I’ll never forget the first time I experienced this car. It was at Formula D’s Long Beach grand opening, and I was walking the grounds of the car show in deep conversation with former art director Clint Davis:
“No. There’s no way.”
“Bro, they’re totally legit!”
“Look at how big they are, and how much they poke out; almost like they’re weightless. Only silicone could . . .”
And then, in the distance far behind our subject of discussion, I heard the echoed roar of something ear-bleedingly loud and scary reverberating off the Long Beach cityscape. Have you ever watched that scene in a WWII movie where a squadron of F6F Hellcats comes barreling through the sky toward a bunch of Zeros, guns blazing? Well this was like that, only scarier—the Hellcats sounded like they were barreling down E. Seaside Way. I turned to look, she turned to look, former art director Davis ducked. “mmmmmMMMMM…MMMBBRRAAAAAAAPP!!! BRA-BRAAAAAAAAAAAAAPPPmmmm…b-bmmmmmm…!!” Cue papers flying everywhere, children crying, models screaming, and everyone holding their ears and choking on tire smoke. It was glorious.
And then I heard J-Rod’s booming voice fading in over the PA, nearly as loud and twice as annoying, “Hey folks, there goes Drift Emporium with Jodin LeJeune in the supercharged VK56DE Titan-swapped G35 following Kenji Yamanaka in their newest creation: an ITBd, VK56DE Titan-swapped S15 Silvia.” I needed a closer look. Even if it meant I had to leave the models’ tent.
Longtime readers will recall our feature of the Drift Emporium G35 in 2NR’s March, ’09 issue. This S15 was born of a similar concept—stuff a V-8 into a small car and dominate drifting competition—but with a tweak: Stuff a V-8 into one of drifting’s best small cars, and dominate drifting competition. When I met with Dirft Emporium front-man John Vick, I learned that they were off to a good start. Like the G35, the S15 was fitted with JIC FLT-A2 coilovers all around, custom front spindles, and a host of trick suspension components and steering modification. Also like the G35, it flexed lightweight SSR alloys and sticky BFGoodrich rubber. But the engine was a bit different: it’s aspirated naturally, via a CNC-machined individual throttle body setup from Extrudabody, topped with K&N filters, all controlled by the venerable Haltech E11V2 stand-alone ECU. Jim Wolf Technologies components could be found throughout the heads, and cooling products from Griffin and FAL around it, like with the G. But the VK56 swap into the S15 necessitated a ton more custom work than swapping the G’s V-6 for the V-8. John and co. fabbed an oil pan, 350Z six-speed transmission adapter plate, engine and transmission mounts, and headers; modified the transmission tunnel, firewall, and hood; and even pieced together custom Exedy clutch and flywheel components to hold all 400 whp and 375 lb-ft of torque it churned out.
The exterior was different, too: authentic Vertex Ridge aero components covered in Maziora chameleon paint, topped with a Buddy Club carbon-fiber rear wing. Interior accommodations were kept functionally simple: Bride seating with Takata restraints, a host of A’pexi gauges, custom switch panels to allow the driver to interface with Painless wiring, and of course, the required safety equipment.
You might’ve seen (heard) the car later in the season with a Stillen supercharger added to the mix, outputting 75 whp and as many lb-ft of torque more than what’s listed below—enough for late-season driver Michihiro Takatori to pilot it to a podium finish in Formula D’s final event at Irwindale, further elevating the din of one of Formula D’s loudest machines. Hold onto those memories. The Drift Emporium S15 may be no longer by the time you read this.
It’s rumored to be up for sale as of press time. “There may be a new project on the scene soon,” Vick tells us, “a Lexus SC430 with a supercharged Tundra V-8.” A smaller car with potentially an even bigger engine, and no doubt the same plans to dominate drifting. Or at least J-Rod’s booming vocals. “It should be ready in time for the ’12 season,” John tells. Something tells us that this will be the year to bring earplugs.
Behind the Build
to build a badass V-8-powered S15!
‘00 Nissan S15 Silvia
Output: 400 whp / 375 lb-ft of torque
Engine ’05 Nissan Titan VK56DE V-8; Jim Wolf Technologies custom camshafts, valvesprings; Extrudabody custom billet aluminum individual throttles, fuel rails; Drift Emporium custom fittings, lines, oil pan, headers, exhaust, carbon-fiber engine covers; Stillen oil coolers; Griffin radiator; Flex-A-Lite (FAL) fans; Summit Racing oil catch can, battery box, fuel cell; Haltech E11V2 ECU; NKG spark plugs; Aeromotive fuel pressure regulator, fuel pump
Drivetrain Drift Emporium transmission adapter plate; Tomei Technical Trax two-way limited-slip diferential; custom Exedy clutch, flywheel
Suspension JIC FLT-A2 coilovers; Drift Emporium spindles, steering and suspension members; custom rollcage
Wheels/Tires SSR Type F wheels (17x9.5” front, 17x10.5” rear); BFGoodich 245/40-17 tires; Project Kics NeoChro lug nuts
Brakes Goodridge stainless steel brake lines; custom pads
Exterior Vertex Ridge front bumper, rear bumper, side skirts, hood; Nippon Paint Maziora/Bass Boat exterior paint; Buddy Club carbon-fiber rear wing; Mystery taillights (a Drift Emporium parts-bin special)
Interior Bride bucket seats; Takata harnesses; Mystery steering wheel (a Drift Emporium parts-bin special); A’pexi gauges (oil pressure, oil temp., water temp.,) Auto Meter Autogauge tach, shift light; Painless chassis wiring; Drift Emporium custom switch panels, diamond floor plate, acrylic glass, fuel cell, battery box mounts.
Gratitude Richard Winchester at BFGoodrich; Evan at Exedy; all our families (especially my wife Melanie) for putting up with all the race car sh*t; and a special thanks to Albert and Winnie at Ultimate Auto Boutique