These Cars, Man.

I tossed the car on jack stands earlier this week as my replacement brake rotors and pads were due to arrive. I elected to just replace all four corners even though on the front rotors were warped as I wanted to go back to standard blank rotors instead of slotted ones and wanted them to match. I sold my rear rotors and pads as they were still in great shape so that someone else could get some use out of them.

Last night I was working on finishing up the install. When I removed the brake rotor from the front passenger side, one of the wheel studs also fell apart. Perhaps this was the source of the vibration? In any case, this is probably what I get for using cheap hubs. These current front hubs are ones that I tossed on after buying them used locally last fall to fix a bad wheel bearing in a pinch before driving up North on a trip with my wife. I ordered another pair of cheap hubs from Amazon to replace it since I need the car on the road for my trip next week. I always find it easier to just swap hubs and sell the old ones in the event that I break a stud as it saves a lot of time and hassle. So, with any luck I will have the car back on the ground tomorrow evening.

I don’t like taking the cheap route on important components, but when it comes to hubs and wheel bearings I always find myself in a pinch and need a quick solution. My hope is to eventually move to NISMO suspension arms and bushings in addition to OEM wheel bearings and hubs- probably with some stronger wheel studs for good measure. Maybe I can make that happen in the near future.

I elected to go with Stoptech street pads (instead of the sport version I had previously) with some standard blank rotors from Rock Auto this time around as it was much more cost effective. I think this might be one of the only times I have used standard blank rotors on the car, but it just makes sense for what I use it for. No reason to have anything crazy on there. I’m really looking forward to the car not shaking like crazy when I apply the brakes.

I’ll likely take the car off of the road soon after my trip to US Air next weekend. We got a pretty hard frost two nights ago and temps have been struggling to make it into the low 50s during the day. I’m sure we will have a random nice day or two before the weather really takes a turn though, so hopefully I still have a little bit of time to enjoy the car before tucking it away.

I hope you have a great weekend! Thanks for stopping by.

Damon

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It’s Nearly That Time…

After enjoying temps in the high 70s and even the low 80s earlier this week, a nasty front has moved into Michigan bringing with it some temperatures that are more accurate for this time of year in the mitten state. The forecast from here on out appears to feature highs in the mid 50s and lows in the mid to high 30s reminding me that it’s only a matter of time before the snow begins to fall- meaning that the road salt will rear its ugly head and it will once again be time to put my car away for the season.

Knowing how this process tends to go, I have been trying to drive the car rain or shine this week. I took it to an off site meeting I needed to attend for work on Wednesday about an hour away despite the forecast looking pretty rainy and had a blast spending some quiet and reflective time on some back roads a friend recommended. The route I took is often used by Car and Driver execs for road tests and comparison articles so it was filled with many twists and turns in addition to elevation changes. The trees and country scenery is awesome this time of year as the leaves are changing.

I’m planning to drive my car to Jake’s memorial service outside of Chicago two weeks from today, followed by one more trek up to US Air in Shawano, Wisconsin to continue celebrating his life at the final Club FR D Day event of the season. It will be a somber time given the circumstances, but I also believe everyone will have a great time- just as Jake would want us to. Hopefully the weather won’t be too cold and nasty and the car will make one more trek there and back before the season closes without any major issues.

Prior to that trip I need to replace my brake rotors and pads as the fronts have become a bit warped for whatever reason. They are four years old after all though, so I guess it is to be expected. I’ll give the car a quick peek once it is in the air but hopefully I don’t find any other nasty surprises.

As for this winter, I don’t really have any major changes planned at all at this moment. I am feeling really content with the car aside from a couple of minor issues that have been there for a while. Paint is always something I want, but something I can definitely live without for the foreseeable future. Being able to drive and enjoy the car every day definitely keeps me content. It’s when I am not able to do that for several months that my minds starts to wander a bit. We’ll see what the future holds!

Thanks as always for checking in. Hopefully I’ll have some actual car-related content coming soon. I do have a couple things I would like to discuss when I am able to. Have an excellent weekend!

Damon

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Gone Too Soon

I would expect the weekend after one spent with friends at a large event like Super D to be a positive one, still riding the high of the previous weekend’s festivities. There’s something about spending time with people you enjoy and rarely get to see that fills you up, and the positivity tends to linger for a month or to afterwards. However, these feelings were cut short this time around due to receiving some terrible news about the passing of a friend and member of our community – Jake Possemato.

I was downstairs with my kids last Sunday morning when Alicia came downstairs and asked me if I had heard the news about Jake. She was staring at her phone and had seen one of our friends post a message about him. My stomach dropped as I immediately had a good idea of what had happened, and unfortunately my suspicions were confirmed when I learned that Jake had taken his life.

