"He was definitely a crack-head or something..." recalls Jennifer Jar, of one warm spring morning in 2007, when she found herself in a seedy little second-hand shop in the wrong part of Miami's warehouse district, alone, with $19K in her pocket. "He was really nervous, and definitely seemed like he was into something shady. I was afraid to ask what." She'd never been to Miami. She knew nothing about the man she'd come to see, and nobody knew she was there. "And as soon as he led me into the back room," she continues, "I remember thinking `what the hell did I get myself into?'"
Before her, buried under miles of dust, used toys and antique furniture, sat something she'd only seen in magazines, her dreams, and as of the day before, crappy cell phone pictures. "But it was disgusting," she rants, "it looked like a dog had been living in it for months; the interior was all scratched up, the dash was cracked, all the seats were torn and ruined..." she goes on, "and there was this horrible, unpainted, combat-style body kit screwed onto it." She goes on, "The paint was f-ed, and it was wrecked. It looked nothing like it did in the photos." And then, after a pause and a half-cocked grin, "But it was exactly what I wanted."
Rewind a few years, and we find our girl behind the wheel of a turbo Integra GSR, a car she bought, built and beat all the boys with at the drags after school. It was right before the F&F first hit screens, and a late-model modified import roaming the streets of Plano, TX wasn't exactly commonplace. Even less so, was one built with high-end Japanese aftermarket parts, without fluorescent paint or Lambo doors. "It was definitely ahead of its time," she explains, "it was my daily driver for years until I got tired of it... after that, I was ready for something new." The following few years saw her part out what was left of the DC2, while focusing her efforts on finding something even rarer. "The more I researched the Japanese market, the more I decided I wanted something no one around here had ever seen," she explains, "But at the same time, I wanted something that was reliable and I could drive everyday without issues." The S15 was one of her favorite cars since its release, and she found that its parts interchange with other Nissan cars here in the states made it a practical commuter. "Plus, it was less expensive and more low-key than the Skyline, which everyone was after," she adds.
Her biggest challenge was encountered early-on. "The more I looked into importing a car and legalizing it for street use, the more I realized it was impossible," she explains. "To clear customs, any car coming into the U.S. has to be brought in by a certified importer." And if that's not enough, "On a federal level, unless a certain model of car has been crash tested and modified to meet U.S. safety standards, it can never be legally registered under its model name for highway use. And since no company has done that with the S15, they have to be given a title at the state level, under a kit- or custom-car loophole of some kind." It gets worse, "Most states only give out a few of these registrations each year, so the chances of getting one are very small." Rather than risk her investment getting confiscated in customs, or impounded and destroyed after she was finished building it, Jen searched for pre-registered S15s in the country. It took months. Some cars had been imported in two halves; others were completely gutted, illegally VIN tagged and registered as reconstructed 240SXs. But most were already built as race or show cars and had never been titled at all. And then one day, she struck gold. "It was a little rougher than I would've liked," she begins, modestly, "but registered, titled, and ready to go. I bought it that day, and drove it back to Virginia to get started."
Every area of the car was in need of attention, so Jen decided to take it all on at once. "I just couldn't drive it around with that terrible kit," she confesses, and spent the next 6 months or so on eBay, Yahoo Japan and flipping through HyperRev books trying to track down OEM Nissan replacements. When it was all done, the S15 was given a genuine Spec R front and rear bumper, side skirts, and Nismo turn indicators. The interior was gutted as well, and given ultra-rare Recaro SRD Confetti Edition front seats, an equally scarce Nardi Deep Corn steering wheel and host of HKS, A'PEXi, Nismo, and Blitz goodies from the land of the rising sun.
With the car immobile for so long, it only made sense to pull and refresh the engine that had no doubt been as neglected as the rest of the car, and since it was to be kept as reliable as possible, Jen decided to keep upgrades modest. The stock turbo and manifold were retained, but since higher boost was planned, Jen replaced the faulty OE wastegate actuator with an HKS unit, and regulated boost with an A'PEXi boost controller. The S15's stock side-mount intercooler and airbox were replaced by a GReddy front-mount, and an HKS Suction intake, and maximizing their potential are two Tomei 264 cams, and an A'PEXi N1 exhaust. Upgrading the injectors wasn't needed, but Gaithersburg, MD's Atlantic Motorsports was called upon for a quick tune, reflashing the factory ECU to safely produce just over 300 whp and as many lbs-ft of torque.
It was at this point in the S15's build that Jen was approached about using the car as a test-bed for parts development. The deal was simple: over the course of 6 months, the newly formed Fortune Auto would use the car to develop fully adjustable coilovers, four-inch adjustable air-cup top hats, and adjustable rear upper arms and lower toe arms, in exchange for contributing one of each product to the car upon production ...which turned out to be a useful addition for Jen's next and final phase of its build: slamming it more than five inches on ultra-rare, three-piece Work Meister S1s, measuring 18x9 in the front and 18x10 in the rear, with a ridiculous +4 offset all around. As of this writing, they're thought to be the most aggressive ever stuffed under street-going, factory S15 sheet metal; a feat Jen says, "was the most challenging part of the build... of any build I've done on a car this far."
"When I first brought the car home, everyone thought I was crazy," laughs Jennifer. "Nobody thought I'd be able to rescue it and turn it into what it is today." Properly modifying a stock car is difficult enough; restoring a neglected one back to stock is arguably even more challenging. But doing both--to a car that was never made available on our roads to begin with--is undeniably worthy of 2NR ink, especially when the end result balances restoration and modification so tastefully. And Jennifer's S15 is one of the most extreme success stories of its kind out there--trust us; we've seen the original pics, and there's a reason we won't print them!
Behind The Build
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'00 Nissan Silvia
Output 302 WHP, 301 LB-FT
Engine Tomei 264 cams, spark plug cover, oil cap; GReddy front-mount intercooler and piping, downpipe; HKS Suction intake, iridium spark plugs, wastegate actuator; Fortune Auto catch can; A'PEXi N1 exhaust, EVC4 boost controller, turbo timer
Drivetrain Exedy clutch
Suspension Fortune Auto coilovers, rear upper control arms, rear lower toe control; Top Secret air suspension cup kit; Cusco front and rear anti-roll bars; Nismo rear strut brace
Wheels/Tires Work Meister S1 18x9 +4 (front) 18x10 +4 (rear) wheels; Dunlop Digi-tires 215/35 (front) 235/40 (rear)
Brakes Project Mu stainless/Teflon brake lines; Motul RBF600 brake fluid
Exterior Nissan Spec R front bumper, rear bumper, side skirts; Fortune Auto HIDs
Interior Recaro SRD front seats and rails; Nardi Deep Corn leather steering wheel; Fortune Auto titanium pedals; Nismo suede shift boot; Blitz Power Meter ID; A'PEXi boost gauge; 20% window tint
Ice Pioneer head unit
Gratitude My husband for his support and inspiration, Fortune-Auto making it all possible, Cory and the Atlantic Motorsports crew for perfect tuning , Logan at aspec for impeccable customer service, Devin Lefevere for the badass pictures, Chris Bishop and Derek Graham for the exterior and interior work, Gary Engel for guidance, Versus1 Crew, and last but not least: Team EMF!