It appears as though cars have been the victims of stereotyping lately. Certain makes and models practically have a template laid out dictating how they should be modified. This seems to be especially true for the Nissan 240SX, a car that many consider to be expendable, with the price of bare chassis—even running cars—dropping into the triple digits. Such factors have led to exponential growth in the popularity of the 240SX. It’s everything anybody could want in a hobby car: cheap, guilt-free, mindless fun. Waldemar “Waldo” Bernedo, however, had a slightly (and by slightly, we mean completely), different mindset with this ’92 240SX build. Before he chose the S13 to become the foundation of his masterpiece, he had a vision of the completed car and kept to that vision throughout the build, never wavering from the initial plan regardless of the cost or technical obstacles. That, in his own words, is what “separates a builder from a hobbyist; a builder has a vision and a plan even previous to the purchase of the vehicle. A hobbyist makes changes to the car as he goes.”
If you’ve taken a peek at the specs and photos you may have noticed that all of its parts were manufactured by reputable companies, the majority being of Japanese origin and/or enjoying rare status, especially in the States. During our brief conversation, Waldo brought up a very interesting point: Companies in Japan are not only still producing parts for the S13 22 years after its introduction, but developing new parts as well; a testament to the S13 as a truly timeless chassis and proof that it’s still possible to create a quality build that’s unique from the masses. While there is nothing wrong with the typical “drift slut”—assembled with just enough cheap, China-made parts to hold the car together and drift half-decently—Waldo knew he wanted to go a different route, but he also knew that simply throwing expensive parts at a car wouldn’t result in much better, save for a suffering wallet. Meticulous planning was absolutely necessary to build a car that flowed well aesthetically and allowed each part to complement the other and the car as a whole.
He started the process over four years ago with the enlistment of Van over at One Ton Garage, who undertook the task of securing an authentic Super Made Instant Gentleman aero kit, along with their headlamp assemblies; keep in mind, this was when most stateside distributors had yet to even hear of Super Made. The headlamp assemblies started as a two-piece design, but Waldo had them modified into a single unit (per side) to improve fitment with the hood and bumper. One aspect of the car that really impressed us was the addition of the GP Sports door caps. The Super Made bumpers and side skirts mount just high enough on the car to cover the lower body line from view, but still leave it visible on the door. Instead of just shaving the body line, Waldo opted to incorporate the door caps to not only cover the body line, but also to smooth out the transition from the side skirt to the door—impressive attention to detail. With such modern aero fitted to the car, updating the rest of the exterior was absolutely necessary. To meet that need, Kouki 180SX taillamps, quarter window glass, and a rare Nismo center garnish (yes, this is the carbon Kevlar unit) were also added, along with an exclusive 326 Power roof wing and fresh coats of Cherry Red Pearl laid down by Mr. Spoiler.
Careful planning is apparent under the hood as well; the engine bay was shaved of all its unnecessary brackets and holes before being repainted to match the rest of the car. To say this is visually pleasing is a gross understatement, especially when many of us are so used to the clutter that is usually found under the hood of an S13. The majority of the work done to the Blacktop SR20DET (carried out by Carlos Rivera) is basic; this engine really doesn’t require much to be reliable and fun. Waldo and Carlos started with maintenance, replacing the water and oil pumps, gaskets, seals, and, of course, the timing chain guides and tensioner. This is far from the fastest S13 on the planet, but you’d be hard pressed to find more than a handful from around the globe that could provide you with peace of mind and smooth operation better than this, while simultaneously destroying your retinas and blowing your mind with its clean, cohesive styling.
Although it’s this exterior styling that first grabs the attention, Waldo spends the vast majority of his time with this car actually driving it. Inside is a myriad of the finest textures available, a literal who’s who of elite Japanese automotive interior products. The most obvious changes are the seats: a Bride Vios III bucket for himself and a matching XAX II for the passenger, both in Bride’s signature gradation, also applied to the door panels, armrest, glovebox, and even to the shift boot. Takata harnesses bring contrast to the sea of black, and Super Made checkered floor mats add a nice flair to a part of the car that is usually overlooked. Anybody who has attempted to sit comfortably in the back seats of an S13 knows that it is simply not possible, so why leave the 19-year-old tweed seats back there? Waldo opted to replace them with an Origin two-piece rear seat delete panel made of carbon fiber. Both the steering wheel and shift knob are race-inspired Key’s pieces, with a quick-releasing Works Bell Rapfix II hub making entering the car pleasant, and exiting it a little less painful—as leaving an interior as clean as this no doubt would be.
