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 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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!