Project DWS15: Off the Shelf Version.

It’s been a while since I’ve written a build blog but I’m told that there are still a handful of people left that have more than a 15 second attention span. So I thought I’d throw something together about our new simple recipe S15.

First a quick catchup for the newuns:
In 2001 I started my journey into the world of the S chassis. I built a car, did some skids, max’d my loans, built it some more, won some events, and started a business with my buddy off the back of what I had learnt.

That S14 in its final incarnation was sold to Norway after I took the 2006 D1GB title that year. The car had had many different looks. This is my fave though.


In 2007 with  the help of the very talented Julian at Garage-D we built the DWS15. An all out competition drift build with a 720bhp 2JZ pushed back through the bulkhead 30cm. This was a special car in so many ways, and even now at eight years old, I think could still hold it’s own against the best builds in Europe. This car served Driftworks very well, giving me many podiums, and another championship title. Unfortunately a rule change in 2012 meant it was no longer eligible to compete in the UK, and the car was sold to eventually end up in Greece converted to LHD.


Since then it’s all been about our DW86. This car stepped things up again from the already pretty insane DWS15, and to be perfectly honest I’ve spent the last couple of years just about hanging onto it’s reigns as it propels me at a billiontytwelve miles an hour on a path it kind of chooses itself a lot of the time.
It is an incredibly fun car to drive, and very rewarding when I get it right. But sometimes I do find myself pining for the days of the simpler less unhinged ‘point and click’ Sbody.


Here’s a vid that shows the grip and speed of the DW86

So enter the new S15, and don’t worry it’s not here to replace the 86. The idea is to build something with mostly bolt on parts that we stock here in the Driftworks shop. I’ll do a few practice days and see where it takes us. I’m under no delusion about not getting carried away with it, so I can’t really say where the end point for it is. But for now I’m just going to have fun driving and building it. Reminding myself of what it’s like to pick parts up off the shelf and fit them instead of design, fabricate, test, redesign, re-fabricate which I’ve done so much of with the DW86..

With the help of JapaneseUsedCars I’d kept an eye on the auctions for a couple of months, and eventually found the right car. An S15 Auto spec S with a manual turbo conversion. It’s always hard to tell from auction spec sheets, but I knew it had some suspension work, and had probably been used as a drift car at one point. I even liked the Origin Agressiveline Aero, as it was on a black car so hid lots of the unnecessary ‘styling’ the kit includes.

The Friday I collected it from Southampton docks.


The day after I collected it, I spent the day trying some different wheels/tyres and ride heights. Here it has 18×9.5 and 18×11 Cosmis XT006 wheels.


About 40 seconds after that photo I exploded the front arches and pulled the bumper off skidding it round the corner, so went home for beer and pizza.

My life is pretty hectic at times, and I usually have quite a few projects on the go. So I knew if I didn’t set myself a deadline, the car would probably sit there for months. So I booked a practice day at Teesside on August 31st. I knew I wanted to do a fair bit to the car before then, so of course I didn’t even put it on the ramp until five days before it was to be used, and then spent a completely manic few days doing all this.. Nothing really ever changes when it comes to getting a car ready for an event. It’s always last minute:



Engine- Stock 180SX Blacktop straight cam with a Greddy intercooler and Apexi air filter


As I mentioned above, this was obviously used as a drift car at some point. In fact it could possibly have ties with some pretty cool guys going off the plaque on the rear screen: Mbros is run by Takamasa Kuroi, and Naoki Nakamura’s cars used to be built there I believe. I’m not sure if the car had a different engine in it before it went to auction, or maybe just a big turbo kit, but the rest of the car seemed pretty highly modified to have been driven with just circa 200hp. I haven’t got round to asking my buds in Japan if they know of the car yet.


The wiring loom had been relocated through the engine bay, but not how we’d normally do it. It really didn’t like having 18″ front wheels fitted and lowering an additional 60mm. I decided 17″ fronts were the answer, but still needed to have a lot more clearance.


This was a quick fix for the loom / bonnet release cable.


I also beat the crap out of the inner arch front and rear.


Rear suspension swapsies. It had Dmax coilovers which aren’t too bad, but I know how good CS2’s are, and it had worn old Dmax adjustable arms apart from the upper camber arms which were Ikeya Formula. I would have kept the camber arms if I could as Ikeya Formula is top quality. But they had blown rod ends and used an unusual thread pitch.


