Speed Challenger: The Bensopra 380sx

It was about three months ago, on my last trip down to the Kansai area of Japan, that I realized I was standing in front of THE car of 2013. As Ueta-san of BenSopra ran the plans he had for his 180SX-based project by me, it quickly became obvious that there wasn’t going to be one single car at the 2013 Tokyo Auto Salon that would come close to matching the sheer awesomeness of this machine. Needless to say, I was right. BenSopra did it last year with their GT-R, this year it’s the turn of the Nardó Special 380SX.

After what must have been a very long drive up from Kyoto, Ueta-san and his mechanic arrived at the Trust HQ just outside Narita last Thursday, the day before the start of the Tokyo Auto Salon. They had just finished the car the night before and rather than heading straight to the Makuhari Messe they were kind enough to meet me at the Trust so that Sean and I could shoot this impressive creation.

Once the car was unloaded from the transporter there were still some small touches that needed to be made, including applying a few stickers on the car like this custom made 380SX one. The car would then be stickered up at TAS that night by Art Factory, the guys that do about 90% of all the graphics for Japanese tuner and drift cars.

Miura-san has also driven all the way up from Kyoto, skipping a night of sleep in the process. Riding 6 hours in his very firm FR-S had given him serious back pain, but there was no time for rest, the one off BenSopra aero he had created still needed some work. The front bumper needed to be bolted to the splitter and the carbon fiber rear diffuser assembled and fitted to the car.

It all took some time but Sean and I were patient because we knew we would soon have full access to the car that will go down in history as the most extreme Japanese tuner projects ever created.

Of course what makes this car very special is that it combines a very fresh aero treatment…

…with one of the wildest engine swaps ever attempted on a Nissan RPS13.

The whole engine and drivetrain was literally ripped out of the ex-Blitz R35 GT-R that BenSopra based their 2012 project car on and then custom fitted into the much smaller 180SX engine bay. As Ueta tells us it was all a big, three-month long headache, but thankfully they had the masterminds at Trust to lend a helping hand. After creating the custom engine and transmission mounts to hold up and position both the VR38 and the Hollinger sequential transmission in place…

…it was over to Trust for a lot of custom work. The engine was firstly refreshed and fitted with a Trust 4.0L stroker kit and then dropped back in place in its new home.

With two big TD06-25G blowers and a planned V-mount intercooler/radiator set up there was a lot of work that needed to be done…

…and it all started off with a pair of custom fabricated stainless steel exhaust manifolds to position the turbines…

…in a top mounted layout, right next to the two banks of the engine. The external Trust wastegates are right under each TD06, within easy reach if the spring needs to be changed. More custom piping followed, this time aluminum that would plumb the whole intake system to the…

…horizontally positioned twin-entry intercooler. To allow this to fit the front section of the chassis and radiator mounts had to be cut away, a custom subframe fabricated up and bolted in place at the same time as the chassis was prepped prior to the build.

This is Toru Kawashima from Trust, the man responsible for all the custom work and fabrication, seen here holding up a “Nardo Special Edition TK-001″ plaque he made up for the 380SX!

Once the intake charge has been compressed and cooled it’s throttled through these billet 90 mm mechanical throttles, supplied by Osaka GT-R specialist Full Stage,

…and directed into the engine by the Trust larger capacity intake manifold. If by now your are wondering what the point of all of this is, well there is a reason this 180SX chassis needs the 1100 or so horsepower it is currently running. In a few months this car will be driven by Ueta around the famous Nardó high speed ring in the south of Italy where it will be attempting to get as close as possible to the 400 km/h mark (248.5 mph). The event is being organized by Option Magazine who has also invited tuners like Phoenix’s Power and Top Secret to join with their fastest R35 GT-Rs.

As you can imagine when the throttle is pinned to the floor this tuned VR38 has a pretty massive thirst for high octane fuel, which is contained in the 40 L ATL fuel cell…

…fished out and appropriately pressurized by a pair of Bosh Motorsport 044 fuel pumps.

