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1996 Nissan 240SX, 1997 Nissan 240SX and 1998 Nissan 240SX - The Hi Life

Keeping the scene alive in the 808-state.

Mar 9, 2012
Photographer: Jonathan Wong
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Sstp 1203 01+1996 1997 1998 nissan 240sx+cover Photo 1/18   |   1996 Nissan 240SX, 1997 Nissan 240SX and 1998 Nissan 240SX - The Hi Life

Sorry Hawaii—we’ve neglected you for quite awhile now. We used to give the 50th US state regular coverage in Super Street with events like Streetcar Showoff and shops like Hypersports, both of which are long gone. The motorsport scene was also popping when Hawaii Raceway Park regularly held open drift sessions and weekend drag racing. But for the last six years, there hasn’t been a place to legally race on the island of Oahu because the track shut down. It didn't matter if you were into quarter-mile racing, road course driving or drifting, there was no place to go. However, last year we started seeing some Hawaiian cars creating a buzz on the web so we revisited the 808-state for the HellaFlush and Wekfest car shows. We can safely say Hawaii is still holding it down and these three S14s are the proof we were looking for.

We hooked up with Ross Maeshiro, one of the guys behind local clothing company JSPIRIT and retail store JSPL. His store sits on the second floor of Import Dynamics, where many locals go to get anything done from an ECU tune, dyno testing or install work. Also sharing a space from Import Dynamics is the new shop on the block, Alpha Project Garage (APG). Barry Higa is the mastermind behind APG and has become known as the go-to guy on the island for anything related to an S-chassis or SR motor.

The Mechanic
Barry’s start wasn’t all peaches and cream. He used to work a nine-to-five warehouse job but eventually picked up Nissans as a hobby. Now he lives and breathes cars, managing a store during the day called Race Factory where he installs auto accessories and alarms. By night, the wrenching doesn’t stop as he operates his side business, APG.

Sstp 1203 02+1998 nissan 240sx+1998 rear view Photo 2/18   |   1996 Nissan 240SX, 1997 Nissan 240SX and 1998 Nissan 240SX - The Hi Life

Out of the three cars here, Barry’s personal ride is the most subdued. It’s clean, simple, yet has the most power. The S14 is Barry’s first car that he’s owned and built since ’99. It’s been taken apart and put back together countless times and undoubtedly one of the most well-known cars on the island.

Many people might remember it when it was blue and then he painted it gunmetal. Today, it’s on its third color, white, and sports a slick Vertex kit with JDM lights, pulled fenders and Volk TE-37 wheels.

Under the hood is a beauty in itself. Since Barry finished his SR20DET swap, he’s been mixing and matching turbos and manifolds until the top-mount version seen here. Just before our photo shoot, Import Dynamics tuned the car to 503whp and 412 lb-ft of torque on pump fuel.

Sstp 1203 03+1998 nissan 240sx+1998 full view Photo 3/18   |   1996 Nissan 240SX, 1997 Nissan 240SX and 1998 Nissan 240SX - The Hi Life

With crazy street power and good looks, Barry still remains modest. He enjoys helping other people out more than working on his own car, which is why the other two S14 owners looked to him for help.

Tuning Menu
1998 Nissan 240SX
Owner Barry Higa
Hometown Aiea, HI
Occupation Manager at Race Factory/Sound Bay, Owner of Alpha Project Garage
Power 503hp, 412lb-ft of torque
Engine SR20DET Blacktop with 86.5mm CP pistons; Eagle rods; GReddy valve springs, intake manifold, pulleys and front-mount intercooler; BCR retainers; Tomei 256° camshafts and fuel pressure regulator; A'PEXi head gasket; ARP head studs; 850cc injectors; Walbro 255lph fuel pump; Taka oil filter relocation kit; Full-Race GT3071R turbo, exhaust manifold and downpipe; TiAL 44mm wastegate; HKS Racing blow-off valve; Splitfire coil packs; Koyo radiator; dual FAL fans; Samco hoses; Cusco motor mounts; NISMO transmission mount
Drivetrain Five-speed manual with OS Giken Super Single clutch; carbon driveshaft; NISMO two-way limited-slip differential
Engine Management A'PEXi Power FC D-Jetro; GReddy Profec-B boost controller
Footwork & Chassis Silk Road coilovers; TEIN tie rods; Battle Version tension Rods; Peak Performance rear upper control arms, rear traction rods and rear toe rods; Cusco front tower bar; JIC rear carbon strut bar; Tanabe sway bars
Brakes 300ZX front and rear brakes; Project Mu pads; stainless lines
Wheels & Tires 18x9.5" Volk Racing TE-37 wheels; 225/40R18 Falken ZE-512 tires
Exterior Vertex bumper and side skirts; Seibon carbon hood; Aerocatch hood pins; JDM headlights, grille, turn signals, window visors and power folding mirrors
Interior Bride Zeta III driver seat, Ergo II passenger seat; Nardi Classic steering wheel; Cusco six-point rollcage; HKS Camp-II, JDM climate control and seatbelts; Alpine in-dash DVD head unit thanks you Hypersports, Import Dynamics, JSPL/JSPIRIT, Race Factory, Sound Bay, Auto Customs, Alpha Project Garage and big thanks to all my family and friends that helped me with my car!
Thanks You Hypersports, Import Dynamics, JSPL/JSPIRIT, Race Factory, Sound Bay, Auto Customs, Alpha Project Garage and big thanks to all my family and friends that helped me with my car!

