Mirror, Mirror, On The Wall…

I would be remiss if I did not start this post by mentioning my friends down in Houston, Texas that are currently dealing with the effects of flooding and tornadoes from Hurricane Harvey. It’s hard for me to focus on much today other than the situation they are facing right now. I’m very thankful that all of them are safe and for now all of their homes and vehicles have been spared, but the forecast looks bleak for the next couple of days. Sending my prayers and good vibes to everyone down there being affected by this storm and hoping the rain stops and the waters recede soon.

I recently found a pair of East Bear mirrors on the forums after waiting for a while for another pair to pop up. I had some late last season and only used them for about a week before deciding to flip them and make a little cash. I go through phases of liking a specific set of mirrors over another, so I am excited to have some options now to switch back and forth between as I see fit.

I thought it would be fun to snap a quick photo of the car with each of the options installed- OEM, Ganador, and East Bear. I’ll have to this again sometime with nicer pics, but you get the idea. It’s pretty wild how much of a difference a pair of mirrors can make to the appearance of a car.

I just wrapped up some other work on the car from the weekend that I’ll probably discuss a bit tomorrow. Here’s one more shot with the East Bears on to close things out for today:

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Friday 180SX Analysis

Jimmy and I found ourselves discussing a few cool 180s this morning and nit picking a bit, so I figured it might be fun to post here about one of them. I’m sure most of you have seen this car online before, but I think it still looks good in 2017.

I’ll always be a fan of red 180s, especially with white TE37s- or in this case, LMGT4s? The Hot Road hood looks awesome with the kouki front bumper, complete with R33 N1 ducts and plate cutout. It looks like the lip is actually molded in, so maybe it’s an aftermarket front bumper? G Grow? Hard to say. Stock mirrors and OEM window visors are an interesting touch. Note the clear side markers and lack of lower turn signals as well. I would love to try a Hot Road hood at some point down the road.

Out back we find a G-Grow rear valence- one of my all time favorites. It’s the perfect balance between the OEM kouki valences and the Hot Road piece. The sides are probably G Grow as well, but it’s hard to tell. I wish that aero was still being produced. It looks like there is five point roll bar in there as well. Canister exhaust looks really neat.

Upon further inspection, I think these are probably NISMO LMGT4s. Tough to tell from these angles. I can’t wait to shave my third brake light and rear side markers someday when I repaint my car- such a great addition! Note the single vent front fenders as well. I considered a set of these last spring but ultimately decided to stick with the OEM metal fenders. Kevlar look garnish ties it all together nicely.

Have an excellent weekend! Only one week to go until Final Bout III. Looking forward to it!

Damon

 

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Clipped

I found myself with a bit of free time after work yesterday as the ladies of the house were out visiting some friends and had not returned home yet. I decided to do something to my car that I have been considering for years but never pulled the trigger on- removing the OEM turn signal brackets from the kouki 180SX bumper.

A photo from spring of last year showing the OEM front lighting.

I’ve changed my mind numerous times over the years in regards to the OEM kouki lower turn signals. I purchased them when I first made the switch to the late model 180SX aero, only to end up using DMAX dual function position lamps instead. I ended up running a pair for a few months during my OEM styling phase last summer only to remove them once more in favor of the DMAX setup. In the end, I prefer the cleaner and more aggressive look of clear side markers and position lamps with the lower turn signals removed. I can’t tell you how many photos of 180SXs in Japan I have saved over the years trying to make a case for the different front lighting setups, but I think the current configuration is my favorite.

Since I also took the leap and decided to finally cut out the license plate area of the bumper to expose the intercooler last year, I figured it was time to follow suit and also cut out the turn signal brackets, much like Itoh did on his Break 180SX. I’ve always left these in place for two reasons- for added support of the bumper when dragging the lip over speed bumps and steep driveways, and in case I decided I wanted to run the turn signals again. Maybe one day I will have a spare OEM front bumper with all of the lights and the plate area left intact, but for now this is the look for me.

While most will not even notice the difference, I am really happy with the results. It opens things up a bit in front of the intercooler and gives the bumper a slightly more aggressive look. While it is less noticeable on a black car, I am glad I decided to take the time to do this. I always enjoy making changes to the car and stepping back to observe them for the first time, even when they are as minor as this. Good fun!

