Some people say the good ones always come back. Ron Acevedo's 240SX did. Ron sold this particular then black 1992 S13 240SX to make room for other project cars. Ron is a hardcore Nissan tuner and at the time he had many other projects, including a 400+ whp Sentra SE-R and several 510s. Ron sold the car to the guys at www.jspec.com where it was turned into a drift car. During its tenure with the guys at jspec.com, the car served as a stepping stone for many of today's top American drifters. Breden Lee, Ernie Fixmer and Benson Hsu have all driven the car at one time or another. After a stint modifying Honda's, learning how to extract maximum power from the new K-series engine, Ron decided to return to his Nissan roots and repurchased the car. Even though the 240 was already a proven and potent drift car, Ron is continuing to perfect it to be the ultimate drift/road race machine.
Unlike the typical beat-buckets you see in parking lots at major drift events, a well set up drift car is a sophisticated machine, just as trick and versatile and any road racer. Let's look inside this slide machine at the inner workings that make it tick.
Suspension setup is critical in a drift car and Ron's ride is well equipped for the task at hand. Magic Garage, AutoconXion and SPL supplied the slide machine's trick suspension. TEIN HE coil-over shock and struts with pillow ball mounts and adjustable damping are tasked with holding the car flat through the corners. The front pillow ball mounts are adjustable for camber. Gone are the flex-prone stock stamped-steel suspension arms with their soft rubber bushings. Every suspension link has been replaced with stiff, fabricated tubular links and every mushy rubber bushing has been replaced with a spherical bearing. This eliminates wheel hop and gives the car razor sharp steering response with accurate retention of suspension geometry under load. With these links, every aspect of the suspension geometry, from bump steer to caster and camber is fully adjustable.
From the factory, the S13's rear subframe rests on huge, squishy rubber bushings. These bushings are designed to help smooth and quiet the ride. They also allow the subframe to move as much as an inch under heavy side loading. This is not conducive to good handling and the squish interferes with weight transfer critical for suspension adjustment. The stock bushings were replaced solid aluminum bushings. The new bushings are adjustable with shims, allowing adjustments to the suspension's pro-squat, anti-squat geometry. This adjustment point controls how responsive the car will be to throttle inputs coming out of turns as well as to drag launches, if need be.
Adjustable Whiteline anti-sway bars add another level of adjustability to the suspension. To stiffen the chassis and make it more sensitive to suspension adjustment, a J-spec rear ladder bar ties the frame rails together while a Nismo power bar connects the front TC rod mounts for more rigidity.
To further stiffen the chassis and to comply with D1 rules, a Technosquare drift cage was installed, giving a place to attach harnesses and to protect the driver from rollovers and side impacts. Chassis setup was performed by Darrin Nishimura of West End Alignment.
The connection of the rubber to the road is critical for good handling. On the street, Ron's ride rolls on Yokohama Advan A048 road racing tires with 265/35-18 fronts and huge 285/30-18 rears mounted on lightweight forged Work Meister S1 wheels from Endless USA/Auto R&D. The front wheels measure 18x8.5 with a 23mm offset while the rears are 18x10.5 with a 24mm offset. For drifting, the wheels are switched over to 17x9 5Zigen FN01R-C wheels with a 15mm offset at each corner. Harder Yokohama Neova AD07 tires are used for drift events with 215/45-17 tires in front and 235/40-17 tires out back.
The engine is also an important tool for drifting, the engine must have decent power to be able to break the rear tires loose at will, yet must be responsive and lag free, allowing the driver to have as much throttle control as possible. In drifting, control is preferable over brute force. First, the heavy, iron block KA24DE was replaced with a lighter, all-aluminum SR20DET from Gspeed Corporation. The swap was performed by Howard and Richie Watanabe of Technosquare. As SR20's are built like brick shithouses, the engine remains amazingly stock. The head gasket was replaced with a Tomei 1.2mm metal gasket for improved reliability under brutal drifting conditions.
Jim Wolf Technology was called upon for a set of its excellent C1 cams and valve springs. JWT cams have tremendous amounts of lift for their short duration which gives an exceedingly wide powerband, great for turbo motors and drifting. The exhaust cam is advanced considerably to help the turbo spool quicker. JWT adjustable cam gears are used to adjust the cam timing. Unlike bolted together cam gears, JWT's gears will not slip under the most trying rev limiter pounding conditions. In drifting the engine is often repeatedly pounded off the rev limiter.
One of the weak points of the SR20 engine is its tendency to throw rocker arms at high engine speeds. To prevent this Tomei rocker blockers were installed. These spring clips help prevent the rockers from bouncing out of place if the rpm get too high.
As far as turbos, the car runs two different setups, depending on the course. For tight, close work where maximum throttle response is required a Jim Wolf supplied Garrett ball bearing GT28RS Disco Potato turbo is the weapon of choice. For high-speed events where peak power is needed at the expense of a little spool, a Garrett GT2871R from Turbos Direct is brought into the battle. No matter which turbo is used, an HKS EVC 5 electronic boost controller manipulates the internal wastegate.
