180sx – The Transformation So Far

I figured seeing how there isn’t much happening at the moment, I’d post up a time lapse of how my 180sx has transformed so far over the years.

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So from the start.

I bought the car in June 2010 as a pretty mild street car. It had some big wheels, a stock CA with a few bolt ons and a half stripped interior. The paint was in amazing condition, which was a plus considering I didn’t want a respray anytime soon.

This is the first shot I ever took of the car, looking back now it really has come a long way.

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After looking around it and doing a bit of research on the net, (I was still pretty new to everything at this point) I figured it was time to find a track day.

The first day I did was a skid pad session out at Eastern Creek. Super nerve racking not really knowing the car too well and seeing concrete barriers everywhere. Everything went pretty awesome though, didn’t want to stop all day.

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At this point I didn’t have a tow car or trailer so had to get a permit to drive it to the track. I got some dodgy looks on the way out to the track, but everything was legit so nothing to worry about!

I went searching for a few bits like some extra wheels and a new steering wheel. Also tried to get a bit more knowledgable on how the suspension worked in the car so I had lots of info when I was ready to step it up a bit.

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Over a period of 3 months I did a massive pile of drift days, trying to get as much seat time as possible. I did my first big track session in the car in October 2010 and had a sick time.

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Driving on a full track is a whole world of difference to driving around on a skid pad. The photo above was my first lap, didn’t realise how much smoke it was making! So stoked!

One afternoon I decided I’d pull a few things out and look over them. All the suspension bits in the rear came out and I replaced a few of them with some new adjustable arms. Also had to adjust the height a bit, one side was about an inch higher than the other.

In January of 2011 I got down to Wakefield for an IDA event. I’d been to a few circuit days at Wakefield before so was a bit different sliding there. And to add a bit more fear of total destruction, it was pouring rain all day and that pit wall seemed to get scarier each time I entered.

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I learnt quite a bit about the car over the first few months of 2011, just from researching stuff, seeing what sort of things are compatible with it and also a bit of trial and error.

It had been about seven months since I bought the car and so far I’d spent a minimal amount of money fixing things and upgrading things. I was pretty keen to start working on my suspension setup and getting the car at a point where it could keep up with higher grade machines.

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Unfortunately, that was one of the last track days I made it to.

February 25th in 2011 was the end of the little CA and the start of my 18 month drifting dry patch.

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This was the least wrecked part of my engine unfortunately. I had a slightly bent rod and a second bearing that had completely disintegrated and gone through everything. I spent a couple months trying to decide what the plan was, wether or not I would swap engines, rebuild this one or just get another replacement. I ruled out anything stock so I didn’t have to go through another rebuild and didn’t want to do a big engine swap like an RB or JZ motor.

I then stated looking for what I could do to a CA to make it bulletproof. The main things that made me interested were the stroker kit I’d found in Newcastle and also the amount of bits I already had for the setup. So after saving for a couple more months and making a few calls, I decided I wanted to build a 2.1L CA and see what it could do.

The next part was a major let down. I had my motor put together and unfortunately it was built wrong. The builder didn’t want to take responsibility for what happened, so I was left with a poorly built CA sitting in my car. So, I went back to the beginning with about 6 months wasted.

This time, I spent weeks and weeks searching for the BEST engine builder I could find and came up with MRC Dyno. This time, I wasn’t going to have a broken motor sitting in my car at the end of it. I wanted things done properly, no hassles, on time and good results. So after months and months of problems, it went to MRC in mid 2012 to get the engine pulled apart back to the start and rebuilt from there.

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The block was redone and machined as well as having every little bit inside balanced. Even had time to paint the block orange to match the car!

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In a few weeks the engine was back in the car with some shiny new bolt ons including a GTX3071r, 6Boost high mount manifold and a custom plenum made by Ariel at CPC.

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MRC took the dead weight and made it a running machine in no time. I had my 180sx on the dyno with it’s new heart screaming away, almost ready to hit the track again after waiting so long. It had been about 5 months since speaking with the guys at MRC and my car had gone from being a rock to something that was ready to party.

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After the dyno session I brought it back to the storage warehouse, at this point I’d sold my house so didn’t have anywhere to keep it. I had to go over everything in the car again to make sure it was good to go when I wanted to take it to the track. I’d stripped out everything from the interior and put in my cage, my seat and the dash with all the new electrics. I’d also pulled out every single wire in the car so it could be rewired from scratch, which made it a whole lot easier to trace any issues that I might have.

So after getting everything finished up, setting up my alignment and taking the car for a little test run in the car park at the storage unit, I entered a skid pan day in october 2012. The level of excitement was ridiculous, couldn’t wait to get out there and drive it again. The first lap was awesome, really responsive which took me by suprise. At about 4,000rpn everything got really noisy and crazy, something I’d waited almost 2 years for. I wasn’t used to the new power output yet so it took a few laps to get the hang of driving again.

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After that first day, I got it home, checked everything and made sure it was ready to go for next time, which was only a short few weeks away. Next up was Wakefield, a couple years since I’d driven anything there, I was pretty nervous. But again, the car ran flawlessly and performed awesome all day. The alignment I’d done a couple days before was making it feel a lot better than before.

