Do or Die

Well, things have definitely be interesting trying to get this car together in time for the Club FR event next weekend. Putting a car together can be pretty funny sometimes. It’s always the things you least expect to cause you issues.

I’ve had a heck of a time trying to get my S14 front control arm setup put together. First the ball joint press I rented was bent and essentially worthless, and then my friend Tim found that the Energy Suspension bushings I bought were too small for the arms. Thinking the bushing design was the culprit, I ordered a pair of Whiteline ones. Those arrived at Tim’s shop yesterday and he attempted to install them this morning, but found that these are also too small.

After some more research, I found someone else on Zilvia that had the same issue. As it turns out, S14 FLCA bushings are larger than the S13 version. However, all of the big retailers and the manufacturer websites list the same part number for S13 and S14 applications. Big problem. I went ahead and ordered the part number described as the correct one in the thread, so I am really hoping they’ll be correct this time. Tim is pressing the ball joints in and shipping the arms back to me ASAP, so with any luck whatsoever I’ll have the correct setup here by the weekend and can get everything installed.

My replacement axle arrived on Monday but I came down with a cold and haven’t felt like working in the garage (perfect timing.) I didn’t work on the car at all last weekend so I still need to get the diff and axle in place at some point. I also ordered a different Z32 e-brake adapter bracket to replace my current setup as I have concerns that they could bend during constant use and attempting to learn to drift, so I’ll throw that on before I bolt the driveshaft back up.

As for my aero situation, the USPS tracking finally updated yesterday to say my front lip and side skirts left customs in New York. With any luck those pieces will get here in time to be painted and installed before the event. My body shop called this morning to say that my rear valences and front bumper are painted and ready for pickup, so that was a nice surprise. They turned them around very quickly for me and said they can do the same when the lip and side skirts get here, so maybe there is still hope if they get here soon.

Things coming down to the wire like this make me a bit anxious. I’ll likely make the call by Monday morning as to whether or not I will be driving the event. I’ll be there to hang out either way, but I really want to drive.

Wish me luck! Updates soon.


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Thank goodness. This week has gone fairly quickly, and while I am grateful for that, it just means I am that much closer to needing to get my car finished. It’s been really cold and snowing the last couple of days so I have been relaxing instead of working on the car. It doesn’t help that I am waiting on a couple of things before I can really make some good progress.

I did manage to swap diff covers the other night and make sure the 2 way is all sealed up (went a little ham with the RTV, lol.) I’ll likely see if I can’t get that installed over the weekend. It will be good to have that out of the way!

My catalytic converter arrived a couple days ago too, so maybe I’ll get that and the Trust DD bolted up this weekend too. I am really anxious to hear it- and I should probably let the car run for a while anyway since it has been a few weeks since I started it up.

Finally, here’s a photo of the Model Vs with the tires mounted up. Excited to see them on the car!

The weather is really supposed to improve late next week and hopefully a lot of the final pieces I need will be here then as well. That should be the perfect time to make one last big push to get this car together and ready for adventure. I’m a bit anxious and nervous, but I’m looking forward to everything coming together!

Have a great weekend.


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Daily Update

Not much to report today. My pair of 225/40/18 Kenda Kaisers showed up yesterday so I packed those up with the Model Vs this morning to have the tires mounted by a friend. Looking forward to seeing these on the car.

My friend Tim sent me this photo of my S14 arms. I was planning to spray bomb the control arms when I got them back from the bushing/ball joint install but he was kind enough to have a friend toss them in with a batch of powdercoating he was doing. Pretty nice!

My catalytic converter will be here today which will allow me to bolt the exhaust up as soon as the diff is installed. I’m hoping to swap the diff cover onto the 2 way tonight and toss the new diff into the car if I can find the time to do it. The replacement axle will likely arrive on Monday so that portion of the install will have to wait. The Whiteline bushings for my control arms will arrive Monday as well, so with any luck I’ll have the control arms back from Tim by late next week and I can finish all of the work under the car.

At that point I’ll really just be waiting for the rest of the kouki aero to arrive. I’m starting to get a bit worried about that, but at least I could still drive the car if I really wanted to. It just won’t look cool which would really be a bummer.


