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Author Topic: 200sx SE V6 Endurance Race Car Build  (Read 1523 times)

Offline Max

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200sx SE V6 Endurance Race Car Build
« on: 03:55:05 PM / 20-Nov-19 »
Hi Guys,

I'm building a race car out of a 1988 200sx SE v6.  The series I race in (currently with a Miata team) is called Lucky Dog Racing League. It's an endurance road racing series that's mostly on the west coast.  We've also run with Chumpcar/Champcar.

I've been a hopeless nissan fan boy since my first car, a 1991 Nissan 240sx coupe, and have owned countless Nissans since.  Was a mechanic for 10 years, and achieved Nissan & ASE Master status. I have since become an engineer.

After racing with some friends in the miata I've realized that nothing else I've ever done can hold a candle to how awesome wheel to wheel road racing is.  I've always loved drag, autocross, and street cars, but am more than willing to give all that stuff up to go road racing.

I would also really love it to generate some traffic on this forum.  Its a great forum, and there's a long history.  Unfortunately I find a lot of information is scattered, has broken pictures, and lots of hearsay.  It would be really great if we all made an effort to bring more posts from Facebook on to this forum! So this post is my first of many to help that goal.

Now to the car.  I was searching for a Z32, S13, or just the right s12 or z31.  I chose this car for a number of reasons:

Budget - Ran, was $1000.  s13 was taxed, and mostly destroyed. z32 consumable costs are very high, seemed to all be auto w/rod knock
Shape - Its kind of a wide open hatchback, probably a good shape to build my first roll cage
Speed - Handling should be decent, power to weight ratio should mean that miata's can't humiliate me THAT bad
Familiarity - Despite all logic pointing me toward a miata, I just had to build a Nissan. Probably worked on vg-e's more than on any other engine in my career.
Not a cherry - Despite rarity, this car is not a gem to be preserved.  Body is poor, but mostly straight.  Interior was mostly crap/missing. 250k miles.
Rear Wheel Drive
Reliabiltiy - vg30e's have a pretty good history in this kind of racing (mostly in z31's). Keep it cool and fluids in the right places, and it should be a turn-key race engine.

The series heavily favors cars that can run for 2 hours (maximum stint length), when the race is an even number of hours.  For example, in 2017 at PIR, our miata team won saturday's 7 hour enduro handily.  Sunday, we were just as fast, but lost by 55 seconds due to needing to make 1 more pit stop than 1st place (SC400).  A pit stop where you take fuel must be a minimum of 5 minutes.

One colossal blunder on my part: The S12 likely doesn't have a large enough fuel tank to make 2 hours with 160 hp. The miata can run about 1:45 with 115 hp and 11.9 gal tank.  The S12 has 160 hp and 14.0 gal tank.  Options for me are to get a fuel cell ($$$$$$$$$+tons of problems), swap in a 4 cylinder, or try to enter only 7 hour races.

Ok, I could talk forever.  Here's some pictures, then I'll post some more on this saga as I get time.







« Last Edit: 04:00:05 PM / 20-Nov-19 by Max »

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Offline iceageg

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Re: 200sx SE V6 Endurance Race Car Build
« Reply #1 on: 07:15:40 AM / 21-Nov-19 »
Welcome to the forum Max.  It's fairly quiet here these days, particularly since Photobucket fucked the world over and destroyed the links to all of the documentation here.  There are still a few regulars like me (as a rule I don't Facebook) that check in here daily and keep questions answered.  If there is a specific thread that you need pics for just ask.  It may take a while but the thread originators are pretty good about getting pictures fixed when asked.

It sounds like you know what you are doing and are having a lot of fun doing it.  I look forward to the updates.
I was afraid all the five gallon buckets of pain stacked four high were going to fall over

Offline BOSSMAN

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Re: 200sx SE V6 Endurance Race Car Build
« Reply #2 on: 02:21:33 PM / 21-Nov-19 »
Same here, welcome and looking forward to your updates.  FYI last time I saw one of these turbo hood scoop on ebay auction it sold for $1000 so if you want to lighten the weight  you might get a real good return on your initial purchase price.
86 CA18ET....owner since 1990.
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Offline Max

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Re: 200sx SE V6 Endurance Race Car Build
« Reply #3 on: 03:30:14 PM / 21-Nov-19 »
Welcome to the forum Max.  It's fairly quiet here these days, particularly since Photobucket fucked the world over and destroyed the links to all of the documentation here.  There are still a few regulars like me (as a rule I don't Facebook) that check in here daily and keep questions answered.  If there is a specific thread that you need pics for just ask.  It may take a while but the thread originators are pretty good about getting pictures fixed when asked.

