Back for more: 1991 Nissan 180SX

Posted in Cars
Published in NZ Performance Car Issue No. 196

Kyle Jackways is a name that has been around the New Zealand drifting scene for a long time now. Having first competed in a D1NZ event way back in 2004, Kyle has had his feet firmly planted in the pits for many years — firstly as a competitor for five seasons, and then as a D1 judge for the last two.

Kyle had always campaigned his trusty A31 Nissan Cefiro in D1, and by 2009 it was one of the most seasoned cars in the pits, having seen more competition than pretty much any other vehicle out there. The very tired Cefiro had been a faithful companion, but Jackways knew as well as anyone else, the time had come to move on. “At the end of the 2009 season I decided it was time to sell the old faithful Cefiro and step into something that would provide a more competitive platform,” Kyle says. “I’ve always loved the look of the 180SX and after driving JD’s [James MacDonald’s] ‘Turtle’ at both Puke[kohe] and Taupo, I knew that I wanted one as a competition car.” Just before selling the A31, Kyle got hold of a 1990 Nissan 180SX, which at the time, was a nice street car sourced from up north. The RPS13 looked like the perfect base from which to build his new machine, thanks to its bodykit, suspension, half cage and most importantly, its Nissan RB26DETT conversion. But sadly, it didn’t quite turn out to be so easy: “The original plan was to extend the cage, but unfortunately it was unhomologated so it had to be chopped out. The motor conversion was already done with a fully stock RB26, but I got tucked as the engine was a complete dud. While it was pretty much fine to look at, we found a lot of mess on the inside once we started the build.” As Kyle was about to find out however, the biggest setback was still yet to come, and a poked RB26 was soon to be the least of his worries.

As a very experienced motocross and BMX rider, Kyle has always been as much about competing on bikes as he has been about cars, but in late 2011, his luck ran out when he overshot a huge double on his motocross bike, coming down feet-first from a few stories up. This would turn out to be the 180SX’s biggest stumbling block, as two shattered ankles and many months spent in a wheel chair tend to slow the build of a car down considerably.

Thanks to a good bunch of mates however, the Nissan slowly came together for the start of the 2013 season. The newly rebuilt motor, which now runs much stronger forged and R33 GT-R internals, was slotted back into the now uniquely-coloured shell. The Ford ‘Breeze Effect’ paint was chosen after Kyle spotted a Falcon in a local car park. “We spotted the car at the supermarket. I jumped out and took a photo of the rego, number plate and the car to help me find the paint code from that model. A lady rang up and reported me to the cops for scouting cars to steal. Cops turned up and we had to explain [that] we were trying to find out the colour so we could paint a race car, they didn’t buy it, and took a lot of convincing.”

With the Nissan finally running and bristling with plenty of high-quality, tuneable gear, it was ready to go at the start of this season, and Kyle has spent his time behind the wheel so far just trying to get used to the entirely new car. He tells us: “This season I always had the intention of learning the car, sorting out all the teething problems and getting back into the swing of things, as I am definitely a bit rusty, and the game has changed so much during my time in the judge’s seat instead of the race seat. The 180 is a lot more aggressive than my old Cefiro. It switches harder and faster, to the point that the first time I drove it, it felt kind of violent. The old car pretty much just had a set of coilovers and castor arms, so this is a big step up and as a result it has a lot more grip. The Cefiro was definitely an easier car to drive, to be honest.”

The Cefiro might have been a breeze to pilot in comparison, but there is no way it would be competitive these days. The great-looking, wickedly fast and very well prepared 180SX on the other hand (although there’s been plenty of setbacks in getting it to where it is today) has more than enough potential to see Kyle back on the podium at some point in the future. After the shitty luck he’s experienced over the last couple of years, we can only imagine how much Kyle would love to see that potential realized.

Tuning Menu

Engine: Nissan RB26DET 2600cc straight-six cylinder (R32)
Block: CP pistons, R33 crank, Nismo Race oil pump, shot-peened factory rods, ARP rod bolts, ACL bearings, Tomei head gasket, Chromey’s custom sump, DDT baffle kit
Head: Factory cams, Kelford valves and valve springs, heavy-duty valve guides, oil feed restrictor, extra oil breather from frost plug to sump
Intake: Fram filter, modified GT-R intake plenum, R.I.P.S 101mm throttle body, GT-R intercooler, Maunder Motorsport custom spacers to replace individual throttle bodies
Turbo: Master Power GT37 compressor housing, T04 0 trim turbine
Wastegate: GFB EX 50mm
Exhaust: Sinco manifold, three-inch downpipe, 3.25-inch exhaust system, HKS rear muffler
Fuel: GT-R lift pump, Bosch 044 external pump, 2.0-litre Action Dan surge tank, Delphi 650cc injectors
Ignition: Wasted spark set-up, M&H 9.8mm leads, NGK plugs
ECU: Link G4 Storm, Norgren boost controller
Cooling: Trust oil cooler, VR-4 power-steer cooler, Mishimoto KA24 radiator
Other: Mitchell Motorsport oil breather tank, V can radiator overflow bottle, mini tubbed front guards, solid engine mounts, modified upper radiator support, relocated lower radiator support, twin 10-inch push-type electric radiator fans, radiator sprayers

Gearbox: Modified RB26 five-speed
Clutch: OS Giken twin-plate clutch and flywheel
Diff: Nissan R200 locked
Other: Custom driveshaft

Struts: Tein Super Drift
Springs: (F) Tein 10kg; (R) Tein 6kg
Other: Tomlin steering knuckles, A33 steering arms, S14 tie rod ends, Luxury Sports castor arms, solid subframe bushes, Luxury Sports camber and toe arms
Brakes: (F) Nissan R32 M-Spec four-pot calipers and discs; (R) Nissan R32 M-Spec two-pot calipers and discs, extra M-Spec calipers for handbrake, NZKW handbrake, Wilwood 3/4 master cylinder

Wheels: 18×10.5-inch -1 DTM D1R
Tyres: (F) 235/40R18 Nexen N6000; (R) 265/40R18 Nexen N6000

Paint: Breeze Effect by Daniel Hill at Supreme Panel and Paint
Enhancements: BN Type II bodykit, Custom DCorp bonnet, D-MAX 50mm front guards, D-MAX 50mm rear guards, tinted windows and bumper lights, livery by Demon Graphics

Seats: Bride seats, Racetech four-point harnesses
Steering wheel: Momo WRX
Gear knob: Maunda Motorsport gear knob
Instrumentation: Calibre gauges
Roll cage: Eight-point

Power: 368kW (493hp) at the wheels on 18psi

Driver Profile

Kyle Jackways 
Age: 29
Location: Taupiri
Occupation: Teacher
Length of ownership: Three years
Build time: Two-and-a-half years
Thanks: My Sponsors Nexen Tire, DTM Wheels, Colton’s Motor Vehicle Company, Supreme Panel and Paint, Shane Reid Auto Electrical, Sinco Customs, Te Rapa Automotive Repairs and Dyno Specialists, Six Deep Streetwear, Demon Graphics, Top Town Tyres, Seth Coleman, Ben Maunder, Shane Reid, Nathan Green, Chris McDell, Steve Burley, Jacob Hakaria, John Hayes, Ian ‘Cromey’ Sheppard, Rohan Knowles, Daniel Hill, Jason Bryant, Brett Windsor, Mum, Dad, and anyone else who has helped that I have forgotten to mention, and of course my girlfriend Bex for putting up with all my s***t! Thanks so much to all of you as without your help and support I wouldn’t have this car or the ability to compete in D1NZ

Words: Peter Kelly
Photos: Adam Croy