Sport Compact Car - February '99
Building the Ultimate SE-R
By Mike Kojima
[Put into HTML format by Mike Mager]
An inside look at making the SE-R scary fast and squeaky clean
Followers of our Project 200SX SE-R have been thoroughly versed in the proper methods for making a naturally-aspirated SR20 scream. Under the tight supervision of the OBDII system, our SE-R is making huge power and torque without any forced induction tweaks. We have always wondered, though, what it would be like if we took the other path. What if we did try a turbo, but stuck with our goals of clean emissions and a happy OBDII system?
The answer is on these pages. This 1995 200SX SE-R is owned by Searl Tate, site owner of www.SE-R.net (see The Web, May '98, for more on the site). His goals when building his car, it turns out, were nearly identical to ours with one very notable exception: A big, spinning air pump on the front of the engine.
Tate was looking for something special, a sleeper, a visually low key car that would not turn the heads of law enforcement or scream "look at me" to the general public. His car had to have a lot more bite than bark. As an avid road course time trialist, he also demanded a car with more capability than your average single-purpose import drag racer. His car had to exhibit exceptional cornering and braking as well as power.
The order was a difficult, seemingly impossible one; build a car with world class performance with the sleeper looks, reliability and driveabilty of a factory stock vehicle from an economy-car based pocket rocket platform.
Searl originally bought the stealthy Super Black 200SX SE-R in early 1995 when he was looking for a performance value. After much research, he came to the conclusion that the SE-R offered the most bang for the buck.
After just one fun event he got the road racing bug and started bringing the car to time trial events at Willow Springs Raceway near Palmdale, Calif. on a regular basis. On a road course, the little SE-R was capable of smoking even expensive Porsches and other sports cars in braking and cornering. However, Tate soon grew weary of running up to the rear bumper of powerful, expensive sports cars, setting up for a pass in a corner only to have the much more powerful car pull away in the straights. It was time for some serious moves to help reduce the chance of this vexing occurrence. Although Tate could afford to buy an off the shelf fast car, he enjoyed the sick humor of a fast sleeper economy compact car even more. Thus he launched a quest for power and speed -- accompanied of course, by the goal to seriously annoy and amaze snooty sports-exotic and muscle car owners.
To do so, Tate enlisted some of the best companies in the aftermarket performance industry to provide parts in the quest for the ultimate SE-R, paying close attention to our own Project 200SX SE-R for inspiration. (Being a friend of some of the editors of this magazine doesn't hurt either. We provided some technical assistance throughout the course of the project.) When the car was first constructed, most of the parts listed in the following pages were one-off hand built prototypes, but due to the success of the parts developed for Tate's project, all of the parts are now available for other SE-R owners to duplicate.
Since the car is intended to be used on a road course as well as straight line and top speed, extra attention was applied to the suspension. In order for the car's setup to be changed easily from track to street configuration, full adjustability of the suspension was important.
The suspension is set up identically to our own project 200SX SE-R. Race proven GAB adjustable shocks from Stillen grace each corner of the vehicle. The GAB shocks are fitted with Eibach ERS racing springs with a firm, but reasonable 300 lb/in front, 200 lb/in rear spring rate. This is approximately twice as stiff as the stock springs and 50 percent stiffer than typical aftermarket bolt-on lowering springs, giving firm control at racing speed and, surprisingly enough, a decent street ride. The GAB shock's wide range of damping adjustability assures that the rebound energy of these stiff springs will be controlled even at racing speed.
Stillen camber plates were selected to allow the camber to be adjusted in the front suspension as well as to get rid of a huge chunk of flexing, slop-inducing rubber at the top of the front struts. By eliminating the rubber in the top strut mounts, steering precision and turn-in feel was greatly improved and negative camber loss under side load was eliminated.
Stillen front and rear stress bars CNC machined from billet aluminum tie the strut towers together improving chassis rigidity and ride quality as well as steering precision by eliminating another source of unwanted flex.
