Family is an incredibly important factor in everyone’s life. They help shape who you are, from childhood to the adult years, passing on values that you’ll hold throughout your lifetime. They are there at your greatest hits and catch you when you fall. If you’re an automotive enthusiast, you probably understand that your build is only as good as the sum of its parts. That also holds true to you as a person; like your project car, you too, are only as good as the sum of your parts—your parts, however, aren’t “parts” per se—they are the people that you hold dear to you. And don’t forget the friends who are like family—they’re all an essential part to making you, well, you. But unlike your friends, who more than likely share your same passions (especially for cars), family can often times miss the point, and while they still support your desire to go buckwild on a car, they don’t fully grasp the “why” portion.
Luckily, Brett Levan doesn’t have that problem. Not only does his family fully support his hobby, they are also important contributors to his build. Brett has friends who are fellow car heads but the two men he considers to be his source of motivation for his 1993 Nissan 240SX project are his father and grandfather. They are enthusiasts like him and the automotive bug just seems to run in their blood. “My whole family has been into cars as long as I can remember,” he says. “This build has been a family effort and I can’t thank them enough for their help. How many people can say that they shared a project with their grandfather, you know?”
Loyalty is probably a key value taught in the Levan family because this isn’t Brett’s first go-round with the S13 chassis. He built one pretty extensively before and has stayed true to the platform. Had it not been for the previous statement, you might have assumed it was the same car. His reason for starting over with another S13 is because of how meticulous he is; there were some issues with body damage here and there that turned Brett off from building his Nissan to its maximum potential. If he were able to find another, it would’ve offered a fresh canvas for the trio to work on.
“My father, Jay, was the one who actually found this (240SX). He knew that I had been looking for one and spotted one for sale down the road from his house. Like his previous chassis, ironically enough, it was also gold in color and SE-trim. He said that it was one of the cleanest, completely-stock S13 chassis he’d ever seen so I took his word for it and went down to buy it. Turns out that the 240SX had only two owners its entire life and the guy I bought it from had owned it since 1995—I couldn’t have asked for a better chassis to build and it’s cool that my dad helped discover this gem,” Brett recalls.
After the purchase, the car was only driven once in its completely stock state before taking it to his grandfather’s shop for the teardown. The 240SX may have been unmolested, but it didn’t mean that the plan was to keep it that way; Brett just wanted to be the first one to lay a hand on it. The first order of business was stripping the entire car down to its bare shell. Brett and his grandfather, Gary, started by pulling the front end, doors and rear hatch off of the car before ditching the aged brown interior. He had plans to go with an all-black interior later on so it was unnecessary to hold onto any of the old interior pieces. Once the chassis was stripped down, Brett dived right into the bodywork. There wasn’t anything significant that needed to be repaired, but a nearly two-decade old chassis shows its age. Prepping the body also helped to get the car in and out of the body shop in a timely manner after the entire shell was sprayed a custom metallic teal.
Every suspension component was either replaced or serviced before returning to the underside of the chassis. A new steering rack was sourced to replace the worn-out OE rack along with fresh 5-lug wheel hubs. BC Racing adjustable coilovers brings the 240SX lower to the ground while various front and rear suspension arms from ISIS Performance are used to tighten up handling. For braking power, Brett went the “OE-upgrade” route with re-manufactured Z32 300ZX brakes up front instead of opting for an aftermarket big brake kit. Brett and his grandpa noticed that the original gas tank had been smashed somehow, so they managed to locate a brand-new factory tank to replace it. Brett explains: “Throughout the entire build, I was able to locate a number of random original equipment pieces from various sources. I even found a complete, brand-new OEM sunroof for my car. I couldn’t stand how my other car always had a whistle from the sunroof so I didn’t take any chances with this chassis and just replaced the whole thing.” Brand new factory door trim and window seals were installed as well to ensure that everything was sealed up airtight.
