Kevin’s 180SX

In a world where the blog and long-term build documentation is all but dead, it feels like more of a privilege than ever to get to witness a cool S13 being built from start to finish. That’s why I am so hyped about my good friend Kevin’s 180SX build that he is currently working on down in Houston, Texas.

Kev and I met through our mutual friend Jimmy and have hung out a couple times over the past few years while I was fortunate enough to visit Texas. We’ve stayed in touch and it has allowed me to see his build taking shape first hand. While it’s a bit of a slow process, I know that the end result is going to be awesome.

The car currently sits with a set of 17/18 bronze TE37s that I (of course) think look amazing. The recently added kouki 180SX tail lights completely transformed the car. I think all of us that have been lucky enough to own these lights can remember the feeling of stepping back from the car after installing them with a big, stupid smile on our faces. Easily one of the best parts you can buy for these cars. The interior is taking shape as well with a period correct Bride Zeta II/brix combo in red and a Nardi Classic 330mm steering wheel. The next challenge? Saving up for and sourcing a complete set of OEM kouki 180SX aero, of course!

This car may not seem like a lot to most people, but it’s important to me knowing how much work has gone into it already. Kev is a young college student trying to earn as much cash as he can to throw at this thing to realize his dream, and I can certainly relate to that time in my life. It’s so hard to remain patient and believe in the final vision. It feels like you’ll never obtain it, but if you stay on track and make wise decisions it’s bound to happen eventually. I’m proud of Kev for working so hard at a Ford dealership all summer to have money for school this fall and to continue to work on this thing.

I am beyond hyped to continue to witness the progress on this car over the years. It’s an honor to be able to share the excitement as more pieces of the puzzle fall into place. Nothing motivates me more than when people share their passion and journey with others- that’s why I think documenting a build is so important.

Keep it up Kev!

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180SX Inspiration

If you coudn’t tell from my post yesterday, I have been feeling a lot of nostalgia and inspiration lately. I’ve been enjoying and appreciating my S13 more than ever, which is a bit strange since I’m driving and working on it less than I ever have. Funny how things work sometimes, isn’t it?

In an effort to harness this automotive motivation, I thought it might be fun to list the top ten 180SXs that have influenced my builds over the years (Note: When I say 180SX, I mean the S13 hatchback. I get it- some of these cars were not actual 180SXs, etc.) I am longing for the days of long-term, in-depth builds- logging in every morning to see who made progress on assembling their car and who posted a new photo on their blog. Things have changed in the last eight or nine years and I think they’ve slowly moved towards hasty posts on Instagram with little written content. The trends come and go, and I don’t see many people building S chassis cars with the same principles and tastes I was brought up on anymore. There are definitely still high quality and period correct cars out there, but I feel their numbers are dwindling.

With that being said, here are the top ten 180s that have influenced my car over the years- in no particular order. My intent was to only include cars located outside of Japan.

1. Brian Harte- BH World 180SX California, USA
Car status: Partially complete in the PNW under new ownership.

I think just about everyone knows who BH is at this point. Brian began building his 180SX on the heels of his excellent interpretation of a zenki S14 in late 2008, right around the time I had purchased my S13. This car had a massive influence on the direction I chose to take my car during the winter of 2009-2010, ultimately being one of the biggest factors that pushed me to go with kouki 180SX aero. BH was always hilarious on the forums and maintained an awesome blog with updates posted as he made progress on the build. He was always a big supporter of my car through the years, and I am proud to call him a good friend today. We finally met in person at Final Bout II back in 2015 and have stayed in touch ever since.

Brian’s car had it all from an interior and exterior standpoint. When you step back and look at it, our parts lists are pretty similar. All of the coolest stuff!

2. Jase- JillyWaWa New Zealand(?)
Car Status: Part out and sold, current status unknown.

Jase’s Hot Road laden beauty was another car that still inspires me to this day. There aren’t a ton of photos of it floating around, but the ones I do have saved are just too cool. Bronze Volk TE37s, NeXt Miracle Cross Bar, Bride Zeros, Hot Road aero… the list goes on and on. I used to stare at this car for hours, dreaming of one day owning a Hot Road kit back when they were more or less unheard of in the USA. Always a favorite blog to check for build updates back in the day.

3. Alexander- Treefish Atlanta, GA, USA
Car Status: Still owned by Alex, undergoing new aero and paint.

Alexander’s car was and still is one of the best put together 180s in the USA. I’ve always loved the color of this car, and I think BH would have to agree with me. It’s such a unique color that pops so well. I loved it with kouki 180SX aero both when it was midnight purple and later after it was sprayed blue due to an unfortunate run-in on the street with someone that left their pickup truck in neutral, if I remember right. The GT-1 iteration of the car was also excellent. Alex painted his white TE37 silver while I was waiting for my silver set to be built in Japan- great minds think alike! I had the pleasure of meeting Alex in person and to watch him do some drifting at Import Alliance back in 2011. Super nice dude and a beautiful car!

