We all have personal lists of things we need to do before we bite the dust. To some, getting laid for the first time is a priority, something we really can't hate on since we've given up on that nonsense, to the point where we started a non-profit organization called V4L, better known as Virgins 4 Life. But we digress. To many, especially to those reading this magazine, going 100 mph sideways while small pieces of high-velocity rubber, tire smoke, and the wind blow into your face while a roaring crowd of thousands cheer your name in the background is definitely on top of the list.
This is why most people hate on guys like Ben Schwartz, not because he hails from Orange County, CA, or because he has one of the coolest nicknames ("Big Ben"), but because he has realized, many times over, the dream of cheating death sideways. Getting laid, however, is still questionable for him, seeing that he has one of the nerdiest hobbies ever, but we'll get to that later.
Ben is a professional driver, drifting for Team Falken and sponsored by Sears, which is on its second year of participating in drifting and boasts approximately 900 stores selling the same products Ben uses in his drift car. Sears is so in love with drifting that they plan to continue to throw C.R.E.A.M. into the game for many years to come, with drifters like Ben reaping all the rewards. Plus, they realize how passionate fans and racers are when it comes to this motorsport, which brings us to another reason why people should spit some haterade on Ben. He gets to be sponsored by one of the biggest, most recognizable brands in America, and probably gets free wrenches and flannel shirts. But again, we digress.
The biggest reason why we should definitely throw salt at Ben's game: Not only does he own the Nissan S13 convertible drifting throughout these pages, but he also installed a Honda S2000 engine in it because he thought it would be cool. So it's not enough that he drifts professionally, it's not enough that he's so good at it that he is sponsored by a big name company and it's also not enough that he owns a sick convertible. He had to raise the bar and install one of the most unusual hybrid swaps in the history of unusual hybrid swaps: an F22 engine inside a S13 chassis. Damn him and his talents!
It all started when Ben professed his love for and established his loyalty to Nissans and Hondas. "I love them both equally," he says. "I grew up fixing up and racing Hondas, and when drifting became a part of my life, I fell in love with the ultimate dream car, the Nissan family of 240SXes." So when he crashed the Saturn Sky that he used to drift professionally earlier this year, he was left with nothing but his daily driver to continue to race in Formula D. That daily driver is this S13 convertible.
"I've been driving this car for about three years, and I've wanted to build the car for a while anyway," Ben explains, "So we decided to make it my new competition car." The entire build took a very short two and a half weeks, plenty of caffeine and many sleepless nights. But it was worth it because in the end, Ben and his other employer, Gary Castillo of Design Craft Fabrication, put together the most illest ride since K.I.T.T. rolled out of the semi-truck backwards with The Hoff at the helm. Of course, there were many problems that surfaced during the build. Thankfully, Ben is a certified fabricator and experienced it all firsthand, unlike other drivers who just make like The Hoff and drive.
"The first problem was the S2000 chassis," Ben points out. "It has the steering rack sitting in front of the F22 engine. On the S13 chassis, it sits between the oil pan in the rear. Modifying the shifter to work was also one of the hard parts, because it didn't line up on the S13 shifter hole unless you cut the fire wall. Also, the power steering on an S2000 is electronic, so there is no power steering pump. The 240 is old school and needs a power steering pump. Last, we had a few dismantled S2000 engines so we had to piece one together."
It's hard to believe that these problems even existed, much less got fixed within a short span of two and a half weeks. In other words, I'd like to know what coffee they were drinking to continue at such a fast rate, because that is some hyphy-ass coffee. In the end, the cost to build hasn't been totaled yet. "Let's just say a lot, because an S2000 engine and tranny isn't cheap," laughs Ben. "You figure most of the money went to that since all the fabrication work was done by us."
Inside the S2000 motor, Ben and his team of professional engine builders installed Crower camshafts, valve springs, retainers and crankshaft, going raw like in the nude. Passin' the dutch and relaxin', puffin' and hittin' is a Ben Schwartz custom special exhaust system made out of aluminum. A set of DC Sports custom 4-into-1 headers pull plugs like outlets and put the motor in the mood to flow. Ben also opted for an AEM intake, Okaida Racing coil packs and, lest we forget, a Garret GT28RS turbocharger, better known as the Disco Potato. This muthaflippin' large turbo boosts the convertible into the 350 horsepower range and the 360 lb-ft of torque levels. It's sick, plain and simple.
