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1992 Nissan 240SX SE - Back In The Saddle

A two-year break results in the ultimate S13

Aaron Bonk
Oct 19, 2014
Photographer: Sam Du

For 17 years, Mark Real's been nullifying the warranties of whatever it is he's been driving. Lowriders, VIPs, Hondas, Nissans; none has escaped the wrath of modification. And no matter what he was behind the wheel of, Nissan's 240SX has long remained a special car for Real. "I've loved [the 240] even when I went through my Honda phase," he says. "I like the fact that it has so much potential and the ability to be versatile."

1992 nissan 240SX SE bride seats 03 Photo 2/14   |   1992 Nissan 240SX SE - Back In The Saddle

The number of Honda fanboys turned Nissan converts are many. That's mostly because, like Honda, parts interchangeability between the brand's most performance-minded sports cars and some of its more sobering sub-compacts is rampant. And like Honda and its B-series, Nissan's factory-turbocharged SR20DET has the ability to make its way underneath the hood of more than a dozen Nissan chassis—a virtue nobody has to tell Real about and a swap he completed early on that's since culminated into 463hp past the rear wheels.

Real had planned on keeping his S13 relatively stock. After all, he was already building a race car. As it turns out, though, there hasn't been a place to race on the island of Oahu, where Real lives since '04, which led to the whole idea of turning his 240 into what he says is the ultimate street car. Real started on all of this in earnest in '10 after taking a two-year hiatus from modifying anything in an effort to pay off a student loan. "The hardest part was relearning and getting the hang of things," he says about getting back into the groove. It wasn't just the two-year break that impacted Real's progress, though. "With a family now, I had to learn to be patient and buy wisely," he says. "I no longer have the luxury of blowing money aimlessly."

1992 nissan 240SX SE GT1 side skirts 07 Photo 3/14   |   1992 Nissan 240SX SE - Back In The Saddle

As such, every change made was purposeful and calculated. Knock-off muck courtesy of Chinese trading company riffraff you won't find here. Instead, Real pursued upgrades that have been proven, like the Tomei cams and Garrett GT3071R turbo that bolts up to a Full-Race exhaust manifold and complements the 2.0L engine swap yanked from his race car. According to Real, although the car may have been a spur-of-the-moment purchase, none of its modifications were.

Ask Real and he'll tell you that aside from another potential wheel swap, the four-year-long build is finished. It isn't the daily driver he thought it would be, but according to Real, it gets him to work and back every now and then and is even put to use on the weekends. Real admits he's got an affinity for all sorts of Japanese sports cars of the '90s, but it's the S13 240SX that's captured his attention the most and is exactly what's delivered him from hiatus to creating something so special.

1992 nissan 240SX SE MOMO competition steering wheel 05 Photo 4/14   |   1992 Nissan 240SX SE - Back In The Saddle

Tuning Menu
1992 Nissan 240SX SE

Owner Mark Real

Hometown Makakilo, HI

Occupation respiratory therapist

Engine SR20DET engine; Eagle connecting rods; Arias pistons; GReddy oil pan, underdrive pulleys, intake manifold, 750cc injectors; Blitz oil cooler; Tomei 260° Pro Cams, solid lifters; Ferrea valve springs and valve retainers; ATI dampener pulley; Edelbrock 70mm throttle body; Garrett GT3071R turbocharger; Full-Race twin-scroll exhaust manifold; dual TiAL MV-S wastegate; A'PEXi GT-R intercooler; Walbro 400lph fuel pump; Aeromotive fuel filter and fuel pressure regulator; Autronic SMC engine management system

1992 nissan 240SX SE bride seats 04 Photo 5/14   |   1992 Nissan 240SX SE - Back In The Saddle

Drivetrain one-piece aluminum driveshaft; OS Giken TS2B twin-disc clutch; KAAZ two-way limited-slip differential; JDM differential cover; B&M short shifter

Footwork & Chassis TEIN Super Drift coilovers, tie rods; Peak Performance tension rods, rear upper control arms, rear pillow toe rods, traction links; Energy Suspension steering rack bushings; DiF solid rear differential bushing

Brakes 300ZX brake conversion; Brembo rotors; Hawk pads; custom steel-braided lines; S14/300ZX five-lug conversion

Wheels & Tires 17x9" +12 front, 18x10.5" +12 rear Gram Lights 57DR wheels; 215/40 R17 Falken FK-452 front, 235/35 R18 Ziex ZE-912 rear tires

1992 nissan 240SX SE moon roof 06 Photo 6/14   |   1992 Nissan 240SX SE - Back In The Saddle

Exterior M-Sports hood; 20mm front over-fenders; GT-1 replica front bumper, side skirts, and rear bumper; JDM 180SX front position lights, side markers, taillights and rear spoiler

Interior Bride Zeta III driver and Ergo II passenger seats; MOMO Competition steering wheel; NRG Innovations quick-release steering hub and short hub adapter; JDM 180SX gauge cluster; Safety 21 rollcage; Bride upholstery; JDM 180SX manual seatbelts; Prosport gauges; A'PEXi AVC-R boost controller

Thanks You my wife and family for encouragement and support; Dylan Nakashima; Barry Higa at AP Garage; Aaron Tokuda at Autotechnics; Justin Izumi at Izumi Racecraft; Jspirit; Speed Syndicate crew; everyone else who's helped with this build

1992 nissan 240SX SE SR20DET engine 08 Photo 7/14   |   1992 Nissan 240SX SE - Back In The Saddle

Like any performance-minded Japanese car of the 1990s, Nissan's 240SX overseas counterpart had a whole lot more going for it, most of which can be retrofitted onto any North American-spec model that'd been duly turned down for American car buyers. All of this is most obvious underneath the hood, where early Japanese models featured the factory-turbocharged CA18DET that was indicative of the car's name. Later on, the 1.8L engine was superseded by naturally aspirated and turbocharged 2.0L powertrains, but the 180SX name remained. Both turbo engines bettered the standard-issue, naturally aspirated American versions, yielding 167 hp and as high as 245 hp, respectively. Features like factory-equipped intercooling and some of the stoutest four-cylinder engine blocks known to the small car market make more power easy to come by on either engine.

1992 nissan 240SX SE garrett GT3071R turbocharger 02 Photo 8/14   |   1992 Nissan 240SX SE - Back In The Saddle

Web Exclusive Photos

1992 nissan 240SX SE GT1 replica rear bumper 08 Photo 9/14   |   1992 Nissan 240SX SE GT1 Replica Rear Bumper 08
1992 nissan 240SX SE JDM 180SX front position lights 10 Photo 10/14   |   1992 Nissan 240SX SE JDM 180SX Front Position Lights 10
1992 nissan 240SX SE gram lights 57DR 09 Photo 14/14   |   1992 Nissan 240SX SE Gram Lights 57DR 09
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