It is then sent via braided lines to the Trust/GReddy fuel rails and onto the 1000 cc/min injectors which will be pretty much maxed out through all of the high speed attempt.

This fuel pressure regulator keeps everything in check. A pair of Trust 13-row oil coolers keep the big V6 within operating temperature…

…while this custom made Full Stage oil separator tank catches all those nasty blow-by fumes.

During the shoot the car was set to a more show-car stance ride height, easily achieved through the custom air-suspension that Full Stage built for the project.

These, much the Roberuta air-cups that a lot of people use in Japan, feature a regular adjustable coilover damper layout with a top-mounted air bag to allow the car to be lifted and dropped by a couple of inches.

Ueta says this suspension will allow the car to be far more stable at high speeds to help with stability around Nardó.

This is of the nicest angles to appreciate the BenSopra overfenders that Miura devised for BenSopra, having a similar rear recess that exposes the tires as done on the FR-S aero.

The wheels of choice for this project are satin black Enkei RS05RRs, measuring a massive 11J across at each corner, 18-inches in diameter. They run Advan A050s semi-slick rubber, 295/30R18 all round, which will hopefully hold up to the abuse of multiple high-speed attempts.

Ueta is confident the car will be able to reach some pretty impressive numbers in Italy, thanks to its custom gearing, potentially being the fastest car there.

A little peek through the driver’s side window reveals a very race-oriented interior. Aside from the custom carbon dashboard that BenSopra created, the 380SX has no trim to speak of…

…as it was all removed and thrown in the trash when the chassis was sent to Saito Roll Cage prior to the build actually starting. There it received a multi-point cage created to not only boost torsional rigidity, but also offer high levels of safety if the worst was to happen.

Ueta purposely didn’t fit the rear gate and side windows so that people at the Tokyo Auto Salon would be able to have a good look inside and appreciate all the work that has been done to the shell.

Ueta will sit in the Bride Zeta III bucket when piloting the car…

…and will be able to keep an eye on a ton of parameters and read out through the AIM digital display. There are two wideband lambda readouts, one for each bank of cylinders, the easiest way to notice if any potential problems with the engine arise.

The custom carbon-look center console is where all switchgear has been laid out on…

…including Trust’s new Profec boost controller which looks like something out of the future!

Engine management is handled by this Vi-Pec V88 stand alone ECU which has so far been set up with a base map. Ueta would have loved to have all fuelling and ignition maps sorted out for when the twin TD06s will run full boost but there isn’t a roller or hub dynamometer out there that can read the actual torque numbers the tuned VR churns out. They have seen 120 kgm (867 lb/ft) on one dyno but then error messages followed as the system maxed out. They are left with no choice but to finalize and fine tune the mapping on the street.

It was truly fascinating listening to Ueta talk about the car and what he hopes to achieve with it. In the short year and a half BenSopra has been active he sure has made a big impact on the Japanese tuning world!

I couldn’t stop looking at the 380SX, sitting there with its massively wide stance, almost awkwardly styled hood that just barely clears the massive twin-turbo V6 that sits under it…

…and of course that raw rear end.

The rear spoiler with the big centrally mounted stays has become a defining factor of both BenSopra and TRA Kyoto and along with the carbon multi-piece diffuser will help keep the rear end firmly pressed onto Nardó’s black top as those rear A050 attempt to unleash the 1100 plus HP. The BNR34 rear end is equipped with an ATS carbon LSD that should help get the best out of the sticky tires.

Along with all the work under the hood Trust also fabricated a one-off, full-straight exhaust system which exits centrally through the diffuser. I though the BenSopra R35 was loud until Ueta started driving the 380SX around the Trust HQ!

The rear bumper wasn’t completed in time for TAS, leaving the chassis exposed. I actually quite like the way the car is at the moment, it somehow looks more functional without a bumper!