It’s really cool that Alex still has this car and is currently working on some updates, including new aero from Car Modify Wonder. I can’t wait to see it come together!

4. Adam Hedges- C’s Garage Auckland, NZ
Car Status: Part out and sold, briefly rebuilt by second owner, current status unknown.

The brothers from C’s Garage also built a couple of cars that blew me away during the first years with my S13. Their blog updates were awesome and it was inspiring to see such awesome cars being put together in someone’s garage. Watching Adam’s car transition from a stock kouki 180SX to a purple Hot Road clad beauty was super motivating. Yet another example of a beautiful 180 sitting on bronze TE37s.

5. Colin- MrFairlady North Carolina, USA
Car Status: Partially parted out and sold, current status unknown.

Colin’s car is another one of the Zilvia greats- specifically the black one. he owned a nice white kouki 180SX prior to this as well, and was instrumental in continuing the Kouki 180SX Aero Threads on Zilvia. Without his bold creation of a third installment of the thread in defiance of the moderators, who knows how things would have turned out. I’ve always appreciated the simplicity of Colin’s cars, as well as his taste in wheels. It looked great on both the VSKFs (for Koguchi vibes) and the Blitz 03s. I really wanted to get his Koguchi Power hood back when he sold the car, but it just wasn’t in the cards at the time.

Unfortunately, I found that all of the photos of the black car are essentially broken thanks to the recent Photobucket shenanigans. I did find a couple old photos of his white car on my hard drive that I saved many years ago though of his white Sil80 prior to converting it to full kouki 180SX aero. Thankfully, I still had Colin’s number and was able to text him for some photos of the black car. Thank you sir!

6. Olly- Olly New Zealand
Car Status: Stolen and recovered, then parted out. Current status unknown.

Olly is another guy from New Zealand that built an amazing car. He always had great taste and flawless execution which was inspiring to me. I think this car when it had the Hot Road aero and XT7s was amazing- so clean! I really enjoyed watching the progress of this car over the years when it was still around and Olly seems like a very nice dude based on our internet exchanges over the years.

7. Jeevs- KuruptR Alberta, Canada
Car Status: Still owned by Jeevs, currently stripped to bare chassis for Time Attack prep

Jeev’s car really did a number on me and still does to this day. What an AMAZING garage built 180SX. I’ve loved every iteration of the car and saved many images of it over the years. This car was one that really pushed me to go kouki 180SX aero shortly after he painted it black/dark purple. I even not-so-subtly ripped off his wrinkle red valve cover. Jeevs is still very active in the garage today, albeit it mostly with his Porsche projects. I believe this car is currently torn down to a bare shell on a rotisserie as he works to prep it for dedicated road racing and time attack use. He’s a super driven and passionate guy, so I am sure the 180 will see the road again even better than it was before.

8. Brett Levan- Levan B Florida, USA
Car Status: Still owned by Brett, complete and essentially left untouched

Brett might just be the owner of two of the cleanest 180s in the United States, if not the entire world. I remember being a bit skeptical when he posted photos of his teal car being prepped for paint on Zilvia back in 2011, but that skepticism was misplaced. Both his silver car and teal car are the cleanest S13 hatchbacks I have ever laid eyes on. The attention to detail is absolutely unreal and completely blows my car out of the water. Brett is an OCD hoarder in the best possible way. I had the pleasure of meeting Brett and seeing his cars in person when I went to Florida for work back in 2015 I believe- unreal! He also owns a super nice supercharged AE86 to boot.

9. Antoine- Touge_Monster California, USA
Car Status: Still owned by Antoine, looking better than ever!

I’m not sure how many people will remember this car as it’s really pretty simple, but that’s why it had such a huge impact on me. I remember Antoine had a dark maroon car he was building prior to this that got rear ended and totaled shortly after he got all of the kouki aero on the car and his post on Zilvia was heartbreaking. He picked up another chassis though and painted it bright red, which I was always jealous of. We were building our cars around the same time and his taste and forum etiquette were always inspiring to me. Great style! The car is currently sporting a set of bronze 17/18 CR Kais that look amazing. Antoine’s car is a great example of what someone on a budget can accomplish if they keep at it and take their time. He didn’t have super expensive wheels or anything like that in the beginning, but his patience has paid off big time. I believe the car is also KA-T now if I am not mistaken! Very well done, both back in 2010 and today as well.

