It’s videos like this that get us excited for the local launch of the Toyota FT-86. We can’t wait to see people start modifying these awesome cars!
There are many different schools of thought when it comes to building a street car. Some say it’s all about looking the part, but not actually being the part. Others say it’s all about being as low and loud as you can possibly be before the cops catch up to you, while others, like Jesse Blake, have a different point of view altogether. His 1999 Nissan Silvia S15 packs some serious punch, but you might not know it at first. It also doesn’t attract too much attention from the cops, but even if it did, there’s nothing to ping him on. In fact, Jesse could drive his car to work every single day in complete comfort, and yet it has the potential to run a 10-second pass and win a show trophy all in the same day. And that’s exactly the way he wants it.
In the beginning, Jesse’s idea for a street car was a little different to his current approach. “I originally built this engine for a R32 Skyline I owned at the time,” he explains. “It was pretty rough.” That all changed when the motor was put back together, though. It was just too good to put into a ratty old R32. Jesse needed something nicer: “I did heaps of research, and decided on an S15 Silvia. It’s light, modern and stylish. And I knew my motor would fit, with a bit of work.”
The motor in question is an immaculate Nissan RB30DET. The big 3-litre 6-cylinder has been built up to provide a nice, drivable engine package using a mildly ported RB25DET head and some basic strengthening components to allow for anything up to 450kW at the wheels. Sitting in the perfectly detailed S15 engine bay, the RB30 shares space with a Garrett GT35/40 turbocharger that is currently only pushing 8psi of boost through the big front-mount intercooler and into the GReddy intake, which is the native spring setting for the 50mm Turbosmart wastegate. With more than enough fuel provided by a monster system in the painted and detailed boot, the set-up currently makes 300kW at the rear treads, thanks to a Link G4 Storm ECU tuned by drag-racing legend Glenn Suckling at GSM. “Glenn is confident the motor will make a lot more power. I had problems with a leak the first time round, so we stopped at 300kW. I’ve just got to find the time and money to get it back on the dyno,” Jesse explains.
Externally, the Silvia has remained true to factory form – no big bodykits, wide guards or giant wings here. Jesse wanted a subtler feel to the car. “We do a lot of aftermarket suspension work at my work, and I’d seen so many cars come in with big bodykits that were cracked and bent – I didn’t want to go down that path.”
Instead of spending money on the kit and guards, Jesse put that cash into making what he already had absolutely perfect. Although, that said, his base vehicle wasn’t too bad a place to start off with. “The car only had 80,000kms on it when I got it, and it was nearly immaculate. It was in my garage for a couple of weeks, then I just stripped it down completely.”
The biggest modifications to the body came when it was time to fit the wheels. Jesse says: “I bought the wheels before even getting the car, then I had to make them fit.”
Considering the TSW Nagaros measure 19-inch at the front and 20-inch at the back, that took a bit of doing. “I had to section the chassis rails in the rear to get them to fit when the car was dropped right down.”
Working with suspension every day, Jesse knew exactly what he wanted to do in the handling department. Tein Flex 2-way coilovers with EDFC support the car, while Tein caster arms, adjustable rear arms and a GT-R rear sway bar all help to create one seriously well-behaved Nissan on the street or track. “This car is completely legal – it’s a nice street car,” Jesse says, “But I still built it to be driven to the track and drifted, grip raced or drag raced. My end goal is to be able to drive it to Meremere, run a few 10-second passes, then drive home again.”