I’d previously set the ride height where I wanted on the DMax coilovers, so set the CS2’s to the same length accounting for the extra droop from the helper springs.


New Geomaster toe rods fitted. I’m not using rear Geomaster knuckles yet as there’s no need at circa 200hp. In fact I’m specifically looking forward to a car that’s a bit more slidy.


I fitted traction rods 10mm longer than stock.


I also found that the Ikeya Formula camber arm had been hitting the chassis rail lip in the usual spot, so a nice crude bit of chopping and bashing was in order. I needed to make it a bit bigger than this photo after it was tested. You can also see it already had subframe locking collars fitted.


Again due to the stock powers of the car I didn’t want to run big tyres. So I had to swap to the 9.5″ rear wheels to use 235/40/18 tyres. This meant a 25mm bolt on spacer was needed, and because of the design of some wheels, sometimes it’s necessary to grind down the studs so they don’t protrude further than the outer face of the spacer. I did that with the nuts on to avoid damaging the starting thread.



Onto the front, I decided to move the steering rack rather than use our Offset rack spacers. The spacers are a perfect way to solve the overcentering issue, but moving the rack reduces the chance of bending the steering rack if you ever crash the car. It is A LOT more work though obviously.
This support cradle makes life bliss compared to the days of combinations of engine cranes and jacks.


Uncle Craig from Dynotorque loves this job.


We were moving the steering rack 25mm further forward. We decided to add a bit of strength back into it by welding an additional square section bar inside the cavity.
We also welded captive bolts to one side of the steering rack support, as it’s very difficult to access the bolt the normal way round from underneath once the crossmember is modified.


Boom! Welderman go!


Here’s the new modified crossmember on top and a standard one below.


Before I refitted the  crossmember I decided to take on a job I knew was going to be a bit miserable. Fitting the sandwich plate for the Mocal thermostatic oil cooler kit and lines.
As you can see it’s really tight in there. The engine mount needs modifying to route the oil lines. I don’t recall the S14 SR20 being this miserable to do.


Modified engine mount, crude but strong like bull.


All fitted up. I spent a while ensuring this went on nicely and all of the pipes were really tight, as I did not want to revisit this ever again.


More stealing stock off my own shelves. I threw in some Vibratechnics engine mounts as the standard ones were boned.


And a Vibratechnics gearbox mount.


I’d refitted the front crossmember, and now removed the stock radiator and aircon condensor, and started fitted the coolers. First a Driftworks powersteering cooler.


Then the main Mocal oil cooler


Then a Mishimoto radiator as our Driftworks rads were out of stock at the time. Making sure to refit the standard cowling of course.


I’d decided to fit a set of posh Defi gauges. You can just about make out the sensor for the water temp gauge in the top rad hose in the picture above. The oil pressure sensor had been fitted in place of the OEM one, so that just left oil temp. I decided the oil pan was the best place.


A bit of welding, and resealing, and you can just make the sensor out here:


I built up the front suspension, Driftworks CS2 coilovers, Geomaster hub knuckles and Geomaster offset kinked tension rods.


I had a set of prototype brakes in the piles of crap up on the mezzanine, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that they fit underneath the CCW 17″ wheels I was going to use. Totally unnessary for what I’m using the car for, but they look pretty, so on they went.
You can also just make out that the brake hose bracket on the chassis rail has been moved forward just mounting it with one bolt. This is essential to avoid hitting your brake lines on big steering angle.


And I did a really quick refurb on the old 17″ front wheels from the DW86, and fitted some 235/40/17 Nankang NS2R’s. I do really like these wheels!


So we’re now round at Dynotorqe next door to fabricate the exhaust. The car’s looking pretty sweet even though it now has the narrower rear wheels fitted.


As usual my number one goal with the exhaust was ground clearance. But as the exhaust that came with the car had no silencers it sounded too SR’y (ie dreadful), so it needed some serious overall looking at.

We’ve had great results using Jetex stuff in the past, so I’d ordered an array of 3″ stainless bits earlier in the week.


First the 3″  front pipe that the car had come with was shortened to tuck up to the car body properly. The floor is ‘massaged’ a little to have a big enough gap for heat insulation too.


Then a small silencer is added in place where the Cat would normally go.



