I got my start in the Japanese sports car scene in the 90’s in Japan. I had no exposure to anything going on in the USA other than the occasional Sport Compact Car magazine I picked up at the base mini-mart, and it seems like it was all about Honda/Acura, the DSM 1g/2g Eclipse/Talon/Lazer, with occasional exposure to the Japan scene especially with the R32/R33 Skyline GTRs. There was no mention of 240SX, and when I did look for parts support for the 240SX, it was a Pacesetter header, a NOPI CAI and gaudy body kits. In summary, I wasn’t interested in the US scene. Being a half-Japanese guy who had spent a great amount of time in the USA previously, I was exposed to American Muscle and had a 64 Ford Galaxie hardtop coupe (wish I still had it) and a 66 Ford Mustang coupe (again… wish I still had it) because of my father. If it wasn’t for my father, I probably would have never ventured into the world of the gearhead. Actually, I hated it, at first. While the other kids were having fun on the weekends, I was “volunteered” to assist dad with his projects. The last one I worked on with him was a 67 Ford Fairlane 500. He had bought one new before taking us back to Japan in the late 60s and we had that car well into the late 70s. He traded it in for a Ford LTD, and he regretted that decision. Anyway, 5 years later, we’re going through the painstaking procedure of creating an exact duplicate of the 67 Ford Fairlane 500. This car was the one I learned on, and as much as I hated it, those weekends slaving away in the backyard and in some very sketch situations, I learned that metal can be made into anything you want. Any car, short of being totaled out completely, can be resurrected and made the way you want it. I will admit, my hard-ass dad saved me so much money over the years, and all I have done is taken what he taught me and refined it.
Back to the subject at hand, when I got back to Japan full time, I was interested in everything, especially the car scene. The Japanese sports car scene attracted me because it was filled with cars and all sorts of tuning and building that was foreign to me. There were suspension set ups that I thought only existed on formula cars, ITB systems both carburetted and fuel injected that sounded like angry vintage Ferrari, fuel systems and the black magic world of forced-induction. Forced induction was what attracted me the most. Wastegate and BOV noise and deep exhaust sound was just beautiful. After playing with the AE86 scene for a while, I got into the Nissan world via the 1993 R32 Skyline GTR V Spec brand new. Grip was something I was used to from my muscle car days, and the street drag and high speed runs on the Wangan was all that was needed to make me jump into it. Being a single guy, I spent all my money chasing the 300 KPH club, and Smoky Nagata was my dealer. It was fun, it was exciting and hair-raising but it was a zero sum gain. I was tired of being broke all the time with nothing but lint in my pockets, but I had the V Spec. I decided to get out of it because the bar kept getting raised higher, and if you are a part of any scene, you know that it is a money game. The V Spec was sold in 1998, and what triggered the sale was a joke. I was in Zama at one of the weekly auctions, and I saw this black, under-stated 180SX sitting all the way back in the viewing lot. It had one owner who had bought it new, had some body damage to the roll pan but for all intents and purposes, it was straight. I bid 30,000 JPY, which in today’s money would be $249 US dollars and some change. I went home and was doing some yard work and I get a call from a friend who I used to place the bid…
“Congratulations! You now own the 1989 RS13 180SX. Please come by tomorrow and collect your purchase.”
The RS13 was my excuse to get out of the Skyline GTR game and to explore another Nissan product that wasn’t going to make my wallet scream in agony.
Below is circa 1999. Very low budget build with mostly hand-me-downs and stuff I got in trade for work I performed on other people’s cars. I literally got parts out of the trash can that people back then were throwing out. This was before Up Garage came on the scene. My other parts source was the local scrap yard. It started out as a CA18DET, bu years later I did a blacktop SR swap from a chuki half cut (I seem to buy chuki 180SX half cuts; see A31 Prjkt). This RS13 actually stayed with me until 2008.
As the 2000s progressed, I acquired a few kouki RPS-13 Type X, and the one below was the last one I owned in Japan before it was sold to an Australian. Very few mods. Just full suspension tuning, exhaust work, a little fender rolling, Ganador door mirrors (can’t get them anymore new), SSR Professor SP1 wheels and a few other body and light accents. This car was my cruising around car.