To give a little contrast to the flat white body the roof was wrapped in carbon-look vinyl. The large Speedhunters sticker is there to help with performance of course.

The next days will be crucial for Ueta and his mechanic, they need to finalize the set up and engine mapping before the car is loaded onto the container and shipped off to Italy.

If for some reason they won’t make he will have to wait for the next Option event that will be held there.

Knowing Ueta, if the car won’t make it to Nardó I’m sure he will hit a few tracks here in Japan and drift the hell out of it! After what he has told me time and time again, the cars he has so far built have been done for pure fun, so why not enjoy them!

Specs:

Engine: Trust 4L stroker kit, Trust exhaust manifolds, Trust TD06-25G x2, Trust external wastegaes x2, Trust custom straight through exhaust system, Trust custom piping, Trust custom V-mounted twin entry intercooler, Full stage mechanical throttles, Trust intake manifold, ATL 40L fuel cell, Bosh 044 fuel pumps x2, custom surge tanks, braided fuel lines, adjustable FRP, Trust fuel rails, Trust 1000 cc/min injectors, Trust 13-row oil cooler x2, Fulll Stage catch tank, Trust radiator, Vi-PEC V88 ECU

Transmission: Hollinger 6-speed sequential, ORC triple plate clutch, BNR34 rear end, ATS carbon LSD

Suspension: Full Stage air-cupped adjustable coilovers

Wheels & Tires: Enkei RS05RR 11Jx18, Yokohama Advan A050 295/30R18

Exterior: BenSopra X TRA Kyoto full aero, BenSopra one-off hood

Interior: Saito Roll Cage custom multi-point roll cage, spot & seam welded, Bride Zeta III bucker seats x2, BenSopra carbon dashboard, AIM digital dash unit, custom center console, custom switchgear, GReddy Profec B boost controller, custom gear shifter, hydraulic e-brake

Ben Sopra

Trust

Enkei

TRA Kyoto

-Dino Dalle Carbonare

Pictures: Dino & Sean

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,



222 comments
kayzakiwong
kayzakiwong

What's with the front brakes? the disk is too small ain't  it? Should been replace with a bigger one I suppose..

Karel021
Karel021

with that amount of money spent on this build.. WHY do you install 3xbosch 044  ??? sounds so stupid, if one fails you will probably end up with one rod in 2 pieces or an pistons with an ventilation hole in it. Go for one big instead.. such as weldon 2345 perhaps? 

DavidMcauliffe
DavidMcauliffe

we need videos and sound of this monster going flatout. this car is awesome, so much awsome

bigbenlee1992
bigbenlee1992

omfg that must be a fukin beast! to drive. i wish i had ten mins with it. weird engine choice though for drifting

@turbothomas
@turbothomas

will this aero kit be available to purchase in the US anytime soon?

hanablemoore
hanablemoore

206 comments on one post. love it or hate it this car has to be the most popular car in speedhunters history. LOL. i love the idea and what they are trying to accomplish. I wish them the best of luck and hopeful nothing goes wrong. Even though they are having fun crashing at 240 mph can really mess up your day cage or not it will f*cking hurt. Hope NISSAN  is paying attention to this rwd gtr (basically what it is)and build one too. Because this post generated alot of interest in such a vehicle. I like it without the rear bumper too. It looks raw. i like raw. Anyway excellent car and article. Does anyone have a clue how much is a VR (just the engine) cost in dollars? i m just curious

Miguel Newera
Miguel Newera

Heard something interesting today from the horse's mouth so to speak. The entire fuel system for this car came from www.kinokuni-e.com

Few will know why, but those who have seen their A/N fittings in their hands and know the differences in quaility will...

Nice to see little details like these.

