A New Year Approaches

Alright, let’s see here… let’s get back to making some progress on the S13 coupe. December has been a very busy month as it always is, but I have been trying to make chip away at the list for this car when I can. Motivation comes and goes, and it doesn’t always sync up with free time or reasonable temperatures to be working in the garage- but occasionally things fall into place and I manage to get some work done.

Since my last update, I managed to complete the sound deadening install on the interior of the chassis. I went with Dynamat again since it worked pretty well on the hatch. After getting that into place, I was able to reinstall the HVAC setup and dash bar. I bricked my phone a few weeks ago and I think I lost some of the in-progress photos of this, but they were less than spectacular anyway. I still need to add some to the doors and maybe the trunk area, but wanted to wait a bit as I may end up replacing the driver’s side door with a cleaner one to avoid the body work needed to fix the original door.

There was one floor plug missing from the car. I was bummed to find that it was discontinued, but stumbled across a Honda power antenna delete grommet on eBay that looked close in size and decided to give it a shot. Fortunately it fit like a glove!

After the sound deadening was installed, I went ahead and put the rest of the chassis harness and fuse boxes back into the engine bay. These had been removed by the previous owner of the car, but fortunately he did so with a lot of care and all of the clips were still intact. I cleaned the harness and fuse boxes thoroughly before putting it all into the engine bay. I elected to leave everything in the factory location this time around just to keep things simple. I ended up taking the day off for my birthday since it fell on a Friday and primarily spent it tackling this. This was one of the tasks I had been dreading and dragging my feet on, so it felt good to make some headway.

As I have done numerous times over the years, I turned to Wiring Specialties to assist me with an engine swap harness for this car. Their quality is second to none and Yury has always been willing to help me out over the years. It’s so nice to install a fresh, brand new harness with your engine swap and not need to worry about the condition of the harness preventing your car from running or causing other issues. These guys have it down to a science!

I’ve started running the harness through the firewall, but haven’t completed installation just yet. I am utilizing a factory ECU mounting bracket that I was amazed to find in one of the cars I parted out- I had never even seen one before. So nice to have the ECU mounted securely where it belongs! I also kept one to use on the hatch as well.

I think I forgot to share in my last update and have since lost the photos I took, but I installed the Parts Shop Max Cobra downpipe a couple weeks ago as well, along with a brand new O2 sensor I picked up from my friends at NissanParts.cc. The O2 sensor that came on the engine was an ISR one and I just felt it made sense to replace it with a genuine Nissan unit.

Moving back to the inside of the car, the next order of business was installing a fresh pair of turn signal and wiper stalks that I sourced from Rock Auto. These are 100% identical to the OEM Nissan units in every way- right down to the brand that manufactures them. Since one side is discontinued by Nissan, this is a great solution.

I also received my steering wheel and hub of choice- A Nardi Classic 330mm leather steering wheel and Works Bell Splash hub. I’ve never had a quick release before and always thought they were sort of neat, but not really necessary at all considering I just cruise my cars around on the street. It’s the best combo in my opinion!

The size difference vs. the stock wheel is pretty crazy.

The next order of business was installing some fresh carpet. As I have done many times over the years, I once again turned to Stock Interiors. I was pleased to see that they now offer a carpet kit for the S13 that does not have the molded provisions in the back for the automatic seatbelts which is great if you swap to Canadian/JDM manual belts like I have. I did experience a strange issue this time around when I went to begin installing the carpet. The molded pads for your heel and near the gas pedal on the carpet were placed too far back when the carpet was made. I reached out to Stock Interiors and they sent me a free replacement no questions asked. The replacement carpet looks correct, so I need to begin installing that next when I get some free time. It’s not a difficult task luckily, it’s just a bit time consuming.

Earlier this week, I finally received a piece of the interior that I had been waiting on for quite some time- a Silvia headliner from Japan. I had managed to source all of the other interior panels and the manual seatbelts needed for the swap some time ago, but I didn’t have the headliner that’s required to do the swap properly. If you install the JDM seatbelts and panels with a USDM headliner, there will be a gap between the panels and the headliner. Much like I did on my hatch, I snagged a JDM headliner and had it sent over from Japan to complete the look. I used Jakob at Get Japan to bring this over via container since the air shipping cost on it was a bit tough to swallow and I wasn’t in a hurry. It took about five months from start to finish, but I finally have it!

After tossing the headliner in, I was able to install other items I had collected like dome and map lights, sun visors, and the rear view mirror. This car had a brown interior when I got it, so I had to collect all of these parts over the last year or so to piece the full black interior together- mostly from a few of the cars I parted out along the way.

I next bolted the A, B, and C pillars in place, as well as the JDM Silvia front and rear seat belts. The front Silvia belts are pretty hard to come by these days as they differ from the 180SX belts- they have a small plastic guide on them that extends the belt towards the front seats. I knew I wouldn’t be happy with trying to make some random belts fit, so I was really excited when I found a set in good condition.

