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 |   |  1994 JDM Nissan S13 180SX: From The Tomei Expressway To The Las Vegas Strip
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1994 JDM Nissan S13 180SX: From The Tomei Expressway To The Las Vegas Strip

Car culture and nightlife collide when DJ Manifesto builds his ideal S-Chassis while living in Japan.

Rushton Skinner
Oct 15, 2020
Photographer: Joan Santana

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.

1994 Nissan 180SX Tailights Photo 17/17   |   1994 JDM Nissan S13 180SX: From The Tomei Expressway To The Las Vegas Strip

"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."

1994 Nissan 180SX GReddy Blow Off Valve Photo 17/17   |   1994 JDM Nissan S13 180SX: From The Tomei Expressway To The Las Vegas Strip

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.

1994 Nissan 180SX NRG Steering Wheel Photo 17/17   |   1994 JDM Nissan S13 180SX: From The Tomei Expressway To The Las Vegas Strip

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.

1994 Nissan 180SX SSR Koenig Wheels 03 Photo 17/17   |   1994 JDM Nissan S13 180SX: From The Tomei Expressway To The Las Vegas Strip

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.

  • The big boss man of Car Modify Wonder shows us his 1991 Nissan 180SX.
  • Former drift car turned time attack contender, a Nissan 180SX throwback to Super Street 2011.
  • Famous autobody repair guy in Japan, Masaru Ishikawa builds this ridiculously clean 1996 Nissan 180SX Type X for his wife.

By Rushton Skinner
12 Articles
1994 JDM Nissan S13 180SX: From The Tomei Expressway To The Las Vegas Strip
Tuning Menu
Car: 1994 Nissan 180SX (S13)
Owner: DJ Manifesto
Hometown: Las Vegas, NV
Occupation: artist, producer, violinist
Instagram: @djmanifesto
Power 380hp tuned on 100-octane
Engine: 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbocharged SR20DET Black Top engine; T25 turbo with custom flange; Tomei Poncams, headgasket, water pump; rebuilt head; A'PEXi Power FC; GReddy dual core radiator, blow-off valve, baffled oil pan, relocated oil filter and oil cooler; Blitz intercooler; 740cc injectors; custom exhaust and wrapped manifold; solid motor mount
Drivetrain: five-speed manual transmission; Exedy clutch; aftermarket transmission mount; Tomei two-way 4.3:1 limited-slip differential
Footwork & Chassis: DMAX coilovers; polyurethane bushings; Cusco front and rear strut bars
Brakes: Z32 four-piston front brakes; GKTech rear brakes, stainless steel lines
Wheels & Tires: 18x10" front, 18x10.5" rear SSR Koenig wheels; 225/40R18 front, 235/40R18 rear Kenda tires
Exterior: RU body kit; custom Cherry flake and wine paint; front LED light bar
Interior: Bride Brix seats; Schroth four-point harnesses; relocated Optima Yellow Toy battery with custom harness and box; Defi gauges; custom dash and stereo; rollcage
Thank You: Bernell Matthews (Matty Ice), Montet Kottoman, Daniel Townsend, Daniel Hunt, Jim Wickstead, Robert Frost, Albert Buniel, Ryan Irons, Zeeshan Shabbir, Stacey Petersen, Daniel Sunagawa, Mike Poore - Japanese Classics (Richmond Virginia), Chris Bishop Japanese Classics (Richmond Virginia), Carlton and Tracey Moody (Mom and Dad), Therin Williams, Aurimas "Matt" Kunce, "CJ" Virgil

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