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Another One…

I’ve been getting in the habit of spending about an hour in the garage each night over the last few days. It’s difficult to find the time to get my car together while working full time, taking care of the kids, and spending time with my wife but fortunately I have a very understanding and supportive family that allows me to spend a bit of time doing what I enjoy each week.

I managed to pull the VLSD out of the car last night and started swapping the diff cover onto the NISMO two way only to hit a couple of snags. The bolts holding the cover on my old diff may have been installed by a gorilla, so I need to take an impact to those tonight before my kids go to bed (note: a two year old sleeping above the garage can cause issues.) I also noticed that my passenger side inner CV boot on the half shaft tore itself to shreds once again. I had just replaced it with a used axle before Final Bout last September and haven’t driven it much at all since then, so that was a disappointing discovery. I might try to raise the rear of the car a smidge to see if that helps, but I definitely need to find a solution to this issue. I’ve torn CV boots in the past, but they usually seem to last a bit longer than this. I scooped up another axle on eBay so I’ll have to toss that on when it arrives.

I also found that one of my lug studs on the rear of the car seems to have some play to it. Upon discovering this and that one of my front wheel bearings is making some noise, I’ll probably need to replace my hubs at some point. I think both issues should hopefully be OK for now, but I need to start looking into solving these problems sooner rather than later.

My friend Tim went to install my ball joints and suspension arm bushings into my S14 front control arms last night and found that the Energy Suspension bushing design is less than desirable. After some research we found that the Whiteline bushings are a much better design that looks closer to that of the OEM bushing. I ordered a pair of those and sent them to Tim’s house, so hopefully he will have those by the end of the week.

As for what was probably the only thing that actually went right for my car yesterday, I received a pair of AVS Model V from Jesse Streeter to use for the Club FR event. The specs are 18×9 +20. I’ve always wanted to see what some Model Vs would look like on my car so I am pumped. The tires should be here today and then hopefully I can get those mounted up.

Eighteen days left to get this car done. It sounds kind of scary when I put it that way. Hopefully it will all come together!


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Weekend Update

Though it never feels like much when you sit back and jot it all down, I did manage to get a fair amount of work on the car done this weekend. We’ve had some really rough and inconsistent weather lately which made for a cold weekend to spend time in the garage, but I brought my heater out of its basement retirement and spent some time trying to make a little progress during our April snowstorm.

On Friday afternoon I left the office for a road trip of sorts. I began by picking up a NISMO two way differential and a clean dashboard from a local S13 owner. The diff looks to be in great shape and I plan to install it in the next couple days. The dashboard turned out to be a little less clean than the one I picked up last week, so I’ll post this one up for sale. None of the dashboards I came across were as clean as my factory one which made me a bit bummed that I cut it up, but oh well. I’m sure I’ll put it to use again in the future when I can afford a decent set of gauges again.

After picking up those items, I continued on to my friend Tim’s house to pick up the OEM metal fenders he had his body guy paint for me. They turned out really nice and I’m pumped to finally have a clean pair of front fenders that are free from major defects. We stood around in Tim’s shop for a while staring at his current S13 that’s totally stripped down for a complete color change as it was cold out and we couldn’t muster the motivation to get anything done. I had planned to install the Moog ball joints and Energy Suspension bushings in the pair of S14 front control arms I purchased, but the ball joint press I rented from AutoZone was severely bent. Thankfully Tim offered to take them to work with him this week and press everything in before shipping them back to me- a good friend indeed. After hanging out for a while I made the trek home and decided to get some sleep.

On Saturday night I unloaded everything into the garage and got to work. The first order of business was adding some fresh 3M rubberized undercoating to the front fender well areas to clean things up a bit prior to installing the fenders and liners. After spraying the undercoating I bolted up both fenders and put my Redline Tuning hood dampers back on. I love my Koguchi Power vented hood, but man is it nice to have a hood that fits correctly and stays up when I open it without needing a hood prop! You just cant beat the convenience of that setup.

I’m really excited to have found a pair of new OEM fender liners again. Having these was a tremendous help to cleaning up the car’s exterior and keeping debris out of the engine bay and door jamb area when I had them on the car back in 2010. I’m looking forward to installing these once the front suspension is back together and I can check for clearance issues as I modify them to fit properly on a car that sits a little bit lower than factory specs.

