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!


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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.


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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!


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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!


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Friday is Here!

Another week has passed and we have arrived once again at the greatest work day of them all- Friday. I’m definitely OK with the prospect of this particular week coming to a close- though it hasn’t been all that bad in reality.

Last weekend I stumbled upon a local seller with a fairly clean S13 dash for sale. I ended up picking it up for use in the coupe. I currently have a spare dash out of my hatch, but it has holes drilled in it for four 60mm gauges. I don’t currently plan to run any gauges in either car, so this will be a nice option to have. It’s not perfect and does have a couple imperfections, but for the price it will do just fine. Fortunately there are no cracks- so that’s what counts!

I had been noticing a slight exhaust leak on my hatch, which was surprising to me since I just changed both of the gaskets at the catalytic converter last summer. As luck would have it, the gasket at the back of the exhaust system near the muffler was also failing. I ordered a replacement on Amazon and swapped it out quickly on Wednesday night.

While I was under the car, I discovered that I have once again torn an axle boot. At this point I think it is time for me to learn how to replace these rather than swapping in an entire new axle, so I will likely pursue figuring this out in the near future. I need to get this sorted out before WekFest and Final Bout next month, both of which are fast approaching. I’ll take a peek at the front suspension this weekend too just to be sure everything is in OK shape.

That’s about it for this week! The list of interior items needed for the coupe build is getting smaller and smaller by the day. I spent some time in my basement last night trying to get organized and take inventory of the parts I have since lately I have been finding things that I completely forgot about. It’s good to know what I have and where all of it is. So much junk I need to organize and throw away!

I’ve been driving the hatch every day I can which has been fun. The weather is finally trying to get its act together- though I did see it is supposed to snow 1-3″ tomorrow night which I am not excited about. I’m sure if it does snow it won’t be around for long.

Thanks as always for taking the time to read my rambling and for your continued support. Much appreciated! Have a great weekend.


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Quick Update

I don’t have a ton of time this week to provide an update, but I’ve been experiencing the typical ups and downs that come with the hobby as of late. I shared a bit about this on my Instagram account this week and had some really cool discussion with lots of different people about it. I think questioning whether or not to continue dumping money and time into these cars is something that many of us struggle with but rarely discuss. I guess it comes with the territory- especially now that I am getting a bit older.

In any case, I haven’t spent much time in the garage at all lately. The weather has been up and down a lot and can’t seem to make up its mind which I don’t think has been helping much with motivation. The good thing is I am not really in a rush in any way- and I need to remind myself of that. I’ll probably work on the coupe’s engine a bit more next week if I am feeling up for it.

A couple of items arrived for the cars from Japan this past week. Here’s a quick rundown of what showed up:

I was excited to find some new old stock from a seller in Japan- S13 gauge cluster plastic covers. Most of the plastic covers on S13 gauge clusters are very hazy and covered in swirl marks at this point being that they are all 26+ years old. While I have seen great results with people polishing them, I thought it would be cool to replace mine entirely as they were pretty affordable. I was able to snag two of them- one for each car.

The next order of business was securing some of the exterior restoration items for the coupe that have been discontinued here in the states- much like I have done for my hatch. These items will eventually come in handy when I am able to paint and restore both vehicles at some point in the future. The first item I secured was the rear window molding set. Unfortunately one item from the kit was missing upon arrival, so I am currently working to secure a replacement from the seller. Fingers crossed, but worst case the piece missing is still available stateside- so that’s a relief.

I also picked up another pair of B pillar plastics for the exterior of the car. I really wanted to get some new weather strip retainers for the coupe like I did for the hatch, but those have been discontinued sadly- along with the quarter glass. It’s unfortunate I can’t replace those items, but hopefully I can get them looking presentable enough with some SEM paint. These B pillars are great to have though- it’s crazy how glossy they are when new.

I began the quest for new weather stripping as well by picking up the seal for the trunk. This one has also been discontinued in the states so I wanted to get a hold of it before they’re gone.

Moving into the engine bay, I picked up a new cowl seal and a front hood seal for the Silvia hood. The cowl seal is still available in the states, but was quite a bit cheaper from overseas.

