It’s always a pleasure to see people who just get it. But it’s even more of a pleasure when you see a car that’s been so well built that you walk away re-educated on what ‘well built’ looks like.
If you’re a long-time follower of Speedhunters then you’ll definitely recognize the name Nigel Petrie, the man behind Engineered to Slide. Years ago, Nigel created a very special kind of drift car. Well, technically it was a truck – a Toyota Hilux to be specific – but it was so intriguing to us that we gave him space to blog about the build as it progressed.
Nigel’s follow-up project is as equally intriguing; it’s also linked to the drift truck, because the engine in that came from this Nissan Silvia S13.
After years of it sitting semi-forgotten in his workshop, Nigel decided it was about time to bring it back to life. But while it was easy to make a statement with the truck, he was going to have to think outside the box if the S13 was going to have similar impact.
And the cool thing is, he’s managed to achieve just that by going back to the drawing board and taking the overall theme of simplicity that has defined his style one step further.
It’s all about refining the details, and that starts in the engine bay where an SR20DE allowed Nigel to create the most basic of drift cars. A naturally aspirated Silvia will push the driver to learn more about car control, but at the same time it’s the complete opposite of where pro drifting is headed these days. 1,000hp drift monsters? Nigel isn’t impressed; it’s extracting the performance with simplicity that gets his juices flowing.
With this build, the only way to do that was through good old fashioned engineering. It’s also why the engine is custom-mounted as far back in the bay as it could possibly go, just to get the weight distribution right.
I asked Nigel why he didn’t go with the SR20VE cylinder head, which in similar applications can make slightly more power and increase response. His preference is for the stock SR20DE head as he likes the angle of the intake ports how the long velocity stacks look in the engine bay popping out at that sort of inclination. The equal-length headers are a nice touch too, and no doubt bring a sweet tone to the motor once it’s buzzing close to redline. Look closely and you’ll see that Nigel has even upgraded and rethought spark distribution and how the Link engine management system reads both the crank and cam angles.
The reclined PWR radiator has plenty of room to breathe in the bay, and coupled with the engine’s rearward relocation and inner fender tubbing, it’s all refreshingly minimalistic.
The exterior is just the same; there are a few simple touches and additions at the front, but the rest is pure factory S13. Nigel will be having the whole car resprayed, but he’s planning to stick with the original colour and two-tone split, a wise choice indeed.
A great deal of work has gone into the chassis which has been heavily modified from the floor up.
The main thing was to push the seating position back in line with the B-pillars, as you would in any well-thought out race car.
The dash, or rather a custom binnacle housing six separate Defi gauges, followed. The whole ensemble protrudes forward over the extended steering column in a kind of simplified GT car look.
A basic custom aluminum center stack is mounted on the widened and reshaped transmission tunnel, from which the gearbox’s shifter lever pops out of. The second lever is the handbrake, or e-brake for you guys in North America, which utilizes the factory cable setup.
Of course, shifting the driving position rearward by such a large amount required the change over to an adjustable pedal box.
Nigel’s Silvia is probably the freshest approach to an S13 I’ve seen in the last couple of years, and I’m pretty interested to see what it looks like once the exterior gets cleaned up. He’s promised to have the car ready and working at the World Time Attack Challenge next year – we’re already looking forward to that.
Dino Dalle Carbonare