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1996 Nissan 240SX SE - Living The Dream

See How This American Tore Drifting A New Corn Hole

Abigail Baker
Jul 1, 2008
Photographer: James Pickett
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Unless you're rocking serious flow these days, dream cars somehow remain just that: dreams. And until you cash in with that winning lottery ticket, most are stuck with more realistic dream cars; the kind that three minimum wage jobs and a steady diet of ramen noodles can afford. Vaughn Gittin, Jr. knows this kind of dream very well and sees it realized as his daily-driven Nissan 240SX S14.

"JR" always saw the S14 as one of the strongest S-chassis, a drift car for the dominant male, and it was always the hotter commodity against the S13, which made the S14 too expensive for this baller on a budget to afford. So he did the next best thing: He went out and bought the Pamela Anderson sex tape instead.

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Alas, this was a few years ago and we fast forward ourselves to the present. After six years of drifting professionally in a S13 and Falken's Mustang, Vaughn decided he was ready to build his dream car. He purchased his unicorn, an S14 that had already been swapped with the ever-so-popular SR20DET for mere chump change at $7K. It was a decent car, he decided, and would be great to use as his East Coast practice/demo car since his infamous S13 and Falken were being housed on the West. The S14 was delivered to his house by the seller the night of one of his notorious Drift Alliance parties. "I jumped in the car, did some burnouts down the street, and cut the kid a check," says Vaughn.

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Excited to begin work on this bad boy, Vaughn took the car to his shop in Baltimore, Mid-Atlantic Motorsports (AKA MA-Motorsports). Vaughn and the rest of the boys at MA came up with a game plan that started simple-put a new cage in it, slap some paint on it and run it like they stole it. Being the patriotic American that he is, not to mention the only American to win a D1GP event back-to-back, Vaughn stuck with an American theme when it came to painting his S14. To prep the car for paint, the interior and engine bay was gutted before it was sent away to the paint shop. Once the car was painted and the Origin bodykit installed for its big ugly duckling to beautiful swan makeover, Vaughn looked deep inside the car like Dr. Phil digging deep into the mind of pregnant 17-year-old Jamie Lynn Spears, realizing that it was horribly built. "It just wasn't something I would be proud of if I had left it unloved," says Vaughn. Now it needed more than just a paint job; it needed a full-blown rebuild.

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Not only did JR decide to paint his S14 our nation's colors, but he wanted to prove that this car could run hard by using as many American-made products as possible, which make up roughly 80-percent of the parts used in this Japanese car. He says, "I just wanted to show that American aftermarket companies have come so far to build quality parts that rival the Japanese products known best." The crank, bearings, rods, pistons, valves and valve springs-every internal part-were made in the land of the free and the home of the brave. The ECU of this patriotic piece was made in the 10th state admitted into this country, good ol' Virginia. All of the metal fab work was handmade at MA-Motorsports in Maryland, where the crabs are aplenty-and I'm not talking about the kind you got from the "escort" you were with last night. So with all this American pride set in place, Vaughn sketched out a new game plan to build the lightest drift car possible while maintaining the highest level of safety. With Vaughn as the captain of the vessel, he decided it would be used for both drifting and time attack, so he needed the car to be safe for high speeds but also nimble for good handling. He says, "Ray 'Master Shake' Shake of MA, the man responsible for tuning the Electromotive TEC GT, gave me a simple recipe for cooking up this car: powerful, lightweight and great traction-which are the keys to going fast. The rest of the work would be fine-tuning both the car and driver to extract the full potential of the two and make the man and machine work together as one."

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The POS cage was ripped out, the car was spot-welded to reinforce the chassis, and tubs were made for the front to allow for extra steering angle-not to mention they just look rad. Master Shake, along with Brian Wilkerson of MA, built the S14 a NASCAR-style cage to fit Vaughn's buffness; the left-side door bars of the cage were built to go inside of the door "NASCAR style" so that Vaughn's arms would never hit them.


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Once the chassis was prepped for its heart transplant, AHM Performance from Baltimore machined, balanced and assembled the fully built motor by using a Brian Crower 2.2 liter stroker kit including stage 2 cams, rods, crank, valves, valve springs and retainers. The MA-Motorsport's solid lash kit deleted the troublesome factory hydraulic lifters and allowed the car to rev to over 9500 rpm. This S14 has probably the only real JUN intake manifold that has ever been seen in America. For those of you who know what JUN is, I'm sure you've got yourself a little chubby right now. For the transmission, Vaughn decided to go with a MAZWORX 300ZX Z32 gearbox conversion. For those hard yet smooth engaging shifts, an Exedy twin-disk carbon clutch was used to give a bit of slip and keep the transmission from exploding every time he banged a gear-is it just me, or is it getting hot it here?

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Bringing this stunning S14 some serious pep to its step is the Bullseye Power S256 turbo with extended tip technology-bringing a whole new meaning to "just the tip." This powerful turbo sits on a top-mount Full-Race turbo manifold. The sweet sound that makes the panties drop is made via a Turbo Smart BOV accompanied by a Turbo Smart wastegate. Controlling the boost of this monster is a WORLD Electronics TBC-1 touchscreen boost controller. "Besides the American flag on the valve cover, my favorite part of this car has to be the radiator support-it was handmade by Brian of MA," Vaughn said. "He probably spent six hours making it. It's a beautiful piece that you definitely won't see anywhere else."

