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1994 Nissan 180SX - Wayward S13

Cathy Bui's RB20 S13 forges another path for Nissan's time-honored hatchback.

Aaron Bonk
May 3, 2016
Photographer: Justin Sung

Cathy Bui's never modded a car before. Her dad's a Toyota guy, and she knows exactly how badass Nissan's RB26DETT engine is. And yet today she owns one of the most well modified Nissan 180SXs Sydney, Australia, has ever known. But it isn't a Toyota, and it hasn't got a 2.6-liter inline-six underneath its hood.

1994 nissan 180sx uras rear bumper Photo 2/34   |   1994 Nissan 180Sx Uras Rear Bumper

The inconsistencies, Bui assures, can all be explained, and it starts with an uncle, a street bike, and a Supra. "To be honest, I don't have a history [of] modifying cars," she admits. "[My] interest started with motorbikes and cars from my uncle who owned a [400hp] Supra and a Suzuki GSX-R600."

That's 0 for 2 for the Toyota guys, but Bui's explanation is a reasonable one that any other 22-year-old ought to be able to relate to: "My dad is very fond of Toyotas and I wanted to be different," she equivocates.

It didn't take a Toyota lover to talk her out of the RB25DET or RB26DETT swap she knows would've made a whole lot of sense for her S13, though. Their price tags did all of that on their own and are precisely what led to her doling out a whole lot less dosh for Nissan's similar albeit smaller RB20DET. "I love the sound of RBs," she says, "and in Australia, the RB20 is cheap. The RB25 is out of my budget and the RB26 is very, very, very expensive."

1994 nissan 180sx rb20det engine swap Photo 6/34   |   1994 Nissan 180Sx Rb20det Engine Swap

Particularly expensive for a car that's got to tick a whole lot of boxes, like get Bui back and forth to work and nursing school every day and, more importantly, to the track every so often. "I call it my silly daily," she says, revealing that Australians are just as good as Americans at taking a perfectly reliable commuter and turning it into a part-time race car. "It was [supposed] to be a functional car to drive to work and university and complete daily activities in," she says in response to the multi-point roll cage, the Bride seats, and the 354 hp. "One upgrade led to another," she says, and now bi-monthly track days are as routine for her as care plans and student council meetings.

1994 nissan 180sx cathy bui Photo 7/34   |   1994 Nissan 180Sx Cathy Bui

Bui's never modified a car before, her dad still doesn't own a Nissan, and she plucked the 180SX's SR20 not for the RB26 you think she should have but for the RB20 you never stop to think about. Track time and the ability to still pick up the groceries say her S13's better for it.

1994 nissan 180sx works9 front bumper Photo 14/34   |   1994 Nissan 180Sx Works9 Front Bumper
1994 nissan 180sx uras rear bumper Photo 21/34   |   1994 Nissan 180Sx Uras Rear Bumper
1994 nissan 180sx itasha hood Photo 28/34   |   1994 Nissan 180Sx Itasha Hood
By Aaron Bonk
390 Articles
1994 Nissan 180SX - Wayward S13
Tuning Menu
Owner: Cathy Bui
Hometown: Sydney, Australia
Engine: 354hp RB20DET engine transplant; RB20 transmission; refreshed cylinder head with new gaskets and seals; Kinugawa TD05 turbocharger; 38mm Turbosmart wastegate; custom front-mount intercooler and piping; Nissan Z32 APEX'i air filter; PnT Performance forward-facing intake plenum; custom three-inch exhaust and blast pipes; ARP head studs; Gates timing belt and water pump; GReddy 720cc/min. fuel injectors; 450lph Walbro fuel pump; Splitfire coil-packs; Nismo low-temp thermostat; custom aluminum radiator; dual Aero-Flo cooling fans; custom catch can; custom steel-braided lines and fittings; Wiring Specialties conversion harness; NIStune ECU; APEX'i AVC-R boost controller; Exedy heavy duty clutch; custom short shifter
Footwork & Chassis: BC Racing coilovers; custom rear strut tower brace; S15 five-lug conversion
Wheels & Tires: 18x9, -4 offset (front), 18x9.5, +14 offset (rear) Work VS-KF wheels
Exterior: LP2 Midnight Purple paint; URAS side skirts, rear bar, and voltex generators; Origin Lab 25mm wide front guards and canards; Works9 front bar; Drift and Drag Wings rear spoiler; halogen headlights; 6000k HID; Type X taillights15% window tint; clear indicators; custom carbon-fiber cooling panel
Interior: Bride Gias II drivers seat; Bride Stradia II passenger seat; Bride seat rails; Origin carbon-fiber rear seats; KLS roll cage; Nardi Classic 360mm steering wheel; Sparco quick release adapter; LED instrument cluster; Defi gauges; custom 20mm shift knob; black carpet and dash mat; carbon-fiber-wrapped center console and instrument cluster; Sony headunit

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