I was too excited about seeing the interior come together last night, so I had to toss the dash in for a quick test fit to get a peek. It has felt amazing lately to be bolting more parts onto the car and to see some real progress being made. I need to buckle down over the Christmas break next week and spend some time installing the carpet, dash, and remaining interior panels for good. I believe I have just about everything aside from the bracket that’s required to mount the handle on the A pillar on the driver’s side. I would have preferred a set of Canadian A pillar plastics as they omit this handle and look cleaner (this is what I have on my hatch,) but I haven’t been able to get a hold of a set and ended up settling for the JDM version. I also need a pair of front seats, but I haven’t decided on those yet- that’s something I will have to pick up later when I have the funds.

As for new parts, I got an order from RHD Japan not too long ago that contained some cool stuff: the Works Bell hub I mentioned earlier, a NISMO clutch slave and line, and NISMO bushings for the rear knuckles. The other boxes contain NISMO subframe bushings that I bought from a seller on Zilvia a while back that I plan to use on this car as well. I’m trying not to dive into much suspension work on the car just yet as I want to complete assembly of the engine, interior, and exterior first- but after that’s finished I will be diving into the suspension.

One of the few items I snagged on Black Friday was a Magnaflow high flow cat converter from Enjuku. I’ve been running the same cat on my hatch for a couple years now and the difference it made with the gasoline and exhaust fumes inside the car on long drives is awesome. I am not really concerned with power loss since I am running a stock SR20DET anyway, so it works well for my goals for both of my cars. I also think it gives the exhaust a really nice tone. I haven’t ordered a whole lot from Enjuku in the past, but their customer service has been awesome so far. With the fall of FR Sport, I think Enjuku and TF Works will probably be my go-to’s from now on when not using RHD Japan or Jesse Streeter. They even tossed me $5 as a part of some sort of cash prize contest they had going for Black Friday which I thought was really cool.

As for the hatch, I don’t have anything new to report there. With any luck I will have my Model Vs for it sometime in the next week or so and then I’ll be able to test fit them and evaluate if I want to run them for next year or not. I think it has potential to be a pretty good look- I will just need to order some spacers and get my tires mounted if I decided to use them.

Last week I received a visit from none other that @outsidesam, an S13 enthusiast that I occasionally chat with on Instagram from time to time. Sam was driving one of his S13s from Vancouver to Montreal and decided to take a Southern route through the United States on his way. Sam hit me up and asked if he could stop by on his way through Michigan and back into Canada. It was cool to have an opportunity to meet him quick in person and chat about these cars- very nice dude! Thanks for coming by, Sam.

Finally, my wife hooked me up with a second set of LED lights for the garage. Man, what a difference! It’s so nice to be able to see so well when working on the cars. It’s crazy to me that I spent so many years working in this garage under two light bulbs. Very appreciative of this gift that’s for sure.

I think I am at a point where the parts orders are more or less done for a while and it is time to actually focus on assembling the car. There are of course lots of things I still need, but this is a good stopping point to turn my attention to putting some actual wrench time in with the items I already have in my possession. I think it would be greatly motivating to have the car fired up and running by the end of next month, but that could prove to be a bit ambitious. I’ve been enjoying pacing myself a bit and spending time with my wife and kids inside where it is warm during the approaching holiday season. Once the presents are all unwrapped and we move into 2020, I’ll likely be able to get back to work on this thing once again.

Thanks as always for coming by. I wish you a very happy and healthy holiday season! Take car and enjoy time with friends and family.

Damon

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Bound to Happen

This week my passion for the 180SX returned with a vengeance. It’s no secret that I have been less than hyped on my hatch over the past few months after electing to sell my silver TE37s and let the car sit for the season to focus my efforts on the S13 coupe I picked up about a year ago. A surprise medical expense meant that something had to give, and I elected to sell my wheels instead of items from the coupe build to try to keep the momentum moving. After all, this was my fourth season on the silver TEs- and while I think they look amazing on the car, that is also a long time for me to commit to a single look. Parting with them felt like the logical choice as it gave me an opportunity to try something different in the future when I had my ducks in a row- not to mention they sold very quickly.

Oof. 2017 was an amazing stage- and probably the last time I feel the car
was relevant and true to my roots with the chassis.

As the hatch sat for the summer, I started to question if I should even be keeping it around. I had been tinkering with it for the last eleven years after all (save for the two year span where I famously parted it and sold the shell, only to buy it back again like an idiot…) so I thought maybe it had run its course. Perhaps the next decade was to be devoted to the coupe chassis and starting a new adventure from scratch.

This dash still resides in my basement waiting for the next
set of gauges to find their way into it.

My biggest issue with the hatch has been the fact that there aren’t really any wheels out there that excite me anymore. For many years it felt like I was climbing the ladder of cool wheels, eventually owning just about every different model that I really cared to try on the car. In my eyes it doesn’t really get better than TE37s. I always struggle if bronze or silver looks better on my car, but I think bronze has the slight edge overall. The only wheels left that I really get excited about are a set of bronze 17/18 NISMO LMGT4s. Jimmy and I agree that these are probably the final frontier. They’re just expensive and very difficult to source, especially in 17/18 specs and shades of bronze between the pair that actually match. It’s not impossible, but will definitely be a long shot.