 

JDMized
JDMized

Words on the street suggest this car was not ready to be shipped to Nardo. Not the people involved in this project will have plenty of time to fix some of those aero flaws :)

SteveKeegan
SteveKeegan

Any video of this car driving?  I'd like to hear it open up. 

tenpennyjimmy
tenpennyjimmy

I'd love to join in the controversy on this car but i can't make out the  pictures! Quite often the images on SH appear heavily pixellated on first opening the page and i have to key shift+A to bump the display resolution. Fine. But i've noticed that a few of the recent posts refuse to impove res, no matter how many times i do shift+A. It's frustrating 'cos no matter what else might be said Mr D C, i'm sure the car & photos are gorgeous... i just can't see 'em properly. Any ideas how to fix? Thanks.

Nikhil_P
Nikhil_P

:o this car is nuts!! love how raw the rear of the car looks!

please tell me someone is going to be covering the event!

MichaelOmuteku
MichaelOmuteku

pictures are cool n all, but can we get some video? :O

JMoore
JMoore

Good luck in Nardo!

EricSeanDelaney
EricSeanDelaney

Not sure if I missed it or not, but is it AWD? I assumed it was with the swap from the R35, but not too sure.

Miguel Newera
Miguel Newera

To avoid confusion, this is the air suspension system used: http://www.roberuta.com/english/index.html

These systems by Robertura are fitted to Ferrari 458 and other supercars as factory options. They don't affect suspension performance when not in use.

Chris7opher
Chris7opher

What a crazy build, personally I don't think they will achieve 400Ks, but this is a really unique build none the less. Very cool. 

dareupgang
dareupgang

Like many have said we have to wait and see til project is completed, I think they have adequate power on tap, it comes down to the aerodynamics now, power weight ratio is great but more importantly is finding the balance between coefficient of drag and down force. A lot of people harp on the Bugatti's power but its more its shape and down force that play a key roll 

Turo
Turo

Wowww What a beautiful perfect build!@!! Very clean and innovating for an 180sx!

James Cortez
James Cortez

Folks, here is the fomula to top speed: Assuming no aerodynamics modification, standard car with say 220 HP top 220 km/r. then with 1100 HP the theoretical max achievable is: (1100 HP/220 HP) to the power 0.33333 then multiply all this by 220km/hr = 376 km/hr. 

 

Any comment / remark?

KStyle
KStyle

The best thing about this car for me is the original concept by Kei Miura. Ie without that bonnet/hood. Note that unless they are one and the same the Fuel cell is a Fuel Safe cell and not an ATL fuel cell. There seems to be a general belief that this car/kit was created to break 400km/h. I don't think this is true. Rather it was an opportunity to use a spare motor and to update the rocket bunny kit with some ideas from his (Miuras) FR-S.

I love fanboys
I love fanboys

Hella flush and hella fail, to much form and not enough function. There is 0% chance of this going 400kmph they might as well of said they where Intending to take it to the moon. Cool car I'd love to own it. It's great reading all the comments, apexdna and jdmized and a few others at least seem to have a basic idea on speed. I mean look at other cars competing for top speed records at Lamborghini in nz pushing 1400whp couldn't break 360 and down the Texas mile cars making more power aren't getting 400. Has anyone seen the surface at nardo, it's fucking shit if you wana go 400kmph choose somewhere a bit more safe and sensible. I bet the car doesn't even make it to nardo and even if it does I doubt it breaks 350 or even 330

RBJKT
RBJKT moderator

SO much to love about this car. Nice write-up Dino... @sean, that 3/4 shot of the rear is #FKNAWSM

Miguel Newera
Miguel Newera

Dino, I'd suggest the persistent spammers should just be banned from posting on Speedhunters... They contribute nothing worthwhile to threads like this and just make it unpleasant for genuine enthusiasts to read comments which in turn may repel some from visitting Speedhunters. Few like to waste time reading such comments. More importantly there's the issue with how embarassing it may be for tuners to read derogatory comments posted on Speedhunters.

