Summer Slump

I’ve gotta be totally honest- I have not been feeling it this week. Last week I made the decision to part ways with my mercury silver TE37s for a couple of reasons- the first and primary motivator being financial security. I’m currently being hit pretty hard with some real-life expenses and needed to make a sacrifice in order to ensure stability through the process. It’s never any fun, but a necessary decision that needs to be made sometimes for most of us.

One last pic on the silver TEs before putting the car away for a while.

Most will tell me that the obvious choice would have been to sell off my second S13 chassis, SR20 swap, and supporting aero components I have collected instead in order to keep my hatch in a complete and drivable state- and I completely agree. But as someone that has dreamed of owning more than one of these cars for a while now, I just couldn’t bring myself to let go of that goal just yet. Parting with my TE37s was difficult, but left me with the most options on the table for moving forward. There are several directions I could go from this point and I’m really not sure exactly which way I want to go yet.

If I were to stay committed to my original S13 only, I could part with the coupe project and likely have the funds to get a nice set of wheels and a paint job. I would end with a complete car that’s finally more or less refreshed to the level I have dreamed of for nearly eleven years now. This is certainly an attractive option, but I’m struggling with the idea of giving up on the coupe for some reason. If I’ve learned anything from messing with this car over the years, it’s that reaching the point where I’ll be “finished” and content with the car never really seems to happen.

I’ve managed to collect all of the key components for a PS13 replica build: a relatively clean and unmolested rolling chassis to work from, a nearly complete black interior conversion, full OEM optional aero in great condition, original metal Silvia front end with all brand new lighting for the front (the opportunity to own these items will not come easily again,) and a complete SR20DET swap. Anything else needed to finish the car is still manufactured and readily available, so there is no major rush or anxiety in sourcing those things. If I part ways with most of these things now, they’ll be more expensive and very difficult to collect down the road. This is probably the only chance I’ll get at building one of these cars while still managing to keep my hatch in the garage alongside it.

Which leaves me with another option: part out my hatch and build the coupe. A number of items could be transferred over allowing me to build the coupe shell to the same level my hatch is currently at, if not even nicer. But while I really desire to build a coupe, I am not sure I would feel content owning one in place of a hatch. I do love the process of building these cars though and this would give me an opportunity to continue to do that. I’m just not sure if the value of enjoying the build process again would be enough to make me part ways with my hatch.

My thinking when I sold my wheels last week was that I would take a step back from the hobby a bit and try to shift my focus to other areas of my life. I could throw a cover on the car, take the insurance off, and try not to pour a lot of time into my car hobby until next spring. I’ve never really done anything like that before, and a few days into not driving the car I feel like I am already beginning to go a bit crazy. I’ve seen tons of people over the years manage to hoard and collect a number of desirable and hard to find items for these cars – including multiple chassis – but never manage to assemble one completely and drive it. Granted, I realize this is not easy to do by any means, but I have always made it a point to try to avoid getting into that situation. I just wasn’t built to be a hoarder. If something is sitting around not being used and has any sort of value to it, I would rather sell it than hold onto it. It’s part of the reason I have bought and sold the same parts over and over many times during the years. I know it sounds a bit crazy to most people, but it’s just sort of the way I operate.

Keeping both cars presents a number of problems that would need to be solved, including storage. My friend has been gracious enough to keep the coupe at his parents’ house for me for a number of months now, but I am feeling some urgency around moving it to my place. Summer is already flying by (even thought it officially begins today I guess,)  and before long I’ll need to ensure that my wife’s van is in the garage during the winter months so that my family doesn’t have to deal with the snow and freezing temps. One of my cars will need to be stored offsite and I don’t really have a viable option for that yet. I think it would be silly to have to pay a monthly storage bill for a shell that will likely take me years to complete. It’s just another obstacle to consider in this process.

Another option I’ve been entertaining lately is selling both of my cars to import a real S13 Silva or 180SX from Japan. You’ve likely noticed a change in my perspective when it comes to the S13 over the last couple years. I am less into fully building a car with a ton of aftermarket components and more interested in restoring a vehicle while adding subtle improvements. While I used to think owning an imported car would be a headache, I’ve come to see a lot of appeal to it these days. It would be fun to start with a clean and relatively unmolested true Japanese example of one of these cars and simply focus on restoring it- with the addition of a nice set of wheels and some other small improvements of course. The cost of the vehicle would be greater up front, but items like a Silvia front end and SR20DET power plant would already be in place from the factory which is tough to beat. This could be a very rewarding option but would require me to part with both of my current cars and nearly all of the supporting parts on them- which, if I am totally honest, isn’t likely to happen.