The other issue is the whole restoration angle. About two years ago, I became obsessed with the idea of restoring my S13. I started scouring Japanese schematics and new old stock overseas to try to collect tons of items in an attempt to restore the car to like-new condition. While this process can be really rewarding, it can also be a curse. I’m essentially left with a big box of OEM parts in my basement that I don’t want to install until I can afford to paint the car properly. But for some reason, instead of addressing the rust issues and getting it painted, I elected to attempt to build a second S13 (that also needs a paint job) instead. Yes, I realize that makes no sense. I don’t really have a good explanation to be honest, haha. Chalk it up to getting “lost in the sauce.”

New old stock… super cool, but can I bring myself to actually use it?

Discontinued and new old stock items are really cool, don’t get me wrong. I would be lying if I said it isn’t a bit of  flex to have things BNIB items like Silvia brick headlights, 180SX quarter glass, a new S13 center console, etc. in my collection – it feels really cool. But at the same time, I have never been a hoarder. If I can’t make use of a part and it’s sitting around, I always find myself wanting to cash out on it. The other problem with these items is their value immediately decreases the second they’re removed from the packaging and bolted onto the car. It’s highly satisfying, but also a poor financial investment. I try to always have an exit plan with the money I spend on these cars. It’s not always possible with wear and maintenance items, but I am careful with the parts I purchase to ensure that I can almost always get my money back or make a profit should I change my mind.

Super cool… and super unnecessary.

The restoration angle is picking up steam with the S13 community, and for good reason. I’m just at a point where I am having a hard time with it. Once you drop all of that coin on moldings and weather stripping, you install them and forget all about it. 9 out of 10 people will never even notice the difference. And not that building a car is about being noticed by others, but I would imagine that most of you are in a similar situation to mine where every dollar counts. Does it make sense to spend the money on these restoration items when the car doesn’t even have paint, coilovers, or nice wheels yet? It’s something I have really struggled with lately as I would love to have those items for the coupe before they are inevitably discontinued.

I think this was one of the best stages for the car. Summer 2016.

To be totally honest, I really miss having cool parts on my hatch. I don’t think I would ever shift away from OEM aero parts, but I miss the bread and butter modifications that make this chassis so cool- Ganador Super Aero mirrors, R33 GTR N1 ducts, Koguchi Power bonnet, Defi Link Meter II gauges, Bride seats, and the NeXt Miracle cross bar. I’ve owned all of these parts in the past (some of them multiple times,) but ultimately let go of them in my pursuit of restoring the aging chassis and eventually building up a second S13 chassis.

I find myself once again at a crossroads. I still love the thought of building and completing the coupe, but suddenly I miss the simplicity of the past. Focusing on only one car has always been my MO, and I’ve always discourage others from trying to build two or more cars at once. While parting out a few cars this summer helped with the financial undertaking of building and maintaining a second car, there’s still a lot of work ahead of me. The question now is which route I want to pursue- trying to exercise patience with a couple of mediocre cars sitting in the garage as time passes by, or parting with one to kick start the other and produce a nicer product in the end.

This week I elected to remove all of the “branding” from my Instagram account and take down all of the stories of parts I had for sale. I believe it was about a year ago that I decided to try to take Instagram and this blog a bit more seriously, which I don’t think was necessarily a bad thing- but lately I’ve had a desire to get back to my roots and remove myself from all of that noise a bit. Trying to make my interactions on the web more serious than they really are can result in an added pressure to create and share content, which really is not necessary since this isn’t my job. I think removing myself a bit from that mentality will be a good thing. This is something I do purely for enjoyment and that’s what makes it successful. Taking it too seriously can result in sub-par results.

All the cool goodies circa 2015.

All this to say I am basically just transcribing my thoughts onto a digital screen. Nothing is set in stone and things can change in a matter of hours, as I’m sure you can probably relate to. But this week has definitely been all about the idea of modifying the hatch and returning it to its former glory. Plus, it has been a while since I wrote a good old fashioned pointless ramble on the blog. I guess we’ll just have to see what happens.

I hope you have a great weekend! Take care.

Damon

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Back on Track

Here we are again- the blog has been neglected for the last month. But it isn’t due to a lack of inactivity! I’ll try to pick up where I last left off in October. About three weeks ago, I took a trip down to Houston, Texas visit my BFF Jimmy and a slew of other great people. Spirit always offers the same Friday morning to Sunday evening flights down there and they are always very affordable, so this is typically my go-to choice for a short guys weekend away when I get the opportunity.

We had a lot of fun going out to eat, dinking around with cars, and hanging with friends. One of the main reasons I was excited to visit is that Jimmy and I have been chatting about his return to the S13 chassis for the last five months or so. He had been gathering parts and a couple different chassis options during that time but had decided to keep a low profile and not really tell anyone about it. By the time I arrived he had most of the pieces collected, so we worked on installing everything and mocking the car up to take a look at what he had created.

