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1990 & 1991 Nissan 240SXs - Like Son, Like Father

Roles reversed as junior shows dad the way of the S13

Aaron Bonk
Sep 19, 2017
Photographer: Mike Kuhn

Eliot Ewald and son Jarett's relationship fits the prototypical father-son mold: Pops introduced kid to things like '64 Pontiac GTOs and cruise-ins, and kid went on dreaming about things like V-8s and four-barrel carburetors. It made sense; it was the father-son dichotomy you expected, and it's what led to a role reversal in which Ewald senior started taking cues from junior.

  |   1990 1991 Nissan 240Sxs Jarett Eliot Ewald

Cues that had more to do with things like small-displacement Japanese turbo engines and less to do with things like big blocks and two-speed transmissions. "It was summertime with the windows down, flooring it, getting on the highway and haulin' ass with him sitting by my side in his car seat, all smiles," Eliot says about how that GTO helped show Jarett the way and that, despite the S13 Eliot's spent the last year building up, he's still got.

Much like Eliot and that GTO, it was the son this time around who showed Dad what exactly those Nissan S-platform cars are all about. "[They're] an awesome platform," Jarett says, "because there are so many different things you can do to these cars." Things like the SR20DET swaps he and his dad both made happen to the pair of early '90s hatchbacks and the Japanese-sourced body bits that couldn't be any more different than something that came off of a Pontiac.

  |   1991 Nissan 240SX Type X Front Bumper

It's that aero that makes Jarett's S13 especially unique. "It's the first and only Spirit Rei Miyabi hatchback in the U.S.," he wants you to know. And, like just about everything else done to the pair of 240s, those bumpers, side skirts, and fenders were all fitted right in his own garage, where Jarett and dad went on to prep and paint the quarter-century-old sheetmetal themselves. "My body kit took a lot of time as far as final adjustments test-fitting, trimming corners, sanding, smoothing everything down evenly, and then painting, wet sanding, and buffing it," Jarett says about the kit that's so rare it's almost one-off. And he knew exactly how to do all of this thanks to pops, who'd previously owned an auto-body shop where Jarett would hang out after school and soak up the sort of knowledge that'd unknowingly prepare him for the S13 buildup of his life. "I started off helping him detail customers' vehicles," he says, "which led to helping prep cars for paint." It was the start of a learning curve that made way for things like cam swaps and SR engine overhauls.

Just because the two know their way around a couple of S13s and some SR20s, though, don't think it all went so easy. Eliot says, "Tinting the paint to match parts on the car when respraying since I didn't have the paint code" was the hardest part of his whole build. "My son and I performed all the work," he goes on to say, "except for the interior stitching." It's a process he's used to, though, and one that dates back to his first car, a '55 Chevy Bel Air he bought in the '70s.

  |   1990 Nissan 240SX Spirit Rei Miyabi Front Bumper

SR20DETs found their way underneath both 240s' hoods, but the similarities end there. For Jarett, more than 400 hp comes by way of Garrett's GT28 turbo and a pair of Jim Wolf cams while dad's S13 gets the same upgrades only by way of Tomei. "I've owned several SR20DET motors," Jarett says about the depth of experience he's got with Nissan's four-cylinder turbo engine. "[It's] my favorite motor I've owned as well as the [one I'm] most experienced with, considering I've [done] several teardowns."

That same sort of familiarity is revealed throughout Nissan's S13 chassis, a car Jarett's owned multiple versions of and with a passion for which that ultimately rubbed off on Dad. "Growing up, I loved any car that had pop-up headlights," Jarett says. "[The S13] was my first car, so it being cheap, fast, and RWD was all a big plus for me." For Eliot, it's just about the most iconic body style there is. "And with the 180SX Type X kit, can I say more?" He could, but he doesn't have to. The car's subtle mods speak for themselves. Subtle mods like its Type X conversion, 300ZX brakes, and SSR wheels.

  |   1990 1991 Nissan 240Sxs

"[It's] definitely a love-and-hate relationship when it comes to fi them," Jarett says about the early '90s Nissan S-chassis cars that, as far as iconic Japanese sport compacts go, share the podium with models like Honda's fourth-generation Civic and Mitsubishi's DSM trio, "but it's always satisfying in the end." And as far as the end goes, save for a few updates like a bit of bodywork for Jarett and bigger injectors and a tune for Eliot, both S13s are considered done. "As of right now, I'm finished with the car," Jarett says, "but knowing how I constantly think of what I can do next, there may be changes that I don't know about." Changes that, you can bet, this father and son will be handling on their own.

"This is basically my first experience with the 240SX," Eliot says. "My son's influence has made me fall in love with everything about them." Windows down, flooring it, and haulin' ass, just like with that GTO.

