Moving to Japan, and purchasing a modified JDM car is the dream of so many. I’m lucky enough to turn that dream into reality, what was only an idea a few years ago, has now turned into my life. Working in Japan, driving in Japan, going to various circuits in Japan all seems so surreal. Without a doubt, this chapter in my life is like another book series altogether.
Stage 1, version 1, whatever you want to call it, is now completed. It’s been a slow 6 months making changes to this car to get it how I wanted it. It’s a lengthy process to buy a car in Japan, but I persevered and now I get to drive this every day in the beautiful countryside of the Chugoku Region in Japan. This is how the car sits today, in it’s ‘finished’ state, but…
This is what it looked like 6 months ago. It may look like not too much has changed, and you may be right, but what I have changed has made the car so much better in my opinion. I purchased this 96 S14 Kouki from Osaka at a Japanese used car dealership specialising in modified cars. After about a month or so of exchanging paperwork, it was dropped off at my front door.
From the modifications that it already had, it was easy to tell that in its previous life it had been a drift car. At some point, it had also had a big wing, and different side skirts, which makes me assume it also had different bumpers as well. Evidence of gauges inside, the bucket seat, aftermarket steering wheel, and handbrake button all lead to the conclusion that this was most definitely used as a drift car by the previous owner.
As soon as I had the car in my hands, it was modification time. I was looking at making it into a reliable daily driver plus a now and then drift car. The first thing I sourced was new wheels. I had always liked the R33 GT-R wheels, and the offset wasn’t too bad either, they are also a lot cheaper in Japan than in New Zealand. So I now have 8 R33 GT-R drift wheels in my tiny apartment, but it’s totally worth it.
I was happy, the car was going well. However, the R33 wheels I purchased came with chunky 245/45 tyres. These were way too big, but with the snow season around the corner, I thought I would deal with the minimum rubbing and then use them as drift tyres during the summer. My wheels were sorted, I had 8 R33 GT-R wheels and a set of Work Emotion CR Kiwamis, measuring in 17×8+28 and 17×9+32.
Aero was a big part of my mission on this car, I’d always wanted factory aero on a Silvia because I think it looks epic. My S14 already came with side skirts and end caps, so it was now my job to source a rear spoiler and a front lip, both of which proved hard to find. I was lucky with the front lip, finding a white one on Yahoo for a reasonable price, however, the spoiler didn’t come in white. A once green spoiler is now colour coded by myself with plenty of hours spent on it to match the car averagely.
The turbo engine is enhanced by a 3-inch turbo back exhaust and an EXAS rear muffler, it’s got a nice pitch to it which isn’t too loud but doesn’t blend in with the birds either. At this point in time, the car is now sitting in the exact same fashion as the first photo. During Golden Week here in Japan, I headed to Nagoya to photograph some events and also my car. This place is called Ōsu Kannon which is a Buddhist temple located in the centre of Nagoya, I highly recommend visiting here when you finally get to Japan.
My current wheel set-up on the car is in a mismatched style. The car is running on TEIN Super Street Damper coilovers, something that I may change in the future, as the car is sitting a little too high for my liking. Also with the winter months, it would be good to have two sets to swap around, one set super high so I don’t use my bumper as a snow plough and the other set low for the summer months cruising to the beach.
The car sits level at the moment, so I’m happy about that. I’ve taken the inner front plastic guards out and rolled the lips on all four guards to prepare for lowering it some more if I decide to change the coilovers. If that happens I still need to take care of moving the loom out of harm’s way. To make the wheels pop a bit, and because red is my favourite colour, I went to Autobacs to purchase a set of duralumin wheel nuts that have one nut that locks. Although theft isn’t really a big problem in the countryside where I live.
