After a very long time spent building, fixing, and maintaining (and a very short time spent driving) my Nissan 240SX, I've decided to introduce my project car into the pages of Sport Compact Car. This S13 fastback has seen its share of ups and downs. Hell, I even tried to sell it off at one point to the lowest bidder. But my Nissan is going to the Super Lap Battle time attack finals this year and there's no going back now. Besides, there's something about it that keeps me coming back.
It could be the Ferrari slaying 1989-vintage look that keeps the ladies coming back. It could be the strange smells and even stranger noises that the car gives off. It might even be my innerjoy over the fact that it can now go for an hour and a half on the freeway without overheating. Sweet, huh. But more than likely it's the feeling that I'm working on something, I'm getting to know it, and I'm actually seeing massive improvements.
On recent weekends, it all begins the same. I command the garage by clearing out the space, position the S13 ever so perfectly in the center, surround it with the usual offering of blue paper towels and easily misplaced sockets, and change into the nicest freebie T-shirt that I'm willing to sacrifice to oil and dirt. If I'm lucky, it'll be just about 1,000-degrees inside the garage and all my neighbors will make multiple passes to speculate about what exactly it is that I'm doing.
But none of that matters to me because what I'm doing is getting to know every facet of my S13 the old-fashioned way - by dismantling every single part of it. Dismantle the suspension system completely once and you'll have an intimate recollection of what parts were put on and how. The same goes for body panels, engine plumbing and large chunks of the interior. I've gone over every pin in the SR's ECU and I now know at exactly what angle the driver's seat must be positioned in order to bolt down the easiest. I also know exactly what got faster or tighter and at what stage did I see the most dramatic improvements. Buy a 2009 WRX and you won't feel much of an improvement by swapping to a brand new catalytic converter. Do the same to a nearly 20-year old 240SX and you've just stumbled onto gold. If only you could feel the difference a new set of bushings did for my car. I know I did.
And I know that it's for these reasons, and maybe even more unsaid, that garages and carports are considered sanctuaries by you, me, and all of our friends. They're the headquarters from which spring our fun runs, autocross days, and track weekends. The world may be a crazy place but when the blue towels come out, it's just me and my garage.