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 |   |  1991 Nissan 240SX - Set Adrift on Memory Bliss
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1991 Nissan 240SX - Set Adrift on Memory Bliss

With so many options for the S-chassis, how can one go wrong?

Jonathan Wong
Dec 18, 2018
Photographer: Rory Seerdan

There was a point during the mid-'00s when Nissan's S13 chassis became the "it" platform for enthusiasts to modify. Drifting was the catalyst, and you could take on many different styles thanks to its popularity in Japan. For the money, the car was a great value, with endless potential (and still is). You had the ability to choose your preferred engine conversion, plus interchange parts from newer S-chassis, like the S14 and S15, including front ends. Suddenly, you're able to easily replicate a Silvia, 180SX, or create your own Sileighty or Onevia.

1991 nissan 240SX SSR professor SP1 hyper black wheels Photo 2/23   |   1991 Nissan 240SX SSR Professor SP1 Hyper Black Wheels

John Tuckwiller's 240SX is a great throwback to that era, with one great exception: It rocks way more new-school technology than we could've ever dreamed of. The exterior work is highly reminiscent of something Signal Auto would've done—the S15 Silvia front end adds sexier curves than the original pop-up (240SX/180SX) or square headlights (S13) people are used to seeing. The rear end is more of your typical look, which I prefer with the Kouki 180SX circular taillights, and has been offset with a modified S15 spoiler that's had its center section removed. John added a handful of Japanese aero classics, such as a C-West front bumper, Spirit Rei carbon-fiber lip kit, and Bomex side skirts. "I've had this car for nearly 12 years, going through different transformations," John says. "But no matter what, building around the S15 front end and S13 hatch was always the goal."

Though it could've popped a little more had it been resprayed a different color, the smooth and ultra-glossy black lends itself well to the bits of gold found throughout the interior and engine bay—and really, it's still clean and super dope this way. "I've always had this car black, without swirls, and clean like a mirror," John adds. "Gold is a gorgeous color accent, but so are titanium and carbon. Now you get a better understanding of my vision."

1991 nissan 240SX SR20DET red top Photo 6/23   |   1991 Nissan 240SX SR20DET Red Top

Inside is where things start to get interesting. The custom 'cage work is something different. As the rear section works its way around the back half of the car, there's also more custom body work where the rear shock towers and wheel wells have been smoothed out, connecting to the other points of the roll cage. "Black is a good color to hide something, but it can also show you all the flaws," John says. "Managing it is key. If I stripped the black away, you'd see everything, especially on the exterior. Keeping everything black tones it down, but if you take the time to look, more modifications become apparent." The spare tire well has been retrofitted for the fuel components and what we can only guess are hidden compressor tanks for the air suspension. From the driver seat, one can appreciate the work done to the dashboard (most likely cracked, as it's very common) and AEM gauges mounted to the steering column.

The engine bay sees equal amounts of custom work as the rest of John's car. By selecting an older, more affordable Red Top SR20DET, it left him with more budget to get the necessary parts to build bigger power, including rebuilding the bottom end and upgrading the valvetrain and turbocharger, as well as all its related intercooler and exhaust piping. Gold accenting is strong here, found on the turbo housing, pulleys, intake manifold, and firewall. From the many engine setups he's had over the years, this current setup isn't the most powerful; it's reflective of his decade-long obsession with 240s. "No matter what I did to it, I pushed it hard, whether it was autocross, drag racing, or having fun on the street. The best part was, no matter how badly I beat on it, I always got home." The fuel system is a work of art, though. You want to talk symmetry? This design does lots of talking.

1991 nissan 240SX Grip Royal steering wheel Photo 10/23   |   1991 Nissan 240SX Grip Royal Steering Wheel

It's hard to figure out how to classify this Nissan. Street? Drift? Show? John is quick to say show. "It's a show car that can compete yet could be an art piece. I have three purpose-built 240s for different functions. The air suspension is so reliable that I can post up at shows, then drive off without having to worry about being committed to the static life." It's hard choosing one, because John's 240SX checks off every box. We have another suggestion: File it under "perfectly executed."

