The journey to transforming our once daily-driven S14 240SX into a chiseled track car continues. In part 1 we installed a Kognition carbon-fiber wing for some added rear downforce, while a set of sticky Toyo R888 tires mounted on 17x9.5-inch SSR Type-F rims were the running gear of choice. In the cockpit, we replaced our aging R32 seats with some better-bolstered and track-ready Recaro Profi SPG bucket seats (for the full story, see the Jan. '13 issue). It's a capable setup, but a few more key items needed to be added before the S14 would see track time.
First and foremost, safety cannot be overlooked anytime you're racing. Whether it be autocross, drifting, or even HPDE lessons, accidents happen, and they don't always have to be your fault or wrongdoing, so don't skimp on parts like seats, harnesses, and rollbars.
A rollbar isn't for everyone, so ask yourself these questions. Will you be doing any racing or driving where a rollover could potentially occur? Is your car heavily modified and putting out a lot more power than stock? If so, then having a rollbar is a wise decision. In case of a high speed rollover, the rollbar will protect the roof from collapsing and crushing you. Nobody thinks it will happen to him or her, but I've seen cars roll at the track after something as innocent as catching the inside of a rumble strip. There's no need to take chances with your life.
For less than $600 dollars, you can buy an SCCA- and NASA-compliant rollbar from Autopower Industries. Manufactured from properly sized DOM steel, Autopower's rollbars are a bolt-in application and fit with most of the interior panels intact. They're the ideal solution for any grassroots racer without access to a pipe bender and welder. Even then, the time it would take to properly measure, fit, cut, and bend tubing doesn't add up; it's way easier and less time consuming to get an Autopower rollbar. Best of all, it's removable.
One of the main reasons a lot of our project cars have Autopower rollbars is because they fit well. If you've ever welded in a rollbar or 'cage, you can attest to how difficult fitting some of the bars can be. That is not the case here. After removing the seats and most of the rearward interior, the main hoop slipped into the back of the S14 with ease. Measuring twice and drilling once, holes for the rear support bars were made and the interior plastic trim was cut for the rear bars to fit through. I'm a bit of a stickler when it comes to having interior in track cars; I want a very street/stock-appearing look because of the surprise factor. However, for the sake of fast lap times, it's probably smarter to ditch the rear interior altogether. I'll take the weight penalty, though. With the support bars attached to the main hoop, everything was bolted down securing the Autopower rollbar to the chassis.
After adding a few eyebolts to the floor for proper racing harness mounting, the Recaro SPGs were back in their intended positions, and I now have the peace of mind to really push the car on track without too much worry about a catastrophic rollover.
Make sure to fit the assembled rollbar to where you want it before drilling any holes and only tighten the hardware down when all the nuts and bolts have been fitted.
If you’ve got a small-diameter round bar lying around, stick it into the rear support bar piping, then slide it out and mark where you need to drill a hole in the plastic interior trim. This way you’ll have a clean installation of the rear support bars.
Cooling has always been an issue with SR-equipped 240s. With a front-mount intercooler blocking the radiator from fresh air, temperature control problems always arise at the track. To get some more airflow going, a set of Nismo N1 R33 front bumper ducts were finagled into the S14's kouki JDM bumper.
The Nismo N1 R33 ducts are a great way to get some more airflow to the intercooler and radiator. They’re relatively simple to install—just two holes in the front bumper and they pop right in.
To further aid in lowering engine temps, the stock hood was ditched in favor of a ChargeSpeed vented FRP model that expels hot air out of two large openings near the front of the radiator area. A small, side-mounted vent also helps feed cold air to the intake. The other benefit to this FRP-based hood is how much lighter it is than the stock metal hood, which weighs in at a portly 47 pounds. You're looking at a savings of more than 31 pounds when swapping over to the ChargeSpeed piece.
To maintain an OEM-like look (remember my affinity toward stock-appearing track cars), the hood was painted before it was installed. The fit and finish of the Japanese-made ChargeSpeed hood is spot on; the gaps line up just like stock. There maybe cheaper eBay hoods out, there but I guarantee you they won't fit as well and be as lightweight.
The ChargeSpeed vented FRP hood is around 31 pounds lighter than its stock metal counterpart. The vents give the engine a bit more breathing capability.
Tow hooks-every car has them but they're usually in spots that induce bumper carnage when used, as is the case with the S14. To remedy that, an aftermarket tow hook is a smart investment. The problem is, I couldn't find a bolt-in solution, and cutting up the bumper was a no go, so I did the next best thing. Using a universal hook, I welded up a bracket with a universal tow hook that would mount to the front framerail, making the tow hook accessible through the now nonexistent foglight spot. I realize an angled tow hook isn't ideal, but after a few test pulls and hard tugs, it's holding up well and staying put.
A custom tow hook was fabbed up using Miller’s Diversion180 TIG welder and bolted onto the front framerail with some high-grade nuts and bolts.
This poor S14 has seen its fair share of winter climate and has a bit of rust in areas like the rear fenderwells. To lock it in and prevent it from further spreading, Eastwood's Internal Frame Coating is a great aerosol that seals and locks in rust.
It's time to hang up the tools and finally get this car out on track to see what else needs tending to. I have a sneaky suspicion that power upgrades are right around the corner, because 250 whp can't be fun for long.