It's tough knowing exactly what you want when buying a new project car. It's often a one-way route to spending endless nights scanning classified ads and driving a ton of miles to look at alternatives, wrecks, and cars that don't quite cut it. Unless, of course, you're lucky enough for one to drop right into your hands when you least expect it. The smirk on Duy Ly's face when we asked him where this C-West widebody S15 started says it all: "I'd always wanted one of these; I love the shape," he tells us, nodding toward the coupe's muscular shoulder line, picked out by the fine flake of its three-stage paint. "Then a friend gave me this one, to sell it. I don't think he expected me to be the buyer."
It might not surprise you to hear that Duy is someone with a bit of a nose for good fortune. Though he's based in Sydney, Australia, he's the owner of a small business empire, which includes a casino in Cambodia. Luck isn't only something he's got a habit of finding; it's the business he's involved in and, at least in part, it's what's funded his way to this show-winning S-chassis. All of which is just as well, because this was far from an off-the-shelf show car. Though the S15 had been treated well in the past, it changed hands many times and has seen better days. Its bodywork had been modified, ready for a widebody conversion, and the mechanical parts underneath were already beyond factory spec. In other words, it had potential, but it wasn't without its flaws. It was the perfect blank canvas for its new owner to add his own sense of style.
The old body kit was the first thing to go. Duy had his sights set on C-West and imported nearly the entire kit from Japan. It was a big job but there was the added benefit that it's a functional kit designed for Time Attack, which gives some idea of how strong it is. It's also aerodynamically honed as well as engineered to offer space for seriously wide rubber at each corner. The flared arches add 30 mm per corner at the front and 40 mm at the rear, matched to downforce-boosting front aero, which also channels cold air onto the brakes and intercooler. "The aim was always to give it show-winning style and that meant doing the whole car again," he says. "I stripped it back to metal with Peter at Bodyform Motorsports, and we worked out what we could add. We redid everything, but it fits perfectly." It's a tough look. Duy opted for a three-stage metallic black paint job to pick out the body lines he'd grown up dreaming of. Custom made and laid down at G&S Bodyworks, it's the kind of mirror-perfect job that would have shown up any flaws or hangovers of past neglect, and the sort of finish that only comes by going back to the bare bodywork. All that was left were a few subtle accents of carbon in its front and rear splitters and the large Voltex wing, additions that bulk out the kit's motorsport background.
While the car was off the road and stripped to bare bones, Duy drew up plans for the engine and began hoarding the parts needed to give it the "Time Attack performance" to go with its styling. The S15 had, in a past life, spent time at Powertune Australia, but with extra horsepower to come from the SR20DET, he decided to crank up the boost a little further, shipping the engine to F&E Autoworks for the next stage. The engine is so neat it could almost look factory, though the ballistic surge of power and soundtrack of the GTX 3076R turbo spooling up leave no doubt that it's far from it. F&E spec'd the GReddy front-mount intercooler to keep boost temperatures down and developed a bespoke map to run E85 fuel. The Nissan delivers performance that's every bit as savage as you'd want from something with this sort of on-street presence. But, it caused a few problems: "I've never owned a car that breaks its rocker arms and shims as much as this S-chassis," he laughs, admitting that the solution was uprating almost every rotating part inside the SR20DET engine. A respectable 470 bhp and 520 lb-ft of torque is the result, put to the road through an RB25 transmission, twin-plate clutch, and hard-worked limited-slip differential. "It's perfect now. It's so smooth to drive and I haven't had problems since," he says. "If you're wondering, the license plate means 'I Fuck Shit Up'—it fits the way this drives..."
Of course, he's been equally generous with the hardware at each corner as the bodywork that wraps around them. Staggered 19-inch, three-piece Work Meister S1 wheels in a tough black are a hard choice to argue with, and the C-West kit left space for sticky Yokohama rubber without scrubbing. Behind the spokes, the R33 GT-R Brembo brakes haul the coupe to a stop, while fully adjustable Buddy Club coilovers keep it pinned to the road.
Duy kept interior upgrades to a minimum and resisted the urge to strip the Nissan of its creature comforts. Its got everything he needs and nothing more—Bride Euro IIs, a bank of gauges to keep an eye on what's happening on the other side of the bulkhead, and a full, high-quality audio setup for a break from the spooling turbo. A pretty impressive all-rounder, considering it took only two months to overhaul. Don't just take our word for it. Since the Nissan rocked up on Sydney's show scene last year, it's picked up best bodywork at the Nulon Nationals and took top honors for the street-registered class at the World Time Attack Championship Show and Shine, too. You might be expecting this to be a pampered show car—but it isn't. "It's built to be driven," he says. "I'm planning to get it on track at Sydney Motorsports Park soon to see if I can set some decent times, but it might need a slight change of hardware. I've taken it on a quarter-mile but I can't get off the line, even with 19x11" wheels at the back and the tires flattened as much as I can. So we'll see." With something that works this well on road and track, it seems his luck hasn't run out. "It's cost an arm and a leg. I'm happy with it, but I'm not finished yet," he says with a laugh. "Matt at F&E has built a 2.2L stroked Nitto SR20 for it, so that's waiting to go in, and I might get it painted while I'm at it." Knowing what you want really can be tough...