The last few years have been rough for the North American economy. It would be pretty hard to find anyone who will argue against that point. Ever since the major crash towards the middle of 2008, it’s been particularly difficult to be a part of the automotive industry, because (not surprisingly) one of the first things that people stop spending money on during tough times are their project cars. After all, who really wants to build a project car when the rent or mortgage is past due? Thankfully it’s not all doom and gloom—although the scene has taken a place in the back seat for some of the fair-weather enthusiasts, those of us with true passion have found ways to keep the flame burning regardless of the less than ideal financial climate.
Michael Heasley is an electrician from Tacoma, Washington, a city nestled just south of Seattle in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. Michael is not a stranger to the import scene, he’s built a few cars in his day. Back in March of 2011, after being out of the loop for a while, he decided to take on another project, this time focusing on doing as much of the work himself as possible. Michael wanted to have an excuse to get back into the scene without breaking the bank. So after sourcing a completely stock ’91 240SX coupe, his minty fresh S13 began to slowly take shape.
“When I first got the car [last] March, I wanted to have it finished and on the road by summer,” Michael remembers. “I soon realized that was an unrealistic goal, and also that my original plan was going to cost a lot more than I had anticipated.” Sadly we can probably all relate to Michael’s situation, but as you have probably guessed by now, he did not let a few silly little things like time and money keep him down. By doing as much of the fabrication himself (including the process of learning, Michael says he didn’t even know how to weld before he started this car) and with help from friends in key places, he has put together a very clean S13. Michael says that he did about 80% of the build on his own, which is impressive for any DIY-er, especially considering that the end results are damn clean. No matter who you are, you have to appreciate this impressive car.
On the outside, Michael’s coupe is subtle and understated. It’s the kind of car that you might even walk past once and not be immediately grabbed, because it’s not gaudy or flashy. But you’d take a few steps, stop in your tracks, and then realize that what you just walked past is one of the nicest examples of a S13 that you could expect to see. The two-tone Kiwi Green and black paint looks right at home on this car—it has a kind of “era specific” feel that sits well with us. Two-tone isn’t easy to pull off, but this combination works perfectly with an early 90’s sports coupe. The factory Silvia aero (including the “GT-R” grille, a piece which looks much better than the standard Silvia style) and unmistakable gold BBS LM wheels add a lot to the otherwise dull shape of the S13 coupe, as a complete package, the look is stunning. Michael went with a beefy 18x9 and 18x10" sizing for the LM’s, and we’re glad to see a properly sized tire in place. Choosing function over fashion is a welcome sight in this day and age of stanced out show cars. Duties in the handling department are handled courtesy of HKS Hipermak III coilovers, SPL front toe arms, and a R32 Skyline rear sway bar, a modest street-friendly setup. Michael’s S13 is low, but not ridiculously so—no one will look at this car and mistake it for a low-and-slow type of build. Dunlop Star Spec meats have been chosen for their famously high amounts of grip, something that you’ll understand why Michael needs plenty of after opening the hood.
The coupe is powered by a built RB26DETT twin turbo inline-6, a powerplant taken from the coveted Nissan Skyline. Although an RB-powered S13 is not something that is necessarily ground breaking, we like Michael’s because he obviously put more into the swap than simply tossing a stock motor into the bay and calling it good. At first glance, your attention is immediately grabbed by how clean the bay is. Michael shaved and tucked many elements for beauty purposes, yet the bay has a clear feeling of being designed for function. A custom powdercoated valve cover and pipes add to the super clean vibe. And because the motor has been fully built from the ground up is proof that it’s not all show and no go. Twin HKS GT-SS turbochargers provide plenty of spooling power to feed the hungry beast, and a beast it truly is. Michael’s setup is good for about 440 horses, which we’re sure is enough to have lots of fun with a car this size.
The interior cabin of Michael’s S13 is a fairly subtle and modest place to be. A pair of S15 Silvia front seats add a bit more support than the standard S13 pieces, however you’d likely never notice them as an “upgrade” unless you’re a real Nissan junkie. A Nardi steering wheel and NRG quick-release wheel hub are much welcomed improvements over the chunky factory wheel, and a few miscellaneous gauges are the only other major visual changes inside the car.
The thing we like most about this S13 is that it’s well rounded. The car is nicely executed in every way, it’s not missing anything and it doesn’t have any fluff that shouldn’t be there either. Michael says that he is glad that he spent the extra time to do things right, and that he now has a car he can really be proud of. We like that, after all what good is it to cut corners if you’re just going to end up with unsatisfactory results in the end? We’re sure that we’ll be seeing Michael’s car on the mean streets of the Northwest for many years to come!
1991 Nissan 240SX
Owner Michael Heasley
Hometown Tacoma, WA
Power 440hp, 340 lb-ft
Engine RB26DETT with custom aluminum intakes, stainless steel turbo outlets, 2.5" down pipes, 3" aluminum intercooler piping; K&N air filters; Tomei Poncams; ARP head studs; GReddy head gasket, timing belt, Type R blow off valve; 8.5:1 Wiseco forged pistons; stock sleeves bored .020mm over; Twin HKS GT-SS turbochargers, wastegate and intercooler; Walbro fuel pump; Nismo fuel pressure regulator and thermostat; Sard 700cc fuel injectors; tucked fuel lines; NGK BKR7E spark plugs; A’PEXi check valve; 3.5" after-cat exhaust; titanium muffler; U.P. Garage wire harness, 3" high-flow cat, custom radiator, notched oil pan; SPAL fans; custom powdercoated valve cover by Kens Powdercoatings in Puyallup, WA
Drivetrain NIsmo 2-way adjustable LSD; custom 1-piece aluminum driveshaft; HKS GD Pro twin-disk clutch and flywheel; C’s short shifter
Engine Management ViPec stand-alone EMS; GReddy Profec B Spec II boost controller
Footwork & Chassis R32 Skyline rear sway bar; HKS Hipermax III coilovers; SPL front toe arms
Brakes 300ZX front calipers and rotors; custom stainless lines
Wheels & Tires 18x9" front and 18x10" rear BBS LM wheels; 225/40R18 front and 245/40R18 rear Dunlop Direzza Sport Z1 Star Spec tires
Exterior OEM Nissan S13 Silvia aero package; Chuki 180SX side skirts; Supermade rear spoiler and roof spoiler; Sherwin Williams Ultra7000 Kiwi Green Metallic and black with green pearl two-tone paint; 35% window tint
Interior Auto Meter oil pressure gauge; AEM wideband AF/R gauge; GReddy Multiswitch; S15 front seats; Nardi steering wheel; NRG hub and quick release; Nismo shift knob; custom suede door panels; Kouki 180SX carpet; Pioneer head unit, rear speakers; Memphis front speakers, amplifiers; Eclipse subwoofers
Thanks You Doug Smith and Erik Rittscher at U.P.Garage for all their patience and donation of their time, Ricky from SpeedFactory for his magical skill with a tig welder, Jason Lusier for his hard work and patience in guiding me through the paint and body work process, Josh Mackey at NWMotiv for shooting the car, and last but not least Russell Moore at NissanParts.cc for a great connection to OEM Parts
WWW nissanparts.cc; nwmotiv.com; upgarageusa.com