And lastly, there’s always the option many of us consider but can never seem to follow through with- getting out completely. After tinkering with S13s for nearly 11 years, I often wonder if I have more or less accomplished everything I set out to do. A lot of the process has repeated itself numerous times. I’ve gotten to the point I thought would be the end more than once only to find myself making changes once again. It’s pretty obvious to me at this point that whatever option I pursue will not leave me feeling content. While I really enjoy the process (probably more than driving the car once it’s finished) perhaps it’s time to throw in the towel so to speak. I’m at the point in life where I know it makes the most sense from a practical and financial standpoint, I just can’t seem to make myself go through with it.

In the end, the last week or two has left me with a ton of things on my mind. The subject of Instagram and even this blog is another thing that has left me with some difficult questions to answer. I think that even going into social media with the mindset of wanting to help people and enjoy a common interest can go to your head. It’s easy to get consumed with the routine and a desire to see your number of followers tick up. You’ve got to post something new and exciting every day to try to keep people interested when in reality there’s not much going on. Most of us have lives, families, and careers that take priority over our car hobby and unless you’ve somehow managed to make a career of sharing your life on the internet every day, sometimes there just isn’t anything to say. Building a following on Instagram was never something I set out to do, but I’ve definitely gotten a bit consumed by it and am feeling a bit burned out as of late. It’s probably time to check myself a bit and ensure that my priorities are straight.

Well, if nothing else, Alexi supports the decision to sell the TEs.

If you’ve made it this far through this rambling post then I am impressed! I think writing all of this out was helpful for me to see different perspectives and organize the thoughts in my head. I almost didn’t even share this post, but I thought some might find it relatable and maybe it will help if they’re having similar thoughts about this hobby.

I am not sure what the future holds or which direction makes the most sense at this time, but I hope to have it all sorted out at some point soon. I’ll always be appreciative of the people that I have met over the years and to those that have reached out to say my role in this community has impacted them in a positive way. I’m thrilled to be a part of it and really thankful for all of the friends I have made and experiences it has provided along the way. Thanks as always for stopping by.

Damon

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Follow Up: Kevin’s 240SX Build

Back in August of 2017, I made a quick blog post about my buddy Kev’s S13 he was working on building down in Houston. It’s hard to believe that nearly two years have passed since I made that post. It’s also hard to believe how amazing the car looks now…

Kev recently got his car back from paint about two months or so ago and has finally been enjoying the fruits of his labor. The biggest difference since we last checked in is the color. Gone is the original blue paint in favor of Nissan AR2 red from the S15 chassis (among others.) A genuine BN Sports Type 3 aero kit looks incredible when paired with a set of Ganador Super Aero mirrors and the bright red paint. The presence this car has now is unreal. It’s a classic formula, yet it still looks incredible when properly executed.

Under the hood, Kev has swapped out the tired US-spec KA24 engine in favor of an S14A SR20DET swap with a host of JDM goodies like a TRUST front mount intercooler and Koyo radiator. I really love that Kev took the time to get all of the details under the hood just right. It has a very Japanese presence to it which I really appreciate. The turbo and fuel system remain stock at this time aside from a Z32 MAF sensor and an Enthalpy ROM tune, providing plenty of power and excellent reliability.

Interior upgrades since my last post include a set of Defi BF gauges, red BRIDE material on the door cards and glove box, and a complete manual seatbelt conversion with headliner sourced from our good friend Joe in Canada.

Kev’s car made its debut at a FatCats private drift event down in Houston about a month or so before Final Bout. Though I wasn’t there personally to witness it, I could tell from the photos and videos that day that it was special. Kev’s car looks amazing next to ~Essence~ teammate Jimmy’s R32. Amazing team synergy!

It has been awesome to watch Kev slowly piece together the S13 of his dreams. I know he still has a number of things he wants to accomplish with the car, but who doesn’t? I think it’s at an amazing point right now and he deserves to enjoy it. I was hoping to make this post after seeing it in person, but sadly he wasn’t able to bring the car up to Final Bout last month (for understandable reasons- the drive from Houston is no joke!) I should be able to check it out in the fall when I travel down for a visit though.

Awesome car Kev. Thanks for the inspiration! You can see more of the car on Kev’s instagram account @koukikev

Thanks as always for stopping by. Have a great weekend!

Damon

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Double Duty: WekFest Chicago and Final Bout Gallery 2019

At this point in my life I typically only attend one or two events per any given summer. I frequently have friends that live fairly close to me comment that they only see me in Chicago or Wisconsin, and typically that is often the case. It’s difficult for me to leave my family for any stretch of time, so I tend to try to choose which events I do that for wisely.

