The idea of the car was to replace our championship winning S14 200sx. Which had kind of been one of the pinnacle drift cars in Europe over the previous 4 years.
There was nothing wrong with the S14, we just wanted to start afresh and perhaps push the boundries a little..
The new S15 had to be an improvement over the old car in terms of power, reliability, safety, and be a perfect tool to demonstrate some of our range of high quality products.
In the S14 we had successfully used the SR20DET motor in completely standard trim apart from a set of Tomei cams at a very reliable 400bhp.
We decided it would be nice to have a bit more power than this, but without the need to go for a fully built engine.. So going through our options, we kept coming back to how cool it would be to be able to throw a 3.0 Toyota Supra 2JZGTE engine and 6 speed box in there.
This was laughed off a couple of times on account of it’s weight, and how it would upset the balance of the superb S15 chassis.
Then we thought ‘why not push the engine back through the bulkhead’. It seemed like this would definitely be the way to go, and some plans were drawn up, and budgets realised from the sale of the S14 to Norway.
So the time came to make the call to Our good friend Mr Julian Smith, owner of Garage-D in Watford. He had done some minor chassis fabrication on our S14, and having seen the quality of workmanship, we knew Garage-D was the only company we would entrust this massive amount of chassis prep too.
So I completely stripped the shell, and commuted between Birmingham and Watford, where I watched some very scary things happen to the shell. Removal of an extremely large section of bulkhead, transmission tunnel, and floor was first. Then a dummy engine and gearbox was positioned, and the engine and transmission mounts fabricated.
At this stage it was still pretty much looking like a previously immaculate shell with a gaping hole in. Then the work on the transmission tunnel and firewall started, and you could really start to see how special this build was going to be.
Julian welded day and night, and after completing the tunnel and firewall work, stitched the car front to back, fabricated the roll cage, rear arches, tubbed the front arches and made some weight saving. By the time it was complete he’d used around 5 miles of welding wire and looked about 10 years older..
In August of last year (2007) Garage-D completed the chassis fabrication, and I transported it to Little Knocks in Wokingham for the bodywork.
Driftworks Ltd are the UK distributors for Vertex Bodykits, so of course we fitted the Vertex Ridge Widebody kit to the S15.
We modified a carbon fibre bonnet for the V mounted intercooler setup, and we’d come up with the design for the paintwork.
So after I seam sealed the rear of the car to keep the smoke out, I let the professionals crack on.
The resulting paintjob is nothing short of immaculate. The guys at LittleKnocks take real pride in their work, and we’d especially like to thank Chris and Tom for turning around such a huge amount of work in such a short amount of time..
So we took our now very pretty bit of metal back to Driftworks HQ.
The chassis work’s done, the engine mounts are made, the paint is on. It should be pretty easy from here on in right?………. WRONG ..
Driftworks is a mail order business started from our love of drifting. We are not professional mechanics, and only in the last year have we had a proper workshop.
Don’t get me wrong, we’ve turned a spanner or two in our time building the S14 and our R32. But building a car like this from scratch was a somewhat daunting undertaking.
The problem that we now had was that Garage-D and LittleKnocks had done such a superb job up to this point that we could not do the chassis the injustice of having anything ‘thrown together’. It had to be a build almost worthy of showcar quality.
It would be absolutely impossible for me to go into detail of each individual job, as we would actually be here all month. But here’s a few parts of the build. If you want to ask any specific questions, please see our build thread in the driftworks forum.
Wheels and Brakes
These had to fill out the massive front and rear arches on the Vertex Ridge kit, so we decided to go for the lovely Do-luck double six wheels in chrome with custom offsets, they are 18×9.5” ET -10 front and 18×10.5 ET 0 rears.
The tyres are of course the absolute ultimate drift tyre: The Federal 595RSR. These are the tyres that took us to our 1st place victory in 2006, and will see us there again this year with a little luck.
We’d been very happy with the R34GTR Bremo setup we’d used on the S14, so we bought another used set, and reconditioned them in Driftworks Orange. The custom engraved brake discs and pads were supplied by Red Dot Racing
It’s a full on track car, so there was no need for creature comforts. Everything in there is purposeful and in it’s right place. For the electric side of things, the gauges are Defi Link boost, water temp, oil temp and oil pressure, the boost controller is a Turbosmart Eboost2. The switches are all custom, the ECU is VEMS, the Battery cutoff is Cartec. The safety part is provided in the form of Cobra/Driftworks FIA Sebring Pro seats. Driftworks 4point harnesses, and the fire safety system is provided by Lifeline. It’s a fully electronic discharge 360Zero system using 6 nozzles.