This change prompted me to once again consider installing my R33 GTR N1 vents. This is the third pair of these I have owned over the years despite the fact that I have never been able to make myself install them. I am always concerned about fitment and the installation process. I am also pretty fond of the look of only the plate cutout, making this a tough decision for me. I might finally pull the trigger and install them this winter now that they have been discontinued, but I sometimes feel a vented hood is required to really do these vents justice. We’ll see what happens!

I’ve got one other minor exterior change I am going to experiment with next week, so stay tuned for that update.

Damon

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Scottman

I received a comment here on the blog yesterday from the owner of another stateside 180SX that inspired me back in 2008. Shortly before I purchased my S13, I spent a couple months browsing dozens of picture threads, saving photos of S chassis cars that I thought looked really nice. I didn’t know much of anything about these cars at that time other than I wanted one, so this folder of photos included both S13 coupes and hatchbacks, as well as a few Sil80s to boot. I recently found an old hard drive with those photos on it and found that a number of those cars still look cool to me today, albeit a bit unconventional as my knowledge of the chassis has expanded over the years.

One of the cars I was immediately struck by when I began my research was Scottman’s bright blue hatchback. I think I first came across this car on the NICO Club forums and was immediately impressed with it. Everything was so well executed- clean aero setup, beautiful paint, and of course the bronze TEs. I think this was probably the first car I saw with a kouki 180SX bumper that made me like it. A good friend told me that I should do kouki 180 aero on my car the week I purchased it, but when I googled it I only found photos of stock height 180s and wasn’t really into it. Funny how things can change…

Scott dropped me a comment on my 180SX Inspiration post from a couple weeks ago and I was pretty excited to hear from him. He told me that the car was slightly parted out and traded for an FD RX7 in 2009, which he later LS6 swapped. As for this blue hatchback, the person he traded it to did some write ups on restoring the car in a magazine before it was t-boned in a traffic accident and totaled. What a shame. This car was actually one of the first ones I thought of when making my list, but since I didn’t have many photos or much of a back story for it I decided not to include it.

Huge thanks to Scott for reaching out and sharing the above photo with me. Unfortunately, most of the images online of his car have been deleted- so this one will have to do. I’ll be sure to pour out some Mt Dew this weekend for this well executed and inspirational car. It’s amazing that it’s still relevant ten years later. Scott- I hope you get back into building another S13 sometime soon! You definitely have a knack for it.

Damon

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Sacrifices

In this age of social media, it’s easy to look at the image that those around us project and feel that our own position is a bit inadequate. Feeling content is something we all struggle with, myself included. It’s only natural to want to share our triumphs and successes in life via the internet, but the struggle or sacrifices made along the way are often hidden from the public’s eye.

I’ve noticed that young people sometimes comment on my lifestyle as being something they strive to obtain. I think this typically stems from the idea that I own a home, have a wife and young children, and still manage to own a decent project car. I don’t disagree and find this praise to be very flattering. When I step back and think about it, while a lot of what I post is truly out of a passion for these cars, it also comes back to the same desire most of us have to project our successes in life. While I strive to be humble, it’s all too easy to drop the humble-brag post from time to time.

I thought it might be fun to shed some light on one of the main things I give up that allows me to own and tinker with my 240- my daily driver. I actually got the idea for this post from those “My hands look like this… so hers can look like this” memes, as funny as that is. My current means of transportation for day-to-day driving is a 2004 Pontiac Vibe with just over 200k miles on the clock. I picked this car up from my brother-in-law- last November for $1,000 as that is all he was going to receive from the dealer when trading it in for a newer Subaru. This is actually my first American car, despite the fact that it was built as a joint venture with Toyota (which is more or less the only reason I could bring myself to buy it, haha.)

Is that the eclipse? Or my finger?

While nothing about this car excites me in any way, it’s so nice to not have the burden of a car payment. I’m fortunate enough to say that I have never had a car loan and my hope is to be able to keep it that way. I’ve watched a number of friends and family members move up to much nicer vehicles over the years, and it is easy to be a bit jealous when looking at my neighbor’s driveways. I need to constantly remind myself how lucky I am to have my S13, and owning a nicer vehicle to drive every day is something I have to give up in order to make that possible with the income I have.

