We all make compromises in life, especially with our own girlfriend or wifey. Let’s face it, girls are needy, especially when it comes to where they want to live, eat, shop, put out, etc. But every now and then, we can bribe them when there’s something we want. For Andrew Kusske, his compromise with his wife Jessica scored him this sweet ’98 Nissan 240SX.
“It started off as a bribe,” Andy began. “Back in ‘03, we were selling our first house. I wanted to relocate to California but my wife wanted to build a new house here in Minnesota. I came up with a compromise—we can stay in Minnesota if she buys me a new project car. We agreed on a set dollar amount for the car and I started my search. I couldn’t find anything I liked in the price range but I came across a mint-condition 240. The problem was it was double our agreed price. I explained to her that this was actually a better deal—it cost more up front but very little money would have to be put into it. She agreed, giving the biggest check she’d ever written.”
But little did Mrs. Kusske know, Andy would replace and modify virtually every inch of his S14, swapping the original KA for an SR20DET, rebuilding a second transmission and overhauling the chassis.
Andy’s road to a finished car began when he was a little kid who loved American V8 muscle. Years passed and he started messing with Hondas and Volkswagens. He was always a diehard car guy learning how to detail from his father and enrolling in auto body and paint school. After working at car dealerships and body repair shops, he moved on to become a sales rep for Line-X Protective Coatings where he still works today at age 35.
The story behind this project kicked off when Andy ditched his front-wheel drive toys. His friends got into Nissans so he jumped onboard. After bribing his wife and transferring the paperwork of this S14 to his name, it was time to go bananas.
The goal for the 240 wasn’t drifting or flossing at shows, but a functional road car that could take a beating on the track. Of course, jumping into Nissans with no prior knowledge can be a little tricky. Andy learned the hard way to reach the level he wanted, for example the engine. The stock KA24DE inline-four was abused for a year until a turbo kit was thrown on. “Then the motor blew up,” he laughed. “A wastegate hose melted during tuning. The head lifted a quarter-inch from the block and the rest was history.”
With a worthless motor, Andy hit the reset button and sourced another KA. Keeping it naturally-aspirated, he rebuilt the bottom-end with higher compression to rev higher and stronger. For two years, he became more acquainted with his car on the track until it was time for the next step—more power!
Like many 240 owners, Andy sought after what was available and proven to offer reliable power—the SR20DET swap. Andy found a low-mileage motor with only 33k from a shop in Texas, along with its trans, ECU and harness.
The wiring was sent off to a third-party to mate with his S14 but the rest of the work was done at home. Andy left the 2.0 liter block untouched, but pulled the cylinder head off and rebuilt everything from the gasket up. The head was ported and polished and received HKS cams, cam gears, valves, Ferrea retainers and a five-angle valve job.
Ready for more boost, Andy had his eyes on a bigger turbo that wouldn’t jeopardize torque at low RPMs. He picked up a hybrid turbo consisting of a T25 housing with a T3 wheel. A 3" GReddy downpipe was mounted on followed by a new exhaust from Rear Street Performance. The exhaust’s construction is a one-piece 3" pipe that runs all the way back to the muffler with no cat or resonator—meaning this sucker is loud!
As for the tranny, Andy is on his second transmission after the first one gave way. The five-speed manual was rebuilt with cryo-treated gears along with a Carbonetic two-way limited-slip, ACT clutch and Jun flywheel. Stronger aluminum driveshafts from the Driveshaft Shop completed his robust drivetrain.
When all was said and done, EFI Specialties configured the ECU to 350hp and 362lb-ft at the wheels.
In the midst of all the engine work, Andy didn’t neglect the chassis. A stiff setup for the track came from Tein coilovers with Eibach springs. The owner added sway and strut bars along with new bushings and rear control arms to ensure the suspension would be rock solid.
Brakes were also upgraded with larger 300ZX-spec calipers up front with Endless pads.
