Justin Derendal has experienced a decade-long journey with this Nissan 240SX, which has seen everything from the street, to the show, and track. Yet in the car's current form, Justin took back to the streets in what is his version of the perfect S13.
If you got into drifting in the early '00s like Justin, then the attraction to the 240SX was obvious—affordable, accessible, infinitely configurable, and immensely capable. Justin saw the benefits of the lighter and more nimble S13 having owned an S14 with quite a build of its own—think Bomex aero, in-dash PS2, Advan wheels, show-quality paint, and a built SR20DET pushing more than 400 whp, all in '03! Knowing full well what the car was capable of, the first incarnation of this S13 began as a purpose-built drift car. The interior was gutted, a custom 'cage fabricated, the chassis stiffened, the usual drift-spec suspension bits were installed, and an SR build in the realm of 450 whp followed suit. Justin took to the track on a regular basis with the car and participated in many local and regional drift events.
While Justin's build and skill level led to a pro drifting license qualification (NOPI drift '07), he decided not to pursue driving professionally, and the rationality to return the car to a more streetable form came to fruition. Having built the car once, Justin knew that if he were to switch direction, this would be the last and greatest incarnation of what he wanted it to be. A parts list that reached for the stars was drafted, and when Justin decided to pull the trigger, even he didn't realize how it would all come together.
Authentic BN aero, Koguchi fenders, G-corporation headlights, and Ganador mirrors from Japan... Check! Competition-spec LS7 with billet heads, titanium valves, high-compression pistons, and a 350Z diff and axle conversion to put all 750 horses to the ground... Check! But the devil is in the details...24-karat gold fasteners on the chrome Work S1s, a custom E85 fuel delivery system using three pumps, Ray's Factory lip-kit, the list goes on. When it came time for paint, Elite Automotive Finishes and Justin collaborated on making a one-of-a-kind color. "I wanted a very unique color that is real subtle yet still hits you with that Ric Flair! It took around six months to come up with it," he explained. In the sun, the brown illuminates with bright gold tones, but as night falls, a gunmetal undertone reveals itself—there's simply no other S-chassis on the planet in this color!
Yet all was not flawless in the journey to finish the project car. The months of waiting on parts from Japan, months of fabrication, and the time to put it all together in his own garage began to take a bit of a toll. This car was, as they say, "built not bought." But as many of you know, such an extensive build can fray even the strongest of desires. Somewhere along the lines, the progress of the S13 slowed down when Justin decided to pursue aviation, a fascination he's had since childhood. He would eventually rack up enough flight hours to acquire his pilot's license, buy his own plane, and also become inducted as an Honorary Commander to Luke AFB's 607th Air Control Squadron, an honor given to local community leaders in the west valley of Phoenix. But while he was pursing this other passion, he always knew he would return to the multi-year build he started years ago and finish his ultimate 240SX.
During the summer of '15, the paint was finished, the last interior bits installed, and the final tune to the note of 750 hp was completed thanks to the work of UMS Tuning. It is difficult to believe that such an old car can remain not only relevant, but also dominant in a scene that has matured over the years. The trending theme of today's S-chassis builds may heavily favor form over function (i.e. stance), but something can be said about the cars that can balance both. Justin's S13 has the power, the prestige, the look, and the bite, and can just as easily take home a Best of Show trophy, as it can a podium victory at the track. But it's also just as well suited to cruise to a local meet and turn a few heads. As Justin takes off to the skies and refocuses his attention on aviation now that his 240 is done, his S13 will stand as inspiration for enthusiasts to never stop dreaming, building, and improving. Chasing perfection—whether in points for a show, time or skill on a track, or simply cruising the streets—is something we can all aspire to.