Then the difficult bit, ground clearance around the rear subframe / diff. We chopped a lip off the bit where the toe rod mounts:


It’s looking promising. The pipe has to divert upwards quite dramatically to have space to fit a silencer.



I think the twin exit really suited the car, so watching Craig attack it with an angle grinder was painful. But I needed to fit a silencer before it turned in to the twin outlet.


Welderman back in action.



Another really important part of a tucked exhaust is protecting certain parts of the rest of the car. Triple layer alloy heat insulation was used to protect the centre bearing of the prop and the left driveshaft CV.


And here’s the finished thing. Slightly more silenced and near perfect ground clearance. Oh and a happy Craig.


We needed to fit a door bar if we wanted twin at the practice day. So I cut up some CDS, used some bolt on brackets from Safety Devices, fired some birdshit to tack them on. Then left if to the professional to make it strong.

I’d also spent a fair while modifying the seat rail to get my large posterior low enough and far back enough. A real challenge around the bolt in cage. I also unfortunately had to ‘clearance’ the door card for my elbow as the seat sits too far outboard which is a shame. But that shouldn’t be needed when I get a better cage and seat position. I’d like to actually put more of the interior back in at a later date.



Craig was also tasked with handling the electrickery. A Walbro fuel pump change, and hard-wiring the fuel pump. The standard wiring is pathetic.



And on the inside I went for some really posh Defi BF series gauges and controller. I could have gone for the Defi Racer series which are great gauges. But having used the BF series before in our old DWS15 I knew how useful the peak hold and the warning lights are on the BF series. Someone had nicked the air vents that you normally modify to fit gauges, so for now these are hot glue gunned in place.


Another awesome product I previously used in the DWS15 was the Turbosmart Eboost 2 boost controller. This is probably the best boost controller in the business and because it’s quite likely I’ll be throwing some boost at this thing sooner or later, I figured getting the right kit on the car now was the right thing to do.


So we’re back round at my workshop now to set the suspension up. First I had to deal with a really strange issue. I have undone and done up Mcphearson strut nuts and bolts probably 500 times in my life. But for some reason when doing them up on this car both decided to cross thread.. Angle grinder Hoooo!


Although all of the work I’d done up to this point was made so much nicer than the first time I built an S-body (lying on a gravel drive at my parents house). This was the point I realise that things have really changed.

I got the corner weights out. My floor isn’t perfectly level, so corner weighting always involves levelling the pads with a laser level and spirit level


Fill with simulated fat driver weight.


And here’s the corner weights before I started. I only made a small adjustment after this base measurement as I know I’ll probably change a lot over then next few weeks.


Then onto our new Hunter alignment rig.


The front wheels are 9″ ET-15 so I ended up running 6* negative front which is more than ideal, but acceptable for now. The rears are also pushed out more than I’d like so I ended up with -1.5* camber. I’d ideally want about 0.5*, but I have my nice Work wheels on order, so I’ll wait until they arrive to get the alignment perfect.

One of the final jobs was getting rid of the shite steering wheel. Again returning to the pile of crap upstairs I found our first prototype Nardi Driftworks edition, so chucked that on with one of our quick release spacers.


So here it is after my  few days of manic panic.



And I made it to Teeside. The weather was shit and it was a bit too busy. But the car was great. So fucking slow, but great fun..

Awesome picture courtesy of Peter Bartle.


I have some work to do for the next practice day. Get a working handbrake setup, and a bit more power wouldn’t go amiss, so I’m going to fit some Z32 rear brakes, and keep an eye out for a Power FC, and maybe some injectors….. and maybe a turbo……………… And. andandandandandandandand……………………………………………….

Phil Morrison

4 thoughts on “Project DWS15: Off the Shelf Version.

  1. Saw you at Teesside dude. Car looked mint!! Got a few videos of you too :-D. If your at Teesside this September 21st I wouldn’t mind picking your brain for some tips on my S15 build if it’s cool? Anyway see you there hopefully (Y)

  2. Really cool back to basics (almost budget) spec drifter
    Car Looks god dam hot too, please keep the front wheel design looks right at home on there.
    Good read Phil!

  3. Great read, glad you’ve started posting again man!

    You seem to have a natural talent, both behind the wheel, and for making really nice wheel/height/ tire/ gangster choices, I’ve yet to see a car that you put together that looks average..

    Looking forward to more post’s from yourself and other DW staff



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