Finally, I elected to replace the large metal trim piece between the windshield and the wiper cowl much like I did for my hatch. While this piece can easily be painted, it does have a small rubber seal that runs along the top of it. I was pleased to find it was still available from Japan and priced pretty fairly. Should be a nice addition when they are installed someday.

For whatever reason I’ve chosen to primarily focus on the interior and exterior of the coupe as of late. I’m feeling pretty good about both areas at this point- neither is complete from a parts list standpoint, but they’re maybe about 80% complete. I have the complete Silvia front end and OEM aero setup for the car and a good start on moldings and weather stripping. I still need those items for the doors and windshield, but after that I should have the exterior complete (aside from painting it someday of course, but that is a long ways off.) I’ll likely continue on with the interior next and try to get that as complete as possible before attempting to get the car running. All of this in due time though- like I said, there’s really no rush.

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


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Back In Business

Well, as luck would have it I actually found a little bit of time to work on my personal projects this week instead of strictly focusing on parting out the additional coupe I picked up a couple weeks back. Parting out cars has taken up a large chunk of my time during the first quarter of 2019 and I have not worked on my own S13s much as a result. While this can be pretty distracting, I enjoy the process and it provides me with some additional funds to assist with my personal coupe which is necessary in order to continue to make progress.

I added insurance to the hatch this week and began driving it for the season. It feels great to have it out of the garage and to drive it again. This winter is the least I have ever touched this car before- I don’t think I made a single modification or change to it all winter long which is quite the accomplishment for me. I still need to give it a good cleaning, change the oil and spark plugs, and get an alignment before Final Bout Gallery but it seems to be in pretty good shape.

I had some free time a few nights ago and chose to fix a few things on the hatch that were bothering me. I replaced the rear wiper switch with a blank panel I pulled from a partout car, fixed my broken hazard switch, repaired an issue I was having with my seatbelt, fixed a rattle in the glove box frame, and addressed an issue with the cable for the hot/cold door on the climate control.

While I was at it, I also installed an under hood fire shield that I pulled off one of the part out cars. I removed mine and threw it away many years ago but thought it would be cool to have one on there again. I wish it was brand new, but it could be worse.

The part number for the replacement pedal is 18016-89925.

The JDM pedal also says Nissan on it which is kind of cool. Please excuse how dirty my interior is at the moment.

Finally, I installed a new accelerator pedal pad to compliment the new brake and clutch pedal pads I replaced last fall. I couldn’t find the USDM accelerator pedal, but I tried ordering the JDM version and to my surprise it fits well. It’s more straight and isn’t angled to the left like the US pedal, but there are no clearance issues. I didn’t notice a difference when driving so I am happy with it. It was really cheap so I brought two of them over for Japan- one for the coupe and one for the hatch.

Last night I drove the car about 90 miles out to my friend Tim’s house to spend some time working on my coupe. The chassis is still in storage at his parents’ house for the time being which is a huge help. I started by removing all of the black interior panels I have stored inside the car to get an idea of what I have and what items I still need to source to complete the black interior swap. Fortunately I have about 80% of the items I need to turn the once brown interior into a much nicer black variant that will match my hatch’s interior.

A couple of the black panels mocked up- looking better already! I can’t wait to assemble the complete interior. I think it’s going to turn out really nice.

After that was done, I removed a bunch of items from the interior to sell including virtually all of the brown panels and the automatic seatbelts. I sourced a pair of JDM B pillar plastics, as well as Silvia front and rear black seat belts. I still need to get a hold of a pair of Canadian A pillar plastics and a headliner to complete the conversion.

The engine bay prior to diving into it.

Mostly stripped down for paint work.

Finally, Tim and I spent some time stripping the engine bay down to prepare it for paint. We still have a couple small items to remove, but it is more or less ready to be sorted out. My hope is to have the engine bay sprayed and the rust repaired prior to bringing the chassis home. That way I can focus on installing the drivetrain and not need to remove it someday down the road when I eventually paint the entire car. This is a long ways off, but I think it make sense to try to plan ahead if possible.