The crew at Ground Control Inc. provided the adjustable ride height hardware to adapt the small diameter Eibach ERS springs to the GAB dampers. Ground Control also machined a set of trick upper spring seats containing Torrington bearings that allow the spring to rotate on the strut, isolating load forces from the camber plate's bearing surfaces. Now the SE-R can be adjusted for camber, ride height, damping rate and corner weights in an instant, just like a full-race Super Touring car. This gives the car tremendous set-up flexibility for any event, be it street driving, road racing or even an occasional import drag race. Of course, it also gives you a million ways to set it up wrong, but with an educated approach to setup, the results can be tremendous.
To better balance the chassis by reducing understeer and to help reduce body roll -- a major problem with the tall, top-heavy SE-R -- polyurethane-bushed Suspension Techniques front and rear anti-roll bars were purchased through Stillen.
215/40-17 Toyo Proxes T-1 Plus tires were installed at each corner. Although not as sticky as full-race R-compound rubber, Tate wanted the convenience of being able to drive straight to the track and run with a minimum of fuss. He did not want to lug around another full set of rims and tires in the trunk and back seat for various events. The T-1's are some of the most sticky non-race compound rubber you can buy. On other cars we have been pleasantly surprised with the amount of tenacious grip that these tire can provide.
The tires were mounted on a set of Enkei's super-light RPO-1's in 17 x 7.5 with a 40mm offset. The RPO-1 offers the widest rim with the best offset (correct offset is critical to manage torque steer on a powerful front-wheel drive car). It is also one of the lightest 17 inch rims available on the market, at about 15 lbs per wheel. The RPO-1's thin graceful spokes and open design also offer excellent brake cooling, and the muted silver color looks very close to the color of the stock Nissan wheel, so it won't cause the wrong necks to snap. As ultra low-profile tires are difficult to mount without damaging the tire or rim, Tate took his set up to the pros at The Wheel Zone to be mounted and balanced.
With sticky rubber in place and the g-force generating suspension done, it was time to massage the brakes. The brakes were treated to SMC sport drilled brake rotors and braided steel lines. The drilling helps vent boundary layer gasses created under sever braking, thereby improving stopping at high speeds. These gasses can act as a lubricant to the brake pads unless they are effectively evacuated. The drilling also tends to keep the brake pads deglazed. The cross-drilling is countersunk by SMC to help avoid possible cracking -- even on this severe road-race type application -- usually associated with cross-drilled rotors. The flex free braided lines resist ballooning under pressure, improving brake feel and insuring that every bit of braking force is transferred to the calipers and brake pads.
SMC also provided the car's Hawk Ferro-Carbon compound brake pads. Carbon-based pad compounds have a consistent coefficient of friction over a wide temperature range allowing good cold stops on the street, and fade free on-track performance when the brakes get hot.
Motul racing 600 brake fluid -- the same fluid used in our project 200SX SE-R -- is the brake fluid of choice. It has been found to be highly boil and fade resistant, even under racing conditions. Motul 300V 10W40 synthetic oil is found in the crankcase.
Tate plans to upgrade to SMC's huge racing brakes featuring 12-inch front rotors with four-piston calipers and 11-inch rear rotors with Maxima calipers -- again, just like those in our own project 200SX SE-R. As we can attest, these brakes will give him near race car levels of stopping performance.
To increase shifting speed and to improve the SE-R's somewhat rubbery shift feel, a SMC quick shifter was installed. This shifter is unique in that it has an adjustable motion ratio so it can be adjusted from race car short to nearly stock. While tuning the ECU at Jim Wolf Technology with a data logger it was noted with amazement that Tate could consistently pull off 250 millisecond shifts without resorting to speed shifting! The shifter is likely responsible for this.
