This Minty Nissan 240SX Looks Like a Show Car, Is Actually a Full
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This Minty Nissan 240SX Looks Like a Show Car, Is Actually a Full

Jan 03, 2024

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Your parents consistently warned you never to judge a book by its cover, and that little nugget of parental wisdom is perfectly represented by this spotless 1996 Nissan 240SX. Catch it on the move on the roads of Alabama with its Skyline-sourced Bayside Blue paint and sitting low on chrome Advans, and you might mistakenly assume it's a show car or, at the very least, tucked away in the corner of a garage covered in bubble wrap for most of the year.

The reality is that Ryan Coffel and his S-chassis have been through quite a bit together, and even though the Nissan sparkles like a carpeted-show-floor-bound trophy chaser, it's a fully capable drift car with plenty of events on its storied resume. In fact, even before Ryan took ownership, the car's previous owner used it as a streetable drift car for years. Since then, it's been made over twice, and its current state is by far its most ambitious.

Ryan says "I bought this 240SX in 2016 when I was in college, thinking I was going to daily it while building a custom metal widebody LS400. I already owned an S13 but sold it a couple years prior because it was very rough around the edges and wanted to further the LS400 build at that time." With only aftermarket coilovers and a KAAZ LSD on board, Ryan picked it up and after going to a few drift events with it, he was hooked.

He'd go on to give the car its first major makeover with a Car Modify Wonder kit and a new heart. "I bought and built the engine while working at the Hyundai manufacturing plant, oddly enough, assembling engines for Sonatas," he adds. A four-hour trek to take part in the new engine's very first drift event took care of the break-in process and it put up with his on-track antics without any hiccups.

Within that SR20DET's lower half you'll find CP pistons and Manley H-beam rods attached to a balanced OEM crank and with a Tomei oil pan underneath, and Ryan fitted the head with Tomei cams and rocker arm stoppers. Like the rest of the build, he wanted some style to go with the performance touches so he topped it off with a one-off, lowrider-inspired valve cover. Replacing the stock turbo set up is an ISR manifold and an original V1 Twisted Motions' GT2871 with an internal wastegate. As has become more popular in recent years, there's no blow-off valve used in lieu of the sweet sounds of turbo flutter.

While the build was headed in the right direction, Ryan's health hit a major hurdle along the way, he tells us "I was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2018 and, at the time, regularly attending drift events at Midpond. There was an event happening the weekend after my surgery that was required before I began chemotherapy. I went and I drove that event with all my friends and family there to support me before I knew I had to take a break from the sport. That event and the drifting community, albeit both very small given the scene in central Alabama, meant a lot to me and heavily solidified in me that it was worth returning to that much more once I was physically able to."

Once he was able to get back in the driver's seat, the ECU presented some issues and the factory transmission decided it had enough and called it quits, not to mention the Car Modify Wonder kit was virtually destroyed. In need of a major refresh, the ECU was ditched in favor of Haltech's 1500 along with their digital dash and the transmission problem was rectified by adding a CD00A mounted with a Mazworx adapter kit, but not before being fitted with an OS Giken twin disk and flywheel. A 1-piece aluminum driveshaft is now in place and Chase Bays' clutch line kit and clutch master cylinder adapter added a Wilwood 5/8 bore master cylinder.

Other bits plucked from the 350Z parts bin included axles, hubs, and knuckles. Beyond the cross-platform OEM suspension changes, there are quite a few custom touches like the CounterSteer Motoring front offset strut top hats that work with Fortune Auto's 500 Series coilovers and camber plates, 30 mm of extension added to the front lower control arms, and a modified subframe to place the steering rack forward by an inch. This, in addition to a slew of off-the-shelf adjustable arms, traction and tension rods, and a Top Garage 6-point roll cage.

With engine and drivetrain reliability and suspension tuning addressed, Ryan felt it was time to finish the car and used the Vertex Ridge Green S14 that he'd used as his computer's background as inspiration. The widened eight-piece aero kit was sourced along with Eastbear side mirrors, DMax roof and trunk wings, and rare Silvia louvered side windows with illuminated badging. The car was covered in the previously mentioned Skyline paint code then finished off with a blue carbon weave hood by M Sports.

Those kouki taillights that have been finished with a blue flake clearcoat to match the theme were almost brand new and came from a 240SX that Nissan donated to body shops to use as a body repair canvas of sorts. With fewer than 1,000 miles on its odometer and no VIN meant it was useless to the automaker and the mint taillights were removed and set aside. A friend of Ryan's took ownership of those lights and put them up for sale and they were almost sniped, but fortunately Ryan's got good people around him. "My friend who was selling them was contacted by a well-known automotive figure who tried to double my offer on them," he recalls. "Knowing what I was trying to assemble and the mindset behind it, he opted to sell the lights to me."

Based on its current look and condition, most would expect this car wouldn't dare set tire on a drift course, but that goes back to the whole "judging a book by its cover" thing. Ryan states, "my main goal is to try and treat this as gingerly as I can to preserve its condition but use the car for what it is built to do. A lot of American drifting hobbyists have taken to the sport with the mindset that good driving equals constant contact and mayhem. You must be on someone's door every lap or else the internet won't approve of you. However, drifting started as a stylish way to execute a racing line on track without any contact or wrecking. With that goal in mind, you will see this car at drift events sparingly over the years to come, and hopefully without needing yet another total refresh as much as I can help it."

