To say that Jamie Johnson's Nissan NX2000 is a prime example of a sleeper would be a massive understatement. When was the last time you saw one of these cars modified at all, let alone to this extent, under the hood? But don't be fooled by the looks of the car now. This build was far from a quick and easy three-month project.
This very NX2000 was Jamie's first car as a high school student. Though he was not interested in cars to begin with, he started to take notice of modified vehicles around town. This just happened to be around the same time that everyone's favorite cult classic, The Fast and the Furious, came out. Intrigued, he began to look into the potential of his little Nissan compact.
Some quick research revealed that his car was actually equipped with a fairly decent powerplant: the SR20DE. As we all know, an SR20DET will pull a premium one week before race wars, but the U.S. nonturbocharged version would require a bit of work to achieve such status. The car was kept relatively simple at first, as most high school builds are, with the addition of a cold-air intake and aftermarket wheels. Little did Jamie know, this jellybean-shaped daily driver would become the gateway to something bigger than he had ever imagined.
Jamie began to hang around with his brother and his gearhead friends while they tinkered with various builds, most of them older-model Mustangs. As his interest and desire to learn grew, he became an apprentice mechanic at a local shop. Following about a year of learning the ropes, Jamie accepted a position at another shop, DB Performance. It was his experience at DB that allowed him to make friends with some of the key guys behind this build, as well as develop his skills as a mechanic and fabricator.
Looking back, Jamie says he was influenced by what others were doing around him and ended up making some decisions about the car that he would later regret. "I made the car flashy, but not functional. I installed a flashy body kit. The worst part, though, was that I put in Supra taillights. I was definitely on the wrong track." An Xbox, TV screens, and a Nitrous Express intercooler sprayer all made their way onto the car. While we're sure Brian Spilner would have been proud, Jamie wasn't.
Shortly after, Jamie chose to open his own shop, Elite Auto Engineering, with a close friend named Andy Rosenau. The pair quickly learned that owning your own shop does not allow you to spend much time on your personal builds, and so the car collected dust in a corner for a couple of years.
Eventually, as it does with most of us in the car scene, the itch came back. First and foremost, the gaudy molded body kit and Supra taillights needed to hit the trash can. Anyone with experience in this department knows that undoing something like that is no small task. While most would have told Jamie to scrap the car and start over with something else, he pressed on. A donor car was sourced, and nearly the whole rear end was cut off and used as a replacement. As the crew made progress, they found multiple issues with the body. "We found rust in many places. The passenger side A-pillar needed a complete overhaul, the firewall needed fixing, the rear quarters needed work, the rockers needed attention, and the list went on," Jamie remembers.
Many late nights were spent in the garage prepping the car for paint. Jamie took the initiative to really do things right this time and sourced a complete factory set of moldings from Nissan that, in case you're wondering, are incredibly hard to come by. A very rare European Nissan 100NX front bumper was acquired for the car, as well as the front factory Euro side marker-delete moldings. A VIS carbon-fiber hood and hard-to-find carbon-fiber hatch (one of eight produced) were added to both remove some weight and add some class to the new exterior look. When all the bodywork was finally completed, Andy sprayed the car in a shade of Metallic Gray from the Lexus IS300.
On the inside, the previous F&F-inspired interior gadgetry was tossed in favor of a much cleaner and more functional cockpit. Defi boost and oil pressure gauges were added, in addition to serial data and wide-band air/fuel gauges from AEM. A host of other upgrades brought the NX2000's interior back up to today's standards.
With both the interior and exterior looking just right, Jamie needed a powerplant that would transform his car into an unsuspecting and tire-shredding rocket ship. Since the NX2000 already uses an SR20DE block, its FWD JDM sibling, the Bluebird SR20DET, was a no-frills swap candidate.
After several different turbo setups and a blown engine due to weak tuning and too much boost, Jamie decided to go all out. The bottom end has been fortified with goodies like CP 9.5:1 pistons, Brian Crower connecting rods, and ACL race bearings. The head was completely refreshed as well with a Cometic head gasket and complete valvetrain upgrades from Brian Crower.
All these internal upgrades would be wasted without a proper turbo, so Jamie decided a Precision SC61 turbocharger was the go-to snail for his setup. It makes 400 whp at just 14 pounds of boost, and at 30 psi the engine turns out a staggering 600 whp-that's enough to leave most exotics in its rearview mirror and their owners scratching their heads.
Power is one thing, but to put it down can be tricky. That's why Jamie replaced the weak factory transmission with one from an Infiniti P11 G20T, equipped with a Spec Drag twin-disc clutch, LSD, and Andreas Miko transmission-saving bracket, maintains this sleeper's reliability.
What started off as a worn-out high school commuter car has been transformed into a seriously fast street machine. This NX2000 is an outside-the-box build that's clean and understated, and that's why it's so damn cool.
Specs & Details
'93 Nissan NX2000
Engine Modifications CP 8.5:1 pistons; Brian Crower connecting rods; oversized intake valves (+1mm); oversized exhaust valves (+.5mm); stage 3 272 cams and dual valvesprings with titanium retainers; JWT bronze valveguides; ACL race bearings; Greddy head studs; Cometic head gasket; Motors By Gosh port and polish; O2 Induction intake manifold; Elite Auto Engineering -8 fuel rail; EQ tubular exhaust manifold; 3" stainless steel exhaust; radiator; 10" slim fans; dual Walbro 255-lph in-tank fuel pump setup; Infiniti Q45 90mm throttle-body; Genesis of Speed Intercooler; 3" intercooler piping; Vibrant catch can; Precision SC61 turbo; Tial 44mm wastegate; 50mm blow-off valve; Wir3s by James full wire tuck; shaved engine bay; Crane ignition system; Aeromotive fuel pressure regulator; Aeroquip push-lock fittings for catch can; fuel system; Fuel Injector Clinic high impedance 1,200cc injectors
Engine Management AEM Version 1 EMS
Drivetrain Prothane motor mounts; Infiniti G20T P11 transmission; LSD; Andreas Miko transmission saving bracket; Greg V power steering eliminator kit; Spec drag twin-disc clutch
Suspension Progress 32-way adjustable coilovers; Cusco strut tower bar (f); Suspension Techniques sway bars (f/r); TurboFX chromoly rear control arms
Exterior Lexus IS300 Metallic Gray paint; EDM Nissan front bumper, side marker delete moldings; VIS carbon-fiber hood; carbon-fiber hatch
Interior Custom 4-point rollcage; Sparco Fighter front seats; matching wrapped rear seats; four-point harnesses; Model R 353 steering wheel; Defi oil pressure gauge, boost gauge; AEM serial data gauge, wide-band AFR gauge; battery relocation
Wheels, Tires & Brakes Wilwood brake master cylinder, 6-piston superlight calipers (f); 11.75" two-piece rotors (f); 4-piston calipers (r); 11.75" two-piece rotors (r); 5Zigen FN01R-C matte black wheels 17x8.5" (f/r); Falken Azenis RT615 tires 205/40/17 (f/r)