The focal point of the car however, is its amazing turbocharged powerplant. F-Max Fabrication of San Diego, Calif. was enlisted to build the jewel-like turbo system. The design objectives for the turbo system were lofty and indeed, often ridiculed as impossible. The car had to retain all of the stock power accessories, it had to burn clean enough to not trigger roadside emission testers, it had to have minimal turbo lag. Most difficult of all, it could not trigger the car' OBDII emissions monitoring system. All this had to be accomplished while extracting the maximum amount of power.
F-Max fabricated a cast steel manifold, TIG welding it from sections of high nickel content, cast steel alloy. This material was chosen because of its temperature-resistant properties and its crack-abating 0.125-inch thick walls. The thick wall tubing also helps contain exhaust heat allowing the catalytic converter to stay lit off, essential for keeping emissions at bay. TIG (Tungsten electrode, Inert Gas) welding is a process by which the welding arc is shielded by argon or some other inert gas. The argon shield prevents the weld from picking up oxidation from the air which weakens the weld. TIG welding is the strongest type of conventional welding.
F-Max designed a custom intercooler using a heat-sink type plate and fin style Blackstone core. This core uses relatively thick, hollow aluminum plates with internal heat conducting fins as opposed to the more common tube with external fins. The Blackstone core is superior because it has more internal surface area for better heat conduction as well as more mass. The extra mass is a plus in air-to-air intercoolers as it allows the intercooler to act like a heat sink, allowing it to absorb heat at low vehicles speeds. Once air speed increases, the intercooler can then begin to transfer built-up heat to the airstream. A typical lightweight intercooler only becomes effective once the vehicle's airspeed is up. F-Max fabricated the polished intercooler end tanks in a half-round cross section instead of the typical, easy-to-make square, to help insure even airflow across the core. The inlet and outlet bibs of the intercooler are bead rolled for a positive seal to the silicon hose couplers. The core, at a huge 8 inches tall by 24 inches wide and 4.5 inches thick, is the biggest that could physically fit in the front of the car without removing the air conditioner condenser or the shock absorbing bumper support.
Turbonetics in Moorpark, Calif. worked up a surprisingly efficient turbo capable of moving vast quantities of air at high boost with exceptional efficiency, but without sacrificing the ability to spool up quickly (click here).
To control the boost level, Fastrax Turbo in Gardena, Calif. supplied a trick TiAl external wastegate. Racing-style external wastegates, unlike the internal swing valve wastegates typical on OEM applications, have large, high-flow poppet valves and big control diaphragm areas that allow a greater sensitivity to minor fluctuations in boost pressure. This means that the boost level with external wastegates does not fluctuate very much, since the large poppet valve does not need to stay open very long to bypass enough exhaust gas to effectively regulate the boost. An external wastegate also allows the boost to rise much faster, as it can stay closed longer before having to open to avoid overboost. Because of this, external wastegates often have better throttle response and sometimes even more peak power. That is why external wastegates are used for racing vehicles or ultimate street machines despite their extra cost and plumbing complexity.
The parts of the TiAl wastegate that are exposed to hot and corrosive exhaust gases are constructed entirely of inconel, a special superalloy of copper and nickel known for its temperature and corrosion resisting properties. With the inconel poppet valve and base, there is little chance of the wastegate sticking, a common problem with cheaper cast-iron external wastegates. The rest of the wastegate, such as the part containing the spring and control diaphragm, are machined from 6061 T-6 billet aircraft aluminum. Because of its precision, high-quality construction and superior design, the TiAl wastegate has a super-fast response with no perceptible boost creep or fluctuation.
To reduce lag between shifts and to prevent turbo shock damage caused by boost pressure hitting a closed throttle and getting bounced back to the compressor and center section bearings, a GReddy Type-R compressor bypass valve was used. The Type R bypass valve has a much bigger control valve than the typical bypass or blow off valve commonly available. This allows it to dissipate the closed throttle shock wave more quickly and stay open for a shorter period of time.
