Throwback: Hiroshima Hero – The Bad Quality Sunoco 180SX
2024 Intro

Every Japanese hero car has hero modified versions – builds that all others are measured against. Keiichi Tsuchiya’s TEC-ART’S-built AE86 Trueno springs to mind, as does the Mine’s BNR34 Nissan Skyline GT-R. But these hero cars don’t have to be high-end creations; sometimes the most memorable builds have more humble origins.

Case in point, the Bad Quality 180SX – a drift-spec RPS13 that Mike Garrett took a closer look at back in 2014 when it was everywhere. The Sunoco-liveried Nissan was so good then, and looking back at it now 10 years on, I’m sure you’ll agree that the sentiment still rings true. Let’s revisit the original feature…

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2014 Feature

When you have a car as popular as the Nissan S13, it can be fascinating to look back and see exactly how that came to be. Sometimes cars made waves from the moment they hit showrooms. Other times it’s taken years or even decades before enthusiasts realize the true potential of a car. As for the good old S13, its history also depends on what part of the world you’re talking about.

Here in the US for example, the Nissan 240SX lived a quiet, unassuming life for more than a decade after its introduction. It wasn’t until the drift explosion of the early 2000s that enthusiasts and wannabe drifters started buying S13s by the dozen. Before that point, most of the 240s you’d see on the street were virgin examples driven by old ladies. After the drift boom, it’s rare to see an S13 that isn’t coated in multiple shades of primer with body panels barely hanging on.

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In Japan, the story went a bit differently. There the Nissan Silvia and its cousin the 180SX were a big deal from the moment they were released. If you flip through the pages of a mid-’90s Option magazine or pop in one of those great Video Option VHS tapes, it isn’t uncommon to see Japanese guys out there drifting Silvias and 180s that were just a few years old at the time. As the drift movement in Japan grew, the S13 would become the quintessential dorisha – a label held to this day.

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Head to a Japanese drift event some 20 years later and you’ll find that the Silvia and 180SX are still the most popular cars. And in the past two decades, the vehicles have gone through many different styles. First, there were stock bodies and 15-inch tires spun by nearly stock motors. Then came larger wheels, more horsepower, more aggressive body parts and well, more aggressive everything. The base cars might be the same, but today’s style has evolved into something those pioneering drifters might not even recognize.

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And when you want to see what Japanese drift car style is like in 2014, it’s hard to come up with a better example than the blue 180SX you see here. I’m guessing this isn’t your first time seeing this car. It’s popped up at many events over the last few years and has spread across social media feeds and blog sites like wildfire. Currently, it just might be the internet’s most well-known S13.

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I first encountered this car and its owner, Mr. Shuichi Nakagawa, at the M&L night meet in Osaka a few years ago. Both he and his buddies from Team Review and Bad Quality hail from Hiroshima, and last month Iy finally had the chance to go to Hiroshima and hang out with these guys on their turf.

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First things first, Nakagawa is not a car builder by trade. He’s a true privateer, and when he’s not drifting and fooling around with cars, he can be found at his day job as a metal worker. More specifically, he works at one of Hiroshima’s massive shipbuilding facilities in the same area where the legendary Japanese battleship Yamato was constructed during the 1930s.

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And speaking of metalwork, it’s largely thanks to some trick fabrication that this car has received so much attention over the last year. While the 180 sits as low as they come and packs one of the most aggressive wheel set-ups we’ve ever seen on an S13, there was a lot more to it than just dialling the coilovers down and hoping for the best.

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For starters the floorplan has been channeled and lifted by 20mm for extra clearance – yes, this might be a modern drift car but we’re talking about some old-school hot rodding techniques here. All this work allows Nakagawa to functionally drive and drift the car while it’s sitting on the ground.

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Up front, the entire fender structure has been fabricated with a set of custom cycle fenders, as they are known in Japan. This provides more clearance at this lower ride height and allows Nakagawa to fit some pretty radical wheels up there.

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As for the suspension itself, the 180 is equipped with a set of 326 Power Chakuriki dampers with front and rear spring rates of 18kg/mm and 16kg/mm respectively. Considering that 326 Power is a Hiroshima institution, it’s only natural that Nakagawa would show some hometown love. The same goes for the reservoir cover which flies the colors of the city’s beloved Carp baseball team.

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Along with the custom framework and coilover set-up, the car runs several custom chassis and suspension modifications from, another local garage. The work includes modified front and rear subframes, one-off knuckles, sway bars and tension rods.

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The engine is the tried and true SR20DET fitted with some choice upgrades like a modified CTS turbo, a GReddy intercooler set-up, a GReddy oil cooler and a one-off surge tank from

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Power for the SR comes in around 350ps – typical of amateur-spec drift cars in Japan. Not too much. Not too little. Just right.

