October 16, 2012: The plan was set. Loren would come over around 8PM to pick up my kouki 180SX aero: front bumper, lip, side skirts, rear valences, spoiler, and RPS13 kevlar panel. I left work early and drove home to wash the car. After a quick spray down I took the car down the street to attempt to take some final photos of the car to document its final state. After snapping some pictures, I took the car up and down the highway a couple times at full tilt to enjoy it for what I thought would be the last time. I took a couple pictures with myself, the car, and my baby daughter before pulling it into the garage and turning the key off. With the car on jack stands, the aero was removed and the part out began.
Many people asked my why I didn’t attempt to sell the car as a whole first before jumping immediately into parting it out. For me this was never really an option. As selfish as it may sound, the thought of someone else driving in a car that I poured four years of blood sweat and tears into was too much for me to handle. It would be easier to sell the car in parts and I would make more money doing it that way.
I posted the car in stages: interior, exterior, suspension, engine, etc. I was surprised how many things were sold to my friends before I was even able to list them for sale. I had sold virtually all of the parts from the car within three weeks. It was a constant flow of unbolting, packing, and trips to the post office to ship parts out to people all over the country.
By mid November I found an Evo that met most of my criteria for a new car. I negotiated the price and ended up driving to Illinois to pick the car up. The car was a Rally Red 2003 Evo VIII with 69k miles on it. It was largely stock aside from lowering springs, intake, exhaust, injectors, and cams. My plan was to leave the engine alone and modify the suspension, interior, and exterior a bit. I sold my Toyota Matrix the following spring and the Evo became my only vehicle. This meant that anything I did to it had to be mild enough to be installed in a weekend and keep the car running smoothly to get me to work every day.
Just after Christmas of 2012 I found a buyer for my S13 chassis. Suraj was a friend of mine I met on the local forums with a super clean turbo civic sedan that was featured in Honda Tuning. He had expressed interest in the shell and I knew he would take care of it, so we negotiated a price and he picked the car up one cold day in December. By the time I sold the chassis it was pretty well stripped: No engine, transmission, driveshaft, differential, brakes, seats, front bumper, etc. I sold as many items from the car as I could while still keeping it as a rolling chassis. I was sad to see it go, but glad it was in good hands. That, and I really wanted the spot in the garage for the Evo that winter.
I really enjoyed my time with the Evo. It was a blast to drive and I enjoyed being able to take it every morning rain, snow, or shine. It was always a bit stressful as I didn’t want the car to get smashed up or rusty, but it was great to put miles on it. During the year and a half that I owned the car I made a few additions including KW coilovers, Tomei titanium exhaust, an Evo IX front bumper, various aero additions from Voltex, JDM Evo VII head and tail lights, Defi gauges, and a set of Work CR Kai wheels. I took the aero off before winter hit at the end of 2013 with the intention of installing a set of AME TM02 wheels, Voltex GT wing, and Voltex canards in the spring.
I couldn’t wait to put the car back together in the spring. But as winter of 2014 continued, I began to long for having a long-term project car again. By March Alicia and I welcomed our second daughter into the world. I found during my time with the Evo that I had more time to tinker with cars than I thought I would as a dad. It wasn’t as much time as I had before of course, but it was plenty to enjoy a project. I had put 30,000 miles on the Evo in a year and a half and it was going to take a big hit in value by going over 115,000 miles. Even though the car was paid off, I ultimately decided it would be best to sell it while I could still recoup most of the money and pick up another cheap beater for a daily.
I wanted a project car like my S13, but I couldn’t really justify building another one. I had always wanted a car with a 2JZ and adored big body RWD Toyotas, so I ultimately decided to try to build a JZS16 Lexus GS. That way I could enjoy having a project to work on and I could still bring my family with me when we went to car events or drove downtown to get ice cream during the summer. I picked up a rolling chassis from a friend in late March, sold the Evo, and found a 1995 Toyota Camry from a coworker to drive to work every day while I worked on the Lexus.
I hit the ground running with the Lexus and managed to make a lot of progress during the summer of 2014. I swapped the car to a black interior and installed a Nardi wheel and Bride seats. I purchased an Aristo 2JZ engine and installed a number of maintenance items including an HKS timing belt, full gasket kit, SARD fuel injectors, and a new water pump. After removing the twin turbos to replace the gaskets, I decided it would be best to convert to a single turbo while the engine was out of the car. I picked up an old school TRUST T78D turbo and began to build a setup around it.
The Lexus GS and Toyota Aristo were only sold as automatic transmission cars, so I had to convert it to a manual. This was a new experience for me and took a ton of research to make it happen. I talked with a few people that had done the swap and ultimately finished the conversion on the chassis. This included an Exedy twin disc clutch, R154 transmission, Supra clutch pedal and master cylinder, and Driveshaft Shop custom driveshaft.