Sstp 1203 16+1998 nissan 240sx+owner Photo 7/18   |   1996 Nissan 240SX, 1997 Nissan 240SX and 1998 Nissan 240SX - The Hi Life
Sstp 1203 08+1996 nissan 240sx+1996 cover Photo 8/18   |   1996 Nissan 240SX, 1997 Nissan 240SX and 1998 Nissan 240SX - The Hi Life

The Supermodel
As long as Barry has been building his S14, so has Brad Hasegawa. Brad entered the game 10 years ago the first time he laid eyes on drifting. After messing with Civics, he quickly turned to this 240SX and never looked back. He began to learn how to drift but with the track closure the car was put on the backburner until last year with the help of Barry. Now it’s arguably one of the sexiest cars that has ever been built on the island.

The S14’s outfitted with all the proper chassis gear such as JIC coils, upgraded tie rods, control arms, driveshaft and a rollcage. The SR swap is pushing around 330whp, which Brad told us is maxed out with its T28 GT-RS turbo.

The thing that stands out most though is its supermodel looks. Glowing in Honda’s New Formula red paint, the S14 is dressed in a rare BN Sports body kit with widebody fenders, something Brad had to pull strings to import to Hawaii. The car also features some staggered Weds wheels with massive dish.

With the car’s neat fit and finish, Brad tells us he doesn’t drive the car as much as he would like but he’s far from done. He’s planning to make at least 400whp by next year; regardless it’s a prime example that the Hawaiian scene is far from over.

Tuning Menu
1996 Nissan 240SX
Owner Brad Hasegawa
Hometown Pearl City, HI
Occupation Alarm Technician
Power 330whp
Engine SR20DET Blacktop with BCR titanium valve springs and retainers; Tomei 256° Poncams; Tomei rocker arm stoppers and turbo outlet pipe; A'PEXi head gasket; T28 GT-RS turbo; Uras manifold; Sard 550cc fuel injectors and fuel pressure regulator; Blitz downpipe; Reinhard exhaust; HKS air filter; GReddy intake manifold, pulley kit and oil pan
Drivetrain Five-speed manual with ORC 409 clutch and flywheel; DriveshaftShop one-piece driveshaft; KAAZ two-way LSD; C’s short shifter
Engine Management A'PEXi Power FC D-Jetro, AVC-R boost controller
Footwork & Chassis JIC coilovers and rear strut bar; Kazama Auto inner and outer tie rods, rear upper control arms, traction and toe rods; Cusco six-point rollcage
Brakes 300ZX front and rear brakes
Wheels & Tires 18x9.5" front, 18x11.5" rear Weds Cerebeus wheels, 225/40R18 front, 265/35R18 rear Dunlop tires
Exterior Kouki front-end conversion; BN Sports bumpers, side skirts, 30mm front and 50mm rear fenders; Seibon carbon-fiber hood; JDM amber bumper lights; Honda New Formula red paint
Interior Bride Zeta III Seats; JDM seat belt holders and gauge cluster, Defi boost gauge, control unit, heads-up display; leather interior swap; Alpine head unit
Thanks You Jesus Christ, Barry Higa, Gavyn Abe, Taka Soma, Seth Stubenberg and everyone else at Import Dynamics, JSPL/JSPIRIT, Race Factory, Sound Bay, Kent Ishihara, Jon Magruder, Daniel Vidad and everyone else who helped!