It sounds like you know what you are doing and are having a lot of fun doing it.  I look forward to the updates.

I've been checking in daily as well.  I'm kind of old school and much prefer forums over the new social media channels. Can't believe photobucket did what they did, that probably harmed forum use as much as anything over the years. 

I have a lot of experience with cars, but not much of that is s12 experience or pre-1990 Nissan experience.  So I really appreciate the experts of the chassis in groups like these. Think I've been visiting this site occasionally for 15 years, secretly wishing I had an s12 hatch with a ca18det for some reason.  Glad I finally have one and am a real member of the group. Sure its a VG30 but probably better suited for my purposes.

Same here, welcome and looking forward to your updates.  FYI last time I saw one of these turbo hood scoop on ebay auction it sold for $1000 so if you want to lighten the weight  you might get a real good return on your initial purchase price.

Maybe ebay is my ticket then.  I've posted a lot of parts for sale and have a really hard time finding ANYONE to buy ANYTHING.  I have a large pile of interior parts in my garage that a lot of people say they want and never come through. I always planned to sell the hood to recoup costs, but the $$$ has to be worth my time, worth finding another hood, worth not having an awesome 80's look etc...

Offline iceageg

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Re: 200sx SE V6 Endurance Race Car Build
« Reply #4 on: 06:59:07 AM / 22-Nov-19 »
VG is actually the best engine for an S12 if you just want a little more power than stock on a budget.  The VG33 hybrid build is maybe the easiest "swap" in automotive history.  That and it has by far the most aftermarket support and crossover to other vehicles of any engine that went into the S12.  For racing purposes it is definitely your best bet.  If you're not going full insane build anyway.

As for selling your parts, the S12 community tends to be on the frugal side and always has been.  You will find buyers but you will have to be patient and willing to ship stuff.  Judging from the pictures it looks like you are in or around Portland.  Excluding SoCal, the Seattle/Portland area is probably your biggest market so you have that going for you.  Like Bossman said, somebody will want that hood for a good price.  Just need to find them.
I was afraid all the five gallon buckets of pain stacked four high were going to fall over

Offline JonB

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Re: 200sx SE V6 Endurance Race Car Build
« Reply #5 on: 11:01:53 AM / 22-Nov-19 »
Welcome to the forum.

It is a nice car you have there.

Ive had my turbo hood on three cars - im not parting with it:)

I know im frugal with buying parts, mostly because the parts i need, i threw out 3 times over by this point.

I got nothing on extending the range. Thinking about it, but i go nothing so far

Offline rednucleus

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Re: 200sx SE V6 Endurance Race Car Build
« Reply #6 on: 01:08:08 PM / 22-Nov-19 »
Don't forget to post your parts in the For Sale section here!
AND welcome!!

Offline Max

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Re: 200sx SE V6 Endurance Race Car Build
« Reply #7 on: 03:30:05 PM / 22-Nov-19 »
Welcome to the forum.

It is a nice car you have there.

Ive had my turbo hood on three cars - im not parting with it:)

I know im frugal with buying parts, mostly because the parts i need, i threw out 3 times over by this point.

I got nothing on extending the range. Thinking about it, but i go nothing so far

Thanks Jon! I get hanging on to the hood.  If I had a street car that was likely to preserve a hood for the life of the car, I'd definitely keep it because it's so cool.  However, I'm somewhat motivated to get it off my race car because I know how racing is.  I have had quite a few clean races with no contact.  My last race was the first time I'd had contact, and it was an e36 M3 that dive bombed me. But I know what can happen, I've probably seen 5 cars totaled in the 3-4 years I've been racing. Also, I might want to cut holes in the hood for venting, especially if I do any aero upgrades... Definitely can't do that to a turbo hood.