I was essentially ready to install the drivetrain- all I needed was a turbo manifold. When it comes to 2JZ parts, everything is incredibly expensive. I had a TRUST intercooler kit for the Aristo, but still needed a number of items to get the car running including a radiator and hoses, a turbo manifold, and engine management. Even after everything was installed and the car was running, I would still need an aero kit, coilovers, and wheels and tires for the car to look decent. I installed a Toyota grill, LED tail lights, and Ganador mirrors but the car would look pretty basic without those additional items.
At this point I realized I was already over budget and I did not have the means to complete the car in the way I wanted to any time soon. I had missed the whole car season of 2014 and missed having a car to drive when the weather was nice. After attending Final Bout in September, I decided that it wasn’t another project that I really wanted- it was my S13. The Lexus was a lot of fun to build and I know it would have turned out cool, but it just wasn’t what I wanted. I parted out the Lexus shortly after Final Bout and set out to find another S13 chassis.
At this point it had been almost two years since I sold my S13 to Suraj. He had the car in his garage and was building an LS1 engine for the car. He had installed brakes, suspension arms, and coilovers on the car but it had otherwise been untouched during that time. I texted him and asked if he would ever want to sell it, but he said that despite his lack of time for the project he would probably never sell it. Defeated, I set out to find another S13 to work from.
I ended up talking to a long time friend Greg. He had owned his red KA-T S13 for ten years but was planning to move to New Zealand with his girlfriend before winter and wanted to sell it. I went and checked the car out and though the rails were much rustier than my car, he was practically giving it away. I essentially committed to buying the car, but wanted to wait until the Lexus was out of the garage before picking it up. The next day, Suraj texted me and said he would be willing to sell me my old S13 chassis back. He had thought about it more and wanted out of the project. He wanted to give me the first chance to have the car back and I was more than happy to take it off his hands.
Just like old times, I turned to my friend Mike to haul my old chassis back to my house for me. We unloaded the S13 and then loaded the Lexus onto the trailer. The buyer paid Mike to haul it to Ohio for him, so I killed two birds with one stone. Nearly six years to the day since I had bought my S13, the car was back in my garage once again. I couldn’t believe it. I never would have guessed that I would have a chance to own this car again- and this time I did not plan to let it go.
I spent this past winter bringing my S13 back to life. There were numerous things that I wanted to execute in a similar fashion, but a lot of things were done differently as well. I sourced a smashed up and rotted out S13 coupe from a friend of mine as it was equipped with a healthy SR20 setup. I stripped everything I could salvage from the car and prepped the engine and transmission to go into my hatch. The biggest difference this time around was that I would leave the engine essentially stock. Aside from a full gasket kit, water pump, and a new wiring harness from Wiring Specialties the engine was dropped into the car as-is. Supporting items like a Koyo radiator, GReddy intercooler kit, and a full exhaust system were added after selling the ones that came with the coupe (most of them had seen better days.)
I had planned to use my Bride seats from the Lexus for the build, but ultimately decided I wanted to run black seats again and keep things low key. I sold the red Brides to fund a kevlar Zieg II and a Brix 1.5 that my friend Brett helped me source from Japan. Jimmy hooked me up with his old NeXt miracle cross bar and I added some Defi Link meter gauges. With that, the interior was back up to par. My friends at Speed Academy helped me out by sourcing a Competition Clutch flywheel and clutch kit, Turbosmart blow off valve and boost controller, SPC suspension arms, and ISC coilovers.
I got to talking with an acquaintance from Florida that bought some of my Lexus parts. As fate would have it, he also had a 240SX and had an unused Hot Road aero kit in his basement that he had imported several years prior. To make a long story short, I ended up with the aero kit I had always wanted when I previously owned my car. I finished the exterior off with a couple other bits including a kouki wing, tail lights, a Koguchi Power hood, and later a pair of Gandor mirrors.
I was torn on which wheels to go with for the rebuild. I wanted to do monoblocks this time around and sourced a set of Work XT7s, but found that they didn’t quite have the period-correct look I was going for. I stumbled upon a set of Blitz Z2 like those used by Koguchi on his old 180SX and had the rear wheels relipped to 18×10. Once the wheels were completed and on the car, it really came together. I liked the Blitz wheels a lot, but ended up selling them and swapping them out for a set of 17/18 bronze Volk TE37s later on during the summer.
So there you have it! That’s the story of my 240SX and how it came into my life, left on a trailer, and returned two years later. I could not be happier with the car in its current state and have learned to never take owning this car for granted. My plan is to enjoy it whenever I can and to keep this car for as long as I am able to. My wife and I were able to take a road trip to Final Bout II back in September and it was an amazing feeling to be taking a trip in this car again. Now that I have it back I hope that I will be able to hold onto it until old age. You don’t often get a chance to lose something like this and have it back again. I am beyond fortunate and grateful to my family and friends for allowing me to follow this dream and supporting me along the way. It just feels right to have this car back in our garage!
Another big thanks goes out to anyone that reads this or has enjoyed my build over the years. It’s a ton of fun to tinker with and enjoy a car like this, but sharing it with people in other parts of the world really makes it worthwhile. Thanks for taking a trip down memory lane with me!