Ad Radar

1996 Nissan 240SX - Power Pages

Text By , Photography by


It’s hard to imagine, but the Nissan 240SX made its first appearance in the import scene more than 22 years ago. In 1996, a fully loaded SE model was priced at a whopping $28,000. Although production of the S14 (’95-98) 240SX has become a long-faded memory, the car still remains popular among today’s import tuner market with its rear-wheel-drive platform and limitless engine swap variations, keeping this car the weapon of choice among amateur and pro drifters alike.

With 1998 marking the end of production for the 240SX in the United States, it’s become difficult to find a vehicle in good running condition. With any older model car, maintenance becomes a critical factor in how well the car will run and/or continues to run as these road warriors have begun to show their age with many displaying over 200K on the odometer.

Our 1996 model 240SX with 168,210 miles on the odometer appears shoddy at first glance with its primer paintjob but was kept in surprisingly good running condition. The vehicle was already equipped with a ’91 240SX (S13) exhaust camshaft mod, AEM short-ram intake system and an RSR/Invidia 60mm catback exhaust prior to performing a baseline run. We should note that the vehicle was also equipped with 18-inch MB Battle wheels and Falken FK452 tires. The Nissan pounded the rollers and registered in at 140.4 hp and 137.2 lb-ft of torque.

DC Sports 4-2-1 Race Header

Header, instructions, sticker, gaskets, and mounting hardware

10, 12, 14, 17, and 19mm sockets, 12, 14, 17, and 22mm open-end wrenches, 7⁄8-, 15⁄16-inch open-end wrenches, ratchet, extension, crescent wrench, and WD-40

Installation time
120 minutes

The DC Sports 4-2-1 one-piece race header is manufactured using T409 stainless steel alloy, robotic TIG welding, and finished in a corrosion-resistant ceramic coating. Lighter than the factory cast-iron manifold, the DC header enables exhaust pulses to increase scavenging for additional horsepower in midrange to top end engine performance.

Because the DC Sports long-tube–style header uses a cat-delete design, it is labeled for off-road use only. Removing the factory header from a 15-year-old vehicle can become painstaking, as many of the nuts and bolts are rusted and difficult to remove. Be sure to use the proper tools and plenty of lubricant when removing each bolt.

The DC Sports header increased both horsepower and torque throughout the powerband, as our 240SX recorded the largest gains from 4,700 rpm to redline, with 7 hp and 7 lb-ft of torque. Consistent gains of 5 hp and 4 lb-ft of torque were seen from 5,000 rpm to redline over our baseline run.

Jim Wolf Technology (JWT) S1 camshafts/ Adjustable Cam Sprockets

Camshafts, cam sprockets, instructions

Ratchet, extension, 10, 12, 14, and 17mm sockets, 10, 12, 14, and 17mm open-end wrenches, screwdriver, torque wrench, safety wire (used to secure chain tensioner), and crescent wrench

Installation time
160 minutes

Swapping the factory S13 KA24DE exhaust camshaft in place of the intake camshaft in an S14 KA24DE has been coveted as a cheap, bang-for-the-buck power improvement. Unfortunately, the 248-degree duration from the S13 exhaust camshaft requires manipulating the camshaft to be positioned up to four teeth on the factory cam sprocket in order to run the correct TDC. We’ve seen plenty of cases where improper cam installation or overaggressive timing has caused the car to run worse than stock. Rather than Band-Aid our engine with the S13 camshaft trick, we opted to install a set of JWT S1 camshafts designed exclusively for the ’91-02 KA24DE. These camshafts were designed for drop-in usage using the factory valvesprings and sport a .390-inch lift with 272 degrees intake/272 degrees exhaust degree duration. The JWT S1s were designed to offer streetability as well as excellent midrange and top end torque. We coupled the camshafts with a set of JWT adjustable cam sprockets to further fine-tune the bumpsticks for additional horsepower. The JWT adjustable cam-timing sprocket set offers eight position settings: standard (stock), three advanced, and four retarded. They feature bolt-in timing settings, which means there are no sliding scales, marks to line up, or extra lock bolts to accidentally come loose with no chance of slippage.