The bypass valve is plumbed back into the intake tract just before the throttle plate so when the throttle is closed, boost pressure can be re-circulated through the compressor and back around and around until the throttle is opened again. This keeps the turbo spinning fast even when the throttle is closed, reducing lag when the throttle is opened again. By re-circulating the air instead of dumping it overboard, air metered by the Mass Air Flow meter, or MAF, is retained in the system instead of being dumped outside the induction system like the typical blow-off valve. This prevents the engine from running too rich on overrun with a possible loss of driveabilty, a typical problem of the conventional blow off valve.
F-Max constructed the trick tapered 3inch diameter down pipe and the rest of the intercooler plumbing out of 304 stainless tubing. F-Max's attention to detail is superb, all junctions that are connected to silicon hose are bead rolled for a positive seal. The intercooler pipes and the down pipe are clamped with aerospace, quick release T- or V-Band clamps. All of the welding is TIG with precise beautiful beads reminiscent of those found on Indy and Formula One cars. F-Max coated all of the tubing with a unique polished ceramic thermal barrier coating to give the system a finished look, improve catalytic converter light off , keep intercooled air cool, and prevent the hot turbocharger from melting all the plastic stuff in the engine compartment. This coating works very well. Very little heat can be felt radiating off of the turbo exhaust turbine housing or the manifold. The coating has a very cool polished aluminum appearance that looks nice but not gaudy.
F-Max also constructed the 3-inch mandrel bent exhaust system which uses a low restriction perforated core, Walker Stainless Ultra Flo muffler and a Random Technology 3-inch high-flow catalytic converter. The typical turbo import racers prowling the streets are usually running sans converter, but with the advent of the road side smog machine, it may not be possible to run like this for long and not get caught by the authorities. Tate wanted to be a good citizen anyway so a way had to be found to run the converter. To reduce its restriction a big converter had to be used, hence the 3-inch Random Technology unit. Some may think that a 3-inch exhaust on a 2000cc engine is entirely too big, but turbo engines, unlike naturally aspirated engines, require minimal backpressure for the turbo to work most effectively. F-Max added the correct fittings for the OBDII system's, post catalytic oxygen sensor to keep the system happy. Even the exhaust shows lots of attention to detail as it closely hugs the undercarriage of the car for maximum ground clearance. All of the bends throughout the exhaust are of the free-flowing, full diameter mandrel variety instead of the more common, muffler-shop crush jobs. To prevent attracting unwanted visual attention the big tip was painted stealth flat black instead of the typical look-at-me chrome or polished stainless.
To help dissipate the heat produced by the turbo and the attendant increases in power, a high-capacity radiator from Nissan Motorsports was installed. A bolt-on piece that is standard on the Japan-market Pulsar GTi-R, the Motorsports radiator has more than 30 percent more cooling capacity. The radiator was filled with a 50/50 mixture of genuine Nissan long life coolant and Redline Water Wetter. The engine was then carefully bled to remove air pockets from the cylinder head. The engine has yet to run hot even during extended top end speed runs.
Internally, the engine remains stock (for now) with the exception of Jim Wolf Technology's billet street grind cams. These cams, which are identical to the ones used in our Project 200SX SE-R are compatible with both the turbo and the OBDII system because of their low overlap numbers. With a turbo, more backpressure exists in the exhaust manifold than a naturally aspirated motor. This means a camshaft's overlap must be kept to a reasonable level to prevent the higher exhaust backpressure from flowing backwards through the engine. This back flow can cause contamination of the incoming intake charge with burnt exhaust gases when both valves are open during the overlap period. The lack of overlap, which was designed for OBDII engines, makes the Jim Wolf Technology cams a good choice for a turbo engine.
Perhaps the most difficult job in the construction of the car was the tuning of the engine management system. Since full functionality of the OBDII system is critical on late-model cars, Tate turned again to Jim Wolf Technology, the leader in engine management for late-model Nissans, to get the car up and running.
