It’s taken a while for me to get around to writing this post, but its finally here.
What is JAE?
For those who don’t know or haven’t been JAE stands for Japanese Automotive Extravaganza, and it is essentially a weekend long car show where like minded Japanese car enthusiasts from all walks of life congregate for two to three days of food, drink, sunshine, silliness and JDM goodness.
For the past few years, Lucy and I have been in attendance mostly as traders (previously with STLTHY.com) and every year we’ve had a blast! Meeting new people, chatting, drinking and looking at the wide variety of vehicles on show, so we were looking forward to heading back to Peterborough show ground and this year we also had the company of Craig, his S13 and a friend of Craig’s.
On arrival we were already surprised by how empty the venue was, but we put this down to the fact that in previous years there had been an extra day before to allow clubs to head down and get set up. So with that in mind we got our tent set up and got to work setting up the trade stand. Then, as it was getting late in the day we cracked open a couple of cold(ish) ones got some food and chilled out for the evening.
The next morning we got up, got the stand open and lay in wait for ur first customers. Throughout the day, it was surprising just how few people there were walking around the trade area. At first we thought it was just because the weather was so warm that people were lazing around making the most of it, but as the day wore on it became clear that this wasn’t the case.
Evening came and we decided to shut up shop for a bit to get some food and then wander round and have a look at the cars on show. This is when we realised just how much smaller than usual the attendance was. In previous years we would be walking for what seemed hours taking photos and chatting to folk, and looking around all you could see was tents, cars and people. But now there was mostly grass with a small cluster of cars and tents in the middle.
Nevertheless there were still some gorgeous cars on show:
Even the atmosphere from previous years felt different, there was a sense that people didn’t really want to be there or at least if they did they weren’t enjoying it as much as usual. I can’t really explain it but the whole thing just didn’t feel the same as it had done in previous years.
It was a real shame to see a show that was once the highlight of so many car clubs and individuals show calendar reduced to this.
A couple of days ago I went with my better half Lucy to her first drift day down at Santa Pod raceway in Northamptonshire.
As we were making a roughly 300 mile round trip I thought it best to put my newly acquired trailer license to use and tow the car down there. That way if anything went wrong we could still get home to fix it. So I booked a trailer hire from Rothwell Trailers (I highly recommend them!) We got the car, spare wheels and tools loaded up. Set the alarm for 4:45am and hit the sack!
At this point if you’ve been to a drift day yourself, or a car meet, or car show, you know what happens, the alarm goes off way earlier than you’re expecting it to, you get up get out of the house and quick as you can and hit the road, and this is exactly what we did.
The journey down there was pretty straight forward aside from Google Maps deciding to set itself to avoid motorways! That gave us a rather nice view of Nottingham centre!
Once we figured out what was going on we set it to not avoid motorways and got back on our way.
We finally arrived at Pod just before 9:30am and promptly got straight into briefing before unloading the car and getting swapping out the rear wheels. She was ready to do her first skid!
The morning started off pretty much as expected just trying to get her used to the feeling of the car when it breaks traction and then trying to make it break by stabbing the clutch pedal. As the morning progressed she start to get to grips with the car more and more and on a lot of occasions we saw the beginnings of her first donuts.
Lunch time came and we sat and chatted about how she was doing and talking over where she was struggling, the main things were:
- What to do once the car has broken traction and the steering wheel has gone to full opposite lock.
- To make sure you give it enough throttle to start and just listen to the engine to figure out whether the revs are up high enough.
- Not to pay attention to the cones for the time being. While they’re good for learning to control the car around them I Think the fear of hitting them was getting in the way of her learning what to do to get around them.
With these in mind she went back out in the afternoon in the only playpen that didn’t have cones and within minutes she was a completely different driver! To the point that before when she had spun out she would immediately let off the throttle and start again, now she was holding it and letting the car skid and feeling her way around what happens when she turns the wheel while the car is spinning up those rear wheels. Before we knew it she had performed her first successful donut, and then another, and another!
As the afternoon progressed you could see that the frustration of the morning had finally lifted, she was correcting herself where she needed to and most importantly she was having fun thrashing that Laurel around the pens, by the end of it she had not only done enough donuts to restock the local Krispy Kreme but had also performed several figure eights!
For me it was amazing to see her out there for the first time after years of watching me and wanting to have a go herself. I can’t wait for her next drift day to see her progress and who knows one day maybe we’ll be driving together!