Considering the quality of the build and its target power figure, that should be more than achievable. Perhaps next year Jesse could be one of the only guys out there who wins a show award and a race class at the V 4&Rotary Nationals? With no intentions to sell the car, and a full-power dyno run the only thing left on his “to-do” list, it could well happen…
Tuning menu: 1999 Nissan Silvia (S15)
ENGINE: Nissan RB30DET 3000cc straight-six cylinder
BLOCK: Factory rods and pistons, shot-peened and balanced crank, chromolly rings, race bearings
HEAD: Ported RB25DET head, HKS cam pulleys
INTAKE: GReddy polished intake manifold, 80mm throttle body, 4-inch intake pipe, 6-inch Simota filter, 300x600mm custom intercooler, 3-inch intercooler piping
TURBO: Garrett GT3540
WASTEGATE: 50mm Turbosmart
BOV: HKS sequential
EXHAUST: Custom steampipe exhaust manifold, 3-inch stainless exhaust system
FUEL: Custom 55-litre fuel cell, x2 Bosch 044 pumps, SX fuel pressure regulator, 1000cc Sard injectors
IGNITION: Redline coil packs, NGK 888 plugs
ECU: Link G4 Storm, HKS boost controller
COOLING: Alloy radiator, twin 12-inch fans, aftermarket oil cooler
OTHER: custom rocker cover
POWER: 300kW (409hp) at the wheels on 9psi (run in tune)
GEARBOX: R33 RB25DET 5-speed, short shift kit
CLUTCH: Exedy 5-puck
DIFF: Shimmed S15 Spec R
STRUTS: Tein Flex 2-way coilovers
OTHER: Custom strut bars, Tein caster arms, custom adjustable rear arms, GT-R rear sway bar, Nolathane bushes
BRAKES: 355mm rotors, R33 Skyline calipers
WHEELS: (F) 19×8.5-inch TSW Nagaro (R) 20×9.5-inch TSW Nagaro
TYRES: (F) Nangkang NS2 235/35R19 (R) Nangkang NS2 245/35R20
PAINT: Factory silver
ENHANCEMENTS: Ducktail wing, Sparco fuel filler cap, JDM-style tail lights
STEERING WHEEL: Sparco
GEAR KNOB: Sparco
INSTRUMENTATION: Auto Meter
OTHER: Sony head unit, Sony components
Driver profile: Jesse Drake
Build time: 3 years
Length of ownership: 3 years
Thanks: Ronnie @ R.S.L, Chris @ AutoSparx, Glenn Suckling @ GSM, everyone @ B&T New Lynn, Greer @ Nisbits, Hirepool New Lynn, everyone @ A1 Auto Finish New Lynn, Steve Miller and all my work mates @ Steering & Balancing Specialists New Lynn, Travis @ Progressive Polishers & Electroplaters, Aaron Rollan, Emma Finny, Phil Dean, Angela Humble and all my family
Words: Peter Kelly Photos: Adam Croy
Five years ago a young Aaron Keach was standing on the grassy bank alongside the then Champion Dragway at Meremere. It was the weekend of the 4&Rotary Nationals and Aaron was happily taking in all the action.
Then, out of nowhere, inspiration chugged into life in the staging lanes to his right. An angry howl filled the valley as Craig Dyson and his Dyson Rotary team fired up their famous Series 5 Mazda RX-7. The yellow, 1200hp, 20B-powered Aussie machine blared its unique 20B sound out to the crowds as it jerked towards the water trough.
Once onto the strip, Craig brought up the revs and dropped clutch. The 20B howled and the big rear treads billowed smoke as the car thundered down the strip. After backing up and inching up to the line, the lights dropped and the RX-7 leant back on its hind-quarters, fired off the line and barrelled away.
After buttoning off at half way, the Dyson machine still pulled a high 8-second quarter out of the bag. It was well off the car’s 7.45 @ 305kph record, but it had done more than enough to change Aaron Keach’s life forever.
“After seeing the Dyson car run, I realised that no one had really built a cool FC (Series 4 and 5 RX-7) in New Zealand,” Aaron tells NZPC. “I decided then and there I’d build one.” Of course, Aaron didn’t quite realise how much of a nightmare he had just created for himself, or how many years it would take to complete; but as they say, you’ve got to pay the cost to be the boss. After finding himself a rugged 1988 Series 4 Mazda RX-7 to use as a base, he slowly began his dream build.
