After my visit with the boys at Garage 13, I headed up coast an hour to the Brisbane Gateway Bridge where the newly formed Queensland 180SX club would be waiting for me. As a newly formed club, Club X doesn’t have too many members but that didn’t stop an abundant amount of automotive enthusiasts turning up. The morning rain had moved on and we were looking at a fine but cloudy afternoon ahead of us.
A 180SX is typically a 1989 – 1998 Nissan hatchback coupe (fastback in some countries) imported from Japan. However in some European countries the 200SX was available which looked similar to the 180SX in the earlier years before it changed to the S14 styling. The 180SX or 200SX came with either the CA or SR engine with the option for adding a turbo. The 200SX was equipped with a turbo from factory and that wasn’t a consumer’s option.
The sought after Type X trim on the 180SX is one of the most expensive OEM body parts in Australia. The entire kit including tail lights, garnish, end caps and valance, spoiler, side skirts, front bumper and lip could easily set an owner back a couple of grand. It’s most definitely worth it though as the transformation from zero aero to a full OEM kit can be outstanding.
Although this was specifically a 180SX meet, a handful of cars not manufactured by Nissan did show up. I’m rather a fan of these hot hatches made by Mazda. The mustache on the front bumper certainly brings the car up to gentleman status.
The carpark under the Gateway Bridge was empty apart from one car hidden in the corner. In New Zealand we have the Harbour Bridge which connects Auckland’s main city to the suburbs North of Auckland. There is not however a massive concealed carpark under the bridge where automotive activities can take place. As the skyline moves to the other side of the car park, a few more Club X members start to arrive in their pride and joy.
The majority of the members that showed up were in their early 20s, however I still managed to spot a P plate here and there. In New Zealand I received my learners licence as soon as I legally could when I was 15 (legal age now raised to 16). I had that licence for 6 months then sat my restricted licence (equivalent to Australia’s provisional licence) which I had for 12 months before acquiring my Full (no restrictions) licence. So in 18 months at the age of 16 and a half I had no restrictions on my car licence. Having a look online and seeing what Australians have to go through to get their full licence seems rather exhausting and time consuming, hopefully they are better drivers for it!
A few more cars had arrived by this point, with the 180SX parking area of 10 starting to fill up. Its great that even though this was a 180SX Club X meet and greet, other people with other cars and interests showed up and fit in perfectly. It goes to show that it doesn’t actually matter what car you have and what you’ve done to it because at the end of the day everyone was there to meet and greet new people with similar interests.
Carpet dash isn’t something that we see all too often in New Zealand, with our terrible weather I can understand why. In Australia though were the temperatures are quite often sitting around 30 degrees all through the year, you’d be crazy not to have a piece of carpet protecting that easily crackable dash. I’m also a fan when someone takes the effort to paint their roll cages. It’s obviously not necessary but It can make such a difference to the look of a car with a sparkly pink roll cage sitting pretty in the cabin.
The day was progressing nicely, I had met some Aussies and formed some new relationships. The rain was holding off for us which gave my camera a little time to dry out from my morning photo session. More and more cars were arriving – maybe we would fill up the 10 car parks allocated to Club X.
Ryan Cummings, the mastermind behind Club X, a competitive drifter and the director of Slide Industries brought along his daily driven SR20DET 180SX. This thing looks insane on the road. Having a close look at the gap, or lack of, between the rear wheels and the moulded guards it’s a mystery as to how he manages to drive it. The amount of dish on those Weds Kranze is another story in itself.
Another car rocking Weds Kranze on the day was Jai’s super clean 180SX with an S15 front end conversion, easily the most popular car of the day. Jai’s owned this particular S-Chassis for many years and said it’s gone through a ton of stages in it’s life. The Strawberry faced 180SX was the most popular conversion from the attendees at the Club X meet, with another blue 180SX also sporting an S15 front end conversion.
Another crazy thing to get used to in Australia is the amount of different plates they have, plus all the personalised options available to the public. Each state has their own style of plates with the state labeled on the plate. I even saw a picture of a tree on one plate. While talking to one of the fellow Club X members, he brought to light the price of personalised plates in Australia. What an easy way to break the bank with a price range from around $400 to the tens of thousands for a steel plate with letters and numbers pressed into it. Don’t get me wrong custom plates are a great addition to any car, there’s just little to no reason for such a steep price tag.
Most people were a bit shy to start with, people were parking all over the place or just with their mates. We soon fixed that and by the end of the day we had everyone talking to one another, comparing rides and exchanging advice and experiences.
Lets talk about ride height for a moment. In my humble and honest opinion Jai’s 180SX has the perfect amount of low for a daily driver. Its not too high and it’s not too low that it scrapes on every leaf driven over. I can appreciate any kind of ride style whether it be ground scraping low or as high as a tractor. It’s their car so they can do what they want. Right?
I just love twins of the automotive kind. There’s something about two cars looking somewhat identical that gets me going. Especially when those two twins or team members are drifting door by door. Although we did have around ten 180SXs present, none of them looked as similar to each other as these two S13s did.
It had been around an hour now and most people had turned up. The weather was still holding up for us so it was time to start lining up all the cars for the Club X photoshoot. Going to Australia to shoot cars was rather nerve racking as I usually just sit behind my camera and look at what someone else is doing. The two days of shooting in Queensland had me arranging and organising a couple cars here and there, but to organise ten cars and find all the owners wasn’t the easiest thing I’ve done.
