Look Cool, Have Fun: The Timeless S13
Stand Out With Style

Owning and modifying a popular car like the Nissan S13 be both a curse and a blessing. On one hand there’s something great about quickly and easily finding any part you need and having a endless sea of information available at your fingertips.

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Looking to install a particular component or perform a certain modification? Chances are there are thousands of others who have tried the same thing, and you can learn from their experiences exactly what works and what doesn’t.

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But on the other hand, some people don’t want to have the same car as everyone else. They see a car’s popularity as a drawback rather than a benefit. Because, what fun is it to do the same thing that everyone else does, right?

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So the question is, if you have a popular car and you want to stand out, what do you do? Well, there’s a number of ways you can attack it. Perhaps most easily, you could paint your car some crazy color or do some other gimmicky things to get attention, but I wouldn’t recommend that.

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Another option is to take a familiar platform and build it in a way that’s unexpected. A unique engine swap, for example. Or an aesthetic theme one might not associate with that type of car. If all else fails, you can just add a whole lot of horsepower and scare the crap out of people.

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But there’s a third way to make a common car stand out, and while it might sound easy it’s actually much harder to execute. With this method, rather than trying to do too much, the key is focusing on the details – nailing the little things to create something that stands on its own.

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The S13 you see here is definitely one of those cars. It’s owned by Sweden’s Christoffer Pettersson and it represents the street-inspired 180SX drift car at its very best.

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Christoffer grew up watching his dad build and race Volvos, and his first car was an ’04 Impreza STI, which he proceeded to fit with some bolt-on upgrades – wide wheels and a heavily dropped suspension. He enjoyed the ‘stanced’ Subaru for a while, but he soon found himself yearning for something FR that he could drive sideways.

Back To The Basics
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Even before he got the Impreza, Christoffer was a drifting fan. Not of the high stakes competitive world of pro drifting though, but rather at the roots of the sport – the stylish and simple cars pioneered on the streets and circuits of Japan.

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If there was one car in particular that inspired Christoffer it was the C’s Garage 180SX Type X, and in October of 2012 he purchased a bone stock ’89 S13 hatchback hoping to capture the spirit of that car.

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At the same time Christoffer was studying to become a metalworker/auto painter, so the first thing he did when he got the S13 was to tear down the old car for some rust repairs and a basic refreshing.

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Next it was time to address the motor. While the S13 is a blank canvas that can seemingly accept any type of motor under the sun, Christoffer knew he wanted to stick with the traditional SR20DET setup. He wasn’t big on the V8s that have come to dominate pro drifting and he knew the SR would be the right choice for his roots-themed build.

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It just so happens he had a friend who was selling a complete SR20DET motor setup from a zenki S14, and Christoffer knew that installing this motor would be a straightforward way to get the power he was looking for. Remember what I said about the benefits of building a popular car?

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While this SR was not a full race engine, it was thoroughly upgraded for both power and reliability. The bottom end was strengthened with ACL bearings, Eagle rods, and CP pistons, and up top are Brian Crower cams and valve springs, along with a GReddy intake and fuel rail with 1,680cc E85 injectors. The turbo is a Garrett GT2540 with a TiAL exhaust housing and a TiAL 38mm wastegate.

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The setup is good for about 410 horsepower to the rear wheels, and given the fact that Christoffer isn’t trying to become the world’s next pro drift champ, that number should more than suffice.

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When it came time to sort the car’s suspension, Christoffer got in touch with Driftworks in the UK who supplied CS2 coilovers, Geomaster knuckles, lower control arms, toe and traction rods and more.

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With the powertrain and footwork taken care of, the next step was to plan out the S13’s exterior. As mentioned a moment ago, one of Christoffer’s primary inspiration was the C’s Garage 180SX Type X, so when he chose his aero setup it was easy to go with Magic Aero Club.

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The Magic Aero Club Series 1.0 kit is based heavily on the OEM Type X parts, and when it comes to styling a 180 the Type X look will never go out of style.

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The kit on this car has also been accented with a Magic Aero Club roof spoiler, lower light panel and the essential set of kouki 180SX taillights.

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Rather than going for a bright exterior hue, Christoffer went with an understated bronze color that nicely accents the subtle body work. There’s also a dark red engine bay for a bit of contrast.

Style + Enjoyment
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Many consider the 180SX Type X look to be timeless, and it’s hard to think of a better wheel to complement this car than the equally timeless RAYS Volk Racing TE37.

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The bronze TE37s on Christoffer’s car measure 18×9.5-inch all around with an offset of +12.  Tires are 215/40R18 in the front and 225/40R18 in the rear.

