Project Silvia's Girlfriend Part 2: Making it Handle

by Dave Coleman

You would think that making Project Silvia's Girlfriend handle would be really simple. After all, way back in 2003 Project Silvia could pull 1.0g on the old Falken Azenis Sport tires (pretty crappy rubber compared to the current Azenis RT615Ks), so you would think making Project Silvia's Girlfriend handle well would be a simple matter of duplicating Project Silvia's setup. That would be too easy.

First, as part of her quest for an grown-up S13, Sarah wanted a smoother, quieter car than Project Silvia. Second, her 230,000-mile hatchback body is quite noticeably less stiff than my coupe's bondo-soaked 300,000 mile body. And finally, there were more serious budget constraints on this car. Here's what we came up with:


Hubs and 5-lug conversion:

As with any S13 project, you have to start suspension mods with a big master plan. Before selecting shocks, you have to decide if you're going to upgrade to the (roughly 7-lbs lighter) aluminum rear uprights from the Z32. The stock shock mount on the heavier 240SX uprights is a big pin that goes into the rubber bushing on the crappy, worn-out AGX shock on the left. The Z32 rear mount carries the rubber bushing on the upright itself, and the shock has a clevis, like the Koni on the right. As with Project Silvia, we went with the lighter aluminum bits, so uprights and suspension had to happen at the same time.


Naturally, this swap was more complicated than it should have been. To make this swap work, you need rear uprights from a non-turbo Z32. We somehow ended up with turbo uprights. The difference is in the turbo's massively oversized rear axle. Note the larger spline in the hub on the left. I can't remember where we got the smaller 5-lug hubs on the right. Perhaps they are non-turbo Z hubs. Perhaps they are S14 SE hubs. Either way, they have the right axle size and bolt pattern, but they're missing that framus hole on the top of the turbo hub.


Getting the rear hubs off starts with the four main bolts, but then you have to deal with the big framus nut on top.

I can't find a picture of the framus in place and doing its job, but in this shot of it partially removed, you can see that the framus is part of the drum parking brake mechanism. It's basically the stationary fulcrum that the brake shoes butt up against when the other end of the shoes are getting yanked on by the parking brake cable. Kinda important, then...

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Monday, January 20, 2014 1:13 AM
I'm surprised that you had such difficulty with the super pro front tension rod bushes. they are an Australian brand, they are stiffer than whiteline, but a little bit more compliant than the whiteline plus bushes.
i use a bench vise to fit them, as you can tilt the tension rod to keep the bush going in square, saving on making a jig to do it.
b drecksage
b drecksagelink
Monday, January 20, 2014 7:54 AM
2 updates in a week? Did you quit your day job at mazda? She made you do all of this work and now she wants you to sell it? Haha.
Monday, January 20, 2014 8:18 AM
I'd like to comment on the brake situation. I use R32 brakes on my S13, which (I was told) are hydraulically the same as the Z32 brakes. The biggest difference is the caliper bodies are much larger and the rotors are internally vaned and also larger than the Z32 brakes (I was told they both use the same pads, so the pistons should be the same but I haven't done a pad swap yet so I don't know. Only put about 1000 miles on the brakes before the tags expired and my wallet went empty for tuning repairs).

To make a long story longer, I remembered reading about Project Silvia's brakes and decided to buy a larger master cylinder for my R32 brakes. I picked up a 1" bore MC from NAPA and made sure I ordered from the alleged years that Nissan used the MCs with flared fittings all around (turns out Coleman is right now...finding one with the insert already in it is a crap shoot). I ended up making a short length of adapter tube to connect the fittings properly, though now that I know this trick I'm scrounging Craigslist for another Z MC!

After getting brakes assembled and working I can report that the 1" MC is perfect for stock brake upgrades (either Z or R). You have great pedal feel, tons of braking grip and easy modulation. The brakes are one of the few things on my car that actually work properly and if you're looking for a relatively budget brake upgrade, I'd say spring for te R32 parts. BE WARNED they will *BARELY* clear 16" wheels. Use 1/4 oz sticky weights when balancing your wheels because 1/2 oz weights WILL hit the caliper.

Anyway the moral of that long story was you could have saved yourself all that effort with the brake booster by just using a 1" Z32 MC and bolting it in. I think the TT Zs used a 1 1/16" MC so make sure you get an N/A MC.
Monday, January 20, 2014 8:25 AM
Not that it matters much but why are the license plates different in shots on the last page? It looks like the same car on the same trackday but the front license plate is different on each one.

Also, somewhat ironic that one says DET and one says 510...maybe thats just me.
Monday, January 20, 2014 10:08 AM
Yeah... the tires spec'd on the Evo and STIs of the time from the factory had silly stiff sidewalls. Probably spec'd for smoother Japanese roads. I don't miss those Yokohama Advans on my old Evo at all.
Monday, January 20, 2014 10:23 AM
In Japan, the Nissan Largo van came with some healthy gears so it could have come from something like that too.
Dave Coleman
Dave Colemanlink
Monday, January 20, 2014 11:48 AM

The 510 and DET stuff on the plates is entirely intentional. I don't like putting real license plates on the interwebs, so I photoshop them. When I get to pick the letters and numbers, 510 and DET happen to show up a lot...
Monday, January 20, 2014 12:39 PM
In my experiences with the Z32 brake swap, the issue you ran into with the rear e-brake hardware is usually avoided as long as you get all the parts from the same donor car. While doing research on part numbers and attempting to come up with a rock solid recommendation, I figured out that Nissan seemed to be randomly using suppliers and so on...hence, it's just easier to try and source everything from the same donor if you can.