VG is actually the best engine for an S12 if you just want a little more power than stock on a budget.  The VG33 hybrid build is maybe the easiest "swap" in automotive history.  That and it has by far the most aftermarket support and crossover to other vehicles of any engine that went into the S12.  For racing purposes it is definitely your best bet.  If you're not going full insane build anyway.

As for selling your parts, the S12 community tends to be on the frugal side and always has been.  You will find buyers but you will have to be patient and willing to ship stuff.  Judging from the pictures it looks like you are in or around Portland.  Excluding SoCal, the Seattle/Portland area is probably your biggest market so you have that going for you.  Like Bossman said, somebody will want that hood for a good price.  Just need to find them.

I've met up with one s12 guy in Portland, which was nice.  He bought my back seats, floor mats, shifter trim, etc. Unfortunately with work and kids, I don't have enough free time to go any farther than that. Shipped my clean stock steering wheel to Finland!

The vg33 is definitely on my radar! I won't do it right away, but if/when the time comes that i need a new engine, that one's on the list.  I'd imagine it might be easier to find even than a 30e considering they came in newer vehicles for a looooong time. And you're right about the VG being the correct engine.  What makes it the best choice for racing is: Torque, lower engine speeds, enough power but without a turbo (heat, fuel consumption, etc), and also availability of replacements. This definitely attracted me to the V6 car for racing over any other s12.

The range thing I'm not sure how I'm going to deal with.  Anyway I add power is just going to take away from how long the car runs in a stint.  14.0 gallons can probably go the maximum 2 hours if it had a ka24e or something of comparable HP.  240sx's can go 2 hours with ka24de's and their bigger 16ish gallon tank.  I may consider adding a surge tank (.5gal max) and some holley hydramat, which would help me use all 14 of the gallons.. still might not be enough.  If I have to go fuel cell, things get complicated and expensive quickly.  I'd expect to spend at least $1000, and a whole lot of time setting it up and building a frame around it.

Anyways, this isn't a build thread without an update right?

Here's some early pictures of the project as the cage came together.  I did all of it myself, but paid a local shop to bend 4 tubes for me that I couldn't.  Main hoop, 2 A-pillar bars, and the roof bar. A quality tube bender is $800 or more unfortunately. I notched everything by hand and did all the welding.

Sound deadening had to go. It was around 28 lbs worth


Whatever it takes  :laugh:

I provided measurements, local shop did the bending. 

It was maybe even too perfect.  I got the main hoop very close to the body (what you want), but learned hard lessons on making sure your cage is still weldable. It all worked out in the end.


More to come when I get more time!
Post Merge
Don't forget to post your parts in the For Sale section here!
AND welcome!!

Thank you! Will do! Just need to find some time to take pictures and make a list.
Post Merge
Mounting the seat was much harder than I expected



There's no way I was going to fit even if the seat was bolted to the ground.  Your helmet has to have 2" measured vertically to the top of the roll cage.  I had to lower the floor.



There's a transmission mount there, so you can't just cut everything out...







Test fit the pillar bars.  Used this as a template.  Then the shop copied that for the pillar bar, reversed the angle to get the other side. I could have done a better job, but for my first time I'm really happy with it. It's reasonably close to the a-pillar, and even contacts the roof. I'll probably weld the bar to the roof.





Notches by hand



Windshield bar. 



The main elements of the cage.



Cut holes in the floor so I could drop the cage to weld each joint 360 degrees.  This is an art I swear.  No where near a master of this, but I got it done.

Note the diagonal roof bar.  This bar is optional.  I felt like there was a big open unprotected space above my head, so I decided to get one.  Also, decided to have it bent to have the added bonus of more head clearance in case I have anyone taller driving my car.  Being diagonal adds structural rigidity... the more triangles the better!



More to come!
« Last Edit: 05:40:17 PM / 22-Nov-19 by Max »

Offline kelso840

Re: 200sx SE V6 Endurance Race Car Build
« Reply #8 on: 01:13:33 PM / 23-Nov-19 »
You're putting in work. I'm excited to see what this car turns into.

