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1993 Nissan 240SX (S13) - Dependability Over Complexity

Dave Guerra's S13 proves when it comes to building your first drift car, it's reliability you need over power and complexity

Justin Banner
Aug 28, 2018
Photographer: Ryan Belville

When many of our readers have ideas about drifting and building their first car, they immediately look at the current crop of Formula DRIFT cars and think that's what they need. They think they need a 2JZ or an LS V8 with the biggest turbo (or turbos) that can fit in the engine bay. However, as Dave Guerra's 1993 Nissan 240SX proves, when it comes to building your first drift car, it's reliability you need over power and complexity.

1993 nissan 240SX work emotion CR wheels Photo 2/22   |   1993 Nissan 240SX Work Emotion CR Wheels

No, you're not going to be driving at the speeds of the current builds of Formula D, but that's not the point. The idea is to build something you can learn in and won't break on you after every event. As cool as it is to say that you make over 700-horsepower, it's not the power you need for most grassroots events, it's the handling.

That's where David started with this car and even kept using the KA24DE with a five-speed swap while he was still in high school. "I chose an S13 hatch because the 240SX was the go-to drift car back in the day," Dave told us, "At least the most affordable way to go. Being in high school, I was obviously not going to be able to afford an S14/S15. While I like Silvias and coupes, the 180SX really had sunk in on me since the beginning."

1993 nissan 240SX Work Emotion CR wheel Photo 6/22   |   1993 Nissan 240SX Work Emotion CR Wheel

So yes, this car started out as a KA24-powered automatic. He didn't even put good wheels or tires on it. However, they did eventually get installed and now he's on a set of Work Emotion CR wheels in 17x9 +17 front and 18x9.5 +12 rear. The tires are a set of Federal RS-RRs in 235/40ZR17 front and 255/35ZR18 rear. Nothing hellaflush, no demon camber, it's not even a radial stretch—it's set up for real work on the street and out on track.

1993 nissan 240SX Racing Service MAX rear fender Photo 7/22   |   1993 Nissan 240SX Racing Service MAX Rear Fender

The suspension is a set of Stance Coilovers with Largus sway bars on the front and rear. For angle, instead of the latest Wisefab, he's using stock lower control arms that have been extended by 45mm (just over 1.75-inches) with a Nissan Maxima inner and Tein outer tie rods. He doesn't have a roll cage, but the DC Sports front and rear tower bars tie the tops of the strut and shock mounts together to prevent flex in those areas. Keeping with the simple theme, the front brakes are OEM with OEM replacement rotors front and rear, but the brake pads are Hawk HP in the front and Project Mu D1 pads in the rear.

The HP pads give good "bite" at low temperature ranges of 100- to 600-Fahrenheit (38- to 316-Celsius) but can be used up to 800-Fahrenheit (477-Celsius) maximum. The D1 pads, on the other hand, are designed to "bite" harder at much colder temperatures to lock up in drifting conditions but have a maximum of temperature rating 720-Fahrenheit (380-Celsius) before the pads break down and fail. The only unique modification to the brakes is the Uras Tatsunootoshigo (Seahorse) brackets that attach to the rear calipers of the OE brakes. They are named after their "seahorse shape" and increases the leverage of the hand brake system by being longer than OE leaver on the calipers. So no hydro-handbrakes here, just simple, easy to replace and use modified OE fitting parts.

1993 nissan 240SX Nardi Racing Classic steering wheel Photo 11/22   |   1993 Nissan 240SX Nardi Racing Classic Steering Wheel

Again, there's no roll cage in Dave's car as he does still drive it on the street. That doesn't mean the interior is stock, though, and fits with the looks of a classic Japanese street drift car. The Nardi Racing Classic 350mm steering wheel is attached by a Works Bell hub with a pair of S14 seats bolted to the S13 floor. As for the wig, "I don't know man. You know how browsing on Amazon goes," he laughed, "I saw it for five dollars and the first thing that popped in my head was 'I bet getting out of my car with Jerry curls on, after rip at the track will make my friends laugh their butts off.' Life can be crap sometimes and I know how dark and deep the rabbit hole can get. Not to sound selfish but if I can get a slice of happiness by making at least one person smile or laugh, a day, I'll try to make it happen, even if it's at my expense. So yeah, I just keep it around to make people crack up."

1993 nissan 240SX STACK gauges Photo 12/22   |   1993 Nissan 240SX STACK Gauges

For information on the engine, a set of STACK gauges give Oil Pressure, Boost, and Temperature readings. Shifting the FS5W71C is shorter thanks to the B&M Short Shifter Kit with a NISMO GT Shift Knob. The rear seats are gone and replaced by an Origin Lab Carbon Rear Seat Delete Panel. Entertainment comes from the Pioneer AVH-P3200BT with Alpine Type R front speakers and an Optima Yellow Top battery under the hood powers everything.

