On the first day that this highly modified, 380hp 1994 Nissan 180SX cranked to life, DJ Manifesto nearly threw away two years of agonizing attention to detail on the Tomei Expressway in Japan. He was rolling with friends when he shifted to third and locked up the rear end, sending him spinning through traffic, sliding to a stop just inches away from a metal barrier. Somehow nobody was hurt, and when the smoke cleared, the DJ decided that maybe he did need that alignment.
Carlton Moody, better known by his stage name, DJ Manifesto, is a violin playing DJ who has an eye for detail. Up until recently, he lived in Japan building this S13 from the ground up. The original plan for the car was just a quick resto, nothing special. Just get it running and leave it at that. However, as one thing led to another, plans changed.
"Every fricken' inch of that car is Dynamatted while every bushing and rusty bolt has been replaced," Manifesto recounted. "I thought to replace one thing and it just kept on going and going from there to the point where I took out every piece of the interior and removed the exterior pieces."
Manifesto remembers that he was 'that guy' and no one expected him to ever finish his car. Performing at night and producing music during the day, there was only so much time to wrench. During the two and a half years it took to get the car the way he wanted, it had become a product of both him and his environment.
"The art I produce is in the car," he explained. "It's a genuine build, it's not phony."
Genuine is right. Manifesto was able to make the most of his time in Japan using JDM parts exclusively and taking inspiration from local nightlife and car culture. The RU body kit, for example, is one of four in America and satisfies his nostalgia for the '90s.
Though even he admits that it isn't the fastest thing on the road, the SR20DET Black Top is still built to perform. Larger 740mm injectors feed the engine's increased appetite from its custom 100-octane tune via an A'PEXi Power FC. More aggressive Tomei cams and a custom manifold and exhaust help make anywhere from 350 to 380 horsepower, depending on gas and altitude.
As for the S13's style, it's all about neon signs and nightlife. The car is set up to be driven after the sun goes down, arriving at a venue or cruising down a dimly lit highway. The deep wine color with cherry flake paint catches and bends light around the body kit and SSR Koenig wheels, accentuating its curves. Just like his music, this car is artistic.
The rest of the chassis and suspension are stiffened as much as possible. All bushings have been replaced with their polyurethane counterparts and DMAX coilovers ensure the necessity of speedbump free roads.
When Manifesto was putting the finishing touches on his S13, he was already planning on returning stateside, giving him barely a year to drive his finished build in Tokyo. It makes sense then, why he would want to get on the road as soon as possible. In hindsight, it would've been better to get an alignment done first. Lesson learned.
The significance of this story, though, is not the near catastrophic encounter, but that this '94 180SX has gone from being a total beater to a showstopping build. DJ Manifesto has succeeded in creating something special that now lives in the desert of Las Vegas. "With my eccentric personality, I really just wanted the car built my way," Manifesto concluded. He's certainly done that and you're surely not going to find a JDM S13 in Nevada as fun and unique as Manifesto's 180.