Jim Wolf fabricated a custom fuel rail so the engine could take big 50-lb/hr top-feed injectors. These injectors should see Tate though to his power goal; they are almost twice as big as the stock units. With a six hole injection nozzle, the injectors have superior atomization at low pulse durations ensuring a smooth stable idle. Conventional single-hole injectors sometime have difficulty maintaining a smooth idle because they tend to drip at low pulse durations. Jim also installed a 75-mm Mass Air Flow meter from a Mustang Cobra, replacing the stock Nissan 50-mm Nissan unit. JWT has found that the stock MAF tops out at about the 220 to 230 hp range, necessitating the use of a much bigger MAF. A free flowing JWT POP Charger air horn and filter were installed on the Cobra MAF at this time. The POP is used on JWT's 400-hp STG III Z cars, so its flow should be adequate.
JWT's George Peters installed a fuel pump from a late model 300ZX Twin Turbo in the tank of the car. This required some modification of the tank baffles and fuel pick up. The Z pump is one of the highest capacity electric fuel pumps available anywhere, just about eliminating any chance of fuel starvation.
JWT's ECU tuning ace, Clark Steppler took over the difficult job of optimizing the ECU's fuel and spark curves. Clark first modified the ECU's correction tables to compensate for the bigger injectors and MAF. This being done, the car was started and the main tuning was begun on JWT's Clayton chassis dyno. Water brake dynos like the Clayton are ideal for tuning since the load can be varied independent of rpm, allowing Steppler to tune virtually every load and rpm combination before the car hit the street. Using a Horiba air/fuel ratio meter and data logging equipment, Clark went to work on the fuel and spark maps. Fine tuning for driveabilty was done under varied street conditions. By this time it was apparent that the car was very fast, with the tires breaking loose with only a slight tip of the throttle. The turbo lag was minimal; the turbo spooled up at 2300 rpm! Clark tuned the car at 10 psi, the native, pre-set wastegate spring boost level. Of course the stock Nissan clutch instantly fried so it was back to the drawing board for the moment.
Tate obtained a clutch from Chris Jewel of Clutch Masters in Orange, Calif. He wanted smooth engagement characteristics with maximal clamping effort and a light pedal -- a difficult task as these goals are the diametric opposite of how a typical high performance clutch acts. With these goals in mind, Jewel recommended his stage II clutch. The stage II clutch features a heavy-duty sprung hub and a marcel spring for smooth engagement. The stage II also features a segmented Kevlar lining to increase the per-unit load on the Kevlar friction material, heightening its grab and reducing the clutch's likelihood of slippage. Jewel wanted to push the limits of the clutch with this application as the horsepower level of this engine is beyond the clutch's rated capability. Still, the Stage II clutch has not failed. When the engine internally strengthened and the boost is turned up, a metal puck equipped Clutch Masters stage III or IV unit will be installed if needed to handle the extreme horsepower demands.
Following the recommendations outlined in the build up of our own project 200SX SE-R, Tate opted to have the meticulous mechanical aces, Howard and Richie Watanabe of HMR Auto Service do most of the installation work of the other components. As always, the Watanabe brothers did a complete and thorough job of installing the clutch, boost control, gauges and other various parts.
While the clutch was out, Tate also had Clutch Masters' lightweight aluminum flywheel installed at the same time. The Clutch Masters flywheel is constructed of 6061 T-6 billet aluminum, a tough aerospace grade of aluminum. It has a long wearing replaceable steel friction surface and starter ring gear. The Clutch Masters flywheel weighs half of the stock flywheel's 18 lbs. The quicker acceleration of the lightweight flywheel should help the turbo to spool faster.
While the transaxle was out for the clutch install, JWT's heavy-duty competition motor mounts were installed. The stock Nissan motor mounts are weak and too soft. As we found out in our own project SE-R they are prone to premature failure, allowing tremendous drivetrain snatch enabling the transaxle to beat on the crossmember. This beating is hell on the drivetrain and can eventually cause the transaxle case to crack. In addition to the protection of the heavy-duty mounts, the transaxle was filled with Motul's super-slippery 300 series synthetic gear oil before it was reinstalled.