If you’re thinking of getting started in drifting in the UK, I would definitely recommend checking out Santa Pod’s DWYB days as they offer fenced off, safe areas for you to get to grips with the cars. However I would also advise caution, if your car is lowered you will more than likely find you spend the day listening to bits of bodykit or exhaust bouncing off the ground just as we did.
In my previous post you might remember I mentioned that Lucy and I went on a road trip up to Shildon to pick up a welded diff. What I didn’t mention was what happened when we set off to head home. As we hopped back in the Discovery to come home, I turned on the headlights, first click everything was working normally, the dash lit up and the sidelights came on but when I moved the switch to the second position the headlights came on but the dash lights went out so did the rear lights!
At this point you’re probably thinking “Big deal! just get it home and look at it in the daylight!” This was the plan however not only could I not see what speed I was travelling at, but anyone coming up behind me couldn’t see me until it was too late. Eventually I decided to drive anyway using the rear fog light to illuminate the rear and occasionally using the interior light to check my speed.
This was working fine until we got out into the back end of nowhere and I went to put on the full beams… Everything went black! I couldn’t even see 2 inches in front of my face, whats more I had cars behind me that probably couldn’t see me and were more than likely wondering what the hell I was playing at!
After a bit of fiddling and hoping I was still on the road and not in a field I managed to get the headlights back on long enough to find somewhere to pull over and start investigating. Low and behold after much swearing, checking fuses (none were blown!), and fiddling with the switch I finally managed to get all lights (including the dash) working and we finished our journey home. After a bit more investigating and thinking about the problem, I decided it must be the switch that was the issue, since I managed to get all lights working again eventually just by fiddling with it. So I found a new replacement online and the following weekend I set about fitting it.
The process was relatively straight forward:
First disconnect the battery and leave everything for about 5 minutes. This is to ensure theres no charge still going to the airbag, you don’t want that going off in your face!
Next Remove the trim around the steering column, this can be done by first turning the two plastic screws in the bottom dash panel 1/4 of a turn, folding it down and then unscrewing the three cross head screws in the bottom of the steering column cowling.
Next you will need to turn the steering wheel 90 degrees this is so that you can access the first of the two T30 Torx bolts holding the airbag in place by going in underneath the steering wheel, Once you have unfastened this bolt then rotate the wheel through 180 degrees and do the same for the second bolt. Now put the steering wheel straight again.
Carefully remove the airbag unit and set it down somewhere safe, you don’t want this going off!
Next unfasten the 19mm bolt holding the steering wheel on, trying to make sure your steering wheel stays straight. Then you can unfasten the plastic connector for the wiring in the steering wheel you will need to pop this from its holding bracket first.
Once you’ve done this wind the nut back on a couple of turns and start to pull on the steering wheel. Having the nut in place will stop you from smashing yourself in the face with the wheel (unless you like the broken nose look!) Now you can start to pull on the steering wheel until it comes free, once it gets up to the nut you can then unfasten it completely and move the steering wheel out of the way.
The Switch is held in with two screws and a plastic tang, Remove the screws first then pop the tang with a small, flat screw driver the switch will then pull free and you can unfasten the two electrical connectors on the back.
To fit the new switch simply follow these steps in reverse and you are done. Now you can test your lights.
(The rear wiper will be fixed soon!)
Over the weekend Lucy and I spent some time prepping her C33 Nissan Laurel for its first EVER drift day.
This wasn’t as difficult as you might think. There are far too many people who think that in order to start drifting you need a million horsepowers, Wisefab all of the things, a full competition spec roll cage and a super expensive LSD among other things. But the truth is you don’t. The only things you really need are:
- A bucket seat and harness to hold you in place, there’s nothing worse than trying to maintain control of your car while being thrown around in the seat.
- Some coilovers, you probably could use lowering springs but if you’re going to do it you may as well do it right the first time.
- A rear wheel drive car, you probably can “drift” your front wheel drive Corsa with the aid of some freshly liberated serving trays from your local Maccies (MacDonalds) but lets be honest, it’s not the same!
- A Welded diff.
The Laurel already had most of these things, even though the car came with coilovers already on it we decided to put some fresh HSD coilovers on. We’d already fitted a bucket seat and harness for the driver, the only thing that was missing was the welded diff. After quite a bit of searching we found one for sale on Facebook Marketplace and headed to deepest darkest Shildon to pick it up. We could have welded up the diff that was in the car but since its harder (if not impossible) to get an MOT on a welded diff we decided it would be best to keep the open diff as a spare.
Then the weekend came and it was time to fit it.