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After Wakefield I wanted to save a bit of money for a trip down south to Winton raceway in Victoria. I had to find some more wheels, a lot more spare parts and go over the car again to make sure it was ready for action. I found a few little issues that needed some work, nothing major so had it all done within a day. I also got a bash plate to throw underneath in case I took the ripple strip route and broke anything.

I had similar ideas to when I first started with the car, just wanting to get as much seat time as possible so I can learn how to do things bigger and better and also watch the top guys to see how they drive. I’d always wanted the car to be able to keep up with the best, but still be reliable enough to drive at every track day possible.

The drive to Winton was awesome and I was super keen to get the car out on track and see what it was like. This was my first time at Winton so everything was fresh, ready to be worked out. I took a few laps just driving around, watching other guys go through each section to get an idea of a decent line. And by the end of saturday afternoon I was having an awesome time.

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It was at this point that my gearbox was starting to have issues going into 3rd gear, which was frustrating seeing how I’d only put the gearbox in 2 months earlier. I figured it wouldn’t last too long because of the power figure and load it was under, but didn’t expect it to start having issues after only 2 months. Either way I kept going all weekend and brought it home from Winton unscathed and good to go for the next track day!

I waited for the next event to pop up which again was Wakefield. It was a december event a few weeks before christmas which meant I had about 3 weeks until I had to load up and head down again.

As usual I checked over everything to make sure it was all good and yet again, no issues, couldn’t be happier with how the car turned out. The decision for a 2.1L CA was the best I’d ever made!

At this point I had found myself falling in love with 33 GTR wheels and started searching everywhere for them. I had picked up a set when I was at Winton in november and figured I would get some more for spares. They are ridiculously cheap for a set with tyres and they look awesome so I was set.

Wakefield crept up pretty quickly and the only bits I’d done were change the wheels. A few days before I’d organised to get a few new aero bits painted. I had some pods and type x wing come from Jesse Streeter in Japan about a year earlier, just never got around to fitting them. I wanted to get them on before Wakefield and start to finish off the aero setup I originally planned for, type x pods, skirts, wing and lights along with the CA front.

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The day at Wakefield was pretty good, I tried to go for faster entries and hold more speed throughout the day, but still had that fear of destroying the car in the back of my head.

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It was at this point I wanted to order some new coilovers. The car had some old HSD coils in 8/6kg and I was after something a little more stiff. Since ordering some Powered by Max coilovers for my S15 I was in love with what they were like. They also came in any spring rate I wanted, so I ordered a fresh set in 12/10kg. Luckily they got here on christmas eve, so they gave me something to do for the day.

Got them in straight away and also lowered the car a bunch more. I took it for a little drive down the road and back, they were super bumpy and quite a bit more responsive than my old HSD’s.

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At the end of the year I had one last track day with a few friends and got some awesome tandem runs in the car. This was the most amount of fun I’d had in the car to date, if only every track day was like this!

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The coilovers made the biggest difference to the handling, not only the change in spring rate but also the ride height. The car was starting to feel a lot better to steer and also a lot easier to handle at higher speed. I noticed it at Wakefield after doing a few session, not so much wet pan because it’s a small layout, but on a bigger track It feels much more responsive and smooth.

After the awesome wet pan day at the end of the year, I wanted to do another one and get some more epic tandem runs in with some friends. I was going to Winton again at the end of February so wanted to get a little practise in beforehand. I had a brake from the last skid pan event, I needed to save a bit of money for the run down to Winton again. So between the start of the year and mid february, not much happened with the car. I did however have to organise a new cage for the car seeing how Victoria had new rules for roll cages and my current one at the time wasn’t eligible.

I spoke to AGI Engineering and had a half cage made up with cross bars and a harness bar. I got it in just before the event to see how the car felt with it. Suprisingly it felt much stiffer than before but also felt a little more weighted to the rear.

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The february skid pan came around and I was all set and ready to slide. Words cannot describe how much fun it was.

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Over the months leading up to the event I had been researching a new steering setup for the car. I wanted a little more lock and thought it was time to get something crazy in the car. So after scouring for hours and hours on the net and reading thousands of pages of info, I came up with what I thought would be a good setup. S14 LCA extended 25mm, Riverside knuckles and some Ikeya Formula tie rods.

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This then turned my car into a camber machine with quite a bit of extra lock.

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All of this was thrown in the night before I had to load up for Winton, which was a little risky but I got the job done and had an awesome trip ahead.

When I was at Winton I was a little nervous but excited at the same time about how the new steering setup would go. The first two laps was donut central with me spinning out a handful of times. The car was so much more whippy than previously, It took a while to get the hang of it. The problem I had was letting the car get more and more angle, I kept forgetting it would pull back because of the additional lock I had.

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The whole weekend at Winton taught a whole bunch of things about the car and driving. I did end up destroying the gearbox at the end of the weekend but that should be fixed over the next week I hope. Then I have planed to go to Wakefield on the 20th of May with a few friends and I can’t wait to see how my steering setup changes the way I drive the track.

So there it is, 3 years of driving/not driving all summed up into almost 3,000 words. I feel like I just wrote a school assignment.

There is still a whole lot more that I have left to do to the car, inside and out. And I know I’ve been a slack ass with updates lately, I’ll try to stay more up to date with all of the cars, including some major updates with my S13 build.

Hope you enjoyed the rundown, it’s been an epic build so far.

CA POWER!

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