The Nissan you see glimmering across these pages was built by a former lowrider, whose first built ride was an '85 El Camino. But our hero's carbureted days of hopping, scrapping, and sending sparks flying reside only in his memories.
Mark Real of Makakilo, Hawaii, left the land of the domestics for this 240SX S13 with the help of two mind-altering epiphanies: His first took place at the Hawaii Raceway Park, when he saw Paul Umholtz make a shakedown pass in a Civic. This speed-induced pass prompted Mark to start racing, which then opened his eyes to the importance of imports. Mark's second epiphany came later, as he discovered the importance of friendship and the price of a build.
On the scene it was the big H that caught Mark's imagination. He built up several EF-chassis cars, including the almost-obligatory CRX, an EK Civic coupe, and a DA Integra coupe. Good times. But, a few years down the road, Hawaii Raceway Park was to play a further part in Mark's life before its untimely demise. Mark went for a ride in a friend's S14 during a drift session. "I was hooked," he said, "I denied the feeling for almost a year, going to private track sessions, driving friends' cars, and riding along. Then I caved."
After the Aloha State's '06 Streetcar Showoff, Mark parted with his Civic and bought this '90 S13. With it came a change of approach. "I've always loved old-school cars," Mark said. "It's easy to make a new car look good with the help of eBay. [With an old car] it's more of a challenge. That was my philosophy with Hondas. For this Nissan, it was just to bust something out that would look out of place."
Mark wanted to go against the grain of what he felt was a predictable S-chassis tuning scene. Although he has an SR20DET engine, Bride seats (Zeta III), and OE five-lug wheel conversions, he wanted to bring some of his drag racing past with him; so he used harnesses from G-Force instead of the usual Takata. Where Defi gauges would normally be, Mark's S13 sports Auto Meter items-boost, water temp, oil temp, oil pressure, and volts-all scavenged from his drag Civic. "I envisioned something out of the ordinary. If it could be made, I made it, or had it made. The point was to be different without looking whack," he said.
Whatever qualities or quirks Mark might have, he is flexible and open to ideas. His original plan was to call it quits after installing black 5Zigen wheels, a carbon-fiber hood and trunk, dark tint, and a black cage-until he found himself on the losing end of a disagreement with a curb, resulting in a broken subframe, plus damage to an axle and a lower control arm. It was then that friend and chief collaborator on this project, Jerry Fuentes, suggested going all out. And so began four months of building madness.
In went an SR20DET. Then another. The first engine had a spun bearing. The second had cracked ring lands and bent valves. Snyders Machine Works did some overhauling and during that time, Mark and Jerry stripped the car down and "just went nuts. We were anywhere and everywhere," he said.
Inside he added a Safety 21 seven-point rollcage, which was joined by an A'PEXi AVCR boost controller, a Sparco Monza wheel with a quick-release adapter, and a Pioneer audio system. On the underside of the Seibon double-vented hood is some cool graffiti, supplied by Kent from Drift Apparel/Imagery Graphics, who also did the funky lettering on the car's flanks.
More visible are the Vertex replica front and rear bumpers and side skirts, a Silvia nose, BMagic over fenders (20mm front, 50mm rear), which give the car a wider stance, 5000k HID headlamps, Chuki turn signals, and some unknown aero mirrors that a friend brought back from Japan. "They were free, so I wasn't going to complain and ask what brand," Mark said.
For pounding the roads of Oahu, this Nissan sports 18x10 Work VSKF wheels with a -6mm offset. Once trackside, these get switched for 5Zigen FN01Rs, 17x10 front and rear, running a +12mm offset. His other option-Mark admits to being a wheel whore-is a set of Rays Engineering Gram Lights 57S one-piece 17x9.5 cast wheels also with a +12mm offset. For street use, this ride rolls on 225/40-18 Federal 595 tires. When the race wheels go on, they wear 235/45-17 Falken Azenis.
Behind the front wheels are 30mm brake calipers from a 300ZX, which bite onto Brembo 11-inch rotors and stainless steel braided lines courtesy of Agency Power; the rear brakes remain stock-so far.
Working further in and up finds Battle Version rear upper control arms, forward links, front tension rods and rear toe links, Tein tie rods, and Function camber plates. Also from Function are the coilovers (Type I), with spring rates of 9kg up front and 8kg out back, while Tanabe braces link the strut towers at each end.
