The Type X Look, Stage 1
As the above photo illustrates, there are many different paths you can take on the appearance of your S-chassis. The middle white car illustrates the stock "Shark Nose" bumper of the 1991-94 USDM 240SX. The white car on the end is the "Kouki Type X" final form of the JDM 180SX. My red car is sporting an aftermarket "Aggressive" body kit by Origin. How you feel about modifying your car, and also how drivable you want it to be, will determine how your 240 will look.
Unfortunately, having a car that both looks cool and is also drivable on real roads is not always possible. Although I liked the looks of the Origin Body Kit, the front bumper was only 2 inches off the ground at a ride height that didn't make it look like a 4x4. The front lip of the bumper protruded WAY out in front of the car, which made the approach angle to driveways a nightmare. Even though I drove very carefully, I still managed to take a chunk out of the front bumper on two occasions. My first solution was to add a very pricey front lift system to the Stance coil over suspension which could raise the front ground clearance to 3.5 inches at the touch of a button. Unfortunately, I ended up driving the car around fully raised in front at all times, which kind of voided the purpose of having a low car. I needed another solution!
A popular upgrade for the US market 240SX is to switch over to the final front bumper facelift of the JDM 180SX - the Kouki Type X bumper. It's a bit of an "OEM +" upgrade since the parts are factory Nissan, just never offered in the US. The bumper is made out of a more flexible polypropylene material that is a bit more forgiving to bumps and scrapes than rigid fiberglass aftermarket bumpers. I found this severely beat example of the bumper on a local FB Marketplace group for $100. I decided to give it a try.
With the bumper test fit to my car, I was able to get a feeling for how it would look and perform. Thankfully, at my car's lowest ride setting, I still had 4.5 inches of ground clearance in the front, and a much more favorable approach angle for driveways. Unfortunately, this used bumper was missing some of the molded-in mounting points, so if I wanted this look I would be shopping for some new parts.
Christmas in July! Brand new, OEM Nissan bumpers are available from a variety of sources from Nissan Dealerships to eBay to aftermarket import tuning shops. I shopped around and ended up finding the best deal at PartsForNissans.com - wonderful to deal with, including excellent communication and well-packed merch!
Mmmm. Fresh NOS parts! Although the front bumper is fairly affordable (usually around $200 with an equal amount charged for shipping the oversize package), the bumper also requires extension pieces and various vents, marker lights and brackets to complete the look. Depending on where you source the parts from, this can ratchet up the cost of the Type X look quite a bit.
There are 5 unique OEM mounting brackets for this bumper. The large center mounting bracket and the two side extension brackets are mandatory. The two side brackets visible above are the USDM "side stiffener" brackets from the shark nose bumper - these are very similar in design to the Type X side brackets and seemed to work as an acceptable substitute.
One piece that I did not have any luck finding was the OEM energy absorber foam. This piece sits between the plastic bumper and the metal bumper support underneath. Since it is foam, I decided to try and make my own!
We are quite resourceful at the Oles Garage! My Uncle Jim had some leftover expanding insulation foam from a house rehab project. This material is a two-part formula that expands more than typical expanding foams you find in a can at Home Depot. We used the beat old bumper as a mold, and some automotive grease as a mold release.
Success! We had a perfectly fitting foam inner structure for the bumper. At least on the outside surface. The backside of the bumper did require some shaving down and contouring to fit the metal bumper beam it sits on. But the end result of all this effort was a rock-solid, tightly-fitted OEM bumper.
The new bumper, equipped with supporting foam and brackets. Mad respect for the engineers at Nissan for designing such an intricate and well-fitting set of pieces. Unlike most modern cars, thankfully all these molded-in vents are functional!
Stage 1 of the Type X look, complete! It took a lot of trial and experimentation to reach this point, but the effort will pay dividends in drivability and hopefully looks. If I had my wish, this bumper would hot have the molded-in platform for the factory front license plate. But since Illinois requires a front plate anyway, I guess it will come to good use. Stay tuned for the upcoming installment, Stage 2...