The '90 NA Z32 I pulled my parts from used the same rear hub as my S14. The e-brake hardware had its own framus...
Monday, January 20, 2014 1:01 PM
Importnut, a lot of that has to do more with parts updates over the years for cost reasons. I have the p/n list from FAST on Z32 rear hubs, and they convert to having a left and right number after 07/90 (this is for NA btw) That means, that Zs manufactured after that date use the annoying framus on the hub since it's keyed to a specific side. 02/89 to 03/90, the part number is swappable to each side. I had the rear setup from an R32 GT-R, and it had the integrated framus, but the GT-R uses the same spline axles as a turbo Z. I ended up cutting the framus off and spacing the fulcrum.

I wanted to comment on Dave's mention of the uprights being identical between the HICAS and non-HICAS models. The ball joint has a slightly larger OD than the toe rod bushing of the non-HICAS models. I forget the exact diameter difference, but it's a millimeter or so. I can take a toe rod bushing and slide it through the bore of my HICAS uprights. SPL's spherical bearings require you to phone in a special order if you want to use them on a HICAS model as they have an internal p/n to put in the proper OD bearing sleeves. Def at Nissan Road Racing just uses loctite bearing adhesive to hold his in so he didn't have to mill up multiple sizes of bearing carriers. Nismo gets away with using only one bushing by not putting a sleeve on it. The rubber allows for slight difference and it has a lip to hold it in place from both sides.

Lastly, I should mention that changing out the toe rod bushing for anything other than factory rubber will change the compliancy toe change. Under braking, the toe rod loads up laterally and the wheel toes out. To counter it, Nissan allows the RLCA to slide backwards on its swing axis under braking forces, which forces a toe in to neutralize the toe out. Changing the toe rod/s bushings without changing the RLCA bushings to match will produce a slight toe in under braking, not a huge deal, but it could lead to a twitchy handling situation when transitioning mid corner.
Wes Dumalski
Wes Dumalskilink
Monday, January 20, 2014 11:51 PM
Awesome stuff... Dave did you happen to notice if the variation int he fittings on the MC were based on if it was a Tokico unit or not? I thought I noticed something similar when ding an Altima MC on Project 200SX in what seems like a decade ago...
Tuesday, January 21, 2014 6:30 AM
Hijacker: I see what you're saying. I'm not sure if you could send me the part numbers or a link. I'm in the process of rewriting my 300zx brake swap page and would love to include more details (http://importnut.net/300zxbrakeswap.htm)

Speaking of which, Dave, if you wouldn't mind, I want to add the booster upgrade info to my page. I would need to borrow your pictures. Naturally, credit will be given as well as links to your work. Thanks!

Wes Dumalski:
From all of the people I've spoken with over the years, the issues with the MC fittings involve the variations in suppliers as there were many. Also, remanufactured units also seem to add to the variability. Usually, in ABS form, there is a allen head plug in the second front port. Sometimes it's a 5 sided allen, from Mars evidently. Some have noted when the plug is removed that there is a fitting, others like myself, found no fitting and had to do a similar extraction as Dave did to get it out.
Tuesday, January 21, 2014 11:48 AM
Al, I'll send you an email through your site. It's a lengthy list, and don't want to clog up MotoIQ's comments section with P/Ns LOL

I ran into the fitting issue as well when I upgraded. I think I cut out 3 or so flare fittings from a handful of Z32 MCs and none of them fit the 17/16" BMC. I ended up nabbing a 1" reman off eBay, and it had all three fittings and has been running like a champ since '06 /shrug Just had to remove the hex keyed block plug from the middle port.
Monday, February 03, 2014 11:16 AM
there is a much easier way to pull those fittings out of the master cyl. use a bolt extrator, it wont damage the fitting, it will just break the tension bond and pop right out.

yo vanilla
yo vanillalink
Tuesday, February 04, 2014 5:06 PM
i had to laugh when you found the embarrassing noise culprit! if only because i've been there! spent nearly a year myself chasing what i thought was FOR SURE a suspension clunk in my wife's mazda 6. was looking at ball joints, strut bearings, struts, etc etc and scouring the internet for some common occurrence to help solve it. then one day i'm changing the oil and noticed the front right engine mount was collapsed...
Tuesday, April 08, 2014 10:44 PM
all us scc fans love you Dave please feed us more articles. can i make a miatabusa adapter down payment?
Tuesday, April 15, 2014 2:35 PM
After reading this I ordered a set of those BFG Sport Comp 2 tires for my Supra. It had the same horrible road groove tracking you were describing. It was driving me nuts, I just couldn't figure it out. I just put the new tires on and what a huge difference. The car is great now. These are my new go-to tires.
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