I’ve sold most of the items from the most recent coupe and the shell should be removed from my garage on Sunday, so that will be nice. The weather is slowly improving so I can get all of the patio furniture out and free up some space. I’m feeling refreshed and looking forward to making progress this spring! I was really hoping to get a photo of the two cars together last night, but there just wasn’t space in the barn. Hopefully that will happen sometime soon!

Thanks as always for stopping by and have a great weekend.


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Kouki 180SX Lighting Conversion How-To

I’ve gotten a lot of questions over the years about how to wire up the front position lights and turn signals when converting a USDM chassis to a kouki front bumper. For whatever reason the topic has come up a few times in the last week, so I thought it might be a good idea to take some quick photos of my setup and post some details.

My current lighting setup- aftermarket clear side markers and aftermarket
dual function position lamps.

As you know, the chuki front turn signal has a set of three wires running to it on the chassis harness. One wire is a common ground, one is the power wire for the turn signal, and one is the power wire for the running light. This is the harness you will use to tap into for your kouki 180SX front lights. If you need to determine which is which, hook up a volt meter to one of the power wires and the ground wire. Have someone turn on the turn signal and then the running lights to see which causes the wire to have power. Then you will know which is which.

This adapter harness makes the conversion a breeze. It’s also available for Silvia front ends and kouki 180SX tail lights. Good stuff!

Back when I first converted to kouki 180SX aero in 2009, I had to come up with a hodge-podge solution to wiring the lights up. Fortunately there was a vendor on Zilvia (username driftkeni) that sells USDM to JDM wiring harness adapters that work really well. However, I have heard from many people that he’s no longer selling them and the eBay store is now gone. What was included with the kit was essentially four harnesses- the two shorter ones are to adapt the USDM side marker plugs into the JDM plugs- those are pretty straightforward. There is now a user on Instagram selling a similar kit- his username is @keyd.performance. Might be worth looking into if you’re looking for a similar product to the one pictured above now that the Zilvia vendor has sort of gone MIA. (Info updated December 2020.)

The aftermarket clear kouki style side markers (the lights located on your front fenders) do not include the necessary bulb sockets with them and the USDM socket design is different- so they won’t fit. If you want to track down the necessary JDM bulb sockets for your side markers, the part numbers are 26244-47F00 and 26244-47F10. Another solution would be to purchase a pair of OEM amber kouki 180SX side markers and use the bulb sockets from those with your aftermarket clear side markers, depending on which look you prefer. Buying both sets will give you everything you need to install them and also afford you with an option to change things up later on should you change your mind.

My car when I was running all OEM Nissan front lighting.

The other two adapter harnesses included with this kit are what you will use to wire up your position lamps (the clear running lights on the kouki 180SX front bumper) and your turn signals (the circular amber lights at the bottom of the kouki 180SX bumper.) If you are using all OEM lighting, these harness are a bolt-on affair- simply plug them in to the lighting plugs on your chassis harness and then into the bulb sockets that were included with your OEM kouki 180SX light.

Here’s the back side of an OEM kouki 180SX position lamp. The required bulb socket and bulb are included. The Zilvia conversion harness plugs directly into this socket.

This socket is also a direct fit for the running light portion of the aftermarket dual function position lamps, so it is a handy thing to have. The part number for this socket is
26240-70F00 and should actually be available stateside.

This is the back of a kouki 180SX turn signal. Again, the bulb and socket are included with the factory units and the eBay adapter plugs directly into this socket.

A larger 921 bulb is used for the turn signals. You will not utilize this socket for aftermarket dual position lamps- instead you will use the small socket and pigtail that are included with the aftermarket lamps. This one won’t fit the hole that’s provided.

Now here is where things get a little more complicated. It’s a popular option in Japan for people to swap out their factory kouki lighting for a set of clear side markers and “dual function” position lamps. This allows your position lamp to not only function as a running light, but also as a turn signal. The OEM amber lower kouki turn signals are then removed from the bumper for a cleaner look. This is the setup I currently have on my car. I’ve run it both ways over the years, but I think the all clear setup works well with the plate cutout. Eventually I plan to swap to a full OEM setup I have in storage, but this likely won’t happen until I paint the car.

