In the Land of the Rising Sun, it's common to see Nissan 180SXs running rampant on the streets of Tokyo or drifting on "touge" (mountain passes). The RPS13 and PS13 is a popular car among teens and young adults because the S13, S14 and S15 (the 240SX in the United States) were the company's last affordable rear-wheel-drive sub-compact cars.
The stout and seemingly bulletproof SR20DET powerplant makes it easy for tuners to extract ungodly horsepower. And most importantly, there are a large number of high-performance products available for the Nissan and its SR20DET engine. (In America, tuners swap the KA24-series engine out of their 240SXs and bolt in the SR20DET.)
Hidenori Hanawa built himself one outlandish looking monster. Hanawa-san, president of V-Spec, Inc. and owner of the green Team Julius 180SX, developed a brand of body kits labeled Team Julius that appeals to tuners, while keeping the style simple and sleek. V-Spec, in association with a group of drifters from the Kanagawa area known as the Night Walkers, also created a body kit specifically for larger sedans, such as the JZX110 MK2 and JZX100 (Chaser), which has become one of the company's best sellers.
Power and style are key to building a drift car. V-Spec used a blacktop S14 SR20DET as its powerplant, replacing the weary factory engine. A GReddy TD-06 turbine mated to a GReddy manifold pressurizes the SR engine, topped by a custom V-Spec ported head fitted with a set of Tomei bumpsticks sized to keep the engine humming through the smoky, high-rpm drifts. The restrictive air mass meter was discarded in favor of a Z32 air mass unit off a 300ZX.
With boost pressure raised and a noticeable increase in horsepower, a set of 550cc injectors in conjunction with a custom-tuned fuel management system enables the SR beast to roar to the tune of 400 hp. Because SR20DET engines are known for running hot, a Julius radiator and oil cooler kit enables scorching temperatures to be kept to a minimum.
No stone was left unturned when this 180SX was upgraded. The car's strict diet consisted of Lexan windows, a gutted interior and lightweight Speed, Inc. buckets. For added chassis rigidity, V-Spec stripped the vehicle to the bare metal and spot-welded chassis seams throughout the car, from the engine bay to the trunk. Additional frame support and safety amenities include a custom five-point roll cage and five-point safety harnesses. Then aero parts from the Team Julius lineup were added, with the chosen kit carefully molded to the metal skin. Finally, multiple coats of custom key lime paint were sprayed on.
Like most race-bred vehicles competing at various circuit races, suspension and tire selection are key for the driver to successfully drift through an apex or careen into a dirt embankment. Kei-Office coil-overs with fully adjustable dampening are on all four corners, hugging the track whether the car is headed straight or sideways. A set of SSR SP1 tires, sized 18x9 and 18X10, is wrapped in Advan rubbers. Brembo calipers in conjunction with full metallic pads create a firm pedal feel and responsive braking.
Team Julius has risen in popularity among drift fanatics and speed junkies throughout Japan and the United States. It's entered various drift events in Japan, such as the BM Cup series and the popular Ika-Ten drift competition (similar to D1 Grand Prix). At the most recent All Drift Championship in Hawaii, two of the four Team Julius drivers piloted the lime green 180SX. Julius employee Masanori Hayashi and the first professional female drifter from Japan, Ayumi Karasawa, dazzled the crowd with plenty of tire-smoking "dori-doris" down the circuit.
We asked Hanawa-san what project was in store for Team Julius, as Turbo learned V-Spec most recently opened a distribution partner in the U.S., Performance Dealer Options.
"Drifting is really good in Japan and the fans love it, so we (Team Julius and Msports) want to make it just as popular in the U.S. Look for our new project car this year," says Hanawa-san. You can bet we'll keep our fingers crossed in hopes of another monster creation from Team Julius.