Mark's day gig as a respiratory therapist student probably didn't influence his choice of a GReddy intake manifold, JF SPL air intake and 3-inch exhaust (with a divorced O2 housing and dump tube), but they're good calls anyway. As are the Megan Racing turbo manifold, Tomei rocker arm stoppers, and the Real-Time Fabrication valve cover. The JF SPL brand will be unfamiliar to most readers. It stands for Jerry Fuentes Special.
Other GReddy parts include a Type R blow-off valve, oil pan and oil filter relocation kit. On the list of engine bay augmentations performed by Mark, aided and abetted by Jerry are Real-Time Fabrication radiator diversion panels, an A'PEXi head gasket, an HKS wastegate, a Magnaflow fuel regulator, a Walbro 255lph fuel pump, NGK BKR7E spark plugs, an all-aluminum Koyo radiator, a JF SPL intercooler and pipes, and an Earl's oil cooler. They also put the battery under the dash, along with the relocated fuse box.
Those years working on Hondas also allowed Mark to swap out the bulky Nissan wiring harness for a more streamlined one consisting of Honda wires and plugs. Running stock bore and stroke, with stock cams and 14.5 psi of boost, estimates put the current 2.0L engine at producing 280 hp. This power goes through an Exedy lightweight flywheel and Hyper Single clutch, into a stock S13 five-speed manual gearbox with a B&M short shifter, then out to a Nismo two-way limited-slip differential shrouded by a JDM rear differential cover. Real-Time Fabrication came up trumps again with polyurethane-filled transmission and engine mounts.
After a paintjob of Urban Green from Napa Crossfire, again carried out by Mark and the faithful Jerry, this car scored Second Place in the '07 Streetcar Showoff. But of course, it didn't come easy. There was a scramble to get the bodywork done in between bouts of rain; nevertheless they got the job done.
Most of Mark's choices stem from wanting to keep this project as simple as possible, to go with what works. Still, he said the cost of the build was "too much." The car's estimated value is put at around $15,000, a serious sum for most people, but especially for a full-time student. Which is why he did so much of the work himself-with the aid of some good friends.
Friendship is important to Mark. During this build, his friends would drop what they were doing and come help. In fact, Mark and his friends put this car together in two and a half days to make it to this photo shoot.With parts of the car still stock, there's plenty of scope for upgrading, and Mark has his sights on a full-race, top-mount turbo with an Autronic standalone ECU. He's hoping his friends will be there to, yet again, help with the build.
Behind The BuildHead to the message boards at www.importtuner.com to chat about this feature vehicle
Name. Mark Real
Hometown. Makakilo, Hawaii
Occupation. Full-time student(respiratory therapist)
Hobbies. (other than cars)photography; air soft
Build time. Four months
Quote."Everything happens for a reason."
'90 Nissan 240sx
Output 280 hp with 14.5 psi boost (estimated)
Wire tucked SR20DET motor; GReddy oil pan, intake manifold, Type R m exhaust, intercooler, intercooler piping; Megan manifold; Realtime Fabrications valve cover, radiator diversion panel; APEX'i AVC-R boost controller, head gasket; Earl's oil cooler, braided lines; Walbro fuel pump; relocated battery and fuse box
B&M short shifter; Nismo two-way LSD; JDM S13 rear diff cover
Function Type I coilovers; Battle Version arms, links; OEM five-lug conversion; Tanabe front and rear upper strut bar
Work VSKF, 57s Gram Lights 57S, 5zigen FN01R, Federal 595 225/40, Falken Azenis 235/45
300ZX 30mm calipers; Brembo 11-inch rotors (front and back)
Vertex front bumper, side skirts, rear bumper; BMagic overfenders (20mm front, 50mm rear); JDM Silvia front end; Chuki turn signals; Seibon double-vented hood
Bride Zeta III seats; Safety 21 seven-point cage; G-Force racing harness; Auto Meter gauges; A'PEXi turbo timer; Sparco Monza wheel with quick release; dildo shift knob
Mark would like to thank: Maggie my girlfriend for supporting my hobby and encouraging me to finish, Speed Syndicate crew-especially Jerry Fuentes, Mike Valdez and L: Rival from Explicit Visuals, David Early Jr., Kent from Drift Apparel/Imagery Graphics, Troy-boy, the Baller Nation, Stephen aka wrecklessS14, Yosh at Ron's Performance, Forrest Wang for the mad hook-ups, and to anyone else I forgot-sorry there's just so many of you that help in every little way.