For decades, the small island in the Pacific Ocean known as Japan has pumped out legendary car after legendary car, fueling automotive fantasies around the world. Manufacturers and small tuning shops continue to build demo cars, many putting together at least one full build a year. Companies rely heavily on these cars to showcase new products in catalogs and trade shows more so than anywhere else in the world. The use of Photoshop and social media in the Japanese automotive industry isn't as developed of an idea. When a new product is developed, the only way to ensure exposure is to physically install the part on a car, place it in catalogs, buy magazine ads and campaign in competition.
What happens to these demo cars once their mission is complete? Some are kept for further demonstration, some are literally destroyed and crushed into a cube, while others are parked and forgotten. We have seen T&E Vertex's "graveyard" personally, an abandoned gravel lot that contains far too many familiar cars—projects we've seen in print and drawn inspiration from, even a D1 contender or two. The sad truth is that in Japan, the average lifespan of cars is far shorter than what we're used to here in the States. The hot, humid summers and freezing cold winters take their toll on every machine that's not stored inside—and in a country where parking space comes at a premium, garages are scarce. A demo car is commonly sent to a junkyard to be put down and live another life as a soda can, or perhaps even become part of another car. But occasionally, the fate of a demo car is not limited to these options. Although rare, there are instances of a private party purchasing a shop car. This Nissan Silvia was blessed by the existence of a man who recognized its worth—a man who was not concerned by the fact that he would own a car that was not built by him, but rather to showcase the fabrication skill and styling fortitude of 326 Power.
Located in Hiroshima, 326 Power is responsible for some of the most recognized cars in not only Japan but also the world. The owner, Mitsuru Haruguchi, is revered for his styling sense. The cars that leave his shop look almost cartoonish usually fitted with huge aero components that sit millimeters from the ground suspended by enormous wheels and tiny tires. This particular Silvia was a longtime demonstration mule for 326 Power, having made its rounds at car shows, featured in Option and played a part in a rather famous YouTube video. When new owner Masa Ishi purchased the car, there were no delusions that the car would ever outgrow its history at 326 Power.
Ishi-san embraced the fact that his beloved S14 was built by 326 Power and celebrates their styling that matched his taste perfectly. He's preserved its design that he initially fell in love with, changing only the wheels from Work XD9s to rebuilt BBS LMs. The full 326 Power suspension—arms, coilovers, even the modified subframe—remains unchanged, and the 3D?STAR aero kit and white paint are also retained.
While Ishi-san's adoption of this legendary S14 is a rare case in Japan, we can easily see where he's coming from and why he's left the car unmolested. He found exactly what he was searching for, and to this day, this Silvia looks pristine and grabs as much attention as it did when it was built years ago.
Zenki vs. Kouki
Words Jofel Tolosa
Occasionally, you'll hear the words Zenki and Kouki amongst gearheads, and besides sounding really cool, they actually have two very different meanings. These two terms are used to describe a generation of a car. Zenki is used to describe an earlier period or first generation, while the Kouki is the final period or last generation. This is a very common practice that nerds dubbed "tick-tock model." After every "tick" comes technological improvements and ending with a "tock." Think of it as an iPhone. For example, Apple comes out with an iPhone 5. A few months later, it comes out with an improved version and instead of naming it iPhone 6, the company simply calls it iPhone 5S. The same can be said about cars. In terms of the Nissan S14, the Zenki models were made from 1994 to 1996, while the Koukis appeared in showrooms from 1997 to 1998.
The most noticeable difference between the two is the exterior renovation. The Zenki oval-like headlights were mostly made out of plastic with the exception of its glass corner pieces, while the Kouki headlights were more rectangular and made completely out of glass. With new headlights came a different front bumper, fenders, and hood. The taillights have an aesthetic upgrade as well; the most distinguished are the lines running across the Kouki lights. However, unlike the front changes, the rear taillights are completely interchangeable. Additionally, a few minor changes were made in the engine, such as the ECU and harness—Zenki used OBD1 and the Kouki used an OBD2. Inside the interior, you'll find the gauge bezels had a small change from three full circles and a Pac-Man shape for the rpm meter. The Kouki, however, had four separate circles for temperature, rpm, speedometer and gas.
While these terms are commonly used for the Nissan S-chassis, they are also used for other cars such as the Toyota AE86s and the Mazda RX-7 FCs.
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