Wheel selection is paramount for any build and it was something that weighed heavily on Brett’s mind. He wanted to run something aggressive, but not in a way where it altered the original lines of the S13. Using some pinpoint measuring skills, he ultimately decided on a staggered set of 3-piece, 18-inch Work Meister S1s. Complementing the brand-new Work rollers is a steady diet of OEM style in the form of JDM 180SX Type X aero. The signature look of the 240SX’s Japanese Type X counterpart often leaves American S13 fanatics scratching their heads and wondering why their cars never came that way. Though this Nissan carries a strictly Japanese-specific aesthetic, what sits beneath the hood is not the SR20DET swap you would expect. In fact, there is nothing SR about it at all. Instead, you’ll find a built KA24DE motor that Brett and family turbocharged. Why Nissan’s torquey truck/original 240SX motor instead of the graceful SR-motor from the Japanese Silvia? Allow him to clarify: “I chose to stick with the KA because I didn’t want to deal with the hassle of getting a junk motor from an importer. The engine in the car wasn’t in too bad of shape and I honestly like the KA when it’s boosted. Torque is close to the same as that of an SR20DET and the power numbers aren’t too far off. A lot of other 240 guys probably won’t agree with me but that’s just my opinion and preference.”
As stated earlier, Brett set out to rid the car of the original brown interior so that he could convert to a full black variation. To say that he went a little overboard would be an understatement. “I went a little bonkers when it came to the interior stuff. I searched every available dealership I could for OE replacement components, many of which are discontinued. I found brand new center air vents, various switches and buttons, as well as screws. Everything else was reconditioned to be like new. I already had the JDM 180SX seats in my previous S13 so I just moved them over.”
The entire build comes together just beautifully. At a glance, you would think that Brett’s 180SX-converted S13 came straight from Japan. In contrast, the interior is as new and as original as possible. The engine bay and boosted KA shows the most significant amount of customization. If anyone is somehow able to get under the vehicle, they’ll even notice that the suspension has been overhauled and the undercarriage has been re-sprayed with new sound deadening material. Even with all that work, the build is still outshined by the idea that it was all done by three men from three different generations of the same family.
“My favorite part of this entire build is what it represents. I set out to build a timeless car that I could enjoy for years to come and I know I’ll always be able to look back and remember that I shared this project with my dad and grandfather. I couldn’t be happier with the final product but it’s important to me that I have all these great family memories to hold onto because of this car.”
1993 Nissan 240SX SE
Owner Brett Levan
Hometown Clermont, FL
Occupation Shipping Manager, Enjuku Racing
Engine 1993 Nissan 2.4L KA24DE engine assembly ported, polished and deck-honed with 0.2mm over-bored block; Brian Crower valve springs, retainers; ARP head studs; Cometic head gasket; brand new OEM timing chain, valve seals, connecting rods, crankshaft, pulleys, oil pan, cooling hoses; JE pistons, piston rings; NISMO engine mounts, 62 degree thermostat; relocated MAF sensor and air filter under chassis; Walbro 255LPH fuel pump; FiveO Motorsports 550cc side feed fuel injectors; ISIS Performance GT exhaust, turbo manifold, turbo elbow, downpipe, intercooler, intercooler piping, radiator; NGK spark plugs; Garrett GT2860RS turbo; TiAL Q blow-off valve; SPAL medium profile cooling fans
Drivetrain Nissan R200V differential; SPEC Stage 3 PLUS clutch; Royal Purple transmission fluid
Footwork & Chassis BC Racing BR Super Low coilovers; Revworks alignment; ISIS Performance rear camber control arms, front toe control arms, front tension, rear traction rods; STANCE rear toe control arms; Energy Suspension bushings
Brakes OEM Z32 Twin Turbo front brake calipers; EBC “Red Stuff” front/rear brake pads; Agency Power front/rear brake lines
Wheels & Tires 18x9" +10 (front)/18x10" +18 (rear) Work Meister S1 wheels; 215/40R18 (front)/235/40R18 (rear) Federal 595 tires; Gorilla lug nuts, wheel studs
Exterior JDM RPS13 Kouki Type X front bumper, front lip, side skirts, rear valence, rear spoiler, taillights; PPG custom metallic teal paint; Aero Marker electric side mirrors; shaved antenna, rear side marker lights, third brake light
Interior STRI X Line boost, oil pressure, water temperature gauges; JDM OEM RPS13 Type X seats; Sparco 345 steering wheel; MOMO steering hub; NISMO Titanium shift knob; custom cut pillars for manual seat belts; Kenwood head unit; JL front and rear speakers
Thanks You My grandfather, Gary Yokley; father, Jay Levan; Yokley’s Automotive; Enjuku Racing; RS Enthalpy