Okay, so now we have a rear end as low as a beaten dog’s morale and as curvy as J Lo’s. What’s next? Naturally replacing those ugly, unadjustable control arms with some orange specialty items from the Driftworks shop. As the whole suspension comes from the S13, a Pro Handling Pack shall do the trick. Besides the added sex, the adjustability they provide will enable us to set up a decent geometry and compensate for any minor inaccuracies in the transplant of the subframe.
The front end is much trickier. You see, the Nissan 200SX has the steering rack behind the front axle line. Unfortunately – or rather very fortunately – we’ll be having a lusty big V6’s oil pan right where that steering rack is supposed to reside. Now we could’ve chosen to keep the Datsun’s original forward placed rack and front facing suspension uprights, but that would’ve given us headache with the connection of the Driftworks CS2 coilovers and the 300ZX brakes, besides the small matter of depriving me of servo assistance. I do not intend to sound too sissy-ish, but having an unassisted rack in a wide-rubbered, high-castered drift car is a major PITA. As in pain in the arms, of course.
So Leslie (the guy who does all this fantastic work while I’m typing away on my laptop) came up with the ingenious idea of using Ford Sierra/Scorpio uprights and power rack. At first my mouth turned sour a little, as I preferred the idea of an all-Nissan trans-generational hybrid, but after seeing how nicely everything turned out, I had to accept he was right.
Leslie tested the setup by bolting the Driftworks Nissan S13 CS2 HSD coilovers in his own Sierra, pounding it around a short, tricky sprint rally rack. Amazingly it worked pretty well. What’s more, he ran the setup for a few additional weeks on the scarred streets and highways of Hungary without any spectacular accident. That’s how I ended up having pieces of Cologne in my Datsun.
So for now it seems that the Ford/S13 hybrid front suspension fits rather well. The strut towers were transplanted from a chopped-up 200SX. The factory distance between the towers was taken care of by tying them together with a Cusco strut tower brace. This ensures their correct position relative to each other. Leslie used this same trick at the back as well. The present setup gives us some positive Ackermann geometry with average steering angle – not enough for backwards entries at Tsukuba Circuit, but enough for a season’s worth of moderately competitive fun. And we’ll be steadily experimenting with settings until we get it just right.
Now that the suspension is roughly in place, it is time to install the roll cage and properly stiffen the chassis. And, while cramming all that scaffolding into the tiny cockpit, we must try to figure out where the fuel cell goes – and more interestingly, where the exhaust system goes. One thing is for sure: we are not putting pipes under that car. No way. Stay tuned.