Here is the back of the aftermarket dual position lamp. One housing accommodates the OEM position lamp socket for the running light (with Zilvia adapter harness plugged in on the left side) and a second additional bulb socket holds an aftermarket socket and pigtail for the turn signal. These two wires are spliced into the turn signal provision on the eBay adapter harness.

If you look at the back side of my dual function position lamps, there are two bulb sockets instead of one like on the OEM Nissan position lamps. One of these bulb socket holes is for the OEM Nissan position lamp bulb socket- your running light. An additional hole and bulb socket with pigtail are included with the dual function lamps- this is your turn signal. If you purchased the eBay conversion harness I mentioned above, the power and ground wires for this harness will need to be tapped into the turn signal wiring portion of the adapter harness.

The smaller 194 bulb (bottom) for the running light compared to the larger 921 bulb (top) for the turn signal.

I noticed that when using the dual position lamps with the running lights on that you couldn’t clear see my turn signal flashing. You essentially have two bulbs of the same size competing with each other, and when one is lit up it’s difficult to tell there is another one flashing. My solution to this was to run a small 194 bulb for the running light portion of the position lamp (the same bulb the factory uses) and run a larger 921 bulb for the turn signal portion (again, the same bulb Nissan uses from the factory. This means that the smaller bulb is lit up as your running light, but then the larger and brighter bulb blinks when you use your turn signal- making it much easier for other motorists to tell when you intend to turn. I use standard halogen bulbs instead of the supplied LEDs just to avoid the whole “fast blink” issue- and because I personally think it feels a bit more period correct. You may need to mess with resistors if you intend to run LEDs, but I am not positive about that.

One other thing to note is that just about all of the aftermarket dual function position lamps out there are the same. Circuit Sports, D-MAX, Gent5, etc. are all produced by Junyan, so they’re identical. No reason to spend more for the name on this one as they literally all come from the same place and are then re-branded. I don’t typically agree with this way of thinking and always spring to support the genuine manufacturers, but having owned a few sets I can say they truly are the exact same. The OEM lighting is much higher quality, but it’s a necessary sacrifice to achieve the proper look and functionality.

So there you have it! I hope you find this information helpful. I know there are bulbs and sockets out there that can function as both a running light and also blink as a turn signal. I have thought for years that there must be a wiring solution to allow one bulb to do both, but I have never seen one presented. If you know of an easy way to do this or a better solution than what I have explained here, feel free to drop me a line!

Thank you for bearing with me over the last couple weeks. Life has been very crazy with lots of things being thrown my way and I haven’t been able to devote the time I would like to to the blog, but I am hoping to get back into the swing of producing content now that the weather is beginning to improve. Thanks for reading and have a great weekend!


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Short Update

Well, my apologies for the lack of content here the past two weeks. Life has been totally crazy with work, my wife and kids all coming down with the flu, and parting out another S13 coupe that I picked up about a week and a half ago. Things have been moving along fairly smoothly though and I hope to have everything sold and the car gone within another two weeks.

I haven’t touched either of my personal cars in a few weeks now, but I hope to get back to it fairly soon. In the age of instant gratification it can be difficult to create some sort of content here every week, but rest assured that I hope to be back in the swing of things soon! Hopefully the weather will begin to improve and the salt will be washed away from the roads so that I can start driving the black S13 sometime in early April.

Thanks for stopping by. With any luck I’ll be able to get everyone up to speed next Friday! Have an excellent weekend.


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Sink or Swim

I’ve seen a lot of varying opinions expressed online as of late about the morality of stripping an S13 of its parts and scrapping or otherwise disposing of it. I thought it might be fun to talk a bit more about this issue and try to understand both sides of the coin where S13s are concerned in 2019.

Would you feel guilty about parting this thing out?

