1993 Nissan 240SX Project Long-Term Update 1
Entry 2: S13 101
Our '93 240SX might be the least exciting car that's ever been rolled onto the dyno at K&N Engineering -- and K&N is tuning the Prius. Still, we needed a baseline number because… um, science! Or call it perverse curiosity.
Here's a selection of thoughts that ran through my head while the KA24DE meandered to redline: "It's going to break." … "I wonder how much horsepower has disappeared in the past 20 years?" … "Seriously, it's going to break." … "Good lord that exhaust sounds awful." … "It's not breaking!" … "I sure could go for a sandwich."
Indeed, the lil' Nissan didn't break. It, instead, managed to send to its rear wheels 118 hp and 113 lb-ft of torque, which, after factoring in drivetrain losses, is on the low side of its 155 hp/160 lb-ft rating. Interestingly, torque drops substantially after 2700 rpm, which is something I quickly pinned on the exhaust because I like faulting that hunk of metal for everything that's wrong in the world. Unfortunately, subsequent internet searches show a similar dip on stock KA24DEs, so it probably isn't be the exhaust's fault. Still, I have my suspicions.
With baseline testing complete, the only direction to go is up. The first modification we're doing is a well-known 240SX improvement. No, we aren't adding power yet. We're preparing.
Five-lug hub conversionThe first step is a five-lug hub conversion. With the exception of the SE trim late-gen models, 240SXs came with four-lug hubs. That's all fine and good, but converting to five-lug hubs opens the variety of wheels and brakes that we can use. We ordered an Isis Performance conversion from Enjuku Racing ($250 per). These CNC-machined hubs are a simple, bolt-in replacement for our 240SX. Removing the stock ones is easy too, provided you have some patience, an impact wrench, and a big hammer. With everything disassembled, we found that things were in relatively good shape, excluding torn rear ball joint boots and a seized rear brake caliper. We'll address those next time.
Enjuku Racing: www.enjukuracing.com
BrakesThe Brembo Gran Turismo braking system ($3595) might be overkill, but the slotted and vented 2-piece 13.1-in rotors and black four-piston calipers will be worth it later when we're working with real power. They offer a huge step up from the 9.9-in OEM rotors and, in total, add 8-lbs per front wheel. For the 240SX application, the system comes with Ferodo FM1000 pads, brake lines, and all necessary installation hardware. We're thankful that installation is a simple bolt-on affair.
Because Brembo doesn't offer a rear upgrade, we planned to use the five-lug rotors from later SE 240SXs. But after finding the seized rear caliper mentioned above, we're now considering an upgrade to a Z32 dual-piston setup. More on this in the next installment.
WheelsWith the much more common 5x114.3 bolt pattern, we started thinking about wheels. Hoping to keep the car neutral during entry and at a steady state when cornering, we wanted to keep the wheels the same size front to rear. This may pose a problem with the amount of horsepower we plan to have later, but that's a problem for Future Motor Trend. We ordered a set of Rays Gram Lights 57DR, sized 9.0 x 17-in all around ($400 each). The plan was to go wider, much wider, but we feared running into fitment issues up front with the tension rods during turn in and countersteer. Because drifting is fun -- though not the point of this car -- we decided to scale back on the width and cross our fingers. That the wheels cleared the massive Brembo four-piston caliper is a plus, too.
Mackin Industries: www.mackin-ind.com
TiresChoosing tire type, model, and size can be overwhelming, so we submitted our desires to the folks at Tire Rack and, after going back and forth over emails and scrutinizing more spider charts than I'd care to admit, we settled on the BFGoodrich g-Force Rival ($173 each). For Extreme Performance Summer tires, it came down to the BFGs and the Dunlop Direzza ZII. In Tire Rack's surprisingly exhaustive testing, the Dunlop was slightly faster than the BFG, but the testers far preferred the feel of the Rivals. We figured that, being already at this level of tire, sacrificing a little bit of time for improved driving feel was worth it. This 240SX is all about fun, after all. For size, we settled on 245/40R17 at all four corners, which is rather large for the 240SX. The tires clear everything important, but extend up front a good 1.5 inches past the fender. They'll definitely rub during compression, which is all the excuse we need to bolt on some fender flares in the next update.
Tire Rack: www.tirerack.com