10. Kyle- The KING of RED Illinois, USA
Car Status: Sold years ago,current owner has drag/skinny setup and turbo LS1

This car should come as no surprise here as Kyle was and has remained one of my best friends. Kyle bought this car from a gentlemen named Nikolay out in Washington. Nikolay built this as a daily driver and also had a tan widebody car he used for Formula Drift that also was pretty influential to me back in my early years with the car. Kyle and I spent a fair amount of time tinkering on this car and I enjoyed watching the updates and improvements he made to it. It was and still is a great example of how to build one of these cars in a subtle and timeless manner.

You’ll notice that all of these cars are very similar to each other as well as my car today. Each of these builds was inspirational in molding my car into what it has become and I really enjoyed them over the years. It’s sad that the majority of them are gone now, but hopefully their legacy will live on as a blueprint for how to build a proper 180SX. I should mention that this is not a comprehensive list, nor is it mean to inclusive of the best examples of these cars existing today. These are merely cars that had a big impact on my build back in 2009 or so and the years that followed. Hopefully you enjoyed it!

Damon

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Reflection

I recently finished combing through my old blog posts and my build thread on Zilvia since I began this journey, fixing broken image links that have popped up over the years. Unfortunately I used to rely heavily on Image Shack, which I believe is now more or less defunct, causing the majority of my image links to be broken. Thankfully, I had taken the time a few years ago to save most of the images from my build thread that were hosted there thinking this might happen one day. Some of them are low resolution and a few were lost all together, but I am glad I decided to do that.

It was a tedious process and few people will probably even notice or appreciate this task, but I felt it was important to try to preserve the journey with my 240SX for as long as possible. With the sale of Yahoo! to Comcast recently, I’m sure Flickr could one day meet a similar fate- but hopefully things will be OK for a while. I try to enjoy each day with what little new content is still posted on Zilvia.net knowing that the rise of social media has all but killed it and it too will one day cease to exist.

Looking back on all of the old tales of my time with this car has made me so appreciative of the fact that it is still sitting in my garage. November of this year will mark the end of my seventh year with this car, nine years since purchasing it during my last semester of college, with a two year gap in time where I had sold the chassis to a friend. It’s funny to look at how my life has changed over the course of those nine years, having transitioned from a kid in his last semester of college with an internship and a fiancé to a husband, homeowner, and soon to be a father of three daughters.

The car scene is sort of a funny thing when you really step back and think about it. It’s a group of people spending tons of money and time on something that is completely optional and unnecessary. The average person could never fathom spending what we do to essentially ruin a car- and they’re totally right for thinking that way. I’ve wasted so much time and money on this junky old Nissan over the years, but when I look at the big picture I don’t think I would change much of what I have been through. The friends I have made and the experiences gained along the way are largely worth it, as cliché as it may be.

It’s difficult these days not to get caught up in it all. I routinely see the younger generation getting themselves into trouble by trying to be the best. Everyone wants to be famous on social media and to stay in the limelight, and I would be lying if I said I never felt the same way. I initially set out to build a clean representation of what I felt a perfect 240SX should look like- and for the most part I set out to do that for myself. I never imagined that my car would gain any sort of attention or end up on the cover of a magazine, because to me everything had already been done. I wasn’t in it for notoriety at the start, I was simply in it to do something I enjoyed and try to build a car that felt like a reflection of myself- to learn through doing and to feel a sense of accomplishment.

I’ve always strived to be humble and never let any sort of attention my car got go to my head. I can’t say I have always been successful at it, but it was always important to me to help people that had questions and inject a positive attitude into this hobby. In the age of the internet, there is so much hate and negativity out there. Every time you post something, you’re opening the floodgates to an onslaught of critique, be it negative or positive. There were times where people broke me during the process and I allowed myself to sling a few insults. No one is perfect, but I’ve always wanted to remain positive and motivate the people around me, just as many of them have done for me over the years.

I had my time of wanting to be the best and letting the attention go to my head. I think at the end of 2011 and into 2012 is when my build went a bit in this direction. I felt that I had entered the limelight a bit in the S chassis scene, and the more attention I got the more I craved. I took my car in a direction that pleased others more than it did myself, and it ultimately made me lose interest. The sizing of my Blitz 03s was too aggressive, the ride height was too low, and my car lost its drivability. I think it more or less became an internet car and it made me unhappy with it. It wasn’t about driving and enjoying the car anymore, it was about having the parts that no one else had and trying to achieve perfection in the eyes of others- something that isn’t possible. The combination of this feeling and the public perception that you can’t own a project car and raise a family ultimately led me to parting out the car in 2012.