Sstp 1203 17+1996 nissan 240sx+owner Photo 12/18   |   1996 Nissan 240SX, 1997 Nissan 240SX and 1998 Nissan 240SX - The Hi Life
Sstp 1203 12+1997 nissan 240sx+1997 cover Photo 13/18   |   1996 Nissan 240SX, 1997 Nissan 240SX and 1998 Nissan 240SX - The Hi Life

The Chief
Sean Tao makes his living as a crew chief for the Hawaiian Air National Guard and his roots in the scene run deep. Growing up with muscle cars and motorcycles, he caught wind of drifting in the 90s, discovering the power behind Japanese cars. It was unreal to him that cars like the 240SX were pushing 100+hp per cylinder with as much power as American V8s. So he made a move that would change the way he looked at cars forever. He bought an S14 with the intention of drifting and also started a clothing line called Drift Apparel. But like the rest of Hawaii when the track closed down, the company dwindled and he set aside his S14 until last year.

Sstp 1203 13+1997 nissan 240sx+1997 full view Photo 14/18   |   1996 Nissan 240SX, 1997 Nissan 240SX and 1998 Nissan 240SX - The Hi Life

Half the car was already put together so all Sean had to do was tie up loose ends. Barry stepped in to finish the wiring and all the detail work required with the SR swap. With a custom turbo setup fabricated by Full-Race featuring a hybrid T3 turbo and minimal plumbing, the motor was tuned by Import Dynamics and threw down 386.5whp on pump gas.

The rest of the car is a rolling masterpiece. The Works9 kit wasn’t easy to get; in fact, a close friend had to hand-carry the pieces on a flight from Japan to Hawaii. There’s also a C-West spoiler, BN Sports rear fenders and a Seibon carbon hood that’s been wrapped with a Japanese painting Sean admired kind of his own spin on what Hachi guys do with the famous Hokusai painting. The car was finished off with a custom teal two-tone paint job and Work VS-KF wheels.

Sean’s car is a role model in the Hawaiian scene, much like Barry and Brad’s S14s as well. All three guys are hardcore Nissan enthusiasts who refuse to let an island without a racetrack stop the hobby, passion and lifestyle they love most.

Tuning Menu
1997 Nissan 240SX
OWNER Sean Tao
Hometown Aiea, HI
Occupation KC-135R Crew Chief for the Hawaiian Air National Guard
Power 385.5hp, 322lb-ft on pump gas
Engine SR20DET Blacktop with titanium valve spring retainers; Tomei rocker arm stoppers, Poncams and fuel pump; thermal intake gasket; Blitz 550cc injectors; billet inline fuel filter; Sard fuel pressure regulator; HKS fuel rail; GReddy intake manifold, oil pan and pulleys; Attain throttle wheel; oil relocation kit; Earls external oil cooler and braided plumbing; Billion Power steering reservoir; braided power steering lines; Koyo radiator; Circuit Sports coolant reservoir; Samco radiator hoses; Flex-A-Lite dual electric fans; DEI electronic fan controller; Garrett T3 turbo with GT2871R compressor; Full-Race top-mount manifold and intercooler; TiAL 50mm blow-off valve and MV-S wastegate; HKS exhaust
Drivetrain Five-speed manual with NISMO 1.5-way limited-slip differential
Engine Management A'PEXi Power FC D-Jetro fuel management, MAP sensor conversion and AVC-R electronic boost controller; HKS Turbo timer
Footwork & Chassis Megan Racing Track coilovers; Cusco six-point rollcage; JIC rear strut bar; Battle Version tension rods
Brakes 300ZX front calipers; Circuit Sports steel braided lines
Wheels & Tires 18x9.5" front and 18x10" rear Work VS-KF Burning Black wheels; 225/40R18 front and 235/40R18 rear Nexen tires
Exterior Works9 Japan S14.5 conversion body kit; BN Sports 50mm rear over fenders; C-West trunk lip spoiler; Seibon S15 carbon hood
Interior Bride bucket seats; Defi gauges
Thanks You Barry Higa, Scott Kamalii, Kent Ishihara of Imagery Graphics, Alfie Alferes of Advance Graphics, Seth Stubenberg of Import Dynamics

Sstp 1203 18+1997 nissan 240sx+owner Photo 18/18   |   1996 Nissan 240SX, 1997 Nissan 240SX and 1998 Nissan 240SX - The Hi Life
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