In this car life, it's almost guaranteed that the car brand you choose first becomes the team you bat for. If you've saved every picture of an AE86 and have fantasized about driving it down windy roads and calling yourself Fujiwara, then you'll find some way to get an AE86 in your possession. The car becomes your gun and you stick to it. In Andy Cheng's case, one might assume his loyalty to Nissan has been years in the making; you'd probably never guess that he once preached the Honda gospel. He's owned a Civic EG, an EK and a CRX with a B16, but sold every one of them and used the money he made to first pay off his tuition and then cross over to the Dark Side for a little rear-wheel driving pleasure.
There was no better time than the turn of the new millennium to seize the opportunity since 240's were still left untouched by mostly everyone. Andy wouldn't have to fork out much money either, to pick up his first Nissan, an S13 coupe that he dropped an SR20DET into. Shortly after he graduated from college, he found himself working for a company that could easily serve his horsepower needs-HKS became his home and his S13 became a test bed for many of the parts that HKS was starting to bring over as a result of the increasing popularity of the 240. He wound up selling the S13 soon after for a newer S14, taking his SR20 addiction to new heights.
Once the S14 was his, Andy went for a clean approach, although we think he's being too modest when he says "it's not that crazy of a car." Each mod and the time spent to tune them focused on producing a nice, linear torque curve. The previous owner had installed a S14 SR20DET Kouki motor, so he pulled the cylinder head and prepped it with HKS' Step 2 head components, which includes valve springs, rocker arms and retainers. He then installed HKS rocker arm stoppers and the 264-duration camshafts before putting it back onto the block. Combined with the GT2835R HKS turbo and increased boost, he was able to pull another 70 hp and 53 lb-ft, adding improvements to the curve overall. A 1.2mm head gasket drops the compression of the motor, making it a safer platform to boost with, and the 740cc injectors feed it the much needed fuel in order to operate efficiently. The exhaust is a combination of off-the-shelf HKS parts and some pieces you'll never be able to order unless you have mad flow to drop, namely a Limited Edition Dragger exhaust, downpipe and Racing Metal Catalyzer.
With a seriously built motor, Andy buffed up the transmission, employing an HKS GD Max twin-plate clutch along with a Nismo 1.5-way limited-slip differential to transfer the power evenly to the wheels. Using HKS' F-Con V Pro engine management unit and EVC boost controller to fine tune, HKS' tech wiz, Jon Kuroyama was able to extract a total of 371.17 hp and 308.19 lb-ft at the wheels on their in-house dyno, using 1.25 bar of boost. Andy says, "The best mod for me was adding the cams. The turbo alone would have been fun if it was straight line acceleration but once the boost kicked in, it really pushed you into the back of your seat. The midrange I gained from the cams and tuning for the smooth torque curve was better for the corners even though it added power up top and in the midrange. The car seemed easier to handle and I didn't have to worry about the power coming on too strong-that really gave me more confidence behind the wheel."
After the power he wanted had been realized, Andy then worked on the looks of his S14. One benefit of working at HKS is that he's been able to form friendships with some of HKS' best customers, including D1 driver and Vertex president, Takahiro Ueno. "I didn't expect to go so big with the Vertex Ridge kit," Andy says. "I always liked it, but never thought about getting one. One night after eating with Ueno, he saw my car in the parking lot and offered one to me as a gift." We're not sure exactly what Andy had to do to get the body kit, but as long as it's nothing sukebe then it's a damn fine present no matter which way you look at it. But before he could install the body kit, he had to upgrade the front end and taillights to the '97-spec Kouki S14. Once that was completed, he also added a Vertex lip spoiler and canards.
Next he worked on tightening up the suspension, where he used HKS Hipermax Performer coilovers and tons of pieces from Kazama, including front tension rods, rear upper arms, rear toe arms and rear subframe spacers. Do-Luck stepped in with front and rear ladder bars and Nismo was the company of choice for the antisway bars and front power brace. To emulate the style of the drivers he looked up to, like Ueno and even NOB Taniguchi, Andy decided even the wheels had to be of the highest caliber. So he purchased a set of super rare, D1-edition gunmetallic Super Advan Version 2 wheels, sized 18x9 and 18x10 and wrapped with AVS ES100 rubber from Yokohama.
The stock S14 brakes were swapped out for 300Z Z32 calipers, but needed a serious makeover, so he opted for the forged brake kit from Project , which now comes with a larger four-piston caliper, two piece rotor and stainless steel brake lines. Inside the mods are light, but it suits Andy's quest for cleanliness. A Vertex steering wheel takes the place of the factory unit and attaches to a Splash quick-release hub. Both OE seats were replaced with Brix 2 seats from Bride and an Eclipse navigation head unit kicked the factory radio to the curb.
Although we'd like to end this story on a high note, we can't. Andy recently sold his S14 and we're not really sure what's next on his agenda. Perhaps it will be with Nissan's vainglorious return to the GT-R kingdom, or maybe a B-spec car? So far that's all he's hinted to us, but if they wind up becoming anything like the S14, you can guarantee another masterpiece in these pages real soon.
Owner Andy Cheng
Hometown Torrance, California
Daily Grind Marketing Manager at HKS USA
Power 371.17 hp with 308.19 lb-ft at 1.25 bar (dyno tuned, at the wheels)
Under The Hood 2.0L S14 SR20DET Kouki motor; HKS GT2835R turbo, 264 cams, stainless steel manifold replacement, Step 2 head system (valve springs, rocker arms, retainers), rocker arm stoppers, exhaust cam gear, 1.2mm head gasket, R-Type intercooler, SSQV blow-off valve, Super Mega Flow intake with SPL 100mm suction pipe, Limited Edition Dragger exhaust, downpipe, Racing Metal Catalyzer, 740cc injectors, adjustable fuel pressure regulator, fuel pump, Twin Power ignition, Super Fire spark plugs, D1 Limited Edition oil cap/radiator cap/radiator hoses; Yashio Factory extension housing; Nismo engine and transmission mounts, low temp thermostat housing; Koyo radiator; ARC oil pan; Cusco oil catch can; FAL dual electric fans
Drivetrain HKS GD Max twin plate clutch; C's short shifter; Nismo 1.5-way LSD, clutch line, clutch pivot and clutch slave
Brains HKS F-Con V Pro, EVC limited black boost controller, I/F unit
Stiff Stuff HKS Hipermax Performer coilovers; Kazama front tension rods, front tie rods, rear upper arms, rear toe arms, rear subframe spacers; Do-Luck front/rear ladder bar; Nismo front/rear sway bars and Power brace
Stoppers Project Sports forged brake kit and rear brake pads; slotted rear rotors; stainless steel brake lines
Rollers 18x9 and 18x10 Super Advan Version 2 wheels; Yokohama AVS ES100 235/35R18 and 255/45R18 tires
Outside Vertex Ridge body kit, lip spoiler and canards; '97 Kouki front-end conversion and taillights
Inside Vertex steering wheel; Bride Brix 2 seats; Splash quick-release steering hub; Optima Yellow battery relocated to the trunk
Ice Eclipse navigation unit