I only met Jake maybe four times or so at various events at US Air- mostly the Final Bout events and maybe one other D Day sprinkled in there. Though we weren’t incredibly close by any means, he always had a hug waiting for me when I saw him at the track. Jake was a bit of a misunderstood soul as he tended to be pretty abrasive online. He was never one to shy away from speaking his mind and this often gave people a negative perception. But in person Jake had a heart of gold and was always friendly to me- always willing to lend a helping hand to anyone that needed it. He really was an awesome guy.

I had reached out to Jake via Instagram just a couple weeks before his passing to ask if I would see him at Super D. He told me that he wouldn’t be in attendance as life had really been dealing him a poor hand lately, but assured me that he would make it out on the other side. I tried to continue the conversation and told him he could always hit me up any time if he needed an ear to talk to, but it didn’t really go on much further. This is why I had suspected the worst when Alicia asked me if I had heard the news.

It really hurts to lose someone this way. There are so many questions and feelings of guilt. Those of us left behind always wonder if there is something more we could have done- something we could have said to make that person change their mind. My father took his life when I was 16 years old, so some of those same feelings came back to me upon hearing this news.

Fortunately with tragedy like this there is always an outpouring of support from this close-knit car community. Everyone managed to raise a good amount of money in a short time to support Jake’s family. Click these links if you are interested in contributing by making a donation or purchasing a sticker.

It always sounds cheesy, but remember that our time on this earth and our time with the people we care about is not guaranteed. If you suspect that someone you know might be having a hard time, reach out to them and see if there is anything you can do. Even asking to hang out or get a bite to eat could make all the difference in a person’s life. It’s important that we all take care of and look out for each other.

Damon

 

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Super D Cup 2018 – Shawano, Wisconsin

Last week my wife and I decided to attend the Super D Cup event at US AIR in Shawano, Wisconsin due to the fact that their was no Final Bout event this year. The Final Bout events have essentially become just about the only car-related event that I attend each year over the past few years, largely due to the fact that is really hard to find the time to get out of the house with three little ones at home. Fortunately after my youngest daughter Alexi was born last year, my wife Alicia hjas been able to stay home with our kids every day. However, this means that my time is much more valuable as I really only get to spend time with my family in the evenings for a couple hours and on the weekends. I cherish that time so I try to really focus on being present with them instead of cruising around by myself in my car. And at the same time, there aren’t really local events that interest me much anymore. The friends I have made at US AIR events are now considered family, so getting to spend time with them once or twice a year is what I really treasure the most.

My mother in law was cool enough to come to our house Thursday night to watch the girls and ensure that my oldest got to first grade the next day before taking them back to her house for the weekend. Alicia and I gassed up the S13 and departed around 5:30 PM or so on Thursday night to make the trek into downtown Chicago. Though it was in the 70s when we left Michigan, it was nearly 90º at 10 PM when we pulled into my brother’s parking garage at his place in downtown Chicago. Thankfully the four hour drive passed without any major car issues. I am glad that I decided to install heat in this car, but without AC there isn’t really an easy way to completely turn it off. I was feeling extra warm on my side of the car due to the exhaust under my feet so it felt good to go into the A/C and relax with my brother and his wife for the evening.

On Friday morning, we woke up and said our goodbyes before heading over to meet up with my good pal Jimmy and his wife Kayla, as well as our friends Harris and RevGasm Josh. Jimmy and Harris drove up all the way from Houston towing Jim’s R32 sedan for the event, while Kayla caught a flight up so that she could avoid taking as much time off of work. After a quick stop at the Oasis we were on our way for leg two of the trip- the nearly four hour drive north to the middle of nowhere, Wisconsin.

Cheese curds- when in Rome.

The boys on the way up to Shawano.

And the ladies…

A massive cold front had begun to move in over the midwest meaning that the high temperature for the day happened at about 7 AM- pretty crazy. It was cloudy and windy with temps consistently dropping all through the day. While it had been 90º in Chicago the afternoon, temps dropped to 36º Friday night in Shawano- pretty wild temp swing! We took our time getting up to the track and arrived around 3:30 PM or so. Josh and Jimmy unloaded their cars while the rest of us hung out and caught up with friends we had not seen in quite some time. After getting the pits settled, we grabbed some Chinese food at a local spot we always seem to go to and spent the evening hanging out in the hotel lobby with friends from all over the world.

Michael Douglas’ (aka BURSTSPEED) excellent R32

This photo is really strange- I thought it was kind of neat.

