No one can doubt that modified cars are on the increase in power: just attend any dyno shoot-out to see simply huge at-the-wheels figures from turbo, blown and big naturally aspirated engines. But is that always a good thing? Nope. After all, apart from on those dyno rollers, where can you use all that power?
Brisbane’s Rob Duggan has a very different philosophy. What he’s done is build a car that has a spread of power, great brakes, up-rated suspension and subtlety enhanced looks. No, against those monster cars it won’t win a drag strip race or a dyno shoot-out; what it will do is provide all a modified car should have: useability, fun and reward.
And in this case the reward is strongly felt... as Rob says: “I can look at this car and know I did everything myself.”
Under the bonnet is the 1.8-litre QG18DE engine. It’s untouched internally, even to the 9.5:1 comp ratio. Letting it breathe to the tune of 130kW at the wheels on 95 RON fuel is a T25G sleeve bearing turbo. Rob has fabricated an unusual exhaust manifold. It’s made from 32mm ID heavy wall steam pipe that’s been TIG’d together. That’s nothing out of the ordinary, but the 16mm thick separated flanges and two-long, two-short runners certainly are. Rob suggests the design provides wider across-the-rev-range response.
Intake air to the turbo is from an exposed K&N filter that feeds a 3 inch pipe decreasing in diameter to 2.5 inch at the turbo. The compressed air flows to a front-mounted intercooler that uses a 550 x 180 x 65 core. Interestingly, Rob didn’t need to cut any panel work to fit in the ‘cooler plumbing – 2 inches in and 2.5 inches out. Boost is set at 10 psi by a TurboSmart two stage boost control, wired to always be in the second stage.
Off the turbine is a twin dump stainless steel pipe that becomes one under the sump. Following that is a 2.5 inch hi flow cat and then a single Magnaflow 2.5 inch muffler. Rob fabricated not only the dump pipe but also the whole exhaust!
Under the bonnet you’ll also find a catch-can (but the engine breaches very little) and a TurboXS blow-off valve. Rob wants to use a recirculating design BOV but is waiting to build a full airbox before he plumbs it back into the inlet. He suggests that having the BOV return near the airflow meter causes the engine management to go into limp-home as a result of the erratic airflow meter signals triggered by the returned air.
Talking of engine management, it’s very simple – just an Apexi SAFC II working on the airflow meter signal. Ignition timing control? Stock! Rather than investing in control of the ignition, Rob intends running a water injection system to allow him to potentially run more boost with leaner mixtures. The engine management may be simple but the fuel system runs ex-supercharged Holden V6 injectors (which required fuel rail spacers and changed plugs – that’s all) and a 2001 WRX fuel pump.
One underbonnet mod is eye-catching – if you know what to look for! Rob has placed an oil distribution block on top of one end of the intake manifold. This feeds high pressure oil to the turbo and also makes for a convenient mounting spot for the relocated oil pressure sender. Another tricky mod is the use of a thinner than standard electric rad cooling fan, run by its own dedicated (and Rob-built) electronic fan speed controller.
But take a look at the Pulsar with its bonnet closed and it’s the brakes that attract your eyes. In one of the most radical brake upgrades we’ve seen in years, Rob has raided the Nissan parts-bin for his stoppers. Up front you’ll find R33 GTST Skyline calipers gripping R32 Skyline GTR discs. And if you think that this must have required a fair bit of fabrication – you’re dead-right. The Pulsar hubs have been converted to 5-stud and custom, heli-coiled aluminium brackets made to mount the calipers.
And while the back may look less impressive, there’s scarcely less work been done. The original drums have long gone, being replaced with U12 Nissan Pintara calipers and discs, again with custom caliper mounts. Using these discs required that sleeves be machined-up to hold the bearings. Again, Rob did all the work!
As you’d expect with such an increase in caliper sizes, a new master cylinder was required. The new one’s been sourced from a U13 Bluebird and has been equipped with a custom brace – which Rob says made a noticeable difference to braking performance. With this combination of brake parts, front/rear bias remains fine.
The suspension also hasn’t been overlooked. You’ll find on all four corners KYB XLG dampers and custom King springs. Sway bars are stock – well sway bar, because only the front has one. (The rear suspension is a torsion beam that kind of has its own sway bar built in.) Wheels are 17 x 7 wearing Nanking 205/40 tyres.
Looking around the outside you’ll find front mesh inserts (and a modified lower bar), N16 series II hatch headlights imported from the UK, and aftermarket rear lenses. Inside there’s what you’d by now expect: subtle upgrades including selective painting (the silver background to the instruments, the centre of the dash) and an out of sight sound system. Noticeable though are the two DVD screens – just the thing for keeping the children entertained.
And entertained they were when Rob recently drove the car to Sydney and back. Got good fuel economy too.
See, it does it all...