I knew before 2019 even started that WekFest Chicago and Final Bout Gallery were the two events I wanted to attend this season. After getting permission from my lovely wife, I later realized that these two events took place during the same week in May- with WekFest happening on a Sunday, and Final Bout festivities kicking off the following weekend. While it sounded a bit difficult to pull off, I did manage to make it happen.

WekFest Chicago

I left for WekFest on Saturday afternoon to head to my friend Melvin’s place out in Chicago. I had just finished a decent amount of maintenance on my car and hadn’t really driven it in a couple weeks as a result, so I was fairly nervous (as I often am ahead of driving it a decent distance like the 250 miles or so from my home to Chicago) but thankfully everything went very smoothly. I did hit a decent thunderstorm after entering Indiana, but I have come to expect it when traveling this route. I thought that by skipping my usual pre-road trip car wash I would avoid it, but sadly I didn’t have any luck.

After arriving downtown, Melvin and I hopped in our 240s and headed over to the JDM Chicago WekFest premeet down the street from his place. Though there were not many cars or people there, I did get a chance to catch up for a bit with some friends I don’t often get to see, including DPK David, Joey Lee from The Chronicles, and Ginash from JDM Chicago. Mel and I ended up grabbing some dinner and hanging out before going to bed at a reasonable time since we had to be up early for roll in at the show the next morning.

Mel and I met up with 4/5 of Team Proceed at a gas station on the way to the venue, then cruised on the highway together over to the show. This was quite a treat- especially to see Josh’s 180 in action on the street. Ilia eventually joined us somewhere along the way and snuck into line. I have a lot of respect and admiration for these guys and I am thankful I have gotten to know them over the last few years.

The show itself was… well, a car show. I had a lot of friends to spend time with there though which made it go by rather quickly. My brother and his wife even came by to check out the show (they live in Chicago) which meant a lot to me. It was great to catch up with people and spend some time together. Thank you to Nicolas from TF Works for asking me to park my car in the Mackin Industries/Rays/Advan booth! That was quite an honor. I was pretty embarrassed about my paint (as I mentioned in this previous long-winded post) but still had a really great time.

After the show, I zipped over to Melvin’s place to grab a pair of metal PS13 Silvia fenders I had purchased from a friend in Chicago about six months ago (a big thank you to Melvin and Simba for helping collect these for me!) Once those were loaded up, I said my goodbyes and made the four hour trek back home to Michigan. I’m really impressed with the fuel mileage my car got on this trip. I’ve never really pushed it very far when driving to Chicago since gas is so expensive in the city, but I needed to have 1/8 tank of fuel to get into Navy Pier for the show. We even had to go out Saturday night to do some highway pulls to burn fuel, even after the long drive from Michigan! Pretty wild.

Final Bout Gallery

It felt like it took an eternity for Thursday afternoon to arrive, but eventually I was able to set my Out of Office message and get out of the office. The power had been out at my home and office due to an overnight thunderstorm, so it made the day pretty interesting. My mother-in-law was kind enough to come to our house that afternoon to watch our daughters while my wife and I were gone at the event, so I was feeling really bad about them not having electricity while we were gone. Thankfully the power buzzed back on right as we were heading out the door, so that was a huge relief. We said goodbye to the girls, filled the S13 up once again with a full tank of gas, and hit the road.

The drive to Chicago was relatively uneventful. It wasn’t very hot out like it typically is on this drive in August or September, so we were able to drive with the windows up. It’s nice to be able to have a (relatively) quiet conversation without all of the wind noise. After sitting in traffic for a decent bit and paying way too many tolls, we arrived at Simba and Angel’s house where a slew of our best friends from all over the globe were hanging out. It felt amazing to see everyone, some for the first time in years.

Reunited with my two best buds from Toronto and Houston- Liam and Jimmy.

Jimmy’s livery turned out amazing. I’ll admit I was apprehensive about it but I don’t
think D Magic could have done a better job with it.

After hitting Portillo’s for some much needed dinner, we went back to the hotel to hang out for a while before bed. The crew consisted of my close friends Jimmy and Liam from Houston and Toronto respectively, as well as Harris, Kev, and Triggs that also made the drive up with Jimmy from Houston. My good friend Camden and his girlfriend Steph from Fort Wayne, Indiana were present as well. We also spent the evening with none other than Brian “Big Bad BH” Harte, who elected to hang back in Chicago and drive up with Alicia and I in my S13 on Friday morning. I was really grateful Brian decided to do this and wanted to spend time with us since it’s not the most comfortable car and we had to leave super early in the morning so that the guys could get good pit spots at US Air.

