Although everyone who gets their car featured in Import Tuner is a star in their own right, the owner of this machine is a bona fide celebrity. Tyson Beckford has appeared on the big screen in Zoolander and the small screen in America's Next Top Model as well as plenty of other gigs in both media. His main claim to fame, though, has been as the face and body of several Ralph Lauren advertising campaigns. Beckford, now 38, started out as a male model. His agreeable mix of Jamaican and Chinese via Panama is a reminder that Nature is telling us we should all get along, and has set many a female heart fluttering.
Now it's Beckford's turn to set a few male hearts racing with his '04 Nissan 350Z. It turns out that Bronx-born Beckford isn't just a handsome face; he knows his stuff. This isn't some shallow rich dude who paid someone to make him a cool set of wheels because he's too busy preening elsewhere. He's worked on the car himself. And he knows what quality is.
This knowledge must have been a factor when choosing the Brian Crower stroker kit for his engine. Now displacing 4.1 liters, this VQ35 sports a BC billet steel crankshaft, with CP forged aluminum pistons and BC rings sliding up and down cast iron Darton Modular Integrated Deck (MID) cylinder sleeves. Ticking overhead are Ferrea valves, springs and retainers with Crower cam gears.
The main event under the hood is the addition of a Garrett GT35 turbocharger, reined in with an HKS boost controller, and kept chill via an APS (Air Power Systems) front-mount intercooler and plumbing. Inhalation starts with an air intake and manifold also from APS. Business at the other end is attended to by a Tial blow-off valve, a wastegate from an APS Extreme turbo kit, and an A'pexi N1 titanium exhaust.
Fuel supply is an area dominated by APS yet again, with those three letter adorning injectors, pump and regulator, augmented with an HKS AFK air/fuel knock amp. Temperature control is handled by a Ron Davis custom radiator with Samco Sport hoses. Oh, there's also the little matter of a Nitrous Express nitrous oxide delivery system. MRC Motorsports of Spotswood, NJ, kept the stock compression ratio of 10:1, then tuned the whole shebang for a boisterous (but not too stressed) 625 hp at 6,000 rpm.
Beckford stopped by Diamond Motors of San Dimas, CA, for some transmission work. In went an RPS triple-disc carbon clutch and 18-pound billet aluminum flywheel, a Cusco 1.5-way limited-slip differential, and a Nismo shift lever; a manual 'box is always a good sign.
Those Ralph Lauren shirt sleeves were rolled up for the next job. Beckford himself installed a Tein Super Racing suspension (with EDFC control unit in the cabin), lowering the front end by 1.5 inches and the rear by two. This setup is complemented at either end by an Eibach anti-roll bar.
Dangling off the shocks are gold-painted Kinesis wheels, 19x9 up front, 19x11 out back, shod with Pirelli PZero Rosso rubber: 255/30 and 295/30, front and rear respectively. Hiding behind this combo at the front is a Brembo Gran Turismo brake kit, complete with 14-inch rotors. The rear stoppers remain stock, although the whole system has been upgraded with Goodridge stainless steel braided lines.
With the owner of this project so associated with looks, it was perhaps obvious that he would go for something striking when it came to the exterior. And gold carbon fiber is not exactly run of the mill. This Seibon wide body kit includes a hood, hatch, doors, front and rear fenders, and side skirts, although the front and rear bumpers are from C West. Seibon did the installation with a little help from Beckford, so it's hard to tell exactly who's responsible for the hood's shutlines.
And since the man's a star, he went to Star Motoring in Englewood, NJ, to spruce up the interior. This was achieved with Sparco Milano seats (resplendent in red suede) and a Nardi steering wheel, along with a custom console housing, Auto Meter carbon fiber gauges stretching up the driver's-side A-pillar, custom red suede inserts (including the headliner), and a custom roll cage.
What is perhaps the most useless luggage space in all of modern motoring has at last been employed wisely, providing a home for MTX Audio setup that includes the Thunder 8500 500-watt subwoofer. Following the wires back, we find two MTX Audio Thunder 1004 360-watt amplifiers, then an Alpine IVA-D310 head unit with GPS and DVD player.
We have TNT of Lodi, NJ, to thank for the window tinting, so when our significant others see this car, they won't be able to tell that the driver is someone who has been voted by People magazine as one the 50 most beautiful people in the world. Unless, of course, you're one of the other 49, in which case there won't be much of a problem.
Engine Brian Crower billet steel crankshaft, rings, cam gears; CP forged aluminum pistons; Darton Modular Integrated Deck (MID) cylinder sleeves; Ferrea valves, springs, retainers; Garrett GT35 turbocharger; HKS boost controller, AKF air/fuel knock amp; APS fuel pump, fuel regulator, fuel injectors, front-mount intercooler, plumbing, wastegate, air intake, manifold; Tial blow-off valve; A'pexi N1 titanium exhaust; Ron Davis custom radiator; Samco Sport hoses; Nitrous Express nitrous oxide delivery system
Drivetrain RPS triple-disc carbon clutch, billet aluminum flywheel; Cusco 1.5-way limited-slip differential; Nismo shift lever
Suspension Tein Super Racing suspension, EDFC; Eibach anti-roll bars
Wheels/Tires Kinesis wheels (19x9 front, 19x11 rear); Pirelli PZero Rosso tires (255/30 front, 295/30 rear)
Brakes 14-inch Brembo Gran Turismo brake kit; Goodridge stainless steel braided lines
Exterior Seibon gold-weave carbon fiber hood, hatch, doors, front fenders, rear over-fenders, side skirts; C-West front bumper, rear bumper
Interior Sparco Milano seats; Nardi steering wheel; Auto Meter carbon fiber gauges; custom console, red suede inserts, roll cage
Audio MTX Audio Thunder 8500 subwoofer, 1004 amplifiers (x2), wiring; Alpine IVA-D310 head unit
Gratitude Nick, 50, Barry, and Marty of Star Motoring; Charlie, Big Cousin and Andy of Diamond Motors; Phil at TNT; the A'pexi crew; MRC Motoring's Julian; Rob and family at RPS; Brian Crower and Muthas
New York City
Making Things Go Fast
"For the love of speed."