Quick question folks: How many people do you know that have legitimately built their project cars completely inside their own garage? And no, the guy you know down the street who’ll install lowering springs for $40 doesn’t count. What we’re talking about are more thorough builds that are labor intensive, with engine work or engine swaps, as well as installation of a vast variety of parts or possibly even bodywork. Your answer’s still ‘no’? It’s harder these days to find builds like that, at least here on the West Coast. That has no bearing on whom or which end of the coast is better of course; it’s just a different type of mentality along with geographical limitations. On the Westside, it’s a fast-paced life lived—do the job as quickly as possible and do it right. No winter to worry about, no downtime.
Things weren’t always this way though; once upon a time in the early ‘90s, nothing was available so you made do with what you had and you built your car in the only place you trusted: your garage. Enthusiasts built their cars until they reached a certain limitation of modification. Either your car blew up at the street races or you just wanted to move onto something else. When you found your next project, you transferred whatever was left over from your old car into the new one—after all, you didn’t really have much of a choice. There was no online catalog of new parts, and there weren’t too many people who could get you parts that you didn’t even know existed. You worked with what you had and you made the best of it. That mentality often helped to build the best kind of project; a car that was built by you with your own blood, sweat and tears inside of your haven, your home. We’ve conjured up this interesting introduction because it coincides with the introduction of Brandon Burke’s 1991 Nissan 240SX. As you may have gathered from what you read previously, this S13 coupe was birthed inside of a garage—and a messy one at that. By the looks of it, you would never believe that this pristine, Aspen White 240SX was put together here.
Your attention has probably been directed immediately to the absurdly low ride height of Brandon’s coupe and we don’t blame you; it is also what caught ours at the LA Hot Import Nights last December. This S13 is practically married to the pavement it rides on. Watching him drive in and out of his garage was gut-wrenchingly painful, both visually and audibly. The ride height, altered heavily by Fortune Auto suspension parts, in conjunction with the aggressive 17-inch SSR Professor SP1s, just screams what the newer crop of enthusiasts are into these days—which is all things “stance”. Don’t let that take away from the rest of the vehicle though, because the rest of it is anything but “aggressive”. If anything, the simple and understated nature of this S13 is where it really shines.
How it came to be is a true throwback as to how imports were built back in the early days. Back when this S13 was considered to be a newer car, young enthusiasts all wanted the same thing: to have a clean car slammed as low as possible on some Japanese-spec aftermarket wheels. If you were well-off (or had the means to do so, questionably speaking, which we never asked), you also had an engine swap that put your stock motor to shame because it actually made some decent power. For the exterior, the simpler it was the better. People would actually take things off the body so that it had cleaner lines. If the option of aftermarket lighting was there, you added it because it set you a part from the rest of the crowd. There were no aftermarket “aero” options. If there was, it probably wasn’t available stateside or remotely affordable. Those who wanted to add a front lip had to search the local junkyards to find something from another car that might fit. As for wheels, there was only one option; if you wanted something nice, you saved up and spent good money on wheels. Everything that applied in those times applies to Brandon’s S13 now.