It's truly incredible what you can find in Japan if you dig deep enough. Away from the big established shops everyone knows, there is a multitude of tiny local garages that line the country, but if it weren't for shows like the Nagoya Exciting Car Showdown it would be virtually impossible to see any of their creations. It was in this way that we stumbled upon Ziek Power, a small tuning outfit from the Shiga Prefecture, a short drive away from the beautiful Lake Biwa. With a big drift-oriented customer base, over the years they've become specialists in the field, but like we recently saw with their impressive S15 time attack machine, their focus has begun to shift. It seems grip is the way a lot of their customers are beginning to lean towards and as Ichiyanagi-san, Ziek's chief mechanic tells us, this pink RPS13 is the most extreme customer car they have built so far. Originally a drift car, the owner got fed up wasting money on tires and spare body parts, and decided to transform it into a more dedicated, track-only, grip machine.
Judging from the pink widebody exterior, one would be forgiven for assuming this particular 180SX looks like a drift car; after all it's extremely difficult for any S-chassis model to not be associated with the sport of drifting. The body was taken care of initially when the car was still used to tackle corners sideways, and is composed of Origin bumpers and side skirts joined by slightly wider and blistered front and rear Koguchi Power fenders. To make it more suitable for grip racing, a few aerodynamic additions were added, like the adjustable GT-wing and the front carbon canards, all from Origin. These help the car out on the faster circuits like Suzuka and Okayama, generating a good level of downforce at both ends. Even vortex generators were fitted at the rear to help make the car more stable, while the carbon side mirrors create less turbulence thanks to their small size. The Koguchi Power aero hood helps shave lots of weigh from the front end through its FRP construction, and promotes engine cooling via the generously sized air outlets. More weight was dropped via the custom headlight conversion where the pop-up style projectors are replaced by fixed units that seem to peek through the obliquely cut covers. Very menacing and all finished off with 3M carbon vinyl to match the rest of the carbon detailing. The Work Emotion 11R FT sport glossy black spokes and a diamond cut lip giving the impression of a 2-piece split wheel design. These 9.5J-wide 18-inch rims are fitted with Dunlop Direzza 03G rubber, 265/35R18 at all four corners to get the most grip possible. The 265 by 18-inch is usually referred to as GT-R size in Japan and the similarities with the 180SX's bigger AWD brother don't end there as behind the Works, BCNR33 Brembo brakes can be found at both the front and the rear. These are mated to stock GT-R discs and Acre brake pads.
The transition towards grip called for some serious chassis enhancements if things were to be done right. So opening the lightweight stripped door reveals an interior more akin to a true race car than a beaten up drift car. To achieve this, a complete strip down to the bare metal was required followed by a 14-point rollcage, custom fabricated and welded in place. Multiple cross bars were lined across the doors and hatch area, the rest finished off with a good dose of spot-welding. When completed the whole chassis was sprayed white inside and out, a great way to guarantee a clean and professional build. The suspension was next, the adjustable Zeal Super Function dampers fitted into position along with adjustable top mounts, able to provide the necessary negative camber settings a track car requires. Cusco adjustable tension rods for the front went on, while the rear was treated to a set of adjustable upper arms, and toe control bars. The Cusco upgrades are finished off with a set of strut bars helping stiffen up the front and rear suspension turrets. With all of the important bits fitted it was the SR20DET that was next on the cards.