Up front, I’m currently running the Work Emotion CR Kiwami 17×9+32 wheels with a 25mm hub-centric wheel spacer, plus a hub-centric ring to centre the wheels perfectly. A little bit of camber up the front helps gain traction when drifting at Bihoku Highland Circuit (my local drift circuit), not to mention it looks aggressive when you can see the tyres from the front. For extra grip on the front, I have a set of Federal 595 RS-Rs measuring in a slightly stretched 215/45.
When I purchased the S14, it had a little bit of camber on the rear wheels. To make the tyre sit flat I ordered Origin Labo rear camber and toe arms from Stacked Inc in Osaka. If you’re not too familiar with the R33 GT-R wheel, it’s a 17×9+30 forged wheel. Since I’m not running camber anymore, the need for spacers has vanished. The previous owner had slipped on spacers on the front and rear, which I’m not much of a fan of. However, on the front, they had about 15mm bolt-on spacers, which obviously are small for bolt ons, and then proceeded to cut to studs flush to the spacer. Once I removed those old spacers, I also installed fresh new studs.
Having a Zenki in New Zealand was a good time, I owned it for a few years. Although I never really liked the look of them, it just wasn’t angry enough. It was my goal when coming to Japan to purchase a Kouki, the aggressiveness of the front lights was something that just had to be in my life. I was also ecstatic that I managed to find an example in the original white.
Moving on from the exterior. Under the hood, we have a blacktop SR20DET with the infamous T28 ball bearing turbo. It’s not actually modified that much, something I was looking for in a car as I didn’t want too much power. I haven’t touched much in the engine since I purchased it. It came with the HKS air filter, aftermarket hot intake pipe, and a Juran adjustable strut brace.
As it sits, it has plenty of power for me. The lack of blow-off valve also makes for an extremely loud tsu-tsu-tsu sound which is oh-so pleasant to the ear holes. The engine seems to be in good tick, with no oil or water leaks, and easily being able to rev to redline without any strange noises. I don’t plan on increasing the power at all for a long time. Supporting, suspension, and safety modifications are first on my priority list. I’ve noticed that the oil temperature gets too hot after a few laps around the track, so an external oil cooler will probably be the first supporting modifications purchase.
Trying to make the car lighter, I’ve gutted the carpet from the boot. I don’t use it anyway so it doesn’t matter that it looks ugly. As the car didn’t come with a spare wheel, I went onto Yahoo and purchased an R32 GT-R wheel to do the spare wheel duties. At some point during the 6 month period, I had also taken out the rear interior, but with the boot drain plugs also removed it made for an annoyingly loud drive to work every day. Adding weight again to the car, I’ve stuck a whole bunch of stickers on the rear window, with the goal of covering it all up. Stickers are from people I know and respect, like Ronio from RVW supplying a whole heap of rad stickers, Defined from the UK, Kanto Club, Stance Nation, Foundation auto make anything, Nihon Jam, Bihoku, Moonlight Racing, SR All Star Meeting, S13 Gathering, Yukai Sendo, AP Style, One Style, and Hentai Motorsports to name a few.
The interior is definitely a nice place to sit in. It’s got all the bits and bobs that a drift car needs to do basic track days. It’s in good nick too, not too many visible blemishes. Luckily for me, the AC works, if it didn’t I might die during the summer months as it gets HOT here in Japan. A nice double din Kenwood head deck, Sanyo front speakers, and Kenwood 2way rear speakers make for a pleasant driving experience when exploring long distances on the toll roads of Japan.
One of my more liked purchases for this car is the set of Defi gauges that came brand new from their factory. The housing for them was sourced from Yahoo as like most things from this car. Currently, the car is monitoring the boost and oil pressure, and water and oil temperature. However, later on down the road, I plan to add more gauges to the mix. Not only do they keep your car monitored, but they look damn cool in the process. I’ve also changed the heater console and gauge cluster lights to red, which makes all the lights red, including the Defi gauges. Looks pretty rad in my opinion.