On Saturday, Jimmy and I let the ladies sleep in while we went over to the track at around 6:30 or so. Jimmy’s car had some issues that needed to be sorted out- one of them requiring us to drop the transmission. I assisted with that a little bit, but Harris and Jimmy did the bulk of the work. Alicia and Kayla drove my S13 over to the track which was really a sight to see. I think I saw a few guys in line for their pit passes drooling a bit at the thought of two cute ladies driving into the event in an S13 which was pretty comical. Fortunately my friends Roy from Auto Collect Storm and Melvin from Club FR asked if they could park my car in the vendor area to represent both groups so that spared me from having to park in the mud pit like I did last year. The car got filthy from tire dust by being so close to the track but it was really neat to be parked alongside LA and Martino’s cars in this area.

Always showing my support of The Texas Rattlensake- Jimmy Yates.

Tony testing out Jimmy’s chairs.

While Jimmy didn’t really get to enjoy his car at all on Saturday, we did have a great time hanging out and watching some awesome driving. We decided to take our wives out to dinner on Saturday night to get away from all of the craziness at the track for a bit and then followed that up with our traditional trip to Longhorn Saloon, a local favorite. Alicia and I learned that our middle daughter Hattie had fallen off of her bike and cut her lip which required her to get stitches. It sounded fairly traumatic and we both felt very bad about being away from home when this happened, so we were pretty out of it at the bar- not to mention both of us being exhausted. We packed it up early and got some sleep before the competition on Sunday.

How many dudes does it take to fix an SR20DET?

Camden’s recently completed FD RX7 that likes to shoot lots of fire out of the exhaust.

We were only able to watch the top 32 portion of the competition on Sunday as we needed to leave by 2 PM or so to make it home to our kids at a somewhat reasonable time, as well as drop Kayla off at Midway Airport in Chicago on our way home for her flight back to Houston. We said our goodbyes and all three of us hit the road in my S13. Props to the ladies for not complaining about having to drive four hours to the airport in that thing- I’m sure the ride was less than enjoyable. Fortunately we made it with plenty of time to spare and survived the brutal road conditions at the airport without any major damage. While we were driving home, Jimmy finally got his car running properly and was able to enjoy some fun runs with friends after the competition ended, so I was really happy about that. He has poured a lot of time and money into his car over the last year to prepare for this so I am glad he finally got to enjoy the fruits of his labor.

Photo by the great Ryan Lopez

After a brutally long drive, we finally arrived at our in-law’s house at  2 AM on Monday morning- only to wake up at 7 AM to get ready for work and school. It has taken me most of the week to recover and I caught a cold as a result, but the journey was absolutely worth it! I had a great time seeing friends I have not seen in a very long time and watching some very talented drivers rip around the track. I’ll always be thankful for all of the great friends I have made as a result of this hobby!

I’m really pleased with how well my car held up on the 1,000+ mile journey, especially considering I have barely driven it anywhere this year aside from to work and the grocery store. This car continues to amaze me with its reliability- all while getting over 32 MPG along the way.

Last Saturday marked the first official day of fall- and we’ve been seeing the effects of this season change all week. The leaves are beginning to turn and it probably won’t be long before my car is put away for the season, but I will try to enjoy it a little bit more before the end of the year. I’m not sure what the off season holds for the future of my car, but this trip did give me a bit of perspective that I hope to share with you next week.

Thanks as always for stopping by!

Damon

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Importing Your Dream Car vs. Building It

This week’s topic of discussion is something I have spent a lot of time going back and forth on in the last year or so. With the S13 chassis being well within the legal 25 year rule here in the United States, places like Japanese Classics have begun to bring over some seriously clean S chassis cars- many of them completely stock and with very low mileage. They do a great job with detailing and presenting these cars online in a way that makes them seem like the perfect replacement for a heavily-modified USDM chassis.

This example sold for $11,495.

In the pursuit of attempting to restore my 240SX, I’ve been really tempted to part it out and purchase a genuine kouki 180SX when they become available here in the states in the next couple of years. However, based on the price of the zenki and chuki cars being brought over at the moment, I can only imagine what a ’97 or ’98 180SX in pristine condition with complete factory aero is going to cost (I’m betting they will go for $20k easily when the time comes.) However, when I crunch the numbers it’s just not really feasible. I could essentially have my current 240SX with a host of modifications, or a bone stock 180SX.

In many ways it’s amazing to think about owning a completely factory 180SX. The engine was installed from the factory and every nut, bolt, and mounting bracket is where it should be. There are no sketchy fitment issues or cobbled up wiring. All of the electronic functions of the car probably work flawlessly, including heat and AC. However, I think it would be pretty difficult for me to modify a car in such nice condition. I think I could allow myself to install minimal components that are easily reversed, but I would definitely feel a bit guilty about it.

