Brakpan, Boksburg, Parow, Mitchell’s Plain, Welkom or Chatsworth. To most of us these towns immediately remind us of modified or tuned cars. As 90% of these cars’ “tuned” parts rarely have any performance enhancement effect, be it power or aerodynamic, it is fair to say that the words “tuned” and “modified” have gained a negative connotation to it over the years.
On the other side of the scale you have some serious performance aficionados. The owner of this S14 Nissan 200SX is one such guy. Here’s why:
Some background info
Back in the late-1990s Nissan surprised us with the 200SX. Little did we know that it would go on to become such a cult car. Over the years more and more enthusiasts have started to realise what a special car it is, partly because it is over-engineered in some aspects, but also because it is so light.
As a result you will have to launch a search expedition these days to find a standard example.
Fortunately some SXs have end up as part of a carefully planned project. This 1997 SX started life with its standard 2,0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged engine. Back then it delivered 147 kW at 6 400 r/min and 265 N.m at 4 800 r/min. CAR magazine actually tested an example in the June 1995 issue.
When its current owner acquired the car most of the development work was already done by Rezlo Racing. We don’t have the space to mention it all here, but the highlights of this work include:
RB25DET engine (2,5-litre, straight-six, 24 valve)
RB25DET five-speed manual gearbox
CP forged pistons
Eagle connection rods
Nismo twin plate 1 000 N.m clutch
Garrett T04z twin scroll dual ball bearing turbo
(basically the engine block is standard, the rest have been modified)
Suspension and chassis:
MEGAN coil overs
D2 rose jointed front castor rods, rose jointed rear toe rods, tie rods
Reinforced front power brace
Greddy strut brace
Nismo side skirts and rear valances
Veilside front grill
Greddy chin spoiler
As a result it now delivers 478 kW at 7460 r /min and 648 N.m at 6640 r/min at 1,95 bar boost. Remember, it only weights 1 270 kg, giving it a power-to-weight ratio of 372 W/kg (McLaren MP4-12C is 303 W/kg)!
To put this amount of power down on the road, the SX is equipped with four semi-slick tyres (on very light Enkei rims). More importantly, a Nismo diff was imported from Japan to assist in distributing the power between the rear wheels more effectively.
And from the inside?
Climb inside, and there is a half-cage in the rear, Sparco bucket driver’s seat, and 5 point harnesses. The steering wheel has also been extended closer to the driver. Since the tyres struggle to cope with full boost in first and second gear, the buttons on the steering wheel allow the driver to engage full boost when third gear is selected.
Recently the brakes have also received a significant upgrade. D2, 8-pot calipers have been installed at the front offering momentous stopping power. Although the car is very light, it can achieve high speeds – very quickly – resulting in the need for strong aftermarket brake system.
What’s the point?
A question some might ask. Its owner sums it up best: “You have a passion for cars, power, speed and handling, but you don’t have the budget to buy a supercar. There is a recipe though; you need to start with a good base chassis (preferably RWD) and build on that. This way you are almost half-way there, although you will never be able to have the same level of technology compared to newer cars.
“Each phase of the car’s development, you need to read-up on and research. The further you take it, the more you learn, and the more you realise how little you actually know.
“My current interest for cars have also gone to another level after I started to develop the Nissan. The more I tinker with this car, the more I appreciate modern technology on supercars and realise the effort and sheer genius of the engineers.
Although one probably can leave the SX as it is, its owner, as can be seen from the paragraph above, will continue to work and improve the car. We will track all the changes in the future, but more importantly, I will soon get to drive the car for a full driving impression.