  |   1990 Nissan 240SX Kouki Taillights
By Aaron Bonk
390 Articles
1990 & 1991 Nissan 240SXs - Like Son, Like Father
Tuning Menu
'90 Nissan 240SX
Owner: Jarett Ewald
Hometown: Lewisville, NC
Occupation: Aviation
Power: 411 hp
Engine: SR20DET engine swap; NISMO engine and transmission mounts, adjustable fuel pressure regulator; A'PEXi head gasket, N1 exhaust; Circuit Sports rocker arm stoppers; Freddy oil pan; Jim Wolf Technology S4 camshafts; Megan Racing pulleys; HKS air filter; Z32 300ZX MAF sensor; Garrett GT28 turbo; GReddy Type RS blow-off valve, front-mount intercooler, intake manifold, oil catch can; MMI intercooler piping; 680cc JECSinjectors; Walbro 255-lph fuel pump; Koyo radiator; GPLUS radiator hoses; Spal cooling fan; custom coolant overflow tank; billet aluminum oil cap; carbon-fiber coil pack cover and radiator support cover; aluminum valve cover hardware; windshield wiper motor cover
Drivetrain: SR20DET five-speed manual transmission swap; B&M short shifter; Clutch Masters stage 2 clutch and lightweight flywheel; custom one-piece aluminum driveshaft
Footwork & Chassis: D-MAX D1 Spec coilovers; Ichiba five-lug front and rear hubs; Moog inner and outer tie rods; ISR rear toe rods and upper control arms
Wheels & Tires: 18x10.5" +1 front, 18x12" +4 rear SSR Professor SP1 wheels; 225/40R18 front, 265/35R18 rear Zestino Gredge 07RS tires; 326Power lug nuts with Crown caps
Brakes: Wilwood 13" front rotors, four-piston calipers, pads; rear cross-drilled and slotted rotors
Exterior: Spirit Rei Miyabi bumpers, side skirts, fenders, Type 2 Kamikaze front and side diffusers; Type X rear wing, Kouki taillights with RPS13 garnish; D-MAX carbon-fiber roof spoiler; TC Sportline carbon-fiber mirrors; custom carbon-fiber door pillars; Phase 2 running lights; custom LED headlights; Fiji Blue Pearl paint and gloss black roof
Interior: Bride Cuga seats with custom brackets; Takata harnesses; custom harness bar; Vertex/Fatlace steering wheel; NRG Innovations carbon-fiber quick-release adapter; Boss steering wheel hub; Vertex shift knob; 180SX instrument cluster; LED blue instrument cluster lights; black and Bride-themed interior; Bride floor mats and headrest pillows; Coverlay dash cover; custom carbon-fiber decklid cover; custom emergency brake button; custom carbon-fiber ashtray, instrument cluster bezel, steering column cover; Pioneer AVH head unit; Boston Acoustics front speakers; Infinity rear speakers; GReddy Profec B Spec II boost controller; GlowShift boost pressure, air/fuel gauges
Thanks You: my dad because if it weren't for him, I wouldn't be where I am today nor would I have a passion for cars; my guys Rajeet Dalal and Wen Huang at Mastermind North America; Pablito Sags for helping order my body kit, tires, and other hard-to-find parts; Mike Kuhn for the photo shoot; my best friend, Jordan Parker, for the great moral support
'91 Nissan 240SX
Owner: Eliot Ewald
Hometown: Lewisville, NC
Occupation: Aviation
Engine: SR20DET engine swap; NISMO engine and transmission mounts; Circuit Sports rocker arm stoppers; Tomei oil pan and Poncam camshafts, 7960 turbo kit, downpipe, adjustable fuel pressure regulator, oil cap, coilpack cover; Megan Racing pulleys, exhaust manifold; K&N air filter; Era1 throttle body; Z32 300ZX MAF sensor; ported intake manifold; TiAL blow-off valve; CX Racing intercooler piping, radiator; ISR exhaust, radiator hose kit; Walbro 255-lph fuel pump; Kazama oil catch can; Stance water neck spacer; aluminum valve cover hardware; windshield wiper motor cover
Drivetrain: SR20DET transmission swap; Exedy stage 2 clutch; NISMO lightweight flywheel; Driveshaft Shop one-piece driveshaft; Infiniti J30 rear differential and axles; Z32 300ZX master cylinder
Footwork & Chassis: Ksport coilovers; Z32 300ZX hubs; Moog inner and outer tie rods; ISR rear toe rods and upper control arms; reinforced power brace; Powered by Max tension rods, rear toe arms, rear upper control arms, Pro knuckles; Energy Suspension steering rack bushings; custom differential mount bushings
Wheels & Tires: 18x9" +19 front, 18x10" +16 rear SSR Professor SP1 wheels; 215/35R18 front, 225/40R18 rear Nankang NS-20 tires; Muteki SR48 lug nuts
Brakes: Z32 300ZX front and rear calipers and emergency brake; drilled and slotted rotors
Exterior: Type X front bumper, front spoiler, side skirts, rear valance, rear wing, turn signals and taillights with RPS13 garnish; 180SX East Bear mirrors; Phase 2 running lights; clear side marker lights; duckbill tinted roof spoiler; projector headlights; BMW brown pearl paint
Interior: Bride Low Max seats with custom brackets; Nardi steering wheel; NRG quick-release adapter; Boss steering wheel hub; GReddy shift knob; LED white instrument cluster lights and dome light; 180SX cupholders; carbon-fiber armrest; Bride floor mats, headrest pillows; carbon-fiber decklid cover; emergency brake button; Alpine CDE head unit; Polk Audio speakers; GReddy Profec B Spec II boost controller; GlowShift boost pressure and air/fuel gauges; HKS gauge pod; Prosport boost and water temp gauges; AEM wideband air/fuel meter
Thanks You: my amazing wife who has always supported me buying, restoring, and modifying cars; my mom and dad; my son for all his help and who also has the same passion with cars like me; Ian Damato from LKQ, our good friend and supplier for our paint and body supplies; Jamie Furches from Complete Auto Interiors; George DeBidart and all the guys at Exotics Powder Coating; Steve Newsom for the use of his property for the photo shoot; Mark Anderson from Mark's Used Auto Parts; my other brother from another mother Brad Jessup, who has always helped with mechanical advice; my daughter, who has been very patient as her truck has taken a back seat lately, although we always seem to find time to make it happen

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