It’s not very often that I see a car and think, “Wow, you really don’t see a lot of those getting modified.” I’m not talking about that red and gold Geo Storm parked down the street with AutoZone fender accents and a lightning bolt plate frame or that 6-cylinder automatic Mustang with a Mugen badge on the trunk. I’m talking about a car that actually has a lot of potential, but that for some reason or another was never widely embraced by the tuning community. When we first saw the submissions for this issue, there were a few cars that stood out because they were really different from what we’re used to seeing day in day out. Of those, this G20t was our favorite, so we caught up with owner Ace Gentner to hear the inside scoop on what made him decide to take the tuning road less traveled.
One of the first things that Ace pointed out to us was that this car was not bought with the intent of building a project car. “We bought this car six years ago, just as a car for my wife to drive,” Ace says. “But the G20’s Nissan Primera roots and heritage spiked interest in me to research a little bit. Soon after, I realized the full potential of the platform. It’s still our daily driver and the car had over 201,000 miles on the original engine before it got tired.”
Once the idea of modifying the G was on his mind, there was nothing to stop Ace from diving in headfirst; after all, it’s not like this would be his first soiree into the world of tuning cars. “I used to run a shop called Zankoku Performance in Santa Rosa,” he says. “After many years, all the time and demands of running a shop wasn’t satisfying my needs for family time, so I left the industry to focus on what my family needs and what’s right for us right now. But while I had the shop, we had our race cars (my wife wanted to make her G20 the ‘show car’), but I was never into the show scene, so I wasn’t too big on it at first. Eventually, the notion of doing the JDM and stance thing with the car grew on me, so here we are!”
Because Ace was starting with essentially a stock platform, the car came together in stages over time. After starting off with the basics (wheels and tires, lowering springs, N/A bolt-on modifications) the car sat for a while until Ace’s need for speed resurfaced. “Eventually, I got bored with [the car] and being a boost fiend, I knew exactly what I needed,” Ace says. “With all of the spare SR20 turbo components that I had sitting around from other projects, I put together the T25 setup that it has now. I stuck with the T25 because it’s capable of making 15 psi reliably and we weren’t looking for crazy power, just some responsive boosted fun in our daily, and that response is key — the lag is virtually non-existent, which keeps it really fun. I’ve always been a RWD guy, having Supra and Z roots, and the trucks that I’ve daily driven in the past, but this is a great FWD car that looks nice, feels comfortable inside and is fun to drive. And it gets good gas mileage, which is more than I can say about some of my previous cars!” The motor is a hybrid of sorts — Ace has mated a SR20DET roller rocker head to a non-turbo SR20DE bottom end, and the majority of supporting modifications are minimal because the power output is not beyond the tolerances for a mild part list. Ace estimates about 210 whp, based on previous builds and his trusty “butt dyno.”
On the outside, the Infiniti G20t is a tough-looking little sedan; it’s not insane or over the top, but you can definitely tell this car has a bit more going on than the average early ’00s Infiniti. The hood is sourced from a JDM Nissan Primera, the two vents in the grille help aid in cooling duties (and they look pretty nice, as well) and when combined with the black housing JDM headlamps and not-so-subtle front-mounted intercooler, it’s clear that this G means business. A set of XXR 502 wheels look right at home on this freshly re-sprayed Lada Silver street-driven car, and thankfully, the stance of the G is not too crazy or nonfunctional. We think Ace has done a great job of balancing looks and performance with this car — we love the subtle styling and the fact that it’s not a car you see every day (let alone with a big fat FMIC).
The G20’s interior cabin is mostly stock, with just a few minor upgrades to set it apart from its more boring brethren. A silver carbon-fiber dash trim kit looks nicer than it sounds on paper, and the stock leather seats remain in place for daily commuting duties. An AEM wideband and VDO boost gauge help keep Ace and his wife informed of underhood conditions, and the stock steering wheel even remains — a rare sight, indeed.
“I took a lot of time to put my ‘suspension brain’ to use when designing and developing our own line of Zankoku Performance coilovers that this car was the flagship for,” Ace says. “We have sold more than 100 sets to cars all over the country, as well as internationally.
A silver carbon-fiber dash trim kit looks nicer than it sounds on paper, and the stock leather seats remain in place for daily commuting duties.
“Several Formula D Pro Am cars were running on ZP coilovers for a while, which was really fun for me to see. I also added the bushings made by G20.net is a great online G20 community with excellent resources and members!”
When it’s all said and done, this car really works well for us. Ace and his wife can drive the car around all day, have fun while doing it and perhaps, most importantly, not run into another car that looks just like theirs on every street corner. If only we could all be so lucky!
Why We Picked It
Because of its unusual nature, we liked Ace’s G20t right away. Not one to shy away from a build of any nature, Ace has done a great job transforming this once boring family sedan into something that he and his wife can have fun driving around town on a daily basis.
Specs & Details
'00 Infiniti G20t
Engine Nissan SR20DET turbocharged inline-4
Engine Modifications JDM U13 Bluebird turbo manifold; S13 T25 turbo w/ 2g DSM wastegate; Roller Rocker SR20DET head; DE bottom end; Zankoku Performance custom 2.5" turbo-back exhaust, custom intercooler piping & “pucked” motor mounts; CX Racing intercooler; Synapse Engineering blow-off valve; BLOX vacuum manifold; Weapon R SW air filter; MAF plumbed as blow through; JDM Primera valve cover; NGK Iridium IX spark plugs & wires
Engine Management AEM FIC 6; wideband AFR
Drivetrain 5-speed manual “T” model transmission w/ factory LSD; ACT Xtreme unsprung 6-puck clutch
Suspension Zankoku Performance X1 coilovers; Unisia Jecs solid crossmember bushings; Energy Suspension LCA bushings & adjustable QT links
Interior Zankoku Performance silver carbon-fiber dash trim; Momo carbon-fiber shift knob; A’PEXi auto timer; VDO boost gauge; Pioneer audio deck
Exterior JDM Nissan Primera hood; black housing dual-beam headlights & badges; repainted Lada Silver; 5,000K 35W HIDs; Halo Isis blue foglight bulbs; LED sidemarker bulbs; license plate bulb & running light bulbs; removed & shaved front bumper grille; Subaru STI front lip: carbon-fiber A, B, C door pillars
Wheels, Tires & Brakes XXR 502 wheels 18x8.5" +35mm (f) & 18x9.5" +35mm (r); Kumho Ecsta AST tires 215/35R18 (f) & 225/40R18 (r); ‘04 Sentra Spec V brake upgrade; 12" cross-drilled & slotted rotors w/ 4-piston Brembo calipers (f), 11" cross-drilled & slotted rotors (r); OEM ceramic pads