This was pretty done pretty much as you would do anything on the underside of a car on your driveway, first chock the front wheels to make sure the car can’t move and crush you, next jack the back of the car up as high as you can get it (in our case we had to take the front bumper off as the car has many lows!) finally secure your car in the air with some axle stands, I placed these under the front bolting points of the rear subframe, the main reason being to keep the car secure but still give me as much room for manoeuvre as possible.
Next we decided to remove the drivers side rear wheel this was just to give us more space to get under the car and move around.
Now that the car was in the air the first thing to do is loosen the bolts holding the driveshaft in place, to do this it helps if you have someone with you otherwise you’ll be getting out from under the car a lot! Get them to put the handbrake on, this helps to keep the shafts from spinning. Unfasten the driveshaft bolts that you can see on either side of the diff, and keep working around, getting your helper to take off and set the handbrake again as you move the shafts around to the next bolt.
Once you’ve got all of the bolts free you should be able to pop the driveshafts out with a bit of force and move them out of the way.
Next is the turn of the prop shaft, there were four bolts here this time we also put the car in gear to stop any movement while getting these unfastened, finally you just have the bolts holding your diff in place and its ready to come out.
Since I already had one I decided to use a transmission jack to take the weight of the diff while I manoeuvred it out of the car, this made it much easier but if you don’t have one you can use a trolley jack, just remember that it isn’t going to be as stable so keep a close eye on it.
Finally, came the fitting of the welded diff, and fitting is quite literally the reverse of the removal, Where possible we used some thread lock on the bolts to ensure they didn’t start working themselves free.
So now the Laurel, and Lucy are ready for their first drift outing!
So after a while of drifting the Skyline with its new look, using and abusing the car on a daily basis (about 18 months), the fibreglass parts had gone through various breakages and fixes, and the paint was starting to look really scruffy. It was time to start thinking about a new look. I could of course go out and buy a new full BN kit, fit it, and paint it purple again, but I wanted to try something a bit different. There were also a number of things that I did the first time around that I wanted to make sure I fixed and did better this time.
So I started looking at options the first thing I wanted was to go back to using metal wings on the front, I did love the look of the fibreglass wings, however they turned out to be not as strong as I first thought they would be, and on several occasions the tyre had caught them and eaten a huge chunk out of them meaning they needed repairing. This could have been down to wheel fitment issues or it could have been down to how the wings were made, who knows? I was foolish enough to give my metal wings away when I took them off so now I had to hunt down some more. After some searching on Facebook and Ebay, I finally found some for sale and arranged to pick them up.
Next I wanted to look at options for new rear over fenders, after some searching I realised that (at the time of looking) I was severely limited on options, as many companies over seas will not ship fibreglass parts since they can sometimes get damaged, so I decided just to cut the destroyed bits off for the time being.
Next was the side skirts, I would have liked some Type M skirts but they’re rarer than rocking horse poop, and the ones that are available either need too much work to make them useable again, or have been hit hard with the scene tax bat! So I decided to go down the aftermarket route again, I really liked the Vertex side skirts, however, it soon became clear that nobody had any for sale and many places that did previously sell them were not stocking them anymore.
In fact it seemed that the only aftermarket skirts you could find in the UK at this point were BN. Thankfully there was a glimmer of hope for something a little bit different, I had emailed EPR about some Vertex side skirts and when they replied they as expected did not have any were not getting anymore in stock, but they did have one pair of DMAX side skirts left in stock. So after some discussion I agreed to buy them.
But what about the front and rear bumpers? You can find out about those and more that happened next, here.
For a long time I’d been wanting to get some form of aftermarket exhaust on the car to try and help it flow a little better but also because I wanted to hear the disticntive RB20 sound. I spent a lot of time looking at options and basically being told that nothing was going to fit the NA engine. So the next route was custom, this was a bit of an eye opener to be honest as I think I must have asked about 5 different people/places and was given quotes ranging anything from £250 to £1000 just for a catback exhuast making, I knew I wanted a shotgun tail pipe so I eventually settled on the cheapest option and had an exhaust made.
One thing the guy making my exhaust probably shouldn’t have said to me at the time (and probably SHOULD have said beforehand) was that it was his first time making a full exhaust! EEP! However when your stock exhaust has been cut off and he’s half way through building a new one its a bit late to turn back. So I had the exhaust made and overall it looked good! and sounded really nice, however it was also REALLY loud so in the end I had a silencer welded into it, so now it looks good, sounds good and is much quieter but not as quiet as stock.