During my time away from the 240SX, I tried to let go of seeking affirmation through a project car. I picked up my Evo as a daily driver that would allow me to bring my family with me and still enjoy tinkering with a car. I set out with the same formula I did for the S13 from the beginning- simple modifications that would keep the car streetable and clean, resulting in a reflection of what I felt was the perfect CT9A. I achieved this vision sooner than I anticipated, and immediately became a bit bored. Though it was clean and more or less perfect to me, the Evo was fairly basic. I eventually caved and got suckered into a full Voltex aero package that was pricey and overkill for the street. It was difficult to drive the car every day without a beater as a backup, and it was an expensive chassis to begin with. The more miles I added, the less valuable the car became. The Evo felt largely like a lose-lose situation.

Not only was daily driving a car like this becoming a bit of an issue, but I also missed the build process. I genuinely missed spending late nights in the garage turning wrenches to create something from nothing. The Evo project was more of an every day car with quick weekend install sessions- being that it was my only means of transportation, I had to have it back together for work on Monday morning. Building the S13 was much more rewarding as I could take my time to really dive in and learn about the vehicle. I was under the impression that I would no longer have time for anything like this with a little one at home, but even with my wife pregnant with our second daughter, I felt I could spend time on a dedicated build again if I was willing to sacrifice a little sleep in the process. Things wouldn’t get done as quickly as they used to, but it was definitely still possible.

Looking back at it all now, I realize that it wasn’t another project I wanted- it was my 240SX. I actually talked to a guy in Florida that was selling a mostly stock black 1993 S13 at the time, but he wanted a bit too much for it. I also felt like my wife might kill me if I brought home another 240SX, essentially recreating what I had done previously. The 98 Lexus GS400 felt like a good compromise at the time- I would be able to haul all of us in it, but swapping a 2JZGTE and converting the car to a manual transmission would be a fun and unique process. I began my car hobby wrenching on Toyotas, and I liked the challenge of returning to a platform with little community and aftermarket support. I talked myself into it being a good idea, probably knowing in the back of my head that my S13 was what I really wanted back.

While the Lexus project kept me plenty busy, it was a bit doomed from the start. 2JZ engine and transmission components are much more expensive than SR20DET parts, and a bit more complicated to boot. I saved a lot of money by buying a shell instead of a running car, but that was my first mistake. Starting with a car I had never driven made it difficult to stay motivated, and it felt like I would never be able to get it running. The color of the car was not what I wanted, nor was the condition. I settled because I was too eager to get working on a project. Though I had started with a modification list and a budget in mind, I quickly found that it was not possible to build what I wanted to with the budget allotted. I was running low on funds and the car didn’t even run yet- not to mention the fact that I hadn’t purchased aero, wheels and tires, or paint work yet. The build began to stress me out as I knew I was getting sucked into spending way more than I should be and it was causing tension with my wife and I. I got “lost in the sauce” so to speak and was striving for affirmation from my peers. In a way, I put trying to be the best at my hobby ahead of my own family.

Eventually, things came to a breaking point. There was no way the car was going to get finished on my budget. By fall of 2014, I wasn’t even sure I wanted to finish the Lexus anymore. It wasn’t worth being so stressed out about a car. I realized shortly after attending Final Bout in September I deeply regretted parting out my 240SX. If I had just stopped at the end of 2011 and left the car alone, I could have still been enjoying it. As fate would have it, I was able to buy the shell back more or less untouched and undriven since I sold it to a friend two years prior. I’ve been rebuilding and tinkering with it ever since, making some of the same mistakes I made the first time around with this chassis.

If the past year has taught me anything, it is to be content and accept your shortcomings, as well as your car’s flaws. Want to know the secret to building a nice car? Know your limits and appreciate what you have. There were many things that used to cause me to lose sleep about my S13 during the first go around, all of them amounting to one key thought- it wasn’t perfect. The paint was old and covered in swirl marks, the body covered in dents. Most of the interior features no longer worked. It was loud, made lots of strange noises, and smelled funny. All of these things drove me crazy to the point that I thought I couldn’t live with them, so I gave up.

After spending time away from the car, I realized that a car will never be perfect. Would I like to get my car repainted and fix all of the things that bug me about it? Absolutely! But with my third daughter being born this month, my wife will now be drastically reducing her hours at the office to be a stay-at-home mom. With me being the sole earner in the family as a graphic designer, the portion of my budget that once allowed me to spend money on this silly hobby is one of the first luxuries to be cut off. To say it’s challenging to stop browsing for parts every day and stop buying and selling things off of my car to make upgrades is a massive understatement. For me, building and getting new parts is almost more fun than driving the car itself. I’ve slowly been training myself to strictly follow a budget and stop modifying my car over the last few months, and though it is difficult, it’s also very rewarding.