You wouldn’t believe my luck when the car I bought also had a sunroof. An electric sunroof that tilts and opens. Something that I think makes a car so much better during the summer months, and every other month to be honest. Although, when a sunroof is in the car, the roof has to sit lower. This proves to be a problem for tall people. The car originally came with a Recaro seat, which isn’t on low rails, so with the addition of my shiny new helmet, there was no space between the roof and my head. Unless I sit like a gangster, my neck is constantly on a slight angle. This means most likely next year, I will need to get my hands on a Bride lowmax seat and rails, so I can drive at the track with comfort. The times when I’m not drifting, which is most of the time, I keep the bucket seat in my apartment and use the S15 seats as they are much more comfortable.
Photo by Kawamoto-san
Currently, I’ve only drifted the car twice at Bihoku Highland Circuit. To be able to pull this off, the 5-speed gearbox is engaged by an aftermarket clutch. The most important thing, however, is the differential. The one that came with the car was sadly open, I was hoping I would get lucky. It’s not all bad though, as differentials in Japan aren’t too expensive. To keep both wheels spinning at the same time, I installed a Tomei 2way 4.3 mechanical differential. I admit, it’s a lot more expensive than just locking your diff, but for daily driving, it’s so much nicer on your car.
The front lights have had HID installed at some point in its life. While they are complete rubbish on a dark road, they do look nice when you’re just admiring your whip. One of the last purchases for the car was the Origin Labo clear front indicators. If you remember from the first couple of pictures, the orange indicators just looked tacky, as nothing else was orange. The clear indicators blend in so much better and complete the overall white look that I was going for. As I said before, I haven’t gone crazy and installed every modification under the sun. I’ve just installed the things that I think make it a good basic drift car and comfortable daily driver.
That’s it. This is my S14 Kouki from Japan. A true JDM car. It’s finished, for now at least. Soon I will start making a list of what I want to do modification wise to bring the car to version 2. Right now though, it’s good, it’s actually great. If you want to see smaller updates about the car or life in Japan, you can add our snapchat: ‘ambitionworks’ – otherwise I hope you like my S14 and I look forward to writing about future modifications.
1996 Nissan Silvia K’s Aero
Factory aero front lip, Factory aero sideskirts, Factory aero sideskirt caps, Factory aero endcaps, Factory aero rear spoiler, Factory fog lights, Factory sunroof, KUTE HID headlights, Folded front and rear guard lips, Red light alloy duralumin wheels nuts, Origin Labo front clear indicators.
Genuine Recaro Profi SPG driver seat, S15 front seats, D1 Spec steering wheel, Razo type 400 shift knob, Black handbrake button, Defi fuel pressure gauge, Defi fuel temperature gauge, Defi water temperature gauge, Defi turbo 2.0 gauge, Defi advance control unit, Defi switch unit, Red LED instrument cluster lights, Red LED AC lights, Fire Blitz ALPHA 600 fire extinguisher, TRUST side pillar gauge holder.
Kenwood dpx-u510 double-din radio, Sanyo 5inch max 30w speakers, Kenwood 2way 5inch + 1.5inch max 40w speakers.
Factory Blacktop SR20DET, T28 Ball bearing turbo, 3 inch turbo back exhaust system, Aftermarket hot intake pipe, EXAS rear muffler, HKS DD super power flow air filter, Panasonic 40B19R battery, Juran adjustable strut brace, SPAC radiator cap, Sanvip tornado horns, GReddy oil temp & pressure adapter, Juran water temp adapter.
5 Speed Manual, Aftermarket clutch, Tomei 2way 4.3 ABS mechanical differential.
Suspension / Brakes
SUN front hub bolts, TEIN Super Street damper coilovers, Blue locking collars, Origin Labo rear camber arms, Origin Labo rear toe arms.
Work Emotion CR Kiwami 17×9 +32 and 17×8 +28, 8x R33 GT-R wheels 17×9 +30.
Photos: Shaun Constable | Words: Shaun Constable
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