If only choosing feature cars were as easy as using Tinder—and if this S14 popped up on my iPhone, it would be an easy "swipe right." This is one of those builds that isn't immediately "wow" unless you know exactly what you're looking at, and it needs a couple of looks for it all to sink in. When you realize it, you'll fall hard. This particular body style 240SX is slowly becoming a rare species—there aren't a whole lot of them left, they're usually pretty beat up, and amateur drift enthusiasts have turned a good number of them into missile cars. Julia Duong's car isn't one of these, and has remained virtually flawless, left mostly in hiding up until last year when it was finally completed and brought out of hibernation. Since then, it's been racking up trophies at local L.A. shows...but that's not to say it hasn't had a history of doing that before.
This S14 is 100 percent Julia's car, a build she's been working on since it was her daily driver when she was an undergrad—driven everywhere. When she wasn't busy studying, Julia spent her spare time with some girlfriends in a car club they formed called Tenshi (that's "heaven" in Japanese), and together they cruised, modified their cars on their own, and entered shows and won them. Want to know what hardcore means? During her doctorate, Julia had her S14 sent to a car show in another state, studied during the flight up, hung out for a few hours, and flew back to study so she could make her exams the following day. "I did this a few times actually," Julia reminisces with a laugh. "If any of those flights had been delayed, I would not be a doctor today."
Along the way, Julia met her husband, Brian, also a car enthusiast, and together they finished the car, figuring out ways to extract the most out of what an S14 can provide. In fact, he's the one who originally pushed the S14 on her to begin with. The original KA was swapped for a Japan-spec SR20DET outfitted with lots of tried/tested performance products from only the best companies (it's all there in the spec box). But quality doesn't stop at the engine bay; the entire car, from the suspension to the interior, and the car's exterior are all comprised of the best from Japan. You could call it an obsession of sorts, as the Duongs are collectors of rarities in general (they both have an impressive collection of shoes if that gives you a clue), and nothing but the best is what they strive for.
About that hibernation stage: After her college days, Julia decided it was time to rethink the build of the S14 and concentrate on raising a family. And so she started to collect more of those quality parts, some more rare than others (check those magnesium TE-37s; that's not something anyone can get, and it took them three years to complete a set). "We had to build it right," she says, "so time wasn't an issue." All the finishing touches and tuning were done at Evasive Motorsports.
The amount of detail that's gone into Julia's car is exceptional, but that's simply a result of both her and her husband's willingness to be absolute fanatics about building cars and their keen eye for details. "I give tons of props to Brian for spending so many hours tracking these parts down," she adds. "I couldn't have put it together this well without him."