The engine is a Toyota Supra 2JZGTE. There’s been a lot of questions of why we chose the Toyota engine over an RB from a Skyline. The simple answer is that we feel it to be a better engine. We’d blown 4 RB25DET engines in our Driftworks R32 in 2007, so we were looking for some reliability without having to go for a fully built engine. Capacity counts for a hell of a lot in reliability, so starting with 3.0 was a good base. We’d also had experience of JZ engine in our Toyota Chasers, Aristo, and Soarer, and really had faith in the power they seemed to be able to handle in standard form.
We had our fair share of issues with the original engine. The problem was that the Driftworks S15 was never really meant to be quite as special as it turned out to be, so with a very limited budget we had purchased a used engine of unknown origin.. Unfortunately this really came around to bite us in the ass, as on the first ever dyno session, we had debris in a valve seat. Meaning we had to pull the engine and crack the head off.
While we were there we lapped the valves, replaced the headgasket with a 1.6mm HKS gasket, some ARP head bolts, the cams with a HKS 256in and 264out with pullies, and some Brian Crower uprated valve springs and retainers..
The engine was rebuilt, and put back in the car. Unfortunately this wasn’t the end of our problems, and after a few issues with the ECU we had it back on the dyno where the crank promptly expired. The theory is that is was an unfortunate combination of heat and slight fuel contamination in the oil, due to spending so long trying to get the ECU to read the crank trigger correctly.
So I sourced an NA 3.0 engine from a Lexus, and pulled the crank as it’s exactly the same. It was in really good condition, so with the engine still in the car we replaced the crank using some ACL mains and big ends, and some ARP rod bolts for good measure.
As the engine was pushed back through the bulkhead by 32cm, the custom twin scroll manifold (built by Garage-D) mounted the turbo infront of the engine. With the downpipe exiting past the engine, and out of the passenger side of the front bumper. The screamer pipe for the 48mm Turbosmart Wastegate exits on the drivers side..
The turbo chosen from Owen Developments is a Garret GT4088r with the 1.06 twin scroll housing.
The fuel system was somewhat involved, and as apparently it always does, ended up being 3 times as expensive as you think it will be once you’ve bought all the fittings. The fuel pumps are Aeromotive and handle 1000bhp, the lines are -10 and -8 return, the FPR is a -8 Turbosmart, It uses 6 x HKS 1000cc injectors in a KU fuel rail. We made the 3litre swirl pot.
We had chosen to go with the V160 Getrag built 6 speed Supra gearbox. We knew we were going to be pushing some pretty serious power, and because it’s always nice to have a little bit in reserve we decided to go for the absolute best clutch that money can buy, It’s a Carbonetics triple plate kit specifically for the 6 speed Supra. The kit is about as comprehensive as it gets including a pull to push conversion using OEM Toyota parts alongside their custom bracketry. The gear level linkage needed modifying as it was around 35cm further back than it should have been. After I’d shortened the linkage I had to dogleg the actual lever slightly to bring it forward that final amount. You never know how a modification like this will actually feel when you get to drive it, but as it happens the gear change has worked out to be absolutely perfect..
The LSD is a Carbonetics carbon 2way R33GTR differential. This allows us to use the much stronger R33GTR output shafts, drive shafts and carriers, hopefully shirking off that common problem of driveshaft failure on high powered RWD Nissans.
The propshaft is a custom 1000bhp capable shaft built for us by Dave Mack Propshafts in Coventry.
The Driftworks Control System Coilovers are at the heart of the suspension system. These combined with the Driftworks Four Arm kit comprising of Camber, Toe, Traction and Tension Rods, and the Driftworks front and rear lower arm set complete the bolt on part of the suspension.
We have also corrected the roll centre quite dramatically in a few ways, but as suspension setup is the key to a good drift car, and we have spent years of our lives trying and testing, I hope you don’t mind if we keep that side of the suspension system under our hat for now ;o)
There is more custom work in this car than I could have ever anticipated. I couldn’t go into detail as we’d be here all day, but my fabrication skills are 50 times what they were before we started this build. Things like rocker cover breathers, catch tanks, radiator, intercooler, powersteering, water lines bulkheads, boot floors, turbo feeds, ducting, and all the brackets sound like relatively simple and quick jobs to some people, but with so many of them it adds up to months of work. I suppose one day I might actually write a spec list, but then again, that might actually make me realise the total cost of this build, both in terms of money and time, and that could get a little depressing D
The First Drive
The car was successfully mapped by the brilliant Weston Performance at just 1.1bar of boost to make 568.9bhp at 2:00am on the morning of Friday the 30th of May.
