Drifting is a crazy sport. When you think about it on a purely conceptual level, it doesn't really make sense in a traditional racing mindset. What exactly was going through the heads of the Japanese drivers in the late '70s when they decided to try to lose rear-end traction at high speed around corners? And to do it on purpose? Maybe too much sake the night before. Sounds ludicrous, yet at the same time it sounds incredibly cool. What began as a way for drivers to preserve speed through corners in circuit racing has morphed into a beast all its own, and the last several decades have brought drifting across the Pacific and into the mainstream across the globe.
The entire concept of driving sideways defies logic to almost anyone-that's the sort of thing we were taught to avoid back in driver's education. But then there are guys like Stew Leask for whom the thrill of going fast and sideways is too addicting to stay away from.
The car seen before you is not Stew's first build. After running a S14 competitively for several years, he decided to change a few things with the new car. The main reason behind choosing the S13 chassis was cost effectiveness. They are easy to find, cheap to buy and quick to repair-these are all good qualities to look for when buying a car that very well may run into a wall at 60 mph. After finally locating a worthy S13 coupe, Stew wanted to build this car right the first time, so it was torn apart and revamped from the ground up.
Precise handling is critical for any type of race car, and drifting is no different. The suspension of Stew's S13 is based on knowledge he gained from his previous car. Sticking with what works for him, TEIN Super Drift coilovers were selected and paired with an EDFC for in-cabin adjustments on the fly. TEIN inner and outer tie rods, Battle Version tension and traction arms, SPL rear upper control arms, toe arms and solid aluminum subframe bushings, as well as a custom strengthened and gusseted rear subframe keep the car dialed in and true to line. A set of staggered white Volk TE37 wheels (17x9-inch +0 up front, 18x10.5-inch +15 in back) wrapped in Dunlop rubber keep the footwork proper, while Project Mu big brakes ensure plenty of stopping power is on tap when the need arises.
The cabin of Stew's car is a sight to be seen-all but the bare essentials have been removed. A Battle Version six-point rollcage is there to protect in case of an emergency, and it also helps to stiffen the chassis for improved performance on track. The driver and passenger are held tightly in place by Recaro SPG bucket seats and Willans six-point harnesses (the last thing you need during a race is the distracting feeling of floating around in a stock seat). The interior is filled with a vast array of esoteric lights, switches, dials and gauges that provide Stew with critical numbers and data as he drives; a custom gauge cluster with a Defi tach, STRI water temp, oil pressure and voltage gauges, as well as a Moroso switch panel and the aforementioned TEIN EDFC provide clear information during the heat of a drift battle.
Style is an important part of drifting. Judges look for the cleanest most-aggressive lines, overall speed and amount of tire smoke when deciding a winner. When the call is close, it's important to have a car that stands out visually. With this car, however, Stew stayed away from outlandish paint or vinyl themes common in drifting and instead stuck to a classic clean silver with tasteful aero. A Sexy Style Version 2 kit, including a front bumper, side skirts and a rear bumper paired with Origin 30mm front fenders and Chargespeed 50mm rear fenders give the body a rough-and-tumble yet subtle and tasteful look. A D-Drug 1600mm Sparkle Magic GT wing gives the car a touch of aesthetic flare as well as functionality, providing extra downforce at high speeds. A beautiful balance has been achieved. While this S13 won't give you a headache by looking at it in direct sun for too long, it's still immediately apparent that this is no ordinary Nissan.
Under the hood of this car you'll find something that may strike you as odd: a Chevrolet V-8. Now before you go and cry, "Blasphemy!" to the drift gods, think about it for a minute. The choice to go with a V-8 over a more common swap like a SR or RB isn't a bad call-any powerplant has benefits and downfalls. Stew struggled with turbo problems on his last car, so after doing a lot of research and picking a lot of brains, he decided to give the LS1 a shot. Instant torque, lots of peak power and relatively low cost made the motor an ideal candidate for the build. The main issue people face when dropping an LS motor into a S13 is how to make it all fit, so Stew and his father custom-made a set of motor mounts and then turned to Victor at Autobahn Service Center and Elijah at 501 Automotive for the finishing touches. Outfitted with a brand-new custom driveshaft, custom headers and a fully redone wiring system from the ground up, the car was ready to get tuned.
