The term "style" is always an interesting topic of discussion amongst automotive enthusiasts. You can ask any number of people and they will all give you varying descriptions of what they define as style. It often sparks arguments as well because enthusiasts just can't simply come to an agreement of what is good taste. What many people forget, however, is that style is purely subjective. What you like may not be what the other person likes and vice versa. The dawn of the Internet-age, and specifically social media, has really blurred the lines of subjectivity. People no longer sit back and listen to what the other has to say; instead, they just speak. Rarely do people value the opinion of others—they just want their opinion out first because they must have their say. The biggest problem that exists today is that people lack any sort of understanding (and common courtesy) for their fellow man.
Within the tuner community, "style" has become a template. Enthusiasts years ago created the archetype of what many today see as "style" and if you stray from that, you're committing blasphemy. Any attempt to try something different from the norm gets you ostracized, which is a shame really. The whole idea behind modifying cars in the beginning was to create something completely your own. When did we lose that? Today, we are stuck creating something of our own that isn't our own at all. You change a color accent, switch out a part and then all of a sudden, it's considered "original." There's nothing wrong with conformity, however, and if that's the road you choose, then so be it. But why be like everyone else? Generate some heat. After all, a little controversy never hurt anyone, right?
Kyle Ranauro is no stranger to controversy; in fact, every car he's built has sparked a bit of talk. He's a different type of guy that is into cars just like the rest of us—except he prefers the road less traveled. Take a moment now to look at his 1991 Nissan 240SX. Some of you will dig it, most will hate, a few will offer the typical "car is cool but the wheels kill it," and many more just won't understand it. It bears styling cues from many different genres of automotive modifications that when combined, create a very unique profile unlike many of the Nissan S-chassis builds we're accustomed to seeing. Kyle's S13 is also executed in a way that it would be relevant in Japan's ever-thriving car culture. Here in the States, there are only a select few who can really appreciate the method to Kyle's madness. It's a love/hate thing with this S13; you either appreciate the hell out of all the work invested or despise it. If you are the latter, that's completely normal because his previous two builds (both Nissan S-chassis as well) generated a similar reaction.
"I've always loved the S-chassis," Kyle says. "I've built an S14 as well as (an S13) coupe, but the hatchback in particular was a platform that I really wanted to mod. There was a vision that I had for a very long time of how the car would come together and I just wanted it to come to fruition. I worked on and off on this car over the course of six years, but a trip to Japan awhile back really helped to change my perspective. What I noticed was how different their tuning culture was; the enthusiasts there were less critical of one another and people seemed to be very willing to take risks. Their open-mindedness was refreshing and really motivating."
Ranauro's inspiration from Japan was equaled only by his admiration of American muscle and Lowriders growing up. The challenge for his hatchback was to mesh the various worlds together to create something entirely uncommon. When the time came to start putting it all together, he soon realized that incorporating the different styling elements wouldn't be the problem. As Kyle explains, "I encountered obstacles every step of the way. A lot of it had to do with how low I wanted to drive the car and how big of wheels I wanted to run. It's uncommon for S-chassis guys to run 18/19-inch stagger on these cars but it was a look I was dead-set on having. It was just difficult to keep the car as low as possible while still having the wheels tuck. My patience was definitely tested; I had issues with the C/V axles binding, being either too short or too long, the suspension itself binding, breaking tie rod ends, centering the power steering rack, etc. It was a nightmare. I should add that I was also doing all this work out of my garage."
To accomplish the exact look that he had envisioned while still keeping the functionality of the vehicle, Ranauro devoted time into cutting the rear fender well and re-welding sections of it to get more wheel clearance. All four shock towers were hammered, folded and stitch-welded to provide room underneath so that the S13 could still turn lock-to-lock while planted to the floor. Even the frame rail was made slightly thinner by cutting and re-welding it to maintain its structure. Camber adjustments and everything related to holding the suspension together is made possible by various components from Parts Shop Max, Ikeya Formula and Megan Racing.
Sitting over the front and rear Work Schwert SC4 wheels are authentic (and rare) BN Sports Type 4 blister fenders from Japan. These FRP pieces give the S13 a much stouter, aggressive facade and the rears have even been bowed-out an additional 15mm just to house the 19x10.5" wheels. The most distinctive aesthetic alteration is undoubtedly the rear hatch, which is from BN Sports as well. After seeing the "Ferrari" hatch in photos years ago, Kyle knew that he had to acquire one for his build. He scoured the web night after night before eventually landing the discontinued part. His joy turned to grief when it arrived in America broken in half. "I was devastated," he remembers. "I could blame the seller or the shipping company, but what it came down to was that I was unlikely to ever find another BN Sports Ferrari hatch. It is such a rare and obsolete piece so I had to suck it up and repair it myself." Completing the BN Sports package is still an ongoing struggle for Ranauro, as he has yet to be able to source an authentic kit. In its place at the moment is a VIS Racing BN Sports replica, a "B Speed" aero kit. He will be the first to admit that it doesn't fit the greatest, but it will have to do for now until he can unearth a complete kit from Japan.
The one-off louvered hood created a conundrum of its own. Being that such large sections of the hood had to be cut out for the louvered panels, the frame ran this risk of becoming too thin, ultimately causing the hood to fold or twist. He had to call upon the expertise of sheet metal designer, Rod Louvers who knocked the hood out in one sitting. When we asked Kyle why he chose to go with this specific design for the front of his car, his reply simply was, "I just really like louvers." Touche, Kyle. Touche.