1991 nissan 240SX bomex side skirts Photo 11/23   |   1991 Nissan 240SX Bomex Side Skirts
1991 nissan 240SX 180SX kouki taillights Photo 15/23   |   1991 Nissan 240SX 180SX Kouki Taillights
1991 nissan 240SX c west front bumper Photo 19/23   |   1991 Nissan 240SX C West Front Bumper
1991 nissan 240SX spirit rei front lip Photo 23/23   |   1991 Nissan 240SX Spirit Rei Front Lip
By Jonathan Wong
489 Articles
1991 Nissan 240SX - Set Adrift on Memory Bliss
Tuning Menu
Owner: John Tuckwiller
Hometown: Denver, CO
Occupation: Engineer
Instagram: @trbomofo
Power: 420 whp; 355 lb-ft of torque
Engine: Nissan SR20DET Red Top engine; Garrett GTX3076R twin-scroll turbo; DOC Race manifold; Supertech dual valvesprings, titanium retainers; GReddy intake manifold, oil pan, pulleys, rocker arm stoppers; ARC spark plug cover; Wiring Specialties engine harness; ARP head studs; CP pistons; Eagle H-beam connecting rods; ACL main/rod bearings; ISR intercooler with titanium intercooler piping; 1,000cc fuel injectors; Radium fuel rail; ATI damper pulley; NISMO motor mounts; Chasebays tucked radiator/fan, power steering kit; Mazworx AN radiator line adapters; TiAL blow-off valve, wastegate; carbon velocity stack; KRC power steering pump/reservoir; custom stainless open wastegate dump, downpipe, V-band 3-inch aluminum exhaust; Vibrant muffler, AN connectors; VI Engineering catch can; PTP turbo blanket; AEM sensors; Tomei head gasket; Bosch fuel pump; Fuelab pre-filters, inline main pump
Drivetrain: Exedy Hyper single clutch; Circuit Sports short throw shifter; NISMO transmission mount, slave cylinder; KAAZ 1.5-way limited-slip differential; aluminum one-piece driveshaft; Chasebays clutch line
Engine Management: AEM Infinity ECU
Footwork & Chassis: PBM bag over damper air springs; Air Lift management system; ISR tension rods; NISMO Power Brace; Techno Toy Tuning front lower control arms; SPL Eccentric lock kit; five-lug conversion; TEIN tie rods; Driftworks rear knuckles; Stance rear upper and traction rods, rear subframe bushings; shaved firewall and front strut towers
Brakes: PBM Z32 front calipers; Z32 drilled/slotted rotors; Wilwood rear calipers; Chasebays master cylinder, interior line kit; stainless lines
Wheels & Tires: 17x9 front, 17x10 rear SSR Professor SP1 Hyper Black wheels; 235/40R17 front, 275/40R17 rear BFGoodrich g-Force Comp tires; Muteki extended lug nuts
Exterior: S15 Silvia front-end conversion; C-West front bumper; Seibon carbon hood; S13.5 25mm conversion fenders; Spirit Rei front and side carbon-fiber lip kit; Bomex side skirts, rear lip kit; S15 spoiler (center section removed); 180SX Kouki taillights; custom PPG black paint; Aerocatch hood latches
Interior: Corbeau TRS seats, harnesses; Honda S2000 push-start button; custom rollcage painted PPG Gold paint; shaved interior panels, rear strut towers; Odyssey battery; microsuede dash and center console; AEM gauges; Viair air compressors; 2.5-gallon air tank; carbon-fiber fuel cell cover; Grip Royal steering wheel, quick-release hub
Thanks: My family and friends for putting up with all the headaches this car has caused; my wife for letting me have three 240s and building two of them; Carz Performance; ISON Automotive; Frontline Fabrication; American Steel; 240SXMotoring; Parts by Max; Fuel Lab; Mazworks; Wiring Specialties; Chasebays; Zfab; VI Engineering; Drift Masons

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