Canadian Envy: Where The JDM Runs Free
Land Of The Free?

As an American auto enthusiast, and even more so a Californian, it’s extremely hard not be jealous of our Canadian friends to the north. Sure, California and the American West Coast might be considered one of the best places in the world for being a car enthusiast, but it isn’t all sunshine and fun down here.


First off, there’s the smog laws. Modifying any car built after 1975 regardless of how much you plan on driving it is going to be a pain thanks to the strict emission laws in this state. Why can a 1975 Datsun 280Z be modified and enjoyed however you please, while an identical 1976 280Z cannot? Because California.


And while the USA’s federal import laws now allow people to bring in vehicles 25 years or older, getting those cars registered here in the Golden State is another matter entirely.


For years we’ve looked at our Canadian buddies with envy, thanks in large part to their ability to get their hands on imported JDM machinery with ease. The availability of imported cars might be a stupid reason to move countries, but I’d be lying if I said it hadn’t crossed my mind at least a couple times.


So, it’s not surprising that when my fellow Californian Larry Chen traveled to Quebec for the Formula Drift Canada event, he selected a proper JDM vehicle as the recipient of our FeatureThis award at the Offset Kings Car Show.


The car is a C33 chassis Nissan Laurel owned by Roch Mirandette, and it represents everything that’s great about Japanese four-door sedans from the ’80s and ’90s. With its sleek hardtop styling, the C33 Laurel was a pretty cool car in stock form, and if specced the right way it wasn’t too far from being a Nissan Silvia with four doors.

Four-Door Style

When Roch acquired his C33 from Japan a couple years ago, he wanted to take things a step further. His plan was to transform the Laurel into a four-door GT-R of sorts, loaded up with the radical style that Japanese drift cars are known for.


The C33 was available with a few different engines from the famed RB family, and when it came time for Roch to modify his, he went straight to the top of the food chain – the RB26DETT from the Skyline GT-R.


Rather than going with a full-on race build, Roch has kept the modifications to the RB26 relatively mild. After all, even in stock form this is still one of the greatest engines to have ever come out of Japan. Instead of a big single turbo setup you see on a lot of modified cars, Roch is still running the factory twin turbochargers.


Modifications include an upgraded intercooler from an R33 Skyline GT-R, along with a pair of Blitz blow-off valves, high performance down pipes and an aftermarket 3.5-inch exhaust system from Japan.


The transmission is an RB25DET 5-speed with a Nismo single-plate clutch, and it sends the turbocharged power to a Cusco 2-way LSD equipped rear end.


Next up was the suspension, and in order to get the Laurel sitting right and sliding with ease, Roch ordered a set of fully adjustable coilovers from Parts Shop Max. While he was at it, he also fitted one the brand’s subframe bushing kits to help stiffen up the decades-old chassis.


For other suspension and chassis upgrades, Roch turned to the Cusco catalog and fitted a set of the company’s signature blue camber plates, as well as upgraded tension rods and sway bars.


There’s a certain style that you expect from a four-door Japanese drift car, and when it comes to exterior parts it’s hard to argue with Roch’s choice of a full body kit from URAS – Ken Nomura’s well known tuning shop in Fukuoka.


The URAS kit gives the Laurel a classic street drift look, and along with the new aero parts the car was treated to some additional bodywork including custom widened rear fenders and pulled fenders up front.

The Classic Look

Choosing the right wheels would be another challenge for Roch, but in the end you can’t disagree with his choice of SSR Viennas. The deep-lipped SSRs just give the Laurel that perfect late-1990s/early-2000s drift machine vibe.


The Viennas measure 18×9-inch with a -1 offset up front and 18×10-inch with a -1 offset in the rear, while the tires are stretched Michelins, 215/40R18 and 225/40R18 front and rear respectively.


Inside the Laurel’s cabin you’ll find a full Cusco 8-point bolt-in rollcage along with a Bride bucket seat to keep Roch secure when it’s time to let the RB26 sing.


Other interior upgrades include a full line-up of Defi gauges as well the quintessential Nardi steering wheel. Don’t forget the double-DIN Sony stereo deck which received TV broadcasts back in Japan but probably won’t be of much use in Canada.


Roch’s C33 is the perfect example of a fixed-up four-door. It’s got classic drift car styling and with Skyline GT-R muscle under the hood it has more than enough boosted power to back it up.


