If you didn’t already flip to the last page in this feature for a quick look at this car’s tech specs--don’t. Let’s play a guessing game. Glance over this JDM S15 beast for a minute; it’s pink-covered D-Max widebody kit and cherry blossom-themed graphics, staggered gold lightweight alloys in matching hues, fully built and boosted Tomei Genesis SR20 powerplant. Where would you most likely bet to find it? Front and center in the Yashio Factory garage in Saitama, Japan? Maybe stuffed into one of the tiny service bays surrounding Fuji Speedway. The name Kindai covering its flanks is definitely Japanese, but look at that name on the driver’s door; that’s definitely Taiwanese--is it a glimpse of Japan’s newest foreign drift challenger? What if we told you this little guy is a Southerner. No, not Osaka--Atlanta, GA, born and bred. No, really. We’re serious! For real.
Kindai Neo Motorsports is in fact a U.S. based entity--not a Japanese tuning garage’s Stateside effort in the tradition of Signal, HKS, and the like, but not entirely different. Know a guy named Kenji Yamanaka? Well, when he emigrated to the U.S. with his sights set on the American drift scene, he first touched down in Atlanta . . . and pretty much stayed there. Drift Emporium gave him a shot at the driver’s seat of their V-8-powered S15, and an SR-powered S14 backup--in which he did well, earning over 300 championship points in 2009, competing in only a few events. As a result of the friendship he developed with then crew chief Jerry Yang, the duo went on to co-found Kindai Neo Motorsports, a tuning effort with a name harkening to Kindai Neo Graffiti, Kenji’s Japan-based lifestyle biz. The rest, as they say, is history.
This is largely the duo’s first project, commissioned by Taiwan native Chanin Prapapyueryong to serve as his entrance ticket into the world of Formula D Pro-Am and XDC competitive drifting. With decades of experience tuning Japanese competition vehicles, it should come as no surprise that Jerry and Co. settled on a built SR20 as their powerplant of choice. It should also come as no surprise that they knew exactly where to find the ideal one--the engine bay of Kenji’s S14. The tradeoff was a win on both sides; Kenji was planning to move up to his Titan V-8 powerplant to hang with the rest of the FD Pro grid, and funded it by passing down his fully Tomei-built Genesis SR20DET to help Chanin dominate amateur ranks. The Genesis treatment is just that--a complete rebirth of a lightly used SR20DET mill by way of a Tomei 91mm stroker crankshaft, H-beam connecting rods, 87mm overbore pistons, a fully machined block to suit, a fully ported and polished cylinder head to match, and a full Tomei valvetrain. This one’s twin-scroll Garrett GT3076R turbocharger (.78 A/R exhaust housing), trusty Tial gates, and battle-ready Full-Race twin-scroll turbo manifold were optional equipment--just like the Mazworx-adapted six-speed Z32 tranny and HKS twin-plate clutch now sending all that power to the rear wheels.
Jerry’s handiwork can be seen surrounding it all, though. Notice the custom Mishimoto front-mount intercooler taking the radiator’s place, with matching Mishi rad and electric fans behind it. This allowed Jerry to fabricate shorter intercooler piping for optimal throttle response, and features the side benefit of relocating vital equipment away from the front bumper, (i.e., the crash zone). Also note the stitch welding and gusseting Jerry applied to the bay for extra rigidity--perfect for allowing the car’s footworks--Stance GR+Pro coilovers and bushings, and just about every trick component from your favorite JDM suspension tuners--to really shine through.
That ethos was continued in the interior. A safe, supportive rollcage is required of all Formula D and D1GP competition vehicles, but the gusseting and additional supports given this S15 chassis were chosen by the Kindai and fabricator Bell Chassis Works crews to be as rigid as possible. More to that end, everything not conducive to the win was deleted--right down to excess wiring, which the Kindai crew will be quick to point out is not only unnecessarily heavy, but complicates the troubleshooting process; something that should be a consideration for any serious competitor. Painless wiring was called in to handle that aspect, while Bride, Takata, Defi, and Nardi cater to the driver--no surprises there--and all exposed metal was re-coated in gold. I want everyone to remember, crew and driver alike, that we’re after gold, says Chanin.