We already had an unmatched location with an amazing backdrop, it was now just a matter of positioning all of the cars in a way where they would look the best together. On our first attempt I didn’t leave enough room for all the cars to line up, so we shuffled everyone around a bit and managed to squeeze all ten cars in the frame. Having all ten of the cars in colour order also created an extra task while organising everyone but it definitely improved the outcome of the photos.
I can see how stress can hit photographers hard. It’s full on hard work travelling all day to different locations and then spending a few hours at each spot. There’s nothing I’d rather do though, it’s just a lot of hard work and it’s very time consuming. The amount of hours put into post production can take its toll, I’d just hate to imagine how many hours go into automotive films.
With the start of a new club there needs to be car and owner photos. It was great to see all ten owners standing next to their cars with pride. Knowing they built that car from the ground up. A good friend in New Zealand told me this saying which I think is pretty accurate – I know I’m thinking it whenever I’m driving my Silvia. “You know what, I built this car from ground up all by myself… Oh shit, I built this car from the ground up all by myself”.
During the photoshoot a few other cars turned up and cooperated perfectly when we asked them to move, even though it was such a pain to do so. We didn’t get any complaints from them and only good attitudes which I am thankful for. Now that we had finished up with the meet and greet, a few of the Club X members and I moved on to a new location just around the corner.
Before I turned up to the Bridge I took a wrong turn and went into a dead industrial area which would have been awesome to take some photos, so this is where nearly everyone from the Club X meet ending up driving to. Only a few minutes away from the previous location I left early to grab a few action shots of everyone.
I think Zac’s S15 had to be the cleanest and sleekest car on the day. This part of the industrial area was great for taking photos with the much loved blurry background. The long straight roads made for simple and clean photo opportunities.
Later in the day we got a little closer to the two twins of the meet and greet. With twins, the base is always the same, the body and the paint. It’s the little details that separate one twin from the other. The wheels, the interior, but most of all, the difference lies in the heart of the car.
Ones running a CA18DET setup and the other…
Is powered by a turbo RB engine.
From a photographers point of view, I find it difficult to know which lens would be best fit for the photo that I want to bring to life. I have an idea of what I wanted each photo to look like in my head, but bringing those ideas to life was the tricky bit. I took four lenses and one body on this two day automotive hunting trip and I made sure that I used each lens at least once and focused on what that lens was best at doing.
Ryan’s daily car is pretty monstrous, it looks like a fully blown drift car. Ryan also drifts the Slide Industries S13.5. He recently competed in the Formula Drift round at the World Time Attack Challenge and took on New Zealand drivers including Gaz Whiter in his S14 Silvia.
Pop open the hood on his daily 180SX and you’ll be filled with awe. With most, if not all, the factory parts replaced with superior aftermarket goodies. Having a closer look at the piping on the turbo you can see that a lot of time and effort went into creating how the turbo setup was positioned on this mindblowing SR20DET engine.
Being a Weds Kranze importer would surely have it’s perks. Running a full set of Kranze all round with very low offset on the back and front. They fit snugly under the front guards, however the rears needed a bit of moulding to get them fitted with hardly any camber at all.
Jai’s S15 is a true winner, and this is possibly my favorite photo from this meet. It’s tricky when taking a photo hand held. Having everything in perspective can make or break a shot. Even having the photo on a slight tilt can turn a amazing photo into a good photo. Sure this can all be done in post process, but getting these things right on the camera can save a lot of work and time.
Jai’s also running the common SR20DET engine produced by Nissan. With many mod plates to back up everything to keep the police happy. Mod plates or Cert plates here in New Zealand are the worst things to obtain and they are expensive. It’s pretty much a plate saying an engineer of some sort has looked at your modification and said it meets his or her expectations and that it’s safe to drive on public roads. A lot of it is opinion based and cops in New Zealand can still defect your car if they feel like it. That doesn’t happen all that often though.
Also running Weds Kranze on his S15, Jai’s fitment is a little less insane than Ryan’s but it still works seamlessly with the car.
It’s crazy to think that a few weeks ago I wasn’t even planning to go to Australia, I hadn’t saved any money for it. So while i’m sitting here on my broke ass waiting for my next paycheck on the 22nd of January I can honestly say I wouldn’t have wanted to spend Christmas any other way. This right here is the epitome of car hunting. Being in a new country with new people and new cars all doing it for the love of automobiles!
One thing I did notice that stood out over at our neighbouring country is that the build quality of daily driven cars is generally higher than New Zealand. I’m not saying that ours are bad, I think it’s the fact that the police are very strict and don’t let anyone get away with half assed modifications like some of the police do here in New Zealand.
The last car I was to photograph was Ash’s aqua 180SX on white wheels. This was due to the police force showing up and the rain coming back to haunt us. The colour of this car was rather unique. It’s an easy colour to photograph because it always looks good. But 99% of the time it will look different in the photos than in real life. As you can see the road are now empty and the clouds are packing in pushing away all of our light.
As I watch the last car leave and I packed up my gear, I’m left with a rainy drive back to the Gold Coast. Brisbane’s a crazy place. I went on a car ferry, drove over massive bridges and through extremely long tunnels. Sadly I saw no kangaroos and koala bears on this trip. My time in the Sunshine State was now over and my flight back home was right around the corner. This is not however the end of my automotive hunting so make sure you tune back in to see more awesome Australian automotive content.
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Photos: Shaun Constable ~ Words: Shaun Constable ~ Proofer: Chadd Davis
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