You would think that with such a strong Japanese influence that it would almost be a lock that he has a SR20DET Silvia motor under the louvers—but that is not the case. The heart of this S13 is a turbocharged KA24DE. For those inquiring, it isn't turbocharged with some random kit either, just so Kyle can say that it was boosted because he couldn't afford an SR-swap. His KA is built and assembled to handle some punishment. The Sly Alviar-assembled cylinder head has been upgraded with Jim Wolf Technology cams and valvetrain components from Supertech, Isky Racing and NISMO. The 2.4-liter block holds custom JE pistons, Carrillo connecting rods with Calico-coated rings and a modified factory crankshaft. Kyle's KA block has also been O-ringed for maximum sealing to ensure that it can handle the high stresses of boost. The Garrett 3070 turbine helps to get this motor well above 400 horsepower (475whp to be exact) with the assistance of precise tuning from Jim Wolf Technology. "After building this KA motor, I don't think I'll ever mess with an SR20 swap again. I love the power, torque and most importantly, the reliability."
Kyle Ranauro has been the subject of hate fodder ever since his first S-chassis build, but he's taken it all in stride. What he has learned over the years is that you can't ever please anyone but yourself so there's no reason to give into people's expectations. Personal style is exactly that: personal. Build a car in your vision and create for the satisfaction of one's self, not for the approval of others. We feel that this Fiat Verde Chiaro-toned street sweeper is exactly what the community needs. It helps to inject some new life into a scene that is becoming increasingly "cookie-cutter."
1991 Nissan 240SX Hatchback
Hometown Huntington Beach, CA
Occupation Independent Contractor for Lo Jack Corporation
Engine 2.4L Nissan KA24DE; Jim Wolf Technology C78 camshafts and cam gears; Supertech VQ35 valves; ISKY valve springs; NISMO titanium retainers, 740cc fuel injectors and engine mounts; OEM Z32 12mm head bolts and MAF sensor; Ed Pink machined engine block; custom-spec JE Pistons; Calico-coated piston rings; Carillo connecting rods; modified factory crankshaft; APEX'i Power Intake; Xcessive Manufacturing intake manifold; Walbro 255lph fuel pump; Tomei 185002 Type L fuel pressure regulator; JGS cast turbo manifold; custom exhaust system; Magnacore spark plug wires; NGK-R spark plugs; MSD Digital 6a ignition control box and Blaster SS ignition coil; custom ignition coil heat shield by Jason Fisher; Garrett 3070 .86ar turbocharger; custom turbo elbow, intercooler piping, downpipe and oil pan; HKS blow-off valve; TiAL 44mm wastegate; GReddy Spec R intercooler; Setrab 25-row oil cooler; Summit oil filter relocation kit and thermostat switch; K&N oil filter; Koyorad 52mm aluminum radiator; ISIS blue silicone cooling hoses; Flex-A-Lite electric fans; custom engine harness, harness bracket and throttle body pulley
Drivetrain NISMO mechanical 2-way LSD; Jim Wolf Technology high pressure plate, 1-sided metal disk and 11lb aluminum racing flywheel
Engine Management Blitz SBC-iD sequential boost controller; Jim Wolf Technology ROM tune and program flash
Footwork & Chassis Parts Shop Max Competition coilovers, front camber plates, rear camber plates, rear camber control arms, rear toe control arms, max knuckles and rear subframe solid riser bushings; H&R 14kg/12kg springs; Carbing front strut bar; Cusco rear strut bar; Megan Racing front lower control arms and rear lower control arms; Ikeya Formula front tie rods; TEIN outer tie rod ends; Kazama rear traction rods; Prothane suspension bushings; Canton baffled power steering reservoir; DIF steering rack linkage bushing; modified rear fender wells, front frame rail and front/rear side shock tower aprons
Brakes OEM Z32TT front/rear brake calipers and brake pads; DIF Z32-to-S13 conversion brake lines; Wilwood brake proportioning valve; Chasebays master cylinder plate and interior brake line kit
Wheels & Tires 18x9.5" +/-0/19x10.5" +/-0 Work Schwert SC4 wheels; Federal 595 Super Steel 215/35R18 and 225/35R19 Federal 595 Super Steel tires; custom wheel lip pinstriping by Manny's Auto Art; Muteki chrome lug nuts
Exterior VIS B Speed aero kit; BN Sports "Ferrari" hatch, BN Sports Type 4 blister fenders; OEM hood w/custom louvers; OEM corner light delete; Dupont Fiat Verde Chiaro paint; Type-X Altezza-style taillights
Interior Autopower 6-point rollcage; Bride Zeta XL FRP driver's seat and FG seat rails; OEM S14 Zenki passenger seat; Nardi steering wheel; MOMO steering hub; NRG steering wheel quick release; Crystal shift knob; custom instrument display panel; Odyssey PC680MJ-A battery relocated under passenger seat; Autometer ES Series tachometer, digital fuel pressure water temperature, mechanical boost and mechanical oil pressure gauges
Thanks You My Mom and Pop; my Aunt Frannie; all my friends-Paul, Frank, Alyssa, Ryan, Young, June, Jason and Ian for keeping me going and helping my bad habits; Sly Alviar; Clark Down at Jim Wolf Technology; Steve Millen; Jason Fisher; Manny; Mike Filion at ProDesign; Allen Hsu at Work Wheels USA; Bryan, Bernabe, Santiago and Fernando at Dr. Detail