After considering making the switch, I came to realize that the PS13 Silvias and 180SXs being brought over by places like Japanese Classics are for a slightly different type of enthusiast. These cars are marketed toward people that want to own a clean and hassle-free example of a classic Nissan chassis without the headache of having to build and maintain one. This theoretically hassle-free experience is what you get when you pay $10-14k for one of these cars. However, I constantly have to remind myself that it’s still a 25+ year old Nissan at the end of the day. There are going to be issues that arise just as there will be with a US market 240SX.

A gentlemen from Ohio reached out to me last week and mentioned he is selling a very clean imported PS13. He had seen me mention that I really want to build one and thought I might be a good fit to purchase the car. While it was exceptionally clean and exactly what I would love to work from to build one of these cars, the cost would leave me with no funds left to achieve those modifications. Justifying spending $13-14k on a 27 year old car that I intend to modify is a difficult pill to swallow. Again, it’s an amazing car- but it made me realize this isn’t the experience I am looking for in an S chassis.

While it might be the more difficult path to attempt to follow at times, I think my gut tells me that beginning a build with a USDM 240SX is what I will always enjoy the most. There’s something incredibly rewarding about starting with a fairly boring and aging US commuter car and turning it into a fun machine that emulates the way these cars were built and sold across the world in Japan. I take a lot of pride in my current chassis, and even though it’s not a true 180SX, I really enjoy discussing the details I have added to make it as much like one as possible (without going to extreme lengths like converting the car to RHD, which would introduce a host of problems for driving on US streets.) Researching those small details, sourcing the parts needed from Japan, and executing the build are what I really enjoy the most about this hobby.

Is there a PS13 (240SX coupe) build in my future? I really hope so, but I guess only time will tell. If it does happen though, I would really like to work from a US chassis and build it to emulate a true Silvia. The process is half the fun for me.

My wife and I depart tomorrow afternoon for Super D in Wisconsin! Fingers crossed for good weather and a reliable car. It should be a good time! I’ll be sure to post about the trip next week.

Damon

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Oops!

I had grand plans of a decently entertaining blog post this week, but time has slipped away from me. September is a crazy month this year with back to back to back weekends of traveling so time has been flying by.

I don’t think I have done anything to my car in the last week. I haven’t even managed to wash it which it so desperately needs. Hopefully I will be able to get that taken care of this week as my wife and I are planning to drive the car to Super D Cup in Shawano, Wisconsin next Thursday. Fingers crossed for good weather and a reliable car!

I’ll do my best to come up with a post for next week and schedule it to run while we are at Super D. I hope everyone is enjoying what’s left of summer and has a great weekend!

Damon

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Cracks are Wack

I got out of work early last Friday to kick off Labor Day and met my family at the library where they were hanging out. Alicia has been asking me to drive the car lately so I let her and Kinsey and Hattie drive it home while I followed behind with Alexi in the Sienna. I realized while driving along with them that I don’t think I have watched this car drive from the outside in many, many years- pretty cool! Being a passenger while someone else drives is one thing, but it is pretty wild to see your creation cruising down the road. It gives you a fresh and unique perspective. It had been quite a while since Alicia got to drive the 240, but she looked like a pro- even swerving around a few questionable patches of road on the way home.

That evening we went to visit some family at a local park. On the way home we stopped and picked up a really nice S13 dashboard complete with all of the vents- including the coveted defrost vents. I was a bit worried about the dash’s condition since it was very dirty when I got it, but thankfully when I got home and cleaned it up I found that it was in awesome shape. I was able to sell the spare defrost vents too which helped bring the overall cost of the dash down quite a bit.

On Saturday morning Hattie and Kinsey helped me with swapping in the new dash and removing my Defi gauges (yes- again.) Thankfully I have done this task many times by now and it only took us a couple hours to get everything buttoned up. However, as I am writing this I realized that I could have swapped out my wiper relay to fix my windshield wipers (they don’t work on the first setting) but I completely forgot to do it. Doh! I guess I will have to save that for another time. I sold the Defi gauges a couple of days ago and sent them off to their new owner.

My interior is now essentially a stock 180SX with a Nardi steering wheel and NISMO shift knob- extremely simple. I can’t say I ever thought I would desire an interior like this, but I am really happy with it for the moment. I do have a kouki 180SX gauge cluster and digital climate control sitting around in the garage, but I am torn on whether or not I want to install those items.

I’ve got a busy couple of weekends coming up with some different trips to visit family, followed by Alicia and I’s trip to Wisconsin for Super D. I am still torn on whether or not I want to drive the S13 out there- it may just be a game time decision based on how the weather is looking and how I feel about the car at the time. We’ll see what happens.

Thanks for reading and have a great weekend!

Damon

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