13. It was great to see how many people showed up to honor him. Very tough on a lot of people, but I think it also brought everyone closer together. I did not end up going to the D Day event in Shawano where they spent some more time honoring Jake as I could not be away from my family that long, but it looked like a great event.

The car didn’t skip a beat on my short adventure to Chicago which was really nice. I really enjoyed having some solo drive time with the car and the cooler temps allowed me to drive with the heat on and the windows up which was great. It made me appreciate the car and the state it is currently in. It even got over 30 MPG to boot! A great cap on a relatively quiet season with the car. I’m planning to drive it for a couple more weeks until the roads are salted and then it will be time to put the car away until spring.

Thanks as always for reading!

Damon

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