When it comes to modifying cars, the saying “you get what you pay for” can never be truer than when it comes to used cars. Former 2NR Editor Carter Jung had picked up a beat-up ’96 Nissan 240SX back when he was at Super Street, and proceeded to forget about it for the next four years. Fast-forward to last fall when I had the genius idea to get a new project car, and guess who was finally tired of having a hunk of junk parked in front of his house? That’s right, Carter decided to give up one of his plethora of cars and sell me this odd, gold-colored S14 for the sweet price of $2,000. This wasn’t just a base-model S14 either; it was an SE with the full factory five-lug, so on paper two stacks seemed like a good price. Seemed.
It started life as an automatic, so a quick trip to G-Dimension was in order to have Stephen Rhim do the five-speed swap. I also had him take a look at the motor to see if anything needed to be changed, and with 180K miles on the odometer, some minor things did. What’s more, Stephen moved to the chassis and noticed that pretty much every suspension bushing was leaking or torn, and that the shocks were blown.
Taking a look at the cost of replacing all the bushings with OE parts made it all too evident that we might as well upgrade to aftermarket replacements. Especially when Circuit Sports sells every part we needed plus more.
But it’s not just cost effectivity that makes these aftermarket offerings so attractive. Let’s look at some of their performance benefits. With worn, stock bushings, you’ll notice a very sloppy feel in your suspension, since they’re going to flex uncontrollably beyond what the ideal suspension geometry is supposed to be. The Circuit Sports parts utilize spherical rod-end bearings instead of the factory rubber bushings, which virtually eliminate unwanted play in the suspension, giving your ride a much more predictable feel. Even better, they allow full adjustment of the camber, caster, and toe.
Short and sweet explanations:
Camber: Being able to adjust camber means we can maximize the contact patch of the tire on the ground. In general, more contact equals more grip.
Caster: Adjusting this affects steering; proper adjustment improves directional stability. Improperly set caster will make steering feel heavier and less responsive.
Toe: Think of your feet: If you’re pigeon toed your feet point in. If you’re flatfooted your toes point out. Toe-in or toe-out will affect your straight-line stability; on an FR car, very slight toe-in will help improve it.
Now that we have all these adjustable arms installed (big thanks to Will Law at DC Sports for the work) we had to make sure we got an alignment done. With all these adjustments it’s very important to get a proper setup, otherwise all of this adjustability will just make the car handle worse. For this, we took it to the car setup experts at Evasive Motorsports. Getting a complete alignment done was a night-and-day difference. The ride felt firmer but not too harsh. When coming into a turn the car had much more stability and a very predictable handling characteristic that will help both spirited street driving as well as weekend track outings.
Here’s a close-up of the ripped bushing on the stock tension rod. The upgraded spherical bearings will eliminate unwanted movement.
Instead of the hassle of pressing in a new ball joint, it’s better to upgrade the entire arm. The Circuit Sports front lower control arm comes with new ball joints, as well as increased adjustability.
The new Circuit Sports tension rod and control arm are on the left. These soon-to-be-installed tie rods allow for adjustability of bumpsteer as well as increased steering angle.
Here is the rear system about to be installed: Circuit Sports rear camber arms, rear control arms, rear toe links, and rear traction rods.
As opposed to the stock rear control arms, the new Circuit Sports arms allow complete adjustment to work in conjunction with rear traction rods, toe links, and upper control arms.
Circuit Sports rear camber arms allow full camber adjustment, to go from that “hella flush” parking-lot setup to a “hella func” track prep in minutes. I like to call this hellaFLUNCtional.