I now look at my car through a different set of eyes than I once did. It’s no longer about owning the rarest parts, making new changes every week to stay in the limelight, or projecting an image of perfection. When I look at the bigger picture, this car is perfect as it sits right now- it’s got just the right amount of my favorite parts that I’ve wanted for years. It fires right up each day when I drive it. Even though I don’t get to work on it or drive it nearly as much as I once did, it’s special to me each time I do. It doesn’t have flawless paint and it isn’t without its issues, but it puts a smile on my face every time I open the garage door. My kids can climb around it in or smear hand prints all over it every day without giving me a major heart attack (though I will admit, it does bum me out sometimes.) I’m so very fortunate to be able to enjoy this car while raising a family of three daughters and my primary focus from now on is to recognize this on a daily basis. When I’m out taking a photo of the car and one of my daughters jumps into the frame and busts out a big cheesy smile, I’m reminded of what matters. It’s always a good reality check to snap me back to what’s important and to keep my ego in check. With any luck, my S13 is here to stay and remain largely as it sits right now.

Don’t try to be the best or have the most followers. Try not to let others dictate how you build your car or live your life. Do what you enjoy and do it well to realize your goals, but don’t get so lost in those goals that you lose sight of setting yourself up for the future. Be responsible and put your family (or future family’s) needs before your own, as difficult as that may be. Don’t beat yourself up for mistakes you’ve made in the past. Don’t take this hobby too seriously! We’re not here for that long, after all.

Thanks you for reading! I’m hoping to post here more often (about my car, not always long, philosophical ramblings. lol)

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I’m Back on Road

I am pleased to report that my 240SX is back in action for (more or less) the first time since last November. My goal was to complete the car to have it ready for a cars & coffee-like gathering at my church last Saturday, but it was ultimately canceled due to rain. While I was a bit bummed, it still motivated me to get the car put together and more or less completed.

I was a bit bummed out over the winter, having sold my bronze TEs last December. I wasn’t sure what wheels I wanted to try next on the car and was struggling to think of anything else I would like more. After trying a set of WMB CR Kais, I ended up tracking down my old mercury silver Volk TE37s from a gentleman named David in California. I had ordered these wheels new from Mackin Industries in December of 2010, waiting five months for them to be manufactured and shipped to the US. After using them for a season, I sold them to a guy from Florida in early 2012 to switch to my Blitz 03s. Come to find out, he didn’t attempt to fit them to his car until 2016 and found that he could not run as much tire as he wanted to with the offsets. He contacted me saying he wanted to sell them and I referred him to my friend David in California that had bought some items from me when I parted out the car years ago.

I knew David had gotten the wheels fitted on his car, but decided to send him a message to see if he would sell them. As fate would have it, he was actually considering doing exactly that and he agreed to sell them back to me. He even saved the original boxes the wheels came in- so cool! David only put about 100 miles on them and the previous owner never drove on them, so their condition has been preserved quite well. A friend that teaches auto shop at a local high school was able to mount up the tires for me during the week.

After making some front ride height adjustments and getting the car on the ground, I was able to pull it out of the garage on Friday night. My daughters were delighted about this and both got to go for a ride around the block. It really was a trip to see this thing in the driveway on the silver TEs again after six years. Very weird to sell both the car and the wheels years ago only to get them both back again- but glad it all worked out!

It’s no secret that I often wish I stopped modifying my car at the end of summer 2011. This was the time that my car felt the most like a reflection of me and what I intended for it to be. It had what I consider to be all of the right parts for a 180SX, but wasn’t over the top. This iteration of my car feels like a return to that time period. It checks all of the right boxes for me without begging for attention of coming off as really wild. In the end this feels like a culmination of everything I liked about my car over the years, with the exception of a Cusco cage and a Koguchi Power hood. Perhaps those things will resurface one day, but I feel more than content with the status of the car in the mean time.

 

I’m really looking forward to sorting out this power steering leak I can never seem to get rid of, getting a proper alignment, and enjoying this car whenever family life allows for the rest of the year. Having this car back out of the garage is always a treat. Thanks for reading!

Damon

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2017 is Here (and Nearly Half Over Already)

I’m not sure how six months have passed since my last update, but here we are! Since my last post in November life has been moving at an unbelievable pace. Our winter in Michigan was very tame this year and I was able to enjoy driving the car until late November before the snow and road salt finally arrived. I ended up selling my bronze Volk TE37s and red Bride Brix seats around Christmas time not knowing what I was going to replace them with. As many can contest, things can be stressful around the holidays in many ways including from a financial standpoint. Between Christmas presents and a number of issues with my home and my cars, it simply was the right decision to make at the time.

