Yes, you are looking at a feature of another purpose-built drift car. Stripped-down, gutted, fitted with only the bare necessities, this could never be mistaken for a street car. There's simply no other way to spin it. Go to any drift event across the country, and you're likely to see a handful of similarly prepped rides, none of which bear any resemblance to anything you and I will likely own. Take it around the block, and you'd be lucky to avoid handcuffs and a flatbed. So why did we choose to immortalize it on the pages of 2NR, and more importantly, why should you give a shit? Its 560hp, E85-burning RB26 swap is one good reason. Work wheels, a full Uras S15 conversion kit and TEIN Super Drift suspension are three more. But that it currently sits atop the throne of both Prodrift's Irish and European drifting series, a position it was piloted to by a 16-year-old Irish rookie, is what's really of interest. And the fact that this rising drift star's name happens to be James Deane is not mere coincidence... but icing on the cake.
Most of us choose our passions. For others, it seems, our passions choose us. Growing up in a family of accomplished competition car builders and drivers, James seems to fall more into the category of the latter. "I can never remember a time when I wasn't into cars," he explains, "all my family loved them... and I just went with that." He credits his father, Mike, and uncle, Jimmy, with being his biggest influences, both accomplished rally wheelmen. Once James reached the unofficial Irish gearheads' driving age of 11, he began to follow in their footsteps by bouncing his '84 Starlet around local Cork County fields, learning the basics of car control and navigation over rough terrain. But it wasn't until a few years later, once older brother Mike started competing his S13 in newly formed Prodrift competitions, that James' passion seemed to put a choke-hold on him. For a 14th birthday present in 2005, James' father managed to scrounge up two matching Ford Sierras in which James could practice drifting, and later, compete in amateur Irish leagues. He was hooked, and soon outgrew the Fords. "They were slow, heavy, and clumsy," James tells, "They made great starter cars, but I was ready for something more competitive."
The following year would see James retire the battered Sierras, and import a genuine JDM S14 Silvia chassis to begin its new life as a certified ass-kicker; a journey that began when the car arrived halfway across the world three months later, and has yet to stop. In the Deane family garage, its bare shell was gutted-stripped of anything not conducive to repeat First Place finishes-and given all the Prodrift-mandated hardware: a custom six-point cage, bagless Sparco steering wheel, and FIA-certified Bride seating with UKDM (remember-you read it first in 2NR) TRS harnesses, directly in front of which rests a custom gauge-panel delete cover-a not-so-subtle reminder that time spent looking at gauges is time spent with eyes off the competition. To the driver's left sits a custom hydraulic hand brake, a MoTeC ECU, a trio of GReddy gauges easily accessible by crew members, and an Accusump that feeds increased engine oil to James' afore-mentioned powerplant of choice; one that has changed with nearly every event the car has competed. "I broke six SR20DET transmissions back when the car was SR-powered for the 2007 Prodrift series," he explains, of the same season he earned Rookie of the Year status. "We adapted an RB25 transmission to fit the SRs for the 2008 season, which stopped the problem," He continues, neglecting to mention his eight podium finished earned with the set-up, out of 11 events entered, "But when it came time for us to gear-up for the Prodrift championships and Red Bull Drifting World Champs in Long Beach-we needed more power."
Now, with a GReddy-turbocharged RB26DETT, mated to a modified R34 GT-R transmission and welded R32 differential and axles, James has more than enough juice on tap to handle anything the competition's brought his way so far. "In the Irish Prodrift series, overtaking your opponent is permitted... and encouraged," he begins, "and in America, the top drift cars are all pushing 600 hp and running R-compound tires. Staying competitive in either [arena] meant we needed big power." But with that power came more heat, something not easily warded off by the sideways motion of a drift car that keeps air away from radiators. "The overheating was especially bad in California for the Red Bull event," he recalls, "and that's when all the supplementary holes went in the front bumper."
Once dialed in, James' current set-up served him well. His 2008 Prodrift season culminated in a championship win in both the Irish and European circuits, stealing the spotlight from Irish drift legends Eric O'Sullivan and Darren McNamara. It has seen action all across Ireland and the U.K., Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Portugal, in addition to the carnage it caused in Long Beach, right up until its climactic Top 8 demise. "That was the hardest hit I've taken in my career," James tells, "even harder than a head-on crash I once suffered in practice back home."
Finally, one last reason to cherish the tale of James' S14.5: by the time you read this article, the car will most likely be destroyed. "It's been a dream car, thus far," he laments, "But its old and the time has come for something new." He'll be looking to sponsors Nexen Tires, Driftkits.eu and family at DeaneMsport to help with the construction of an all-new machine, the specifics of which, you'll have to look to the Prodrift series to learn. James expects to back up his titles with another round of championship wins in 2009. "I won't say much about the new car," warns the rising star with a grin, "but it will be something for the others to look out for." Seeing the resourcefulness and skill James and the DeaneMsport crew have invested into this Silvia, and the impressive results that have come of it, we can only expect the best lies ahead.
Behind The Build
Drifting And Messing Around With Cars
"I wanted a big, loud smoke machine!"
2001 Nissan Silvia
Engine HKS 264 cams, cam gears, crankshaft, external wastegate, iridium spark plugs, 1,000 cc injectors; Wossiner connecting rods, 10.1:1 pistons, rings; custom oil pan; port and polished head; custom side-exit exhaust and wastegate dump; Group 4 MKII Escort radiator; MoTeC M6 EMS; Bosch 044 fuel pump; Walbro fuel pressure regulator
Drivetrain Modified Gaterick R34 GT-R Skyline transmission; R32 GT-R rear axles, welded differential; Exedy twin-plate clutch and flywheel
Suspension TEIN Super Drift coilovers, front and rear strut braces; Powerflex suspension bushings; custom chromoly six-point roll cage; modified steering rack and lower front control arms
Wheels/Tires Work XD9 wheels, 17x8 (front) and 18x9 (rear); Nexen N3000 tires, 235/40-17 (front) and 265/35-18 (rear)
Brakes Skyline R33 GT-R Brembo brakes (front and rear); Mintex pads; Aeroquip stainless steel lines
Exterior Uras Type 2 modified front bumper cover, rear bumper cover, side skirts, vented hood, vented front fenders, rear over-fenders; Origin carbon fiber wing; Toyota 050 white color change; Exact Signs vinyl
Interior Bride seat; TRS harness; Sparco steering wheel; R34 GT-R shift knob; custom door panels; MoTeC data logger; GReddy water temperature and oil pressure gauges; Racetech manifold pressure gauge; Accusump; custom hydraulic hand brake
Gratitude Nexen Tires, Trackday Performance, DeaneMsport, Driftkits.eu, McNsport, Exact Signs, Prodrift Series, Luke at Import Tuner for this feature!