A Phase2 Motorsports 02 sensor extension is bolted to the exhaust housing. This piece separates the wastegate flow from the turbine discharge. Testing from Garrett has shown that the two flows should be kept separate for at least 3 turbine exducer diameters for best performance. Separating the flow from the turbine and the internal wastegate boosts overall flow and helps speed turbo spool. Another unique feature of the Phase2 part is that it clears the steering shaft of LHD USDM cars, something the JDM versions of this part from GReddy and others don't do.
The turbo is coupled to the engine by a DC Sports all stainless-steel turbo manifold. The manifold features all 321 stainless construction, equal length runners and a merged collector. The latter is a feature not seen in many SR20DET/240SX manifolds. The manifold contributes to rapid spool while retaining good gas flow.
This car spools very fast, creating boost even while being slowly driven around a parking lot during the photo shoot. The exhaust starts with a GReddy 80mm downpipe leading to a free flowing full stainless 5Zigen ProRacer exhaust system.
A Tomei high-flow fuel pump and Tomei 550cc injectors fuel the engine. A large Z32 airflow meter measures the air going in while engine management duties are handled by the new AEM EMS. This newly released system is a direct drop-in, plug-and-play unit for the SR20. A powerful AEM C2DI handles the ignition chores.
A big Skyline GT-R R33 front-mount intercooler chills the pressurized air before being ingested. From there the air is fed through an East Bear Hardpipe kit, fitted with a Sheepdog recirculated BOV with Hose Techniques silicone couplers and clamps, and into the engine.
Darren San Angelo of R&D Dyno handled the tuning chores. Even though the engine's state of tune is designed for quick response, it's still no slouch wanting for more power. On a mild tune with 91-octane pee water California fuel, the 240 puts out 295 whp at 0.8 bar of boost, 318 whp at 1.0 bar and an impressive 347 whp and 303 lb-ft of torque at 1.2 bar of boost. Running race gas and turning up the boost with a more aggressive tune should allow power to approach 400 whp.
The engine is cooled by a Koyo aluminum racing radiator topped with a high pressure Blitz cap and a Black Magic electric fan. Blitz also supplied the billet aluminum oil filler cap. Taka Motorsports supplied the trick bar and plate type oil cooler and remote-mount oil filter system plumbed with Earls -10 braided steel line and A/N fittings.
To avoid oil starvation under the high g loads encountered in drifting, an Escort Power Parts & Engine oil pan was installed. This trick unit features an increased oil capacity and is made out of high strength aluminum that can take a hit, unlike the fragile cast pans common to the aftermarket. The Escort pan also features trap doors and baffles to trap oil near the pickup and a windage tray to strip oil from the crank faster for more power and faster sump filling oil return.
Nismo hard rubber motor mounts keep the engine from rocking excessively. The power is transferred to the rear end via a JWT aluminum flywheel and a Stage 2 fibertough puck clutch. A Nismo two-way limited slip gives the best action to accurately throttle steer the car.
A five-lug conversion is sported at each corner. Up front, Rotora four-piston calipers and big 13-inch two-piece rotors with alloy hats are in charge of the stopping duties. Earls braided stainless brake lines keep the pedal firm.
No car is complete without cosmetics. The 240 looks all JDM. The front fascia has been replaced with a Silvia front end with projector beam headlights, a East Bear GTR style grille and a Genuine Nissan aero front bumper. Bomex aero mirrors, sideskirts, rear valance and front lip add style. A BN Sports vented hood, fitted and modified for valve cover clearance by Brian Kono of After Hours Automotive, gives an aggressive look and adds cooling capacity. K-Style wide front fenders and PJ Bonifacio rear steel flares give the car a subtle widebody look while allowing huge tires and wheels. PJ Bonifacio also applied the Type-R yellow paint.
The interior is an all business affair which includes Skyline GT-R R32 seats, B&M short shifter, Nismo GT shift knob, Sabelt harnesses, and a Personel steering wheel with a Rapfix removable hub. An Alpine stereo and alarm round out the ICE for the car.
In the near future Ron anticipates retiring the car from the street and making it an even more hardcore drift and road race machine, equipping it for NASA's SE-R Cup series running the SRX class. NASA recently opened up the SRX class to allow turbocharged 240SX's running the SR20DET. The superb handling of the RWD S13 chassis should make mince meat of the FWD turbocharged Sentra's that currently rule the class.
The interior will be stripped, a full cage added and more carbon fiber and fiberglass will be added to reduce weight. Other tricks will be done to enhance cooling and the body will be modified for more downforce. Of course, most of these mods will only enhance the car's drifting ability.
Stay tuned; we will be revisiting this car as it makes its transformation into a hard-core competition machine in the coming year.