Photos Courtesy of Jack Dunlap

Owner Ryan Coffel

Instagram @ryancoffel_

Engine SR20DET; Nismo engine mounts; 9.0:1 CP pistons; Manley H-beam rods; ACL main bearings; ARP head studs; Mazworx timing chain tensioner; Stance water pump pulley; TAARKS LS1 alternator kit; Wirined Specialties igniter delete; VQ35 coil packs; Tomei 256 cams, rocker arm stoppers, oil pan, oil filter block adapter, widened turbo elbow; GREX oil filter relocation kit; Koyo 25 row oil cooler, N Flow radiator; GK Tech clutch fan; Samco radiator hoses; Koruworks radiator stays, engine hoist bracket; fuse box cover sticker; Chase Bays catch can, power steering kit with cooler, coolant overflow, fuel line kit, 100 micron SS fuel filter; Aeromotive Stealth 340lph fuel pump; Five0 750cc side feed injectors; Racetronix barb to 6AN fuel line adapter; Twisted Motions GT2871 OEM bolt-on style V1 turbo, internal wastegate; ISR tubular turbo manifold, intercooler piping; CX Racing intercooler; Blitz downpipe; DMAX test pipe; Blitz Nur-spec R cat-back exhaust; alternative custom exhaust: 3-inch tubing, 5-inch pie-cut turndown; custom intake with K&N filter; MAF-less set up; Haltech MAP sensor in cold pipe, 1500 Elite ECU, Nexus data logging software; lowrider style valve cover; clear cam angle sensor cover; Radium Engineering valve cover 10AN adapter; titanium Dressup bolts; Yashio Factory oil cap

Power 330hp/300tq @14psi

Drivetrain Nissan CD00A transmission; Mazworx adapter kit; OS Giken twin disc clutch, flywheel; 1-piece aluminum driveshaft; 350Z 3.69:1 ratio welded diff, subframe adapter bushings; 350Z axles, hubs, knuckles, external slave cylinder; Chase Bays clutch line, clutch master cylinder adapter and reservoir, Wilwood 5/8 bore master cylinder; Serial9 CD shifter

Suspension Fortune Auto 500 coil overs w/camber plates; Energy Suspension bushings on rear sway bar, front/rear lower control arms; CoutnerSteer Motoring custom front offset strut top hats, 30mm extended front lower control arms w/adjustable steering bump stops, roll center correcting front knuckles for angle kit, modified front subframe to move steering rack forward 1-inch; GK Tech straight style rack spacers; Battle Version rear upper control arms, toe arms, traction rods; PBM front tension rods, bracket; Cusco shock tower bar; Top Garage 6-point roll cage w/X-brace

Braking Gen. 1 Cadillac CTSV 4-piston front calipers; Maverick dual rear calipers mounting bracket; PBM Z32 2-piston rear calipers x4; Z1 350Z slotted front rotors; 2001-05 Cobra rear rotors; Chase Bays 6:1 ratio dual piston brake booster delete, brake line relocation kit, fender well caliper lines, V1 standalone hydro handbrake, handbrake lines; Serial9 shift knob retrofit

Wheels and Tires Street: Advan TC3 18x9 +25 front, 19x10.5 +15 rear; Bridgestone RE71 225/40-18 front; Firestone Firehawk Indy 500 275/30-19 rear; Drift Wheel Spares: Work VS KF 18x11 +19; SSR Koenig Monster 18x11 +18; Advan TC3 18x10.5 +25; Drift tires: 255/35-18 Valino Pergia 08C

Exterior Bayside Blue paint; Vertex Ridge 8-piece aero kit; M Sports blue carbon fiber hood; Professor Aero eyelids; DMax roof and trunk wings; Eastbear S14 mirrors; Circuit Sport corner lights, marker lights, headlight covers; Kouki taillights w/paint matched badge and blue flake clear coat finish; S14 Silvia illuminated side window louvers; police style strobe light kit; Street Faction bash bars front/rear; custom tow hook; Koruworks rear tow strap

Interior Thrash Racing FIA halo driver's seat, non-halo passenger seat; Nagisa Auto driver's seat rail; Planted passenger seat rail; Yashio Factory 4-point harnesses; ShirtsTuckedIn Nardi steering wheel; OkeyDoke custom horn button; NRG quick release; Worksbell hub adapter; Wink mirror; Serial9 SK9 tall blue knob; half-cut center console; Street Faction passenger seat fire extinguisher mount, ABS molded door cards; LRB Speed rear seat delete panels painted tuxedo black with purple flake; Haltech IC7 digital dash; Mako Motorsports dash mount

Thank You Friends - Casey Braedon Holmes for introducing me to 240's and early 2000's Japanese drifting over a decade ago, all members of Team Rowdy/Drift Mechaniks/Byron Hill for always building rad cars to inspire me/others, and Joey Hoke for BOTH Thrash seats.

Family - my grandmother, Betty Fugate.

Shops - CounterSteer Motoring LLC, specifically Dylan Crumley. Koruworks (Gregg, Tyler, Ryan, Sebastian). Mastermind for the rad aero. Jonathan Cheek and Canyon Mockabee from Cheek Automotive for the paint work

1996 Nissan 240SX Owner Instagram Engine Power Drivetrain Suspension Braking Wheels and Tires Exterior Interior Thank You Family Shops