I ended up tackling tucking the front driver’s side chassis harness and installing some of the aero. We kind of just did it quickly to get an idea of what the car will look like since it will all need to be taken apart anyway for paint soon. If you know me, you know that I love photos of in-progress S13 projects- so I was pretty geeked to help sit the car on the ground and take a look at what Jimmy had pieced together. It was a satisfying feeling and I am glad Jimmy allowed me to be a part of it. Harris and Kev were also a huge help that weekend. We got to surprise Kev by having him walk into the garage and see the car for the first time which was also really entertaining.

Another cool stop on the trip was visiting Josh and Michael from Fat Cats at their BMW service shop EMG. While we were hanging out, the legendary Andrew came by on the way home from picking up his freshly swapped 1JZ IS300. Andrew has been wanting to swap to a turbo power plant for many years, so it was super cool to be a part of seeing him drive it for the first time. The car now sounds as amazing as it looks!

After arriving back home, I wrapped up the month of October by celebrating Halloween with my kids and getting rid of as many parts from the parts cars as I possibly could. In the last week or so I managed to sell all three KA engines I had sitting around which really freed up a lot of space in the garage. I now have both cars in the garage and on jack stands for the winter which is a great feeling. With the part outs more or less finished and everything tucked into the garage, it was time to start ordering parts and getting back to work on the coupe project.

S13 Coupe

The goal I have set for this project is to have the car running and moving under its own power by spring with a fully assembled black interior. While it feels like this is a fairly modest goal, things always tend to take a lot longer than you expect them to. That being said, I feel it is a pretty realistic goal to work towards and I am pretty motivated to make it happen.

I started by ordering a small quantity of Dynamat since it was available with fast shipping on Amazon Prime. I will need more than this to do the entire car and have since ordered more, but this was just to get me by and allow me to make some progress on the car while my wife was out of town a couple weeks ago. I started by adding sound deadening to the passenger side firewall so that I could then install the HVAC setup. After getting both of those items in place, I reinstalled the dash bar and steering column. I also started situating the body harness and getting things connected.

In the mean time, I ordered a few items that have been on my list to meet my goals for the spring. The first was a generic hot pipe and a TRUST intercooler kit- the same ones I am running on my hatch. I was glad to find the intercooler in stock from a vendor in the US as it was backordered for a couple months in Japan.

I installed the core quickly the other night just to get a look at it but haven’t had a chance to install the rest of the piping yet. Still lots of work to do in the engine bay so I’m sure that will happen sometime soon.

I also picked up a K&N filter and some redline gear oil for the transmission. I would prefer to have a cooler intake system, but it’s tough to beat the cost and convenience of the K&N. Perhaps I will look into something better at some point, but this will get the car on the road and running in the mean time.

Last night was the first time I had worked on the car in about two weeks. I started by installing the manual driveshaft. Since the previous owner had removed the auto driveshaft before I bought the car, I also sourced new nuts and bolts from Nissan. The washers were discontinued, so I kept a set of those from one of the cars that I had parted out. It was tough for me to bolt the driveshaft up to the filthy rear differential, but I am trying to complete the car in phases. I want to be able to drive it a bit on stock suspension to work out any bugs and save up some funds before I tackle completely refreshing the rear subframe and suspension, so this will be fine for the time being.

After the driveshaft was installed, I put the transmission fluid in and installed the stock shifter assembly I sourced to replace the ISR one that originally came with my swap. I also added a fresh rubber boot before bolting everything into place, topping it off with a NISMO GT knob just like the one in my hatch.

First time this car has seen a manual transmission! 

An order arrived yesterday from TF Works in Chicago- GK Tech coolant overflow tank, Circuit Sports poly exhaust hanger bushings, and a Walbro 255 lph fuel pump with install kit. Everything in me wanted to purchase an OEM Nissan coolant overflow tank, but I just couldn’t stomach the cost for a plastic tank. This one looks nearly identical and should get the job done just fine. Shoutout to TF Nick for the stickers!

As for the Walbro pump, I have heard of a few people having issues with them as of late. These used to be the go-to when I got into S13s, and I have never had a problem with them- so I decided to keep it going. I managed to install the pump last night with a fresh o-ring, but I need to finish replacing all of the rubber fuel lines from the tank to the engine and back.

Finally, one small interior item I picked up is a new mirror block off plate for the mirror switch location on the center console. The console that came with the car is missing this piece, so I picked up a new one like I did with my hatch. You may have noticed I also installed a pair of Aero Marker side mirrors I got from a friend a couple months back. I am sure I will switch off between these and stock mirrors, but they look pretty cool on the car in the mean time.

S13 Hatch

As for the hatch, not much is really going on currently. I have been using it as a reference for installing various items on the coupe which is really nice to help me remember how things should be installed. I ended up just keeping the car in my garage with the coupe for the winter- which arrived with 8.5″ of snow this past Monday despite the fact that it is technically still fall. The daily drivers are currently outside in the elements, but I have been trying to do a good job of keeping them clear of snow and warmed up should my wife need to drive anywhere. We’ll see if that lasts all winter, haha.