Once the fenders were installed, I wired up the front side markers. I’ve never had the proper wiring or bulb sockets for my side markers up front as I have been running DMAX clear versions over the years. The sockets were hard wired and basically glued into the lights with silicone, meaning I had to take everything apart each time I needed to remove them. I used some OEM plugs I sourced from the coupe I parted out last year and a set of USDM to JDM adapter harnesses I purchased on Zilvia to finally wire everything up properly. I also elected to go with the factory Nissan JDM side marker lights this time around, something I have never used on my car before. I’ll keep my DMAX clear units on the parts shelf should I decide to change up the look, but for now I’m liking the change a bit. Not to mention the minty fresh lights and clips are really nice.

While on the subject of lighting, I also received my JDM OEM position lamps and turn signals over the weekend. I owned a set of these at one point but I ultimately decided not to use them. I’ve always liked the common Japanese circuit 180 look of running clear position lamps and side markers without the lower turn signals in place, and I still really like the look today. But in the spirit of going a bit more subtle and OEM this time I decided to give running all of the lights a try. Eventually I would like to pick up another pair of DMAX dual function position lamps (I sold my previous pair with my Hot Road aero) to have on hand should I want to change the look, but for now I’ll stick with the complete factory setup. With as much as I change my mind, it will be good to have options on hand.

The USDM to JDM wiring adapter harnesses I picked up also work for the turn signals and position lamps. Unfortunately the USDM plug was cut off of my car years ago, but even if I direct wire these in they’ll be super nice to have. I’ve been trying to find a pair of USDM plugs to wire in from someone parting out a car but haven’t had any luck thus far. It sounds stupid, but finally having the correct bulbs, sockets, plugs, and mounting hardware for whichever lighting I decide to run is so nice to have and makes things much more convenient than they have been for me in the past. This front setup is the perfect compliment to the brand new kouki 180SX tail light and harness adapter set I installed on the car last year.

As for the aero itself, I sourced a complete kouki 180SX front bumper setup from Russell at You can’t beat OEM fitment and quality- a very welcome sight indeed.

As I mentioned, I also scored a brand new OEM pair of R33 GTR N1 vents that arrived late last week. I’ve been toying with the idea of using these for years but have never pulled the trigger. The same goes for the common license plate cutout. I suppose now that I finally have a pair of these I should put them to good use. These are much nicer than the FRP copies I bought a year ago and ultimately never used as I ended up going Hot Road. Mounting hardware is also a huge plus.

My genuine OEM rear valences arrived about a week ago as well. They’re not perfect, but I am glad I was able to find a set. I’ll likely try to get these and the front bumper/N1 ducts dropped off for paint this week if I can. My side skirts and front lip are still on the way from Thailand but should hopefully be here by the end of the week so that I can take those to the body shop as well. I’m just hoping everything arrives and gets painted in time for the Club FR Drift Day later this month.

After working on the front fenders and lighting for a while, I turned my attention to the interior. I spent about an hour removing my cut dashboard and swapping in the replacement unit I picked up. It’s kind of refreshing to see the more toned-down factory interior in the car. I’d like to replace my cut up carpeting for a fresh unit and maybe even add some all black floor mats, but that will come in due time. My 180SX front and rear seats will be here this weekend when Joe and Matt come to visit, so I’ll be able to get the interior back together then. Joe is also bringing me a 180SX headliner that I will need to install. With any luck my brother will come visit from Chicago this month so that I can borrow his Bride Zeta III, but if not we may need to pick it up on the way to USAIR- or just use the factory 180SX seat, which may be a bit frustrating for trying to learn how to drift.

Here’s a better photo of my Trust DD exhaust. I’ll be able to put this on the car once the NISMO differential is in place. My catalytic converter will finally be here later this week so I’ll bolt that on at the same time. I had picked up this Apexi exhaust control valve to help keep the car quiet when I leave for the office at 6:30 AM, but recently found out I’ll actually be moving my office to a new location that’s very close to my home. This means I won’t be leaving the house as early and probably won’t need it very often, so I’ll likely just sell it to recoup some funds.

