Fast Car - - HOT RIDE -

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.


“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

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