240SX Fall Update 2018
The 240 has been coming along, but there is still a lot of work to accomplish before the car can reach its full potential. My goal with this car has been to work on small projects one by one and keep the car drivable and enjoyable in the precious summer months here in the Midwest. One of the big dangers of project cars is too take too much apart too soon and take the car off the road. Before you know it, you are not enjoying the car and getting bored with it - maybe even pondering getting rid of it. I have been careful not to fall into that trap with this car.
I took the 240 up to my friend Adam's house in St. Charles. Adam always has a car project or two in progress. His prized possession is his 1965 Shelby Mustang for which I have mountains of respect. I've got to say that in this company the 240 does hold its own - parked at least.
My two 90s coupes parked next to each other. I consider myself extremely fortunate to have these two cars to tinker with. I am also very lucky to have a clean, well-lit garage with heat that I can comfortably wrench on cars all winter long in. The demise of many project cars is simply not having a place where work can progress without interruptions.
One thing that continues to bug me is the wheel fitment. The wheel fitment game is an exhaustive process that has many different options. Some people immediately want nice, deep-dish concave wheels in 17 inch or larger sizes. The problem is that cars like the 240 originally came with 15 x 6 inch wheels with small 205/60/15 tires at factory ride height. To fit a bigger wheel at a lower ride height, you have to adjust the offset of the wheel to millimeter perfection, add negative camber until the wheel tucks into the fender without rubbing, or add wide body fenders to find extra clearance. Up until this point, the 240 has been rocking stock suspension arms with Stance Coil overs. As you can see in this picture with the coil over removed, the rear 17 x 9.5 wheel (with 235/40/17 tire) does "fit" without rubbing the rear quarter panel.
The front 17 x 9.5 wheel is another story. Even with a much smaller and stretched 225/35/17 tire, the wheel will not tuck into the fender. The previous owner tried running the car at a lower ride height and the tires ended up hitting (and tearing) the metal fenders. His solution was to run the car at a taller ride height and live with it. The genesis of the problem is suspension design. The 240 has a double arm rear suspension that introduces negative camber gain as the car goes through its suspension travel, which helps the wheel tuck into the fender under compression. In the front, however, the 240 has a regular strut type suspension - only the 300Z got the fancy double A Arm suspension in the front. Strut front suspensions have limited to no camber gain as they go through their travel. The solution is often to add aftermarket arms and adjusters to increase negative camber. I had to do something, as this photo clearly illustrates.
The list of replacement parts was long: I installed the GK Tech front spindles (grip geometry) which lower the car 50mm without sacrificing suspension travel. These spindles also place the steering arm mount 64mm lower to eliminate bump steer, which was a real problem with this car on the highway. I also replaced the factory rod ends, lower arms and ball joints, and added adjustable suspension arms from SPC in the front and rear of the car.
And the parts kept coming. It's always pleasing to see a box arrive with the Nismo logo on it - that means there's factory-approved mods inside!
This is the Nismo "power brace" for the S13 chassis. This part is a combination of the factory front radius supports with an added reinforcement bar welded in, as well as additional plates welded in to reinforce these parts. I figured that if the factory figured out the front suspension could use some additional reinforcement, it was a good time to do it. It is a very popular mod with these cars.
Here you can see the Nismo brace installed in the car, along with the SPC Products adjustable radius arm. I went with SPC because they retain the factory spec rubber isolated bushings which are preferable for street driven cars. They do claim that the rubber is a stiffer durometer so there is some improvement over OEM specs, but not as harsh as Poly bushings.
I did like the look of the MB Motoring "Battle" wheels on the car. The original owner intended for the car to have "square" fitment, which means the same size wheel and tire all around. So I purchased a new set of Yokohama S Drive tires in 235/40/17 for all four corners. The rear tires fit fine (or so I thought), but the front would require wider aftermarket fenders to fit this size - the factory front fenders have less clearance than the rear of the car. On Craigslist I was able to find Origin 20mm wider front fenders, which you can see fitted on the car here. Stock fenders measured 184mm. So these Origin fenders should have measured 204mm. In reality they measured only 200mm. Fitment was not great, and would require a lot of finesse from an experienced body shop to fit correctly.
Aftermarket fiberglass parts vary widely in quality and fitment. Most JDM front fenders have months wait time to get them from manufacturers in Japan. I decided to give a domestic manufacturer - Andy's Auto Sport / Extreme Dimensions - a chance. Unfortunately the quality of the materials the fender was made from was garbage, the fenders were poorly packed and arrived with cracks all over, and the fitment was scary bad. But the real nail in the coffin for these fenders was the size - they were advertised as 30mm wider - but they measured only 195mm wide - 5 mil less wide than the Origin 20mm fenders! Thankfully, I was able to return these fenders and get a full refund. I will never make that mistake again. No wonder so many Hondas from the 90s rolled with terrible-fitting mis-matched body kits.
On the ground, everything seemed to work. But this was only with an eyeball alignment. Phase one was complete for now, but there is still a lot of experimentation and learning to find the prefect setup for this car.
From Facebook marketplace, I was able to pick up a spare KA24DE engine and two spare transmissions, plus a bunch of extra parts. This engine will form the base of my turbo engine build for this car. This project is coming along nicely.