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CONSTANT EVOLUTION: DRIFT-SPEC SILVIA S14A

CONSTANT EVOLUTION: DRIFT-SPEC SILVIA S14A

Posted by Matt Bell on 28th April 2020

A firm believer that enjoying drifting to the full often comes at the expense of your car, Low Origins’ Alex Law has been through 15 gearboxes, 10 diffs and a handful of engines in his pursuit of the ultimate buzz in his S14A. 

The fine line between keeping your car in a mint, show-worthy condition and having a proper blast with it out on track is one that many have attempted to carefully balance. But where you sit on this awkwardly juxtaposing spectrum seems to entirely depend on just how far you’re willing to go with your four-wheeled friend in terms of pushing it to its very limits.

For Alex here – someone who’s stormed the competitive drifting scene over the last ten years or so – it soon became apparent that the harder he treated his long-term S14A skidder, the more enjoyment he’d reap from it. This refreshingly guilt-free mindset might have gone on to cost him an arm and a leg in terms of replacement parts over the years, but has ultimately left him with a closer relationship with his car than most could ever dream of.

S14A

Now boasting an impressive, fettled specification that perfectly matches its owner’s driving style, it might have a few battle scars to signify its hard life, but this only serves to make this Silvia ever-cooler along the way. This is a story of constant trial and error as Alex continues to drive his faithful Nissan into the ground, representing the joy of drifting in its very purest form…

Following a few inevitable FWD hatches he owned for a couple of years after he passed his test, the first really significant machine to spark any real joy in Alex’s heart came in 2007 in the form of his Nissan 300ZX. This was a twin-turbo, manual affair that he still owns to this very day. “It’s a really nice place to be,” he says, and goes on to explain how this car introduced him to the true possibilities of a rear-drive platform… something, it turns out, he would never look back from.

S14A

Keen to take the art of steering-from-the-rear a little more seriously, Alex eventually snapped up this very S14A way back in 2010. An honest, UK-spec S14A 200SX boasting green bodywork and a cream interior at the time, it was almost certain it wouldn’t stay this way for long. “I bought it with the intention of competing in the British Drift Championship in,” he grins. “This means that from the start, I was content with completely writing the car off – it mentally helped me to drive it the way I needed to!”

This bold ethos would see Alex’s steed change form countless time over the years, as he successfully lived out his BDC dreams – as well as competing in plenty of other drifting events across the continent. It took time of course, but both owner and car became increasingly competent in the skills of getting sideways.

It also led Alex to create his very own drift team – Low Origins – alongside pal Dan Joyce (who owns an equally-as-savage S15). “We basically did it as a way to drift around Europe, bringing as much of our tongue-in-cheek style in the process,” he explains. “It’s evolved to welcome several more team members since, and we also run a merch and parts store now, too.” Known for their bright yellow paint jobs complete with lairy, JDM-inspired liveries, it’s certainly not hard to spot a Low Origin drift car, that’s for sure.

With more than his fair share of engines and gearboxes destroyed over time, the current spec of Alex’s S14A is an impressive one, that he reckons is the car’s very best form to date. Under the bonnet, that SR20 motor is now kicking out a healthy 460bhp thanks to forged internals and a custom ‘charger developed specifically by Owen Developments for optimum response on this application.

Having gone through 11 SR20 gearboxes and four CA18 units, Alex thought enough was enough when it came to the transmission, biting the bullet and initially converting a stronger 300ZX ‘box to fit. This lasted hassle-free for four years, before he thought he’d mix things up with the ratios and try a much shorter, six-speed unit from a 350Z. Strengthened with an ORC clutch from Japan and finished off with a drift-friendly Nismo LSD, he admits it’s one of his favourite setups to date.

“I’ve always preferred the look of a low drift car, which led me to some pretty dark places,” Alex continues as we touch on the planted chassis his S14A now boasts. With incredibly wide WORK rims poking out of each corner, the body drop comes courtesy of some seriously daring body tweaks, topped off with a raft of Driftworks suspension components and a heavily altered steering rack to ensure the back end can still be kicked out effortlessly and controllably despite its ground-hugging silhouette. A hydraulic handbrake from a Mk2 Ford Escort rally car is the final piece of the puzzle – an unusual choice, but as Alex is quick to remind us, “It works, and it’s hard to replace things that aren’t broken!”

S14A

This used-and-abused mindset continues into the styling department, too, carrying a certain patina that most would argue only adds to the character. With its choice JDM body kit and wide-arch tweaks on the outside, all topped off with the Low Origin livery, it’s an aesthetic that could have easily been pulled directly from the back-streets of Japan back in the late ‘90s. It’s got lambo-doors and everything. The kid’s got balls and no mistake!

“It’s a mess, to be honest,” Alex laughs as we move onto the functional interior. Dominated by the comprehensive roll cage that meets the tight BDC regulations, there’s also an odd pair of buckets up front for Alex and any lucky passengers. “I sat in hundreds of seats before I settled on my OMP a few years ago,” he continues, yet again showing how everything on his Silvia was chosen to fit his requirements. “It feels perfect for me!”

S14A

He’d never be content enough to use the word ‘finished’, but it’s clear that Alex and his Nissan are currently at the closest point in their relationship they’ve ever been. The talented pilot is now able to control the car in practically every condition. “It’s very usable, strong and reliable,” he proudly tells us. “But I’m sure that won’t stop me from endlessly changing everything. That’s how you win!”

Tech Spec: Nissan Silvia S14A

ENGINE:

2.0-litre SR20DET turbocharged four-cylinder, forged block (with 87mm CP pistons, Manley con rods, ACL bearings and auto-spec low-mileage crankshaft), re-worked head (with ARP studs and 1.1mm metal head gasket), custom Owen Developments ‘GT3073HTARS’ turbocharger, custom stainless steel breathing modifications, bonnet-exit screamer pipe, NIStune ECU re-mapped by Protumour, Z33 Nissan 350Z six-speed manual gearbox, ORC Japan 595 Carbon Pro twin-plate clutch, Nismo GT two-way 4.3-ratio LSD

CHASSIS:

11×18-inch WORK VSXX split rims with gold faces and polished dishes, 326Power spiked wheel studs, Uniroyal RainSport (front) and Westlake semi-slick (rear) tyres, Driftworks CS2 coilovers, Geomaster2 knuckles and steering components, factory disc brake setup with DB power caliper bones and 350mm discs (front)

INTERIOR:

Stripped interior, OMP Champ driver’s bucket seat, universal JDM passenger’s bucket seat, Driftworks harnesses, Fabricage six-point BDC-spec roll cage, MOMO steering wheel with NRG snap-off boss, Mk2 Escort rally car hydraulic handbrake

EXTERIOR:

Custom Retroshine fade-effect paintwork with GraphixD livery, Origin Labo 45mm extended front wings, Vertex 30mm extended rear wings, D-MAX Type 3 complete body kit, Uras Type 2 boot spoiler, 326Power roof spoiler, Ganador R33 Skyline-spec wing mirrors, D-MAX vented bonnet,

THANKS:

“Driftworks for the suspension components, 326Power for the super-cool wheel nuts, TGS Tuning for the fabrication and body mods, Nengun Japan for the clutch, EPRacing for the body kits, WORK Wheels UK for the wheels, Destroy or Die for the steering components, GraphixD for the livery, Retroshine for the paint job, StreetTrackLife for the media coverage, Owen Developments for the turbo.”

Feature taken from Banzai magazine. Words: Sam Preston. Photos: Adam Rous.