The Nissan 240SX (S14) is one of the most popular and affordable rear-wheel-drive sports cars of all-time. Because of this, it is also one of the most modified Japanese coupes in history and a car we've showcased hundreds of times across our channels. Who can forget Omar Cabrera's red RB-swapped and extreme stance car? Or Kyle Murphy's Laguna Seca Blue KA-turbocharged rendition? Perhaps April Taylor's haven for all things JDM? These are just a few recent examples of awesome 240s and we haven't even got to all the gems published in our magazine archives dating back to the '90s.
Today, we have another all-star to add to the books; a 1995 240SX that was destined for endless thrashing in the "burnyard" but ended up being one of the sweetest S14 project cars within the last decade. Give a warm welcome to Vin Anatra of Hoonigan!
What's a crazy about Vinny's story is that I met him about 14 years ago when I just started as the Features Editor at eurotuner magazine. He was a VW owner and a "dubber", as was I, with my Silverstone Mk4 GTI. I can remember shooting his brother's Mk3 GTI for the magazine. Anyway, it's been several years since I've touched base with him so when his name popped up with this beautiful S14 build, let's just say I had an exciting "oh shit" moment, and was happy to reach out and connect with him again.
Before we jump into my interview with Vinny, there are some things I wanted to highlight about his 240 and what makes it so special. Maybe his VW background is still lingering because the BBS LM wheels and Nardo gray-style paint (though it's actually a Ford color), screams Euro flavor. The paint, body work and execution are top notch, which isn't a common thing to find in an S-chassis these days, not to mention there's no riveted-on fenders, overly loud body kit or big wing (in fact there's no wing, which is cool). It's super clean (dare I say sophisticated) and under the hood there's also the punch to back it up (I'm guessing he wouldn't be working at Hoonigan if it didn't). A turbocharged Toyota 1JZ-GTE tuned to 515whp with rockstar components from Rywire, Garrett, Bisimoto and more. Vinny's S14 is quite honestly a fresh-to-death take on Nissan's 30-plus-year-old S14, and it's our pleasure to tell you all his story today.
1-on-1 INTERVIEW WITH VIN ANATRA
How'd you get into cars, Vinny?
I have always been into cars. My pops was a muscle car dude so that's what I knew growing up. I got really deep into cars when I lacerated my spleen riding BMX and I couldn't ride for a year. The car that hooked me into driving fun imports was actually a super junky Honda CRX! At that time, the Honda scene in New York was brutal! You couldn't own a decent Honda without chaining it to the ground every time you walked away from it. However, VWs didn't seem to have that issue. My brother and a few friends had just got VWs and that became a super fun clique of dudes messing with Mk3s and Corrados.
I remember your Mk4 GTI! If I recall... dumped on air-ride and BBS RS!
Haha! Funny you'd remember that! I spent a lot of time building "show cars", which I guess now would be considered stance cars and that process really took me down a fun road of getting engulfed in the world. Learning how to do everything on my own from body work and paint, engine and trans builds, and even pioneering the early days of air ride... You know, back when the manifolds were made out of brass fittings from a plumbing supply house. Ha!
Eventually we all grow up!
Yes, I always loved fast cars and my time with super slammed cars ran dry after one too many oil pan slams in NYC. I made the move over to more function focused builds. Sold off my VW and got an STI.
Can you give us the lowdown of the project cars you've built?
Man, I have had a lot but these are the more notable ones:
- VW Mk4 GTI. The car that started it all for me. Shaved bay, big turbo, custom interior, custom body work, wide-lipped BBS RS... Full forum "fu*kboi".
- 2005 Subaru STI. Rotated 3076, full suspension, more of an autocross build.
- 2006 Mitsubishi Evo. FP Black, cams, E85, full dickhead street machine with 600whp. I lived on Long Island at the time and there was nothing else to do besides highway races.
- BMW E36 M3 in Dakar Yellow. It was my first track car. I bought it as an ex-stance car with a lot of goodies, sold off the parts and made it a stout track car turned canyon machine when I moved to California.
- BMW E46 M3. The car that really got me into tracking, time attack and suspension tuning. It also introduced me to a lot of the friends I have in the scene.
- Ford Raptor. Supercharged, long travel, etc.
- The S14. At the time I had my E46 M3 which is built for grip, it ran 275s and made 330hp. I work at Hoonigan so I can't not have a car to rip burnouts and do all sorts of stupidity with. I wanted to build something that was just for fun and thrashing on, so what better than a 240SX?
What was your overall goal for the 240 build?
The plan was to build a junky thrasher car, but one nice part lead to another and before I knew it, I was building a nice car. How does that always happen? I wanted something SIMPLE, something that was a no brainer to run and I didn't have to worry about, owning a BMW is too much of that as it is. The JZ engine is just that. Slap a turbo and some bits on it and rock out without worry. No, really, all I have done is frequent oil changes and this thing bangs limiter all day and eats it up. Toyota and Yamaha killed it on this engine. It's basically a YZ250 of car engines.
How long did the project take?
The build process took about a year working on it around a hectic work schedule, so it was a 'nights and weekends' project with me and my girl. I subbed out some fab work and Rywire did all of the engine and body harness.
What are your favorite parts about your build?
Definitely the entire engine and powertrain setup. The sound and power delivery of the JZ with the Garrett GTX3076R is amazing and so much fun. It puts a smile on my face every time! I love the exhaust note along with the noise of the compressor. Friends joke that it literally sounds like it's out of Fast & Furious.
Were there any major challenges?
Finding the time to work on it! It's a 240 so it's pretty darn simple to build; however, Hoonigan was growing rapidly so work was slammed, despite looking like all we do is goof off all day!
Was it Hoonigan that brought you out to California or something else?
Yeah, a good buddy I made through the VW scene had introduced me to the 0-60 [magazine] crew, which turned out to be Brian Scotto and later the Ken Block Racing team. One day I got a text from Scotto, "Yo, it's Scotto. Job opening at Hoonigan". I hated my current job in New York, so I packed all my crap into my E36 m3 and Jeep Wrangler and moved out 15 days later.
Sounds like it's worked out ever since! What's been your role there so far?
When I started at Hoonigan we were six people. With a rapidly growing company, I've done damn near everything under the roof. Currently I run the Business Development department handling all media partners and brand collaborations.
What are some of the accomplishments that you've achieved at Hoonigan?
Most of the time I feel like we are still a bunch of idiot kids trying to figure it out, but then I step back and look at all we've accomplished. The Hoonigan brand has grown tremendously over the last few years and it is all thanks to a super dedicated team driven by passion. I don't personally take credit for anything, but I'd like to think I've been an integral part of the growth and success of the brand.
Anything else to add on the Hoonigan front?
Our mission is to continue to show people that you can have fun with cars at any capacity. From low buck builds to multi-million dollar films, just go enjoy your car!
What's next for the S14 or perhaps a new project is around the corner?
I am a bit up in the air. The S14 is a great street machine and has been about as low maintenance as I could have ever imagined. I have considered turning it into a time attack car since it is very light at 2,600lbs, makes good power and has all the datalogging capabilities with the AEM ECU. I have also considered selling it and building something else, maybe an F20C-powered BMW 2002 or an E36 time attack car. Part of me still wants that junky drift car, something to smash on and not have to worry about it, but maybe I'm not cut out for having a car that I can smash into a wall and leave it. Maybe I should just do that to more cars in the Hoonigan fleet... Haha!
Download the high resolution image of Vinny's Super Street cover.