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In the trunk there is a fuel swirl pot so that the car never starves for fuel-in drifting, this is very important. The low-pressure Bosch fuel pump feeds the flux capacitor, which feeds another Bosch high pressure pump, filling the MA-Motorsports custom fuel rail, providing plenty of C16 for this monster to devour. The S14 is equipped with both a Setrab oil cooler and power steering cooler. The custom radiator and intercooler setup was made by Griffin. Basically, the intercooler wraps around the radiator to ensure first that the short pipes stay straight, never blowing off; second, it allows the intercooler to be moved back in case Vaughn decides to give his tandem buddies a lil' love tap.

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To help Vaughn's American dream car stop on the track, he's using Rotora six-piston brakes in the front and has a 300ZX brake conversion in the back. Vaughn opted for AME wheels, 18x10 rear, 18x9 front. The centers are powder-coated candy apple chrome. Ready to be destroyed by the clutch-kicking foot of Vaughn are the RT615 Falken Tires. The sweet red, white and blue graphics were made by Speeddesign Custom Graphics. The trunk, hood and doors are all Seibon carbon fiber and the internal door skins are Origin carbon door panels. "When I was in the shop cutting the door panels with the bandsaw to fit around the cage, there was a kid in the shop that just couldn't believe we were cutting these door panels in half," says Vaughn. "Those are the kinds of things you have to do when you're drifting-it's not a show car!"All the aluminum on the interior, dash and casings were handmade by Ben Freed of MA-Motorsports. The gauges are all Autometer and the steering wheel is from Sparco. Hugging Vaughn's thighs like Chris Forsberg's tight pants is a set of Buddy Club P1 racing Special Edition Racing seats.

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Once the car was finally together, Vaughn put it on the dyno at MA-Motorsports. The first time it hit the rev limiter, some rocker arms blew off. The boys, you could say, were a tad more than a little POed because they had been working all night to finish up the car. It turns out they were using the wrong rev limiter; it was too harsh on the engine, causing the timing chain to pop back, knocking off a rocker arm and causing damage to the head. The boys fixed the car and got it back on the dyno where the S14 pulled 477 whp, 546 whp if tuned on a Dynojet, on a low boost setting of 22 lb.

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Vaughn's S14 is not a "cookie cutter" mail-order-the-part-and-bolt-it-on car; it's far from it. In fact, 90-percent of the car was hand fabricated from scratch by MA-Motorsports with an attention to detail that rivals many show cars. It was built for a very specific purpose: to be a challenging car to learn to drive for one of the most skilled drivers in the world. It's a car built to break track records, crush the competition during tandem battles drifting and can still look slick and sexy with every nook and cranny clean enough to eat apple pie off of.

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Fast Facts
'96 Nissan 240SX SE
Owner Vaughn Gittin, Jr.
Hometown Glen Burnie, MD
Daily Grind Demolisher of Falken Tires
Power 500-plus whp

Under The Hood SR20DET engine; Bullseye Power S256 turbo; TurboSmart BOV and wastegate; Brian Crower 2.2 stroker kit, stage 2 cams, valves, valve springs and retainers; JE pistons, MA-Motorsport solid lash kit and fuel rail; JUN intake manifold, Turbo Smart fuel regulator, Bosch 044 fuel pump, MA-Motorsports fuel rail, Buddy Club exhaust, Full-Race header, Bosch spark plugs, custom Griffin intercooler and radiator, WORLD-Electronics TBC-1 boost controller, Setrab oil cooler, Trust oil pan

Drivetrain MAZWORX 300ZX conversion, Kaaz 1.5 LSD, Exedy Carbon twin disc clutch

Brains Electromotive TEC GT

Rollers 18x10 AME wheels with Falken RT615 tires (front), 18x9 AME wheels with Falken RT615 tires (rear)

Stoppers Rotora 6 Piston brakes (front), 300ZX brake conversion (rear)

Stiff Stuff KW coilovers, front tubs, stitch-welded chassis, MA-Motorsports rollcage with NASCAR-style door bars, MA-Motorsports custom bushings, Battle Version suspension arm

Outside Origin Aggressive body kit, graphics by Speed Design, trunk, hood and doors are Seibon carbon fiber

Inside Buddy Club P1 Limited Edition seats, Autometer gauges, Sparco steering wheel, Origin carbon-fiber door panels

Props Brian, Ray and Ben of MA-Motorsports; Chris of AHM Performance; the boys of Drift Alliance; Eric Davis for all his help; my girlfriend, Abby, for not bitching at me for being at the shop 'til 4 a.m. every night and my family at Falken Tire

WWW alpinestars.com; autometer.com; blauplunkt.com; bosch.us; briancrower.com; buddyclub.us; bullseyepower.com; driftalliance.com; driveshaftshop.com; exedyusa.com; falkentire.com; griffinradiator.com; hosetech.net; jepistons.com; knfilters.com; kw-suspension.com; mamsparts.com; origin-lab.com; seiboncarbon.com; speeddesigngraphics.com; turbosmart.com; vaughngittin.com; world-electronics.com

By Abigail Baker
1 Articles

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