While he was figuring out exactly what he wanted to use between the struts of his car, Aaron also sat down with Grant Walker of GT Refinishers in Auckland to figure out exactly what he wanted to do with the exterior of the RX-7. He had some big plans for his wheels, and that meant a wide-body conversion to allow for the big rollers was definitely on the cards.
Grant is a bit of a maestro when it comes to steel fabrication, so it was decided that the car would use bolt-on Dmaxx fibreglass front guards (due to good availability and low cost) and custom hand-formed steel rears. Sure, working with steel is a lot more expensive and time-consuming, but the end result is more than worth the extra effort.
The new guards, which pump the car 80mm wider than factory on each side––=, are complemented by a full BN Sports body kit, but it’s the paint job that really sets this car apart. Aaron tells us: “I was going to get Grant to paint it in a gold/brown colour from a Toyota Corolla, but in the end I decided to go with my West Auckland roots and paint it satin black. There were plenty of matte and satin black cars around, but no one had really done a good quality one.”
It was while this work was being completed, over two years ago, that we first saw Aaron’s RX-7. We were impressed by the quality of the build, and the plans for the motor and the wheels, which were being test-fitted when we turned up. The massive 19-inch 3-piece Work Meisters, ordered brand new from Japan, looked amazing in black/polished-lip form, and measured 9-inches across at the front, and 12-inches at the rear. We told Aaron we’d love to shoot it when it was running, and told us it shouldn’t be more than a few months away.
However, as happens with many projects as big as this one, it has been a tough few years for this car. Every time we saw Aaron out and about, we’d ask him if the car was ready for the photo shoot, and every time he would say it was nearly done.
The car originally ran a Curran Brothers Racing 13B race motor – in fact the very same motor that powered Brent’s RX-2 to seven quarters before it went triple turbo triple rotor – but Aaron ran into big problems with the electrical and ignition system at the dyno.
We had planned to shoot the car straight after its tune, but that obviously was not going to happen now.
“The wiring was really messed up – I was pretty pissed off,” Aaron says, “so I eventually just decided to start again. It kind of worked out well though; the 13B was way too serious for my car. Brent [Curran] had a milder-built 20B sitting in his workshop, and he offered to swap motors.”
While the new bridge-ported, dowelled and balanced triple rotor was making its way into the RX-7, Aaron decided to look at rewiring the car himself. Taking his time and carefully going through the whole car, the West Auckland native methodically overhauled the entire system, which now performs faultlessly and fearlessly.
It was about this time that Aaron hit phoneys, an imitation crisis which shook him to the core: “I’d owned the Work wheels for a couple of years now, but since I bought them people had started making copies – fakes. They look pretty similar and they’re about a fifth of the price. I needed to do something different with the Meisters to make them stand out more.”
In a brilliant move, and one that really makes this car in our opinion, he took his Works back to Grant at GT Refinishers and asked him to paint them in a brilliant custom green hue, and had the rotor housings on his 20B painted to match. The resulting clash between the flat black body and the aggressive wheels is nothing short of spectacular.
On the outsikirts of West Auckland, Aaron is very happy that his FC3S has finally reached the photo shoot. However, when the new 20B triple rotor set up was being tuned a few days earlier, it made 391kW at the wheels at only 5000rpm, and then ran out of fuel.
“It needs another wastegate and bigger injectors to get more power out of it,” Aaron told us. Despite this, a quick strop reveals one seriously vicious machine, both in beautiful boosted 20B sound, and pure straight-line performance. Surrounded by a 9-point cage and strapped tightly into RPS seats, we couldn’t think of anywhere better to be.
Sure, the edges of his rear rims have been scraped to the metal by the guards and the perfect satin paint will probably see a few stone chips sooner, but that’s life and doesn’t matter to Aaron any more.
