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10 Cars You Had To See at Gridlife Midwest 2016

The best drift, time attack, and show cars at Gridlife

Jun 29, 2016
Photographer: Mike Sabounchi

California may have some really cool car events, but the Gridlife Festival just might give them a run for their money. The Gridlife festival is part drifting exhibition, part time attack, part car show, and part something that California doesn't have at most tuner events, a music festival. Think EDC, All Star Bash, and Super Lap Battle all mixed into one epic three-day festival. Trust us when we say they are cooking up some pretty interesting cars out in the Midwest. If you think Cali is the only place you'll find talented, grass roots drivers, events like Gridlife will confront you with a completely different reality.

Gridlife midwest 2016 sharpe 2jz nissan s15 Photo 2/34   |   Gridlife Midwest 2016 Sharpe 2Jz Nissan S15
Gridlife midwest 2016 sharpe 2jz nissan s15 Photo 3/34   |   Gridlife Midwest 2016 Sharpe 2Jz Nissan S15

DYLAN SHARPE'S NISSAN SILVIA S15
Dylan Sharpe began drifting back in '09, but only has been taking it seriously since '13. He imported his Nissan S15 himself and immediately built it into the competitive drift car it is today. The 2JZ-powered Nissan S15 is fitted with plenty of JDM parts such as the Vertex body kit, SARD GT wing, Origin fenders, and Ganador mirrors. Dylan tells us he also drives this wild car on the streets of Canada.

Gridlife midwest 2016 chairslayer nissan 240sx Photo 4/34   |   Gridlife Midwest 2016 Chairslayer Nissan 240Sx

ROB PARSON'S NISSAN 240SX
You have to see the Chairslayer in action once in your life. Rob Parson didn't allow a motocross accident stop him from shredding tires. Using his ingenious motorcycle-style clutch lever and thumb buttons, he can accelerate, brake, and hoon as he pleases. Badass!

Gridlife midwest 2016 k20 suzuki swift Photo 8/34   |   Gridlife Midwest 2016 K20 Suzuki Swift

KEVIN STITTLE'S SUZUKI SWIFT
Chances are you've never heard the words "Suzuki Swift" and "time attack" in the same sentence. Believe it or not, back in '13, Modified magazine did a feature on Kevin Sittle's Suzuki Swift GT. At the time the car was powered by the original G13B 1.3L inline-four; now however Kevin swapped it out for a more potent Honda K20 motor. Kevin also made custom carbon fiber doors, roof, hatch, and fender flares. As you can imagine the car is extremely lightweight, tipping the scales at just 1,650lbs. Kevin tells us the car still needs to be fine tuned, but we're sure that when it's dialed in it will be a force to be reckoned with.

Gridlife midwest 2016 vibrant performance f20 honda crx Photo 12/34   |   Gridlife Midwest 2016 Vibrant Performance F20 Honda Crx
Gridlife midwest 2016 vibrant performance f20 honda crx Photo 13/34   |   Gridlife Midwest 2016 Vibrant Performance F20 Honda Crx

VIBRANT PERFORMANCE HONDA CRX
Another crazy engine swapped car comes from Aaron Weir of Vibrant Performance and his F20-powered CRX. It gets better - it's also been converted to rear-wheel drive using a Nissan S14 rear end! Because he has control arms and axles that take up most of the room inside the strut towers, Weir opted for trunk-mounted cantilever suspension. It's probably one of the wildest CRX we've seen.

Gridlife midwest 2016 sr20 bmw 325is Photo 14/34   |   Gridlife Midwest 2016 Sr20 Bmw 325Is

STEVE'S BMW 325IS
Steve is part of a popular Chicago-based drift team called Risky Devil - so popular, in fact, the team made an appearance in the hit game Need For Speed. Although Steve's car is Euro-based, it has JDM cues all around, like the SR20DET motor with an S15 t28 and Work Equip 01s.

Gridlife midwest 2016 datsun 510 Photo 18/34   |   Gridlife Midwest 2016 Datsun 510

CRUDE ENGINEERING DATSUN 510
This is probably the most talked about car at Gridlife. Owner Jordan Conner picked the most peculiar engine to swap into his Datsun 510 - an '06 Ecotec 2.4L high compression LE5 from a Pontiac Solstice! To make even more power, Jordan added a GT2871 turbo to the Pontiac motor. Stopping power is taken care of with Wilwood Dynapro 4 pistons up front and 2 piston rear calipers on custom rotors.

Gridlife midwest 2016 touge factory nissan s14 Photo 22/34   |   Gridlife Midwest 2016 Touge Factory Nissan S14
Gridlife midwest 2016 touge factory nissan s14 Photo 23/34   |   Gridlife Midwest 2016 Touge Factory Nissan S14

TF WORKS S14
The car with the biggest diffuser on the grid was also one of the cleanest Kouki's on the grid. I have a huge soft spot in my heart for S-chassis cars that are set up to grip and not just drift, and this was definitely one of them. The guys over at Touge Factory have been building 240s since the beginning of time so they know a thing or two about how to make a car go fast. Since this was the first outing of that S14 with his mondo-rondo giant diffuser, some dialing in had to be done, but the car showed real potential. Of course it was powered by an SR20 and the interior was fully gutted, but it still looked absolutely beautiful.

Gridlife midwest 2016 varis nissan 370z Photo 24/34   |   Gridlife Midwest 2016 Varis Nissan 370Z

GENE SIEPKA'S NISSAN 370Z
Gene's previous 370Z setup landed him a feature in Import Tuner Magazine and since then, he's made huge changes, including a full exterior makeover with a Varis Arising II body kit and Work Gnosis HS203 wheels.

Gridlife midwest 2016 proceed nissan s13 Photo 25/34   |   Gridlife Midwest 2016 Proceed Nissan S13
Gridlife midwest 2016 proceed nissan s13 Photo 26/34   |   Gridlife Midwest 2016 Proceed Nissan S13

SIMBA'S NISSAN SILVIA S13
Team Proceed member Simba brought out his dope Nissan S13. You would think with all of the drifting he does the car would look like a trashy missile car, but this thing still looks amazing. The hood is a one-off by Origin Lab with Hokusai's Great Wave off Kanagawa art on it. The 2.2L SR20 under the hood is from former D1 and FD driver Yoshioka's Pikes Peak S15.

Gridlife midwest 2016 mazda rx7 Photo 27/34   |   Gridlife Midwest 2016 Mazda Rx7

KEN WAGAN'S MAZDA RX-7
Making the eight-hour trek from Canada, Ken Wagan brought his rad rotary beast. Some of his modifications include a large street port with balanced rotating assembly, Turbonetics GTK700 turbo, Full Race manifold, CJ Motorsports fuel system, and a Haltech PS2000. He's done extensive carbon work and fender widening to fit some sexy Volk ZE40s wrapped in Toyo R888s.

Gridlife midwest 2016 fortune auto lancer evolution Photo 31/34   |   Gridlife Midwest 2016 Fortune Auto Lancer Evolution

PROFESSIONAL AWESOME / FORTUNE AUTO EVO
Fast is cool, and considering this is technically the fastest EVO in North America, that makes this car pretty damn cool in our book. The amount of engineering that went into this car is staggering. Some of you may recognize it from winning our Super Lap Battle / GTA event last year (on its last session of the day). This time the team wanted to take home the W at Gridlife and that's exactly what they did. We hope these guys make it down to Road Atlanta for the next Gridlife event.

Jofel Tolosa
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