The ride height, wheels, tires, and alignment setting can really make or break a car’s visual appeal. Balancing aesthetics with performance and incorporating driveability into the mix is a whole new level of that equation. Lowering the car to get rid of wheel gap is a no-brainer, but how one chooses to go about doing that is a true test of skill. Kei Office XT coilovers provide the drop and do wonders to improve the handling; Cusco rear upper control arms, Battle Version toe arms, and Tein inner and outer tie rods drastically increase adjustability and replace the old worn bushings with spherical bearings; Cusco front and rear sway bars tighten up the suspension and reduce body roll; and a Next Miracle crossbar and Autopower four-point rollbar combat the flimsy chassis the S13 fastback is infamous for, the latter also allowing the harnesses to be mounted at safe angles. Finally, Ichiba five-lug conversion hubs replaced the original 4x114.3 hubs and aging wheel bearings, making the switch to Q45 brakes easier so Waldo could run those monster Work Varianzas without a hitch.
Waldo set out to build the ultimate daily driver. Coming from a lowrider background, his attention to detail and sheer quality of work is not surprising, but the results seen here are nonetheless impressive. When we spoke on the phone, Waldo shared with me the story of the night he and his best friend, Juan Castaneda, first fired up the car after working on it for so long: Having skipped dinner and with work the next morning, the logical course of action would have been to retire and snag a few hours of sleep. Instead, they continued to wrench away into the night, so that at 3 a.m., once every nut and bolt had been torqued down, they could do what any other enthusiast in their right mind would: fire up the car and drive it—with no bumper, no hood, no inhibitions—basking in the glory of a night ending in victory, a friendship, and a beautiful car.
If you ever come across this car at a show, chances are it won’t be the first that catches your eye. However, you will find yourself returning to it to “take one last look” many times, maybe never realizing that stories like the one above—that forge the very soul of a car—intangibly present in its build, are what become apparent and capture your attention the more you look it over. Waldo, like us, hopes it would leave you with a lasting impression . . . and many more photos than you intended to take.
Behind the Build
Waldemar “Waldo” Bernedo
Modifying cars, dj, B-boy
To build a clean and unique 240SX
’92 Nissan 240SX
Engine Blacktop SR20DET swap; custom engine bay shaving, fusebox relocated to armrest, gold heat-reflective film; Dippedparts.com titanium burnt finish blacktop valve cover; ARC intake induction box, oil filter cap; chrome-dipped piping, radiator brackets, heat shield; black powdercoated throttle body, fuel rail, catch can; black Mishimoto powdercoated fan shroud, X-Line radiator; new OEM water pump, oil pump, timing chain guide, tensioner, gaskets, hoses; Motul tranny fluid; Durdan prefab wire-tucked harness; Techflex sleeves; Chase Bays brake line, clutch line tuck kit; Baller Bolts titanium burnt strut tower nuts, valve cover nuts; Kinetik carbon-fiber coil pack cover; Samco hoses; Touge Factory gold pulleys; Parts Shop Max high-mount intercooler kit; steel-braided high-pressure power steering hose; Greddy rocker arm stoppers, oil pan, powdercoated intake manifold; Nismo motor mounts; NGK Iridium spark plugs; Walbro 255-lph fuel pump; MR 3-inch downpipe; Catco 3-inch catalytic converter
Drivetrain Nismo transmission mounts, clutch pivot ball stud; Exedy Stage 1 clutch
Suspension Autopower four-point rollbar, harness bar; Kei Office XT coilovers; Cusco front and rear sway bars, rear upper control arms; Battle Version toe arms; Tein inner and outer tie rods; Next Miracle crossbar; Ichiba front five-lug conversion, rear five-lug conversion
Wheels/Tires Work Varianza D3S wheels (18x9 +5mm offset front, 18x10 +15mm offset rear); Kumho tires (215/40-18 front, 225/40-18 rear)
Brakes Q45 two-piston front brake upgrade; Brembo Q45 front rotors; HKS Competition Teflon brake lines; PBR Performance brake pads
Exterior Super Made modified one-piece headlight housings, front bumper, side skirts, rear bumper, trunk spoiler; PIAA P-3000 headlights; GP Sports modified door caps; 326 Power rear roof spoiler; JDM 180SX quarter windows, Type X taillights, carbon/Kevlar centerpiece; VIS Racing carbon-fiber trunk with rear wiper deleted; custom rolled and pulled fenders; shaved rear window nozzle; Cherry Red Pearl paint
Interior Bride Vios III driver seat, XAX II passenger seat, rails; custom Bride-wrapped door panels, armrest, glovebox, shift boot; Key’s Racing steering wheel, shift knob; Works Bell quick-release; Rapfix II hub; Takata seat harnesses, pads; Origin carbon-fiber two-piece rear seat delete panel; Super Made floor mats
Gratitude My family and lovely girlfriend, Ariel, for their support; my best friend, Juan Castaneda, because without him this car would have never existed; Jeremiah for his help throughout my engine bay project; Carlos Rivera, for his help with the motor; Work Wheels USA; Van at One Ton Garage; Dan at Mr. Spoiler; Mikey at Dippedparts.com; Chase at Chasebaysonline.com; Darren and Pete at Intense Power; Durdan Perfab; Ray at West Covina Nissan; Kyle Crawford for the great photographs; everyone at Canibeat.com (Cristian, Roy, Dave, and others) for their support; and the Import Tuner nation!