I ended up getting a message from someone in California on Instagram that offered to sell me a brand new OEM kouki 180SX front lip for a pretty solid price. I already had an OEM lip, but I have always thought it would be cool to own a brand new one ever since I went kouki aero in 2010. I ended up buying it and selling mine, so I will eventually need to get that painted and installed. Probably pretty pointless, but I thought it would be cool and decided to go for it.

A set of AVS Model V popped up for sale in Wisconsin, so I decided to pick those up for the car for next season. They’re powdercoated silver and are 17×9/18×9 +35. I’ll need to run some spacers, but I think they could look pretty cool. The wheels are currently with a friend in Wisconsin, so I am not sure when I will get a hold of them. I could end up selling them, but I haven’t decided what the play is just yet. I would definitely like to be able to drive this thing a lot more than I did during 2019 next year, so I’ll likely end up using them.

Speaking of other people’s wheels, I have a set of 17/18 Blitz 03 sitting on the car at the moment. Joe and Martino of REACT came down from Toronto and brought these to me a couple weekends ago since Jimmy is buying them from Joe. I am going to ship them down to Jimmy in Houston, but had to toss them on the car to check it out first before I did that. Gotta say, they definitely look pretty cool!

Anyway, I think that is about where things stand at the moment in my garage. I’ve got a few more parts arriving next week, so I hope to make some solid progress on the coupe. I’ll try to do a better job at working on the car and documenting it here in the weeks to come. Thanks as always for stopping by!

Damon

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Transitions

October marks a time of transition here in Michigan. The leaves are changing and falling at a rapid pace. We seem to have enjoyed our final afternoons in the 80ºs and the days are getting shorter, colder, and more gray. As the weather and seasons begin to transition, so does the primary purpose of my garage.

I’ve somehow let three weeks slip by without an update- but there’s a good explanation. I’ve spent the last three weeks parting out my final car of 2019, the black 1992 DOHC hatchback that Tim brought to me back on October 4th. I made relatively quick work of this car since the engine and transmission were already removed when I bought it. I managed to get the car completely stripped down within two weeks and then had my neighbor Kyle take it to scrap for me with his truck and trailer. I ended up just leaving all of the suspension on the car like I did with the last two since it is such a hassle to move a car without suspension on it. In the past I have always attempted to sell these rollers rather than scrap them, but with numerous buyers flaking out it is easier to just give them to Kyle to either try to sell himself or scrap. All three of the cars I parted out in the last three months were riddled with rust and frame damage so they really weren’t worth saving.

I was beginning to get a bit overwhelmed with all of the inventory I had over the last couple weeks, but I think I am finally getting a handle on things. I’ve managed to stay relatively organized, and spent the night last night getting the garage completely cleaned and organized. I moved all of my shipping supplies and a number of parts into the basement in order to transition my garage back to a place where cars are built instead of taken apart. I still have a ways to go (considering there are three KA24DE engines in my garage that need to make their way out) but things are MUCH better than they were. This also allowed me to put my hatch back in the garage which is an awesome feeling. Letting it sit in the driveway for the past two and a half months has been fairly stressful.

Inventory day after the last shell left the garage… yikes.

Relatively clean after cleaning last night prior to pulling the hatch back into the garage. Still lots to get rid of but making progress!

Anyway, I know there isn’t a lot in this post, but I wanted to try to get back in the swing of posting regularly. My hope is to finish selling the majority of the items I have left in the next two weeks before diving head first into the coupe to make some progress on the car. Remember- the goal is to have the car running and the complete interior installed by the time the weather breaks in the spring. I think this should be entirely possible and I am looking forward to getting back to work.

You might notice a couple of exterior additions to the PS13. We’ll get to those soon enough!

Thanks as always for following along- I appreciate it! I’ll likely have just landed in Houston for the weekend to visit Jimmy and some other friends by the time you read this. Have a great weekend!

Damon

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Season’s End

It certainly feels like fall is upon is here in Michigan. With a high of 55º today and an abundance of clouds, we finally had to give in and turn on the heat in our house for the first time in months. It probably won’t be long before the leaves fall and are swiftly replaced by snow. Needless to say, I need to get the car situation sorted out and everything tucked away before the weather really goes South.

Knowing this, it totally makes sense that I purchased another S13 earlier this week, right? Probably not at all, but this one seemed like a good buy to finish out the season. The car was advertised as a stock ’92 hatch that needed to have the rear hatch and rocker panel replaced and then it would be ready to rock. The engine was removed due to knock, but a replacement KA24DE was included with the sale as well as the bad engine. The car is an SE with sunroof and power options as well as AC.

I talked with the seller a bit last weekend and things seemed to fall into place. He had actually moved out of state and left the car here on the West side of the state with a friend to have him replace the engine, but he ended up not having time and just wanted to sell it all instead. Negotiations were a bit touch and go, so I didn’t get my hopes up- but things seemed to sort of fall into place. The car was located about two hours away from me, but I actually had to go to a meeting for work about a mile from where the car was. Things couldn’t have really worked out better.