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Let’s not forget the one-off exhaust system which dumps out from the center of the car and brings to mind the Fairlady Z race machines of the ’70s with its pair of large tips.

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The retro style doesn’t end there. You could say the car’s Rocket Bunny wide-body kit was equally inspired by the race cars of the 1970s.

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And when it comes to modeling Kei Miura’s retro-inspired design, it’s hard to get much better than this. Then again, this kit has also been tweaked slightly to fit with Nakagawa’s vision for the car.

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Namely, there are gigantic diffuser set-ups affixed to both the front and rear of the body, which take the car’s raw competition-inspired vibe to the next level.

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And how about the wheels? Well, Nakagawa has had several different sets as he’s evolved the style of the car, but his current choice of black-centered Work Meister M1s might be the best combo yet.

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The Meisters measure 18×9.5-inch in the front and 18×11-inch in the rear with 215/40R18 and 245/35R18 tires respectively. The result is something that looks great and fills out those giant Rocket Bunny fenders with perfection.

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Climbing inside the 180SX, you’ll find a very functional interior. There’s a full roll cage and just one seat – a Bride bucket with a Sabelt harness.

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Looking into the hatch, you can see the ATL fuel cell is fed through an opening in the quarter window panel.

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You’ll also find other goodies like AutoMeter gauges, a Blitz boost controller, and a Carrozzeria double-DIN stereo deck.

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Let’s not forget that cool shift knob either…

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The Sunoco livery on the body is one of the more recent additions to the car and if you’re like me, you might wonder if Nakagawa had struck up a sponsorship deal with Sunoco Japan. The answer is no.


The truth is, he just loves the Sunoco-colored Camaro racers of the late 1960s and wanted to bring a little of that classic spirit to his Nissan. Mission accomplished.

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Since I’m someone with automotive tastes that shoot all over the place, I just love the idea of injecting some classic American motorsport style into a Japanese drift car. It’s one more example of the cool creative touches that often set Japanese builds apart.

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Even though he rarely drives the car on the street these days, the 180SX had no problem driving from Nakagawa’s house to our photo shoot location. Yes, I sat on the floor – and it was bearable even though I was almost literally sitting on the ground. Maybe not the safest thing in the world, though.

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And while this is one of the world’s lowest S13s, it rides surprisingly smoothly down the streets of Hiroshima. Sure you can’t avoid the occasional scrape, but nothing makes the car undrivable.

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Then there are the reactions of other motorists and people on the street. Priceless.

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Even more impressive is that in January, Nakagawa drove the car to Chiba for Tokyo Auto Salon 2014, looking exactly as it does here and sitting millimeters off the ground. That’s a 12-hour highway journey – even longer than it takes me to fly from California to Japan.

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When I asked him what’s next for the 180SX, Nakagawa told me he was considering selling the car. He’s taken the S13 on quite a journey, and like lots of builders, he’s beginning to feel the urge for a new project.

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And what might that next project be? Well, he’s still looking for possible candidates but the words NSX and Supra both came up in the discussion. If that next project is anything like this car, maybe I should start planning my next Hiroshima visit soon.

Mike Garrett
Instagram: japanifornia



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Back when the bare metal, ratty builds were so damn cool

Yes some people didn't like it however you always had some appreciation for this style

Sadly this is now ruined by the Tiktok generation gosh those static builds are so damn bad


not everycar is good. this is a peice of garbage made by an idiot. its ok to be critical the article is written by a npc loser who idolizes things he doesnt understand. "full roll cage" ? its clearly missing a bar in the fuel tank pic. its not a real roll cage either, they call them "vanity bars". the curves around the dash weaken the cage and it will fail in a crash. also who moves the fuel tank OUTSIDE the wheel base in a performance car, especially one with the rear seats removed.the ford pinto had the fuel tank in the back. this is just stupid and ignorant of REAL engineering. the poor car. poor driver if he crashes.


uhm, i agree with you, not every car is good, but you can’t be going around saying it is a piece of garbage made by an idiot. truth is it is not. he put loads of time into making this car, and it was also very popular because of how good it was. also, you can’t call the writer of this article an ‘npc loser’ that ‘idolizes over things he doesn’t understand’. because, believe me, this guy knows his stuff. he’s been doing this for years and i am guessing he has learned something along the way. honestly, you don’t seem to understand much about drifting and mass distribution in drift cars, because this car is a really nice build. and i highly doubt the roll cage will ‘fail’ in a crash. in drifting, you don’t go fast enough for that to happen.
honestly, you should save your hate for somewhere else. this is a community that has many memories of really cool cars over the years and is full of people who devote their time to make articles about these cars for us to read. you should respect this, not hate on it buddy. imagine you take time and spend money to check out a popular car all the way on the other side of the world, and take the time to write an article, and then you get a bunch of hate in the comments. honestly, the writer probably spent lots of time and money on this, and lots of time on the article just to share it with us. you should be grateful. and even if you aren’t, don’t disrespect peoples hard work like this.


