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Danny Le's 1990 Nissan 240SX Coupe - Air + Style

Combining a passion for drifting with the looks of a gangsta

Dax Rodriguez
Feb 27, 2017
Writer: Yuta Akaishi

Danny Le has found himself in the midst of multiple transitions when it comes to his interest in cars. Raised in the heart of the Southern California car scene, he wanted to build a project car with nothing but the best "street style" possible. But it wasn't until a move to Phoenix, Arizona, that he found a passion for competitive drifting. Then it dawned on him; he needed to have a car for the street and a car for drifting, but could he have both...

1990 nissan 240sx silvia brick headlights Photo 2/35   |   1990 Nissan 240Sx Silvia Brick Headlights

Danny's tale begins in '08, when you could find him cruising around Orange County in a Toyota MR-2. It was a fun, practical daily driver and exactly what he needed to get to and from work while keeping his needs satisfied as an enthusiast. That was, until he became obsessed with drifting when he relocated to Arizona, a scene known for cultivating some of the country's best grassroots drifters. Danny would spend hours on end watching drift videos with his friends, and before he knew it, he was poring over the details of each car that appeared in each video. His enthusiasm was far from being surface level anymore—he was determined.

1990 nissan 240sx red top sr20det engine Photo 3/35   |   1990 Nissan 240Sx Red Top Sr20det Engine

Danny parted ways with the MR-2 and got into a Nissan S13. It wasn't the one seen here, but it was a fastback model, which naturally didn't stay stock for long. Right off the bat, he opted for an SR20DET transplant, which he augmented with valvetrain upgrades, an S15 turbo, and other necessary bolt-ons to increase the power. Soon after, Danny added a set of coilovers along with a variety of arms from Stance, PBM, and ISR. Armed with a couple of sets of wheels 'n' tires with bumpers ready to destroy, Danny took his S13 to the track every chance he could get. He was getting pretty damn good—good enough to the point where he was battling regularly at local events, even traveling as far as Vegas for competitions.

Eventually, Danny felt the itch for more—more power, more angle, more control. He decided to rebuild the car from the ground up, stripping it down to a bare shell, welding in a full rollcage, and mocking up a 1JZ swap where the SR previously sat. It was during this process that Danny started to regress. There was no doubt in his mind that he wanted to complete the next level of his drift car, but at the same time, he began to miss the slide-ready street car he once had. So he picked up a cheap S13 coupe that he found for sale and figured it would be the perfect chassis to re-create the fun, compact street car he used to own before he got into drifting. And with all of that stuff taken off of his original fastback, it just made sense for the coupe to serve as the new donor car for those perfectly good parts.

1990 nissan 240sx nardi woodgrain steering wheel Photo 7/35   |   1990 Nissan 240Sx Nardi Woodgrain Steering Wheel

So the transformation was under way, but before swapping anything over, Danny dropped off the S13 shell at Future Fab to have them create some additional wheel clearance in the front—after all, a street car built by Danny might as well still go sideways. When the original tubs were cut out and the custom tube frame front end was completed, the engine bay and chassis were sprayed in Danny's signature fluorescent green hue. Assembling the rest of the car was only a matter of installing all of the parts that were pulled off of the fastback—everything from the engine and transmission to the complete suspension. The car essentially became a coupe version of the fastback—simple, fun, and a little beat up. Well, maybe too beat up... The mismatched exterior, abused wheels, and damaged aero that were carried over just didn't look right to Danny. That's when he came to the realization that rather than building a replica of his old car, why not build this one with more style? His fastback was on a path destined for competition, while the coupe would be a car that he could cruise around in and take to meets and shows.

1990 nissan 240sx red top sr20det swap Photo 8/35   |   1990 Nissan 240Sx Red Top Sr20det Swap

And just like that, the next level of the build was decided with new aero—a full D-max Type 3 kit complete with corner and lights, roof, and trunk spoiler as well as a set of Origin over-fenders. Then the body was sprayed black by Elevens Paint and Fiber. Bringing together the perfect balance of simple and aggressive is a set of Work VS-XX wheels resized and polished by VR Wheels. As a final touch, Danny replaced the suspension with Parts Shop Max coilovers with airbags. We can all agree air doesn't make the most sense for drift cars, but that doesn't mean Danny has issues getting this thing sideways. And just take a look at how much rear wheel Danny is tuckin'. We can't help but go, "Damn!"

An SR20-powered, drift-capable S13 on air ride may sound unconventional to a lot of people, but in this case it actually makes perfect sense. This is not a competition drift car nor is it a dedicated show car. Danny has gone through many phases since '08, but today, his Nissan build is his idea of the perfect street car that's crammed with more style and more fun than he could have ever imagined.

1990 nissan 240sx viair air compressor Photo 15/35   |   1990 Nissan 240Sx Viair Air Compressor
1990 nissan 240sx nismo shift knob Photo 22/35   |   1990 Nissan 240Sx Nismo Shift Knob
1990 nissan 240sx origin type 2 rear over fenders Photo 29/35   |   1990 Nissan 240Sx Origin Type 2 Rear Over Fenders
By Dax Rodriguez
24 Articles
Danny Le's 1990 Nissan 240SX Coupe - Air + Style
Tuning Menu
Owner: Danny Le
Hometown: Tustin, CA
Occupation: Manicurist
Engine: Red Top SR20DET; Tomei rocker arm stoppers; Brian Crower valvesprings, retainers; Cometic head gasket; ARP head studs; S15 turbo; HKS internal wastegate, blow-off valve; GReddy turbo elbow; ISR exhaust manifold, downpipe, exhaust with custom blast pipe, intake manifold, intercooler, intake, radiator; NISMO thermostat, fuel pressure regulator, engine mounts; Samco hoses; P2M radiator cap; Stance oversize water pump pulley; Mishimoto overflow tank
Drivetrain: Competition clutch kit; relocated clutch line; NISMO transmission mount; welded differential
Footwork & Chassis: Parts Shop Max Pro coilovers with airbags, lower control arms, eccentric steering rack bushings, adjustable front KPI lockout; Viair compressor; 3-gallon aluminum air tank; Suspension Techniques front and rear sway bars; TEIN outer tie rods; Q45 inner tie rods; Stance solid subframe risers; ISR toe arms, traction arms, camber arms
Brakes: drilled and slotted rotors; relocated brake lines; Hawk pads
Wheels & Tires: 18x9.5" -28 front,18x11" -34 rear polished Work VS-XX wheels; 225/35R18 front, 245/40R18 rear Federal 595 tires
Exterior: Silvia front-end conversion, brick headlights; Circuit Sport clear covers; D-MAX corner lights, position lights, roof spoiler, trunk spoiler; Origin Type 3 front fenders, Type 2 rear over-fenders; chrome window tint; black paint by Elevens Paint & Fiber
Interior: STRI DSD 60mm water temp, oil temp, oil pressure, fuel pressure, boost, air tank pressure and air bag pressure gauges; custom chassis harness, dash cover; copper switch panel; Sparco seats; Nardi woodgrain steering wheel; NRG slim hub with adapter; NISMO shift knob; P2M checkered floor mats

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