Make a warning - and if people refuse to be respectful of priviledge simply strip it off them.

datsunsss
datsunsss

Speedhunters' Car of the Year 2013... Just saying... :D Great article guys, top stuff!! Thank you.

sprinterGLS
sprinterGLS

I hope this car makes it just to shut everyone up! your car hasnt been featured on SH so deal (at all the critics)

NormanCarpio
NormanCarpio

I think everyone should hold their comments until the car records some data. EVERYONE thinks they know it all and they need to check their ego. 

Miguel Newera
Miguel Newera

I find it a saddening that people find it appropriate to use comments to criticise someone's hard work they're having the FREE priviledge of seeing, even before it's finished. Bear in mind Bensopra.com wanted this car shot so people like you could see it and they WILL be reading these comments. If so many negative comments are made of Japanese tuner's cars, then don't be surprised when they become less keen to have their cars shot for you to feast eyes on.

Would you really rock up to a tuner's stand at TAS and tell him your opinions so strongly? Most wouldn't, so why spam the hard work you see before you with negativity? What's wrong with people these days? If you don't like what you see, fine. Shut up and ignore, or go somewhere else.

 

777
777

it's just going to be another top secret supra at nardo, it will go fast no doubt, but i cannot ever see it getting to 400, i'm thinking that some of the r35s going over will be quite surprising in there top speeds 

RBPS13
RBPS13

Whoever said that this car isnt capable of the task at hand, im sure YOU guys do know that trust/greddy have had their fair share in le mans protoype racers in the 90's, which means Ueta-san knows what hes doing. im sure they got along way to go in finishing  this beast, but i dont see why people are bashing this soo bad... like why you guys hating so much  lay off the haterade.....you guys  couldnt build something like this in your lifetime, keep your opinions to yourselves. If you dont have anything good to say then dont say it.

BlackJacket
BlackJacket

I like it, im big a big geek when it come to super clean plumbing, this one pulls it off 

DomoKun
DomoKun

Crazy machine!! Please try and get a go pro or some kind of camera stuck to it when they're street mapping it lol.

Mighty_Mite50
Mighty_Mite50

You know what this is? A 2013 version of the Napier-Railton that Mr Moore posted a few days ago. A ridiculous engine in a chassis that is, to be fair, not ideal. And I love it just as much! All this noise being made in the comments about aero this-and-that, cooling, brakes etc...It's NOT a race car for heavens' sake and it's not a purpose built land-speed record setting machine either. Can't we just enjoy it for the statement that it makes? and not what you think it should be?

PS love the shots Dino, keep up the astounding work.

jjpae86
jjpae86

Let us know if and when this thing runs at Nardo!

 

 @JDMized All you do is complain on this website, either about the cars or the article. Why keep coming back?

timuchin__
timuchin__

Will they sell this sexy body kit?

jd
jd

Where are the gas station pictures. Can't have a Rocket Bunny kitted 180 without them!

Spike4090
Spike4090

Great read !! But after thinking about the name "380SX", I think it should be 400SX. Since the Thrust 4.0 liter kit is installed, not the stock 3.8 kit. I want to see this monster drift the first corner at Suzuka. Or a top speed run dow the Wangan. Something, anything. Extremely hyped about this car. 

SlideOrDie
SlideOrDie

The jealousy that envelopes this comment section is immense. Setting up such a lofty goal is just a gag for them. All the concern for the rollcage is ridiculous. I'm glad you all are so concerned with Ueta's safety but all that needed to be said was that the rollcage may need a revision, not all this gibberish about how incompetent they must be. Whether anyone else believes it or not, I'm sure this car is set to impress in Italy.

VecTT
VecTT

Whether it hits 400kph or not, mad props to the guys for building something original and a real monster!