So if someone builds a bridge that collapses and kills 10,000 people but someone wrote an article about the bridge and the terrible architect put his heart and soul into the project we should ignore the deaths and praise his work because he put a lot of time into it?

When did we become this stupid. A car is an engineering exercise. Not a piece of art. If someone did drive this car and sent it into a 100mph corner. Crashed and died. We are to praise the builder for his awesome work because it got featured on speed hunters.

Damn. You guys are fking retards. What a stupid way to look at a performance machine that someone’s life depends on. Yall are fking dumb as. Fuuuug.

Amazing times. As in amazingly stupid.


People die when you don't build a roll cage right so yeah I'd say you can definitely call something garbage that will get you killed. Unless that's a good thing? Can someone clarify? Are we supposed to die in our weekend fun toys? Respect all builds on your way to the pearly gates?


Ya know, the more I think about the general public and people who comment on these posts the more they make sense. Most people here are what are called casuals. Very few people on this site actually understand how to build an entire car start to finish. How to tune it. And how to actually drive it. And that’s before we ever start competing.

A lot of you guys are just normal people. You work normal jobs. You fantasize about owning something badass but you’ll never actually compete in anything.

If you ever did you would learn things that go beyond street cars and event meetings. Now if you do that for…2 years…you might actually start to form correct insight based on patterns. This is called intelligence.

I have realized there is very very little intelligence happening on this site and in the casual hobbyist in general. It would be truly hilarious to get you guys in a car on track and see how you actually drive / where your ability is. What would be even better would be to see how most of these “wild and crazy” feature builds compare to a formula car for equivalent money.

I raced all weekend and revisited some of the past comments. Really funny tbh looking back. I wonder how many of you guys actually race or have racing experience. Probably less than 5% of people here.


so you stood on the gas and brake? youre still a dumbass as most here have noticed. the comments section doesnt care. go tell a real person about all youve done. if you know one. loser


You have a valid point on F1 there. Certain races can get boring too, but occasionally we do get some pretty nice ones. I blame a number of factors on that:

1) Removing in-race refuelling took out the "strategy" game. Yes, they banned refuelling on "safety grounds", but nowadays it's about "tyre management" to see who can go longer on a set of tyres and pull a large gap to the car behind before needing to pit.
2) Cars are too large. Enough said.

It's great that you bring up boxing and MMA there. I know boxing is an exciting sport and thought MMA was more of a wrestling style of sport, until a friend invited me to an event and I witnessed first hand that it's more technical than boxing. Very interesting.

Man tbh, if I have the money, I would gladly fly over and take up your offer to race you. You were right: I don't have racing experience. But even racing you just for fun would be nice for me to get some track experience.


NASCAR is still using steel chassis, but now in a modular design to reduce costs and allow faster setups.

And yeah, a lot of people thinks any rollcage will automatically add rigidity to their cars. LOL!


The kids continue to get dumber:

"The phrase put your foot down originated in the early days of automobiles when drivers physically pressed down on a pedal to control the speed of the vehicle. Over time, this action became associated with taking control or asserting authority in various situations beyond driving. The phrase has since become a common expression in English to convey the idea of taking a firm stand or making a decisive move."

I guess using automotive expressions on an automotive website to talk about automobiles makes you a hick. And the collective retards up vote per usual.


you sound like some idiot hick. you put your foot down about two things. the implication with a phrase like "to put my foot down" is that it suggests a singular point of extreme displeasure.


No disagreement about drifting being about car control skills. But I will say this: pro drifting competitions give more excitement per second that road racing most of the time, IMO. In competition, each run lasts around 30 seconds, and the "proximity" factor in tandems is what makes it exciting. Road racing is only exciting when you see racers dice with each other in overtake attempts. For example: 24 Hours of Le Mans being such a long race, most cars are generally spaced far apart during the course of the event.

You know what I'd like to have watched with my own eyes though? The good old days of 1970s SCCA Trans-Am series. Those look like hell a lot of fun to watch. Guys like George Follmer, Parnelli Jones, Sam Posey, Peter Brock, etc and their cars. Pure racing goodness with no politics involved (or maybe there was. Idk LOL).


I'm surprised you mention "drift". Hahaha!