Less than two hours ago, I couldn't hold myself back from scarfing down that mega deluxe carne asada burrito for a super deal of $2.99. If there was a time to regret indulging in such a large lunch, now was the time. The constant vurp's (vomit burps) and cold sweat running down my forehead was a good indication that I was ready to pray to the porcelain god. I quickly look to the left, then to the right, for salvation; only to remember I was more than 13,000 feet in the air traveling at a steady 107 knots in a Cessna 152 airplane. "Stupid ass Scott," I scoffed at myself as I turned to the pilot and said "Dammit Alan... where's the barf bag?"
Alan Viado, of Westminster, Calif., and one-time resident of Oahu, Hi. is a veteran pilot who plans to someday obtain a career in the commercial industry. He slowly panned his head towards my direction with the look of content that one would have only after receiving gratuitous sex. "Wasssap Buddy? You okay there?" he says, in a sheepish tone of voice, as the plane shakes and rattles with every movement of the controls. "Hold on, let me show you how to drift in a Cessna. I know this 110 hp beast got an E-brake somewhere." Without warning, the plane falls into a barrel roll plunging towards Earth as I hold on for dear life, nearly soiling my underwear. "If only this plane was more similar to my drift car, I'd be able to demonstrate some clutch kicking," says Viado, in a joking fashion. "Enough!" I screamed at the top of my lungs, "Get me out of this shitbox and back on the ground." Disappointed, yet satisfied of scaring me to death, Viado coasted onto the taxiway and parked the plane. To think I was finally safe on the ground, away from unwanted aerial stunts was short lived. Viado was to drive me home in his 300 hp Nissan 240SX.
Building close relations with numerous automotive shops around the world, Viado can be found on the weekdays grinding away as a sales marketer for world reknown Sparco Motor Sports USA of Irvine, Calif. It was those very ties that enabled Viado to experience the world of drifting first hand in a rear-wheel-drive converted WRX. Well before the Kumakubo's and Tanaka's of Japan began the Impreza fad within the D1 ranks of drifting, Viado enlisted the help of his good friend Gary Castillo of Design Craft Fabrication in Lake Forest, Calif. to fabricate and install a center differential to deliver rear tire drift-ability. The car ran flawlessly, as numerous drift day events were attended, but along with the new tire smoking abilities came transmission and various drivetrain problems. After three snapped output shafts, two broken axles, and routine tranny swaps, it became apparent that Viado was up to his nose having to tow his Subie home on a constant basis. Disheartened, Viado conjured up the courage and sold his Subaru to make room for a more drift-friendly vehicle, an S14. "I basically wanted something I could just beat on and still drive it home at the end of the day," stated Viado.
After months of research, a clean-bodied 1996 Nissan S14 was tracked down in San Diego, Calif. and the buildup process began. Working for Sparco USA, it wasn't a surprise that the best products they had to offer were implemented within the interior of the S14. The factory seats were replaced with the driver side sporting a Sparco EVO bucket and the passenger equipped with a Monza unit; both stitched in Sparco's custom black leather with red contrast stitching. The rear seats also received special treatment in matching leather while the door panels were revised in perforated leather. A Sparco 345 leather steering wheel and litium S racing shift knob were to Viado's preference, as the Sparco SLP1 shift light keeps the engine from bouncing off the rev limiter. Castillo of Design Craft secured the vehicles safety, building a custom chromoly six-point roll bar while 3-inch six-point competition harnesses with nomex pads were fastened to the safety cage and god forbid engine fires should occur, a 2 lb. Sparco fire extinguisher is on call to save the day.
Those who know Viado on a personal basis can relate to his horrendous driving behavior--literally beating his cars to death. In an attempt to keep the S14 running as long as humanly possible, A'PEXi EL II series boost, water temp, and oil pressure gauges were installed. AEM's Uego air/fuel gauge keeps details on the vehicles vitals at all times. Slated as a weekend drift machine and a weekly daily driver, a full audio system was installed for the long commutes to and from work. The main unit consists of a Pioneer AVG-VDP1 vehicle dynamics processor and a Pioneer AVH-P7600DVD in-dash DVD with 5.1 surround sound. Pioneer's CD-IB100 iPod interface gives Viado the option to blast some of his favorite slow jams while cruising with the boys or uses the Pioneer GEX-P920XM XM satellite tuner when traveling on the road. Pumping the sounds are a set of DLS Audio 6.5-inch separates in the front and 7x10 rear speakers, powered though a DLS 4 channel amp. A Pioneer PRS-D3000SPL 2000watt amp keeps the Pioneer premiere 10-inch sub rumbling with every pound of the bass.
