Shopping: Real Estate |  Costumes  |  Guitars
This Issue Archived Articles Blog About Us Contact Us

Lion SX

A Nissan 180SX with more than just a lion heart...

Words by Michael Knowling, Pix by Julian Edgar

Click on pics to view larger images

At a glance...

  • 200kW at the wheels
  • Attractive pearl paint
  • R1 GT wing
  • R33 brakes
  • Lifted interior
  • Loyal lion mascot
Email a friend     Print article

Every hero needs a sidekick.

Well, in the case of Ryan Blank – the owner of this sweet Nissan 180SX - his sidekick is none other than a furry toy lion.

“He’s been everywhere with me since I bought the car,” says Ryan.

Click for larger image

As you can see, the lion’s favourite resting spot is here – on top of the boost gauge.

“Yeah, he watches the boost for me” laughs Ryan.

So while he may pretend to be cute, this lion does serve a purpose. We can only surmise that he lets out a little roar when he sees the needle over-boosting...

But let’s get to it.

Ryan’s 1994 Nissan 180SX is a shining example of how easy it is to get these sexy coupes looking cool and going hard.

Click for larger image

“I bought the car about 2 years ago,” says Ryan.

“I definitely wanted a 180SX over a Silvia because they look a lot sleeker – especially in the front-end.”P>

The car arrived in Ryan’s hands with only a couple of basic suspension mods – a front strut brace and a set of aftermarket coil-overs. This is one of the rare S13s that escaped engine mods – for a while, anyway...

Click for larger image

Ryan’s first group of mods was responsible for the biggest percentage power gain that’s come from the car. Of course, the pathetic stock exhaust was replaced by a 3 inch turbo-back system with a 5 inch tip. The airbox was also hauled out to make space for an aftermarket pod filter.

Just these most basic of basic mods really woke up the SR20DET.

However, for a lion-size power hit, the standard intercooler and turbo had to go. A polished PWR bar-and-plate intercooler now lives in the nosecone and is fed charge-air by custom mandrel piping. A compact Odyssey battery was necessary to accommodate the new pipe route from the ‘cooler to the throttle.

Click for larger image

Huffing an’ puffing through the big intercooler is a Garrett GT28 ‘440hp’ ball-bearing turbocharger mounted on the Nissan exhaust manifold. Boost pressure at this stage was kept down to around 14 psi due to the limits of the stock injectors. A Malpassi rising rate fuel pressure reg and a re-written chip helped, but it still wasn’t enough.

And here we enter Round 2 of mechanical mods.

Click for larger image

After growing tired of being held back by fuel flow capacity, Ryan and his trusty lion agreed to take the next step. A set of replacement 550cc Nizmo injectors were inserted into the rail to solve the problem. Oh and, while they were at it, a larger diameter Z32 airflow meter went in along with a suitably remapped chip.

Ahhh, with ample fuel flow Ryan could now adjust the under-bonnet bleed valve to deliver around 17 psi of boost. On special occasions - such as on the dyno - Ryan will add a tad more boost for good luck. Around 19 psi is as far as he’s gone.

Click for larger image

With the GT28 blowing at 19 psi Ryan’s 180 has delivered a nice round 200kW at the back wheels. With a short shifter and 3 puck clutch added to the driveline, Ryan – and you-know-who – have run a best quarter mile time of 12.2 seconds at 117 mph. This was achieved with slicks, mind you – street tyres add about 0.6 seconds and sacrifice a couple of mile per hour.

And, yes, both Ryan and the lion look cool while running fast.

Click for larger image

The original pearl white paint job remains with the exception of a black/gold pearl painted bonnet - but Ryan has added a few add-ons to give it more impact. Most noticeable is the R1 GT rear wing, followed closely by the dramatically lowered ride height, rims and side skirts – in that order. There are also some stickers to represent Zoom Auto Imports and Club Empire – a car club for the hottest of hot cars.

Ryan ripped out the existing aftermarket coil-overs and went for some local KYB struts, which drop it “at least 3 inches.” The only other suspension mod is the fitting of low-compliance drift pineapples for the diff cradle.

The rims are attractive polished 18 inch LWT alloys encrusted in 215/35 rubber.

And what’s that hiding behind the front wheels, you ask?

Click for larger image

Well, the SR20DET 180SX comes factory with a fairly decent set of stoppers but Ryan couldn’t resist the tried-and-proven upgrade using Skyline parts. The car now uses R33 Skyline Turbo front discs and calipers working with the original booster and master cylinder. Ryan says these make a huge difference.

It’s almost enough to make a little lion fall of his boost gauge...

Click for larger image

Inside the lion den you’ll find a number of upgrades to the normally drab Nissan trim. The front seats have been swapped for R32 GT-R jobs, and Ryan is buckled in with a Sabelt harness. Yellow highlights are spread throughout the cabin, the gauge cluster surround is painted silver and a Blitz turbo timer has found a new home.

And we can’t overlook the eagerly watched Splitfire boost gauge mounted on the door.

Click for larger image

Jungle tunes – a lion’s natural choice in music – pound from a 600W 15 inch Clarion sub, Clarion splits, a giant Clarion amp and a Chameleon JVC head unit.

Both Ryan and the lion have tasted blood on the drag strip and on the street and now, well, you wouldn’t want to get in their way – their really getting into the stride.

Click for larger image

While you’re reading this an A’PEXi Power FC is being installed, an aftermarket exhaust manifold has been bolted on and another motor is in the build - an engine that just happens to have all the good internal bits.

“I’ll boost the sh&^ out of it and I’m pretty sure of around 400hp at the wheels,” says Ryan.

“I’ll probably also do some more with the interior and get more involved in car shows,” says Ryan.

We can only assume he’ll have a roaring success... (sorry!)


Zoom Auto Imports                                     +61 7 3348 6939

Did you enjoy this article?

Please consider supporting AutoSpeed with a small contribution. More Info...

Share this Article: 

More of our most popular articles.
The rear suspension

DIY Tech Features - 9 June, 2009

Chalky, Part 5

The 1100hp Porsche 917

Special Features - 18 April, 2003

The Early Days of Turbo Part 3

The first steam turbine powered vessel - and it was the fastest in the world!

Special Features - 27 July, 2010

The Turbinia

Wrapping-up our major series on doing your own car modifications

DIY Tech Features - 12 May, 2009

Ultimate DIY Automotive Modification Tool-Kit, Part 7

Clearing the space

DIY Tech Features - 10 January, 2012

A New Home Workshop, Part 1

Making a new airbox intake - but did it improve performance?

DIY Tech Features - 8 February, 2011

Powering-Up the 1.9 litre TDI, Part 2

Aerodynamic testing techniques for near zero cost

DIY Tech Features - 7 April, 2009

Ultimate DIY Automotive Modification Tool-Kit, Part 2

An extraordinary place from an extraordinary time

Special Features - 26 November, 2013

York Cold War Bunker

Finding the best location for engine bay vents

DIY Tech Features - 10 June, 2004

Undertrays, Spoilers & Bonnet Vents, Part 3

How to use files to smooth and shape

DIY Tech Features - 17 January, 2008

Using Hand Tools - Files

Copyright © 1996-2020 Web Publications Pty Limited. All Rights ReservedRSS|Privacy policy|Advertise
Consulting Services: Magento Experts|Technologies : Magento Extensions|ReadytoShip