Roller Coaster

What a roller coaster ride it has been trying to get this car ready for my trip to Shawano. I’ve done a terrible job at taking photos of my recent progress, so this post will primarily be made up of words. I’ll try to throw a couple of random pictures from my phone in here to keep it at least somewhat interesting though.

Last Friday night was the only time I had set aside for the car all weekend as we had plans with the kiddos. I ended up driving to meet my friend Tim half way from his house to pick up my S14 control arms. The correct Whiteline bushings finally arrived the night prior, so my hope was that I could press those quickly and get the front suspension back together. As fate would have it, I wasn’t able to press them completely in my garage without a press. I was bummed about this, but with only one week to go until the event I ultimately decided to reassemble the front suspension to get the car one the road.

With the front suspension and brakes back in place, I moved to the back of the car. I installed my NISMO 2 way, replacement axle, catalytic converter, and Trust DD catback exhaust. I really like how the car sounds with a cat in place. It’s really odd for the car to be so quiet, and it has a nice refined tone. Finally, I trimmed my front bumper and turn signals to clear the intercooler and finished installing the front lighting.

On Saturday morning, my good friend and fellow S13 owner Joe came over from Toronto with his Dad. Joe brought me a complete set of kouki 180SX seats and a Canadian headliner for my interior. I’ve wanted one of these headliners for a long time now to complete my manual seatbelt swap but never had a way to get one here from Canada or the US. Pretty exciting! It’s very weird to be sitting in factory seats again, but I think it looks kind of cool for a street cruiser. I’m sure I’ll have another bucket at some point down the road.

By the end of the day Monday, my kouki 180SX front lip and side skirts had still not cleared customs in New York. I was pretty bummed about this but decided I would probably have to remove the wing and drive the car up to Shawano without aero for the event. But as luck would have it, I received a package slip in the mail Tuesday night stating that the aero was ready for pickup at the post office. I picked it up last night and will be taking it to the body shop on my lunch break today. Thankfully they have agreed to have the pieces done by end of day Friday, so with any luck that will happen and I’ll be able to install everything Friday night before Jimmy and I leave Saturday morning!

It’s taken a lot of things to fall into place, but I’m feeling pretty good about things at this point. Hopefully the car will be completely assembled and ready for departure by early Saturday morning!


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I picked up the bumper and rear valences from the painter on my way home from work last night. The valences have some bumps on them that need some wet sanding, but they said to bring the car there once everything is installed and they will take care of it. The front bumper turned out darn near perfect.

As I wasn’t feeling great, I decided it would be more fun to mount the bumper than it would to crawl under the car and bolt the diff and axles up. It’s much nicer to work in your PJ’s than greasy old clothes on your back under the car. I didn’t get a chance to break out the nice camera in the cramped and dark garage last night, but here’s a quick iPhone shot I took on the way to work this morning:

I had seriously forgotten how amazing it is to have OEM quality aero that bolts up properly- holy smokes! Say what you will about it looking too conservative or boring, but I couldn’t help but smile after bolting things up and taking a step back to look at the car. I’m really looking forward to having the full setup installed and taking the car out of the garage.

I wired up the pigtails for the front position lamps and turn signals. I found that the mounting clip and screw are missing from one of my position lamps, so I need to replace that before I can install the left side light. I also need to trim the plastic on the turn signals to clear the intercooler before those can be installed. Then I’ll move on to installing the emblem, fender extensions, and front fender liners. The hood needs to be moved back a little bit as well to line up properly with the bumper.

As I was talking to my friend Jimmy this morning, I decided it’s best not to rush the car for the Club FR event next weekend. I would of course love to have it ready and participate, but with each passing day the odds are stacking slightly higher against me. I would hate to rush the car and try to drive it out there without things being done to my standards. That would not only disappointing for me, but it would also welcome problems to arise that could damage the car or leave us stranded in Wisconsin.

Jimmy and I will be making the trek to USAIR next weekend whether my car is completed or not, but right now I’m kind of enjoying a relaxed approach to the deadline. If the aero isn’t here in time or the car simply isn’t ready, we’ll drive the rental car there and enjoy hanging out with everyone and getting some ride alongs.

We’ll see what happens!


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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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