The last few years have been rough for the North American economy. It would be pretty hard to find anyone who will argue against that point. Ever since the major crash towards the middle of 2008, it’s been particularly difficult to be a part of the automotive industry, because (not surprisingly) one of the first things that people stop spending money on during tough times are their project cars. After all, who really wants to build a project car when the rent or mortgage is past due? Thankfully it’s not all doom and gloom—although the scene has taken a place in the back seat for some of the fair-weather enthusiasts, those of us with true passion have found ways to keep the flame burning regardless of the less than ideal financial climate.
Michael Heasley is an electrician from Tacoma, Washington, a city nestled just south of Seattle in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. Michael is not a stranger to the import scene, he’s built a few cars in his day. Back in March of 2011, after being out of the loop for a while, he decided to take on another project, this time focusing on doing as much of the work himself as possible. Michael wanted to have an excuse to get back into the scene without breaking the bank. So after sourcing a completely stock ’91 240SX coupe, his minty fresh S13 began to slowly take shape.
“When I first got the car [last] March, I wanted to have it finished and on the road by summer,” Michael remembers. “I soon realized that was an unrealistic goal, and also that my original plan was going to cost a lot more than I had anticipated.” Sadly we can probably all relate to Michael’s situation, but as you have probably guessed by now, he did not let a few silly little things like time and money keep him down. By doing as much of the fabrication himself (including the process of learning, Michael says he didn’t even know how to weld before he started this car) and with help from friends in key places, he has put together a very clean S13. Michael says that he did about 80% of the build on his own, which is impressive for any DIY-er, especially considering that the end results are damn clean. No matter who you are, you have to appreciate this impressive car.
On the outside, Michael’s coupe is subtle and understated. It’s the kind of car that you might even walk past once and not be immediately grabbed, because it’s not gaudy or flashy. But you’d take a few steps, stop in your tracks, and then realize that what you just walked past is one of the nicest examples of a S13 that you could expect to see. The two-tone Kiwi Green and black paint looks right at home on this car—it has a kind of “era specific” feel that sits well with us. Two-tone isn’t easy to pull off, but this combination works perfectly with an early 90’s sports coupe. The factory Silvia aero (including the “GT-R” grille, a piece which looks much better than the standard Silvia style) and unmistakable gold BBS LM wheels add a lot to the otherwise dull shape of the S13 coupe, as a complete package, the look is stunning. Michael went with a beefy 18x9 and 18x10" sizing for the LM’s, and we’re glad to see a properly sized tire in place. Choosing function over fashion is a welcome sight in this day and age of stanced out show cars. Duties in the handling department are handled courtesy of HKS Hipermak III coilovers, SPL front toe arms, and a R32 Skyline rear sway bar, a modest street-friendly setup. Michael’s S13 is low, but not ridiculously so—no one will look at this car and mistake it for a low-and-slow type of build. Dunlop Star Spec meats have been chosen for their famously high amounts of grip, something that you’ll understand why Michael needs plenty of after opening the hood.