Let’s go back to the exterior. Remember those staggered lightweight alloys? We’ll let you in on a dirty little secret: They’re Rotas. We considered more expensive wheels and a harder-to-find kit, Jerry explains. But these look and work as well as any. Those items will be replaced regularly on a competition car, and less money and time spent waiting for replacements means more time for practice and competition.
As of the start of the 2011 season, the car has yet to shake down in drift competition. 2010 was a busy year for everyone, admits Jerry. Chanin spent a lot of time overseas and didn’t get to compete here like he wanted. Maybe that was a good thing. In the months since we shot the Kindai car, its owner decided to ship it over to Taiwan to try his luck breaking into (and busting up, we suspect) drift competition in his homeland. We’re actually working on another very similar build for Chanin, involving a V-8-powered car that will stay here in the States, hints Jerry. We’d wonder what tricks the Kindai crew has up their sleeves for the new build, but taking in all they’ve accomplished with this one, we’re fairly certain they won’t have to resort to them.
Behind The Build
Kindai Neo Motorsports
Bringing JDM to the Deep South
We built this car to take over drifting!
1999 Nissan S15 Silvia
480 whp / 395 lb-ft of torque
Engine Tomei Genesis 2.2L S15 SR20DET (Tomei 91mm stroker crankshaft, H-beam connecting rods, 87mm pistons, Poncam camshafts, V2 oil pan, ported cylinder head, valves, A-type valvesprings, retainers, valve cover); Greddy intake manifold, crankshaft pulley, oil coolers; Garrett GT3076R turbocharger; Full-Race Gen 2 twin-scroll turbo manifold; HKS blow-off valve, boost controller; Tial wastegates (x2); PTP turbo blanket; Buddy Club Spec II exhaust; Mishimoto radiator, electric fans, front-mount intercooler; Kindai Neo Motorsports intake, intercooler piping, downpipe, oil catch can; NGK plugs, wires; Aeromotive fuel pressure regulator, pump; RC Engineering 1,000cc/min injectors; Electromotive Tec GT, tuned by Tom Heidenbergs
Drivetrain Nissan Z32 300ZX six-speed transmission; Mazworx adapter plate; Drive Shaft Shop Stage 2 axles; Tomei Technical Trax two-way limited-slip differential; HKS twin-plate clutch, flywheel
Suspension Stance GR+Pro coilovers, subframe bushings, differential bushings; Nismo upper front strut tower brace; Bell Chassis Works competition-legal rollcage; JIC rear camber arms, rear toe arms, traction rods, tension rods; Yashio Factory tie rods; Uras tie-rod adapters; KPR Engineering steering angle kit
Brakes Rotora brakes; Circuit Sports stainless braided brake lines
Wheels/Tires Rota Boot wheels (18x9 +20mm front, 18x10 +20mm rear); Federal SS595 tires (235/40-18 front, 265/35-18 rear)
Exterior D-Max Type 3 full kit (front bumper, rear bumper, side skirts, D1 front and rear wide fenders, carbon-fiber aero hood); GP Sports custom fiberglass doors; Kindai Neo Motorsports custom acrylic glass, Kindai Neo Pink exterior paint, Kindai Gold engine bay and interior paint, applied by Lang Ngo; custom sakura graphics applied by Jerry Yang and Pooh Ounkeo
Interior Bride Zeta 3 front seats; Takata harnesses; Nardi steering wheel; Works Bell quick release; HKS shift knob; Defi gauges; Painless wiring
Gratitude Jerry Yang, Leon, Kalvin at Kindai Neo Motorsports; Lang Ngo at Nalley; Upin Albert at UAB; Victor at KPR Engineering; Koji at D-Max; Pooh; Mishimoto; Uwe at Electromotive; Phase 2 Motortrend; Robbie and Denton at Chastain Engine Center; Ace Torraiha; Nigel; Kevin Law; Eric; Apirak; Eric Yang; Kenji Yamanaka; Team Nissan of Marietta