Part 1: Locating the Perfect Chassis

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As gear-heads, we all get the itch. It starts innocently enough. A fleeting thought of grandeur, of building something unique, something powerful and yet simple. Over the course of the day these thoughts begin to dance around in your head, growing and multiplying until they pervade every waking thought. And then the research begins. You spend more hours on ebay auto and the classifieds then you do sleeping. Days turn into weeks and then finally, you spot the car. You call the seller, ask all the right questions and hop on a plane the next day to pick your new car up.

Sound extreme, perhaps, but when you are looking for the lightest Nissan 240sx, only a S13 Coupe Base model with no sunroof will do. And that, is exactly what I found.

The Pickup

There is nothing in the world that I hate more than flying. I like driving sports cars, in fact, I like being in control of sports cars, and that is why I hate flying. Nothing provokes anxiety in me more than being strapped to four jet engines, cruising at 400 mph several miles above the earth, all in the hands of a pilot whom I have never met. So when the plane landed, I promptly kissed the ground and took off towards the parking lot where my new project patiently awaited.

Once I laid eyes on the car, it became quite obvious that I was dealing with a not so honest seller. There was a half ass-ed attempt made at removing and then reinstalling the interior in an attempt to create a race car. No big deal, I will strip the interior anyway. There was damage to the rear quarter. I was surprised to see this as I specifically asked the seller if the car had any body damage. I guess in Georgia cars sporadically implode. And finally, the motor was on its last leg.

Fortunately, even with all of these problems, the car had the features I was ultimately looking for. It was a coupe body with no sunroof and a straight frame. After a short negotiation and a $1000 dollars later, I was the proud owner of the latest addition to my garage. Now I only had to get it home.

The drive home

I was blessed with rain the whole drive back. The constant rain, Georgia’s poor excuse for an interstate and the bald rear tires meant that I had to stay alert. This car, with its neglected suspension, would begin to act crazy at even the hint of a puddle. Needless to say, I got to practice drifting the whole way back. And once I got back, I ran a compression check and was amazed that the engine actually ran. Cylinder #1 – 115, Cylinder #2 – 105, Cylinder #3 – 145, Cylinder #4 – 135. Luck for me there, is a CA18DET waiting to be swapped in. Up next, the CA18DET swap.

It may not look like much but this is the lightest and stiffest s13 chassis.


Thar she blows!!! No literally, how this car made it without a tow is beyond my comprehension.

By 240am

Chris Simmons is a race car driver, instructor, business owner and all around gearhead. His passion for motorsport started in the drifting community over 10 years ago and progressed into wheel to wheel racing of all kinds. When off track Chris can be found training and working on a myriad of projects. After a hiatus from writing, he is back to share his passion, knowledge and experience in regard to motorsports on and off the track.

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