I admit the closest I've been to Tennessee is a '90s Arrested Development song and a bad pickup line. The Volunteer State isn't exactly a quick drive or flight from California, plus I haven't had many reasons to make the journey. But look what we have here… Feast your eyes on this breathtaking V8-powered 240SX from none other than…Yup, you guessed it, Tennessee!
We discovered this sexy beast going through last summer's Import Alliance coverage. It deserved major credit for its badass look, stunning color and unique swap. It was only fitting we tracked the car down to its hometown of Memphis, then send our East Coast photographer Matt Jones to shoot it for our Nissan issue.
The owner of this S13 is Scott Allidner. He's been a gear head since he could tie his shoes helping his pops turn wrenches on countless hot rod projects. But unlike his father, Scott chose the way of the imports, learning how to drift in high school and going through six AE86 Corollas until he switched to this '89 240SX.
Some readers might have heard Scott's name before because he runs gripROYAL. It's not a shop, garage or manufacturer, but a company that specializes in custom steering wheels. Scott's made a full-time gig out of the company; however, when he isn't in the office or workshop, his attention is on his 240.
The car started out as your typical S13 project car with an SR20 swap. The owner brought it to drifting form on a tight budget. After throwin' it around at a few practice sessions, Scott unexpectedly wrecked the car. Tight on cash, he sold the motor to cover some bills and shoved the project to the side. Fast forward several months later and Scott was back on his feet, ready to rebuild. But this time he was engine-less. Oh, what to do…
Walking down the road less travelled, Scott rolled the dice and picked up a VH45DE—the 4.5 liter V8 that powers the Infiniti Q45 sedan. It comes factory with 278hp and 294 lb-ft, not a beast, but enough power and torque to bump up his drifting game. Also, availability played a factor. Scott's old employer had it kept in storage and needed a new home so Scott happily dropped the coin for the V8.
The master plan wasn't to win a car show or become the next Dai Yoshihara but finish the project saving as much money as possible. But keeping it on the cheap soon became a pipe dream as Scott threw more dollar bills at this project than our bosses do inside the champagne room. He went through two motors and originally wanted to fabricate a lot of parts himself, but he realized that buying some pieces would be less of a headache in the end—for example, the Xcessive motor mounts and transmission adapter for the Z32 five-speed.
Scott was able to do a few small things on his own during the swap to keep costs down such as fabricating a custom breather tank and all-new plumbing. Scott told us the swap was pretty straightforward when he had all the right parts, however working on the motor was another story. "You can barely get your hands in there. To work on it, you have to pull the motor out, which means pulling the front-end, steering column, brake booster and more," he revealed.
Case in point, Scott was forced to pull the motor only moments after he got it started for the first time due to a spun main bearing. He didn't even get to go for a test drive! Since the motor had to come out, he wisely sourced a newer, healthy, VH motor instead of going through the pain of rebuilding his current one. By now we can agree the budget V8 build idea was thrown completely out the window…
"I thought it was going to be a cheap motor but it ended up not being that at all," he told us, "If I had to do it again, I'd have to do an LS swap for its reliability and simplicity."
With the VH swap a success, the rest of the project fell into place. The suspension was upgraded with virtually every part available to give Scott more secure and aggressive drifts. The exterior followed suit with a sexy Silvia front-end and beefy over fenders. The wheel choice was on point with the car's theme as well with 18" SSR VF1s measuring 10.5" and 12.5" wide respectively. A new rollcage, bucket seats, stripped interior and custom dash add to the list making this S13 look like it was built to battle.
Having driven plenty of 240s, we asked Scott how his VH45-swap compared to LS- and SR-equipped cars. "The difference between this and the LS is that the VH runs a dual overhead cam as opposed to the pushrod," he explained. "The VH revs faster and higher, plus sounds better than the LS. And compared to the SR-built cars I've driven, this car is still on the same plane as power output, but you get that bottom-end torque that sets it apart. You're not sitting and waiting on the turbo, it just bites into the pavement and you're able to use the power through the whole RPM range. It's like tiger blood!"
Before we finished our interview with Scott, he wanted to make a point to our readers that his car wasn't meant to be pretty but serve a purpose. "The front bumper doesn't fit, the hood is crooked and the welds aren't perfect," he concluded. "People think it's supposed to be a show car but it's supposed to be beat. The car has been wrecked before and it's supposed to be crooked. I love to drive the car and it needs to be beaten 'til it falls apart!"
1989 Nissan 240SX
Owner: Scott Allidner
Hometown: Memphis, TN
Occupation: gripROYAL Owner
Engine: 4.5 liter VH45DE V8 swap with Mazworx headers; Xcessive Manufacturing engine and tranny mounts, alternator relocation and skid plate; Walbro 255lph fuel pump; Koyo radiator; Megan Racing catch can; custom power steering cooler with AN-lines
Drivetrain: Five-speed manual Z32 transmission; KAAZ two-way differential; Xcessive Manufacturing one-piece driveshaft and transmission adapter
Engine: Management OEM VH45DE ECU
Footwork &: Chassis D-MAX D1-Spec coilovers; Sikky front sway bar; PBM rear toe arms, subframe risers and inner tie rods; Energy Suspension poly steering rack bushings and rear sway bar bushings; Megan Racing rear upper control arms, tension rods, traction rods and S14 outer tie rods; Battle Version rear lower control arms; boxed S14 front lower control arms with Energy Suspension bushings; rebuilt S13 steering rack; S&W rollcage welded by DynoSpeed
Brakes: 88Rotors S14 drilled/slotted rotors; Agency Power stainless lines
Wheels &: Tires 18x10.5" -26 front, 18x12" -14 rear SSR VF1 wheels; 255/35R18 Federal SS-595 front and 275/35R18 Nankang NS-II rear tires; five-lug hub conversion; Muteki SR48 lug nuts
Exterior: S13 Silvia front-end conversion; Chaser Aero URAS Type IV side skirts and modified BN-Blister 50mm front fenders; Extreme Dimensions 50mm rear over-fenders bowed to 75mm; gripROYAL candy red taillights; Porsche paint
Interior: gripROYAL Classic steering wheel; flocked dash; Buddy Club L seat with Bride rails and sliders (driver); Sparco seat and rails (passenger); RCI 3" four-point harnesses; NRG quick-release; GReddy oil gauge; STACK water temp gauge; AutoGauge tachometer and vacuum gauge; PAINLESS chassis harness; Still Hood shift knob; Eclipse head unit; Infinity rear speakers
Thanks You: All of my friends who have been there to lend a helping hand; special thanks to my fianceé Lauren for dealing with the late nights in the shop; my dad for all the inspiration growing up and support; Chris Anderson who was there for all the hard times; Zack & Moe for helping get this car and GR on the scene; Traction Optional; T.O.P.; Mazworx; v8nissans.com