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Because the car has been built primarily for drifting, the interior has been stripped of all the non-essentials. There’s a full weld-in rollcage from Custom Cages UK, finished in the same red color as the engine bay.

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The lone seat is a Bride full bucket with a Takata harness and the steering wheel is a Nardi Deep Cone.

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The rear of the car has also been stripped out, but Christoffer wanted to make sure the battery and fuel cell were set up cleanly.

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You’ll also find a Haltech Racepak IQ3 digital dash unit mounted in the factory location, handling all of the car’s instrumentation.

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Once he completed the build last spring, Christoffer got as much seat time as he could during the second half of the season at events like Gatebil. After going through two gearboxes and a diff, he’s realized that the drivetrain is the next area he needs to upgrade.

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Along with swapping in a stronger gearbox, he’s also planning on going with a more aggressive aero setup with deep-lipped Weds wheels and a D1 Street Legal-inspired livery.

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This summer Christoffer plans on competing in the Swedish Drift Championship, hoping to show that a stylish SR-powered car can still hang with the big boys. Whatever happens, he plans on having fun and not taking things too seriously.

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Christoffer’s car might not be the most powerful or exotic S13 in the world, but it doesn’t need to be. He’s nailed the basics, and with a keen sense of detail and style he’s built a car that can still stand out in a very crowded field.

What more could you need?

Mike Garrett
Instagram: speedhunters_mike

Photos by Peter Kelly
Instagram: speedhunters_pedey

Christoffer Pettersson’s Nissan RPS13

Nissan SR20DET Blacktop from S14, stress-bored block, ACL Calico rod bearings, ACL Calico main bearings, ARP head studs, CP 86.5mm pistons, Eagle rods, GReddy rocker arm stoppers, Brian Crower Stage 2 264-deg camshafts, Brian Crower valve springs, 1.5mm Cometic headgasket, Hardrace engine mounts, 1,680cc injectors for E85, GReddy fuel rail, GReddy short runner intake manifold, custom stainless exhaust manifold, Garrett GT2540 turbo with a TiAL exhaust housing, TiAL 38mm wastegate with screampipe, 3-inch exhaust by Halvarsson, Driftworks radiator with dual fans, XS Power intercooler, 2.5-inch aluminum intercooler pipes by Halvarsson, oil coolers for both engine and steering, Haltech P1000 engine management system, custom engine harness by Karel

Nissan S14 5-speed gearbox, Xtreme Clutch Stage 5 clutch, Nissan S14 diff

Driftworks CS2 (HSD) coilovers, Driftworks Geomaster 2 knuckles front and rear, Driftworks Geomaster offset rack spacers, Driftworks lower control arms front and rear, Driftworks camber, caster, toe and traction rods, Driftworks solid rear subframe bushings, Tein extended tie rods, Skyline R32 GT-R discs and calipers, stock S13 handbrake with upgrades from Conceptua Tuning

RAYS Volk Racing TE37 18×9.5-inch +12 wheels, 215/40R18 (front) 225/40R18 (rear) tires

Magic Aero Club Series 1.0 bodykit, Magic Aero roof wing, Magic Aero lower light panel, kouki taillights, widened and strengthened metal fenders

Custom Cages (UK) welded rollcage, Nardi steering wheel, Bride seat, Takata harness, Haltech Racepak IQ3 dash unit, bubble shift knob, full 3M/Peltor intercom system

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A GT2540, making 410whp? That's awesome.
What's the go with the TiAL rear housing?




econti I was thinking the same. I am wondering what kind of boost he is running.
That's such impressive numbers.


Wanna know how I keep my popular model car (evo 9) standing out from the crowd? I leave it 



And put money into replacing worn parts with genuine factory items. Not a new concept of course, but how often do you see it applied to a car with a massive after market. One day it's going to blow people's minds to see a stock Evo. It probably already will!


Soooo nice. Makes me really want my old 180sx back. :(


This is so true! I saw a stock Nsx once on i95 and I was more impressed that it was so stock.
I'n glad to hear this from someone else!


It's great to see a 180sx that isn't over the top with crazy wide bodykits, extreme negative camber with ground scraping stance and last but not least a over powered engine swaps. not hating all that i just said but it's something you hear all the time weather it's at the us,europe,asia,nz and australia. So really i can now say Christoffer i love the car and i hope you keep it as it is plus enjoy many years drifting in it.


Supernice car! Allthough i would have preferred it to come with japanese Tuning parts istead of all this UK-parts because of the JDM-roots-theme but however. nice car!


smithadamb Looking clean and stock is underrated, In a world of everyone trying to stand out, sometimes all you need to do is not try at all.


i love the outside, but prefer to have a full interior in a street car. the 50kg minus won't change anything, but ruins the comfort to a huge extent


Muhgail who tf doesn't want an S13?