While power is everything on a drift car, an engine destined for time attack has to offer a fine balance between performance and response. After all, if you can't put the power down to the ground you aren't going to go anywhere. Tomei Power was called in to supply the 87mm oversized pistons and lightweight H-section connecting rods that were to be dropped into the honed and prepped SR block. The stock crank was deemed strong enough to handle the proposed power levels but was fitted with Tomei bearings to keep things running reliably. With response high on the list of objectives, it's no surprise a lot of work went into the porting and polishing of the head, before being fitted with Tomei springs, retainers and solid pivots. Again from Tomei are the 260º cams and 1.2 mm thick metal head gasket, completing a rather impressive series of modifications. The turbine of choice is an externally gated IHI RX6, just the right size to supply the required 450 HP at 1.5-bar of boost. Spent gasses are channeled away by the custom Ziek big bore front pipe and exhaust system. The RX6 breathes freely without any form of filtering and is connected to the HPI twin core intercooler thanks to one-off aluminum piping. Throttling is handled by the big 90 mm Infiniti valve mounted on the Ziek intake plenum, an item designed to supply an equal amount of air to each of the four cylinders. Nismo 740 cc/min injectors are needed to keep the fuel supply in check and are kept topped up by the in-tank Nismo large capacity fuel pump. Cooling has been addressed by a large Koyo radiator and a HPI oil cooler, which is mounted along an oil filter relocation kit for easy maintenance. Ziek are great fans of Tomei products and like on most of their cars run a Rytec ECU to take care of engine management. In an effort to use the engine's capabilities efficiently an HPI six-speed short ratio gearbox has been fitted. This replacement transmission, based on a Nismo 6-speeder, allows for a well thought-out spread of gears to offer both great response and torque pick up through slow corners as well as a fast top end. Final bits are a Nismo twin plate Copper Mix clutch and a tight Cusco 2 Way LSD which helps get the best grip from the rear 265/25R18 Dunlops.
The owner has created a very cozy environment inside, as he sits in the carbon-fiber Recaro bucket within the safety confines of the custom rollcage. To facilitate dropping in and climbing out of the deeply bolstered seat the Nardi steering wheel can be napped off via the Works Bell boss. Instrumentation is kept to a minimum with the only addition of four A'PEXi EL gauges, three interestingly hanged under the rearview mirror and the fourth, on the left corner of the instrument binnacle. The stock meters have been upgraded with custom black on white faces and to avoid reflection the whole dash has been flocked with every air vent closed up, adding to the minimalistic feel of the interior. A/C and audio have been removed to save weight so the only use for the center console is to house the custom carbon switch panel where the HKS boost controller is also located.
The conversion to grip spec has been a satisfactory one for the owner who is continually improving his times at his favorite tracks. Cars like this are more of a representation of what goes on in Japan than what the bigger internationally acclaimed shops would like us to believe. For this precise reason we can't wait to hit the next Nagoya Exciting Car Showdown in 2011 to hunt down more cars of the same caliber.
Nissan 180SX RPS13
Owner Kiyohito Mukai
Hometown Higahiomi, Shiga
Occupation Car salesman
Power 444hp; 347 lb-ft; max boost 1.5kg/cm2
Engine Tomei 87 mm forged pistons, H-section connecting rods, bearings, 1.2mm metal head gasket, 260 Pro cams (12mm lift IN/EX), valve springs, titanium retainers, solid pivots; A'PEXi exhaust manifold; IHI RX6 turbocharger; Trust external wastegate; Ziek custom 80 mm front pipe, ported and polished cylinder head, custom intercooler piping, custom intake plenum, custom oil catch tank; HPI twin core intercooler, 13-row oil cooler and oil filter relocation kit; Nismo low-temp thermostat, fuel pump and 740cc injectors; Infiniti 90 mm throttle-body; SARD fuel pressure regulator; Koyo radiator; Power Enterprise oil filter; Denso spark plugs
Drivetrain HPI 6-speed close ratio transmission; Nismo Super Copper Mix twin-plate clutch and 2-way GT LSD
Engine Management Tomei Reytec ECU; HKS EVC boost controller
Footwork & Chassis Zeal Super Function adjustable dampers and X Coil springs (10 kg/mm front & rear); Cusco adjustable tension rods, adjustable rear upper arms, rear toe control arms and front/rear strut bars
Brakes Nissan R33 GT-R 4-pot Brembo front calipers/R33 GT-R 2-pot Brembo rear calipers; Kinokuni braided mesh lines; Acre brake pads all round
Wheels & Tires Work Emotion 11R FT 18x9.5" front & rear; Dunlop Direzza 03G 265/35R18
Exterior Origin Stream Line front bumper, carbon canards, GT wing and carbon under canards; Koguchi Power hood, wide front fenders, wide rear overfenders; Ziek custom headlight conversion; carbon vortex generator
Interior Custom 14-point rollcage; fully spot welded shell; Urethane injected sills; custom carbon-fiber door inserts; Recaro carbon racing bucket; Works Bell quick-release; HPI 6-point racing harness; Nardi steering wheel; custom carbon center console & switchgear; A'PEXi EL gauges: boost, water temp, oil temp, oil pressure