Selecting a body kit that was subtle, yet stylish was something that Viado was looking to emphasize. Looking upon our friends in Japan for a few clues on styling techniques, a decision was made to install a set of Origin (20mm) fenders, Version Select front bumper and Final Konnexion side skirts and rear bumper. Before any parts were installed, the S14 received a facial makeover using a 1998 front-end conversion, JDM front grill along with a pair of '98 taillights. A Seibon carbon-fiber hood was implemented in the mix. Carbon Creations was called upon for a trunk lid while a Kaizen HID system light up the Southern Cali night. Autowerks of El Monte, Calif., took on the task of properly mounting and spraying the body kit to match the vehicles paint.
Obtaining the proper suspension components meant a quick call to A'PEXi for their N1 Pro coilovers and Tanabe Racing Development for their reknown 27.5mm Sustec drift spec roll bar. Replacing the factory tension rod is a Peak performance unit while an A'PEXi R&D SPL front tension rod brace now resides on the S14. "After I installed the Peak Performance suspension components, its been like day and night improvement with my handling on the S14," says Viado. Peak Performance inner and outer tie rods, pillow toe rods, pillow upper link (traction bar), rear upper camber arms, and rear sub-frame bushings all attribute to keeping Viado on the track when driving like a mad man.
Stopping power has been improved using a Goodrich stainless brake lines and a set of Brembo Grand Tourismo 4-piston calipers with a 380mm rotor and 300ZX rear calipers riding on Brembo rotors. For any drifter or serious competitor on the track, a limited slip differential makes the difference between winning and getting your ass handed to you on a silver platter. Viado factored in the need of a differential and called upon Ray Nakadate of Kaaz USA for their 2-way LSD. Using an ACT extreme clutch and lightened flywheel combination, Viado has the ability to clutch kick the S14 to his hearts content. Clutch fortification was also addressed using a Nismo clutch slave cylinder and Nismo stainless clutch line. Possessing a car that's celebrating its 10-year anniversary, he was looking to accentuate his car with the newest Volk wheels GTV wheels. "My shits dope..where you at Scott?" says Viado repeatedly as he jokingly obsesses over his rims offset and size. Sporting 18x9 wrapped in Nitto 555 225/40/18 up front and 18x10 covered in 235/40/18 on the rear; I have to admit it looks pretty bad ass.
Just own a 240SX, and we can almost guarantee the typical SR20DET engine swap straight from Japan. For Viado, being typical wasn't good enough. He wanted to stretch the factory KA24DE powered engine to its full potential and prove to himself and others that this 2.4 liter power plant was more than just a "truck motor." Looking to ramp up the factory horsepower, a Turbonetics S14 kit was ordered, complete with a hybrid Turbonetics T3/T4 turbo and external wastegate setup. With the help of longtime friend Jensen Oda, the kit was installed and tuned using an AEM EMS fuel management system. Unfortunately for Viado, a lesson was learned the hard way that stock KA powerplants don't necessarily favor boost for extended periods of time. After grenading two engines, the time had finally come to do things right. In a weeks time, the block returned from Bensons Automotive of Santa Ana with a fresh set of sleeves while Len Higa, R&D director of A'PEXi, extended a helping hand in building the KA block using a set of 9:1 compression CP pistons connected to a set of factory shot peened rods. The head was buttoned up using a Cometic head gasket and ARP head studs. XS Engineering of Huntington Beach, Calif., played an integral part in providing their Power Core intercooler (GTR) and Power Ignition Pack. Fuel delivery was ramped up using an A'PEXi N1 fuel pump (R32 Skyline upgrade), A'PEXi 550cc injectors, and AEM adjustable fuel pressure regulator. Jim Wolf S1 cams and sprockets improved the KA's response with the turbo while spent exhaust exits the rear bumper though an A'PEXi N1 Exti titanium exhaust. Danny Oda of Design Craft cherry picked the newly revised engine while taking the time to install a C&R dual pass radiator with separator tank and C&R extreme fan. Controlling boost to a stable 14 psi, using an A'PEXi AVCR boost controller, final tuning of the EMS was performed by Greg Nakano of AEM to the tune of 312hp and 300 lb-ft of torque. Content with the vehicles horsepower and reliability factor, the vehicle was sent to Baker Precision for a fitment of a Setrab 16 row oil cooler, Baker oil filter relocation kit, 600-series Setrab power steering cooler, with both coolers ducted with 55-56 aluminum.
Perhaps the big questions on everyone's mind are: Has the engine blown up yet? Has Alan driven his S14 into the grave? Surprisingly, both Alan and his car have survived a series of Drift Day and Just Drift events throughout the year without a hitch, even with his relentless beating on the S14. "The built KA has surpassed all expectations and delivered its goal of sufficient horsepower with unsurpassable reliability," says Viado. We couldn't agree more.