I ended up taking a trip to Houston, Texas in January to visit my good friend Jimmy and all of the guys from ~Essence~. Jimmy is a great guy and treated me to a number of delicious meals with a lot of people I am proud to call my good friends while I was there and I am very grateful for his hospitality. I also had the pleasure of meeting the infamous John P of MayDay Garage fame while I was there which was really cool. I’ve been inspired by him and all he has done for our “scene” for a number of years.

By the time February rolled around I was itching to work on my car a bit. Being in Houston with my friends and seeing a number of cool cars gave me the itch to work on mine again. One of the changes I decided to make this winter was to bring back my factory dash with a set of white Defi Link Meter II gauges like I had previously. There are two different face designs of these and in the past I have always had a mix of the two, which bugged me a bit. After a ton of searching and waiting on the auctions, I was able to piece together a perfect set including boost, oil pressure, oil temperature, and water temperature. I swapped the original dashboard back in and wired up the gauges. These are much cleaner than my previous set and I hope to hold onto them this time.

While the dash was out I elected to replace my old, worn carpet with a fresh kit from StockInteriors.com. I did this when I first bought my car in 2008, but the carpeting had taken a beating since then. Between being cut up for a roll cage and a Do Luck bar, general wear, and getting soaking wet on the way home from Final Bout II due to holes from the old cage in the floor and a massive rainstorm it was looking pretty tired. I took my time installing the new carpet over a span of a couple months as I found the time and motivation and I am very pleased with the results. I’m a little undecided on floor mats at the moment, but for now my gray checkered mats should work just fine.

I elected to remove my rear seat and seat belts again for a few reasons, one of them being the fact that my wife and I are expecting our third daughter in late August. With another munchkin at home it’s going to be difficult to find time to drive the car at all, let alone with my whole family- not to mention the fact that we won’t all fit anymore and I wouldn’t take an infant in this car. I’ll still take my kids around the block and whatnot from time to time and I am sure that will suffice. There’s no reason I can’t switch back again at some point if I decide to. I ended up using some of the old carpet to create small patches to cover the bare areas that the hatch carpet doesn’t cover, which is something I have wanted to do for a long time. It now covers all of the bare sheet metal and really makes things look much cleaner where the back seat used to reside. I’ll grab a photo of that soon.

While I loved the look of the red Brix, I am constantly struggling with choosing between red and black seats. I think this is something I will always have a hard time with. The Brix were great in many ways, but it felt a bit uncomfortable on the driver’s side. I felt that I sat up pretty high compared to a bucket seat. This led me to picking up a red Zieg II from the auctions last fall, but it turned out to be a lot dirtier than it looked in the auction photos. After spending most of the winter without seats, my friend Brent decided to sell his black Brix and MO rail, which happened to be one of my old seats. I took the chance to get it back as it is the cleanest black recliner I have ever seen and those seem to be much harder to come by than red recliners.

Next I purchased what I thought was a super clean Zeta II from Japan only to find when it arrived that it was very faded and the auction photos had been edited to remove the purple hue. Bummed out, I posted it for sale and asked around to see if anything else was floating around out there. I ended up getting a DM from my friend Khal that offered me his black Bride Maxis. I had just sold a few spare parts and couldn’t pass on it, so I decided to grab it. The seat arrived a few weeks later and is in pretty good shape- it just needs to be cleaned up a bit. I found an old logo Bride head pad and back protector on Zilvia that I also grabbed to complete the setup. With the Brix and Maxis in place, there was only one logical thing left to do- install my fourth NeXt Miracle Cross Brace. (*Editor’s Note: Are we seeing a theme here? Installing the same parts for the third or fourth time? This will be important later.)

Here’s a teaser shot until I finish the installation of the cross brace and can get the car out in the daylight:

Finally, I installed an SR20DET tachometer my friend Tony gave me into my existing USDM cluster to give me the correct redline. I’ve always thought the old school NISMO clusters are cool but never want to lose my mileage, so this is a neat compromise.

As for the exterior, I have not made many changes since last November. I had switched to Hella H4 conversion headlights last season during my OEM craze, but I really missed how clean the Raybrig housings look on a 180SX. I ended up getting another set (my third I think? lol) and also picked up a 6k HID kit to go with them. I have a clean pair of headlight covers I need to have painted at some point as one of mine has a fairly large dent, but this hasn’t really been a priority as of late. I ended up with another pair of Ganador Super Aero mirrors (probably the 6th or 7th pair for this car?) that were already black in Japan and put those on to change things up. I would like to keep these and eventually have a pair of East Bears to alternate between.

