SHAKE THOSE WINDOWS
Loud pipes save lives, everybody knows that. And the exhaust Mark used to run on his S15 was several levels beyond loud: a full Kakimoto system that operated at stadium-sized decibel levels. Kakimoto Racing was founded back in 1975, and they’ve been making free-flowing race pipes and race-derived street systems ever since… although it has to be said that the barely-silenced exhaust they make for the S15 isn’t exactly suited to urban day-to-day use in the UK. “When I started the car up, it used to rattle the plates in the kitchen,” he grins, “and it scared the neighbour’s cat half to death. Added to that, the system had a few holes and blown baffles, and it was routed awkwardly so it banged on the diff.” So for the sake of harmonious accord with the neighbourhood at large, he’s had a full custom 3-inch system made by those good guys at EMP Performance. All the eager performance of the old Kakimoto, but without the likelihood of getting a Section 59 on the way to the supermarket…
– an up-and-coming drift and tuner outfit – as a drift and demo car, rebuilt and painted from a bare shell. The engine really is something special: a fresh low-mileage SR20DET was sourced and rebuilt with all-new upgraded components, forged and stroked to 2.1-litres using an HKS Step 1 kit and JUN pistons. HKS cams and an A’PEXi turbo were thrown into the mix, and the whole lot was bolted to an RB26 gearbox that was converted to run RWD and modified to fit.
“The Brazilian owner of the garage was going to ship the car back to Brazil, but after a change of plans it was sold at auction and imported into the UK by Shah Motorsport,” Mark explains. “The car already had a great spec, although the styling wasn’t to my taste. It also came fully stripped out and was ridiculously loud due to blown baffles, and the first thing I did was take it to EMP Performance for a new custom exhaust. I then sourced a full interior to give it some creature comforts! I wanted to keep the rollcage, but to fit the interior it had to come out and be re-fitted with everything in place – that was one of the most awkward precision jobs I’ve ever had to do!”
Next, he sourced a set of SSR MS1 wheels, and replaced the seized coilovers with new Tein Control Master Flex items. With the chassis coming together, it was time for a trip to Luke at White Rose Motors in North London (a fellow S15 owner) for a thorough alignment session. “He completely transformed how the car drove,” says Mark. “I can only compare it to going from riding in a trolley with wobbly wheel to wafting in a comfy Lexus… a lot of people underestimate the importance of having a correct alignment suited for your needs.”
He makes a strong point, and it’s clear from the attention to detail that Mark isn’t a man who simply throws a car together. Every element is carefully considered, and with the S15 now handling like a boss as well as riding beautifully, he set his mind to addressing the myriad of other jobs which needed sorting. The ECU was relocated, coolant and fuel lines were replaced and rerouted, the dodgy ghetto radiator fans were replaced with pukka Mishimoto units, and a Mishimoto thermostat was drafted in to keep an eye on that hot-to-trot stroker’s vital signs.
HITTING THE PEAK
“I then wired in some audio, and binned off the caveman stereo which was bodged into the centre console in favour of a Pioneer double-DIN head
“The engine really is something special: a fresh low-mileage SR20DET was sourced and rebuilt with all-new upgraded components”
unit,” he continues. “People who know me know that I’m a bit of a wheel whore too, and can’t do with just having one set of wheels on the car – so I got some Rota Grids to change things up a bit. The vented bonnet is great, but not so great when it rains so I have sourced an OEM bonnet – which is due to be painted along with some new overfenders, to change up the car when lockdown is over.”
And here we arrive at the nub of the matter. Until everyday life can return to some semblance of normality, this big-power S15 is a beast caged, damned to stasis for an indefinite period. But this isn’t the time to lose hope. Every change and upgrade is being chronicled on his Instagram page, @looooony, and Mark’s keeping the memories strongly alive; the manner in which it draws vivid and vibrant attention everywhere he drives it on the road, bystanders reaching for the cameraphones wherever he goes. And on the showground? It’s a real sweetheart there… and just wait until he can get it on some drift days. Those glorious times of sunlit perfection and memory-making are surely just around the corner – and when we’re allowed out to play again you can be damn sure Mark will be ready. Virus or no virus, his S-chassis is a sensation. ■
The SR20DET has been stroked to 2.1-litres with a HKS Step 1 kit
Fun Fact: You can never have too many gauges
Release lockdown, release the S-body
The Bride Low Max seat is cool but check out the Status Error mats and that panoramic rear-view mirror