Sarah's Ride
By Annie Sam Photography by Greg Perry

Sarah's Ride

If you have been a fan of NPM for awhile and now MotoIQ, you have probably been reading The Queen of Questions, Sarah Forst's tech column from day one. Our statistical tracking software has shown that Sarah's works are the most highly trafficked of all of our features.  So some of you are probably wondering, how did she get to know all of this stuff.

Well if you know Sarah, you understand that she is very thorough and loves to research things. She has a financial background and complicated analysis and number crunching are natural for her. She learned much about extreme tech from building up her own car many years ago, meeting some of the countries top Nissan tuners and becoming a master of tuning herself in the process.  Now Sarah has several cars in her arsenal ranging from a G20 winter beater to a G35 daily driver and a NX2000 track car but none are as interesting as her super Sentra.

Sarah's Ride
Sarah's Ride

Sarah basically grew up with the Sentra, buying it new as a cheap school-work commuter as a teenager when her hated Ford Tempo blew up.  She was not really into cars at the time and the GA16DE powered automatic appealed to the practical financial side of her.  Somehow Sarah the studious geek got introduced to the San Diego street racing scene and found herself into cars.  Unfortunately she also became a ricer with a GA powered automatic Sentra with a body kit, 18” wheels, sound system with an X Box, neon lights and a fart can exhaust, the best she could do as a poor collage student.  Sarah once placed at a Hot Import Nights, a far cry from being a serious performance machine.

Skip forward a few years and Sarah graduates from college, swears off street racing and is making decent money in the world of finance.  She sets out to redeem herself by building a serious car out of her ex school commuter.  The first things to hit the junkyard were the anemic GA16DE and the automatic transmission.  A friend of Sarah's had crashed his 200SX SE-R and his car became the donor for a bunch of the little parts to make an SR20, manual transmission swap possible. Once the donor car was purchased, the project began in earnest.

As all big projects require a lot of unanticipated parts, Sarah did the right thing and stuck with higher quality genuine Nissan OEM parts wherever she could.  Anyone who has dealt with the typical dealer parts counter morons knows that having the right parts guys to help you makes a huge difference.  Puente Hills Superior Nissan is a dedicated performance parts dealer and they know what you need and stock most common SR20 and JDM Nissan parts as well.

Read Sarah's Column Here!

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Tommy SR20
Tommy SR20link
Thursday, June 11, 2009 6:14 PM
Stunning piece of machinery!
Saturday, June 13, 2009 7:50 AM
Totally awesome.
Sarah's book "How to Build Performance Nissan Sport Compacts" is very informative and a must read for anyone with a 4 cylinder Nissan from 1990 to 2007. She really knows her stuff.
Saturday, June 13, 2009 11:00 AM
lovely beast nissan is the way to go even though we might have gearbox problems but nissan a the real big juice keep it up.
Monday, June 15, 2009 3:38 PM
Great car. A really good read too.
Monday, December 07, 2009 3:59 AM
Absolutely an all around great build...Would love to know the time it took for you get where you are now...BTW, Eastern PA?, can you refer a jersey guy to any real Nissan tuners/shops in the area...I'm less than an hour from the East PA/Jersey border...Thanx!
OMG Its Weasel
OMG Its Weasellink
Sunday, July 25, 2010 4:39 AM
its nice to know that ricers can be turned from the dark side.
its also nice to know that sarah was once a ricer, humbling notion that is!

the car is freakin sweet sarah, i like that its not the typical style of most of the other MotoIQ contributors cars; color matching, showy stuff (that is functional too, the headlights are an example of that), and all around silliness that would be quickly silenced with a jab of the right pedal.
i cant wait to see the future prep work, are you taking some lessons in that subject from Kojimas Dog Cars, or is this going to be totally different?
Sunday, July 25, 2010 5:26 AM
Gives me hope of building a G20 that will compare to this! The attention to detail in these your guys/gals cars always amaze me, no matter how well thought my plans are coming here always opens my eyes and makes me think OH snap forgot about that.
Sunday, July 25, 2010 6:59 AM
Surprised with that kind of power the GTI-R rad is enough in hot weather. I have one on my second B13 was very surprised how much smaller than the Koyo I bought for Dave's old car. I didn't see it mentioned, did you put in an oil cooler? Nice work on that intake, too, the little custom mount tab makes for a clean setup!