I thought that was a misprint at first but then I saw it was running E85 through massive injectors and possibly high compression. Being from the U.K I'm not that familiar with E85 but those are impressive numbers.


@Hog Dog Even with E85 that's impressive. Actually you don't need 1680cc injectors to run a SR20 on E85... unless you go crazy with the boost.


what is this chain that connects the keys and some kind of red switch? Is it a kill switch or something like that?


bravo. well done sir, well done


Lavar Bowers Likes this...


BT180  Agreed, I miss having an s13...


jdmRob Yes, thats battery cutoff switch.


Being the owner of an schassis myself, ive found the best way to be different is to keep the car clean. OEM paint, stock body, completely stock interior.


@Frozenstar well, if I´m are 70kg, plus the 50kg of the interior, and is a little big change if you eliminated this


@Hog Dog Regardless of that, the GT25 family are a very small series and don't tend to like lots of boost through them (at least from what I've seen).
Very interesting, as I'm planning on using a GT2560 on my turbo E30 318is and from what I've heard they'll only just pull 300hp


Strangely enough.. I've got battery envy!


Clean simple build.  Best bro.


Pedro Gonz so is it the battery for the whole onboard electronics in bonus image no.5 from bottom?


LucasPetersmann pretty much anything connected to that battery - I don't get as excited with suspension and exhaust as I do with a beautiful wiring job and well done electronics, so all of the above, but that battery does rock pretty hard!


"But there’s a third way to make a common car stand out, and while it might sound
easy it’s actually much harder to execute. With this method, rather
than trying to do too much, the key is focusing on the details – nailing
the little things to create something that stands on its own."
Nailed it.
Lots of respect for this build and the patience it takes to not go overboard.  I went overboard with my Mustang and have since reeled it back in to a more OEM+ look.
410 RWHP is enough to be dangerous, I bet that thing is a ton of fun!  Enjoy it and keep up the great work!


The 17year old me just screamed like a 90's pre-teen at a Hanson concert.


Love it.


econti Looking at the size of the compressor housing it looks more like a GT3540r (aka GT3582r) instead of a gt25.  Hell a 2871r barely breaks into the 400's.

Also those injectors seem really overkill.  Typical rule of thumb is around 1.5x the injector size compare to gas.


smithadamb true but this is the other side of that coin.


I love this car, but it needs a hood.

Christoffer Pettersson

KylePearson Glad you like it, got a genuine Dmax hood waiting to go on now :)

Christoffer Pettersson

ChrisMcNamee Thanks dude! /owner

Christoffer Pettersson

Pedro Gonz LucasPetersmann Haha thanks!! :D //owner


Love it. I've been wanting to source an s13 for competition/bash purposes but after reading stuff like this I kinda want to build a nice streetable one...


I saw this car at the Gatebil event in Rudskogen this year, it is absolutely AWESOME. Very clean and absolutely my taste! Very well done!


Awesome 180SX!! Radiator carbon fiber cooling panel, made by?


Marco8188  pretty sure it's made by isis


Aahhh grass roots drifting is the best thing ever so laidback and relaxt love the roof spoiler and the vact that he is going to run 410 whp at a pretty high level
Btw street legal design are there any laws on that? i need a captain here


Just a clean and thought out streetable track build. Tons of quality fab work good enough for it to not look over built. Combined menu of choice parts without being over accessorized.


Personally I like the idea of an engine swap and keeping everything else stock looking ;-) some people think if you have a really cool vehicle you must be rich. I like to think their smart.


Great! Love it
Signature: http://www.juegosdematarzombiesgratis.com/ | http://www.juegosjuegosgames.com/


Loved the s13 kouki since i was 15 years old still holdin it down today now THATS a pure car right there


This is such a badass ride!


what is that battery out of? also such a clean s13! its nice to see this style is still something people strive for and kudos on keeping the SR! i freaking love that motor!


How much do sr20det injectors generally cost? I've been looking to get my hands on four. I have found a a site that sells them but I'm not sure if the price is fair or not. If you guys could point me in the direction of a trusted vendor I would really appreciate it.  http://www.frsport.com/FRSPORT-1213-Nismo-555cc-Fuel-Injectors-Set-for-SR20DET-KA24DE_p_1547.html


As far as paint goes, I really like how he did red for the interior of the hood area. I've been thinking of doing something like that with my car. I'll have to look into doing something like that as I get the auto body repair done. http://www.customkartops.com/gallery/auto-body-repair.aspx