Transforming a daily driver into a show car is a fantasy almost everyone has entertained at some point. For serial 240SX owner April Taylor, the day a stranger backed into her Nissan in a parking lot marked the starting point for a project that would culminate in one of the cleanest, straightest Nissans on the East Coast.
"I've owned the car with my husband for eight years. It was our commuter at the time," April explains. "We had another black 240 we'd been slowly tweaking as a show car, but when it became clear the body repair on the red car was going to be extensive, we decided to pull it off the road and go all in on starting fresh."
It was a tall order. As it sat, the car featured a standard KA engine backed by an automatic transmission, which is hardly anyone's idea of a tuner-friendly setup. Fortunately, April had extensive experience in the dark art of SR20DET swaps, having done several in the past on the long line of 240s that had been part of her life.
"Between the two of us, we've been wrenching on these cars for 13 years and are best friends with the past owners of a shop called JK Motorsports in North Carolina, where we spent more than a few late nights working on this platform," April says. "It was a focal point for the local automotive community, and even though the shop is long gone, the crew that hung out there still keeps in touch."
Armed with a deep well of S-chassis knowledge and a strong desire to keep things as clean and factory-sourced as possible, April spent the next three years rebuilding the car from the ground up.
"We bought as many new parts from Nissan as we could," she says. "If we couldn't find it at Nissan, we'd get the highest quality aftermarket or used part available. It also helped that we lived in Kyoto, Japan for a year while I was studying at Ritsumeikan University, which allowed us to buy up as many parts as we could and ship them home for later installation. Stuff like our S15 visors, rearview mirror, and dome light all came from Japan scavenging, which is getting harder and harder as the years go by and these cars become increasingly scarce."
The Nissan's SR20DET was built using a Tomei M7960 turbo, CP pistons, a number of GReddy components (rocker arm stoppers, lightweight pulleys, intake manifold), a Z32 mass airflow meter, custom intake piping and box, an A'PEXi blow-off valve and head gasket, and 550cc SARD injectors. A'PEXi also provided the cat-back exhaust and engine management system, while a Koyo radiator and Mishimoto electric fans help keep everything cool. The car's 363 whp and 285 lb-ft of torque are corralled by an Exedy clutch and a Fidanza lightweight flywheel before being sent via a Driveshaft Shop one-piece spinner to a clutch-type limited-slip differential.
Toyo Proxes Sport tires sit at all four corners, wrapped around the new Volk Racing TE37Saga wheels in Time Attack finish. A set of Project Mu brakes working with a Z32 rear conversion provide stopping power, while TEIN Flex coilovers, a GReddy front strut bar, and a set of Circuit Sport rear upper control arms help keep the S14 pointed in the right direction.
In addition to its full custom interior of Bride seats, suede headliner, and Nardi steering wheel, the car's Kouki front-end conversion is one of the most eye-grabbing aspects of the build, and it's matched with a carbon-fiber hood, roof and trunk spoilers, and a Vertex body kit. This build is as authentic and JDM as it comes.
"Typically, the initial reaction I get at shows is, 'Wow, this is really clean,'" April says, which is a particularly satisfying compliment given she and her husband did all the bodywork-and everything else, except the paint and glass. "Then I pop the hood and I get the same kind of eyebrow raise, because I made sure all the wiring and plumbing were as hidden and tucked as possible."
Today, the car sees mostly show duty but is definitely not a trailer queen by any means. "What I love most about it is just how connected you feel to the car when you're behind the wheel," she says. "This 240SX is so responsive and willing to play. It's a great counterpoint to more modern vehicles where you're insulated from the driving experience."