It can be a little tedious to bounce from car to car every couple years, but the financial benefit is usually worth playing the game (knocks on wood desk.) I’ve had a fairly good streak of vehicle purchases going since I sold my Evo back in 2014 (which was my only car at the time) with a $1200 1996 Toyota Camry, $650 2007 Mazda5, and the $1000 Pontiac Vibe I am driving now. All of these cars required a bit of work to be road worthy and had their share of issues, but keeping the costs down for my commuter cars is essential to maintaining the family budget.

Pull the engine on the S13? No problem. Remove stripped bolts from license plate mount on Vibe? Eh, painter’s tape should work just fine…

The days are growing shorter already and the snow will be here before I know it. So, this February, when you see me posting an older photo of my S13 from the summer because it hasn’t been driven in a few months, remember- I’m actually outside in the snow scraping off my old Pontiac Vibe to drive to work (because my S13 needs to be in the garage, of course.) Balance and compromise is the only thing that makes owning my 240SX possible.

Damon

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2016 vs. 2017

I had my car sitting out in the street one night last week and it reminded me of a photo I took around the same time last summer, so I thought it might be fun to try to replicate it and compare the two. The car is more or less the same as it was last summer with a few minor changes.

The bronze TE37s have been replaced with my old mercury silver set that I originally imported back in 2011. I am no longer running the GK Tech front roll center adjusters as a result, so the front camber is slightly less aggressive. The only other exterior change is swapping the stock mirrors out for yet another pair of Ganadors, which I really like with the silver TEs.

As for the interior, the OEM kouki 180SX front and rear seats have been swapped out for a Bride Maxis/Brix combo, along with another NeXt Miracle Cross Bar in place of the rear seat. Technically my pair of red Bride Brix are what was replaced, but I had those a bit later in the season last summer after the 2016 photo was taken. Though I have still taken my two older daughters around the block in the front passenger seat, I do think they miss being able to ride in their car seats in the back. I might explore installing the seat belts on conjunction with the miracle bar this winter to see if I can make it work. The only other interior changes not visible here are the return of Defi Link Meter II gauges mounted in the dash board and some new black carpeting. The engine and other aspects of the car have remained untouched in the last year.

I am kind of a dork when it comes to comparisons like this, but I always think its fun to change things up from time to time and look back on past iterations of the car. The way it sits now feels like a pretty good grouping of all of my favorite stages of the car, save for maybe one or two cool things I wouldn’t mind owning again someday. It feels like a great balance, perhaps the most timeless combination of past iterations in my humble opinion. Which version did you prefer?

Damon

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Cruisin’ Into the Weekend

Yesterday afternoon welcomed a pleasant surprise that ended up cutting my inspection of the car a bit short. My wife and daughters met up with my mother-in-law during the day yesterday at a mall about an hour from our home to shop for some new clothes for Kinsey before she starts kindergarten in a couple of weeks while I was at work. They were still shopping toward the end of the day and asked if I would like to drive out to meet them for dinner. The heavy rain that had moved through earlier that morning had cleared, so I decided it would be fun to drive the 180 there and get a decent cruise in. After arriving home from the office and quickly tossing the rear wheels back on, I was on my way.

Quick shot in the mall parking garage before heading out for home.

It was very hot and humid yesterday here in Michigan, but it was an awesome drive- even despite the rush hour traffic. I realized that the Woodward dream cruise is taking place this weekend, so tons of cars were out and about heading over there to cruise. Woodward is essentially a 4-5 lane road in the Detroit suburbs that has been a destination for muscle cars to cruise/race up and down for decades. It’s busy every weekend during the summer, but especially insane during the Dream Cruise. I’ve never actually attended the event in my car as it is always jam-packed, but I’ve enjoyed cruising the strip a few times in the S13 over the years on random summer weekends.

Everything went smoothly on the drive home, our Sienna and my four ladies in tow. While drives like this were once an almost daily occurrence for me, I’ve got a special appreciation for them now. Nothing helps relax and clear your mind like a cruise on a warm summer evening.

I hesitate to even say this, but the car seems to be running pretty well. I’m currently knocking on my wooden desk hoping that is the case for the trip to and from Wisconsin two weeks from today. The anticipation is building!

Have an excellent weekend.

Damon

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