Everytime I have this car and it functions properly I enjoy it. However it “functioning properly” is always short term. Even if it’s a MINOR issue it turns into one massive headache.
Lesson 1: Don’t Buy a Car Like This If You Have No Or Poor Local Support
Unless you live in Chicago, LA, Phoenix, etc. do not buy a car like this unless you yourself are a master mechanic and tuner.
I didn’t even think of this being a problem. We have a local tuner scene in Vegas and shops but they are ALL subpar garbage. None of them can dyno tune a car for example. I’ve tried many of them to fix issues on this car, particularly electrical issues which I have a very hard time with, and I CONSTANTLY get burned.
I found a decent place in Phoenix, who my opinion of them is constantly getting lower, and great places in the LA area. Going that far to fix an issue with a car is annoying. If you have serious work done and drive home and something goes wrong a week later, or as soon as you get home, it’s RAGE inducing.
Unless you have someone like Church Automotive or AMS or some place locally AVOID THESE CARS. If you import something get something that was sold here like a RX7. Even then I bet it would be annoying with how things are here.
Even something as simple as getting AC fixed turns into a two week long drama. If you are away from the tuner who put in your Link G4 or whatever and something goes wrong the local guy is not going to be able to figure it out. It’s up to you.
The triggering event for this article is I brought this car to a local shop that works on tuner cars. I had them try to diagnose the AC. They said I needed a new compressor. I ordered that and they put the parts in. Still doesn’t work. They thought there was a wiring issue. Lightbulb hits and I bring my Laptop and open up the ECU. AC doesn’t receive on/off signal from the AC controller. Wiring and everything looks fine. This stopped working after the tuner in Phoenix had the car and put the Link G4 in. It’s obviously a related issue. I can’t bring it to them because they are 6 hours away. I’m not driving 6 hours through the south west desert in June without AC. This is the 4th shop in vegas i’ve been at. I’m VERY sure they didn’t even check the fucking wiring to see if a signal passed to turn on/off the ac unit.
If I did this myself this wouldn’t be an issue. However I didn’t even think to check that. He thinks now maybe it’s the AC controller so he’s going to try one from a GTR they have. Why I went to this place. They actually have parts cars to try shit. I’m hoping it works. If not that’s $1500 (the expensive af AC hardware + R12) down the drain for no reason even though it may be for no reason already if this controller was always the issue.
This car has been a massive learning experience. I wish I liked Motorcycles.
Lesson 2: Do It The Best Possible Way FIRST
I was never happy with the power this car made after it was modded. It makes 320whp which was my power goals, however it doesn’t make full boost until 4700rpm. My intent was to use this for autocross.
I read on forums that the RB20 was garbage and to use RB25. I also read that if you want lower RPM boost and wide linear power you should go twin scroll manifold, and it would work for RB20. I literally could have the power I made on the RB20 but torque starting at a bit above 3000rpm if I spent more money first on twin scroll or going RB25. Instead I listened to kids who only care about 1/4 mile times, not drivability.
The dumbest thing I did was when I blew the headgasket on this car I told the tuner to fix it (because it blew on their dyno). I only did this because it was in Phoenix. I should have at that point listened to internet advice and did a RB25 swap at that point. Paying to fix the RB20 cost more than buying a RB25 would have and the idiots down there couldn’t get the Power FC to work so I would have gone to Link G4 anyways which would have supported the engine swap easily. When I got the car back I got the Power FC to work. If this was in Las Vegas I would have gone down there and done it, I trusted them to not be dumb and they failed me.
The tune they put on the car was garbage, possibly is causing my AC issue, was dangerous, and made SHIT power.
The “right” way would have been going to Church Automotive in LA, shipping the car there, and flying down to pick the car up when done. They tuned the car properly the first time they got it and found numerous mistakes in there. After they turned the car it ran perfectly, aside lag and AC.
The reason why I used the Phoenix people is because they did a good job fixing body work on the car, fixing some electrical issues, and my parents live there so they can pick the car up. They however, little did I know, outsourced tuning to some garbage men and didn’t listen to me on the phone when I said I had overheating issues. I bet if it was in person I wouldn’t have had that problem.
Another issue like this with part selection.I thought I would get the Koyo radiator for this car, it’s overkill really and I bought it after deciding to always go overkill. However I put it in and it’s too thick to put the fan shroud on. I’ve destroyed 2 shrouds because of it. I didn’t even consider this as an issue. Now I have to decide what to do here.