Dom drove his Z32 all the way across the country from Sacramento, drove it super hard at the event, and drove it home. Unreal. It looked amazing!

After going to bed way too late and waking up way too early, we all hopped in our cars right as a huge thunderstorm was rolling in. It wasn’t long into the trek to the Oasis meeting spot when Brian noticed that the roof/windshield of my S13 can leak fairly bad… sorry about that BH. We stopped at the Oasis for coffee and donuts before making the 3.5 hour drive up to USAIR in Shawano, Wisconsin. The rain eventually subsided and Alicia was able to get some sleep curled up in the back seat of my car- she is a trooper!

Jimmy and Liam’s cars in the pits.

I think we arrived at the track before 10 AM. Lots of cars and teams were also arriving and trying to set up their places in the pits. Melvin asked me to park my car in the Club FR booth all weekend- which was awesome since it meant free event entry and not having to park out in the grass field. Things can get a little hairy out there, especially when it rains. Big shoutout to Mel for hooking us up! We really appreciate it. We spent the day wandering and standing around in the pits with winter jackets on as it was fairly chilly and cloudy all day. After checking off our traditional trip to Arby’s for lunch, we hung out a bit more at the track before going back and relaxing in Jimmy’s hotel room at Boarder’s Inn. We eventually made our way to Longhorn Saloon, but didn’t stay for too long as I realized I had not eaten much all day and had only had Mt Dew and Red Bull all day. Alicia, BH, and I retired early to get some much needed sleep.

The man himself BH World helping me clean the car up before parking at the Club FR Booth.

We woke up Saturday and headed over to the track with Brian in tow. After setting up my car and trying to make it look somewhat presentable, we walked back and forth all day between the pits and the spectator area to watch some driving. A large group of us ended up going to dinner at a local diner during the competition, so we missed that portion of the event. But we did make it back in time to watch some night driving from the judge’s stand which was a real treat. I wanted Alicia to get to experience this as she had not been to an event at US Air with night driving before. It’s super exciting to watch. We mustered up the energy to all hang out in Jimmy’s room for a bit again before passing out.

Joey Lee of The Chronicles and Yasu from Phase2 made the trip out to Wisconsin from California and Japan respectively despite being in Chicago just a few days earlier for WekFest. Pretty cool! Always awesome to see Joey in person. Very kind and talented guy that I appreciate a lot.

My wife Alicia hopping into Jimmy’s R32 before heading out on track.

Daigo of Sexy Knights checking out Tony’s 240 which he was super excited about. He didn’t seem to care much about my car, which made me feel that I accomplished my goal of making it look like a stock 180SX in Japan, lol.

The vibe on Sunday is always much more relaxed. Things seem to move at a slower pace and you don’t have to wake up as early to head to the track. We parked my car in the booth once again and spent the day doing more or less the same thing we did Saturday.  Alicia and I were able to get a couple ride alongs with Liam, Jimmy, and Melvin which was a lot of fun. Alicia has really gotten into drifting in the past couple years and desperately wants to take my car out on track- I think she has a much stronger desire to try it than I do at this point. Maybe I will be able to make this happen for her eventually.

Frankie is a great dude and has a couple of super nice 180s. Always nice to see him!

Alex and his friends traveled all the way from Germany to attend Final Bout Gallery. It was awesome to meet them in person!

I hadn’t seen Teddy from Auto Factory Realize since we attended the very first Final Bout together in 2014 so it was awesome to see him again! Nice to see Chuck as well.

One last meal at Arby’s with the guys (and some gals too) before making the trek home.

I always leave Shawano around noon or 1 PM at the latest on Sunday since I lose an hour on the way home due to the time zone difference and it’s an 8+ hour drive. This year, since Alicia was with me and we had child care lined up for our kids, we decided to just hang out and try to stay awake for the late drive home. While this was a lot of fun, it did make the drive home pretty exhausting. After saying our goodbyes and one last trip to Arby’s, I think we left town at 6:30 PM Michigan time. It was a chore staying awake and watching for deer and other hazards in the dark on the crusty roads during the drive home, but thankfully we made it safely at around 2:30 AM or so. After swapping over to our Sienna and unpacking a bit, we eventually made it to my in-law’s and fell asleep around 4:30 AM, only to be woken up by our daughters at 7:30 AM. I was a wreck for a few days but it felt so great to be home.

