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Nissan JDM 180SX - The Perfect Ten

Is this the craziest 180sx out there? Maybe not. But it was built by our very own staffers.

Jonathan Wong
Dec 7, 2005
Photographer: Wes Allison

Even if you work with or are blessedwith the rare opportunity to form afriendship with Greg Yamamoto, youwill never truly understand the man and his inner workings. A livingcomplexity, the world's angriest Asian (other than Ricky Chu) theman we like to call Yamz is a self-proclaimed narcissist when itcomes to all things automotivebut rightfully so. Hailing from theEast Side of SoCal's San Gabriel Valley, Yamz has built all sorts ofcars ranging from an old school Celica with a Grand National engineto a pristine FC RX-7, and get this: a right-hand-drive Nissan180SX. Yes, the real deal. We suppose this project was more of afluke than anything since Yamz loves to waste his energy and moneyon cars that will most often lose to a Civic, but after hearing endlesschatter about how much was being done to the popular Nissanchassis and its even more popular SR20 engine conversion, hehad to see for himself what the hype was all about.

Before the 180 was in Yamz's possession, the car was slatedto serve as an audio demo car for a friend of his. But the allure ofhaving the actual JDM chassis on hand was much too strong forjust stereo components alone. It not only needed power, but minorbody work also and that's when said friend came to a difficultcrossroad. Should he invest all the time the car needed or had theproject suddenly become more than what he expected? After notmuch deliberation at all, Yamz's friend decided the180 belonged in better handsand sold the car to Yamz. Rightthen you could sense this maniacalfeeling as Yamz twiddled hisfingers with a sheepish grin andbegan pulling every JapaneseSilvia/180SX/SR20DETguide he could find. Thegame, as they say, was on.

Knowing that Nissan 240s were quickly catching on as the newblack, Yamz needed to make sure that his 180 wouldn't fall into thetrap of being just like every other 240 out there. This car had nowbecome part of the Super Street stable of project cars, somethingwhich can be either a blessing or a curse. After much consideration,he felt the exterior could benefit from simple yet aggressiveaero styling and looked to GP Sports for its Build-In kit, which slightlyelongates the body from all aspects and a C-Westin passenger sideheadlight aero duct which allows for more air to be directed to theintake. After the body kit was fitted, Autonetwork not only shavedthe emblems and rear wing holes, but also shaved and filled thebody lines, giving the 180 an extremely smooth look. The lower halfof the car was sprayed with a slightly feminine coating of PorscheViolet Blue Metallic, or as most normal people like to call it: purple(maybe even a very deep periwinkle). The roof retains a black top.

Engine building, like stamp collecting or finding local hangoutswith complimentary bar service, is one of Yamz's favorite pastimes,although up until recently his only experience lay strictly in enginesfrom the Toyota family, a rotary or the odd domestic. Through ourresident SR20 expert, Ricky, and Gary Narusawa from Syko Performance(see That Guy, October '05), that all changed as primemodifications were made to push the SR20 beyond the realm ofthe factory 205 horsepower. At first,the cylinder head was pulled to makeway for a port and polish job from R&DDyno, then was built with Toda valvesprings and retainers and Nismo rockerarm stoppers. Sealing the block andhead together is a Power Enterprise head gasket andthe Toda 264-degree camshafts givegreater power throughout the rpm range,particularly on the high end. Blitz was the company of choice hereand Yamz used its K3T turbo kit in place of the stock T25, incorporatingthe company's blow-off valve, external wastegate, downpipe,LM intercooler and SUS intake. He also used the Realize TTafter-cat exhaust and had the exhaust manifold ceramic-coated byJetHot Coatings to minimize heat within the engine bay. The fuelrail was custom made by Greg and Gary, which required Nismo550cc injectors and an AEM fuel regulator to make all the stainlesslines and trick fittings worthwhile.

While on the subject of one-off wonders, there's also the oil filterrelocator, oil cooler, and a Hansen Chassis oil/coolant catchtank, which is actually a very cool piece of hardware in that it separatesthe coolant from the air bypass. Since the OE SR20 MAFsensor is highly prone to maxing out after reaching higher boostlevels, a Z32 replacement was swapped in and made to fit with aTomei adapter. To fine tune the power, Yamz took the car to DynamicAutosports where Eddie Kim worked his mojo on an A'PEXiS14 Power FC, and although it hasn't reached max power figures,the SR is now capable of delivering upward of 275 horsepower,whereas before it was tuned it had clocked in at only 186 horsepower(he expects final horsepower ratings to land somewherearound 400). And since Yamz is all about adding a personal touchto his cars, he custom fabricated a firewall and various coversthroughout the engine bay out of aluminum, which really needs tobe seen up close to appreciate.

With strong ties to some of the best parts manufacturers in theworld, it came as no surprise that Yamz went to Tein for its suspensionexpertise and left it up to Philip Chase and his go-to technician,Sugano-san, for a custom valved Control Master Type FLEXcoilover setup. With additional damping control through an EDFCcontroller, the FLEX system gives a smooth ride but is stiff enoughto go straight onto a road course without much need for adjustment.Combined with other Tein accessories, such as the tensionand steering rods, this 180SX should have no problem finessingits way through a Time Attack sprint. For additional handling improvements,the well-worn factory tires and wheels were exchangedfor a set of 18x7.5 and 18x8.5 Blitz Technospeed Z1 wheels andmore grippy Falken Azenis tires, but only after converting the frontand rear hubs to 5-lug status. The undersized factory brakeswere also removed to make way for the massive Brembo Gran Turismocalipers while the rear discs were given a direct replacementwith slotted SP Performance rotors.

Blessed with the right-hand-drive configuration, the interior ofYamz's 180SX has been finished in a clean fashion with Bride Ergoreclineable seats and the factory rears, which were reupholsteredusing Bride fabric from the Toyama Group. On the dashboarda custom Bee*R gauge pod houses the Defi BL series gauges,which only faces the driver, so if you're looking to pick up one ofthese for your 240SX, it's not going to work. The carbon fiber shiftand brake covers come from Nagisa Auto while the remaining interiorpieces are a MOMO Jet steering wheel, Blitz shift knob,and Razo pedals. For the occasional jam-out to his obscure 80'sbreakdancing collection or disco house anthems, Yamz pops saidCDs into a Kenwood head unit, which then feeds the music out tothe Rockford Fosgate Punch 45 amps and speakers.

As it stands, Super Street hasn't had a cover-worthy project carthis bad ass in a long time; a car that wasn't put together with outsidehelp, but by our own staffer's hands. The long nights, the bloodspilt, and the constant bad mood swings make this 180SX worthall the headaches it gave to the most un-Japanese-like Japaneseguy. But thisthis is what you get when Yamz is on the case: nothingless than perfection.

By Jonathan Wong
473 Articles

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