After my meeting ended, I met up with my good friend Tim once again to retrieve a trailer and go get the car. We arrived about thirty minutes earlier than we were supposed to meet the guy selling the car, but fortunately he was home. The car wasn’t located in the best part of town and the street the house was on was very narrow with cars lining both sides- not the ideal situation. The driveway was very skinny and steep with the car sitting behind the house hanging out of a garage and surrounded by a couple of Subarus and a pickup truck, none of which seemed to run.

Tim and I were surprised to find that we actually knew the gentleman selling the car from previous transactions in the Michigan S Chassis scene. Remember the white hatch rolling chassis that I took from Tim as payment for my Work CR Kais back in 2011? I ended up selling that car to Darren, the guy that was storing this S13 for the seller. Small world.

The white hatch chassis that was to be my drift car that I ended up selling back in 2011 to Darren. He ended up SR swapping it and selling it a few years later.

The load up process was far from smooth. Darren’s yard was sort of a mess with cars, tools, and parts scattered everywhere. The truck parked in front of the S13 had a dead battery, so we waited while the batter was swapped from another truck to move it out of the way. Tim unhitched the trailer in the street and backed his truck up the driveway to load the KAs. When loading the second engine, the pins fell out of one of the legs on the cherry picker and it collapsed, dropping the engine and nearly taking Tim’s foot off in the process. Luckily he escaped any major injury and it was the knocking engine that fell, so we managed to put things back together and get the second engine into the truck.

Accidental flash resulted in a cool 90s era photo.

When the time came to move the car itself, we found the brakes were seized from sitting outside for a few months. After removing one of the rear calipers, we were able to get it loaded up onto the trailer relatively easily. Things were just generally in a state of disarray at the house and it was difficult to see at night, but we managed to load up and get out of there in just under two hours- not bad considering all of the setbacks we faced.

The two KA24DE engines that were included with the black hatch.

I ended up leaving the car and engines with Tim since he is going out of town this weekend and won’t have time to bring everything to me until this time next week. This works out pretty well since it will allow me to finish stripping the white coupe I have been parting out and have the shell out of my garage before this car arrives. All in all, I think this car should have a lot of useful parts on it that I can both keep and sell. It has a fair share of rust on the rocker panels and rear quarters as usual, but the frame rails and the remainder of the chassis actually seem pretty solid. We’ll see how it shakes out once I manage to tear into it.

A shot of Tim’s current projects. The hatch is a fully restored street car, and the coupe will be his beginner drift car. Sense a theme between both of our cars? None of them are currently being driven…

All that remains to remove on the white coupe is the front subframe, suspension, and engine. I think Saturday night will likely be spent trying to finish that and get the garage organized. Space is going to start becoming an issue in the near future with all of our patio furniture and outside items needing to come inside for winter, so organization is going to be key. Looking forward to getting everything tidied up and organized to try to make life as easy as possible while I finish parting out these last two cars.

As for my personal coupe, I have not touched it since the last update. It’s sort of on hold until I finish selling all of these items and take care of some home related needs. It kills me to let it sit and not make any progress, but I have to remain patient while I take care of some other things first. I hope to be focused on getting that car running again by the beginning of December. With some time off for the holidays, I should be able to make decent progress if things go my way.

As for my personal hatch, I went inside of the car today to retrieve something and was met by that all too familiar musty, damp smell inside. The windows were fogged on the inside due to moisture getting into the car due to all of the rain we have had recently. I was bummed to see that my Canadian headliner had gotten really wet, so I ended up removing it on my lunch break today to try to get it to dry. This is a result of the rust along the windshield, window weather stripping, and the sunroof seal. Needless to say I am really discouraged at the moment, but I don’t really have a lot I can do right now to fix these issues. I guess we’ll see what happens, but the hatch is definitely the least of my concerns at the moment- which feels odd to say.

I’m beginning to wonder if I bit off more than I can chew at this point! Maybe this is where it all ends, hahaha. I don’t think so though! I am doing my best to stay organized and split things up into manageable tasks. As I go through everything one item at a time, I should be able to make some good progress and take care of all of these issues. I definitely understand at this point why people don’t really succeed too often at owning two project cars- and why they don’t bother trying to part cars out either. In the end I am still enjoying the process though, so I’ll come out on the other side soon.

Sorry for the lack of photos this week! I didn’t manage to take many over the last few days. I hope to be much more organized and have my thoughts a bit more clear by this time next week.

I wish you luck with whatever project you choose to tackle this weekend. Thank you as always for taking the time to check in here!

Damon

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A Brief Friday Update

Well, I don’t know how else to say it, but I am way behind on the blog. Honestly, since my last update in early September, I have not gotten much done on either of my personal cars at all. Here’s where things stand at the moment:

The Black Hatch
My black hatch is still sitting in the driveway on S14 wheels. I occasionally toss the battery in it to roll the windows down and get some air inside, or move it around to shuffle parts cars in and out of the garage. I recently sold my shifter trim and shift boot out of it since I have brand new ones that I plan to install soon, but have not reinstalled them yet. I also have the door panels out of the car currently as I managed to source a pair of LE door panels from a friend locally. They’re sort of in rough shape and I am doing my best to restore them. No photos at the moment, but with any luck I’ll get to cleaning those up and installing them sometime this winter.

