August 2, 2021

The Blueprint: Nissan 240SX

If you’ve seen the drifting coverage we’ve previously had, then you know of the car featured here. What you might not know are all of the gritty details of how this S13 coupe came to be the silver, purple and green beast it is today. Let us begin with the obvious question: why a 1JZ?

After Brandon, owner and driver, broke two transmissions and had his fill of headaches from his SR20DET setup he started looking for a different route. He opted for the 2.5L turbocharged Toyota 1JZ-GTE engine and R154 transmission, instead of rebuilding the SR and throwing a Z32 300ZX transmission into the coupe. Turns out this isn’t a bad idea, the stock-ish motor keeps up with the V8 swapped competitors he faces in the Vegas Pro-Am events.

I say “stock-ish” because it isn’t stock, nor is it a fully built power plant. It’s sporting a T3/T4 60 trim turbo, CP pistons, and a metal head gasket. An Apex’i SAFC-II monitors the vitals, along with a PLX Wideband. A Greddy Profec-B boost controller keeps the positive pressure at just the right level. It’s not quite a V mount setup, but the “tilt mount” radiator sitting behind the front mounted intercooler does the job of keeping the engine cool. A custom fuel surge tank (with not one, BUT TWO Walbro 255lph fuel pumps) helps stave off fuel starvation. An ACT clutch and a Fidanza flywheel help transmit the 382 horsepower and 322 lb/ft of torque the 1JZ makes to the driven wheels. Metric Motors built the motor, and Brandon tests its limits.

At round two of the Vegas Pro-Am in the qualifying runs, he set it on fire. A fuel starvation instance caused the engine to start blowing oil onto the turbo. Despite piloting a ball of fire, Brandon qualified 7th overall.

In round 4 he broke the driveshaft after qualifying in 5th, so Brandon and Jose (a Portugese ex-pat and Brandon’s right hand man) frantically looked for a place and a person to weld the driveshaft back together. The person they found was Otto Graven, a nice South African man who happens to pilot a C5R powered 350Z in Formula D. Otto stopped working on his car so Brandon could get back out there and finish in 5th place.

Enough of this breaking stuff talk, lets talk about the suspension. The power the 1JZ makes would be nothing without a proper suspension setup.

At all four corners are Stance GR+ Pro series coilovers. Up front are TEIN tension rods, modified steering knuckles (more steering angle = better), a relocated steering rack with spacers, tubbed fenders, and a combination of Z32 and Ikeya Formula tie rods. Out back are Megan Racing rear toe arms and Parts Shop Max rear upper control arms. And, he wanted me to mention this specifically, a welded differential.

Braking is handled by OEM Nissan pieces, but not stock 240SX pieces. Z32 300ZX calipers and rotors do the work up front, while Skyline GT-R brakes do a lot of work out back. The front calipers are stuffed with nice, expensive pads; however, the rear calipers are packed with the cheapest pads that can be found. Why? Because the expensive pads don’t heat up quick enough.

Racing cars, by the very fact that they go out and compete, aren’t always pretty. This is a statement embodied by this car. This isn’t bad, it still works, but it’s not as pretty as cars with similar modifications that have never turned a wheel in anger. There is one thing that this car can’t attribute to competition: the rear fenders. One is a 30mm fender, and the other is a 50mm fender. Brandon thought he ordered a matching set, but when they arrived one was just a bit wider than the other.

In addition to mismatched fenders the car sports mismatched wheels. 17×9 +17 Drag DR 31’s are up front and 18×10 +20 XXR 521’s occupy the rear wheel wells. A carbon fiber hood with a massive piece of black vinyl with stars cut out on it hang out over the Toyota power plant.

The inside is spartan, yet colorful. Derrick Lopez fabricated the roll cage (which is now a lovely tennis ball green) along with the front crash bar. Brandon is held in a Momo Corsa seat by a G-Force harness, and holds onto a Sparco deep dish steering wheel mounted on a D-Spare custom “Mad Max” hub. He get’s vital information from a custom gauge cluster filled with Glow Shift gauges.

If you’re still with us you’ll have noticed that this car competes mostly in the Vegas Pro-Am events. This is interesting because Brandon and the car live in Northern Utah. Thankfully he works at a place that does compressed natural gas conversions. This allowed him to convert the tow vehicle to natural gas which means he only spends about $150 to tow the car, a tire machine, 24-26 tires, an air compressor, a generator, and all sorts of tools to AND from Vegas. That is about 840 miles round trip.

The aforementioned tire machine helps get Brandon, Jose, and Joe Baclawski, the tire tech, recognized by the Vegas guys. It also helps pay for the trip. They call them “Utah” because, well they’re from Utah. Brandon and Jose have tons of stories from their trips to Vegas, they also have some videos on YouTube under the “team d spare” channel.

This 240SX isn’t like most of the 240’s you see running around or competing. Brandon and Jose drew up their own blueprint for success, and they’re going to follow it to the tire smoke filled winner’s circle.
Words and photos by Michael Chandler

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