The only other item related to the exterior I picked up is another pair of R33 N1 ducts. I think this is the third set of these I have owned over the years but I have never committed to installing them. I am still unsure if I want to use them, so for now they sit on the shelf. I recently found that they have been discontinued and I could not find any vendors with them in stock stateside. I came across a vendor that had a number of them in Florida, but they only had the left side. I ended up getting two left side vents for $100 shipped with the intention of trying to turn one upside down, but of course found that they are not symmetrical. I sold one of the vents for $110 to recoup my money and ordered a right side vent from RHD Japan since they still had stock in Japan. They’re about $430 for a pair now from Japan and it sounds like once the stock is gone, it will likely be gone forever. I debate selling them to make a little cash, but I should probably hang onto them this time should I ever want to use them.

Engine bay changes have also been kept to a minimum. I completed some general maintenance including Samco radiator hoses, oil & filter change, new fuel lines and clamps to fix a small fuel leak, and new fittings for my power steering rack to try to solve a leak that I still can’t seem to curb. I also installed all of the Defi gauge sensors along with a GK Tech water neck temp sensor housing. I sold my TurboSmart blow off valve and replaced it with a GReddy Type RS, only to find that one of the fittings was missing. After coming up empty with finding a replacement fitting, I sold it and replaced it with a standard hot pipe. I’m told running without a blow off valve will not cause any problems, so that’s what I will be doing for the foreseeable future.

Suspension changes have been fairly light too. I ended up removing my GK Tech 25MM roll center adjusters as I found that they made the car drive strange and I felt like there was a bit too much camber up front. As it turns out, I was running these with GK Tech tie rod ends, which also adjust roll center. By having both of these on the car, I was actually over correcting the roll center, causing the car to hunt the crown of the road and wear my front tires out very quickly. Lesson learned, but I did not figure this out until I had sold those items and switched back to the stock setup with Tein tie rod ends. This works out for the best though as my new front wheels will be too aggressive with the +25mm roll center adjusters in place anyway.

Speaking of wheels, I was really torn on what to do. The bronze TEs were arguably the best setup I have ever had on the car and were in super nice condition. I regretted selling them almost immediately, but it needed to be done at the time. It’s so difficult to find clean bronze TE37s that actually match for a reasonable price. Discouraged, I started to look at other options and stumbled upon a brand new set of old stock Work CR Kais on the auctions in the Work Metal Buff finish. I had always wanted these since I had my similar silver set on the car back in 2009 as WMB is an amazing finish, so I decided to give them a try. I picked up a new front pair of Kenda Kaisers to replace my worn pair from last year (that also had a nail in them, turns out) and tossed them on the car.

I pulled it out of the garage to get a look at them in the daylight a few weeks ago, and while I think it was a good look, something just didn’t feel right. I think it looked really cool (despite the front ride height being a bit off) but it just didn’t compare to the TEs in my opinion. I ultimately decided to sell them and hold out for something else. I believe I have something pretty cool lined up that I will share with everyone soon.

So this is currently where things stand. I have a coolant leak I am in the middle of fixing and I am waiting on my new wheels to arrive. Once those are here I can have the tires mounted, adjust the front ride height and toe a bit, and the car should be ready to drive aside from any hiccups that occur along the way. The weather has really gotten nice here in the past couple weeks, so I am looking forward to having the car on the road sometime in the first week in June if at all possible.

You may have noticed that nearly everything I have done to the car in the last six months is something I have installed previously. For whatever reason, I simply love to tinker with and build this car. My tastes and preferences change slightly over time, but for the most part I think I just like to wrench on it. There’s something satisfying about investing time and energy into the car to step back and see the finished product. I say this often, but my hope for this year’s iteration of the car is to finally settle down. Aside from extremely small detail items, the only other parts I would really like to have again someday are a Koguchi Power hood and a Safety 21 roll cage, both of which are still available new. Perhaps I will get to have those pieces again at some point down the road, but for now my hope is to enjoy the car when I have the time and leave it more or less alone.

I know, I know… I said the same thing last winter… and the winter before that. So let’s see what happens, haha. Thank you for stopping by- it’s always encouraging when someone takes the time to tell me they have enjoyed my build over the years. It’s very motivating and never gets old. I’ll try to post another update in the next couple weeks with some decent photos!

Damon

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Eight Years Later

Today marks the eight year anniversary of purchasing my S13. I’ll always remember that I bought it on November 4th, the day of the presidential election in 2008. I’ve sort of made it a tradition to take photos of the car on this date each year to show the build’s progress. They’re a bit less meaningful now as they show more of a current state than a progression, but it’s still kind of fun to do none the less.