The LS1 swap Stew chose isn't close to being a drop-in, so in order to tune the 5.7-liter engine properly to run with the car's custom wiring, Stew turned to East Texas Muscle Cars and HP Tuners for engine management and dyno time. In essence, the guys converted from a MAF-based setup to a MAP system to optimize power and tunabilty. The results are sweet, too-a nice, even 420 whp and 400 ft-lbs of torque. Now that the car is all built and tuned, there's only one thing left to do: drift. And Stew does exactly that-this car is no show queen. In fact, it competed in the Formula Drift Pro/Am during the '09 season. It's always nice for us to see cars out there being driven for the purpose they were built, and we can't wait to see what Stew has in store for us in the future.
»The Chevrolet LS1 is becoming a very popular motor swap among Japanese car owners, and with good reason. The aluminum block and iron sleeve construction makes the motor strong and still relatively lightweight, which is important to preserve the car's weight balance. With more than 300 hp and plenty of torque right out of the box, the LS1 is a great way to power many RWD cars.
»By the time this article hits newsstands, Stew will have had several events already under his belt with this car, including the Formula Drift Pro/Am finals featured on page 82.
Upgraded GM coil packs, ported and polished throttle body, LS6 intake manifold; 3-quart Canton Accusump, remote oil filter relocation, custom oil cooler; 0.550 lift LSA cam; Rollmaster dual timing chain; Melling 10295 high-pressure oil pump; GTO oil pan; Circuit Sports coolant catch can; billet fuel rails; Aeromotive fuel pressure regulator; ARP rod bolts; custom Meziere bulkhead mount water pump; 501 Automotive custom headers; V-Band dual 3-4" exhaust; 1-piece driveshaft; 4" aluminum intake; custom motor plate mounts, aluminum radiator, power steering cooler; complete AN power steering system, fuel system, braided hoses and lines throughout engine bay
HP Tuners MAP conversion
Exedy hyper single clutch, Kaaz 1.5-way differential, T56 Tremec transmission
TEIN Super Drift coilovers, Electronic Damping Force Controller (EDFC), inner and outer tie rods; Battle Version tension and traction arms; SPL rear upper control arms and toe arms; solid aluminum subframe bushings; custom sway bar end links (f/r); Nismo Power Brace; Uras subframe pineapples, knuckle bushings, strengthened and gusseted subframe (r), custom notched and strengthened subframe (f), solid steering rack mounts, solid steering shaft bushing
Sexy Style Version 2 Aero (front bumper, rear bumper and side skirts), Origin crystal bumper lights and taillights, Origin 30mm front fenders, Chargespeed 50mm rear fenders, D-Drug 1600mm Sparkle Magic GT Wing
Battle Version 6-point rollcage, Recaro SPG bucket seats, Nagisa seat rails, Willans 6-point cam lock harness, Defi tachometer, Moroso switch panel, STRI water temperature, oil pressure and voltage gauges, custom radiator sprayer water tank, 2-nozzle FE-36 Halon fire-suppression system, Optima Red Top battery
Wheels, Tires & Brakes
Volk TE37 17x9" +0 (f) and 18x10.5" +15 (r) Dunlop Z1 Star Spec 235/40/17 (f) Dunlop DZ101 245/40/18 (r), Project Mu big brake kit (f), OEM Nissan R32 GT-R brakes (r) Endless SS brake pads (f/r), OEM Nissan Z32 2+2 e-brake cables, Project Nissan stainless braided brake lines (f/r)
420 whp and 400 wtq
My dad, my girlfriend Abure, Victor from Autobahn Service Center, Elijah from 501 Automotive and Brandon from Pure Precision