Andy admitted his biggest challenge was wheels. “I kept buying wheels until I found ones I liked. I’ve had six different sets,” he explained. After messing with offsets, sizes and designs, 17x9.5" Enkei RPF1s fit the bill.
The interior and exterior were kept pretty simple with new seats, a steering wheel, gauges, carbon hood and Origin rear lip. Surprisingly, Andy’s favorite part of his car wasn’t what he modified but what was kept original. “You don’t find many 240s that have the original stock body or paint,” he told us. “Most have been modified or painted. Everyone always comments about the finish on my car—they are always shocked when I tell them it’s never been repainted.”
Andy doesn’t have much more mods planned for the car but anything can change. For now, he’s built a turnkey road car with usable power, near-perfect weight balance and superior handling. All he had to do was compromise with his wife, but it was well worth it.
1998 Nissan 240SX
Owner Andrew Kusske
Hometown Camplin, Mn
Occupation Marketing Manager
Power 350hp, 362 lb-ft
Engine 2.0 liter SR20DET with five-angle valve job, polished and ported head by Head Works; HKS 264° cams, cam gears, valves, valve springs, wastegate; Ferrea retainers; ARP head studs; Tomei head gasket and rocker arm stoppers, coil pack cover, painted intake, wire tuck; Nismo motor and transmission mounts, 160 thermostat; T3/T25 hybrid turbo; ISIS v1 header wrapped; 3" Megan Racing turbo elbow with larger O2; 3" GReddy downpipe with DEI wrap, V-SPL intercooler, fuel pressure regulator, catch can and oil cap; Heavy Throttle hot pipe; TiAL 50mm blow-off valve; Phase 2 Motortrend intercooler piping; Full Blown boost controller; A’PEXi super suction intake with Z32 mass air flow sensor; ported intake; R34 GTR fuel pump; Sard 550cc injectors; Z32 fuel filter; 3" exhaust; deleted cat and resonator; NGK spark plugs; Splitfire plug wires; Samco radiator hoses; Flex-a-Lite 14" radiator fan; Wiring Specialties harness; Optima Red Top battery relocated to trunk; painted valve cover
Drivetrain five-speed rebuilt with cryo-treated gears; Carbonetic two-way limited-slip differential; Driveshaft Shop one-piece aluminum driveshaft; ACT stage 2 clutch; Jun flywheel; B&M shift lever
Engine Management AFC II A’PEXi piggyback EMS; EFI Specialties flash
Footwork & Chassis Tein Super Drift coilovers with Eibach 12K front and 10K rear springs, Tein camber plates; Tanabe front sway bar; Cusco rear sway bar, rear control arms, front tension rods; SPL end-links; Project Nissan front and rear strut bars; Energy Suspension polyurethane bushings; Auto Power four-point rollbar
Brakes 300ZX front calipers; Endless CCRG pads, Project Nissan stainless lines; Wilwood proportioning valve and master cylinder; deleted brake booster; Chase Bays brake line tuck
Wheels & Tires 17x9.5" Enkei RPF1 ET+18 wheels; 235/40 R17 Maxxis ZR1 tires; Project Nissan lug nuts
Exterior Origin carbon rear lip; VIS carbon hood; F1-style carbon mirrors; DI-NOC wrapped hood and trunk; rolled fenders; tinted side markers; HD Supply 6000K HIDs
Interior Kirkey Road Course seats; Bride seat rails; RCI Platinum four-point harnesses; Sparco World Champion 330mm steering wheel, pedals; NRG hub and quick-release; GReddy shift knob, custom gauge cluster; Auto Meter tachometer, fuel, water temp, boost and oil pressure gauges; A’PEXi rev/speed meter
Audio JVC head unit
Thanks You my wife Jessica for agreeing to our compromise; my fur-baby, Chewie, who loves to sit in her stroller and keep me company during the long nights spent working in the garage
www www.apexi-usa.com; greddy.com; hksusa.com; isisperformance.com; tein.com