All said and done, here’s how the car sits as of last night:

As of today I have 19 days to get the car put back together and road worthy prior to Jimmy’s arrival for our trip to the Club FR Drift Day in Wisconsin. It’s going to take some time and a couple of things falling into place, but I am confident I can make it across the finish line. Cross your fingers for me! I’ll try to post more updates through the week.



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Flashback Friday

I was browsing one of the old Kouki 180SX Aero threads and came across this photo from April 6, 2011. The similarities to what I am currently doing to the car are eerily similar- Kouki 180SX front and rear seats, Black Bride Zeta III, and installing freshly painted OEM front fenders with a kouki 180SX front bumper and lip. Pretty funny.

I’m really geeked about getting this car together. All of the parts I sold have been shipped out and their replacements have steadily been trickling in. I’ll be picking up a couple items after work today including my freshly painted front fenders. I’m hoping to make some progress over the weekend if possible. Jimmy and I will be departing for D-Day at USAIR in just three weeks, so I need to put the pedal to the metal and get this thing back together!

I should have a pretty solid update for you on the progress sometime next week. Enjoy the weekend!



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A Change of Pace

As you could probably tell by my previous post, I’ve been enjoying a change of pace in how I think about my build and what I ultimately want the car to be as of late. My perspective and vision for the car has changed numerous times over the years- something I believe to be a direct result of experiences I’ve had and the communities I have been surrounded by.

When I first bought my S13 in 2008, I was crossing over from the Camry/Solara community (which really does exist if you can believe it.) Since everyone in that group was building an uncommon platform with minimal aftermarket support, it was critical that the build be executed in a clean and subtle manner. No large mufflers, stickers, gaudy aero, or poorly executed installs would be accepted by the mainstream tuning crowd and had to be avoided if you wanted to truly build something impressive. I carried that same thinking into my S13 build when I first began by keeping the exterior relatively simple with subtle aero pieces like the Xenon front lip and OEM chuki side skirts and rear valences.

As I spent more time in the Nissan community, I learned that the standards for what made a respectable build were much different than they were in the Toyota crowd. Fiberglass aero and loud paint jobs were not only commonplace, but widely accepted. With inspiration from guys like Toby Broadfield (who built possibly the most well executed, OEM styled S13 coupe of all time) and Brian Harte (who managed to use a cool combination of OEM and aftermarket parts to build a 180SX that looked straight out of an Option mag,) I managed to build a car that in a way spanned both arenas. It checked the right boxes for the nit-picky, clean resto-mod inspired builders and the more drift-friendly guys trying to emulate early 2000s Japanese styling. It didn’t completely nail one of the other, but it could hold its own among both audiences.

In 2012, things got pretty wild. I was still continuing to try to build a car that fit into several categories all at once. The shaved engine bay, aggressive Blitz 03 wheels, and wild multi-colored interior blended both styles to what I feel was ultimately a bit of a fault. The car no longer felt as cohesive and didn’t have the 2001 Japan Aura it once was a bit closer to pulling off. Sure, it had a lot of really cool parts on it, but the car just didn’t feel as well thought out to me. Ultimately, I ended up parting it out by November 2012.

As you now know, I bought the shell back in November 2014 from the friend I sold it to two years prior and began anew. I wanted to do things similar to how I had when I owned the car previously, but also felt like I wanted it to be new and exciting. I ended up styling the car after Itai and Koguchi’s cars with Hot Road aero, a Koguchi Power hood, Carbon Kevlar Bride Zieg II and Zeta II, etc. Many aspects like the exterior were the most wild they had ever been, but others were more subtle than previous iterations- like the interior.

At the end of the day, I loved what I had managed to build. In 2011 I could only dream of owning Hot Road aero and a Koguchi Power hood, but now that I had more or less completed the car it wasn’t what I thought it would be. I’ll always love that stage of the car, but I’ve come to feel recently that a heavily modified chassis clad in fiberglass aero with a wild interior isn’t what I am going to want this car to be when I’m an old man taking it to Dairy Queen with my wife on a Saturday afternoon.