It’s a bit discouraging seeing the hatch sit neglected in the driveway, but it doesn’t make much sense to get new wheels or do much of anything to it so close to winter. I nearly pulled the trigger on a set of 17″ bronze LMGT4, but decided to be patient and focus my resources elsewhere. As difficult as it is to just let it sit and not drive it, waiting until spring is the obvious answer. I need to get the car back in the garage sometime in October before the weather really starts to get nasty. Within a couple weeks I will have that squared away. I hope to be working on the hatch again soon, but I don’t have much set in stone planned for it in the next few months. Truthfully, part of me would love to take this car apart, keep some items, and start fresh with a bone-stock chassis. I am not sure that’s going to happen though- I just don’t have the time or space for taking that on at the moment.

The Champagne Coupe
Since my last post related to the coupe on September 6th, I haven’t made much progress. I did source a parts car recently that yielded some great parts for this build including a mint dashboard, clean door panels, a wingless trunk, and a nice pair of weather strip retainers that are in much better shape than the ones on it currently. I sat aside a few other items for it that will be a nice upgrade, but nothing incredibly noteworthy.

I did manage to paint my brake booster and power steering reservoir a couple of weeks back. Neither are perfect, but they look much better than they did before. I bolted the brake booster and manual transmission brake pedal assembly in place with a fresh gasket.

Once that was done, I installed my new pedal pads onto the clutch and brake pedals. They look great next to the brand new accelerator pedal!

I ended up installing my new fan clutch and blade along with a new fan shroud shortly after that, but I am not sure that I took any photos of that either. Fresh belts from Nissan/Pitwork also made their way onto the car. I also reinstalled the hood latch and release cable.

It was at that moment that I realized I never tightened the crank pulley, so I need to remove all of those items in order to do that. I think that’s about where progress stopped. I have a list of items I need to purchase in order to continue to make solid progress on the engine bay and interior, but I’m trying to wait until I have finished my current part out to buy those items. Which brings us to the next portion of the update…

Silver Hatch Partout
I wrapped up the silver hatch part out a little over a week ago. No sooner did I get that down to a bare shell and I ended up bringing another car home- this one a coupe. I ended up with all four cars at the house for one day before I had one of my neighbors and his buddies come take the rolling shell off of my hands to free up space in my garage.

White Coupe Partout
The coupe I picked up is a ’93 base model with an automatic transmission. The car has a rebuilt title from a previous accident, but only has 89,000 miles on it. It’s really sad to see one of these cars in such bad shape with limited miles on it. Kind of ironic that the chassis I am building has nearly 350k and this one only has 89k, but it is what it is I suppose. After learning that the car only had a working first and second gear shortly after arriving to purchase it, I proceeded to drive it home three hours from Indiana at about 4k RPM to go 68 MPH. Fortunately we made it home without a single hiccup- which is probably nothing short of a miracle.

The car had a super clean interior and a number of other great parts on it that I was able to use for my own build and sell to others for their cars. At the moment I have the interior and exterior completely stripped, but need to finish removing the drivetrain before I can sell the shell. Alicia was interested in working in the garage again, so she was a huge help with getting the car torn apart last Friday night. I’ve gotta say I am getting fairly quick at this process, I just need to find the time and energy to actually get everything done.

So that’s what has been occupying my time in the garage for the past few weeks! It’s tough to take a break from working on my own projects, but finding cars to part out has been rewarding and pretty fun to manage. Maybe after this coupe is completed in the next two weeks I can get my personal cars situated and begin to make some solid progress again. I would love to have the coupe running with a complete interior by spring- which I think should be within my reach.

I gave the Silvia hood a test fit this week as well to keep the dust out of the bay while I work on parting the white coupe out. Can’t wait to see it on the ground with the full aero and Silvia front end installed! All in due time…

Thanks for stopping by and reading the blog- I really appreciate it as always! I hope you have an excellent weekend.

Damon

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A Random Encounter

While I was out last night picking up some groceries, I was reminded by the chiming low fuel light on my Pontiac Vibe (not the best daily driver by any means, but it’s relatively bulletproof, cheap, and gets me from A to B) that I needed to gas up. I proceeded to make my way from the grocery store to the gas station next door and laid eyes upon an unfamiliar sight in my town- an S13 at the pump adjacent to mine.

The car wasn’t the prettiest by any means, but they rarely are when I happen to see one on the street in Michigan. In any case, it was all one color which was a decent start. The car had some replica TE37-esque wheels, painted altezza tail lights, GTR-style over fenders in the rear with stock metal fenders up front, and some sort of FRP aero kit. Inside was the typical pair of bucket seats, a roll cage with a gutted interior, and a cracked dash.

I had seen this car a few times in town over the past couple weeks, so I thought it might be nice to introduce myself to the owner and ask about the car. In hindsight I probably should have just kept my mouth shut, but I had nothing better to do while I waited for my gas tank to fill up.

