Ad Radar
Newsletter

1989 Nissan 240SX (S13) - Crown Royale

This purple and gold S13 from Arizona boasts more than meets the eye.

Text By , Photography by Mike Maez

Peter Imperialy's journey into the world of high-performance automobiles started at a very early age due to his father's interest in cars. Initially Peter's interest was limited to domestic cars, American muscle. He had watched his father work on and drive large displacement, high-horsepower vehicles and knew he would take a similar path in life. At the age of 16, Peter experienced something that would change his perception of cars and their capabilities forever. Peter's friend Garret Kakishita purchased a '94 Civic Del Sol equipped with the DOHC VTEC B16A—a small 1.6L all-aluminum engine. At face value, the car was nothing impressive, a slightly cramped Japanese economy car without a driveshaft. However, when Peter witnessed the compact Honda outrun a 5.0 Mustang he realized there was something about the car he wasn't fully understanding. There was a replacement for displacement after all; cubic inches could be trumped by technology and efficiency.

Less than a year later, Peter purchased a Del Sol of his own and started taking it to the dragstrip. The thirst for more power can be insatiable for those who see cars as more than just a mode of transportation, and Peter was no exception. The aftermarket parts selection available for Hondas in the United States in 1995 was laughable, so Peter reverted back to the tricks he had learned from his father. The technology that made the Del Sol such a capable car was also its downfall; there simply weren't any bolt-on go-fast parts available. Knowing that the basic formula for extracting more power from any internal combustion engine was more fuel and more air, he removed the efficient fuel injection system and mounted a pair of side draft carburetors in place of the intake manifold plenum. Eventually he succeeded in coercing the Honda to run an 11-second quarter-mile.

Peter never strayed far from his roots when it came to the cars that he chose following his Del Sol, enjoying a variety of other Hondas from a B18C1-swapped '92 sedan running 12s, to an S2000, and multiple Civics and CRXs in between, some running as fast as 10-second quarter-miles. As drag racing's popularity dwindled and Peter found himself lining up with the same people in increasing regularity he looked to expand his horizon; autocross and HPDEs became a new way to get his fix of pushing a car to its limit. When Peter tired of the more traditional form of motorsports, he learned of drifting. However to partake in such driving, he would need a new platform, something rear-wheel drive and capable of supporting high horsepower and extended periods of full throttle operation.

The first order of business in choosing a suitable platform was, of course, research. Peter was planning on a long-term project and wanted to make sure that if he was going to commit to this, the outcome would be exactly as he envisioned. Like the countless other auto enthusiasts looking to give drifting a try, Peter chose the S13 chassis—in this case a '89 Nissan 240SX. At the start of this project, the financial damage was projected to be somewhere in the "midrange" as described by Peter, but that budget quickly went out the window when he blew his first SR20DET. A series of "might as wells" and choices with little justification other than the simple desire to build a high-horsepower, show-quality car that he could drive on a daily basis followed, culminating in the car you see before you today.

Having learned the hard way that throwing large amounts of boost into a stock bottom end SR20 was not an option if any sort of reliability was to be maintained, Peter searched for a suitable solution. It was during this search that he sourced a Tomei-built engine. Knowing that you really can't put a price on peace of mind and confidence, the transaction was completed. A few changes were made to the block previous to installation, namely CP pistons and rings, ARP fasteners, and an A'pexi head gasket, however the rest of the Tomei components were kept, everything from the complete valvetrain to the large capacity oil pan. One hundred percent confident that he had a bulletproof long-block as a foundation to his build, he turned his attention to making the power that he could now hold reliably.

PowerLab was commissioned to build a custom single scroll turbo manifold to channel the exhaust gases to the Garrett GTX3076 turbo or to the TiAL MVR wastegate, depending on manifold pressure. Once the turbo was in place, the intercooler and piping could be plumbed—again by Powerlab, routing the compressed air through a Pulsar GTI-R throttle body and Greddy intake manifold before entering the cylinder head to await admittance into the combustion chamber. Now that the powerplant had an abundance of air available on tap, there was no way the original fuel delivery system could keep up. Knowing this, Peter set out to put together a fuel injection system that would be competent enough to keep up with his needs and more. A DeatschWerks 320-lph pump now sucks fuel out of the tank and sends the stream through a Tomei adjustable fuel pressure regulator and Circuit Sports fuel rail before being sprayed into the manifold by Sard 850cc injectors.

Now that the excessive amounts of air and fuel were available on tap, a reliable spark was necessary to control the combustion. Not looking to skimp on any part of this build, especially when a misfire could spell disaster, Peter turned to one of the best in ignition technology, Okada Projects. Okada Projects Plasma Direct coil packs and Plasma Booster were installed to ensure a powerful spark exactly when it was needed. The whole package is controlled by an AEM engine management system. The stand-alone computer allowed Peter the freedom to have his car tuned to run reliably and make the power that he desired. When all was said and done, Tony Szirka at UMS Tuning was able to extract 438 whp at 18 psi on 91-octane gasoline from the car.

There was no way the tired old stock suspension and wheel setup was going to be able to handle the rate of acceleration and speed this S13 is now capable of—not that Peter would be content with keeping the car at stock height on the factory 15-inch wheels to begin with. A set of Drift Spec coilovers were ordered from D-Max, as well as their full line of spherical suspension arms and subframe bushings. The differential was locked, and five-lug hubs replaced their original counterparts. Using the five-lug conversion as an opportunity to upgrade the brakes as well, front and rear Z32 300ZX brakes were sourced, and the calipers were refinished in Plum Crazy Purple. Insanely wide CCW LM20 wheels were also purchased, the fronts measuring 18x10.5 +6 and the rears 18x12 +0.

As you can imagine, wheels of that size have no business under the wheelwells of a stock body S13. Both inner and outer clearance would be severely compromised, anything close to full lock having become a thing of the past. Not being the type of person who would let something minor like physical restrictions dictate the choices he made for his car, a pair of Supermade Instant Gentlemen 30mm SL wide fenders and a pair of Origin Lab 50mm rear overfenders were installed to take care of the outer clearance issues. Not at all interested in keeping the exterior mild, a full Supermade Instant Gentlemen aero kit was ordered and fitted to the car, along with a Silvia front end, which was at this point a simple matter of sourcing a hood and headlights. The front wheelwells were tubbed by PowerLab to allow the car to turn once more, and the entire chassis was sprayed in a coat of Plum Crazy Purple by Elite Automotive Finishes.

Peter started this project in 2011, at first as a drift car build with a budget—granted a budget larger than what the majority of S-chassis owners have set aside or plan to put into their cars, but a budget nonetheless. When the first engine blew Peter preferred to build the car right once than waste time and money replacing or redoing subpar parts or work, so the project shed any trace of a budget. This car may not be the wildest or craziest build out there, but it was built to be exactly what Peter wanted to drive on a daily basis—a usable amount of power (sure, it's a bit on the excessive side for a street-driven S13 but not at all impossible to drive smoothly on 91-octane pump gas), the suspension to allow for some spirited driving on demand, and an exterior that can be considered a work of art. Peter shared with us that he plans to put a few more of his personal touches in the interior, but for the most part he has realized what he set out to build two years ago, and there isn't much more anybody can ask for from their car than simple satisfaction.

Enjoyed this Post? Subscribe to our RSS Feed, or use your favorite social media to recommend us to friends and colleagues!
0 comments
Import Tuner