ComJive
ComJive

I'd be right there behind them if we were still in the "i dunno try this!" phase of aerodynamics in the 1960s. Trial and error is only acceptable if the thing you are trying is something that hasn't been done before. Getting a car to do 400km/h is something that HAS been done before, making any trial and error irrelevant. There's information available to anyone with the means and inclination to go 400km/h (i.e. a team of Japanese tuning giants). If they were trying to build an S13 that would be the first S13 to do a barrel roll and stop in mid-air, then we'd have no room to suggest they should do anything, but they're not doing that, they're aiming for a goal which the whole of automotive experience up to this point suggests they will not achieve. For comparison, the record at Nardò is (or was, dunno if anyone's beaten it) 251mph (A bit higher than the goal of 400km/h, which I think is around 248mph) in a Mercedes C111-IV, an exceptionally low car, shaped like a fish with covered wheels, and with a 500bhp twin-turbo V8. That car had a drag coefficient of .195. What's the drag coefficient of this car? (btw, to people doubting the critics of this aero, almost the entire knowledge pool on aerodynamics is available to the public for anyone willing to study and understand it. Only current top-level stuff, LMPs and F1 stype aero, forces people to speculate. But taking the time to actually learn about this stuff isn't impossible witchcraft)

 

HOWEVER (don't know why i'm going to write this because I doubt anyone will even  finish the first paragraph), it is fun to get a group of mates together and build a car to try something, even if you eventually fail. If you look at this car as the product of huge tuning companies, then yes, it's obviously flawed. but if you see the car for what it actually is, several friends getting together to try and get a car they like to go as fast as possible, then the story becomes quite different. I suspect any of these guys would be pleased even if the car couldn't hit 285km/h, because building a car with your friends is fun even if you don't succeed. I think that's #2 in the handbook of building a car, and that's why i like this car, and wish them luck, even if I'd have done it differently.

 

also, I can't even begin to imagine how uncomfortable Ueta's going to be. Nardò is the antithesis of smooth tarmac, lol

Kitch
Kitch

Haterz gonna hate, Potatoes gonna Potate...

I like this 'give it a metric sh1tload of power' approach to setting speed records.  Does it really matter if it hits the magic 400kph or not?  It's clearly not been in a wind tunnel, nor had any FEA conducted on it but I'm pretty sure that's not really in the spirit of things anyway.  It looks cool, its got massive power, its built by people who like having fun. 

I'm looking at it as something similar to the salt flat racers - a bit underground, a bit trial and error.  OK, the Trust involvement maybe removes it from your average garage enthusiast but for the most part its grass roots.  Go there, blow it up, come back and make it better.  Rinse and repeat..

 

zamm333
zamm333

this. is. amazing. No criticism at all on anything. and to anyone who is, shut the hell up. Some of the best tuners in japan came together to make arguably the most badass s13 ever built and i would not question the anything that they're brain pool came up with. This thing is incredible and i was waiting on the day someone put the vr38 in a more worthy chassis. godspeed to Ueta.

FunctionFirst
FunctionFirst

Everyone's a critic.

 

Regardless of the hype and all the negativity from JDMized (SURPRISE!!!), I enjoy the spirit of Japanese tuners. Whenever something like this is created instantly everyone becomes a professional engineer and Andrew Brilliant's third cousin's sister's uncle, twice removed. It seems like what's largely forgotten about the brains behind this project is that they, and many other tuners, are in it for the journey.

 

Cold calculations, wind-tunnel testing, estimations, just take away from the FUN factor of discovery, of trial and error. That's what I like about a project with lofty aspirations like this. They see an opportunity, an obstacle and they rise to the challenge with a nonchalant "f*ck it, let's do this" shrug of the shoulders and off they go.

 

And as it's been said before, it's not even finished yet, so knock it off with the armchair engineer judgements. If they attempt and fail in a blaze of glory, it's still cooler than anything you're doing right now.

Daniel Gardh
Daniel Gardh

JDMized:Maybe the car isn't ready for the day of the "record" attempt yet?  Or are they purposely going to run it without a rear window... Why don't you drop your attitude and wait and see what happens? With regards to breaks.. I am sure they will sort that as well, if Trust is involved they have a lot of things to put there that will make it stop, can not see why that would be an issue at all.. Same goes with tires.. But hey, it's fun to complain right?


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