Handling the handles like Tim Hardaway handles the rock is a set of Kei Office coilovers, which are not only used but also blown. "Jerry Tsai from Pac Rim gave them to me," Ben shakes his head, "The adjustment screws don't even work anymore so I don't even know the settings on the dampers." This is apparently not hampering all his handiwork because he hasn't hit a wall yet in competition. To help roll the drop top through the twists like Chubby Checker is a set of ultra, chika-chika-fresh Work Emotion Kai 18-inch wheels, laying down 9.5-inch wide tracks in the front and 10.5-inch wide in the rear. Naturally, they're covered in Falken tires, using the sticky RT-615 model, which is coupled with some Project brakes to help stop the car on the track and the street. Yes, the street. According to Ben, "It's registered on the street for at least the next two years," which brings us back to Ben. Where will see him in the next two years?
The natural answer is on the track, driving some Sears-sponsored ride, and maybe in the process of helping fabricate an unusual hybrid or two at Design Craft Fabrication. We really don't know, but we do know that Ben, as previously mentioned, may be a card-carrying member of V4L. His nerdy hobby includes playing sweaty, poop-in-your-pants, carpal-tunnel inducing, week-long games of World of Warcraft. It's ironic, really, that even though Big Ben's life as a professional racecar driver and fabricator is one of the most coveted in the industry, it's actually just filled with playing World of Warcraft until your pupils cease to dilate. At any rate, regardless of what he does on his free time, he still boasts a pretty cool job and one of the freshest S13s in all of 240SX land.
Nissan S13 Silvia
OWNER Ben Schwartz
HOMETOWN Mission Viejo, Ca
DAILY GRIND Drifter/Fabricator
POWER 350 hp, 360 lb-ft torque
UNDER THE HOOD 2004 2.2L F22 engine bored 86mm and stroked 91mm with compression ratio 8.86 with a 3mm gasket, buildup done by Design Craft Fabrication, Brian Crower BC0062 camshafts with 512 lift and 310 duration, Crower crankshaft, Crower valve springs, AEM EMS fuel injection, RC fuel injectors, AEM fuel regulator, Walbro in tank fuel pump, AEM air intake, Ben Schwartz custom special aluminum exhaust, DC sports 4-into-1 custom headers, NGK BCPR7 spark plugs, Okaida Racing coil packs, Garret Disco Potato turbo, TiAL turbo wastegate, GReddy core custom intercooler pipes
DRIVETRAIN line KAAZ limited slip differential, Exedy hyper single clutch
ROLLERS Work Emotion Kai 18x9.5 with Falken RT-615 235/40-18 (front); Work Emotion Kai 18x10.5 with Falken RT-615 255/40-18 (rear)
STOPPERS Project Mu front brakesstiff Stuff Kei Office coilovers, Peak Performance bushings
OUTSIDE Julius body kit, Silvia JDM lighting, bodywork done by DCF, Wal-Mart white spray can, GT Stickers & Modern Image
INSIDE Stri Racing oil pressure, fuel pressure, water temp, boost pressure, and tach guages, AEM A/F meter, Sparco seats, custom dash by Design Craft Fabrication, Design Craft Fabrication shifter knob, Saw Zaw brake pedal (automatic conversion), roll cage designed by Design Craft Fabrication
PROPS Gary Castillo from Design Craft Fabrication, Eddie Kim from Peak Performance, Adam Depner, Jeff Lee, Kyong Choi, Young Yoon, Brian Crower from BC, Tree from Falken Tire, Greg Nakano at AEM, Ron Bergenholtz for the turbo, RSR for letting me borrow the engine and my girlfriend for letting me blow our life savings to build this car, my guild from World of Warcraft for getting me some epic gear
CONNECT aempower.com; briancrower.com; exedy.com; falken.com; greddy.com; kaaz.com; mackinindustries.com (Project ); peakperformance.com; sparco.com