Conditions weren’t ideal for photos today (a bit too sunny) and I rushed them a bit on my way back to the office from my lunch break, but here there are anyway for your viewing pleasure:

It’s kind of wild to think about how life has changed since I bought the car. Since that day I’ve graduated college, gotten married, bought a house in a new town, had a baby, parted out the car and sold the chassis, had another baby, bought the car back and rebuilt it, and changed jobs. Pretty thankful to have this car after all it has been through.

The days are getting shorter and the air is much more crisp in the mornings. I’ll probably try to sneak a few more quick drives in before the car is put away for good until spring. Going to miss it!

Happy Friday and thanks for stopping by.

Damon

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Summer Sixteen

I can’t believe we are already a couple weeks into fall. The leaves are turning here in Michigan and though we have had some unseasonably warm temperatures for the most part lately, it’s clear that the weather will take a turn for the worst very soon. Winter prep around the house is starting to ramp up and I am working to make arrangements for reliable winter transportation. It’s nearly time to bring the snow tires upstairs from the basement.

2016 has probably been the quietest season I’ve ever experienced with my S13. And though I often miss the build process and spending late nights out in the garage, there is something oddly satisfying about enjoying the simplicity. In its current state my car is about as bare bones as I can make it and still feel a sense of pride about it: No real aftermarket exterior additions, a virtually stock SR20DET under the hood, and a simple interior with very few modifications.

I’m sometimes tempted to feel disappointed in the car when compared to what it used to be like when I owned it previously. While it has the same core set of parts overall, it lacks all of the excess it used to feature- gauges, a roll cage, red fabric all over the place, cool spec braces, larger turbo setup, etc. But if this summer has taught me anything, it’s that simplicity really is the key. I elected to remove a number of “extras” from the car this spring and to be honest I really didn’t miss most of them. I’ve essentially got a stock kouki 180SX with wheels, coilovers, exhaust, and a couple interior tidbits but I thoroughly enjoy cruising around in it. While it’s really neat to have a bunch of rare parts, it really doesn’t take much to get enjoyment from driving your car. I think it’s got just the right amount of style and tuning as it sits for me to really appreciate it. I’ll always have a desire to make changes and try things that may be a little new to me, but I’m really focused on trying to leave the car as-is and enjoy it right now.

With that goal in mind, I think the only change I have made to the car since my last post in July is the addition of a pair of red Bride Brix 1.5 seats with Bride MO seat rails. While I did enjoy the look and feel of the kouki 180SX seats, I was really longing for something with bolsters. I’ve owned red seats in the past but have rarely gotten to drive a car with them in place. The Zeros and Ergo combo of late 2011/2012 saw little seat time as the car was torn down a lot for the engine bay project, and the Zeta II NEOS/Ergo for the GS never fully got bolted into the car during the rebuild as I chose to go with black seats instead. Overall I think the pair of brix add just enough to the car to make it pop a bit. It feels more complete and exciting with the red seats in the interior.

Since starting my new job back in February, my commute to the office is now exactly 1 mile. As you can imagine, that isn’t even enough time to warm the car up. I do still bring it to the office occasionally, but I typically ride my bike instead to get some exercise and save money on gas. It feels silly to drive such a short distance, but with the weather getting a bit nastier I am losing my motivation to ride. I did still get to log a good amount of miles on the car this summer though with a couple of day trips to the beach and two 8+ hour treks to US Air in Wisconsin- one for Final Bout in July and another for Club FR Bonus Round in September. Thankfully I had zero issues with the car all summer and haven’t had to do much of anything aside from getting it aligned and changing the oil.

While at those events at US Air I have grown incredibly close with an awesome group of individuals that all happen to hold one interest in common: drifting. They were close to convincing me to trying the skid pad (AKA parking lot) at the Bonus Round event, but I realized that my front tires touch the fenders when turning the wheel with the car stationary. While I was finally feeling eager enough to give it a try, I didn’t want to ruin the nearly perfect fenders on my car currently. I know it sounds lame, but I’ve wanted a pair of dent free metal fenders for years and finally got them in 2016.

So, the plan for this off-season and 2017? Leave the car largely untouched this winter. I have a couple of very small things I plan to install to prep the car and might even replace some maintenance items as a precaution, but otherwise it’ll pretty much stay the same if I can help it. I’ve been considering a wheel change for 2017 but just can’t find anything I like better than my TE37s. We’ll see if that changes during the off season though.

2016 has taught me to keep things simple. Try not to overdo it and you might be surprised with the results. Thanks for reading!

Damon

 

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