In looking at my photos, I took a ton more than the ones posted here. Maybe I’ll make a second post or try to add some more here at a later time.

It was a wild week, but I am so thankful for the time I got to spend enjoying my car and for some time away with my wife- even if it wasn’t really much of a vacation. My car held up like a champ with zero issues which always makes me feel accomplished. Forever grateful for the friends we have made through this silly hobby and all of the experiences we have been fortunate enough to enjoy. Looking forward to the next time we all get to be together!

Thank you as always for reading. Have an excellent weekend!

Damon

 

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A Product of Environment

This post features a few photos that Joey Lee of The Chronicles captured in his WekFest Chicago coverage. Thanks as always for the shots Joey! It has been a long time since I had some nice photos of the car to share. Be sure to check it out here.

I had to chuckle to myself driving home in my S13 from another Final Bout event in Wisconsin this past weekend. With my wife by my side and my friends from all over the world cruising along with me to begin the long trek to our respective homes, I realized how much joy I get from this car and how many great people I have met along the way. It made me think about last week’s blog post and how all of those feelings of frustration and embarrassment had completely melted away.

I guess sometimes your mindset can be a product of your environment whether you choose for it to be or not. Under those bright fluorescent lights inside of Navy Pier surrounded by cars built for that purpose and some people I look up to and respect from the center of import tuning in California, I felt really ashamed and frustrated about my car. These guys represent the best of the best for me from a show or “total” car build, so to not be able to live up to what I envision and actually execute my car the way I want to due to financial strain was something that made me feel like abandoning the car all together.

But spending more than 1500 miles behind the wheel of this car in less than a week traveling to four different states through all kinds of different weather conditions really put a smile on my face. Outside of a car show environment where you’re constantly being judged (or at least it feels like it) and comparing your own car to others, your car becomes a standout. No one expects it to be clean or have a perfect paint job when you just drove your car 500 miles through a massive thunderstorm and the brutal streets of downtown Chicago. In the right setting you begin to realize just how special your car is and how much you enjoy it. After putting it through a lot in just one week’s time, I never had a single issue with it. I couldn’t be more grateful for that.

Someone called my car a “labor of love” build over the weekend and I can’t remember who it was, but I think that hits the nail on the head. For reasons I can’t explain I am completely obsessed with this car. Though it may be so incredibly simple at this stage, driving a long distance from home in something you assembled with your own two hands and living to tell about it brings such a great sense of accomplishment. While it may not be about making constant changes and having the rarest and flashiest parts for me anymore, just trying to maintain and improve this car is such a cool experience for me.

I think Yasu’s quote that Joey posted really summed up Chicago and the midwest well. “Chicago doesn’t build show cars, they build street cars.” Though I don’t drift my car like a lot of guys out in the midwest do, I still took a bit of pride in that statement. I often just feel that my car looking less than perfect says to people that it lacks quality or I just wasn’t able to get the job done properly- but I think it is more just a product of what happens when you street drive your car consistently. I never want to use that as a crutch or excuse, but for me it’s just a combination of that fact combined with the season of life I am in right now. With any luck I’ll be able to keep my car through my kids growing up and give it the level of detail I have wanted to for a really long time- but we’ll see what life throws my way.

Anyway, sorry for the rambling post once again. If you read this week and last week’s posts back to back you’d probably think I am losing my mind, but I think that’s just how it goes sometimes. I haven’t decided if I want to post my own photos from WekFest or not since they’re just from my cracked iPhone 7, but maybe I’ll make a quick post soon. I’ll definitely make a summary post about Final Bout Gallery soon though.

Thank you as always for the support. Have an excellent weekend!

Damon

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A Dose of Reality

Note: At the time of this posting, Flickr’s website was down for maintenance. Maybe I’ll create a separate post at some point with some photos from WekFest Chicago- though I didn’t really take many and they are undoubtedly not very good. I think this post stands on its own OK without photos though.

I’d be lying if I told you I haven’t been feeling a little bummed out about my car since driving four hours East to attend WekFest Chicago this past weekend. Attending car events and hanging out with friends can be a great motivator to push you to strive for something better with your own projects- but it also has a way of sometimes making you feel that your creation is inadequate.

It’s been a while since I have attended a car show of any kind so I haven’t felt this way in a few years, but I was reminded of it on my drive home from the weekend’s festivities in Chicago. It’s no secret that the condition of my car’s paint is a major stress factor for me, but in recent years I have done a pretty good job of learning to live with it and be appreciative that I have a car like this at all given the current stage of life I find myself in.