Great car Sarah :D
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Sunday, July 25, 2010 7:49 AM
The radiator isnt big enough for serious track work but with water injection it can run a few laps before it overheats. The radiator came out of my old red turbo B13 which ran at Willow in 95 degree heat. Without water injection it would overheat very quickly.
Sunday, July 25, 2010 4:48 PM
What an impressive ride, tokens for her. Its not often you see a woman so into serious car stuff, and even better, really know her stuf!!
It seems odd though, that after all that money spent on the project, she didnt go with a koyo...

Monday, July 26, 2010 8:10 PM
You installed a Phantom Grip LSD? A freaking Phantom "POS" Grip? You spent batshit crazy money on a kickass custom super-strong transmission and then have the gall to slap one of those spring-loaded crap-cans into it? What is this car's 60 foot time? I bet I know of more than a few FWD TurboDodges which in their entirety cost less than just the turbo system on this car that could absolutely embarrass it off the line. Sure I bet the Blue Bomber is crazy-fast from a rolling start, but what fun is that?

Do yourself a favor and toss that lump. With 477 horsepower at the wheels you're gonna wear it out in just a couple hundred miles anyway. Get yourself a Quaife. Their Fully-Meshed Torque-Biasing differentials are the best in the business. Sure, you'll have to spend $1,500+ on it, but this car's budget is clearly hovering around the 5-figure mark anyway. You'll have to replace that Phantom Grip once every year or so (or more often if you're into hard launches) for it to be continually effective. Quaifes contain no springs or clutches, just beautifully machined gear sets. They're way more effective than models like the Phantom Grip and if cared for will last for the life of the car.

Sorry to be so critical, but the rest of the car is just so BEAUTIFUL! It breaks my heart to know such a crappy component is relied upon to send those glorious 500+ crank horsepowers to the wheels. I know what I recommend is a spendy component, but you clearly didn't skimp on most of the hardware in this car. For the most part it is a seriously epic build. The customized turbo kit, badass-ified tranny, super-light Rays wheels, massive 4-piston stoppers, the gear just goes on and on; it must have cost a fortune! All of that is top-notch stuff and the Phantom Grip you've got along with it is practically a Pep Boys accessory in comparison!

FWD monsters like this car have been proving themselves as fast for years, but even today they are regarded as weak off the line. Junky diffs like the Phantom Grip are a big part of the reason why! A proper diff setup makes a monstrous difference in launching a powerful FWD car. I've seen a couple TurboDodges go from 2.5-ish to sub 1.9 60 foot times just from switching to a fully meshed LSD. And those cars don't have ANYTHING like as much horsepower as the Blue Bomber here.

Please don't get me wrong, I'm a serious fan of this style of car tuning and this car in particular. I love me a turbo FWD sleeper! I'm building myself a cheap-ass version of this car out of an '87 LeBaron Coupe combined with old Shelby Turbo bits. I just know that if I had anything like as much money to spend as you have on my project a Quaife LSD would be very near the top of my list of components to grab!

Its a super-sick car, sorry I felt like I had to rag on it so much! I'm just really passionate about these things. The better a car is, the more it's leftover flaws irritate me. I swear that I rant because I think the Blue Bomber is really good!
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Monday, July 26, 2010 8:54 PM
We build damn fast cars and this setup works well when shimmed properly and used with the std Nissan VLSD. We have used this on several of our Nissan FWD race cars with good results.

The Phantom Grip works like the Auburn LSD which is popular with domestic guys. It relies on metal to metal friction of the phantom grip blocks to the pinion gears controlled by springs and the twisting of the blocks. It is a mild LSD but when sprung and shimmed tight and used with the factory VLSD, it works really well with positive lock up and smooth action.

For instance Annie Sam uses the VLSD plus phantom grip on her winning race car. Steve Rockwood uses one to pull off 1.8 second 60 foot times. The Dog car used to use this set up as well. Note we actually race these things and win doing so.

Your Quaife diff works on metal on metal friction as well, the thrust loads of the worm gears push them into the differential case to cause the diff to bind up. its one of the reasons why Quaifes don't work all that great either.

