Two worlds are colliding in Japan, creating a controversial but exciting type of breed; those that are slammed and can also dominate the drift circuit. As cool as it would be to see on a common basis, the truth is that they blend about as well as oil and water. Track fiends know that dropping cars down to the ground makes it difficult to drive on the daily, especially if you want it to handle right. After that, you have to think wisely about how you alter your car's frame and suspension, not to mention tedious hours of work spent learning how to improve on these parts, which can only be done over time and with a willingness to make mistakes. But that's where these new-school drifters come in and see the challenge as an opportunity to rise above and beyond the norm.
In the southern region of Japan, specifically Hiroshima, there are a lot of serious enthusiasts who are hardcore when it comes to modifying their cars. One crew, Team Bad Quality, is the stuff of legend, and is widely respected because of one of its members, Shuichi Nakagawa. He loves to drive hard and has what might be one of the lowest RPS13s in the country. Though if you saw his ride (like us and countless others on the Internet) simply at an event like Slammed Society, you'd have mistaken it as being another "non-functional accident waiting to happen." Let this be the point where the shit talking stops.
Nakagawa is a master of DIY and the proof is in this RPS13; the elite of the shakotan (super low cars that sport deep-dished wheels) world even know this. In fact, his mission in life has been to produce the "world's greatest shakotan 180SX," something he's been working on since June 2012, and wants to go as low and wide as possible for a drift car. The fender arches have been cut as far up as the hood yet the car still performs as if it were at a more normal height, something that's normally impossible to do at this low of a height. In comes the "cycle fender," which means the inner fenders have been widened to a drum shape. So while the car sits this low, Nakagawa can still shove fat tires (we're talking 215s up front and beefy rear 245s) into the wheel wells while being able to keep the steering and suspension perfectly dialed in. It has enough clearance to achieve an outrageous counter-steering angle and the tires won't hit a single thing as it bumps and drifts around. But don't think this is a simple weekend project: Nakagawa took the front end frame, cut lots of it out and fabricated entirely new parts to help maintain or increase the rigidity of the chassis. Outward appearances alone are deceiving; one couldn't tell how extreme its modifications are, but that's how Nakagawa likes it. Fat tires, light camber and proper alignment all equate to a proper handling drift car.
Nakagawa's SR20DET is fairly stock but has a few bolt-ons to help push it up to 350hp, like a Kin Pro-modified CTS turbo, GReddy intercooler and QUO-NET muffler. The front crossmember was modified to raise the engine by 20mm and works in conjunction with the new cycle fenders. The intake and exhaust manifolds were murdered out for a more unique look and the bay has had all its harnesses tucked for the ultimate in cleanliness. He also installed a low-profile gas tank since ground clearance would become more important, so it not only was raised up but also replaced with a high-temp, polyurethane; it also clears the twin-pipe exhaust that runs right below it.
Style reigns supreme for the shakotan, and so Nakagawa went for a custom-modified Rocket Bunny, his dream body kit, which he had hoped would be the first of its kind on a car of this caliber but Bensopra beat him to the punch. Painting the car in bright, two-tone fluorescent colors almost held him back further but his friends helped out with the bodywork, paint and interior customization to help bring the car together. QUO-NET, the Hiroshima-based shop that's responsible for a lot of the custom work to Nakagawa's 180, says it cost well over $11K USD in fabrication to get it to his liking, and we'd agree that this is money completely well spent.
The way Nakagawa sees it, "Skinny, stretched tires on fat wheels with lots of camber is a thing of the past. Going low and fat is the way to go!" If his style catches on (we're talking proper design and execution), the stance scene could see a proper revival, one that earns them total respect.
Nissan 180SX RPS13
Owner Shuichi Nakagawa
Hometown Hiroshima, Japan
Occupation Drifter, Team Bad Quality
Engine 1993 SR20DET; CTS turbo (modified by Kin Pro); GReddy intercooler and oil cooler; custom QUO-NET muffler and surge tank; Toyota Altezza electric fan
Footwork & Chassis 326Power inverted dampers with 18kg/mm (front) and 16kg/mm (rear) springs; custom QUO-NET rear crossmember, stabilizer bars, front knuckles, front tension rods and subframe; floorpan integrated frame drop (channeling the rear cross frame); 20mm bottom frame trimming; custom cycle front fenders; all frame joints re-welded and reinforced
Wheels & Tires 18x11" -3/18x12" -15 Work Equip wheels; 245/35R18 front Federal tires and 275/35R18 rear Nexen tires
Exterior modified Rocket Bunny body kit
Interior custom fuel tank
Proper Stance: What Industry Pros Think
"I think this is what the industry needs to see. As you know all of my current cars have a focus and are adamantly designed to be useful on the streets of LA, both from a performance aspect and usable end result. I believe and have been doing car stuff long enough to feel that any creative modifications, even with minimal budget should have a singular focus and functionality. For a guy to spend $11,000 on frame and chassis mods so extensive just to have an ultimate drop while functioning as a Pro-Drift car is a very commendable thing. It's also what I had in mind when I secured a budget of about $30K to start with an AE86 frame again to make my eighth AE86 project for Club4AG. As a Japanese enthusiast since the ‘70s, I am sort of past the point where looks and copycat styling exercise isn't my focus. Not to say I had my days in the ‘80s where I tinkered relentlessly to break, bang, crash and dysfunctionalize anything on four wheels, but I am at a point where I can plan well and start with a lasting vision. This Nakagawa (at age 23) is really impressive, as far as creating something this cool." —Moto Miwa, founder of Club4AG
"As both an owner and a driver for a very race-oriented shop, it's stupid when we see cars come in that have been chopped up just to fit some ridiculous fitting wheels on, especially when it's a sports car. It's completely ruined because of that. But here (with Nakagawa's 180), since it's engineered to work, it's cool, whereas most stance guys don't care about suspension or performance. You can still have a car that has good stance and drives well, so don't lose sight of how a car drives."—Mike Chang, Evasive Motorsports