For every self-proclaimed influencer on social media, there is one anonymous builder who moves in silence, shaping trends for the aforementioned public figures to claim as their own discovery. There is a good chance you've never heard of Kyle Ranauro, but you've seen his cars. Long before we decided to feature this Nissan S14, we lived in a time of 56K/dial-up modems, AOL, and heavily trafficked message forums. Kyle's automotive creations had become a thing of legend, where typically a single photo would be posted with no background story, no specs, and no explanation. It was just pure unadulterated style that got people talking, and that only Kyle was purely responsible for.
This particular S14 had quite the life previous to Kyle's ownership; the earliest written record of it dates back a decade ago, when it was found abandoned in rough shape on the side of the interstate. Later picked up by a friend of Kyle's who was looking for a daily driver for his teenage daughter, the 240SX was brought back to life with its KA engine revived and enough basic maintenance to make it safe and reliable. Though the car was now mechanically sound, the newly licensed driver wasn't too excited about the moldy interior and multi-colored exterior, and opted to buy a car on her own. The 240 was offered to Kyle, and let's just say the rest is history. Kyle not only used it as his new daily, but he knew its potential.
It wasn't long before a Super Made aero kit, 20-inch MRR HR3 wheels, and a few key suspension components were installed, reducing the ride height and neatly tucking the enormous wheels within the factory arches. Soon after, a minor accident courtesy of a distracted driver in a parking lot became the catalyst for a full repaint in its original black. He then turned his focus to the interior during this time. Much of the worn interior bits were replaced with new, original components; since he was working at a Nissan dealership at the time, he made full use of his employee discount and the parts department. What couldn't be replaced, such as the seats and door panels, were reupholstered to match the factory optional leather.
Handling daily duties for a few years, the original automatic transmission began to fail, prompting a manual conversion. As the purpose of the car shifted toward driving enjoyment, visual changes followed suit—the Super Made aero was replaced by a Navan kit and 18-inch Work Schwertz SC2 wheels were fitted in place of the twenties. In this state, the car was driven recreationally, drifted occasionally, and looked amazing in the process.
Kyle eventually purchased a Nissan Titan as a new daily and the S14 was officially designated a full-blown project car. Regardless of whether or not Kyle had initially intended on this particular car ever undergoing a "full build," its fate was sealed the moment his friend Ko Aihara informed him of a 326Power 3D Star kit that had become available from a demo car being parted out in Japan—a kit Ko knew Kyle was fond of.
As soon as the body kit was on its way across the Pacific, the next phase of the build commenced. The engine and tranny were removed once again, this time in preparation for forced induction. Though the 2.4L KA was healthy, it received new head studs and gaskets. Kyle discovered a substantial amount of rust in the shock towers and frame rails, so he decided to repair the chassis and reinforce key points—though he did admit that sentimental value was also a factor. Fearing the worst, the entire chassis was inspected for additional rust; fortunately, it was contained to just a few sections. The bay was eventually painted gloss black and a Twisted Motion turbo was carefully mated to the KA24DE.
Though the exterior panels had been reworked once before, Kyle was never completely satisfied with the outcome. As the old adage states, "If you want something done right, do it yourself." Understanding this concept all too well, Kyle widened and reshaped the wheel arches to be exactly as he envisioned. He was about to paint it himself when his friend Hiro Mizukami offered to fly out from Japan to spray the car in exchange for a place to stay and a few days of tourism—Kyle enthusiastically accepted. Together, Kyle and Hiro completed the final prep, ensuring that the panels were completely smooth and the 326 Power kit fitted perfectly before laying down a coat of the Chevrolet Slate Grey Metallic.
For the better part of the last decade, Kyle has had a personal shop space where he would work on his own cars and take in work through word of mouth. Following the completion of his S14, he decided to quit his day job to open Pro Shop Noble in Santa Ana, California. Considering the level of quality and sheer amount of style we've observed, we can't wait to see what Kyle builds next. And you can bet it won't be the same things you're used to seeing on social media.
Throwing it back to the March '12 issue, we had the pleasure of meeting Kyle when he finished the first stage of his S14. Kyle's 240SX was already breaking rules and stirring up controversy by kissing the ground with a Super Made Instant Gentleman body kit—that's without the help of air ride, and also tucking 20" wheels!
In our May '14 issue, we featured Kyle's '91 240SX hatchback. Very similar to his S14, it used a turbocharged KA and was slammed on Parts Shop Max coilovers and Work Schwert SC4 wheels. The exterior was painted an unusual Verde Chiaro paint from Fiat.