With any camshaft, we suggest having an experienced mechanic install the product to eliminate the chance of valvetrain damage. Depending on the mileage and condition of your engine, we recommend inspecting and properly readjusting the camshaft shims and buckets upon reinstallation, or replacing them with upgraded equipment if they’re past their prime.

We tested the JWT S1 camshafts versus our previous 248/232-camshaft combination without an engine management tune to show the potential horsepower gains as well as the importance of proper tuning. At 4,400 rpm, the new cam made an additional 5 hp and 4 lb-ft of torque over our previous run. At 5,400 rpm, the new camshafts made 10 additional horsepower and 9 lb-ft of torque—an impressive feat considering we had yet to fine-tune this beast. Using an AEM UEGO, Mitch Pederson of MP Tuning noticed the engine running a less than optimal 11.6 air/fuel ratio. Pederson assured us that tuning the engine and optimizing the air/fuel would enable our S14 to extract additional horsepower.

AEM Series 2 Plug-and-Play Engine Management System

AEM EMS unit, USB cable, stickers, instructions, and CD-ROM

Laptop and some serious tuning skills

Installation Time
200 minutes

The AEM EMS has come a long way since its first debut in the tuner market. The newest “Series 2” engine management system for the 240SX (’96-98) is a complete engine control system that plugs into the factory harness and uses the factory sensors. This means you do not need to replace any part of the harness or sensors, just plug the EMS into the harness and begin tuning. The Series 2 EMS is fully programmable as it allows you to control every aspect of your KA24DE. From rev limit, timing, ignition control, injector size compensation, boost control, nitrous injection, even anti-lag and individual cylinder fuel and timing.

Dealing with any aftermarket fuel management system requires extensive knowledge on how to install and properly tune your vehicle to achieve optimal horsepower and driveability conditions for your vehicle. The last thing you want is to skimp on a proper tune and end up with an overly rich/lean air/fuel ratio, which will affect your car’s horsepower performance.

Each AEM EMS is provided with the necessary baseline maps to help get your initial startup program up and going within minutes of installation. With the supplied AEM crank trigger disc and initial base map installed, the engine fired up on its first start flawlessly. Mitch pulled out his laptop and proceeded to manipulate both the fuel and ignition timing maps, pulling 6 degrees of timing throughout the entire map. The final tune offered an improvement of 5 hp and 4 lb-ft of torque from 3,500 rpm to redline with the largest gain of 6 hp and 5 lb-ft of torque from 6,000 to 6,500 rpm.


What began as a baseline dyno run of 140.4 hp and 137.2 lb-ft of torque was revamped with a gain of 14.9 whp and 12.8 lb-ft of torque. The owner was more than enthusiastic with the power gains as it paves the way for future mods like headwork, an aggressive cam, or turbo, and more, which would help this engine deliver performance numbers on par with the popular SR20DET engine.

DC Sports 4-to-1 Header145.2 4.8 143.8 6.6
JWT S1 Camshafts 149.8 4.6 148.1 4.3
AEM EMS 153.23.4152.14.0

DC Sports 4-to-1 Header$385.58
JWT S1 Camshafts$560.00
JWT Adjustable Cam Sprockets$140.00
AEM Engine Management System$1,443.33
AEM UEGO Wideband Air/Fuel Gauge$210.90
Total $2,739.81

Jim Wolf Technology
212 Millar Ave.
El Cajon
CA  92020
MP Tuning
P.O. Box 1312
CA  90250
SR Motorcars
DC Sports
768 S. Turnbull Canyon Rd
City of Industry
CA  91746
Enjoyed this Post? Subscribe to our RSS Feed, or use your favorite social media to recommend us to friends and colleagues!
Import Tuner