Next I managed to find an unused Type 2 BN sports front bumper on eBay for an extremely cheap price so I made arrangements to go pick it up, and yes a BN front bumper will fit inside a Skyline and still be driveable.
I was also having some scrubbing issues on the stock front wings and since they’d already been rolled I decided it would probably be safest to get some wider than stock fibreglass wings.
Once I got the wings and the front bumper fitted up I fell head over heels in love with the look of the car! even without paint it looked the dogs danglies.
So now the front looked good but what about the back? Well luckily Knight Racer was just up the road from where I lived so I nipped up and grabbed a BN Sports rear bumper from them.
Once fitted I loved how the car was looking! The only problem was that now the poor thing was looking more patchwork than ever.
I could have saved up my pennies and got it the paint job it deserved, but instead I failed hard and went down the graffiti paint/rattle can route. Well, what I actually mean by failing hard is that when I first did the paint job it looked good but it didn’t take long for it to start looking tatty.
Still I was going to drift it and no doubt scrape it so no problem right?
For the next installments check out these posts:
So now that the Skyline had a different look what was next? More seat time? Don’t be silly! I could have and SHOULD have got myself booked onto another drift day at Pod but partly because it was at the time of year when Santa Pod stop all DWYB days in favour of the various car shows they hold, and partly because my tiny brain was listening to every man and his dog about “what my car needed next”.
Over the course of a few months until Santa Pod reinstated the DWYB days I started buying and fitting various adjustable arms starting with front adjustable camber arms (I didn’t need these as I already had enough camber on the front from the extended Lower control arms) because I felt I needed more control over how much camber I was running.
I added adjustable camber arms to the rear, I did need these as being a low powered car I needed to reduce the amount of grip on the rear to help it break traction.
Finally I replaced the already good enough extended front LCA’s with adjustable LCA’s (big mistake!!) at the time I thought I was doing myself a favour, now I realise I wasn’t I was simply making life harder for myself. After all this faffing around I got the car professionally aligned and everything was fine for a time.
While I was making these changes I was keeping an eye out online for a GTR bonnet (hood if you’re from ‘Merica) as I knew they were lighter than the GTS version and I also really like the look of them. One day, I got a message from a friend with a link to one for sale on Ebay and for really cheap! Whats more it was only an hours drive from where I lived, so I had to have it!
It had already been modified with Nismo style vents and at least from the photos looked like it had been done well. The problem was how was I going to get it home? I didn’t have a van, or anything that could transport it, so with a lot of rope and some knot tieing my cub scout leader would have been proud of I ended up driving home in the dead of night with the GTR bonnet strapped to the existing bonnet of my car.
Sadly the cold light of day revealed that the bonnet modifications weren’t as well executed as first thought. The hole sadly looked like it had been cut with a butter knife and the edges of the vent panel hadn’t been trimmed down at all. Still I fitted it to the car anyway with a view to tidying it up later.
However, it appeared that the universe had other ideas, while cleaning the car at the jet wash one day I found yet another poor execution on the offending bonnet… the paintwork! As I was spraying away with the jet wash hose I noticed that the paint was coming away in large chunks to reveal not one, but two colours underneath!
So the decision was taken to remove the GTR bonnet and replace the GTS bonnet for the time being.
It’s that time of year again, where just for one day we put down the spanners, and stop busting knuckles just long enough to spend some time with our families and friends.
I know these videos have done the rounds more times than I care to remember but to me they’re the perfect way of saying Merry Christmas to anyone out there following our blogs so far.
Who knows maybe at some point we’ll make one of our own, but until then, sit back hit play and enjoy…. again! 😉
So now that I had three drift days under my belt whats next? Well this is where things start to go a bit mental!
Ever since I bought the car, the one thing I didn’t like was the rust around the rear arches. There were two options to deal with this as far as I could see:
- Have all the rust cut out, and replaced with fresh metal professionally, then have most of the rear end resprayed.
- Have the rear arches tubbed, getting rid of the rust and then install fibrelgass overfenders.
The first option would cost the most and since I was now drifting the car it didn’t really make sense financially to fork out for all that work when I would potentially smash it up again at some point in the future.
The second option was less costly especially since I had/have a welder in the family, and would mean that I can change out the fibreglass overfenders whenever they were too far gone to be repaired again.
So I got my brother in law around and he set to work chopping out the rot around the arches, tubbing the rear arches for extra clearance and then he helped me install the overfenders I had bought from Kinzuru.
