It wasn't long after the first D1GP came to the U.S. four years ago that everyone stateside began catching the drifting bug. This trend has continued upward with the emergence - and dominance - of the U.S.-based FormulaD Professional Drift series, which is currently tearing across the country. It even has its own 'feeder' series similar to what AAA baseball is to the major leagues. During this time, the Nissan 240SX has transitioned from a 'truck-motor' car that no one wanted into what is arguably the most popular car in the sport. The likely reasons: it has rear-wheel-drive; packs a potent, torquey engine in the KA24DE; and gladly accepts the Japanese-spec SR20DET under its hood.

It's no secret why we decided to resurrect our old 1996 240SX, happily pulling it out of the stable to add some performance upgrades and show you, loyal reader, some of the possibilities that exist with this platform.

As it sits, our 240 already has an aftermarket intake, header and exhaust. Given that our 'stock' baseline will be higher than normal with these existing parts, we contacted the crew at AEM for help with extracting even more than the KA motor's current combination offers. AEM designs and manufactures bolt-on and electronic products that have been outperforming the competition since 1987. In 2004, AEM acquired DC Sports (a company that became legendary from its headers and exhausts for Hondas), allowing it to combine the best engine breathing solutions from air filter to exhaust tip. For this first installment, we're adding an AEM Short Ram intake, a DC Sports 4-2-1 race header and an AEM Plug & Play programmable engine management system.

AEM Short Ram Intake
The first thing we noticed when we popped the hood was an old dirty filter that had run its course. In its place, AEM provided us with a new Short Ram intake (part number 22-441), featuring the company's DRYFLOW Synthetic filter (more on this new filter below). AEM claims that generally its Cold Air intakes will perform better than any other intake system. However, some engines do not respond as well as others because of the longer runners (like the KA), so in these cases AEM makes a Short Ram only. Because each system is individually tuned, AEM is able to determine the proper length and diameter of each system during development so you get the best performing part.

AEM's new lifetime DRYFLOW air filter is a non-woven polyester element filtering out 98.6% of airborne dust in initial efficiency (up to 99.4% cumulative or average efficiency), and filters down to one micron of particulate - which is almost twice as fine a particle as other aftermarket filters. This means longer engine life because it traps more dirt, and, as you know, dirt can eat your engine's rings and seals. Although it traps more dirt, it flows incredibly well (a five-inch filter with 3.5-inch base flows 950 CFM clean).

Have you ever twisted your air filter while installing it and damaged the pleats? We have too, and it sucks because it makes the filter look like crapola and can actually damage the filter media. That's not a concern with the DRYFLOW because AEM pre-pleats the material and reinforces the element with a lightweight cage that maintains the element's structural integrity and eliminates the chance of it collapsing from flow demands. It also reduces the filter's overall weight, and in racing every ounce counts.

The best part about the DRYFLOW is that you never have to oil it, and with the ever-growing list of dealers denying warranties for having an oiled filter on a MAF-equipped vehicle, the DRYFLOW eliminates warranty concerns because it eliminates the chance of oil traveling up the inlet path and damaging the MAF sensor. It's also easy to clean; and since you don't have to oil it after cleaning and wait for the oil to wick, service time goes from a day to about an hour compared to oiled filter servicing.

After replacing the tired filter with an AEM Short Ram, we contacted R&D Dyno in Gardena, California, to get a baseline on the 240 using R&D's Dynojet dyno, which spun the rollers to 138.4 hp and 138.4 lb-ft of torque at 5750 rpm. Since the vehicle was not stock to begin with, we used this dyno as our starting point. For comparison, the factory rates the 1996 240 at 155 hp and 160 lb-ft of torque at the crank, which translates to approximately 124 hp and 128 lb-ft of torque at the wheels.