With the clutch now up to snuff, A GReddy Profec B electronic boost control was installed. An electronic boost controller was selected because of its ability to not only control boost easily from the drivers seat, but to improve throttle response and to reduce turbo lag as well. A properly set up electronic boost control can do this because it can pinch off the air reference signal to the wastegate with a duty cycle solenoid type valve. When the driver's set boost level is reached, the boost controller will send all of the pressure signal to the wastegate, blowing it open quickly. Normally when the wastegate boost reference line is merely attached to the manifold, the wastegate opens slowly, well before the set boost point to prevent overboost. Overboost is prevented, but because the wastegate valve is opening slowly before the actual set point, boost builds more slowly as well. Manual bleed type valves like the infamous aquarium valve can raise the boost level but also make boost response sluggish for the same reasons.
The Profec B also has the feature of being able to adjust its response speed to the wastegates response time. This feature allows the user to tune the Profec for maximum boost response speed without overboost. Because the TiAl wastegate is so responsive, the Profec is set for its quickest response level for the most aggressive possible boost curve.
With a clutch able to contain the horsepower and an electronic boost control, Clark at JWT was able to continue the tuning process. It was discovered that due to the large turbo's airflow capacity, only 10 psi of boost could be obtained with the stock 9.5:1 compression ratio on 92 octane unleaded pump fuel before the onset of detonation. At this level the engine was tested on DPR's dynojet where the SR20 belted out a very respectable 243 hp at the front wheels, a rather impressive amount for a clean, pump gas burning, OBDII compliant, catalytic converter equipped, car. In stock form, the SR20 puts about 120 hp to the wheels, so output had doubled without opening the engine.
In an effort to run more boost without having to resort to internal engine work, lowering the compression ratio or switching to high-octane race fuel, F-Max installed one of its Aquamist competition water injection systems. Unlike the crude windshield-washer-pump based systems that are available in this country, the Aquamist system is a very advanced high-pressure system, operating at 125 psi, not the 10 to 20 psi typical of a windshield squirter. By triggering the water injection from the ECU, and switching to special fuel and timing maps optimized for use with the water, the system has allowed boost levels as high as 17 psi on pump gas. Click here for more on the water injection system.
With the additional detonation-free boost available a new problem appeared; ignition related misfire. At the higher cylinder pressures induced by turbo boost, and with the presence of conductive water molecules, the stock ignition system was hard pressed to deliver clean running. Closing the plug gap down to 0.025-inch helped up to 12 psi, but misfires prevented any higher boost. The stock Nissan ignition is very hard to modify. Although it is quite powerful in stock form, it does not perform well with more than 10 psi of boost. The stock ignition is an integrated unit built completely into the distributor, coil and all. Because of this, you cannot simply add a hot Capacitor Discharge unit or a high voltage coil to the system. Capacitor Discharge or CD ignitions use a high voltage capacitor that is discharged into the primary wires of the coil for a very high-power secondary spark.
Nology came to the rescue with a unique external coil kit. This kit contains an external power transistor, a special modified distributor cap and a hot, 50,000-volt Nology M-70 coil with a Nology Power Core coil booster. This setup should be available for sale by the time you read this. The Nology kit boosts primary amperage up to 8 amps up from the stock 4.6 amps. This dramatically increases coil output. With the addition of some new NGK sparkplug wires from Stillen, the Nology external coil kit enabled 14 psi to be reached, about the limit that we would want to run on pump fuel.
