Road hazards and unexpected detours may appear while on this interstate we call life. But with the right vehicle and a destination in sight, even the most daunting drive can become a rewarding investment.
Spokane, Washington, native Benny Winterowd always harbored grand aspirations for the Nissan 240 platform, never truly understanding the magnitude of the task. When Benny first purchased his S13 four years back, it looked far different than it does today. Bought off a guy Benny fondly remembers as "a mean, hardass uncle," the 240SX was rocking a silver two-tone look, with 15-inch wheels and an SR20 powerplant. Benny ran the SR20 for quite a few years—with only a few mild upgrades here and there—and, in hindsight, admits he absolutely loved it. Which leads us to what was arguably the hardest part of the build: disassembling a vehicle that was running flawlessly, and then cramming a motor from a different automaker beneath the bonnet.
Not knowing whether or not the build would ever see completion was chewing at Benny's very being from day one, and getting started was proving to be an unprecedented challenge. But a yearning to see a Toyota JZ stuffed within the nose of a 240 soon proved insatiable. After working up his nerve, Benny broke down and ordered the motor.
As with most builds of sentimental DIY value, having a great group of friends to help out proved crucial right from the get-go. While Chris Sczenski helped order everything needed for the swap, prior to pulling the old SR20, his brother, Craig Sczenski, tackled all the pie cuts and welding on the exhaust, receiving a set of seats from Benny for all his hard work.
Good friend Alex Nicholson was there to help clean up when a wiring oversight caused the injectors to stay on, hydro-locking the engine and spraying fuel everywhere. Fortunately, team member Alex Louie was on hand to help and was able to fix any wiring issues before hooking up the race dash and tackling paint and detailing. And although Benny's brother Luke was unable to help much due to being buried in his own build, his guidance at times proved to be a valuable asset.
After eight months of ordering more parts than previously predicted and going through a tumultuous series of highs and lows, things were beginning to shape up. The vehicle had been shipped off to Fishhead Performance Tuning in Idaho for some finishing touches and a tune. By this point, it became obvious that the wiring harness in the car wasn't cutting the kimchi, so Benny ordered a fresh AEM unit, then the boys at Fishhead got to tuning. With a little tinkering, the car generated 420 hp and 396 lb-ft of grunt, making Benny's dream of owning a simple street build a reality.
Backtracking for a moment, it's important to stress that while the grandeur of this build is without question quite impressive, the significance of its completion is even more meaningful. This car is a tribute to Benny's father, a man who had enthusiastically talked with his son about someday completing a build together—heartfelt plans that never materialized due to his untimely passing.
Jumping forward a few years, Benny had a solid start on making his father proud, as the 240 he had purchased was a completely clean canvas. Fitted with a Spirit Rei aero kit that cost about as much as a mint 240SX, Benny's ride quickly morphed into a whole new entity, complete with fenders and splitters. So, when items like carbon-fiber door cards and various other matching accents began to manifest down the line, the scales tipped entirely, sending Benny's build into previously uncharted territory.
From the carbon center console and backing across the race dash to the fact that all the fenders remain rivet-free for a super smooth finish, this build incorporates all manner of high-end accouterment. Rigid in stature yet uniquely resplendent in its approach to lines and widebody presence, Benny's 240 instantly caught our eye at Wekfest Seattle 2017. More than a year later, he is finally seeing his build hit the pages of Super Street. And despite all the recognition, the 240's owner remains incredibly humble. "We don't really have shops here in Spokane," Benny tells us. "My boy Bryan and Jon helped me with paint and setting the rear fenders since riveting was definitely not an option on the Spirit Rei fenders."
Benny goes on to talk about how the car wouldn't be where it is today without the help of the guys in his car club, Slowlane, which brings us around to some of the intricacies of making a build like this a possibility.
Having a sibling that is eager to help, like Benny's brother Brett, is always a bonus, especially when he ends up being the guy in charge of sourcing obscure parts. Little bro also proved to be incredibly helpful when it came time to test-fit those hulking 326Power brakes. Being that they are a six- and four-pot configuration, there were some clearance concerns at first, but after a little finagling (and some serious prayer), the brakes snugged up beautifully.
Completed, this build goes to show that in order to achieve any form of perfection, lofty goals must first be set in place, followed by finances, initiative, patience, and support. Benny says that out of all these elements, it's the latter that made the biggest difference. Although his father may not have been there to help turn wrenches, having a group of resourceful friends and family, along with a vision, made Benny's prolonged build become one of the greatest to ever emerge from the Northwest.