And to my friends north of the border, how about a trade? We send you some of our sunny California weather and you send us some of your bitchin’ JDM imports.


Deal? Let’s make it happen.

Mike Garrett
Instagram: japanifornia_media

Photos by Larry Chen
Instagram: larry_chen_foto



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Is it just me or is that lacking a B-pillar? If so, that's awesome...


TylerHorne That's typical for Japanese 4-door Hardtop style.


I have a copy of the modifications required to federalize an R33 Skyline and apparently, all that's required to make the car "crashworthy" in the US is to add some gussets to the base of the A-pillar, and raise the door impact bars.

That's it, at least structurally. Most of the mechanical systems are identical to the Z32 and S14 chassis, RB26 aside.


I'm pretty sure quebec  banned highly modified suspension and RHD cars recently.


gundanium2002 but that's not really Canada, is it?  Not really.


gundanium2002 yeah in 2010. Apparently they're fine if they were registered before March 31, 2011 or if they're 25 years old.


In Québec, we have a rule banning "Hellaflush"  litterally ( ).. And noisy cat-back.. And performance suspension (air included).. And tinted lights.. Aaand we have 5 month of snow.. Not the province with the greatest liberty, but damn! we love cars


Cali sun for some JDM imports? DEAL! Fell in love w this thing, total fan of the build


The other edge of the sword is that in Canada there are a few odd hoops to get through about home built cars and kit cars.


brunob45 Which is why many of my Hull / Wakefield  Quebec friends keep a "primary" address in Ontario, so they can get the cars registered and licensed in Ontario, but still have the benefit of depanneurs.

That being said, many or the roads in Quebec are in bad condition, so I wouldn't want to ride with the suspension too low anyway. Plus you have to have snow tires on your ride for winter by law.


BenjiEsau1 There might be a few hoops but it really isnt that hard. Home built is really easy, kit cars are a bit harder but mostly it has to do with sourcing parts in canada before having to source them elsewhere.
but we also have free healthcare so we are still on top (both figuratively and geographically)


Jimmy Kimmel dont forget the single payer health care system!


gundanium2002 Quebec also makes rumblings about leaving the country every now and then. take them with a grain of salt please.


Looks good. May be that the 4 dr GTR is not available in Canada. There are a few good examples in Australia, with at least 2 in Canberra.
One, a GT-R and the other a GT-T in 4 dr sedan. Both on the equalise my BNR32 chassis IIRC.


Damn thats a good looking sedan right there. Well done, sir. Well done!


uras magic


In most parts of Canada insuring a RHD vehicle for a daily can be extremely difficult. But let's face it, I'm gonna try anyways


@Difinity We do have 4dr GTR imports in Canada as well. There are actually quite a few rolling around here.


More cars like this. Oozes style imo.


brunob45 You forgot to say that its illegal to plate RHD cars, except if they were plated prior to 2011


Emptypie I believe if you're street legal under highway traffic acts you need to be provided insurance. The issue being insurance companies won't touch you if you have performance or suspension mods. So you have to go to the place high risk drivers who have DUI's and whatnot go. Gotta pay to play.


Damn I miss my c32 facelift -88 Laurel now...


In NZ we call these Lauries. But I'll be damned if I have a Laurel as my desktop wallpaper! Nice try though SH :P


@Difinity 4 Door GT-R? They are rare as rocking horse crap. Do you just mean 4 door Skyline? Also GT-t is only for the R34. The R32/33 equivalent is called a GTS-t.


CharlesSangollo brunob45 Or if the car is 25 or older


Exterior wise this is every laurel that was ever built in NZ from 2002-2012


Emptypie In Ontario and Quebec especially it is difficult. In the rest of free Canada it is very easy to get insurance for daily RHD. Full comprehensive and collision coverage is no problem to get in the promised land Alberta!  There are different requirements for safety inspection in each province but the minimum needed on most imports is only daytime running lights.


@ghidorah Emptypie ^this is not nessasary if your car is 1988 or older no daytime running lights for ae86's!


CEL400 there's one just a block down from my buddy's house in lethbridge :)


hypodermic yeah cuz it's the dankest

dank as a plank


John Key NZ do not reject the dankness of URAS "Laurie"

dank desktop denial



I highly doubt anyone in Canada owns one of the 485 Autech Sedan GTR's that were made.


"And to my friends north of the border, how about a trade? We send you some of our sunny California weather and you send us some of your bitchin’ JDM imports."

So the CHP can crush 'em?