It was Super Bowl Sunday that started it all. While most parking lots around the country were packed with tailgaters, one in particular was completely empty, with no one around for miles. Law enforcement no doubt had other matters to attend to. It was now or never. Armed with an SR-powered S13 coupe and guided by the knowledge of close friend Mike Burns, Joe Haven was introduced to the world of drifting. The rest, as they say, was history. A history that netted the four-and-a-half-year build of the slammed, stylish, yet purposefully built Silvia-converted killer seen here.
Joe originally purchased his S13 with intentions to road race it. The appeal of the lightweight rear-drive coupe on the handling front was too great to pass up, and Club Racing AZ events (now NASA AZ) at tracks like Firebird Raceway and Phoenix International Raceway were nearly in his backyard. But once the organization began holding events for drift competition, things changed. Joe entered his first with a few friends, and when the smoke cleared and his tires were properly destroyed, a whole new game plan was in the works.
Embracing the challenge with open arms, Joe began to participate and compete in local events, building his skill level and confidence to where he began exceeding the performance of his car. And as is usually the case when you drift anything for more than two events, things started breaking, shattering, over-heating, and malfunctioning. Joe was pushing the envelope; the envelope was pushing back. Collisions with K-rails and cones necessitated the regular repair of body panels and suspension components, the stress of repeated third-gear clutch kicks and E-brake entries at speed took their toll on driveline components. Increased performance at the track begged increased power-which increased wear and tear-and Joe's garage evolved into an all-in-one repair bay to keep up. He ramped up his skill set to include welding, body work, paint, and whatever else was needed for him to come home from an event and immediately put in work for the next. His preparedness and performance on the track began to pay off. He was hanging with the best in his area (guys with XDC podiums and FD Pro licenses to their names) and moved up in classes quickly. But Joe needed an edge. It was imperative that he take the modification of his S13 in a more radical direction.
From a performance standpoint, Joe needed to cover all the bases. Prodigious power, reliability, steering angle, and perhaps most importantly style, were all equally important factors to consider. Joe started from the ground up, and chose to fit the car to the wheels rather than the wheels to the car. He originally had a set of Work Emotion CR-Kai's that didn't quite fit under the stock fenders. With his newfound talent for bodywork, Joe decided to try his hand at rolling the fenders himself, which he did a little too well; he rolled them so much that the lip actually bent outward, and his wheels went from poking to sunken in a matter of minutes. Thus began the story of one of the more uniquely styled aspects of the vehicle-its rear fender flares.
Not only had Joe inadvertently gone way too far with the roll, but the lip of the fenders bent upwards also gave the car more wheel gap. He decided to take an extreme measure and worked for several weeks on sanding and molding custom sheet metal flares of his own creation. The result was an additional 70mm of clearance in the rear, which Joe stuffed with flush-fitting 18x11.5-inch, +5mm offset SSR Viennas and stretched 255/35 rubber. Meanwhile, the usual armament of adjustable control arms, tie-rod ends, modified knuckles, and the like added up front still wouldn't allow Joe the steering radius he needed to sustain long, smoky, sideways drifts. The plasma cutter and welder were put to use again, and after bending a gross supply of thick sheet steel to his will, the 240's front wells were made to allow more than 10 degrees more steering angle than stock, with a slammed ride height and 18x9.5-inch, +18mm SSRs wrapped in 225/35 tires. Glorious, yet one problem remained: lowering the rear suspension to match the front gave the 240 less than half an inch of rear damper travel. Raising ride height was not an option, so Joe did what very few, if any, had done before-he cut and raised the rear strut towers, granting the TEIN Super Drift coilovers ample room to do their thing, and the 240 the ability to all but scrape the ground at all times.
In keeping with the unorthodox wheel fitment, Joe rolls with a laced roof to mask damage from a metal hood that decided to pop up mid-drift a few years ago. A new D-Max hood and latches guarantee a repeat performance won't happen in the future, and an AIT M4 kit and HID-backed brick headlights give Joe's car a downright intimidating stance. Pushing all that aero around is an E85-fueled, fully-built SR20DET force fed by a Garrett GT3071R to the tune of 450 whp. Full details can be found on the last page, but the car's MIL-Spec Airframe wiring, countless AN fittings, trick V-mount intercooler/radiator setup, and collision reinforcement deserve to be mentioned twice. As does the car's transmission. For as stout as the SR20DET is from the Nissan factory, there's a well-known issue of its transmission grenading at about 400 lb-ft of torque. Joe destroyed three straight transmissions in as many events before the current workaround was devised: an '05 350Z transmission, which Joe and friend George Marstanovic fitted to the engine with a custom adapter plate and milled bellhousing, and to the chassis with a custom mount and shortened linkage and transmission casing. Seems the benefit of a six-speed that allows for quicker, easier, more solid shifts (especially between Third and Fourth), and increased power holding capabilities was too good to pass up.