Next I decided to fit the Type 2 BN sports side skirts that I had also recently bought. They were pretty simple to install, I held them up to the side of the car with tape while I made sure the fit was correct and then drilled and riveted them on.
This was my first mistake, to anyone who fits side skirts, remember you need to be able to take them off from time to time especially if you, like me work on your car mostly on your driveway. If you don’t remove then you will only end up pulling and catching yourself on them until they inevitably start to break around the rivet… I really didn’t think that through!
I also had a set of rear spats from Kinzuru, and after fitting them, the rear end looked much more complete.
The next issue was the front, as now that I had the skirts fitted there was a step up between the stock front bumper and the skirts, making the lines of the car look a little weird. Thankfully I had bought a Type 1 BN (or at least this is what I was told) replica bumper from Kinzuru so now was the time to fit it!
Following an immensely enjoyable day at Racewars with JPOC, it was time to hit up Santa Pod again!
This time I didn’t have my trusty instructor with me, however Lucy did come along to give me some support. My plan was to start off by warming up in the playpens again, and then try and progress up to the medium course. By mid morning I was becoming more and more consistent with my figure eights, and by the afternoon it was rare that I would spin out at all.
I was starting to figure out how to push the car wider around the cones or bring it in closer all based on my inputs to the throttle and steering. Overall I was pleased with he progress I had made throughout the day, the only thing I didn’t manage to do was progress to the medium course.
I blame a combination of nerves and the sheer size of the queue for the main track was so long that I couldn’t actually see where it ended and the medium track queue started. Ah well next time for sure!
That time when I thought I would see if the doggo would sit nicely in the #skyline. He did but he looked like I was about to tell him to drive it! 😂😂 #smoldog #pupper #doggo #jackrussell #chihuahua #mixedbreed #deathorgloryblog #nissan #skyline #r32
My second drift day occurred at a charity event run by a car club known as JPOC. The event was a barrel sprint arranged to help raise money for the Midlands air ambulance. Despite it being a barrel sprint they also allowed drifters to take part to either do the sprint or do some mad skids up and down the empty air field. Overall there were around 50-60 cars in attendance, most were only interested in straight line speed runs, but there were a good few that were there to drift.
The fact that the only obstacles were two barrels at the other end of the field was both a blessing and a little daunting. It meant that while I could go mad and practice initiations without fear of hitting something, it also meant that I would spend most of the day spinning around while trying to mimic the other drifters on the field.
It was tonnes of fun although to start with I was also a little nervy. The main reason being that cars were only going out one or two at a time when drifting which meant every time I set off, the entire field was watching me…. or at least thats what it felt like!
My first run was pretty much as you would expect I set off to one side of the airfield at speed, smashed the clutch, turned the wheel in and immediately went full 360! The only thing masking my immense grin was the amount of smoking emanating from my tyres! Even though I had essentially failed in what I intended to do I was still enjoying myself!
Throughout the day I continued to try and try to do what the other more competent drivers were doing in manjiing up and down the field. Which gave me lots of opportunity to practice initiations until I was confidently initiating in second gear, in some cases managing to hold some decent slides and even a couple of decent transitions between!
As the day progressed I had various people asking to jump in with me as well as lots of people giving me some helpful advice …it turns out my nerves were completely unfounded, although I’m pretty sure many of the straight liners were getting a bit annoyed at the idiot who couldn’t drift taking up time on the field.
Now that I had my first drift day under my belt, and I had started to get to grips with clutch initiations. It was time to make some more upgrades and continue with ongoing work on the car. The first thing was to finally get rid of the 4 stud hubs on the rear and replace them with matching 5 stud hubs from an R33 GTST.
The process was slightly different to the fronts as I didn’t have a full hub setup to replace them with. So instead I had to take the hub assembly off of the rear of the car un fasten the bolts on the back of the hub and then with the whole thing suspended so that only the hub could move, hammer the hub free using a large socket on the back.
This also included upgrading the rear caliper brakes from the stock single pot to a much better twin pot set up. the process was relatively straight forward, however I did make one school boy error! I’d managed to put the calipers on the wrong sides (despite them having L and R stamped on them.) So while testing I found that the pedal would go soft while driving…. yup dangerous! If you’re ever not sure or your can’t see a stamp the bleed nipple always goes to the top of the caliper!
As a result of various discussions following the drift day I decided that since I didn’t know the history of it, I would replace the clutch with something that could stand up to more abuse. So I sourced myself a Stage 2 Competition clutch kit from Conceptua Tuning.