As soon as I parked the car inside of the convention space at Navy Pier early Sunday morning and began to attempt to wipe the grime off of it from the rain I drove through in Indiana the day prior I knew that I was in trouble. I’ll be the first to tell you that my detailing knowledge is virtually nonexistent. It’s one of those things that I have always wanted to get better at, but never really spend the time or money to actually learn how to do it properly. I want the results without putting the work in. Aside from using a typical off-the-shelf clay bar kit and applying a quick coat of wax by hand, I really don’t know how to do it. Though I spent several hours on trying to detail the car’s paint the weekend prior to the event, it looked like I hadn’t even tried to get rid of the swirl marks and other blemishes.

The lights in the convention hall were incredibly unforgiving. While the car might look OK from a few feet away in my garage or while cruising down the road, a stage like this really drew attention to just how rough the finish really is. The hood, roof, doors, and rear quarter panels are still the factory paint applied by Nissan 26+ years ago- and it shows. The clear coat on the hood is gradually beginning to excuse itself from the hood. Rust on the bottom of the A pillars and along the windshield is slowly trying to claim the car as its own. Meanwhile, items that have been repainted hastily by less than enthusiastic body shop employees show runs and other blemishes. They’ve never been color sanded or cut and buffed properly.

As a whole the details just aren’t quite there yet. As a person that is often praised for his attention to detail online, this doesn’t sit well with me. My car just doesn’t feel like a representation of what I am capable of right now- and that’s something that often eats away at me if I am honest. I don’t like the thought of someone being disappointed when they see my car in person when compared to the photos they saw on the internet. I think that is why I strive to be so modest and honest about the car’s true condition. I don’t want to fake the funk or try to pass the car off as something it isn’t.

I was talking about this a bit at the WekFest pre meet the night before the event with my friend DPK David from California. I met David in 2011 at Import Alliance in Nashville. David built a beautiful example of an EG Civic coupe many years ago that has influenced a lot of people since it was first built, including the owner of the car that won Best of Show at WekFest this year. I’ve talked to David about my quest to source all of the moldings, weather stripping, and other items for the car for the day that I can finally paint it properly. David encouraged me to hold off on painting and refreshing the car for a few more years so that I can enjoy driving it without worrying about something happening to it. We discussed all of the stages of a car he has experienced and that it’s difficult to drive your car a few states away for an event when it’s completely refreshed and show-ready because you want to keep it nice. Things will inevitably happen to the car if its driven- no matter how careful you are. It’s just the way things work.

Attending an event like WekFest reminded me that there are different approaches to building and enjoying a car. While it certainly wasn’t true of every single car there, most of the builds that attend these events were made to do just that- attend car shows. So many of these vehicles with perfect engine bays and immaculate paint were brought there on a trailer and driven a few thousand feet inside the venue. And to be clear, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with building a show car- it’s just not what I have done and I need to remember that. It’s so easy to go to a car show or read about an event online and see photos of perfect shaved engine bays and want to do the same thing to your own car, but without building it to be a dedicated show car (or deciding to never drive it) this just isn’t really feasible. At least not without a massive time and financial investment that is.

At the same time, I don’t have the “this is a drift car” excuse to lean on either. One of the primary reasons I wanted to attend WekFest this year was because a bunch of my friends from Final Bout were attending with their drift cars. I only get to see these guys a couple of times per year, so it’s always a treat to be able to hang out with them. I drove to the show with my good friend Melvin and the guys from Team ProceeD- but even in this group I felt that my car didn’t really fit in. Their cars are loud both physically and visually, covered with complex vinyl graphic schemes and flashing lights. My car probably looked like that of a normal person driving down the street that got caught up in a group of wild drift cars when we were cruising to the show. It draws a fair bit of attention and seems loud when driving alone around my small town, but in this context it goes largely unnoticed.

But maybe flying under the radar is what I set out to achieve anyway. Simplicity is more or less my M.O. these days. A factory aero kit with a subtle paint color, appealing ride height, and a nice set of wheels is really all I want. It was difficult for me to find a lot of cars that I appreciated at WekFest- though some of this is just due to the fact that I am getting older. The old cars that I love and appreciate are not as plentiful as they used to be, nor are they as easy to build. It only makes sense that the younger generation has moved on to modifying newer and more accessible cars- I’m just not familiar with most of them. I saw a lot of cars with strange things done to them like rainbow colored lights, flashy vinyl wraps, large over fenders, and interesting slogans plastered all over them. It felt pretty gaudy to me, but I guess in a way a lot of that is just how the car show scene works sometimes. I’ve grown accustomed to seeing these things on drift cars, but that feels different to me.