The owner looked really young to me- probably 16-20 range. He was scratching off lotto tickets with his buddies. I told him he had a nice S13 and that I had a couple of them at home myself. He seemed like it was really difficult to look in my direction and felt that acknowledging my existence was a chore. I guess he was really focused on his lottery ticket. I heard his friend scoff and make a comment under his breath about my Vibe, which is totally understandable- even though he WAS facing the vehicle’s good side.

Feeling the need to redeem myself a bit, I pulled up a photo of my car from Wekfest a few months back and walked over to show it to him. After glancing at the photo, he muttered, “Ah. What’d that thing cost you?” as if I had just recently bought it and paid a fortune for it. I explained that I had owned it for 11 years, which felt a bit strange to me when I really thought about it- he was probably my oldest daughter’s age at most when I bought the car. “I don’t really care how mine looks at all,” he told me. I’m not sure if that was supposed to tell me that he liked to drift or he assumed that I don’t drift based on the photo of my car- who knows.

At this point, the news that he wasn’t going to become a millionaire (at least not that night anyway) must have broken, because he suddenly seemed slightly more interested in having an actual conversation. I asked if the car was KA powered, and he boasted that it was indeed SR swapped. When I acknowledged that my cars were as well, he seemed to downplay the power plant and explained that “when he blows it up” he would like to do a 2J swap. I asked how long he had owned the car, and he said about two months or so.

By this point I had said goodbye and gone back to my car to finish filling the tank. For whatever reason, I began to feel a bit angry about the interaction I just had. In my mind, this “kid” came off as arrogant about an S13 that was really a fairly standard sight as far as these cars go. As he and his friends drove away in their various loud vehicles with replica wheels, I found myself slipping into a mindset that I think many people in our community do these days. I immediately felt disrespected- that the “kids” are ruining the car scene. It made me wish I hadn’t said anything at all.

As I spent some more time thinking on the conversation I had later that night and into this morning, I realized that I was acting like a hypocrite. In all honesty, I was probably being just as arrogant to think that him and his friends should respect me for my own S13 when I was standing at the gas station in a banged up Pontiac Vibe. I’ve had these sorts of interactions in my own S13 dozens of times at gas stations over the years, and while I try to always be kind to anyone that takes the time to talk to me about the car, I am sure I have come off just as distracted or cocky myself in the past.

In thinking about the interaction further, I wondered how differently things might have gone if I were driving my own S13 when I pulled up to the gas station. Had I not sold my TEs a while back, I probably would have been as the weather was unseasonably warm for late September yesterday. I wonder if he would have said something to me rather than me starting the conversation. In all honesty, if I had driven my 240 I probably wouldn’t have said anything to him and would have waited for him to say something- kind of an arrogant thing to do, but that probably would have been my play.

What is it about building cars that makes us all develop an ego? I guess the hobby itself is sort of centered around drawing attention to yourself in a backwards sort of way. Everyone wants their car to be unique and to represent who they are. We all want to stand out and be recognized, whether we admit it or not. But I think the whole Instagram generation sort of thing goes to our heads too. I often get a few messages a week from people telling me that they read about my car online or have followed my build for years and how it influenced them in a positive way. It’s a great feeling and I always appreciate when people take the time to do that, but it can easily go to your head. We don’t always want to admit it, but it’s true.

But out in the real world, there isn’t a username and follower count floating over your head. There isn’t an endless highlight reel of photos to scroll through showcasing your latest accomplishments (without any of the setbacks along the way, mind you.) I think this is true of everyone to some extent, whether they are into cars or not. It’s so easy to judge a person based on their appearance, their clothes, their job, the car they drive, or where they live rather than by the actual conversation you are having with them.

This interaction was a great reminder for me to check myself. Don’t judge a person just based on how nice you think their car is, their age, or their appearance. You never really know what other people have experienced or what they are experiencing as you speak. Don’t blame the younger generation for “ruining the car scene” or for doing their thing. Sure, this kid could actually be a jerk for all I know, but that’s probably not the case. I know I definitely acted like an idiot when I was younger. This conversation reminded me that is important not to become jaded, arrogant, or entitled. I’ve always tried to maintain a humble attitude, but in the car scene (and life in general) it’s easy to lose sight of what’s right without even realizing it.

Anyway, I just felt like this was an important story to share. I hope it was entertaining if nothing else and maybe even makes you think a bit. Let’s continue to try to be kind and helpful to each other to continue moving our community in the right direction. We all stumble along the way, but that’s a part of accomplishing something in life. Maybe the next time you find yourself frustrated at a person or situation, you’ll step back and look at your own behavior too. This was an eye opener for me.

In any case, I hope to have an update for everyone on the status of my cars later this week. Life has been CRAZY and I’ve been distracted with parting out a couple of rusty S13s which is keeping me from getting much done with my own cars. More on that later this week…

Thanks to everyone that stops here to read this blog- I sincerely appreciate it! Have a great week.

Damon

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