For all its power and performance modification, style has been an equally important consideration for Joe. "Drifting is about power and precision," he tells, "but it's also about style and form. It's more than simply crossing the finish first or taking a 'correct' line. Drifting is a motorsport and an art." As he talks, two things become clear: Joe loves drifting, and he's at odds with where professional U.S. drifting is headed. He sees danger in blindly accepting money from the highest bidders. "With corporate sponsors and OEs moving in, you're not seeing the personality you once did," he says. "You're not seeing So-and-So, the famous Nissan or Toyota tuner, driving his idea of the best drift car. You're seeing So-and-So, the tire company driver, driving the newest Dodge or Ford, no matter how good or bad of a drifting platform it really is." That's not to say all hope is lost. Joe insists that hardcore enthusiasm and personality exist at the grassroots level, at events such as the All-Star Bash and those put on by Club Loose and NASA. "Come to our events. Get to know the drivers and talk to their teammates who dedicate their lives to what they do. Party with us after the winner is crowned. You'll see how much fun drifting can really be!" Sliding in style is what it's all about for Joe, and he'll continue to build this car and his future projects in accord with that philosophy, be it to one day bring some underdog flare back to the mainstream, or with a few close friends in a deserted parking lot should the rest of the world never "get it".
Behind The Build
Drifting, building cars, snowboarding, gaming
Output: 448 whp / 399 lb-ft of TQ
Engine: S13 SR20DET; Eagle rods; CP Pistons; A'pexi head gasket; custom ported and polished head, three-inch stainless steel exhaust, gold foil heat shielding; Tomei Poncams; GTiR individual throttles; Streetorstripconcept.com plenum; Full-Race turbo manifold; Garrett GT3071R turbocharger; PWR intercooler, radiator; Greddy oil pan; Walbro fuel pump (x2); -6 AN fittings, Sard fuel pressure regulator; JGY Customs fuel rail; RC Engineering 1,200cc injectors; Aspec blast pipes; Champa Power tuning
Drivetrain: '05 350Z six-speed transmission with milled bellhousing; custom adapter plate; ATS/Carbonetics single-disc clutch; Kaaz two-way LSD; Shaftmasters aluminum one-piece driveshaft
Suspension: Tein Super Drift coilovers, tie rods; SPL tie rod ends; Battle Version rear control arms, Streetorstripconcept.com steering knuckles; Tomei front strut tower bar; modified rear subframe, rear strut towers, front wheel wells
Wheels/Tires: SSR Vienna wheels (18x9.5-inch +18mm front, 18x11.5-inch +5mm rear); Federal 595 tires (225/35-18 front, 255/35-18 rear)
Brakes: Sentra SE-R Brembo front rotors, R33 skyline rear rotors; Hawk HP+ pads; Project Mu rear hand-brake shoes; custom hand-brake lock
Exterior: Extreme Dimensions +30mm front fenders; AIT M4 body kit; D-max hood, taillights, rear roof spoiler; Silvia front-end conversion; HID lighting; custom +70mm rear flares, tubbed front wheel wells, laced roof, custom silver/green two-tone paint
Interior: Bride Zeta III seats; Takata harnesses; D-Max floor mats; custom roll cage, suede covered dash
Electronics: A'pexi Power FC; Greddy 60mm gauges (boost, water temperature); HKS fan controller; Alpine CDA-9853 head unit; Zeitronix air/fuel ratio monitor; MIL-Spec Airframe wiring;
Gratitude: Adam from Streetorstripconcept.com, George Marstanovic, Champa Power
All The Comforts Of Home
From stock(ish) to how you see it here, every modification done to Joe's S13 was carried out in his garage, by him or some close friends. "Building your own car is invaluable when you need to fix it," he says, "and building it in your own garage is just more comfortable. You can take your time and really think things through if you need to, and you save money." But what about tools? "Quality tools are a good investment, but don't overpay when you don't need to," says Joe. "Pitching in and sharing tools with good friends is the way to go."