Do you remember the car your mom drove you to school in? Perhaps it was a trustworthy Camry, maybe a tired, old Accord, or a minivan with a television that popped down from the roof. Kyle Murphy of Miami, Florida, still has vivid memories of his mother driving him to school in one of her three turbocharged Mk3 Toyota Supras. Crazy, right?! He remembers the times he'd ride shotgun and she let him shift through the gears while she worked the clutch. The weight of the car transferring as the throttle was applied, the sound of the turbo spooling up, and the feel of a rear-wheel-drive Japanese sportscar—these distinct sensations all stayed with Kyle over the years, and it shouldn't be a surprise that by the time he turned 17, he found his way into a '96 Nissan 240SX.
Unfortunately, the S14 was totaled when someone ran a red light and T-boned Kyle at 60 mph at an intersection. Thankfully, he was fine, but the Zenki was totaled. The search for a replacement project car began for either a Kouki S14 or an FD Mazda RX-7. With both cars discontinued by this time and the availability of any used examples scarce, Kyle wasn't sure he'd be able to find what he was after. Ultimately—and unsurprisingly—his mom came to the rescue.
While reading the newspaper, Kyle's mother found a black '98 240SX SE for sale at a local dealership, one of just a few brand-new 240s still available for sale in the entire country. Kyle says, "We rushed over, and the rest is history!" This S14 ended up being the car Kyle drove to pick up his date to prom, and he's owned it ever since.
In the late '90s, before the birth of the U.S. drift scene, the 240SX wasn't a very popular car. Finding other 240 owners to hang out with proved to be no small feat. Still, Kyle knew he couldn't be alone and formed a group called SFL240SX, bringing S-chassis enthusiasts together in Southern Florida. After the 2003 arrival of D1 Grand Prix in California, more enthusiasts were getting their hands on rear-wheel-drive Japanese cars, notably the S13 and S14, and Kyle's circle of friends began to grow as the S-chassis garnered more appreciation. Not to mention, his own 240 project continued to evolve.
Kyle has always been a fan of the factory look, explaining "the aggressive styling and the angry eyes of the Kouki S14 had my heart from the first time I saw one." He carefully picked and chose upgrades that enhanced the original character of the car rather than replaced it. The classic S14 bodylines are retained but subtly widened, and the JDM Silvia bumpers work well with the other exterior details that have been added along the way. The only obvious deviation from any JDM influences is the Laguna Seca Blue paint borrowed from the BMW E46 M3, which Kyle had never seen on any S-chassis builds when he had it sprayed back in 2002.
Inside the cabin, you'll find NISMO parts just about everywhere you look, and Kyle mentioned to us that there are even more goodies at home. This includes multiple steering wheels, NISMO horn buttons, shift knobs, and even various harness pads from which Kyle can choose. Kyle has sourced plenty of rare parts over the years, and something tells us he'll be doing the same for years to come.
Perhaps most important in maintaining the spirit of the original car is the fact that the factory KA24DE remains. Kyle admitted plenty of friends and critics have offered their engine swap suggestions over the years, but he couldn't give up this original powerplant after all they've been through together. But that didn't mean he was going to keep it stock at its measly 155 hp. Many long nights were spent with his friend Armando Alvarez to rebuild the block using Wiseco pistons and Carrillo rods, while the head received Supertech components and Brian Crower cams. A Garrett GT3582R turbo was then bolted to a Ground Zero equal-length header, resulting in a four-cylinder that's pleasantly torquey with more than 500 lb-ft but also has the top-end to back it up thanks to nearly 600 hp on E85. The KA-T is quicker than you'd expect off the line and punchy through the rev range, helping the aging car feel as if it isn't.
As of this year, Kyle has had exactly 20 years to hone and perfect his S14. From the DressUpBolts hardware replacing every visible nut and bolt to the one-off 2.4T emblem on the rear as well as the custom neochromed pieces, every inch of his car has been carefully thought through. Kyle's quick to share that his car wouldn't be where it is without support from his wife—and with a laugh he can't forget about his mom, either.