His car is running, it looks amazing, it’s damn fast and soon to be much faster, so Aaron’s happy. He has plans to enter the Mazda in everything from Superlaps, to burnout comps, shows and everything in between. After all those years of frustration you can be sure about seeing Aaron finally enjoying his RX-7 during the coming months.
Five years after gaining inspiration from a car that once graced the cover of NZPC, Aaron now finds his own car in that exact same spot – and that’s exactly what makes our culture so great. You never know, his car might inspire someone else out there to build their own weapon. Look out for a full feature in 2013 – fingers crossed!
Tuning menu 1988 Mazda RX-7 (FC3S)
ENGINE: Mazda 20B rotary
BLOCK: Bridge-port, dowelled, balanced, 3mm Mazda seals
INTAKE: Frank Wigg custom intake plenum, 4-inch throttlebody, custom intercooler, 4-inch intercooler piping
TURBO: Borg Warner S500 K44
WASTEGATE: Tial 60mm
BOV: Tial 50mm
EXHAUST: Custom RSL manifold, 5-inch front pipe, 4-inch exhaust system
FUEL: x2 Bosch 044 fuel pumps, Carter lift pump, 2-litre surge tank, braided lines, 60-litre Jazz fuel cell, 3x RC 750cc injectors, 3x1600cc Bosch injectors, custom fuel rails, SX fuel regulator
IGNITION: Microtech igniters, Bosch HEC715 coils, MSD leads
ECU: Microtech LT16, Turbosmart Eboost2
COOLING: Griffin alloy radiator, Davies Craig water pump, Real Deal Radiators oversized oil cooler, braided oil and water lines
OTHER: Gilmer drive, side mount alternator, custom wiring, custom radiator overflow, custom oil catch can
POWER: 391kW at the wheels on 13psi (run in tune)
GEARBOX: S5 RX-7 5-speed
CLUTCH: Quarter Master twin plate clutch, custom flywheel
STRUTS: D2 coilovers
OTHER: Custom strut bars, custom camber arms, custom toe arms, nolathane bushes
BRAKES: Zonelli rotors, rebuilt factory calipers, Willwood pedal box, braided lines, D2 Hydraulic hand brake
WHEELS: (F) 19×9-inch Work Meister 3-piece (R) 19×12-inch Work Meister 3-piece
TYRES: (F) Toyo 225/35R19, (R) Toyo 285/30R19
PAINT: Satin black respray
ENHANCEMENTS: Dmaxx front guards, BN bumpers, BN skirts, custom steel wide body rear guards, custom wing
STEERING WHEEL: B&M shifter
INSTRUMENTATION: Defi oil temp, boost and water, B&M line locker
ROLL CAGE: 9-point
OTHER: Carbon door cards, custom control panel
Driver profile: Aaron Keach
Location: West Auckland
Build time: 3 years
Length of ownership: 4 years
Thanks: Brent Curran @ CBR, Grant Walker @ GT Refinishers, Craig Baker @ Mag & Turbo North Shore, Clinton and Nyle Buckley @ GSS, Pat @ Microtech NZ, Ben @ Repco Kelston, Monster Engineering, Frank Wigg, my dad and the rest of the family, Cody [YRUWET] and all my friends that turned a spanner
Words: Peter Kelly Photos: Adam Croy
If you have a project sitting in the shed that needs some fabrication, the team from Quest Fabrication in Silverdale may be able to help. They are running a Facebook competition to win $3000 worth of fabrication, now we don’t need to tell anyone thats a pretty insane prize for simply uploading a picture of your car. To increase your chances each like for your car earns you another entry into the draw. Entry is via their Facebook page www.facebook.com/questfabrication, get in quick as prizes like this don’t come around very often.
After a two year hiatus from the North, the D1NZ National Drifting Championship Series made its return to Whangarei for Round Five. Drift Corp member Fanga Dan Woolhouse found the section in a new Ruakaka industrial estate, just south of Whangarei. It was then a joint effort between the D1NZ crew and members of the local District Council that made it happen.