As an experiment, we substituted a MSD 6A multi-spark CD ignition box for the Nology power transistor. The MSD 6A has the reputation for being one of the most powerful CD type ignition systems on the market, capable of firing multiple sparks for 20 degrees of crank rotation giving a greater chance of ignition. Nology provided us with its 55,000 volt, low impedance M-75 coil that is optimized for CD type ignition systems, to use with the MSD box. With the MSD and the Nology M-75,17 psi was reached. The boost could still be turned higher as no misfire was present, but since the engine was stock, our luck was not pressed any further and the boost reduced to 14 psi maximum. A happy side effect was that the new ignition system reduced boost onset rpm to an astounding 2100 rpm! This made the turbo almost seamless, with no detectable lag. The SR20 now seems like a big powerful engine instead of a 2000 cc four-banger.
On the Dynojet at Dan Paramore Racing Development the super SE-R now produced 292 hp at the front wheels (with cold water being sprayed on the intercooler). Not bad for a pump gas burning, stock-engined, smog engine. The car is amazing and very fun to drive. The engine has a smooth idle, (the JWT engine mounts make it vibrate about as much as an old A1 VW Rabbit at idle) the exhaust note is quiet and deep, and when the throttle is stabbed, the response is immediate and urgent. Although we are no strangers to powerful street machines, this car is fast -- almost frighteningly so. First gear is useless, the big sticky Toyos spin frantically as they are overwhelmed in the search for traction. Second gear is better as the wheelspin is reduced to the point where forward progress can be produced. As the tires howl, the car shoots forward, pinning you to the seat where you stay pinned all the way through to fifth gear when the engine slams into the 7700 rpm rev limiter at close to 150 mph. All of this is done in air-conditioned comfort.
With the well planned suspension, the factory viscous limited slip differential and the proper offset in the wheels, there is very little torque steer. While cornering, the throttle must be modulated carefully or the resulting violent wheelspin will cause the car to shift its line quickly to the far outside of the turn. Other than this attribute, which is caused mostly by lots of power (bummer!), the car is very neutral. It has a flat cornering attitude and even ham-fisted driving techniques like chopping the throttle in the middle of a turn will only result in a tighter line being taken by the car instead of a quick spinout. Amazingly enough, the ride comfort is quite good, even with the nearly full-race suspension and the ultra-low profile tires.
The car's only shortcoming at this point is its brakes. Even though SE-Rs are known for their excellent brakes, and even though Tate's car has all of the best in brake upgrade bolt-ons, there is simply not enough brake to provide deceleration in sync with the acceleration. After all, the car produces more than twice the power that the stock brakes were meant to contain. As we mentioned before, Tate plans to add SMC's ultimate racing brake upgrade in the near future to take care of this. Once done the car will be able to shame cars with price tags many magnitudes greater -- and that was the whole idea after all.
Tate's future plans include, naturally, the killer brake upgrade, a Nissan Motorsports Limited Slip Differential (which has 20 percent more lock up than the stock unit), a fully built engine (big bore forged pistons and rods, oiling system mods, ported head and manifold). Possibly a bigger turbo, a full roll cage and an on-board fire control system are planned. With the additional engine work, upward of 400 hp should be available. Research is being done on electronic traction control devices to help contain the massive influx of power. We plan on revisiting this interesting car at a later date once the planned modifications are completed.
With its subdued external appearance -- the only hint of power is the car's huge front mounted intercooler -- the little SE-R has compiled a long list of worthy victims. With 340 hp on tap and only a 2400-lb curb weight, the acceleration is mind blowing, on par with a medium displacement crotch-rocket sports bike. So far in clandestine confrontations, the little Nissan has humbled several 996s and other sundry Porsches, a C-5 Corvette, a Lamborghini Jalpa, an NSX, a late model Cobra Mustang with a Vortech blower and too many assorted GT Mustangs and other V8-equipped muscle cars to count. Even more impressive, it recently ran a 12.52 at 112 mph with smallish 14 x 8 x 22-inch Mickey Thompson slicks (click here to see the race).
So, if you are out cruising your expensive Euro sportscar or muscle car and a stock looking 200SX pulls up next to you at a red light, think twice before trying to swat it! You could be SE-Riously embarrassed!
Reprinted with Permission