When I started to take everything apart I quickly realised that while there was a pretty good (but very old) Exedy clutch in there, since my car was a GTS it was running a smaller flywheel than a GTST would. Thankfully after speaking to Conceptua (who were extremely helpful, definitely recommend them!) I bought a stock RB25DET flywheel to bolt the new clutch to.
Next time I hit the track I wouldn’t have to worry about any clutch slip ruining my day.
In July I wrote about the reasons why I had bought a land Rover Discovery. All was going well for a few weeks, I was using it on a daily basis to get to and from work and even used it one weekend to visit family on the south coast of England… sadly this is where things took a bit of a downward turn.
While driving home, we got within a couple of miles of home when there was an almighty bang and suddenly there was little to no power. I pulled over and when I tried to set off again the truck wouldn’t move so I called a recovery truck and had it towed home. It was late so I decided I would deal with it the next day. the next morning I phoned a local Land Rover specialist who said they would get it towed to them to inspect it and diagnose the problem.
It took nearly a whole week for them to come back to me about it and when they did they said “something is wrong with the gearbox, it would need replacing and it would cost £1500 excluding VAT to do it.” Immediately alarm bells started ringing I didn’t want to pay for the gearbox changing when they couldn’t even tell me what the issue was, especially when they were asking for more than I’d paid for the actual vehicle!
So with the help of a friend I towed the lumbering beast home, and got to work diagnosing the issue with the help of more friends and several Land Rover owners forums. Eventually we diagnosed that transmission fluid pump inside the gearbox had died. This was indeed a case of replacing the entire gearbox, so I got to work stripping down the vehicle and removing the old box while I waited for a new one to arrive that I had bought from Ashcroft Transmissions.
Unlike my Skyline this is not a job you want to try doing without some form of transmission jack as the automatic gearbox in a Discovery probably weighs more than the entire engine AND gearbox from the 32! thankfully Lucy and I had just purchased one and with the help of our brand new jack (and after much swearing… I’m sure my neighbours now think I have Tourettes!) The old box was finally free from the vehicle.
About now you’re probably thinking “all you have to do now is fit the new one and hey presto job done!” And you’d be half right, getting the gearbox to line up and bolt back in IS indeed easy with the right tools, however unlike a manual box you need to measure the clearances between the torque convertor in the gearbox and the end of the bell housing, and between the flex plate bolted to the engine and the back of the engine. The first time I attempted the install I only measured the torque convertor to bell housing and as a result when I went to start it for the first time there was no drive to the wheels. What had happened was that the flex plate had been bent at some point causing the distances to be off by around 5mm. As a result when the torque convertor was bolted back up to the flex plate it pulled the torque convertor away from the gearbox disengaging the oil pump.
So now I had to take the whole thing apart again to fix it with the help of my friend Ste who now had a purple finger from the gearbox landing on it!! Thankfully I had already bought a spare flex plate that was in much better condition than the one in the vehicle (it was flat!) and I also had some spacers to put behind the flex plate to ensure the clearances were correct. Once back in one piece it was time to test again, and this time it worked!
With the help of my friends and the internet I had completed my first job on the Disco, and it was a massive job! From this article it probably looks like it took most of a weekend and it probably would have. But because I had no experience working on these vehicles and didn’t know all the little pitfalls and hidden bolt in the end it took me nearly 3 months of working on it in the evenings and weekends.
I’m really pleased I managed to do it and it just goes to show that with a little determination and persistence you can do almost anything you set your mind to.
So now that I had the basics done on the car it was time to take it to the track and start getting some seat time. I knew being my first time I wasn’t going to be doing anything amazing and I certainly didn’t expect myself to be linking the big track at Santa Pod I just wanted to start getting a feeling for the car and just see how I got on throughout the day. Thankfully my good friend and long time drifter Joe came with me to lend a hand and give me some much needed advice.
I started out simply driving around a cone getting faster and faster until the backend started to step out, this was to get a feel for how the car felt once it started to break free on the back. After a few minutes of doing this in one of the play pens, I then moved on to making the car break traction but kicking the clutch. It took a while to start getting a feel for this as the first few times you do this your natural driving instinct kicks in making you want to let off the accelerator (as though you’re about to change gear.) then when I started to get a feel for this I moved on to trying to stop the car from simply spinning out by trying to control the skid. This took most of the morning but by lunch time I was able to control a skid around a cone in a donuty fashion.
After lunch it was time to try and push myself again and move on to trying to figure eight around two cones. Sadly and though I did enjoy every attempt at it immensely this took me most of the afternoon to get one figure eight linked. There were a couple of important things I learned from this day, besides the basics of how to skid a RWD car.