I guess when it comes right down to it it feels like my car is essentially a master of none. It’s not clean enough to fit in at a car show, but it isn’t wild enough to fit in at a drift event either. It’s too low to be a road race car. It’s just kind of… a car, I guess.

My S13 is currently filthy from wet roads and is covered in fur from a dead deer I couldn’t avoid and ran over on the way home from the show, but I decided to drive it back to the office today after my lunch break. As I was getting in the car to leave, Alicia walked over and showed me a scuff on the side mirror and asked me if it had been there. She explained that she accidentally bumped into the car with the kids’ bike trailer yesterday and scratched it. Though I never like to see the car get banged up, I smiled a bit and laughed. Like it or not, this is reality. This is the stage of life I find myself in right now and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. It might be difficult when attending an event where it feels like everyone else’s cars are perfect and mine is far from it, but I’ve got to keep perspective- as difficult as that might be.

As I cruised back to the office from the house, I was reminded once again of how much I enjoy driving and owning this car. There’s certainly tons of anxiety and frustration that comes along with it, but actually getting to drive it around and enjoy it always makes me feel better about its condition and what may be in store for the future. I’ve definitely considered parting ways with my S13 coupe chassis and the items I have collected for it in order to repaint my hatch, but I think it probably makes sense to hold off on that and try to be patient. With any luck I’ll have the opportunity to get both of these cars in a place where I will be proud of them one day. Holding onto that goal might not be the wisest thing, but for the time being I think that’s what I will try to do.

I’m not sure where I am trying to go with all of this rambling, but thanks for reading this far. I had a great time in Chicago this weekend with some really great people. Thank you to Melvin and Jen for letting me crash at their place and to Nick from TF Works for inviting me to park in the Mackin Industries Rays/Advan booth at the show! Also thank you to David, Joey, and Yasu as well as the rest of the WekFest crew for making a stop in Chicago and traveling to the midwest. I think any time respected figures in our community make an effort to travel out here to visit or hold an event it is worthy of appreciation.

By the time you read this post, Alicia and I will be on our way to Final Bout Gallery in Shawano, Wisconsin! We are looking forward to seeing everyone. Please be sure to stop me and say hello if you see me around. Safe travels to everyone as they travel to and from the event! Thanks as always for stopping by.

Damon

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Crunch Time

Apologies for not posting here last Friday! After working on the SR for my coupe two weeks back, I decided to shift my focus to the hatch to prepare the car for a couple of road trips coming up in the next week.

Of course, it’s not every day that I have three SR20s in my garage, so I had to take a few photos when I was doing some spring cleaning. The engine on the ground is one that came from a coupe I parted out that ended up having bad compression. I sold it to a friend of mine, he just hasn’t had the time to come get it yet. I thought it was a cool photo to have though!

While replacing a blown exhaust gasket back near the muffler a couple weeks ago, I realized that one of my inner CV boots was torn on the passenger side axle. This seems to happen about once a year or so, so I had a feeling this would likely be the case. I always happen to notice it a week or two before a road trip which always makes things interesting. My hope is to finally learn to replace these boots myself, but in the interest of time I picked up a set of used axles locally to toss in. Perhaps this winter I will finally learn to service these myself.

Upon a closer inspection of the car, I also found that my front tires were worn pretty badly. It has been years since I got a proper alignment, so I knew that my front toe was not within spec. I went to purchase a set of Yokohama S Drives to replace my Kendas only to find that they had been discontinued. The new version that looks remarkably similar is the Yokohama Advan Fleva. I decided to give them a try and so far I am really happy with them. They’re quiet on the freeway and ride really nice. Thankfully they fit just like the Kendas did too so minimal adjustment was needed.

It had been a while since I serviced all of the fluids in the car, so I started by changing the oil and filter with Mobil 1 Synthetic 5W-30 and a genuine Nissan filter for the SR20. I also swapped out the transmission fluid and differential fluid as well. I found that I have been running the wrong fluid in my SR transmission for years and should have been using a GL-4 fluid, so I went with Redline since I had some left over from the Evo. Finally, I tossed in a fresh set of spark plugs to complete the routine maintenance.

I picked up a set of brass plugs to correct a coolant leak that I have been dealing with for a while. I have a GK Tech water sensor attachment for when I was running gauges in the car, and the block off plug I was using was leaking ever so slightly. So far the replacement brass fitting seems to have corrected the issue.

I recently noticed that the boot near my clutch slave was torn. I ordered one for the SR rebuild for the coupe and decided to order a second and replace it on the hatch.