Also, are you the dude who made an appeal on the CS12 group for more people to join and contribute to this forum? If so, thanks for the love.
Infrequently driving an s12.

Offline Max

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Re: 200sx SE V6 Endurance Race Car Build
« Reply #9 on: 05:26:04 PM / 23-Nov-19 »
You're putting in work. I'm excited to see what this car turns into.

Also, are you the dude who made an appeal on the CS12 group for more people to join and contribute to this forum? If so, thanks for the love.

Thanks! I hope it I'm able to get it track ready by April or May. Would really like to hit an early season track day, and test the car. There's a race at my home track late June and late October. Shooting for the June race, but I'll take what I can get.

And yes I'm the one that encouraged people to come to the forum. I've been on forums since probably 2002 when I was 15 years old. Learned a lot about cars from them and I truly think they're a far better resource for the community than these social media sites. I also think the social media sites are a detriment to forums among other things (*cough*Photobucket*). I'll keep trying to bring people to the forum and I hope they follow!

Offline iceageg

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Re: 200sx SE V6 Endurance Race Car Build
« Reply #10 on: 04:36:38 PM / 25-Nov-19 »
. . . The vg33 is definitely on my radar! . . .

You are in luck.  Mr. 510 is the king of the VG33/34 hybrid and is fairly local to you.  I did one for our 91 Pathfinder using mostly his write-ups.  When/if the time comes be sure to reach out.  I still have my list of links even if my mind has decayed by then.
I was afraid all the five gallon buckets of pain stacked four high were going to fall over

Offline Max

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Re: 200sx SE V6 Endurance Race Car Build
« Reply #11 on: 05:11:33 PM / 03-Dec-19 »
You are in luck.  Mr. 510 is the king of the VG33/34 hybrid and is fairly local to you.  I did one for our 91 Pathfinder using mostly his write-ups.  When/if the time comes be sure to reach out.  I still have my list of links even if my mind has decayed by then.

I definitely will! I've spoken to him on FB messenger already.  He helped me get my wheel/tire package stored out.  He runs Z32 wheels with the same sized tires and a 10mm spacer, which didn't work for me.  Turns out he has the late Z31 hubs with slip on rotors, that pushes the wheel another 10mm farther from the strut.

Go ahead and post that list of links if its not too much trouble.  I don't plan on changing the engine before I race the car, but if this one doesn't last through the first track day, I'll need to source a quick replacement.

Thanks!
Post Merge
One more thing, there's another 200sx SE that races the same series with me.  I was able to talk to one of the crew during the october race.  They are running a full GTO LS2 drivetrain.  Before that, he said they raced with the vg30e and then a vg34e and had a good amount of success with it.  He said it was pretty much bulletproof, and the 34e made about 200whp.  He advised me to look in to a quest oil pump because there are ports that you can use to add an oil cooler, so I plan on looking into that at some point.
« Last Edit: 05:14:00 PM / 03-Dec-19 by Max »

Offline Max

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Re: 200sx SE V6 Endurance Race Car Build
« Reply #12 on: 09:54:11 AM / 06-Dec-19 »
More pictures of the build:

Seat mounted.  This was so much harder than I expected, and it didn't quite turn out how I wanted.  The position is [mostly] correct, and it should be safe.  The car did not have as much head room as I had hoped, and mounting the seat low enough was very challenging.  See above pictures.  I really wanted to employ a slider, because the drivers of this car will vary in height.  I'm 6'3 with disproportionately long legs, and my two other known drivers are around 5'8".  It's very possible that I convince my wife to drive the car (5'2"), and I'd also like to ask my dad to drive (6'5'). Slider wasn't happening this time, so that project will have to come later.  I also think that after the first season or two I might want to upgrade to a full containment seat, which is much safer for your head and neck in a side impact.  This seat is an ultrashield made for spec miata's.



Future plans with this seat are to move it 1" forward.  The other drivers can barely reach the pedals, and I think reaching the shifter is going to be an even bigger problem... that thing is so far away. Also would like some kind of seat back brace.

More cage stuff to come.