1. Never be too hard on yourself, even when you think you’re starting to get it, don’t get mad at yourself when you mess up as this only leads to more mistakes.
2. It always helps in those early stages having someone more experienced there to talk over how you’re doing and what you’re finding difficult, if I hadn’t had Joe there with me I don’t think I would have got any where near as far as I did. In fact I’m pretty sure I would have still been spinning round making a smokey mess if it wasn’t for him.
3. Just enjoy yourself, you will get it in the end everyone learns things at different speeds so just because you know one person who managed to link the big course after one day on track, doesn’t necessarily mean you will. Just go out and have a blast!
Sadly all photos and video for this day have been lost.
In my last post I had just finished deleting the HICAS system, I had my first drift day looming and an ever mounting stack of parts in the garage so what was next on the list?
I wanted to make sure the car handled properly so I had bought myself a set of Daiyama adjustable coilovers from Japspeed, so I got to work fitting and setting them up. Installation was simple, after unbolting and removing the existing suspension I just slotted the new coilovers in, bolted them up and then got to work on setting the height, at this point I ran into a problem for some reason the front suspension would not go as low as the rear (and even that wasn’t particularly low!) So I ended up setting them to a more moderate ride height to even things out.
When I asked Japspeed about this I was informed that I had bought one of the last sets and that are no longer dealing with Daiyama and so could/would not be able to do anything about this issue. Ah well… At least I had some better suspension to allow me to have better control over the car…
While I had the car up in the air I decided to make a start with the swapping out the hubs for ones with 5 studs, I had bought a set of R32 GTST front hubs from my friend Joe, and managed to find some for the rear online. However since this was my first drift day I decided to leave the rear as 4 stud for the time being so that I could make use of all 4 tyres and wheels that came with on the car when I bought it. Since I was changing the front hubs and after speaking with Joe we decided that upgrading the brakes from the stock GTS calipers and discs was a good idea, as the original 4 stud discs would not fit so I sourced a set of second hand R33 GTST 4 pot brakes for the front and some 2 pot brakes for the rear (again they would be upgraded as and when I decided to do the rear hubs). I also bought new pads and discs as one thing I will not skimp on is safety.
Replacing the front hubs was a relatively straight forward affair, after removing the calipers and discs, it was as simple as unfastening a few bolts and then reversing the process to fit the 5 stud hubs. The brake upgrade was also a painless affair since I’d been given all the necessary hardware with the calipers it all went together with ease.
While the car was on stands I had also taken the diff out to have it welded up, so once that came back I threw that back in too.
now it was time to fit my new front wheels, as anyone who drifts knows its much easier to drift if you have spare wheels, and I did, the four stud wheels that were on the car when I bought it (plus a couple of spares I probably borrowed off Joe) but in order to free up the spares I had to buy something to run on the car in their place. I’d opted for a set of 16×8.75 XXR 527 wheels.
I’d liked the look of these wheels for a while and I wasn’t in the market for spending an insane amount on some genuine wheels, especially if I was going to damage them at some point! Other than being lower and having new wheels the car was still looked stock, but these wheels gave it a whole new look!
Finally as I had a Cobra bucket seat laying around from my previous car (the MR2 turbo) I threw it in the drivers side and also fitted a harness to keep me in place while going sideways, and I fitted a drift button to the hand brake so I couldn’t lock the hand brake on if I used it while drifting.
The car was now ready to hit the track!
So now that I’m Skyline owner what’s next?
Well obviously the car wasn’t going to stay stock as I wanted to get into drifting, but as it was close to Christmas I did want to just drive it around in its stock form for a few weeks, just to see if any issues reared their heads.
However, before I could drive it around I needed to be able to listen to music in it. The stereo that came with the car while being retro, funky to look at, and truly JDM, was pretty useless, being Japanese it didn’t have the frequency range that we’re used to in the UK for the radio so at best I could pick up a local station occasionally. It did offer the option of playing cassettes of CD’s but as I had two Cassettes and all of my CD collection was in storage (the loft) that wasn’t something I wanted to do. So I went out and bought an Alpine Bluetooth head unit.
The speakers also turned out to be on their way out, so I swapped them out for some new Alpine Type E speakers. Now I could drive around to my favourite tunes without the speakers farting at higher volumes.