I’ve purchased a couple of S13s now where my sole intention from the get-go was to part them out and use the drivetrain for my own builds. The first was my two tone coupe that I bought in 2014. My friend Tim had purchased it for a really good price and was going to swap the SR20DET into a cleaner chassis, but decided to stick with finishing his LS swapped FD instead. I had just bought my old 240SX shell back to rebuild and needed an SR swap for it, so this was the perfect opportunity for me to snag one that I knew was in good, running condition for a great price (as opposed to taking a gamble with an importer.)

Only a small portion of the rust that was on this thing.

The chassis itself was in absolutely horrid condition. The blue interior (which no one seems to want) had mice living in it, the quarter panels were smashed in, and you could clearly see the ground through the rust in the trunk. The frame rails both completely fell apart when I lifted the car to remove the drivetrain and the jack stands shot through the floor, breaking the fuel and brake lines in the process. By any stretch of the imagination, this car was nothing more than scrap metal. After I removed the drivetrain, two way differential, and coilovers, I sold the rolling chassis to someone for $200 or so. I believe they wanted to try to cut off a portion of the front end to use on an S13 that had been wrecked, but I am not sure if this ever happened or not.

That will buff out, right?

Some local people were upset with me for not “saving” this chassis. They told me it all could have easily been repaired- all I needed to do was cut out the rust and add some new metal. This would be an absolute waste of time in my opinion, but to each their own. I felt that by selling the chassis whole instead of crushing it, I was giving someone an opportunity to save it should they have the time, knowledge, and motivation to do so. I think it is highly unlikely that the car ever saw the road again, but would it have benefited the community much if I had not taken it apart? Possibly, but I think that SR20 living on in my black S13 offers a lot more to the S chassis scene than trying to save that car would have.

While this coupe appeared to be much nicer than the two tone,
it definitely had its fair share of problems.

I recently repeated this process last November by purchasing another running and driving S13 coupe with an SR drivetrain to serve as the donor engine for my champagne rolling chassis. I saved the engine swap, radiator, and Silvia hood for my own build and sold the remaining items to other people to assist with completing their own builds. While I stripped the chassis fairly bare, I did sell it as a roller for $300 to someone local that plans to use it to build a drift car. Like the other coupe I parted out, I am not sure if it will ever see the road again- but if I had not done this, that person wouldn’t have found a car to build on that met their budget and specific needs. This chassis also had its share of rust and a number of areas had been repaired with new metal including the floor and frame rails (which, of course, was not disclosed to me when I bought it.) For most of us this chassis would not have been clean enough to work from to meet our standards.

The stripped rolling chassis heading to its new home.

People are often outraged to see S13s being parted out- and I can understand their frustration in many ways. There are only so many decent examples of these cars left on this planet and the numbers seem to dwindle by the day. However, I think a lot of good can come out of these cars being picked apart. Part outs allow those of us that wish to rebuild these cars to a higher standard to obtain the components we need to do so. Many of the parts have been discontinued at this point so there isn’t much hope for fixing them up without buying things from another car that has been taken apart. While it may reduce the number of S13s left in the world, it increases the number of quality examples- which I think is something we should all strive for. Don’t get me wrong though- would I want to see a super clean, bone stock S13 chassis get completely stripped apart for parts? Of course not. But so many of these cars have been beaten within an inch of their lives at this point that I think parting them out only makes sense.

The SR20 drivetrain from the two tone coupe now resides here- seems like a better solution, no? I hope to have a similar success story to share for the engine from
the red coupe in a few years time.

I’ll always be just as bummed out as the next guy to see an S13 being ripped apart or neglected, but in a lot of ways I would almost see that happen instead of seeing junky, poorly-executed cars on the road. If a 26 year old chassis (best case) is riddled with rust or major body damage, it’s unlikely that 99% of people are actually going to invest the time and money into that car to save it. Removing and selling (or giving away) all of the useful components from these cars allows others to further preserve their own examples- which helps allow more people to enjoy and appreciate the S13 chassis. It’s a win-win in my book.

What do you think? I would love to hear your thoughts. I’m always open to discussing anything related to these cars so feel free to drop me a line.

Thanks for stopping by- have a great weekend!



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