When your company is named after a quarter-mile time, your flagship vehicle can't just flutter about languidly, it has to fly stout and strong. The Nissan 240SX of 9secondracing.com does just that.
While the rear-wheel drive platform and compact size has gained the 240 a healthy following in the last few years, the 2.4-liter, 160-hp engine propelling this drifter-in-waiting is at best uninspiring and anemic.
Enter Eric Hinckley and Matt Wishart. The owners of 9secondracing.com, both in their mid-20s, decided the best way to spruce things up would be to shoehorn a six-cylinder, twin-turbo engine from the skin-tingling Skyline into a 240SX.
"We contemplated doing a few projects about a year ago and decided on the 240SX-RB26 swap for several reasons," said Hinckley. "First, the 240SX was starting to make its mark in the drifting world. Being easily obtainable here in the United States, many people seeking the thrill of the 'drift' used the Nissan."
"In the tuner/import world, the ultimate car seems to be the Nissan Skyline GT-R," adds Hinckley. "With our current import law in the United States, it is difficult and very costly to bring a legalized version to drive daily on U.S. soil. One of the main reasons the Skyline is so great is because of its engine-it's extremely powerful and nearly indestructible. So we came up with the ultimate marriage, the RB240SX. What could be better than a U.S.-production, rear-wheel drive Nissan merged with an imported Godzilla motor? Nothing."
With their standards set high, the lads at 9SR set about to attain their goals. Hinckley's partner Wishart explain the game plan in detail:1. Buy 240SX2. Install Skyline motor3. Start and drive
The 11-month procedure from paper to powerslide took a few more steps than previously mentioned. First, Hinckley had to find an unfettered example of a 240. "I was looking for one with decent interior because I knew I would be fixing up the body and of course the engine," says Hinckley. "I found one on eBay for $5,000 in Indiana and had a buddy fly out and drive it back."
The ensuing swap was anything but straightforward. After removing the KA24 upper wiring harness, the entire 240SX engine was removed along with the transmission and radiator, fans and all. The air conditioning condenser was tossed to make room for the Koyo aluminum racing radiator.
In the transition from all-wheel drive to rear-wheel drive, the RB26's oil pan was replaced with one rom an RB25 (R32 RWD version) with the baffles cut out to accommodate the RB26 strainer. "Most oil pans come right off and weigh around 10 pounds," Hinckley mentions. "But the entire RB26 oil pan is around 70 pounds. The front driveshaft and differential are attached to the stock oil pan."
At this point, the turbos needed to be rebuilt, as the ceramic impellers on the stock units tend to explode above 1.2 bar. Hinckley and Wishart wanted to push a lot more boost than that. They used the stock compressor and exhaust housing but modified the compressor wheels. With the internals rebuilt, the custom TEC GT28 T3 63 trim turbos with .42 A/R can support 375 hp each.
After the twin turbos were "titaned-up" the motor and tranny were to be installed as one unit onto custom mounts. A bit of massaging ensured the longer block didn't vibrate excessively against the firewall. Immediately after, the shortened driveshaft was installed. After this, a custom downpipe was fitted around the 240SX's steering column to keep the twin-turbo setup.
More obstacles awaited the chaps of 9secondracing.com before they could pump fluid through the heart of their hybrid. An Optima Yellow Top battery got relocated to the trunk while the wiper fluid reservoir was kicked out altogether. This improved balance and made more room for the longitudinally mounted six.
A major obstacle in any motor swap is the wiring harness. This one was no exception. The upper harnesses of both the RB26 and the KA24 had to be spliced together as the former has six individual coils while the latter has a distributor. This is the main item the different harnesses control. The lower KA harness can be used for the starter signal and speedometer and tachometer functions.
Other electrical obstacles included the removal of the stock RB26 mass air sensors and the subsequent replacement with an HKS Vein Pressure Converter.
The VPC essentially tricks the ECU into thinking the mass air sensors (which are typically very restrictive above 400-hp levels) are still there. As a bonus there are two dials set in the dash that allow the driver to adjust air flow to run richer or leaner in either gain (regular driving mode) or idle.
The gizmo list goes on and on with a gaggle of goodies from A'PEXi: tach, boost controller, turbo timer and the E.L. system control box for playback peak and warning functions. Not only are the Indiglo-backed numbers useful, they make Hinckley and Wishart feel like they're in a nightclub whenever the sun goes down. They can also get busy on the laptop when needed thanks to Datalogit Power FC software.
As if all this electronic doohickery isn't enough, a methanol injection system by Snow Performance was added to the mix. The methanol is stored in the trunk and runs through the upper intercooler piping. It is sprayed at 220 psi with 50 percent water, so by the time it hits the combustion chamber it's basically a vapor.