It’s for these reasons that I am contemplating my current path for my 240SX: A clean, complete, and well-executed OEM inspired street machine that I can drive to work every day of the summer and take to a drift or road racing event once or twice a year (should I choose to) without having to make any major changes. We’ve seen the price of OEM Kouki 180SX aero soar over the last few years, and as more of the components are discontinued I can only expect that to continue. I’ve never been one of those crazy OEM hoarders or perfectionists and I am not sure I ever will be, but I do want to make sure I’ve got the parts I really want in place if I’m going to make this the car I hold onto. And so begins my quest to assemble what many will consider to be a more boring car than I had previously, haha…

In the spirit of thinking about a car in this mindset, I’ve set out to find some specific components for the interior. My good friend Joseph from Canada is going to be bringing my Kouki 180SX front and rear seats to my house next weekend. He’s also working on sourcing a Canadian headliner for me that I’ve been after for many years to get rid of the gap between my Japanese A pillar covers and the USDM headliner. I’m going to pick up a pair of rear seat brackets so that I can mount the 180SX rear seats properly as I lost mine a few years back.

The NeXt Miracle brace will stay put for now, wedged between the rear seat and my OEM privacy cover. I would one day like to reinstall the factory rear seat belts so that my daughters can ride in the car with us, but I don’t see needing to do that soon as installing their car seats would be a big pain. But I do think it would be cool to do that at some point. I think I will dye the gray rear trunk area panels black to match the carpet and clean things up. My carpet still has holes in it from the Cusco cage and Do Luck floor bar, so replacing that would be nice. The door panels are currently without fabric as the tweed has been removed, so I’d like to clean those up with some sort of simple black fabric as well. I would essentially like to end up with a clean, complete factory interior with 180SX seats, my Nardi wheel, GREX shift knob, and a bucket seat I can swap in for any events I decide to participate in. Who knows, maybe I’ll finally buy speakers and a decent head unit for this thing- but that’s crazy talk.

So, that’s the plan for the interior. As for the exterior, as I mentioned in my last post I am awaiting the arrival of the final OEM kouki 180SX pieces before everything can go in for paint. The only exterior things I’m really debating are the front lights. My wiring has always been cobbled together for the front turn signals, position lamps, and side markers. I’m considering purchasing the full OEM setup with some adapter pigtails from a seller on Zilvia so that I can finally have all of the proper lights and plugs in place. My only hesitation is that I do really like the Japanese-inspired look of running clear dual function position lamps with no turn signals and clear sidemarkers. Maybe I’ll end up with both and switch them out as I see fit to change the appearance from time to time.

I’ve always loved the look of NISMO R33 N1 ducts installed on the OEM kouki 180SX bumper with a front plate cutout. I’ve debated trying it several times over the years, but never managed to make myself do it. Well, I saw a new OEM pair of vents on Zilvia this morning and hadn’t seen any for a while, so I decided to grab them. I’ll have to decide what I want to do before paint. I’m thinking either go with the cutout/vents and clear lights/no signals, or full OEM look with no vents, no cutouts, and OEM lights. Again, this would be a cool thing to switch back and forth between. Ideally I would have a spare OEM bumper on standby, but I’m not sure that will happen. And finally, side mirrors… I’ve still got my Ganadors but have yet to decide what to run. This is another thing I can easily switch back and forth between.

In the end, I’m actually feeling really inspired by my buddy Kyle’s old red hatch and a few of the other cars built stateside around 2010-2011. Full OEM Kouki 180SX aero with subtle additions like N1 ducts and Ganador mirrors, full OEM 180SX interior with a couple cool pieces like a Nardi wheel, shift knob, and maybe a bucket seat; and a stock SR with a couple of small power adders under the hood. Simple suspension and brake modifications with a really nice set of wheels or two. It’s easy to think something like this is boring or unoriginal, but when I really take a step back and think about what I want in an S13 that I’m going to keep forever, that’s what fits the bill.

I’m looking forward to trying to execute on this vision over the next couple of months. My hope is to make this site my home for the project over the coming months instead of Zilvia or Instagram. It’s nice to get back to more thorough documentation with nicer photos to accompany the words.

Thanks for reading my rambling!


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