In some cases like when one wheel gets pretty unloaded they work terribly, like an open diff. In best case they don't transfer torque all that well. They are smooth and good where a mild LSD is needed. In a powerful RWD car they can cause an oscillation that is hard to control.

Nothing works like the higher tech Salisbury type diffs that are available for some cars but with the Sentra, the Nismo diff has been discontinued and only the Cusco part is still available.

I would rather use the race sprung and shimmed Phantom grip and Nissan VLSD than a Quaife any day.
Tuesday, July 27, 2010 12:47 PM
Hmm, perhaps we TurboDodge guys have such better luck with Quaife-like setups because we run considerably less horsepower than these monstrous Nissans (Chrysler turbo 3.0 V6 projects notwithstanding).

I just know that I've heard tremendous amounts of complaints concerning the Phantom Grip (even the "extreme" edition) from the TD community. Some guys manage to wear them out in as little as 500 miles in a freaking mini-van, I figured it wouldn't stand a chance in a beast like the Blue Bomber.

Clearly you guys know something I don't. If the LSD install had been elaborated upon in the article I surely wouldn't have spoken up. All the article says is "installed a Phantom Grip" and that's kindof it; there was no mention of modification. Then again, it isn't a terribly exciting component for most people so I can see why it was glossed over. The seemingly miraculous improvements brought upon our cars by Quaifes are generally paired with serious suspension modifications and improvements to chassis rigidity, which surely has something to do with it as well.

Thanks a lot for explaining. Have you guys done any write-ups or guides to the modifications necessary to get the best out of a Phantom Grip? If you could point me towards any information concerning the type work you do to make them good I would be most appreciative, not to mention the TD community. We are a big group of cheap-skate car enthusiasts and the relatively low cost of the Phantom Grip has always appealed to us. Some of the fastest cars in our community where purchased and put together for less than $5K. If we knew of a good way to make the Phantom Grip more effective and reliable we would love them to death!
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Tuesday, July 27, 2010 7:28 PM
What we do is get the pinion gears and grind the ends flat in a surface grinder, you can probably do this carefully using an apex grinder or even a belt sander as well. This gives a better surface for the blocks to work against. It also increases the surface area by around 30%.

Then get the green race spring kit from Phantom Grip and install the springs and shim them until you can hardly get the blocks in there smashing them in a vice to compress the springs. The shims make up for the variations in carriers and gears.

Also remember that the Nissan diff has a VLSD which is nearly as effective as a gear type LSD to begin with. Adding the Phantom Grip just makes it a lot better. By itself the Phantom Grip is so so although we have tested them with a data logger using the ABS signal and they do work.
Wednesday, July 28, 2010 12:43 PM
Ahhh, of course, there's the real trick! I'm such an idiot!

The Phantom Grip works so well for you guys because it is used IN COMBINATION with the pre-existing Nissan Viscous LSD. Durrrrrrrrrr.....

The Phantom Grip works so poorly for us TD guys because the stock differential in our favored A555 and A523 transmissions is such an antiquated piece of crap to begin with! The PG kit simply augments the existing differential, so if its decent (like the Nissan) it becomes really great. Whereas if you start with something crappy there's only so much a PG will do.

This must be why we have such good luck with Quaifes. Those kits replace the ENTIRE differential which on our cars are inferior units. So for us they seem like a miracle, whereas for you guys it would be a bit of a downgrade compared to a PG kit + Nissan VLSD.

Uhh, yea, I feel properly stupid now. Thanks for the explanation.
Thursday, February 10, 2011 8:08 PM
I love this article more than any because I can really relate. I love reading swaps like this, the ones that most other websites/companies write are too basic. I have just gone turbo on my altima after doing a 5 speed swap, it's great to learn on nissans and it's just fun. Hopefully I see this car at englishtown, or atco one day.
barton bernard
barton bernardlink
Tuesday, February 14, 2012 10:42 PM
Really great photography done by Greg Perry.what a great car.I loved it.MotoIQ is the best source of automotive technical information.I am big fan of MotoIQ.
Thursday, August 16, 2012 12:30 PM
Why not convert this car to the 6 speed? You have a ton of final drive and gear ratio options and you also get a helical LSD.
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