The mixture cools the engine so predetonation does not occur, allowing the timing to be advanced, which allows for more boost. At press time, the RB26 made a dyno run of 447 whp and 437 lb-ft at 1 bar (14.7 psi) on 91-octane fuel.
At this point, the motor was still having some ignition issues therefore could not run as much boost as planned. With a few glitches sorted out, the car should be making 700 whp. While cold weather in Colorado prohibited any angry runs down the 1320 before press time, 10-second passes are predicted once Bandimere Speedway dries up with nine-second runs feasible at sea level. Just like the name says.
Of course, all this power wouldn't be as appealing without good looks and a stout set of legs. The 240 hangs on an HSD HR suspension that is adjustable for camber, rebound, compression and ride height. HSD is an OEM manufacturer for Korean cars that makes a setup similar to Tein's. The springs are set up at 8,000 kilos of compression per millimeter fore and 6,000 aft.
The rollers the springs support are Volk Racing GT-Cs in gunmetal. The guys at 9SR had to wait more than nine months to get the color and lip size they wanted (2-inches in the front and 2 1/2-inches in the rear).
Exterior upgrades are simple but effective. A VIS Racing R33 Skyline Omega body kit keeps with the Godzilla theme, even though this story hasn't, cardinal red paint and a GT-Spec EC-05 60-inch carbon-fiber wing add the requisite hard edge to the appearance of this Japanese monster. In addition to the bright red paint, there are white graphics in various spots around the body. If you look close, you can read the one on the side. It reads 9 Second Racing.
Whether or not this hybrid heavyweight from the East will be a Godzilla or one of his milder relatives remains to be seen. The fellas have plans to turn it into an RB30 in the future. Only future dyno runs can tell the destruction this force-inducted phenom may lay down. We'll keep you updated as this project rolls on.
In the meantime, it 's on the list of the planet's most powerful 240s.
Spec Chart: 9secondracing.com's 1997 RB26-powered 240SXEngine1994 R32 Nissan Skyline RB26DETTCustom RB26/240SX upper wiring harnessCustom Turbo Engineering Corporation (TEC) Twin GT28 T3 63trim turbos240SX/RB26 motor and tranny mountsYonaka Motorsports 24x12x3-inch FMICA'PEXi universal twin-chamber BOV9SR 3-inch polished aluminum intercooler pipingCustom 13-row oil coolerFlex-A-Lite fanOptima Yellow Top batteryRelocated oil filter with 12 AN stainless-steel linesCustom downpipeRB25 oil pan modified to fit on RB26 blockKoyo Aluminum racing radiatorSnow Performance methanol injection
DrivetrainRB25 five-speed, rear-wheel-drive manual transmissionS14 limited-slip differentialCustom one-piece driveshaftFuel Aeromotive adjustable fuel pressure regulator880cc injectorsA'PEXi BNR32 high-flow in-tank fuel pumpHKS Twin-power DLI ignition booster
ExhaustA'PEXi 240SX GT Spec cat-back system
InteriorMomo four-point harnesses, Racer seats, Trek steering wheel, GP pedals, Raptor shift knob
ElectronicsA'PEXi Power FCA'PEXi FC CommanderA'PEXi E.L. II gauges: boost, oil temp, EGT, fuel pressure, oil pressureA'PEXi E.L. II System Control BoxA'PEXi DECS 5-inch TachometerA'PEXi AVC-R Electronic Boost ControllerA'PEXi Turbo TimerA'PEXi Rev/Speed meterPLX Devices M500wideband O2 kit with DataloggerDatalogit-Power FC softwareHKS VPC
SuspensionHSD HR 16-way adjustable coil-oversGT Spec 240SX front strut tower bar
BrakesConcept 2 Performance (C2P) six-piston calipers and 13-inch two-piece front rotorsBrembo drilled and slotted rear brake rotors
WheelsVolk Racing GT-C Gunmetal, 18x8 (F) & 18x9 (R)Nitto 555 Extreme tires, 225/40-18 (F), 245/35-18(R)
ExteriorVIS Racing R33 Skyline Omega body kitVIS Racing Invader carbon-fiber hoodPPG cardinal red paintR33 Skyline fog lightsGT Spec EC-05 60-inch carbon-fiber wing
ICEKenwood in-dash double-din 7-inch touchscreen TV/DVD/CD/MP3/NavigationEclipse 6.5-inch front and rear speakersJL Audio 10W3V2 subJL Audio 300/2 sub amp