Prior to completing all of this maintenance, I did my best to detail the car using some products that I have had sitting around for years. They probably aren’t even good any more after multiple winters of being stored in my garage, but the paint feels a lot better than it did previously. It probably reduced the number of swirl marks as well, but there are still so many left that it is hard to tell. There are lots of items I had repainted that were never properly cut and buffed, so I could really only do so much by hand- but that’s all I can really do at this point!

I decided to replace my Raybrig headlights with another set of Hella H4s. I have swapped these back and forth many times over the years, but felt the Hellas just match the current stage of the car a bit more. They should give me better output for all of the night driving that lies ahead as well, even though S13 headlights really only do so much.

With the car back on the ground, I took it out before work today to get a much needed alignment from a gentleman I recently met named Jalen. He lives about 30 minutes from me and has two cool S13s. Jalen was able to get my toe dialed in for me to hopefully make these tires last for quite some time and make the car a bit easier to drive. Everything seems to be running smoothly at the moment- fingers crossed it stays that way!

Tomorrow afternoon I will depart for Chicago. I should hopefully be in town in time to attend the WekFest pre-meet tomorrow evening if all goes according to plan. It sounds like I will be parked at the Mackin Industries booth (US Distributor for Rays/Advan) at the show, so I’ll be rolling in very early Sunday morning for setup. If you happen to attend the show and see me around, please stop by and say hello!

After returning home Sunday night, it will be back to work for just a few short days before leaving with my wife Alicia on Thursday afternoon to drive to Chicago once again en route to Final Bout Gallery in Shawano, Wisconsin. It’s going to be a great time! Looking forward to seeing friends from all over the world and meeting some new ones along the way.

Thank you for stopping by and have a great weekend!

Damon

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PS13 SR20 Update

I ended up working on the SR20DET swap for my coupe a bit this week for the first time in over a month. For whatever reason I just haven’t felt like tinkering with it too much. Sometimes I get overwhelmed with all of the goals I want to accomplish and end up not doing anything at all, thinking there is nothing I can really get done without throwing more money that I don’t have at the car. However, there’s always something to be done in the garage if I can get my motivation flowing and drag myself out there.

I began by installing the powder coated valve cover with all new hardware that I sourced from NissanParts.cc in addition to fresh gaskets. It’s crazy how nice the cover looks with fresh nuts and washers in place. I was actually tempted to install this setup on my hatch, but maybe I’ll do that at another time when I have the funds.

Next on the list was a fresh set of spark plugs, along with the coil packs and my Wiring Specialties Pro Series coil pack harness. Everything is covered up nicely with a new OEM coil pack cover and hardware. Not too shabby!

I then moved on to painting the factory catch can setup and installing it with new hardware and the proper hoses I sourced from Nissan in Japan. I’ve actually never run a catch can before on any of my SR20 engine and never had any major issues, but in the spirit of keeping things relatively factory this time around I thought it probably wouldn’t hurt to install it. A quick coat of high-temp paint and everything was in place.

I had purchased a set of NISMO engine and transmission mounts to install on my hatch along with fresh hardware but decided I would use it on the coupe. I’m sure I will end up doing the same for the hatch eventually. I also sourced the small metal heat shield that goes on the left side engine mount to protect it from the heat coming off of the exhaust assembly. Kind of cool.

I haven’t had a chance to clean the bottom side of the engine just yet. You know, because that is very important and everyone will see it.

Finally, I installed the small metal plate that blocks off the flywheel observation window on the back side of the engine. I noticed this was missing from the engine when I removed it from the donor car.

So that’s about it for now! Next I hope to move on to refreshing the intake manifold with new gaskets and get that reinstalled, along with the alternator and new belts. Then it will just be a matter of cleaning the transmission, replacing the rear main seal, and slapping it all back together.

As for the chassis itself, my hope is to bring it home to my garage sometime in the next couple of weeks. This will mean a garage full of S13s for the summer- which I need to ensure is OK with my wife before going that direction. I was hoping to have the engine bay sprayed before bringing the car home, but I think I want to take care of some of the rust repair that is needed myself prior to doing that. It will probably be best for me to just bring the car home as-is and tinker with it as I have the time. Plus, this will allow me to mock up the Silvia front end and aero setup- something I have really been looking forward to.

That’s about all I have to report for this week. I need to shift my focus slightly to the hatch for the next week or two to ensure that it is ready for the trip to WekFest and Final Bout Gallery in just a couple short weeks. I’m planning to knock out some of the needed maintenance this weekend if I can.

Thank you as always for stopping by. Have a great weekend!

Damon

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