I owned my last Type X in 2009. It was sold to the brother of the buyer of the RS13. Not much to say about it other than I got a great deal on it. You can say I flipped it.
The very last Nissan S-series car I owned was a 1992 UK-spec 200SX RS-13U. This car was a total tear-down and build. What is unique about the RS-13U is that it came from the factory with a differential cooler and Z32/R32 drum-style e-brake while still retaining the 4-lug. So all of the people saying that you need to convert over to 5-lugs in order to have the Z32/R32 drum-style e-brakes have never heard that you can get 4-lug style from the UK. In summary, the 1989-94 RS-13U was 90% identical to the 1989-94 180SX with the exception of the engine (the UK and EU spec retained the CA18DET; SR20DET debuted in the S14 for MY 1995 in the UK and the EU), no air-conditioning and side winker lamps located between the door and the fender well.
This is the only picture I have of the 200SX.
I went to the 180SX style, and all the aero was designed by me and made by a good friend of mine. It was originally going to be powered by the S2 RB25DET, but I changed plans and went again to the SR20DET from another 180SX chuki half cut. You will notice what appears to be blister fenders. Those fronts and rears are all metal. I worked closely with a body shop and had the rear fender wells modified, the fender cut laterally and new metal welded in to bring them 55mm out from OE spec. The fronts got the same treatment but taken out to 50mm over OE spec with venting applied. Other exterior mods were the standard tail light swap for the kouki 180SX with center garnish, a vented hood and chuki turn signals in the front bumper which was a hybrid based on the BN Sports wide body bumper. One-piece Drive Shaft Shop aluminum drive shaft, KAAZ 2-way with retention of the differential cooler, interior upgrade based on MOMO pieces with MOMO steering wheel/pedals/shift boot and shift knob, digital climate control, kouki gauge cluster, Apexi triple gauge pack with PFC for tuning and a host of other things. The SR was rebuilt with standard size 86mm CP Pistons, Manley H-beam rods, Apexi 1.5mm head gasket, Tomei 264/264 Poncams, Supertech valve springs and BC titanium retainers, 550cc Power Enterprise top feed high impedence injectors, SARD fuel rail, Greddy intake manifold, Z32 MAF, Koyo 3-Row aluminum radiator, SARD oil cooler and oil filter relocator, and I used the Turbonetics T3/T4 .63 A/R 50 trim top mount turbo (also known as a 6262), Greddy FMIC and piping and all steel-braid hoses of various sizes. Clutch duty was left to the Exedy twin-plate. I can go on and on, but this car was to be my last for 7 years.
2009 was a rough time for a lot of people, including me. I ended up selling the car to the same brothers who had bought the black 1989 RS13 and the 1996 RPS13 Type X. The last word I got is that the brothers still have all three cars, which is cool because one condition I asked them before they bought each one is to never sell them and keep them as they are. They’ve honored it. It is part of my legacy and a period in my life that encompassed 11 years of learning the S-series cars and seeing how far I could go with each one.
It’s 2015, and I am back into the game with Nissan. I’m back into it for a few reasons. The first reason is that I miss the S-series. Another close one is that I have two babies now, and the oldest one is a gearhead. I want to re-live a part of an exciting period of my life thus far with him. The youngest one is my daughter, and maybe she will also be a gearhead. We’ll see. It is very cool to have a wife who appreciates this part of me, and she shares this passion. Maybe not as in depth, but it is there. My family is my motivation. Yeah, I’ve learned from the past, and I really don’t want to be stuck in a certain time frame. If you ask me what was the coolest part of the 2000s, I will say that 2001-2005 was. The stuff you guys are “discovering” now is not new, BUT… and I stress… the current generation is leaps and bounds ahead of what we were doing, and it is safe to say that you guys are refining an era that introduced “JDM” and the whole drift scene to the USA.
Keep it fresh, keep refining it and keep it passionate.