Best possible people and best possible (well researched) parts first and always. Do not use the lesser shop because of convenience even if it’s for what you think are minor things (like AC).
Lesson 3: Pick a Car That Will Meet Your Goals And RESEARCH
A large part of why I wanted a project car was to autocross it. I didn’t know at the time I bought this that I literally cannot autocross this car in any serious manner. Any autocross class requires the car to have been sold in the US. Even JDM versions of cars sold in the US will not work for even the Prepared categories like XP. Luckily on one hand this means I don’t need to replace the turbo with a more “autocrossable” turbo. Because it’s great on highway pulls and probably would be great for track. Unfortunately it defeated about half the purpose of my buying the car. I should have read more into the rules and found what class it would have been in FIRST before buying.
I would have been much better off buying a local Mazda RX8 for example. Or a 240SX. I could have set up a 240SX exactly to what I like about this Skyline but people here would actually be capable of helping me with it much more reliably. Especially if I stayed KA+T instead of going SR20.
Oh well. Lessons learned.
Less 4: Pick The Best Possible Car Don’t Worry About Model
I got to admit. When I saw this I got hit by the Skyline allure even though it was a GTS-T. People’s reaction to it has been excellent, like what you would expect, however I picked a car with an auction rating of a 3. Not a 4 like I should have. The car was way better than it was graded, aside the inspection saying “rust in baffle” was actually “serious corrosion on frame rail”. This likely is what made it a 3. I should have bought a less expensive model of car, like a S13, and bought the best possible example with no bad “ticks” what so ever. In otherwords a 4 auction rating car. I wonder if some of my other issues stem from this, however people have looked at the rubber, hoses, and wiring of this car and said they are in good shape. However I found them to be WRONG a few times now.
The water line to the turbo got cut, mysteriously. I was wondering if it was because it was old. It was weird because the lines all seemed good and were not degrading. However I had a mechanic do work on the car, trying to fix cooling issues that had been persistent since I bought this thing, maybe he cut the line by accident? Regardless that destroyed my engine. The car should not have been overheating like it was to begin with and if I bought a more pristine example I likely wouldn’t have had that problem. It’s fixed now and I think the car had a headgasket issue since I bought it. However the car ran well. I still do not know what the problem actually was, only guesses.
In 2014 there were not many JDM cars available that interested me and the importable S13 was CA18 still. I should have been patient, waited until a time much like now when I had a much larger selection of models I wanted to go for and got something much better to start with within my budget.
Most of my issues come from my lack of knowledge, which now is MUCH better due to my baptism by fire by this car. The mistakes i’ve made with this, even if I picked another compromise car, wouldn’t be repeated.
I wish I knew what cars in Las Vegas had decent local support. I know VWs and Audis do however it is because in part of companies like APR who do tuning packages they sell to others. I’m sure Eurotek, which is a good shop, in Vegas doesn’t do dyno tuning. I normally would say I don’t want to fuck around with German car’s because of how expensive they are but this Skyline has been FAR worse. I probably would have spent less money on a B5 S4. However if I were to dump this Skyline for something simpler it would be for something less expensive.
I know GM and Ford does, and on cars like that my mechanical ability + a GM shop’s tuning and electrical ability would lead to a decent ownership experience probably. However I want a turbo car. Which is kind of why i’ve been looking at selling my projects and buying a Buick GN or Turbo T. Unfortunately I am not Julian from Trailer Park Boys so IDK if I would like a car like that and it would cost at on of money to make it decent for how i’d want to drive it.
A part of me wants to say fuck it and go 96 C4 LT4. I like 80s designs and that car in particular. However I prefer regular car shaped cars, not sports cars. Like that Buick or like this Skyline or a WRX.
If I can’t get this Skyline to a satisfactory state this year i’m selling it. I feel like this car is cursed at this point. Especially these CONSTANT Lucas level electrical issues i’m having. I just know it’s because of the hack job the very first mechanic I had try to fix cooling on this car did. He had the “idea” of using electric fans in place of the clutch fan. That was when I was really dumb when it came to this car, so I said yes. He had this thing possessed by 70s British factory workers and I ended up going back to the clutch fan. If I do that I will move on to something else either simpler or if I still want something non-US like a Chaser I will bring it to the best people in Socal when I want serious upgrade work done and it will be something they know like the back of their hand.
And MOST importantly I will also talk to them before even buying the car. The same goes with local support. “Hey reputable shop, I want to import a JDM car.... what are you BEST at doing builds with?”