Of course, it's under that D'Max Vented Hood pained in Custom Blue Pearl that you're probably wondering the most about. While it doesn't sound like a lot on paper, it is the classic Nissan SR20DET Blacktop. It's relatively untouched compared to what you expect from a drift car. He had already gone through five KA24DEs before the swap, but it wasn't power he was looking for—it was the sound. "I chose the SR20 for several reasons" said Dave, "and the most important to me is sound. It's not that I dislike V8's or 1/2JZ or anything but most v8s don't sound good to me and I like Nissan engines in Nissan cars. I don't care much for power, but it takes a bit of money to get a non-boring sound from an RB-engine. SR20 sounds are great right off the bat and they only get better with upgrades."

1993 nissan 240SX SARD aero blade vortex fins Photo 16/22   |   1993 Nissan 240SX SARD Aero Blade Vortex Fins

The stock parts from the oil pan to the head are all OE Nissan, but the camshafts are a set of Tomei PonCam 256 camshafts and it still retains the VTC, the variable timing on the intake camshaft. Those camshafts are 256-degrees of duration with 11.50mm (0.453-inch) of lift on the exhaust and intake camshafts. This is 16-degrees more duration (valves are opened longer) and 2mm more open on the intake and exhaust over the stock SR20DET camshaft.

1993 nissan 240SX SR20DET Photo 17/22   |   1993 Nissan 240SX SR20DET

The Garrett GT28 is controlled by an HKS internal wastegate while the turbine pulls air through a Parts Shop Max intake with a K&N Filter fitted to a vintage Tomei Racing filter adapter. To take advantage of those parts over the OE ECU, an Apex'i Power FC tells the engine what to do while a Bosch 044 fuel pump feeds the stock injectors. The exhaust is a Dart Izumi Jr system with a dual tip protruding out the Vertex Rear Bumper.

The body itself is probably the most complicated part of this entire build. It's made up of a mix of parts that still flow together with he S13 hatchback body. The Koguchi Power 50mm front and 70mm rear fenders help fit those Work wheels under the body but still flow into the Vertex rear bumper, sideskirts, and MSports Aero front bumper. The SARD Vortex Fins flow into the Koguchi Power 3D GT 1750mm Full Carbon GT Wing. It all works together in such a way that it doesn't stand out like a sore thumb on a beauty queen. Instead, that Custom Blue Pearl painted by Angel Soto just helps make the car look so good yet no so much that you wonder about the sense of the owner. No flashy stripes, no wild colors, just a simple blue with some black trim and a wing.

1993 nissan 240SX racing service max fenders Photo 21/22   |   1993 Nissan 240SX Racing Service Max Fenders

However, the local shows he has taken it to display at have recognized his work. At Hot Import Nights in 2016, this car won the Hottest Drift Car award. Even with its clean and award-winning looks, he still drives this car at his local events like he's in competition, but the main goal of the car isn't to win. It's to have fun with it. "My main goal is to continue driving to events and drifting with all of my friends," he told us, "Those memories and experiences are priceless to me."

1993 nissan 240SX SR20DET Photo 22/22   |   1993 Nissan 240SX SR20DET
By Justin Banner
37 Articles
1993 Nissan 240SX (S13) - Dependability Over Complexity
Tuning Menu
Owner: David Guerra
Hometown: Chicago, Ill.
Engine: SR20DET; Tomei Poncam cams; Parts Shop Max intake pipe; vintage Tomei filter adapter; K&N filter; Garrett journal bearing GT28, internal HKS wastegate; MASA Motorsports Octopus turbo manifold; Dart Izumi, Jr. exhaust; Bosch 044 fuel pump modified for in-tank use; Optima Yellow Top battery; A'PEXi Power FC engine management
Drivetrain: KTS flywheel; ACT 4-puck un-sprung race clutch disc; welded R200 differential
Footwork & Chassis: Stance shocks and springs; Largus anti-sway bars; lower control arms extended 45mm; Nissan Maxima inner tie rod; Tein outer tie rod; DC Sports front and rear strut tower braces
Brakes: Hawk HP pads front; Project Mu D1 pads rear; Uras Seahorse handbrake brackets
Wheels & Tires: Work Emotion CR wheels 17x9-in. +17 front, 18x9.5-in. +12 rear; Federal 595RS-RR tires 235/40ZR17 front, 255/35ZR18 rear
Exterior: DMAX vented hood; Sard Aero Blade vortex fins; Racing Service MAX (Koguchi Power) 3D GT 1750mm full carbon GT wing, Racing Service MAX (Koguchi Power) wide 50mm front fenders and 70mm rear fenders; MSports front aero bumper, Msports canards, Msports front splitter; Vertex side skirts, Vertex rear bumper; Craft Square mirror; custom Blue Pearl paint by Angel Soto
Interior: S14 driver and front passenger seats; Works Bell steering wheel hub; Nardi Racing Classic 350mm steering wheel; STACK oil pressure gauge, STACK boost/vacuum gauge, STACK temperature gauge; B&M short shifter; Nismo GT shift knob; Origin carbon rear seat delete panel; Pioneer AVH-P3200BT double-DIN DVD multimedia AV receiver; Alpine Type R front speakers

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