For the first few days the car felt really nice to drive, however while driving up the Motorway to visit family over the Christmas period I notice that the backend felt a little unstable. This issue was caused by the HICAS rear wheel steering system, something I was planing on deleting anyway as I had read loads of stuff about it being useless on a drift car. I had looked at lockout bars for it, but for me this just seemed to be a sticking plaster solution. So after purchasing a HICAS delete kit from Driftworks. So I set about deleting the HICAS system once and for all with the help of my friend Joe.
This was relatively straight forward, we started from the back of the car by unbolting and removing the rear steering rack. Now that the steering rack was no more there were a bunch of pipes running from the HICAS solenoid valve in the engine bay, these also needed removing. It was a bit of a faff getting to it but we eventually managed to remove the solenoid and then removed all of the lines going to the back of the car as these were no longer required.
Next in order to stop power steering fluid piddling every where we had to do something about the two lines that came from the power steering pump and the power steering reservoir to the solenoid, we decided it was easiest for the time being to just use a piece of silicone hose to join the two as the line to the reservoir was a return anyway.
Now comes the tricky bit, removing the ball joints to fit the new bushes, after various attempts with C clamps, fire and just hitting it really, really hard! I ended up buying a bush removal kit. It’s basically a huge heavy-duty C clamp with various adapters for pressing bushes out.
This seemed to do the trick and before I knew it I had the new bushes supplied with the delete kit installed, all that was left now was to bolt up the brackets and then the arms, then finally get an alignment to make sure everything was pointing in the right direction.
At some point in time all of my previous blog posts about my Skyline project got lost, so sit back and let me tell you a story about my now beloved Skyline.
I purchased this car in early December of 2014, at the time I had a Rev 3 Toyota MR2 Turbo, and while I loved the car I didn’t really feel like it was something I could make my own and, it certainly wasn’t something I was going to be able to learn to drift in easily.
So after chatting with my better half, and also my friend Joe (also an R32 owner) the search was on for an R32 Skyline.
I had trawled all the usual places eBay, Gumtree, and Auto Trader, but there were very few in my price range. I started to search the Skyline Owners forums, and found quite a few for sale that were within my budget. I started messaging people to find out more about the cars but as is always the way I was either too late or some just didn’t bother replying to me (until several months after I had actually bought a car.) Then I got a message from Joe with a link to an eBay listing, the car was a Grey 2 door R32 GTS with an RB20DE engine for a very reasonable price. It was a fresh import and had only been in the country a couple of weeks, whats more it was local to me. So after chatting with the owner I arranged to go take a better look, and have a test drive.
I have to say that while I didn’t want to admit it in front of the owner (you should always play your cards close to your chest when buying a car!) I immediately fell in love with it. Aside from a small amount of rust on the rear arches and flakey clear coat on the bonnet, it was a very clean, unmolested example. So after agreeing a price I paid the man, sorted out the paperwork and headed home in my new ride. I was now a Skyline owner!
Last weekend I took a trip to Teesside Autodrome. It had been a while since I had been behind the wheel of my beloved R32 Skyline, and with the wintry weather closing in on us, it seemed like as good a time as any.
As with any drift event, the day started with my alarm going off at some unholy hour and hitting the road, in this case with Lucy in tow in her daily (as my support vehicle). We arrived at the track just after 8:30am and after signing on we got to work setting up my little pit area. My good friend Ste Warrior (who was instrumental in talking me into going in the first place) was also in attendance with his MK2 Ford Escort.
After briefing both Ste and I got ourselves ready to go out on track, I started off by going out for a few runs on my own just to get a feel for the West circuit again. It was where I had spent all of my time when I was last at this track and I set myself the goal of being able to consistently run this circuit without spinning, which for much of the morning seemed like an impossibility.
My early runs were very tentative, I kept my speed low, and more annoyingly I seemed to have forgotten how to initiate properly! For some reason when kicking the clutch I was lifting off the loud pedal and as a result I would either end up initiating too late or not at all.
Thankfully another good friend of mine Joe Birkett was on hand to point out where I was going wrong and after going back to the pits to adjust my front tyre pressures, have a drink and a chat about where he thought I was going wrong, I went back on track and sure enough things started to come good!
As the day wore on I found I was starting to enter the turns with more and more speed, and yes while on some occasions I was still spinning from time to time but not it was because I was pushing myself, NOT because I was being cautious.
By the end of the day my confidence in my driving ability had returned to normal, so much so that I even decided to have at least one go at the infamous (in my eyes) South Bank course.
Overall I had a blast, I got to spend time with my wife and friends doing something I love, and I look forward to doing it again soon!
Photo credits: Ste Warrior, Craig Johnston, and John Bearby