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1996 Nissan 240SX SE - Just Like Heaven

JDM-themed Nissan S14 is both a lady and a freak on the streets

Jonathan Wong
Oct 3, 2016
Photographer: Viet Nguyen

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.

1996 nissan 240sx se vertex lang side skirts Photo 2/21   |   1996 Nissan 240Sx Se Vertex Lang Side Skirts

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.

1996 nissan 240sx se sr20det swap Photo 6/21   |   1996 Nissan 240Sx Se Sr20det Swap

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.

1996 nissan 240sx se s14 kouki conversion Photo 7/21   |   1996 Nissan 240Sx Se S14 Kouki Conversion

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."

1996 nissan 240sx se seibon carbon fiber hood Photo 11/21   |   1996 Nissan 240Sx Se Seibon Carbon Fiber Hood
1996 nissan 240sx se s14 kouki front end conversion Photo 18/21   |   1996 Nissan 240Sx Se S14 Kouki Front End Conversion
By Jonathan Wong
473 Articles
1996 Nissan 240SX SE - Just Like Heaven
Tuning Menu
Owner: Julia Phan Duong
Hometown: Orange County, CA
Occupation: Optometrist
Engine: 2.0L SR20DET; A'PEXi 1.2mm metal head gasket, R95 titanium exhaust; APR head studs; ARC blow-off valve, radiator, radiator cap, radiator hose, Super LLC coolant, titanium spark plug cover, thermostat, front mount intercooler, Induction Box, oil catch tank, oil cap, oil cooler; ATi Super Damper crank pulley; Blue exhaust system hangers; Evasive Motorsports test pipe; MxP turbo manifold; GReddy block adapter, downpipe, pulley; HKS adjustable cam gears, iridium spark plugs, retainers, rocker arm stoppers, Step 2 camshafts, valvesprings; Kics magnetic oil drain plug; Mishimoto radiator fans; NISMO 555cc injectors, engine mounts, slave cylinder; Odyssey dry cell battery; Project Mu magnetic oil filter; SARD fuel pressure regulator; Tomei M7960 turbo and turbo outlet pipe; Walbro 255-lph fuel pump; West Coast Fasteners titanium nuts/bolts
Drivetrain: NISMO Super Coppermix twin-disc clutch, transmission mount, stainless steel clutch line, solid short shifter; Cusco 1.5-way LSD
Engine Management: A'PEXi AVC-R, HKS F CON
Suspension: Cusco carbon-fiber front and rear strut bars; GT Spec fender brace; NISMO Power Brace; Peak Performance polyurethane subframe bushings; Project Mu front pillow ball mounts; SPL titanium front outer tie rod ends, front tension rods, rear traction arms, rear toe arms and rear upper camber arms; TEIN Flex coilovers, hard inner tie rods; Whiteline 27mm front, 22mm rear sway bars
Brakes: Project Mu six-piston front, four-piston rear calipers, SCR Pro rotors, B-Force pads, Teflon lines, reservoir cover
Wheels & Tires: 18x8.5" front, 18x10" rear Volk Racing TE37 MAG wheels; 225/40R18, 255/35R18 Toyo R1R tires; Kics Ti64 titanium lugs and wide tread spacers
Exterior: Lamborghini Bianco Isis paint; Ganador mirrors; JDM Silvia grille, window visors, S14 Kouki conversion and carbon rear spoiler; Seibon carbon hood; Vertex Lang front bumper, carbon splitter, carbon canards, side skirts and rear bumper; Car Shop Glow LED taillights; TSX-R lenses with custom-etched Silvia logo; Lexus RX330 projectors; Morimoto XB35 ballasts, D2H 5500K bulbs and relay harnesses
Interior: ARC titanium shift knob; Bride Vios III Japan gradation seats, seat rails, gradation rear seats/shift boot/door panels; Defi Advance CR 60mm boost/oil pressure/oil temp/water temp gauges, control unit; D-Max checkered floor mats; LED interior lighting; NISMO GT-edition Willans harnesses; Project Mu pedals; Safety21 four-point rollcage; titanium drift knob; Vertex 325mm steering wheel; Works Bell steering wheel hub and Rapfix II quick release
Thanks You: Evasive Motorsports, Defi, GT Spec, Mackin Industries, Pioneer Audio, Project Kics, RAYS Wheels, RavSpec, TEIN, Toyo Tires, Whiteline

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