It’s first ever shakedown was at qualification for Round 3 of the European Drift championship at 2:00pm on the afternoon of Friday the 30th of May (yes, the same day).
No-one knew what to expect, least of all me. I’d heard it on the dyno, and I’d driven it onto the trailer. I’d aligned the suspension by eye and tape measure, and there I was at the UK’s fastest Drift tracks: Silverstone.
I pulled off for my first run with the fear of everything falling off, engines blowing, and things setting on fire.
I pulled 1st gear, the wheels span, 2nd gear, the wheels span, 3rd gear and it seemed to misfire.. Oh wait, that’s not a misfire, it’s the limiter. Okay, I initiated anyway, and suddenly I was sideways, time to get those wheels spinning, so a little clutch kick, and had the car on the limiter through the corner, through the transition from Brooklands to Luffield, and the run was over.
I had a quick scan over the dials, and everything was in order. Then as I exited the view of the spectators I was quite glad to not have any recording equipment in the car for a change, as a cross between an American style ‘Whoaa YEAAAH!, and some wailing banshi type of scream came out of my mouth, as 18 months of trial and tribulation was washed over with the absolute ecstasy of having just actually driven it..
I can’t begin to describe the feeling. It’s probably considered quite sad to most normal people in this world, but it’s a feeling I will not forget for the rest of my life..
The fun wasn’t to end there though. The cooldown section as I return to the startline gave me time to get a bit more feel for the car, and I did another run straight away.
I was slightly braver this time, and thought as I’d limited 3rd gear the run before, I’d try 4th… Yep, that worked. By the end of Luffield I could see the absolute tyre decimation I’d left behind me, and quickly got round for another run.
Finding my feet with new and unfamiliar handling characteristics with each pass, I managed to squeeze the 3rd run, then went for the 4th and wondered why I nearly fell off the track. It was because I’d eaten a pair of brand new tyres in 3 runs. No chunking, no delamination, just abused to death.
Returning to the pits with the stupidest of stupid grins on my face, it seemed it wasn’t only myself that was impressed. Apparently the car looks like it’s setting the world alight with the amount of tyre smoke with pulling the gears and the crazy angle, and seeing the pictures I now understand the scale of the car’s first attempt on track.
There were 6 drivers pre-qualified from the previous round, and I qualified into the top 16 just behind Kumakubo and Tanaka from team Orange.
This meant the second time I was to drive the car was against the 2006 D1GP champion Kumakubo.
The first run saw him gain a 7/3 advantage, and the 2nd run I gained a 6/4 advantage meaning he beat me, but didn’t completely kick my ass which is pretty cool.
The acceleration my car had gave me the ability to reel him in, and overtake him in the first run. Unfortunately my front wheel just touched the grass on the inside corner as I had nowhere to go as we were side by side and I was accelerating into him. This lost me the one point I’d have needed to get a one more time.
So, where do we go from here? Basically the really hard work’s done. I’m sure we’ll still have teething issues, but the car performed flawlessly for two days, and every theory we had about weight distribution, cooling, power and suspension has been proven, and infact surpassed our expectations 10 times over..
All I want to do now is drive it as much as possible, and get as comfortable in it as I was in the old S14. I’m confident that it’ll take no time at all to do that. So we’ll see you at an event soon, and hopefully we’ll get a podium or two before the seasons over…
I would like to thank everyone involved in building this car:
Obviously my good friend and Driftworks business partner James Robinson first and foremost.
My better half Melissa for being the understanding one that has to put up with my 16 hour working days.
My good friend CrazyAnt who has nearly put as many hours in on the car as I have.
All of my friends from the Driftworks community. There’s been plenty of times when I’ve thought about jacking the build in, but the support and hope to see it running has really kept me going.
Pictures By Myself, Ross from Doristars.com and Dan Freeman.
I’m sure I’ll have forgotten people, but the build of this car has made me feel about 30 years older and I think alzheimers is setting in
Skid on peoples xXx